The balding buzz
I always had a thing for haircuts. It was a great titillation and simultaneously a fear for me. As a kid growing up in the 70s it was one of the most dreaded days of the year. Three sometimes four times a year my father and brother and me would go to the deluxe barbershop at the mall. It was more of a hair salon because they had sinks and female barbers working there but the clientele was decidedly male. Although I was never sheared with clippers, there was always the threat of it.
The style at the time was a lot like a helmet with straight bangs coming to the eyebrows, hair covering the ear, till about the earlobe and hair almost touching the collar in the back. I remember that time Julie the blonde hairdresser cut it halfway up the ear and I almost had a panic attack. But that was nothing compared to the time Michelle cut my bangs halfway up my fore head, I actually cried in the chair when that happened.
I used to meet the McCanna boys at their house before school and we’d walk together. It was always a shock when they opened the door and I saw their freshly buzzed heads. There was that time at the beginning of June 1982 when Billy McCanna opened the door, his eyes clearly red from crying, and his head glowing from being buzzed bald. He said they’d be a couple of more minutes because younger brother Tommy was still getting his summer haircut. When their mother heard that I was at the door she invited me in. Mrs. McCanna was a single mom and still quite good looking. She had long dark curly hair and always wore black jeans and a white blouse, I think she was a waitress. “Oh hi Eric I’m just finishing up here, if you’d like I could give you a summer haircut too”.
I paused out of fear when Jimmy McCanna said “no mom we got to go we’re already late”. Now that was a close call!
And that episode of June 1982 was the closest I ever came to a buzz cut of any kind until just the other day…
Over the years I pretty much kept my hair that same 70s style with hair around the bangs covering most of the ear and touching the collar in the back. Once or twice I grew it into a ponytail and then would get it cut back to my normal style. One day I did it in the course of visiting three different hair salons coming up with some excuse like “my sister started to cut it but I needed a little more off”.
Sometimes, for excitement, I call up a salon and make an appointment and then not show up. When I call I’d usually ask if they did head shaves and hearing what they could do for me, then make the appointment and then not show up. Just the thought of getting a brutal shearing would excite me to no end.
A couple weeks back a sports clips opened up about 3 miles from where I lived. I love the idea of these pretty girls in uniforms giving me a haircut. In the course of the last three weeks I called this particular shop five times asking if they did head shavings. They always told me they don’t use a razor but they could clip it down to the wood.
Last Tuesday I thought I’d actually go in the stop, the local sports clips, and get a trim of my regular haircut and get a good look on the inside. As I got out of the car and walk towards the salon I noticed an attractive blonde In one of the sport clips uniforms talking on her cell phone and smoking a cigarette.
We make eye contact as I go in and it seems like she’s having a bad day. As I enter a good looking brunette at the reception desk invite me in and tells me to have a seat and Jesse will be with me shortly. As a nervously sit waiting to get my usual trim, I take in the lively scene and environment. There are four girls working with their clients chatting and cutting and buzzing away. TVs are on showing various sports channels and the ambience is fairly loud but friendly.
The door opens up again and incomes the blonde from outside exhaling one last drag of a cigarette as she enters. She still looks annoyed when the receptionist says “Jesse your next client is here, he’s the one that wants the bald buzz.”
” Hey, come with me”
Wait, what? I say to myself. I didn’t ask for a bald buzz what’s going on here? I’m still sitting on the bench with Jesse turns around, visibly annoyed, “hey, Eric, let’s go!”
In a dream like trance I stand up, my legs a little wobbly from fear and shock that begin to walk to her styling chair. She’s already holding the cutting cape As a pace to the chair.
I keep waiting for the moment for when she asks what I want and we enter a consultation, But it doesn’t happen. She wrapped tissue around my neck snaps the cape tightly on and picks up the balding clippers. I’m in too much shock and shame to say anything. In what seemed like eternity, but was only a few seconds, I remember being a little bothered by her cigarette breath and the aroma on her fingers. But that quickly fell away when she steadies my head with her left hand and she put the balding clippers on my forehead and begins to peel my hair off. Clumps of my brown hair began raining on the Cape. She methodically and rather brutally peeled away all the hair at the top of my head, the impression in the mirror was most ridiculous. It looked like male pattern balding, With my long hair still on sides and back. With her left hand she tilted my head to the right and then peel away my sideburns and the hair on my side. She then pushed my head to the left and then peel away my left side burn in the hair on the left side. She then pushed my head forward and I marveled at all the hair on the Cape and floor. She then buzzed the rest of my hair off in the back leaving me essentially bald. She then took a wet towel and wiped my head down and then unceremoniously took the Cape off and said “all done Baldy see you in a couple of weeks.”
I sat in the chair stunned by what had just happened. They must’ve known it was me making those appointments and somehow knew to give me the punishment that I deserved.
As I got up and navigated my wobbly legs to the receptionist to pay I overheard another client say “hi called earlier. I’m here for a balding buzz cut”…