We walked down the mall chatting away like girls do. I was sipping on a smoothie while holding my handbag in my elbow. I was wearing tan short-shorts that ended less than halfway to my knees leaving creamy, lightly tanned and toned legs bare. I had on a simple grey halter top with thin straps and was very skinny like many thirteen-year olds. I had long, fine, dark, dark reddish hair from a bottle that swayed girlishly across my back and framed my face with high cheekbones. I loved the way that the air conditioning in the mall and my walking would gently sway some locks across my head, lightly tickling me.
Occasionally I took the liberty to look at my friend Chloe next to me. A blonde who was pretty much my same size with a soft, cute face. She wore tan short-shorts and a white short-sleeved T.Â Her envious, long blonde hair was in a high-pony held in place with a shiny black scrunchie made of latex. There were a few whispy strands of pale blond hair at the bottom of the back of her neck, being too short to be part of the pony, that were sticking to her neck because of light sweating.
Moving down a large concourse with shops on either side lit by sky-lighting, my eye was drawn to a spinning barber pole on the right side up ahead.
“Was that there the last time I was here?” I thought.
A small sign hung out from the wall saying “Tiffany’s Beauty Barber”
“Was that there the last time we were here?” Chloe asked just as I was about to say the same thing.
“I don’t think so. But it has been awhile.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
I thought about my hair situation. For my whole life my mom decided where I got my haircuts and made sure my hair never got too messy or unkept.Â But a week ago my mom gave me some money and said that I was old enough to take myself to get it cut and go where I wanted. The only stipulation she laid down was “just get it cut sometime in the next month”.
I hadn’t given it much thought so far. But for some reason this unusual sight made me want to see what it looked like inside as we passed by.
It turned out to be nothing like a usual store at all. The entire place was merely a ten foot deep alcove in the wall about fifteen feet across. There was no door or any windows, just a recess that was just enough for the two barber chairs to not jut out into the walkway. In front of the chairs was a wall-to-wall vanity with a hard white countertop and a wall-to-wall, spotless mirror above it. Below the counter were cabinets. The whole thing looked very cozy but out of place. Bright lights above the mirror burned bright but the richly finished, fine wood walls made it seem warm rather than glaring.
I didn’t quite know what to think about what it would be like to get a haircut in such a public place; basically right on the side of the huge, noisy, bustlingÂ hall. Plus I had never even been in a barbering shop before. Only posh, quiet salons where most of the business done were colorings, extensions, long shampoos, special styling with the occasional haircut consisting of an inch or so snipped off to keep the split-ends away.
The last thing I noticed about it was the woman sitting in the right chair with its back to us, reading a book. I could see she had brown hair that was worn up in a chignon and wore a black, long-sleeved shirt with a dark grey vest over it and black pants. A bright yellow cape hung over the back of the chair she was sitting in and a zebra print one was on the other chair.
“Are you thinking about getting your haircut there?” Chloe asked.
“Huh?” I replied, a little confused. Then I realized that I had stopped right in front of it and was looking at the place, touching my hair tentatively.
“I don’t know, maybe.”
The woman in the chair had noticed me and was looking at me through the mirror and smiled.
“Can I help you?” she said, laying the book on the counter before getting up and walking around the chair to face us.
“How much are your haircuts?”
“$10. You want one?”
“Why don’t you sit down and we can talk about a style for you.”
IÂ looked at Chloe and she looked back and shrugged her shoulders.
“What if somebody I know sees me?” I said to her.
“Then I guess you’ll have to get a radical enough look that nobody will recognize you.” Chloe said with a grin.
“Haha.” I retorted sarcastically.
I then walked over to, and around the front of the chair and climbed in.Â I stepped up onto the metal footrest then eased myself back, causing my shorts to ride up even more, covering no more than panties do. My slightly exposed cheeks quietly squeaked against the PVC cushion. It felt like I was sitting on a soft brick.
Meanwhile, Chloe had taken up residence in the other barber chair to watch.
Then I felt slender hands on my shoulders, pulling me back against the backrest and rolling my shoulders back.
“I’m Amanda. Nice to meet you.” she introduced, us staring at each other in the mirror.
“I’m Sam and that’s Chloe” I returned, indicating my friend.
