Today marks the first Saturday in October, the day that my wife had asked me to take our daughters out to get their hair done. My wife, Carol, has been sick for the last several weeks and she has been unable tend to the girl’s needs. Being a male, I have tried to make do as best I can to help. Unfortunately, I know very little about caring for the girl’s hair. I don’t fancy salons either so my plan was to take them to my usual barbershop.
I set up the appointment last week but to keep my girls from worrying about it, I waited until this morning to share the news. I explained this idea to them over breakfast so as not to scare them when we pulled into the barbershop parking lot; however, they were quite nervous about it anyway. I asked them to fix their below the shoulder glossy brown hair into quick ponytails before we left.
We arrived at the barbershop early for the 9am appointment and I stepped into the shop with Alyssa age 12 and Mandy age 11 in tow. Russ the head barber and I exchanged pleasantries as we took seats in the waiting area. Russ was finishing up with a customer and said he would be with us in a moment. Russ has been my barber for years and he is excellent at the trade. He kept glancing over toward us as if he seemed surprised to see my daughters along with me today.
Soon he announced that he was ready for me to take the chair. I explained that the appointment wasn’t for me, it was actually for my daughters to get their hair cut. “You want your daughters to get their hair cut here in the barbershop?” Russ asked. “Don’t they usually have their hair done at the salon across town?” Not wanting to upset the girls further, I kindly explained that their mother had requested that I handle it and I didn’t really fancy the expensive salon. “Besides, I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen girls have their hair done in here before,” I stated.
“I will be happy to cut their hair, but I’m not very good with long hairstyles, so it will have to be short,” Russ proposed.
“Thats perfect,” I said. “I am looking for a simple short hairstyle for both that will be easy to care for. Something that won’t take a lot of time for them to get ready in the morning before school.” The girls were fidgeting nervously in the chairs next to me as I spoke and I knew this was uncharted territory for them. I felt bad but I was trying my best to handle the situation.
“I can certainly help you out then. So who wants to go first?” Russ asked looking at the girls as a few more men came into the shop and took seats in the waiting area. “Alyssa, why don’t you go first,” I said quickly. “Please put on a brave face, it’s going to make things easier.” Alyssa gave me a pouty look but slowly stood up and walked toward Russ.
Alyssa’s glossy brown ponytail, swung freely as she arrived at the big chrome barber chair and sat down. “There you go,” said Russ calmly as he placed a cape over her and starting pumping up the chair. The other waiting men were looking questionly at me and then at my daughter seated in the barber chair. I kept to myself and didn’t explain the situation to them.
“So how short should I cut it today?” Russ asked me from across the room, “there are plenty of options here.”
“I put my trust in you to give her nice style, just make sure it’s easy to care for,” I announced. Alyssa turned her head and looked at me nervously, unsure of this proposition.
“No need to worry honey, I will fix you up in no time,” Russ said, as he picked up his scissors and stepped up behind her. Shnick! Off came Alyssa’s ponytail with a quick snip of the scissors and it was laid across the counter in front of her. “You can take that home with you as a souvenir,” exclaimed Russ. He picked up a spray bottle from the counter and begin misting her remaining chin length locks as he combed through them.
Once Alyssa’s hair was wet down to his liking, Russ set the sprayer down and picked up his scissors again. Starting at the left side, he began by holding the first lock out from her head with the comb and slicing it off. Shnick! Shnick! The barbershop was relatively quiet this early in the morning and I could hear each time the scissors snipped through Alyssa’s hair. Russ stepped around the chair, slowly reducing the brown locks to about 3 inches in length. The discarded hair was sliding down the cape and plopping on the floor. Alyssa looked wide-eyed at her reflection in the mirror as her hair continued to fall.
The other men waiting had taken a keen interest in the young girl’s haircut. One had even set down his newspaper to watch the unfolding spectacle.
Wasting no time, Russ put down the comb and scissors and picked up a pair of hair clippers off the counter. I didn’t expect him to use these on her and was about to speak up. Instead, I only managed to choke on my words as he brought them up to Alyssa’s head.
“Head down, please,” said Russ. Alyssa dropped her head forward and Russ plowed the clippers up the back running them almost to her crown before pulling back. The hungry humming clippers continued to eat away, peeling the brown hair from the girl’s head. Once the back was sheared close, the sides were attacked next. The clippers fell silent and Alyssa raised her head to stare in shock at herslf in the mirror. Alyssa had very little hair left on the back and sides after the clippers were done running their course. The hair was reduced to a quarter inch at best and had been cleanly cut around both ears.
