Mom’s idea

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I couldn’t really have hair of my own. My mother was my caretaker and my speaker when I was growing up. She was an uptight woman who was always self conscious about what people thought about her and me; even though I didn’t give a hoot and a hanny.

But what she said, went. So whatever she heard those women in church say really drove her to great lengths to herself and me. I can remember when she overheard those harpy twats talking about my hair, I was eight and my dirty blonde locks had grown to about 3ft in length. They said a girl like me shouldn’t have such long hair and that I would look better a bob. When my mom heard this, after service, we went straight to the nearest hairdressers. It was a men’s barbershop but, luckily, the barber inside knew how to cut feminine hair.

I was confused why we were there and what was mommy saying to the barber. I watched her gestured to her to the base of her cheeks  and the barber nodding. The barber looked down at me and smiled, he was a round and jolly fellow besides my stylist. I guess I shouldn’t blame him, it was my mother’s idea after all, but I still didn’t want my hair cut. My mom would have bound to the chair if I disobeyed her so I climbed into it willingly. She watched as the barber took out his sharp shears and completely severed my long braid. So much growth, lost in such a short amount of time, I couldn’t hold back my tears.

Wanting me to be strong, my mother grabbed my chin and stared death into my eyes. She frightened me and I didn’t cry for the rest of the cut. When it was all set and done, I only had a quarter of my hair left and that scared me. But still, I dare not complain.

Fast forward to the beginning to the starting months of summer, the church ladies’ daughters’ all had their hair cut short for the oncoming heat. My hair was the longest amongst the girls at that service, I hoped to God that there wouldn’t be another trip to the barbershop. But his wish granting is a gamble and I had bad luck. After the pastor told to ‘walk with God’, my mom and I walked over to the barbershop.

The barber was surprised to see us, he never expected us to be regulars, poor man, he took my mom’s orders and I sat in the chair. She told him that I needed a shorter haircut than last time, encompassing with the hottest trend, he gave her a look and a smile and went straight to work on me. I couldn’t really tell if he was enjoying cutting my hair but I’m sure he didn’t mind. My mom paid good money so he did a good job cutting off most of my hair. He cut my sides shorter than he did my top. When they were sheared by scissors, my mom pipes up,”The ladies’ daughters have clippered sides, may you do that to mine”

Again, he gave her a look and again a smile formed on his face as he said,”Sure, ma’am”. I watched as he switched on his tool and started going up the sides of my head, leaving them short stubble. The hair flakes that came off my head were flicked off the device and they cascaded down to the checkered floor. When I was done, I looked very much like a boy: a good boy.

I will say the church ladies were impressed with my cut and it did get perks for getting it. Perks like them not whispering about my appearance until the next fad took over, really, they’re dumb perks. I didn’t want to conform but my mother’s will failed me and her. Don’t think I’m casting total blame on her behind, just most of it. When she saw the church ladies with perms, the next time I saw her, her hair instantly became permed in the style.

Anyway, another fast travel, it was the Fourth of July. In my town, the date is celebrated like Christmas. All the boys that the church ladies had had their hair buzzed into a crew cut to support the troops. I loved playing with the boys and the ladies started whispering. They said that I was a boy and that I should sport the crew cut to support the troops. I thought my mom wasn’t that dumb to do that to me: how naïve I was.

When mama heard their comments, she instantly ushered me back to the barbershop. The barber, Todd, gave a hearty laugh as soon as he heard my mom’s order. Even he thought she was dumber than a bag of marbles. But she was a woman who knew what she wanted and she protested his humor with the fire of the preacher man. Like always, he gave her a look and accompanying nod before getting to work.

He cut, he buzzed, and he shaved my neck smooth. I was left with such little hair that he might as well shave me bald but that wasn’t in fashion yet. The looks those ladies gave me when me and mom came into church looked so big and scary, I dare not take my eyes off the floor.

The pastor got into his pulpit to start his sermon but when he looked at me, he paused. “God help us”,he said,”What happened to the little lady’s hair”. My mom stood proudly,”She wanted her hair cut this short”,she lied. The church ladies started to snicker, they knew she was lying for it was their idea.

Even though he wanted to, the pastor couldn’t do anything. I had to spend a year growing out that damned crew cut and when my hair reached my shoulders, I hoped to keep it that way. A new trend was emerging, my mother came home with a blowout hairdo and I suspected my haircut was soon to come.

Call me a prophet for when we went to church on Sunday, all the daughters had their hair bleached. The comments came and my mom took me to the barbershop after church as we always did. I knew Todd couldn’t bleach my hair for he didn’t have bleach in his shop but he wouldn’t fail my mom, he told her to take me to his sister’s shop that was just two blocks away.

And we were there in a flash, my mom and I, Todd’s sister laughed her head off when she saw us but like her brother, she obeyed mother’s orders. “The church ladies’ girls have bleached hair cut short”,my mom told the hairdresser,”Cut up to the top of their noses as their sides and clippered to an inch. Can you do that?”

”Honey”,the hairdresser replied,”I can do anything, I’m a miracle worker. I’ll have her bleached and clippered in no time”. The process was long and the bleach stung, the scissors made quick work of what hair I had and the clippers buzzed off the excess. When I looked in the mirror, another new person was there for me to gaze at. I look horrid but I had to smile through the pain.

