My Sister’s Friend

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It was the early summer of 1982. School was going late this year because of the days off we had due to the winter snow, so it was late June til we were out. It was hot and nobody wanted to be there but we had to be. I was in eight grade and my hair was thick and wavy and I had a longish style that was the norm in those days. Perhaps a bit longish too. My bangs were down to my nose. Hair well past my collar and totally covering my ears. A short haircut for me was bangs just above the eyebrow and about halfway up the ears.

My older sister Piper and her friend Nicole were seniors at the vocational high school and were in the barbering division. I never got along with my sister, still don’t, and her friend Nicole was a total c&nt. They were mean and popular girls. They were attractive and knew it.

My parents divorced when we were kids and mom was always away, working or whatever. It fell on Piper to manage me more than she should have. That was probably where our animosity sprang from. Her friend Nicole and her mum moved into our top floor apartment shortly after dad left and thats when they became fast friends. I was the annoying little brother.

Mum was pleased when they went to the barbering school together, it meant free trims for us all. Piper would eventually go on to cosmo school and be a hairdresser and Nicole would open up her own barber shop eventually. During the first few months my hair was barely touched but then the practice haircuts began. Nothing shocking, just scissor work and clean ups. Piper didn’t really like working on mens hair.

I remember it like yesterday, that muggy hot day in late June. Another two days of school left and exams were on. For us in regular school it was tests and bookwork, but for the vocational people, there were practical exams. When I got out of school on this dreaded Friday Piper and her friend Nicole were waiting for me in the VW Bug we had. They always drove me home on Friday as per mums orders. It was always torture. The two of them teased me incessantly. They were brutal about it too. I’d usually be in tears or close to it when they would drop me off. To make matters worse, the two of them had both started smoking. So the car ride was additionally uncomfortable with these to bitches smoking and teasing me. But this day was the worst.

I got into the smoke filled car. Aerosmith was playing and they were laughing about something and almost ignoring me when Nicole turned around and said to me:

“Its really great you’re going to help me out with my final this afternoon. My boyfriend cant make it because of football practice so you’ll have to do.”

Then they both laughed. Piper added:

“Mum is totally into this to. She hasn’t been happy about my cuts for you. Now you’ll get a proper cut!”

My heart sank. Nicole’s boyfriend always had a crewcut, and if this was for a barbers exam, I knew my hair was in trouble.

“If it was to me I’d give you a baldy” said Nicole lighting up another cigarette “but it’s up to the instructor. Who knows, maybe they’ll just want to see practice a combing techique or a trim.”

“Oh God. Please, do I have to? Can I just go home?” I pleaded. They both started laughing. “Dream On” came on the radio and they cranked it up. I was in a panic. Maybe it’ll just be a technique drill or a regular boys haircut. Although a little short, still ok.

We arrived at the school. The girls flicked their cigarettes at my feet to get me moving in.

The school had a row of 12 barber chairs with a long mirror. The flourescent lighting was merciless. The students were instructed to drape their clients and await further news. I sat in the mirror looking at myself. I was flush with embarrassment. I could see my sister sitting on a bench nearby, Her curly hair was about shoulder length with face framing layers and bangs sculpted out. She looked pretty good that day. Nicole stood behind me. Pensive and a little annoyed. She always wore her black hair in a high ponytail. About a week ago Piper had cut some severely short “statement” bangs into Nicole’s hair. They made her look meaner.

The instructor would approach each student, look at their progress card and then advise based on what was needed. Some were told to give a “mens regular”, another a “Mens shave”, another “scalp treatment”. So far it seemed pretty lightweight and I was feeling ok with things when the instructor approached Nicole. Not even looking at me she pointed out to Nicole some weak area’s in her program and then pronounced my sentencing:

“Horse Shoe Flat top.”

I didn’t even know what that meant, but it sounded severe. Even Nicole was a little shocked:

“But, I’ve never …”

“Hush!” Said the stern instructor “Thats why you need to do it today. If you don’t, you’ll have to repeat the course!”

“One horse shoe flat top coming up!” Nicole said to herself more than anyone else, then turning to me “I didn’t think this was gonna happen, but I’m kinda glad it did, head down.”

I tried to hold back the tears as she mowed the back of my hair down. Pass after pass from the hairline to the nape and from the nape to the crown. The buzz of the clippers lulled me into a trance of sorts as through tear blurred eyes I saw massive patches of hair rain down onto the floor.

Then she guided my head straight with her hands, still reeking of cigarettes, and continued to shear off the hair on my right side. Removing what little sideburn I had up to the roll of my head. Pretty much white skin shining. She then, rather adeptly I must say, took down the left side. There were my two goofy ears and white walled sides. She then sprayed down the longish hair on top and combed it up. She then took down the board for flat topping and systematically from the forehead to the crown leveled off the hair.

Tears were now rolling down my face as I realized my bangs were now on my lap. Nicole kept moving the board at different angle around my head to get what remained of my hair as short as possible. I was freaking bald!. There was a little ring of hair on the top, but damn. And just when I thought It was over I felt her applying shaving cream to the sides and top of my head. With the care of a surgeon she shaved my back and sides clean and then carved out the horse shoe on top.

I was left with an 8th inch ring on the sides and a quarter inch flip in the front.

“Stop crying now you wimp!” Nicole said “The instructor is on her way back.”

“Well done Nicole!” said the instructor “You’ll have your own shop in no time.”

The next few hours were a blur. I think vertigo set in. The girls laughed at me and smoked on the ride home and ordered me out of the car.

The last couple of days of school that year were among the most humiliating of my life.

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