Sam was nearing 30 years old and he had never gotten a haircut he liked. Growing up alone with only his mom meant he was taken to the hair salon for a trim every few months when she was getting her hair done. The old lady stylist never gave Sam any options; his thick wavy brown hair was trimmed back to chin length and the fringe to his eyebrows.
He longed to go to the barber shop for a proper men’s haircut. By the time he was out on his own he could not muster up the courage and found even the thought of going to the barber too intimidating. He’d go to Supercuts whenever his hair started to brush the top of his collar and maintained the boring short back and sides cut he’d been getting since he was a boy.
On his 30th birthday Sam made his way to the nearest chain hair salon according to Google maps. He wanted to look sharp when he went out for drinks with his friends. He passed by a traditional looking barber shop with the door open. The sound of clippers buzzing and men chatting made its way out the door. He hurried by but felt a pang of excitement in his stomach. He stopped at the corner and impulsively turned around, walking back to the barbers.
He poked his head in and asked if there was any availability for a haircut that afternoon. “Just a couple guys ahead of you if you wanna grab a seat,” replied one of the barbers, busy running the clippers down the back of a cute, chubby blonde guy’s head. Sam tentatively walked in, unzipping his jacket. He hung it on the wall and sat down next to a shaggy haired guy thumbing through a magazine.
It was difficult for Sam to maintain his cool. He had fantasized about getting his hair cut at a barbershop for as long as he could remember and that fantasy was about to come true. He watched videos of men getting haircuts he longed for, and deep down he knew what he wanted was a high and tight. However, he was way too freaked out to request that. He kept his head down in the waiting area, scanning his phone but paying no attention, trying to keep himself from staring at the men currently in the chairs.
“Next!” called one of the three barbers working, and a handsome ginger man got up and sat in the vacant chair. A few more minutes and the guy sitting next to Sam was called over. Sam’s heart began to beat a bit faster as he realized he was next. There was no backing down. This was really going to…
“Hey! Come on over!” his thoughts were interrupted by the newly available barber. Sam hoped his nervousness wasn’t too apparent as he made his way to the chair. He sat down on the green leather seat and placed his feet on the metal foot rest. The barber introduced himself as Freddie. “So what are we doing today?” he asked.
Sam had no idea what to say. He’d let his hair get a bit wild and out of control. The top was probably around three inches long and so thick. “I’d like to go much shorter,” he started. Freddie ran his fingers through the top. “Whoa, you’ve got a lot of thick hair here. It must get pretty hot.”
“Yes,” Sam replied definitively. “Let’s buzz it pretty short.”
“So like, maybe a #2 on the sides and back and a few inches long on top?”
“No, I was thinking even shorter. I want it very short.”
Freddie seemed skeptical, but asked “Okay, so maybe a zero skin fade high up and like finger width on top? That’s a pretty big change!”
“It’s my birthday, I’m ready for a change,” Sam assured the barber.
“Okay, birthday boy. Let’s do it!” Freddie fastened a white cape with black pinstripes around Sam’s neck. “Take your glasses off, please.”
Sam took one last look at his thick shaggy hair in the mirror in front of him, and removed his metal framed glasses, handing them over to the barber. His hair was almost in his eyes. Freddie placed the glasses on the counter and grabbed one of several varieties of clippers. They were smallish with no guard on the blades. He spun Sam around in the chair so he was no longer facing himself in the mirror and fired up the clippers.
He felt the clipper blades cutting into the hair high on the side of his head. The barber was slowly cutting the guide line for the fade. Sam felt a little nervous as he realized the line was quite high on his head. Freddie made small talk, asking Sam about his plans for his birthday. He had a hard time responding as he saw and felt his thick dark hair showering down and collecting on the cape in his lap and all over the floor.
“Wow, that’s a lot of hair,” Sam said meekly.
Freddie chuckled, “That’s hardly anything yet!” He turned off the smaller clippers and picked up a much larger Oster model which roared to life with a snap, making Sam jump. He felt the blades on his nape and once again thick clumps of hair began showering down from his head. Freddie turned the chair every now and then but Sam could never catch a glimpse of what was happening to his head in a mirror.
He could feel it though. It quickly felt much cooler on the back of his head. The barber clicked the clippers off and brushed around Sam’s ears and nape with a soft brush. Next, he saw the foil shaver in the barber’s hands and felt it reducing the remaining stubble to nothing. Sam panicked. He had never had a haircut this short. He started freaking out a little, afraid he was going to look awful. The shaver mercilessly buzzed all around his head for what felt like an eternity.
Eventually the shaver was switched for the Osters again, this time with a guard to fade the bare skin up into the remaining untouched hair on Sam’s crown. The buzzing stopped and the brush came out again, and very very short hair littered all over the cape.
“Okay, that’s a lot of hair?” Sam said, slightly in the form of a question, staring down at the dense tumbleweeds of hair on the ground that had minutes earlier still been attached to his scalp.
“Yeah, that is,” Freddie agreed, “but there’s more on the way.” He grabbed a water spray bottle and began soaking the long, thick mop still left on the top. “Your hair really is so thick,” he said, continuing to wet it for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, he put the spray bottle down and began to comb the soaking wet hair. It took some effort to drag the comb through. He took out his shears and started hacking away several inches with each snip.
Sam’s heart jumped in his chest as the remaining long hair was unceremoniously hacked off. He could not believe how much cooler he felt without it. He only hoped it LOOKED cool too. He was actually scared as the last long pieces fluttered down. He heard Freddie put the shears down and explain he was going to use the thinning shears on the top, and soon very thick clumps of very short hair accumulated in his lap.
The snipping stopped, and the brush was once again dusting over his nape, neck, ears and face. “Okay, gonna let you check it out before the hot lather shave on your neck,” Freddie said, handing Sam his glasses. He worked his hands out from under the cape where he’d been gripping the arm rests for dear life and put his glasses on as Freddie finally spun the chair around to face the mirror.
Sam internally gasped and felt his heart speed up as he caught his first glimpse. He stared at himself in disbelief. Freddie had given him the exact haircut he had always dreamed about but never got the courage to ask for. His nape and sides were shaved completely bald. The fade was high, starting inches above his ears. The top was mostly tight along the crown, with a bit more volume and texture up front, but the hair at its longest was barely 3/4ths of an inch. The cut looked great and really suited his features.
“It’s perfect,” Sam quietly responded, barely able to hear himself over his rapid heart beat.
“Great! I’ll just clean it up then,” said Freddie as he grabbed a handful of hot shaving foam. Sam slipped off his glasses and closed his eyes as the barber tipped his head down and rubbed the hot lather on his nape and around his ears. He slowly dragged a straight razor around the foamy areas and Sam was surprised there was any hair left to be shorn.
He felt a warm towel, more brushing, and a quick blast from a hair dryer when Freddie declared “We’re all done!” The cape was unsnapped and the remaining hair fell to the ground. Sam paused a second in disbelief that he once had all that hair on his now liberated head. He caught one more glimpse in the mirror and again felt his heart speed up. He thanked Freddie profusely and paid with a generous tip, and made an appointment for a few weeks’ time so he could maintain his new close cut.
He didn’t make it far from the shop before he stopped to feel his head. He had never felt bald scalp before and was alarmed at how cold and smooth his own head felt. The faded area felt like very fine sandpaper and the top was spiky with a little bit of hair paste in it. He’d never felt anything so sensuous in his life. He took a quick selfie and compared it with the last one he’d taken the night before. He was in awe. He’d always hated his hair and had no idea it was because he’d never had the right haircut. He vowed to see Freddie once a month from then on.