Personal Tradition

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“Good evening! Are you still open?” your voice wafted through the relatively empty shop.

“Of course I am dear, especially for you” her voice was welcoming, the way it always was since the first time you ever walked in. “Come come, have a seat and I can get you sorted,” she invited, turning the vinyl chair to face you.

You smiled, making your way to it so confidently like how you do every other time. You sank yourself in it, embracing the comfiness of it as she turned the chair for you to face the mirror. Every time you decided to take a trip here, it was always after work- there was usually not a lot of people this late in the day, and today you were a lot luckier that it was an empty chair awaiting you when you came in. You wore a well-stitched white blouse today, pairing with your black skirt that gave the air of professionalism you always wanted. But what really struck was the contrast you set. 

Your silky, jet black mane stood out starkly as your locks ended just below your chin, a prized possession many envied- but one you loathed. While you got your mother’s silky, jet black locks, you unfortunately inherited the excessive hair thickness from your father that really pushed the maintenance of your hair past a limit. All it took was for you to decide enough was enough one day, and ever since that day you’ve cultivated a happy tradition for yourself regularly. 

“My my, has it really been that long since the last time?” she inquired as her fingers started getting a hold of your mane. “It always grows so fast, doesn’t it?”

“Probably a few weeks late,” you said, though you knew it was a solid month from the last time you should’ve visited, “but it just grows like weeds once I leave it alone for a second y’know.”

“Not yet planning to grow it out, are you?” her voice was a little concerned, though she asked some semblance of it every other time.

You shook your head deftly, your locks bouncing a little harshly on your ears and temples. An annoying feeling.

“For someone that doesn’t enjoy keeping much of her hair you do take pretty good care of it,” she complimented.

“My girlfriend always insists I shampoo and condition it no matter how short it is during the grow-out process. But she still loves it no matter what state it’s in,” you heaved a delicate sigh, remembering the look of wistfulness yet excitement on her face when you told her for the first time what you wanted to do.

“That’s how you know she’s the one,” she commented, and you felt warm inside knowing that statement seemed very true. 

You straightened yourself up in the chair as you watched her pick up the usual apparatus to prepare. You raised your head almost instinctively, giving her the room to wrap the neck tissue comfortably. Your hands sat obediently on your lap as she swung the clean white cape you always admired over you, draping your body almost completely but just shy of your feet.

“That’s not too tight is it, dear?” she asked as she clipped the ends snugly around your neck.

“Not at all,” you half-lied, enjoying how it secretly trapped you around the neck. 

“So what will it be today?” she asked, always cautious in case you didn’t want the usual.

“Number 1, please,” you recited.

“You sure, dear?” She always sounded concerned, like it was the first time every time. 

“More than certain,” you affirmed.

There was a sort of resigned sigh that came out of her, though you knew that she had the capacity to enjoy something so odd. “As you wish.” 

As she picked out the tools you were left there seated, staring at yourself in the mirror; the large white cape enveloping your body from your shins all the way to the back of your neck while your black bob mocked you from above, silkily parted in the centre like in a commercial. Maybe you let yourself off the hook a little too long- an extra month’s worth of growing could hardly be ignored, and you hated how much it tickled your face and spiraled all over the back. You wanted it all to be gone, and you couldn’t wait. 

She returned to your side, this time with a comb in her hand, and the menacing instrument in the other. She ran the teeth of the comb through your hair, getting a feel of its movement before she planned her opening. You heard that loud pop, and then the humming followed after. 

“You ready?” she looked at you through the mirror, her hand raising the cordless clippers close to your head. 

“Yes,” you declared, straightening yourself back up for her to easily access your head. 

With a hand she held your crown, tilting your head towards the left while the other hand held the implement. She always started at your right side, and while you would always craved a more direct start, you knew a slower beginning only helped to savour the full process. 

You felt those whirring blades positioning just below your sideburns as they vibrated on your skin, a feeling you so desperately missed. There was a warmth to it that complemented the destruction it brought so poetically; the tragedy of your hair. And without much ado, you felt that move upwards.

There was a shift in the buzzing tone as it reached its satisfying crescendos, and then followed by that unceremonious drop of your black locks onto the cape. You smirked; it had begun. You glanced down, looking at that sizeable chunk of hair that just left your head. You couldn’t believe your endured it for that long. Another swipe of the clippers up meant more hair tumbling down, and the hair parade was getting into full swing just for you.

And while having kept it extra long was such a burden, secretly you considered it a form of delayed gratification- the longer you grew it out, the longer the hairs that fell, and it was always more satisfying when there was more coming off. 

Bzzaa, bzzaa, bzzaaa.

She cleaned up a good portion of your right side as your locks left your head, tumbling down as they lay dead on that white cape if they hadn’t gone straight for the floor. 

You heard her stop the clippers, and you couldn’t help yourself but let out a slight disappointed sigh. “Is that how you want it all over, dear?” she asked, pointing to the right side of your head that was almost practically free of hair, with only a short stubble no more than an eighth of an inch.

