The Classified Ad

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I spent my morning as I always did, searching thru Craigslist and Marketplace for anything I could find to restore, and flip for some cash, it was really just something to keep me busy.  I’m only 48 years old, but due to a buy out, was already retired from working.  I had worked as a design engineer for a large corporation, but cut backs in staffing allowed me to take my 25 year pension and retire early.  I was originally from a small semi-rural area, and convinced my wife that we should trade the big city we lived in for something quiet and safe.  She came from a big city, but said she always wanted to move to the country, so we sold our house and found an old farm house one town away from where I grew up.

My wife was a emergency room nurse, used to a fast moving pace with a lot of action.  She had gotten a job with the local hospital, working graveyard shift, when of course 99% of the people in the area are sound asleep.  It only took about 3 months for things to get bad.  With me being home during the day, she had trouble sleeping if I did anything that made even the slightest of noise, so I took up fishing, but then she complained that I didn’t do anything productive.  In the end, living in a small town just didn’t have the same appeal to her as it did me.  She went back to her old job, and moved in with her sister for a while.  Three months later I was served with divorce papers.  She had more money than I did, so I kept the house with the mortgage and stayed put.

So now that I was on my own I started to find things to restore, and even flipped a couple houses.  Ready for a new project, I found someone selling a couple old barber chairs in the next town over.  I called the woman, who said she would be around all day if I wanted to have a look.  Thirty minutes later and I was pulling up in front of an old worn out building.  I remembered from when I was younger, my mother brought me here once for a summer cut. I remembered that an old white-haired man ran the shop, but hadn’t seen it open since before I had left for college.

I went to the side door, which was also the door leading to the residence area upstairs.   I was quickly greeted by Courtney, the girl from the ad.  She led me thru to the shop area which looked like we went back in time.  Courtney explained that her grandfather had a stroke about 15 years ago, and the shop hadn’t been touched since.  She then said that her mom could never bring herself to sell her dad’s shop, but she had recently passed away and Courtney couldn’t afford to keep both her moms house as well as her grandfathers house and shop.  I started to look at the chairs, and I could see that Courtney was struggling with some emotions.  Not wanting to seem like somebody just digging thru her dead grandfathers things, I stopped examining the chairs for a minute to give Courtney a time to relax.

I told her that when I was a boy my mom brought me here for a haircut when the barber in our town was on vacation.  This seemed to make Courtney at ease, and I slowly started to look at the two chairs again.  I had decided within the first minute that I would take the chairs, but I could see Courtney was starting to get in a happier mood. so I went to look over the other things in the shop.  There were 6 different clippers all still hanging on their hooks, and the jar with the combs in it sat empty, the liquid had evaporated years ago.

Moving my attention back to the chairs, I asked Courtney if she could sit in the one at the rear of the shop so I could test the hydraulics with some weight on it.  She seem a little hesitant as she made her way over to the first chair, moving slowly as she sat down in it.  I raised the chair to the highest point before I lowered it back down again, then repeated the process again.  Satisfied with how it worked, I asked Courtney to try out the one by the front window.  As she started towards the chair I saw her eyes had gotten watery.  As she sat down Courtney admitted…”The only time I’ve ever sat in this chair was when my grandpa used to cut my hair years ago.  It brings back so many memories of him.”

I repeated the process of working the hydraulics up and down.  As I raised it the last time Courtney smiled and said…”Every time I’ve left this chair I’ve had my hair cut into a short bob-cut to my ears, and the shortest little bangs.”  I don’t know why but I saw a cape hanging off the back of the chair, and picked it up.  Courtney and I made eye contact in the big mirror across the shop just as I started to swing the cape around the front of her.  Again, I have never cut anyone’s hair before, but I felt I had to ask…”Are you ready for your haircut Courtney?”

I would have been happy if we just laughed it off as a joke, but Courtney was being taken back to her past…”Dave, I want you to give me a bob-cut like my grandpa always did.”  I was caught off guard by her answer, but I turned to the counter to see what tools were available for the task ahead.  Grabbing a basic comb and scissor, I turned back towards the chair.  Courtney could see my apprehension and started to talk me thru what I needed to do.  “Just comb it all straight down first.  If you need to, you can use a little water to make it easier.”

Her hair was not overly thick so the combing went fairly easy.  I decided to leave it dry, and a few minutes later, it was all straight down, past her shoulders.  “Okay Dave, now just cut it up to the bottom of my ear, or a little shorter if you want.”  I could feel my pulse start to climb.  Did she really want me to chop off a foot of hair, like it was nothing?  I combed thru the sides several more times, nervous about totally messing up Courtney’s hair.  Courtney did her best to put me at ease…”Don’t worry Dave.  I want you to do this.”

I decided to give her what she asked for, placing the scissors right a mid-ear I made the first cut.  I was somewhat shocked to see that long clump of hair sliding down towards her lap.  Courtney, on the other hand, was all smiles..”Good job Dave, keep going all the way around.”  I took my time, making sure the next cut was level with the first.  This clump ended up on my feet.  Continuing to make sure each cut was perfectly level, i made my way around to the other ear.

I thought her hair looked ruined, but Courtney said it was good so far.  She told me to look for the scissors, with the funny blades.  Finding them, she explained that they would help thin the ends out, so they would lay down better.  As I started to chop away at the sides of her head, I was excited because they were actually working.  “Courtney, it’s starting to look good.”  Courtney told me to keep thinning it out until it all laid down nicely.