The next forth of July, the town had a beauty pageant and my mother was determined to make me wear the crown. This time, I only had to get a trim and dye job. My hair was three different colors: red, white, and blue. I hated all the eyes that were looking at me on stage, their smiles haunted me. When they asked me what was the worst thing in the world, they probably thought I would say communists; but I blurted out,”My mom”

They all played it off as a joke but my mother never forgot my words. After I won the crown, my mom came on stage to kiss me lovingly but her eyes told me I was in trouble. When we had left the grounds, she drove me straight to Todd’s. Like a good girl, I followed her into the barbershop, Todd was working late and he could use some recognizable faces. I slipped into the chair as my mother started talking to the barber.

”This little girl needs to be taught a lesson”,I heard her say,”I can’t have an unruly child. What would the ladies at church think of me. I want her head to be shaved bald, I want no hair on her scalp”

Todd looked at her intently, he leaned into her and whispered something to her I couldn’t hear. I saw her ball up her fist and her composed figure waver as he walked over to me. He smiled at me and I returned the gesture as he caped me up. My mother came over to watch as he flicked on his clippers and started buzzing off my hair. I was numb to this procedure so I sat still as he took off every bit of hair off my head. With a buzzed scalp, I thought it was over but he kept going; applying shaving cream to my head: which was deathly cold by the way. My temperature soon recovered as he ran a straight razor over my head a dozen times. Wiping my cue ball head dry, Todd was reaching to undo the cape when my mom added,”Be a dear and shave off her eyebrows”

The big man turned to her and I could see fury in his eyes but my mom was too proud. She said,”If you don’t do as I ask, I will drive all your business to your greatest competition”. He knew he shouldn’t have listened to her but she was persuasive and manipulative, he couldn’t resist her toxin. So he asked me politely to close my eyes. I shut them and with the razor, he whittled my eyebrows to nothing.

With no hair on my head or on my face, I was quite shocked at my appearance. My mom stroked my head and whispered,”Don’t test me again or I will do worse than a shave”

She took me home and before church, she bought a wig to to wear. I had no say into wearing it, it was so itchy, and she penciled in my eyebrows. I felt like a doll walking into church. My mom and I sat in the front row as she wanted to humiliate me.

Well, I wanted to humiliate her to. So when the pastor prayed for courage and strength, I stood proudly. And before she could pull me back into the pew, I tore the blonde wig off my head and shouted,”Father! I pray to you to harvest your crop and burn the rotting chaff!”

My mom was speechless and she tried to pull me down again but I broke her hold and tossed the wig into her lap. I looked at her as Todd looked at her and walked out of the church. We were done. I continued to walk to Todd’s and he was again surprised to see me, he asked me,”I shaved your head. I shaved your eyebrows. What else do you want me to do?”

”Can I help you today?”I asked him.

He looked at me and smiled,”You cheeky rascal”

And that’s how I became a sweeper in his shop. I worked hard and diligently as he cut hair for the old gentleman and the young women. About noon, a church lady came into the shop with her daughter. The girl was crying, I spotted gum in her hair. Her mother told Todd that a fellow church lady’s son had stuck a piece of gum into her daughter’s scalp. She tried everything and the piece wouldn’t come out so as a last resort, they came here.

”My ladies are going out for lunch”,said the church lady,”When I come back, I want the gum gone and her hair neat and tidy”

She left Todd and I with her daughter crying in the chair. I felt sorry for her, I really did so I tried to cheer her up. Apparently, I’m a wiz at stand up comedy and she went from sniffling to laughing out loud as the barber cut away her hair. She told me that I was so funny I should act in movies or do plays the church put on.

I looked at Todd, his face was grim. He muttered something under his breath which I assumed were curse words. I asked what was the matter and he put his hands on the girl’s shoulders. He took a deep breath and said,”I’m sorry, Miss. The gum was too big of a piece. I have to buzz your entire head”

”Okay”,the girl replied. He was a bit taken aback at her words. All she did was smile and say,”At least I’ll match her”

Todd started to laugh and we all had a good laugh. The girl didn’t mind the vibrating blades going over head over and over again. In fact, I think she enjoyed the process. When her mother came back at one, she found her daughter and I with very short hair and reading a magazine. She ushered the girl out of the shop and I saw another lady coming towards the shop.

I was surprised and angry that the lady was my mother. But my anger subsided when I saw her crying. She told me everything was wrong, her life, what she did to me, and what the church ladies were doing.”I shouldn’t have let their comments fuel my envy”,she sobbed,”Can you ever forgive me?”

”I can’t right away”,I confessed,”This whole affair was wrong and I…”. I turned away from her to cry myself but I composed myself after five minutes. I looked at her,”Maybe”

”I want to make this right”,my mom said,”And I have to start somewhere”. She looked at Todd,”What cut have you never put on a women?”

Todd thought for a moment,”I’ve never given a woman a Mohawk before. Is that up your alley?”

My mom didn’t care what hairstyle it was, she just needed a change. I guess old habits die hard because as soon as my mom and I came to church the next Sunday, all the church ladies had Mohawks and their little girls had very fine buzz cuts.


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