“Haircuts for both of you?” Amanda inquired.
“No, I’m just a neutral party in all this.” Chloe chirped, smiling.
“Alright then, so what are you thinking? Clean up, or change?”
“I’m not sure.” I confessed sheepishly.
“What kind of cuts have you had in the past?”
“My last style was awhile ago, a long shoulder length bob. Before that my mom used to give me a boy crop for most of my life,Â like my brother.”
As I was saying this she was touching and stroking my hair, getting a feeling for it.
“That would be cute on you.”
“I hated it.”
“Did you hate hit because of the look or because you were forced to have it?”
“Mmmmm.” pursing my lips together in thought and studying myself in the mirror, seated in a barber chair for the first time. I looked cute in it I decided. “Maybe just a shoulder length bob with no bangs then.” I said finally.
I nodded in answer.
“If you say so.” came the reply and then the chair was swiftly spun around, away from the mirror. I heard a sound as the noisy, nylon cape was whisked off the back of the chair. Then I felt her hands brush past my long hair as she brought forward a length of some kind of itchy tissue underneath my chin then stretching it tightly around my neck, encasing it like a choker. It compressed my neck a little and I could feel the soft, pulse of my artery against the tight wrap. Next I heard a rustling as the cape was shaken loose before having it flung out in front of me and snapped open then quickly pulled up with a flourish around the middle of my slender neck and buttoned.
At this point, Amanda turned around and began opening drawers and pulling out various items and setting them on the hard counter. I looked over at Chloe who was in the middle of texting. Not finding any solace there I looked forward at the never ending flow of people wandering by, window shopping and the like. Sometimes people would look at me with curiosity as they walked by, some stopping to sit on the rest benches in the middle of the causeway next to the rows of potted plants and billboards that separated each side of the hall; sipping coffee or something. A pair of girls a few years older than me stopped a few feet away and stared at the prices on the wall for haircuts, one pulling down her sunglasses and leaning in. After a moment and a gaze at me they looked at each other and grinned before walking away.
It was then that I noticed the store right across the hall from me; a lingerie shop. I blushed as I saw the huge billboard next to the window that featured a sexy woman in almost nothing on her knees, leaning on her haunches with her chest thrust out, head back, staring at me. My eyes were drawn however, to her hair. She sported a highly styled, very short blonde pixie with a wispy, spiky top and tightly clippered back and sides very short; as short as you can go without seeing skin. Her head was arched back and her eyes and expression seemed to say, “you don’t look like me? Tsk, tsk.”
My daze was interrupted by the chair being raised and a final combing out before two large, pink snap hair-clips were pushed through my hair, one on each side, scrapping along my scalp and separating/sectioning all of the hair from my ears forward like two pigtails that hung down over my breasts. Amanda put her hands which were holding scissors and a comb, one on each side on my neck and guided my head forward slightly. My pulse quickened. But I couldn’t take my eyes off of the hair of that damn woman. I stared up with my eyes at her and thought about the short hair I used to hate all those years ago and felt a yearning.
“Um..Amanda?” I began, not quite sure how to proceed, having not given this much thought.
I felt her stop abruptly, scissors on my back, ready to cut.
“I was just thinking about what you said about, uh..you know, short hair and stuff.”
“Rethinking it?” she asked hopefully.
“Yeah, well…I was wondering what kind of style you think would look good on me and uh…you know…sexy.” the last part barely above a whisper.
Amanda let out a giggle and I flushed crimson. I felt a rush of blood and a tingling in my tummy I’d not quite experienced before. I was enjoying the excitement but didn’t know why I was enjoying it. Out of my peripheral vision, I could see Chloe stop texting and look up, beginning to take an interest in the proceedings,.
“Like I said, a boy-cut crop would look great on you but I could make it more girly if you like.” Amanda said.
I turned my head around to look at her as she was talking.
“Yeah, that would be cool.” I said, nodding, which rustled the cape audibly. “You’re sure it will look good?”
“Yeah, let me show you.”
At this she put her hands on my face and turned it forward again.
