November 12th 1999
Roy glanced up at the clock. “6:45, only 15 more minutes until I can close” he thought. It had been a long tiring Saturday and Roy couldn’t wait until he could finish this client and finally put up that closed sign. It was his dads barbershop and Roy, who was in his senior year of high school had begun helping here since he was 14. He started helping with cleaning and the daily upkeep but since the beginning of this year his Dad had begun teaching him how to cut hair.
Normally his Dad would work with him, but today he had to leave at 5, leaving Roy to handle the last couple hours himself. He hadn’t worked alone before but so far all had gone fine. His client he was working on now was a regular and sat reading a newspaper as Roy worked on his fade. The shop was small with only 2 seats, the classic big red barbershop kind, and a small waiting area at the front, which was luckily empty. Located in lower Manhattan almost all of their customers were black and all were males. Just as Roy was running the #4 clipper up the customers nape he heard the door jingle open. Annoyed that a customer was entering so close to the end of the day, Roy looked over but was surprised at what he saw.
It was a girl. Roy was shocked. She was stunning, roughly his age, light skin black, tall and slim. She was wearing skinny jeans and a light sweater. Her hair was beautiful, 3c in texture, dark brown with the curls falling just over her shoulders. Roy didn’t even know what to say. She smiled meekly and took a seat. Roy simply nodded and went back to finishing the haircut. His mind was racing.
“What was she here for?” he thought, “Surely she knows this is a barbershop” He thought if she was asking for directions she would’ve said so already. “Maybe her boyfriend or Dad comes here and she has a question to ask?” he pondered. “Surely she cannot be asking for a haircut” Roy suddenly felt excited, something he had never felt before at the barbershop. He glanced over again and she was thumbing through one of the magazines in the waiting area. Roy went quickly and finished the mans haircut. He took off the cape, let the customer inspect the haircut and turned the chair around letting him out. He paid, thanked him and walked out.
Roy walked over to the waiting area and said to the girl “How can I help you today?”
“I was hoping for a haircut” she replied, saying it almost like a question.
“You do know this is a barbershop, I’m not trained to style womens hair”
“I know, I know” she wound her hair around her fingers “But I’m looking for something short, very short, something like one of those” she pointed to the wall across from the barber chairs where photos of various styles were posted. They varied from buzzcuts to high and tights, but all were very short, especially considering her mane of curls. Roy couldn’t believe his ears. This girl was asking him to cut off all her hair, hair that would make almost any girl jealous.
“Ummm, yeah ok sure” he replied. He checked the time, saw that they would be closing in 10 minutes and moved the open sign to closed. “You’ll be my last customer for today then” he smiled at her “Come take a seat”
“Great” she said back and stood up “I’m Naomi by the way” as she extended her hand.
“Roy, nice to meet you” he replied as he shook it.
He led her to the first chair, turned it around and let her lower herself into it. He turned her around to face the mirror and began pumping the seat up higher.
“These seats are just as comfortable as I imagined” she chuckled “I’ve taken my younger brother to this place a couple times and always thought the chairs look so much nicer than the ones at the beauty salon”
Roy laughed back “My Mom always says the same thing”
“I haven’t seen you working here before, at least not when I came”
“Well I only work a couple days a week, its my Dad that normally runs this place” he replied
“Ah ok I see” she smiled at him through the mirror. Roy couldn’t tell whether she was nervous or just a smiley sorta person but he liked it. Different from most of the customers he served
“So” he started “how short of a haircut are you looking for?”
She sorted fidgeted on her seat and looked at him, “Something really short, I want all of this gone” she said as she grabbed a handful of her curls.
Roy still couldn’t believe those words were coming out of her mouth. Girls at his school were envious of natural hair like this and hers was some of the best he had ever seen.
“Ok, ok” he replied, “So I’ll be using the clippers then right?” He held up his corded Wahl’s for her to see.
“Whatever you need to get my hair looking like that” She pointed at one of the photos on the wall. Roy’s jaw almost dropped. It was the #1 clipper buzzcut “But actually can it be shorter? I don’t want the fuzzy part”
“Yeah sure I can do that” he said, still in disbelief “I won’t use a guard on the clippers so it’ll be shaved right to the skin”
“Sounds perfect” she answers.