You turned a little to the left to look at your head in the mirror, and then you beamed. It was all dark fuzzy black on that side of your head now, and you could look right at your skin through it all. “Yes; exactly that short, please,” you instructed. 

“As you wish.”

She flicked the clippers back on, but this time her free hand went to the back of your crown, keeping your head straightforward and completely still. Without another word she now brought the clippers right to the hairline on your forehead, just where your centre part began. Your heart stopped for a moment as you watched her so effortlessly run the clippers through your centre-parted mane from, making a straight path across your crown. A torrent of hair spilled forward, sliding past your grinning lips and down onto the white cape as you saw it plop so lifelessly on the cape. You looked back in the mirror to see that fuzzy pelt of black left behind. It took a hot second before she lined up the clippers yet again, positioning them to the right of the middle path she just sheared down before diving right back in. 

Bzzaaaaaaa. Bzzaaaaaaa. Bzzaaaaaaa. 

Her passes with the clippers were firm but careful, shearing all that bulk off your head as her free hand began sweeping the loose clumps to drop in front of you. It was a terrible mess of pitch black hair that gathered on the white canvas- a very pretty sight for you while you watched your thick bob being mowed into a buzzed pate. 

It didn’t take long for the crown to be sheared down to a #1, and before you could even take a moment to admire your buzzed scalp from the top she had casually forced your head down. You obeyed like a lamb as she positioned the clippers below your neckline, while you were left to just stare at the remnants of your hair that was left on the cape in front of you. You felt her free fingers grip onto your thick locks as the machine propelled upwards, chewing through those burdensome hairs to free your neck. 

Bzzzzaaaaa. Bzzzzaaaaa. Bzzzzzaaaa

Doing the back was always a fun suspense to you- how your vision was completely hindered, but you were left to appreciate the sensuous hums of the whirring clippers on your soft skin at the back of your head. It was always fun trying to imagine what the back looked like during the process, how each lock was being peeled off to free your neck.

She eventually brought your head back up, and you could see in the mirror how she had grabbed the remaining tresses of your hair that attached to your nape and your left side, firmly holding onto them as she began shearing them from your scalp. 

Bzzzaaaa. Bzzzaaaa. Bzzzaaaa. 

There was nothing more satisfying than hearing the sound of the clippers clashing against your thick hair, getting rid of the burden you’ve carried for so long. It only took so many swipes of the clippers on the left side of your head before she separated that huge clump of hair from your scalp, dangling it like a trophy before nonchalantly tossing it on the cape in front of you. 

And just like that, you were free of it all. You couldn’t help but smile like an idiot as you looked at your reflection. While she ran the clippers over your scalp carefully to clean up the spots she missed and edge the sides of your buzzcut, your mind raced with all the fun things you could go back to now that you retook your place as a buzzed babe. You couldn’t wait to finally show off your dangly earrings that always complemented the look; you couldn’t wait dress so frivolously to go with the buzzed pate you had; and how could you almost forget having the easiest yet most amazing showers with a buzzed head?

When she was satisfied enough she turned the clippers off, setting them back on the dresser before picking up a hand mirror. She turned the chair so that you backfaced the wall mirror as she always did at the end of each cut. She then passed you the hand mirror to let you get a closeup look of your new ‘do. “Is this how you wanted it?” she asked. 

You peered into the hand mirror, turning your head from left to right, admiring how sharp and stark that number 1 buzz looked on your head (while secretly indulging in how your features just popped out without all that hair getting in the way). You took your other hand out from under the cape, rubbing your palm from the forehead all the way back to your nape. You grinned, enjoying every bit of that fuzzy peach feeling on your fingers. “It’s perfect.”

“I can always take it shorter if you’d like.”

“Nah, not today,” you said as you placed your hand back under the cape. “Another time,” you teased, winking at her. 

“Maybe next time, then,” she always teased you back, and you knew she enjoyed having you as a customer like a guilty pleasure of her own.

She took the mirror from you, then got out her little neck brush as you excitedly waited for the next best part. She always started from the back of you neck, slowly dusting off any loose hairs with the neck brush as the bristles tickled you scalp. You held back a chuckle as they went over you head- such an eccentrically ecstatic feeling to have on your free head, almost like her mocking you with “haha, you have no hair left.”

Once the dusting was complete, she undid the neck strip and the cape, whisking it off you as you watched the tresses of what was once your bob haircut when you came into the shop, now severed and separated from your head, simply cascade lifelessly onto the floor. You stood up too fast, feeling that giddy headrush from such a light head of hair now that the heavy burden of hair was no longer there. 

You paid her handsomely as you always do- a more than fair wage for someone who never failed to make your tradition an enjoyable habit. You took one last glance at yourself in the mirror before heading for the door, delighting yourself with that stark black #1 against your white blouse.

“Make sure it doesn’t get too long next time, yeah?” She reminded as you were about to head out the door.

“I’ll try,” you lied, smirking as you wondered how much longer you could go before the next time. 


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