“That’s quite a haircut for a girl,” the older gentleman next to me stated. “It’s already shorter then my grandson’s. Is she getting a punishment cut?” At this point I was a little embarrassed that these strange men were so engrossed in watching my daughter receive her haircut. I quickly replied that we simply didn’t have the time or money to take care of long hair, this was not a punishment. I glanced at Mandy and saw that she was watching her older sister’s haircut and tugging at her locks at the same time, obviously wondering if her fate would be the same.
Russ meanwhile had removed the clipper attachment and stepped back up to chair to begin blending the hair at the crown. Using the comb as a guide this time, he began shaping the hair sending little clumps down to the cape to join the rest. This continued for some time until he was satisfied and the machine fell silent again.
“Now this is looking fantastic,” Russ said to Alyssa, who was looking like she’d seen a ghost. “I knew that you would be able to pull off this cut. This is a popular one amongst the boys that usually come in here, but you are certainly breaking that trend. Now all I have left to do is show you how to style your hair and you will be finished.”
He retreated to a side counter and found a bottle of gel. “I will give you a sample gel bottle to take with you,” Russ said. “All you need is a quick squirt into your palm and then you need to rub it into the hair nicely.” He demonstrated as Alyssa watched the progress in the mirror.
After the top hair was sleek with gel, Russ selected a comb from the counter and stepped to Alyssa’s left side. Using the comb he drew a nice crisp part high on the left near her crown. “Looks like your natural part is here,” explained Russ. He proceeded to comb the top hair properly across her head; picking up the bangs and sweeping them back so that they wouldn’t dangle on her forehead.
“That’s all there is to it, your all finished now,” Russ announced as he stuck his comb in his breast pocket and lowered the chair. “That is one haircut that will be easy to care for!” He undid the cape and patted Alyssa’s shoulder as she sat there inspecting the haircut. She now had far shorter hair than any of her friends at school. In fact, it was at least as short as most of her male classmates.
I watched from my seat as Alyssa stood up sporting her new style, looking at the pile of hair on the floor that Russ was now sweeping away. She glanced at us as she came back to the waiting area, swinging her loose ponytail with one hand and curiously feeling the buzzed area at her nape with the other. I observed Alyssa’s new boys cut closely and saw that it was pretty short. Although it was shorter than what I originally had in mind, Russ’s handiwork was superb.
“Looks good Russ, my wife will be happy with the result,” I called as I gave Mandy a nudge to get ready to be next. She gave me one of her ‘do I really have to?’ looks. I told her not to make a scene.
“Next up please,” said Russ, holding out his cape by the barber chair. Mandy stood up and slowly began the trek to the chair. She sat down and Russ caped her, pulling her brown ponytail out. Russ pumped up the chair to proper height and grabbed his scissors.
“Cut hers the same way,” Alyssa instructed Russ teasingly, as she took her seat to watch the next haircut. Mandy, a bit more nervous than her older sister, looked petrified sitting alone in the chair listening to her sister’s words. Russ looked at me for approved and I nodded. Shnick went the scissors and off went the ponytail without further delay. Mandy gasped as the severed ponytail was laid on the counter in front of her.
Humming to himself, Russ just went to work on Mandy’s hair, reducing it the same way as he had with Alyssa’s. Mandy gripped the armrests tightly and watched in disbelief as her locks were relieved from her head. Schnick, schnick, schnick went the scissors as they continued chopping.
“Russ certainly doesn’t muck around,” commented the older gentleman next to me. The door bell chimed just then and another older man came into the shop and sat down with us to wait his turn.
In no time at all, Mandy’s glossy brown hair had been reduced to a regular boy’s cut. It was gelled and parted to the side just like Alyssa’s. “Will that be all for today?” Russ called to me.
“Yes, thank you, my wife will be pleased when we get home. We will be back in a month or so for a trim,” I said standing up to put my coat on. Mandy slowly got up from the barber chair, took her ponytail from the counter and walked over to us with a few tears in her eyes.
“Honey you look great, no need for tears,” I said, putting my arm around her. As we were getting ready to head out the door, a waiting gentleman grinned and said to Alyssa and Mandy, “Those are fine looking boys cuts you got there. Russ sure knows how to take care of ya.”
“Next!” I heard Russ call out in the background.