“Do you maybe have something so I can hold up your hair for a second?”
“Maybe this?” As she pulls out a claw hair clip from her purse
“Yes thank you”
Roy grabs all her hair and pulls it up to the top of her head. He could feel just how thick and healthy the hair is. He used the clip to hold the hair in place as he grabbed the neck paper roll. He broke off a section and placed it snugly around her slight neck. He could see her looking confused at the foreign piece of equipment.
“Its to stop all the small hairs getting underneath the cape” he explained.
“Ah I see. Its my first time you’ll have to excuse my confusion” she replied with a slight giggle
“Ask as many questions as you want. But actually I have a question. Why are you shaving all this hair off? It really some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen” he said as he went to grab the cape.
“Well a few reasons I guess. It’s just so much work to maintain, I mean I have to spend like an hour every morning. So I’m kinda sick of it. When people think of me they just think of my hair and I’m sick of that. And it’s about to be 2000, you know a whole new century I may as well have a whole new hair style for that.”
Roy nodded “Well fair enough then. I’m sure you’re gonna look great.”
“And I think I’m in good hands” she added.
Roy could barely hold back his excitement anymore. He had never felt like this before with haircutting but there was something about shaving off her hair that made his stomach turn with excitement. Something about all the power he was going to have as she surrendered her mane to him.
He was now holding the cape, with black and white stripes, and flung it over her. He tightened it around her neck and folded the neck paper over it. The cape looked massive on her petite body and it excited Roy even more. He unclipped her hair and it slowly fell back down to her shoulders. He ran his hands through it, still struggling to believe it would all be on the shop floor in just a short while. He handed her back her clip even though he knew she wouldn’t be using it for a long time.
“Let me just ask to be sure, you want this all shaved off?” he asked
Naomi took a nervy breath and nodded “Yes I do”
While she had seemed confident the whole time, Roy was beginning to pick up on some nerves which made him only more excited. This was after all a massive change, no level of confidence could change that. He walked to the counter in front of her and picked up his corded Wahl clippers.
“Well let’s get started shall we” he said as he turned and made eye contact with her. She definitely was looking more nervous now he thought. He wanted to toy with her, drawing out this moment as long as he could. He quickly switched on and off the clippers making sure they were working and she jolted at the noise.
“Don’t think these have ever been used on a girl before” he noted
Naomi simply smiled timidly in reply. She really was scared he thought.
He moved around to her right side and began running his hand through her hair again.
“Nervous?” he asked? He felt almost cruel for saying so as it was so obvious.
“Mmhmm” she murmured.
“Let’s do it then” he stated. He turned on the clippers and she flinched again at the sound. With his left hand he pulled back some of the hair on her crown and held her head still. He brought the roaring clippers up to the middle of her forehead. He looked at her in the mirror and could see the fear all over her face.
“Say bye to your hair” Roy said
He pushed the clippers into the mane of curls. The noise changed into a deeper rumble as they bit through the hair. He slowly pulled the clippers across her scalp, the clippers leaving pale skin in their wake. He reached his left hand on the back on her head and he pulled the clippers away. She now had a strip of bare skin right down the middle of her head. Some of the curls had fallen to the ground, the rest on the cape, either around her shoulders or tumbling down into her lap.
He looked at Naomi in the mirror, her mouth open in disbelief. She leaned her head forward inspecting the shaven path down the middle of the curls.
“No going back now” she said softly
“Definitely not” Roy replied
Then with his left head still holding the back of her head, he placed the clippers at the forehead to the right of where he began and pulled them back through her hair. Bundles of dark thick curls rolled down the cape adding to the pile on the floor and on her lap. He went for a third pass as more and more of her mane was detached from her head. The store was quiet except for the sound of the clippers and the occasional soft noise of hair sliding down the cape. He had now reached her right ear and he folded it over as he ran the clippers around it. The whole right side of her head was now bare. Roy could not believe how much he was enjoying stripping away her former crowning glory.