“I’ll go up like this” she said, pushing her fingers through my hair from the bottom of my nape upwards. This feeling helped calm my nerves a little. “Remove all of this bulk and then I’ll cut it down on the top, but leave extra length if you like. It’s good because you can wear it slick and dressy, or down and girly and it will work either way.”
“Ok, lets do that then.” I said with a slight nod.
“Righty then.” She responded, sounding a little more invested than she was before.
The hair clips were quickly removed from my hair. She began combing and pulling my hair into a high and tight pony before tying it with an elastic tie in the way that any long haired girl can do in her sleep. I strained my neck forward against the pulling taught of the pony tail until I heard a scrunching sound and something separating from my head. The severed hair was cast to the floor without fanfare or afterthought. My dark, red hair swung down and kissed the bottom of my jaw. She roughly tussled it around playing with it.
“Hard part’s over with.” Amanda said.
She took a rat-tailed comb in her hand and combed the hair down a final time, the hair bouncing up after each stroke, before using the pointed end to trace a line around my crown, sectioning all of the hair on top of my head up, winding it in a bun and leaving the rest hanging.
The next thing I knew was her standing on my left side with a large comb and cold steel shears in hand. She inserted her comb vertically at my left temple, near the skin and with a tickling sensation, pulled the hair out an inch before snipping it off with loud scissoring sounds. Over a foot of hair was separated from my head and slid down the cape. Next she combed another section out and hastily hacked away, clearly getting rid of all of the excess hair to begin with; scissors reflecting the light in a blur. Snip Snip Snip as she continued to pull more hair via the comb. My light, dry hair being easy to handle. Another clump was sliced cleanly and it dropped quickly down to the floor below after bouncing off of the yellow cape on the way down. Hair after hair dropped without ceremony, some plopping down on my shrouded body and some small clippings sticking to my neck and collar, itching terribly. Amanda was now behind me, continuing with scissor-over-comb technique. What was left behind was a short, neat side that revealed my dark black natural roots. Almost done now, CLIP-CLIP…CLIP-CLIP…CLIP-CLIP. The last of my long strands dropped in tufts on the covered armrest and floor. The scissoring and combing was done swiftly as this was the least precise part of the cut.
I heard the sound of scissors and comb being set down. The sound of a drawer opening came after and something with a cord being unraveled and plugged in.
“We’ll start with a #3 tapered and go from there. Sound good?” She piqued.
“Uh huh.” I said, having no idea what a #3 was. I had never had clippers used on me before.
Underneath the cape, I brought my hands up to my neck and scratched and picked at the enclosure. I cocked my head from side to side to try and loosen it and shake some of the hairs loose to no effect. I put my hands back on the armrests as Amanda approached from behind.
She picked up her large clippers and popped them on. A very loud mechanical whirring sound rang out to greet the din of the many shoppers and reverberated off the walls causing a couple of people who were reading magazines or papers to glance up at me for a moment before going back to their business.
Amanda put her left hand on top of my head to steady it, then pushed the the vibrating machine up my nape. The sound changing noticeably as it crunched into my fine hair. I could only imagine what the hair that dropped down the back of the chair looked like. It was a messy job, as there were strands that were missed on the first pass. Amanda had to go over each area multiple times to get it all.
It was a most unusual feeling. It felt like someone was running their fingers through my hair. I felt the clippers push into the back of my head once again and push against her steadying hold as they slowly moved up wwhhirrrrrrrrrr more hair again rained down on my caped shoulders WWHHRIRrrrrIRRRrrrrr the sound moving closer then farther away from my ear. I also felt the teeth of the plastic guard scrapping against my skin. She started pushing them hard against my neck and up, in a different spot; pushing my head forward a little and clippering away to expose my head to the chilly air. Whhirrrrrr-zzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZ-whhirrrrr the clippers were flicked up and away once they reached the top, depositing an especially large clump of hair on the floor. Sometimes I would feel a slight pulling or tugging here and there but for the most part it was far more pleasant than I had feared. The relentless clipping continued as the back of my head was finished. Amanda moved her left hand to cup my forehead and push the clippers up the right side of my head, behind my ear and run them over and in front of my temple, depositing huge clumps of hair on me like a lawnmower spewing mulch. I looked down at my body and watched the hairs slip and slide down the smooth cape like teflon, over my knees then past the hem of the cape above my exposed ankles, some landing on the footrest. I was literally covered in hair clippings now. She started using quick, short up-and-down and forward-and-backward strokes moving around my head faster, wandering in no particular pattern. She brushed off my shoulders with her hand and moved to the left side for the same result.
