Just One of the Boys
A true biographical account. All the names have been changed, well, all but one.
Claire flipped her sandy blonde hair out of her eyes as she eyed the batter, lining up to hit the ball as far and as hard as he could. Sure enough, the pitch was delivered a little too temptingly for the batter to ignore, and he swung away, sending a line drive directly at Claire. She had two choices; get out of the way, or catch the speeding ball which was rocketing straight at her face.
Claire chose the latter, and barely stopped the momentum, her glove being driven back to make contact with her cheek. There was a round of cheers, as the inning came to a close, and the two teams gathered for the traditional handshake.
“That was one hell of a catch there, man.” The batter commented, suddenly noticing that the player that caught his line drive was indeed a girl. He thought about saying something derogatory, but chose to hold his tongue. He felt a bit cheated to be beaten by a member of the fairer sex.
Later that evening, Claire smiled as she relaxed in her bedroom. It was not the normal bedroom of a seventeen-year-old girl. There were no teen heartthrob posters, ribbons, or any other trappings that one might expect. No, Claire’s walls were covered in posters of famous baseball players, scattered baseball cards, and awards for athletic excellence. She was a consummate tomboy.
Claire had never really had long hair, except when she was very young. She remembered the first time she had insisted that the stylist cut it into a boy’s style. It wasn’t a crewcut, but it was as close to it as her mother would allow.
Just then, Claire knew she was due for a cut. She looked in the mirror and sighed. Her hair, parted on the side, swung down over her eyes, and her normally exposed ears were almost fully covered. For a girl, it was still considered short.
There were only three weeks left of summer vacation, so the prospect of wasting an entire afternoon at the hairdresser seemed dismal to her. She had often asked her mother if it would be okay for her to go to the barbers, rather than her mother’s salon. Claire would try and convince her, saying that instead of dropping fifty bucks on a style and cut, she could have the same thing done for less than half of that at a reputable barbershop.
Her mother would always respond the same way. “No daughter of mine is getting her hair cut at a barbershop.” She said the word with an element of disdain, as if the places were below her standards.
Checking her mother’s calendar, she could see that there was an appointment set up for the last week of the summer. That just wouldn’t do. So as Claire set out for baseball practice, she tucked her hair into her cap, trying to keep the annoying bangs out of her eyes.
Practice went well that day. Claire had hit nearly every pitch well, and her fielding was equally polished. Even the most steadfast of the boys she played with admitted that she was one of the most talented players on the team.
“Are we going to Arnold’s?” Claire asked. Arnold’s had been the local teen hangout for years. They weren’t licensed so it was an ideal spot for the kids to congregate.
“Not today, CC.” Tommy Reynolds insisted. “We’re heading to Sammy’s to get haircuts for the last game of the season.
Claire knew what he meant. For the last three years, and well before she had been a member of the team, it had been a tradition amongst the players to get a short haircut before the last game. They all considered it a sacrifice easily made for team spirit, as well as a farewell to the game for another year.
Claire steamed a bit, removing her cap and letting her longish hair to fall into her eyes. She wanted, in the worst way, to join the boys. For a moment, she imagined the clippers making short work of her sandy blonde hair, reducing it to stubble, and joining her teammates in the ritual. Then she imagined her mother’s reaction when she came home with no hair. She shuddered, but was it enough to keep her from doing what she had always wanted to do.
“Wait up, Tommy. I’m coming with you guys.” Claire blurted, stashing her glove in her well-worn backpack.
“Well, well, well. This is certainly going to be interesting.” Tommy laughed, joined by the rest of the team as they made their way down Simmons Avenue towards the small strip plaza.
Sammy’s was tucked into a small alcove of the plaza, and unless you knew it was there, you’d miss it. The only evidence was the spinning barber’s pole that hung below the covered walkway, tracing the front of the shops.
“I was wondering when you lot would show up,” Sammy grumbled, knowing the grueling task ahead of him. Fifteen teenagers filed in and took up all the seats along the wall, the rest finding perches on various tables and the low sill of the front window. Claire was amongst those perched precipitously on the narrow sill.
“Well, who’s first?” Sammy shrugged, shaking out his cape and depositing his newspaper into the garbage. “How’s ten bucks each?” He suggested.
Looking up on the wall, Claire could see the set price of eighteen dollars was ensconced under a plexiglass cover above the plate glass mirror. Ten bucks was a bargain, she thought. Checking her pocket, the twelve dollars she had would be enough.
“Save your money, CC, We’ve got this.” Everyone agreed. If she was going to do this, the boys were willing to foot the bill. She slipped the bills back into her back pocket, nodding in appreciation.
Claire, watching in fascination as each member of the team was skinned in a similar fashion, ran her fingers into her hair. She smiled, coyly, with the knowledge that it would all soon be gone. Hers would join others’ on the linoleum floor of the barbershop.
“It’s short CC. You sure about this?” Tommy asked, concerned.
“I’m sure.” Claire insisted.
The last to sit in the chair were the group on the front sill, and it was apparent to Claire that the team was going to make her go first. Without a moment’s thought, Claire jumped up and into the chair.
“When’s the last time you’ve been to the barber’s son?” Sammy asked, fluffing the comparatively abundant mass of hair.
Tommy, not letting the error go, shouted out. “He’s a she, Sammy!”
Sammy’s arms dropped to his side. “Are you sure about this young lady? You can’t want me to cut your hair like these knobs.”
Claire looked around the room, the closely cropped heads indeed resembling military recruits, freshly shorn for boot camp. Their eyes gazed back at her expectantly.
“Exactly the same, Sammy.” Claire smiled, the room bursting out in a cheer. She glanced over at Tommy, who offered her a thumbs up, still sporting his comb-over hair. Soon hers would be much shorter than his.
“You crazy kids. Okay.” Sammy chortled, brushing the blades of the clippers free of the hair that still clung to them.
Claire saw that there was no guard on the clippers as they were brought to her forehead. Sammy offered her no special treatment. He clipped her with the same efficient strokes, front to back. Claire could feel the muscles in her neck flex as she pushed back against the pressure of the blades as rendered her bald. At the end it was several strokes in each direction, mowing over the head from side to side and back to front. When the clippers finally fell silent, Claire chanced a look in the large mirror.
She ran a hand over her scalp, in reaction to the sight, smiling with the sensation the sandpaper stubble returned. Her bright blue eyes seemed larger, somehow, more feminine.
“There you go.” Sammy offered, slipping the cape free from her neck and allowing what remained of her hair to cascade to the floor. She looked down as she stepped from the chair, noticing that her hair dominated the rest of the clippings on the floor by two. Tommy, on his way to the chair, gave her a nudge. “Way to go, CC. Way to go.” Another small cheer rose up from her appreciative teammates as she took her place on the sill. Andy Pierce scruffed his hand over her freshly shorn head. “I always knew you were crazy, CC.”
Then it was forgotten as Tommy’s locks began hitting to the floor, and Claire realized that she was indeed, just one of the boys.
A Note from the author. I have struggled with ever sharing this account, as it represents what I consider to be the birth of my fetish for haircutting. It is a very personal thing for me, so I hope that you enjoy how I (Claire aka Dreadlocks) came to be a writer of hair related fiction. Oh, my mother survived, lol.