“You know most of my friends didn’t believe me when I said I was going to do this” Naomi said
“Well I would like to see their reactions on Monday then” he chuckled in reply. “Put your chin down please”
Naomi obliged and Roy moved to behind her and grabbed a handful of her hair at her nape. He ran the clippers up her neck meeting the point he had reached with his first pass of the clippers. He was now holding a handful of her curls which he unceremoniously tossed onto her lap.
“I can’t believe how much hair I have” she exclaimed as she eyed the pile in her lap.
“Hair you had, I think you mean. And we’re not even half way”
He continued running the clippers over her nape, more and more hair falling to the ground. Now she only had hair from the middle to her left ear, with her nape devoid of her curls.
“What do you think so far?” Roy asks
“ I still can’t believe I actually did this” she said, clearly still shocked at the dramatic shearing that had occurred so far. “Guess I’ll have to wait and see after its all off.”
Roy nodded, “Well your head shape is fine so nothing to worry about there”
He moved to her left side and placed the clippers at her forehead again and plunged them into her dense curls. Hair slide down onto the floor joining the pile of her soft bouncy curls. He continued shearing away her hair moving towards her left ear. He reached her ear which he folded over and buzzed away the rest of her curls. He grabbed the last handful of curls and with one movement brought the powerful clippers through the hair. He held up the last locks and held them up for her to see.
“That was the last of it” he announced, then let the bundle drop onto her lap, joining the mass of curls spread across the black and white cape. Her head was now bare. She still looked in shock at what had just happened.
“Wow” she managed, giving a slight smile.
“I’m just gonna go over everything, make sure it’s all even”
She nodded and he began running the clippers over her head.
“I gotta say, I think you look amazing with this look.” He looked at her in the mirror and smiled. “I almost felt bad at the start taking away all that hair, but it really suits you”
“Thanks” she replied smiling back. “It’s gonna take some getting used to for sure” she turned her head slightly observing herself in the mirror “But yeah I like it too. Still can’t believe I did this.”
“Were you thinking about this for a while?” Roy asked
“For a few months yeah. I used to tell my Mom and she was mortified but now that I’m 18 she said it’s my choice. I could tell your Dad was a nice guy so I knew if I ever did it I would come here.”
“Well she’s barely gonna recognise you” he smirked back
“I know, I know”
Roy pushed her chin down and cleaned up the nape area. He then used his barber brush to clean away any loose hair and then announced “Ok, well I think we’re all done here”
He lowered the chair and turned it around, facing away from the mirror. He unclipped the cape and pulled it off her. All the curls on the cape fell joining the rest of her mane on the ground. Naomi looked down in visible shock at the massive piles of her dark curls surrounding the chair.
“How did I have so much hair? Crazy to think that was all on my head 15 minutes ago”
Roy simply smiled in return.
Her hands went up to her head.
“Oh wow” she exclaimed as she rubbed her bald hair “Now this is crazy”
“Great feeling right?”
“Mmm yes it feels so nice”
She got up from the chair and moved closer to the mirror surveying her new style. She couldn’t stop smiling.
“I love it. Thank you so much” she said turning back to Roy.
“No problem at all. That was the most dramatic haircut I’ve ever done”
“I can imagine” she replied, looking back at her former mane of curls now spread across the checkered floor.
“So how much do I owe you?”
“No don’t worry about it, you don’t need to pay. Your our first female customer”
“Are you sure?” she said
“Yes I insist”
“Well next time I’m paying okay?” she replied with a smile
“Oh yeah you’re gonna come back?”
“Well I think I want to keep it short like this for a little while, so where else would I go? Guess you’re my hair stylist now” she replied cheekily.
Roy was overjoyed. “Yes sounds good to me. You’ll probably want it to get trimmed down in a month or so”
“I guess I’ll see you then?” she said as she made her way to the door.
“Perfect” he grinned back at her
“Well thank you again, I’ll see you next time”
“See you later”
She closed the door and Roy watched her freshly shaved head cross the street.
Roy walked back over to the chair and picked up the broom. He was still struggling to believe what had just happened as he looked down at the endless amounts of thick perfect curls laying limp in piles. He swept away all the hair and picked it all up between his two hands. He felt the weight for a second before tossing it in the hair trash bag. He was confused by the feeling that shearing gave him, he had never felt so excited in his life. As he closed the store he thought about how he couldn’t wait for Naomi to come back.