I moved to Florida about a week before Covid restrictions started which closed down all salons and barbershops. Due to that, I was going on 3 months without a haircut by the time they opened again. With summer starting to really heat up, I went to the first place I could find that happened to take walk-ins.
After about a twenty minute wait, a barberette in I’d imagine her early thirties with a gorgeous pixie cut introduced herself and led me to her chair. As I sat down, she placed her hands on my shoulders and then ran her nails up my nape through my overgrown hair. “It looks like you avoided the self quarantine cut, how short are we taking you today?” She said. With a slight laugh, I replied “how could you tell? I’m open to suggestions at this point”. Pulling my overgrown bangs away from my forehead, she said “It’s pretty out of hand. You have really thick hair, I think you could use something cool for the summer..” “You’ve got a point” I said
With that, she spun the chair around to face the mirror of her station and grabbed a roll of tissue from the counter before wrapping it around my neck followed by a large black cape. She grabbed what only someone in the industry or a hair fetishist would recognize as Wahl balding clippers and spun me away from the mirror. Not being able to see myself made me nervous but in a good way. I felt the pressure of her hand at my occipital bone pushing my head down into position. I heard a loud pop followed by the low humming of the clippers.
I felt the warm metal of the clipper blades just under the hair at the bottom of my nape for a brief moment before the barberette moved them high up into my hair. I immediately felt the contrast of the cool air on my scalp. There was no doubt that she was giving me a high skin fade. Pass after pass, the clippers left the sides and back of my head all but smooth. From the mirrors of the stations on the opposite side of the shop, I could see the very pale skin where my hair used to be.
The loud hissing buzz of the peanut clippers brought me back to reality. I expected her to use them clean up around my hair line. What I felt instead was the trimmers going all the way up my head, just as high as the balding clippers had gone before. She was truly taking it all off. When she finished, only the most faint trace of stubble was visible on the sides my head. She wasn’t finished. I heard a whirring noise followed by the sensation of warm shaving cream being lathered onto my head. My sides were shaved down to the skin. She wasn’t kidding around when she said she was going to keep me cooler in the heat.
When she finished scraping away the last bit of stubble, she spun me around to face her station. I could see the clean shaven skin on the sides of my head. She picked up her comb and spray bottle and began wetting and combing through the top of my hair. I could tell the thickness of the hair irritated her when she was working to manage it. She placed the spray bottle back on the counter and picked up chrome shears. Standing in front of me, she combed my bangs down. “Close your eyes” she said. I felt the cold steel of the shears as high as they could be on my forehead followed by the sound of my bangs hitting the cape. The shears sliced through the rest of the hair that once covered my forehead with ease.
Moving behind me, she began combing the top of my hair up and back. I opened my eyes in time to see her place her fingers tight to my scalp and chop everything above them. She continued to do that until the top of my hair was reduced to barely long enough to lie down a little. Not satisfied, she went through a second time taking it even shorter. The buzz of the clippers fired up again as she expertly blended the less than an inch of hair left on the top of my head into the high skin fade.
I assumed she was finishing up when she placed a guard on the clippers and proceeded to take the hair at my crown even shorter, a 3 or 4 guard if I had to guess. The shears went back to work for a little more blending to meet the longer front of the top of the cut to the gradually shorter back. Just when I thought she couldn’t possibly do more, the barberette reached for her thinning shears and chopped into the top until she was satisfied. Shaking her hands through the top and running them down the now bald sides she said “Well, big change huh?” I hardly recognized myself.
“Let’s go get you washed up.” After removing the cape and neck strip, she led me to a reclined chair with a sink and lowered my head into it. I fell into a total daze as she massaged my scalp and washed my hair that could only now be described as a high and tight. It ended all too soon. I was taken back to the chair where the barberette decided I needed some styling product that she worked into my hair leaving it slightly to the side and standing up.
At the checkout counter, she handed me a card with her name on it and said “I’ll see you in 3 weeks”. I gave her a generous tip and walked out counting down the days until I could be in her chair again.