After almost ten minutes of solid clippering, the machine was turned off, the sound still ringing in my ears. A small pair of clippers were turned on, emitting a high pitched buzzing, and turned upside down to clean the hairline on my neck. They tickled as they carefully peeled away any uneven hairs in short movements. Amanda used these to shape my nape into a feminine point at the bottom.
“How’s that?” Amanda said before turning them off and taking a blow dryer to quickly blow the clippings off my body and face.
“So far it’s good.” I said.
The clip holding my top hair was removed, allowing the longer hair to fall down. By now a couple of kids and Chloe had stopped to watch; I wished that they would just go away. I was even more nervous about somebody I knew walking over and seeing me in the process of getting my haircut as I always have this ‘deer in the headlights’ look with nowhere to go and no way to hide my face. This has always been something that bothered me from the first times that my mom took me to the salon where she would sit right behind me where we could both see each other in the mirror and she’d smile as she watched me getting my haircut. Plus your hair usually look silly when you’re only halfway through. You know that feeling you get when you dream about yourself being naked around a group of people you know? It’s kind of like that. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
A cold mist of water was sprayed onto my head, wetting down my hair as it was combed out. Amanda walked around the chair continuing to spray until my hair was good and wet. Stringy strands of cold hair laid flat and clung to my neck and face. She neatly combed my hair back, her left hand following the comb in her right hand, smoothing the hair and making sure the water was distributed evenly throughout. A couple drops of water ran down my neck and onto the tissue around my neck.
Once satisfied, she separated my hair along a center part and combed it down, bangs forward. The steel scissors were placed an inch above my eyebrows and snipped off. They dropped onto the cape with a soft plat. Amanda combed the hair on my right side out horizontally between two fingers and cut a couple of inches off. The shortened hair fell back against the side of my head not even reaching the tops of my ears now. A few quick strokes down to re-comb before she pulled the hair out again, using the previous cut as a guide. In this manner she reduced the wet locksÂ all the way around into a bowl-cut.
My eyes wandered periodically but mostly just ended up looking down at the floor in front of me because I felt nervous in front of so many people walking by.
She went around my head again, combing the hair down with deliberate sweeps to check the length, snipping occasionally here and there.
The comb was then inserted at the top of my forehead to pull my front hair back then straight up between her fingers. A guide line was cut into them making it even shorter. This guide was used for her to cut my hair over my head, one section at a time working her way back. The comb’s teeth raked my scalp as more was swept up and held between middle and index fingers. The drooping hair above her fingers was precisely cut off to drop down. She worked fairly quickly, evening out the longer hairs on top, re-combing the hair back after each cut, each time the scissors closed they made a noticeable slicing sound.
After this Amanda came to my left side, her breast almost brushing my shoulders, from here she pulled the cold hair into a mohawk in the center by scrapping the comb across my scalp. She combed the right side and left side together into the middle of my crown over and over again until it was pulled up, painfully taut, causing me to blink in discomfort. She pulled the hair forward slightly and sliced off more at an angle with a of couple snips, making it a little shorter towards the back of my head. Hair rained down in front of my eyes. This was repeated several more times. My longest hair now only several inches long and combed forward.
Finally happy, Amanda turned around and set her scissors and comb down and picked up the large clippers again, brushing the teeth off with a stiff wire brush.
“Now for the #2.” she offered.
“It’s going to be shorter?” I asked
With guard attached and turning them on she used her hands to guide my head downward causing me to stare into my lap and what was left of my hair on the cape. She started at the bottom and used a scooping motion to make shorter passes up reducing the length still further. The small hairs that came off were like sawdust now and hung in the air for a moment as a cloud. My head was rolled around from this side to the other as she moved the clippers around to the sides of my head. Occasionally the chair was turned a little bit as she went around.
Turning the clippers off, Amanda removed the guard and used clippers over comb on the line between the top and sides of my hair to blend the length a little. They made a most peculiar clacking sound as they were run across. By this time I could tell that the haircut was almost done and shortly after, she turned them off and replaced them with the edging clippers once again.
