It started at age 15 or so, the whole haircut “dash & dine” – and it’s been my M.O. for 40 years now. Always the same approach. Walk in to a barbershop, sit, watch, wait my turn, never another person in the shop. Approach the chair and when asked, always the same response. Years ago it was “short over the ears and clippered in the back” – I swear I’ve been in hundreds, maybe more, of barbershops and after 40 + years, it still gets me excited.
I’ve sat in more chairs, in more shops, all over the world – all with the same plan. Wait until no ones in the shop or arrive early, just as they open. When asked how I want my hair cut, or the “how short are we going” the question that makes me melt, I’ve perfected my exit strategy! My instructions have been the same for years.
“My wife loves it super short, military looking” with instructions for cuts that always included the huge clippers, my favorites by far! And judging from the scene, my escape after I’ve communicated my desires usually meant the same excuse. Just as the barber fired up those large and in charge clippers, and at times – the forced head down push, I always managed to halt the shearing with the old, “Can I grab my wallet out of my car, or let me grab my keys etc…) anything to stop the cut just as it was about to start. I’ve literally left this way in hundreds of shops, the thrill of sitting for a shearing and bolting right before the blade touched my head always gave me the biggest fucking rush ever! It’s been my life, my obsession, has cost me relationships, a marriage, and now constant push back from my 2nd wife of 5 years. Pushing her to live the “buzzed lifestyle” has somewhat worked – lately not so much, as the digs that her hair is “shaggy, too long, or she needs a haircut” has driven her away… This is a real addiction – a real fucking addition…
So this past weekend I was of course googling new barbershops as as I often did, and living in a metro area of over 6 million people, there was always a new shop popping up somewhere. Well not always – I’ve certainly visited my share in the area in the past, some with the same M.O. twice or 3 times for sure! So today, I noticed a new shop 1 hour south and read the reviews. Joan, the owner, opened a new shop on the south-side of town and looked intriguing. Joan’s Barbershop was the name with the motto “Best Flattops in the area” pasted on a rather crappy website. I was hooked, I was going Today, Monday, and would be there as the shop opened. Waking early with butterfly’s, even after 40 fucking years, I was ready for Joan to sit me down, cape me, and I was to pull off another escape…
Arriving at 7:45, with the shop opening at 8, I sat and stalked the shop praying no other customers would drive up. An older frumpy lady arrived, opened the door and I made my way in behind her – I loved walking in the barbershop at opening, hoping the barber needed additional time for coffee, prep etc… – I would simply soak in the atmosphere..
Joan, after adjusting the air temp, lubricating her clippers and sweeping the remaining hair from he previous day, bellowed the words…
“Can I help you young man” and with cock rock hard, I walked over and sat. The silence was awkward, but in an instant, I was caped, chair pumped and ready for the cut. Thoughts of my keys, my wallet, whatever, I’m been through this shit many time before. I was ready for the escape.
“How short are we going” she said as she spun me toward the mirror.
“Well I’ve never been here before, but I was in the area, and saw the post on your website that said the world’s best flattop, my wife absolutely loves a tight flattop, so I guess I’m good with that”
“Not a problem, but I usually take my Flattops super short, skintight anyway, your wife will love it for sure!” My dick popped to attention and as I was just about to make my escape with the keys/wallet excuse. Joan said she would be back in a few minutes, she had to visit the ladies room and grab a fresh cup of coffee from the back. I was in heaven! Instructions for a shearing, getting to enjoy the chair for a few more minutes and then as always, leaving the chair to grab whatever bullshit from the truck and then driving off.. I bet I driven off from 300 shops.
Just as Joan began to stir in the back, I tried walking out. What the fuck, the cape was so tight and though I’ve pulled a Houdini many times in the past, I couldn’t get this fucking thing off my neck. “Too tight’? as she walked up an sat her cup of Joe on the counter.
“I’m good” but do you mind if I go grab my keys and wallet off my car seat, I can’t believe I left it there”
“No worries, go ahead and grab it – don’t need anyone stealing your car, she said as she lowered the seat.
“Want to take this off (cape)?
“No, it’s pinned on tight, you’re losing a lot of hair, it keeps it from itching for sure, you’ll be good to run out to your car”! My mind raced, WTF, would I just drive off with the cape around my neck, I already tried to get the fucking thing off. Then it happened. The door opened to the shop and a familiar face caught my eye. I knew the lady, just couldn’t place her until…
“Coach Jack! How are you, it’s Tracy from the ball team, I didn’t know you lived in the area? I work here two days a week, did you need a haircut?”
Holy shit! It was a lady with a kid on my grandson’s travel ball team. And after a few words, I knew I was fucked!
“Yeah I was in the area and stopped in for a quick haircut” I said as I explained my situation, all a fat lie of course!
“Stopped in for a Joan’s special” Joan said as she held the clippers in her hand awaiting my return. I now had 2 choices. Leave and take the cape fastened on my neck and drive off, or walk back in for my sentencing! I even thought of the disappearing act, but what would I say to Tracy at our next ball practice? Within a few minutes I was in her chair, heart racing, The shit got real!
As I sat silently, Tracy began a conversation about the kids on the team, the weather, whatever – I fucking wasn’t listening. I wondered what I would look like after the shearing. As I glanced up at the old style price board on the wall, the severity of the situation hit me. Prices for buzz cuts, one blade, GI, Induction cuts, regulars etc. Then at the bottom was the killer.
Joan’s Classic Flattop $25 / Skin tight back/sides (whitewalls) w/horseshoe top, flat and squared. Includes straight razor shave.
As she pumped the chair and clicked on the loud clippers, and with a quick, but forceful push down on my head, the cold blade went up the back of my neck and after 3 or 4 passes, the barber turned the chair slightly to the left. At that moment Tracy walked up toward the chair.
“I picked up a Starbucks iced coffee this morning, I know you’ve wanted to try it” as she sat it on the counter.
“Girl you better leave a little bit of hair on his head, his wife always makes fun of him at the games for using hair gel” she said walking off sitting right in front with her iPad.
“He came to the wrong place for that, I don’t think he’ll need any gel once he leaves this chair” she said laughing as she turned the clippers back on and began the assault on my head. For years I’ve dreamed of this moment, never even thinking of going through with it – ever! Clumps of hair fell in my lap, and small hairs flew from the powerful blades and the force of the motor. After 20 minutes or so, and many blade changes later, she reached for a pair of clean up (balding clippers) and any remaining hair 3/4 way up my scalp was now falling. A slow turn toward the mirror revealed a bald, white scalp – I felt helpless
After 40 years, I’ve been sentenced. And with a few pumps from water bottle on the top, and a thorough brushing back of the top (bangs) my signature look, she grabbed my temple and help my head in place. Holy shit! The flattoper, the comb specifically for flattops rested on my crown. The 76’s with no guard left me with little more than an 1/2 inch on top, as she molded it into a perfectly squared landing strip. And with a few passes on top, I was ready for a fleet of fucking airplanes to take off and land on my head. Other than on the edges, I was fucking bald. My wife would certainly be pissed…
The next 15 minutes included creme from a hot lather machine, which took any remaining hair and plastered it on the razor sharp blade. And with a dash of talc and some tonic that burned like hell on my neck, she removed the cape and turned me toward the mirror. Handing me a smaller mirror, I was now able to see my new haircut. At 55, I was ready for boot camp!
“There you go hun” Joan said as she lead me over to pay. As I walked over I felt as if the world had been lifted off my shoulders.
“Here’s my card with the days I work – Tell your wife that in order to keep your haircut that tight, you’ll need to be here a few times a month at least.