She went around my hairline, up around my ears and along my sideburns making a precise hairline all the way around. I kept my head up and perfectly still and soaked in the delightful tickling feeling and closing my eyes. Next the cape was unsnapped with one hand and loosened, the tissue around my neck came loose and fell into my lap with the hair. A towel was tucked into the back of my top so she could trim the bottom of my neck and the top of my back, going down almost to my shoulder blades which gave me goose-bumps. After setting the clippers down, Amanda picked up a sharp straight razor and walked up behind me, putting her hand on the back of my head to steady it then lightly scrapped away any possibility of peach fuzz from my neck while dry.
“How about a haircut for you too blondie?” Amanda asked as she finally set down her tools and used the dry towel to wipe the back and sides of my head, dusting any loose hairs away.
“No thank you, I’m good.” Chloe answered.
“You really need a haircut, you know.” Amanda said with a frown. I looked over at Chloe while being dusted.
The chair was spun around again to face the mirror and I couldn’t believe what I saw staring back. I had the most adorable, wispy, head clinging haircut with length on the top to style.
“Do you want product in it?” I was asked.
Amanda got some thick gel in her hand and petted it on top of my head then used to comb to part my now glistening, dark hair. She combed the front back and to the side for a very formal look, really enhancing my good skin and complementing my features. This plus the fact that the remnants of my red hair contrasted with the short, black, natural hair.
“What do you think?” she asked, pulling the cape away and folding it.
“I..uh..wow. I don’t know what to say.” I stammered.
“I told you.” her smile said it all.
I was still sitting there, poking and prodding at my hair when I saw her walk over to the chair that Chloe was sitting in, which had been turned toward me by Chloe to watch the cut. Amanda turned the chair towards the mirror and pulled the zebra cape off of the back.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Chloe asked, sounding a little panicked.
“You’re not leaving here without at least a neck trim. I can’t have you walking out of this place looking like that. It’s bad for business.” Amanda scolded while putting the cape over her arm and reaching forward to the counter for a length of neck tissue, tearing it free.
Resuming her position she pulled Chloe back into the chair. The neck tissue was brought around in front of her and pulled around her neck. Chloe had an exasperated look on her face but didn’t know quite what to do, so she just sat there as it was tied off snugly. The cape was thrown over her and fastened over the tissue, this cape was smaller and didn’t cover as much of her.
Amanda raised the chair and picked up the trimming clippers off the counter while Chloe twisted her head around to look at me with a helpless look on her face. I couldn’t suppress a smile as I got comfy to watch.
Grabbing her by her high ponytail, Amanda pushed her head forward while turning on the clippers. She brought them to her hairline in the back and got rid of the wispy strands of hair on her neck. Chloe sat there, stiff as a rod, eyes wide open enduring this unexpected event. The clippers were still buzzing away loudly in the small space and Amanda swept them in quick, downward passes on the sides of Chloe’s neck behind her ears, making the hairline on the sides of her neck symmetrical and clean. Her ears were folded down firmly and the trimmers brought over them. I could see goose-bumps beginning on my friend’s skin. The constant noise continued for another minute of continuous trimming before being turned off and put on the counter and, like with me, a razor was picked up and used to remove any sign fuzz.
After this the cape and tissue were undone with one hand and pulled off while lowering the chair. As soon as her hands were free, Chloe brought them up to feel her neck, which she couldn’t stop stroking as she stood up. I got up to and pulled money out of my purse and handed it to Amanda, telling her to keep the change and thanking her for the cut.
“It was my pleasure.” came the answer with a smile.
“How long should it be between haircuts to maintain this style?” I asked.
“I’d say two to three weeks. The back and sides will start to look noticeably longer at that point and it will get messy and unkempt if you wait any longer than that.”
“You’ll probably be seeing more of me then in the future.” I said, extending my hand and shaking hers.
“Well it was nice meeting you both. Have a great rest of your day.”
I ushered Chloe who was a little confused, out into the mall proper and we set off for the food court.
“Well that was interesting.” I began.
Chloe said, “Yeah, and wow do you look good.”