Courtney them turned my attention to her bangs…”They need to be short…At least halfway up my forehead.”  I tried to tell her to leave them longer, but she insisted…”It won’t look right if it’s not that short.”  So I did exactly what she asked for, and she now her bangs were barely an inch long.  “Oh Dave, that looks perfect.”  I combed thru her hair again, and it all laid down where it was supposed to.  I was just about to declare her finished, and reached for the cape when Courtney stopped me…”Dave, you haven’t cleaned up the bottom yet.”  I wasn’t sure what she meant at first, but she made it clear…”Use the clippers on the bottom”

I turned to look at the multitude of clippers…”Which ones do I need?”  Courtney smiled…”I guess you really haven’t done this before.”  She then told me that the longer the teeth were on the blade, the longer the hair will end up.  “You can pick anyone you like, as long as it’s not one of the longer ones.”  I decided on the second shortest blade.  Looking at it I saw it had a size stamped on the blade…”#1 is that okay?”  Courtney was happy with my choice…”That’s the one my grandpa always used.  It will look great.”  She told me that they would need some fresh oil on the blades, and after running them for a minute, I turned to her head.  I ran the clippers over the exposed nape, and about an inch under the bottom line of the haircut.  We both had big smiles on our faces as I pulled the cape off of her.

Although the cut reminded me of a little girls haircut, Courtney couldn’t have been happier…”I might have to keep you around as my personnel barber.”  I told her I would be there whenever she way ready for her next cut.  The conversation than went back to the shop.  “I really don’t want to sell any of my grandpa’s stuff.” Courtney said.  I understood and decided to offer her an option.  “Why don’t you keep it and move here?”

The wheels were turning in Courtney’s head “What am I going to do with a barber shop?”  I told her she could remodel the living area upstairs and either leave the shop as it is, or rent it out to make some money.  She liked my idea, explaining that she worked from home, so it didn’t matter where she lived.  It was then Courtney had a dose of reality set in…”Even if I sell my moms house, I don’t know if I will have enough left to pay someone to remodel this place.”

I was having feelings for Courtney, even though she was much younger than me, but I gave her the best answer I could…”We could do the work together, so all you have to pay for is materials.”  Courtney at first said she couldn’t take my charity, but I made the offer again, insisting that I would be happy just to have something to keep me busy.  I then added to the offer saying that she could pay me in meals as I had never been much of a cook, so I tended to eat out most of the time.

Courtney agreed, and left the next day to put her moms house on the market, and start to get her things ready to move here.  I followed the next weekend towing a rental trailer with my truck.  While we were loading the trailer, I told Courtney that it would be easier for us if we didn’t move her stuff in before we completed the work.  I then offered that she could stay at my house while we did the work, telling her we could keep her furniture in my barn for now.  She said she would have to think about it, because again she didn’t want to ask too much of me.  I insisted that my big farm house had more than enough room for her and her little bit of stuff.

I followed her in my truck, still not sure where she would decide to stay.  At first it looked like we were heading for the shop, but she drove right by, straight to my farm.  We unloaded what she needed in the house and put the rest in the barn.  Courtney got settled in, then hopped in the shower before making dinner for us.

Over the next several weeks we got into a normal routine, we set up a work space at the shop so she could be there if I had questions about something.  We also took advantage of the shop, at least once a week one of us would end up in the chair while the other one played barber.

I was getting real used to her cooking, and even more surprised when I came home and found my laundry was done and folded.  The work progressed quickly on the living quarters of the shop, and within 6 weeks it was finished.  Courtney decided to hold off remodeling the shop for now mainly for budgetary reasons.  That gave me the opening I was looking for.

You see I had fallen in love with Courtney, and I knew she had feelings for me as well.  I sat Courtney down and told her that I wanted her to keep living at my house, then she could rent out the apartment to generate some extra income.  At first she kept telling me she didn’t want to be a burden to me, but I insisted I couldn’t go back to my own cooking again.  Finally Courtney agreed to stay at my place, and put the apartment up for rent.

Once the add was put online there were several people that came to look at it.  I took care of showing it while Courtney worked, but of course it was her decision to make.  The Saturday after it was first listed we both went to meet with someone interested.  Just when we were ready to lock up, a young girl showed up at the side door.  She was really skinny and looked like she was still in her teens.

She told us her name was Dylan and she was desperate for a place to live.  She had just graduated high school that year, but her parents wouldn’t help pay for her college.  She then added that she had caught her step-father watching her in a creepy way and thought he didn’t want her to go away to college so she would have to stay at home.  The more she talked, the more upset both Courtney and I got.

We knew there was no way Dylan could afford the rent Courtney was asking, but once I saw both girls laughing and talking together I knew Courtney had made her choice.  The very next day Courtney and Dylan were in the barn as Courtney decided that someone should use her furniture.

They were working up quite a sweat carrying all the furniture up the stairs  Dylan commented how Courtney was staying so much cooler without a mass of hair down her back.  Courtney then told Dylan about the shop downstairs, telling her that I had chopped her hair off about 6 months ago.  I had just brought the last few boxes up the stairs when Dylan stopped me…”Dave, Courtney said you were her barber.”  “Yes, I cut her hair for her.”  “Dave, can you cut mine off too?”  I looked to Courtney, it was her shop after all.  Courtney shrugged her shoulders “Sorry Dave, I only cut guys hair.  She’s all yours.”

Courtney opened up the shop, and when Dylan walked inside she was floored by what she saw…”Oh my god, this is the coolest place I’ve ever seen.”  Courtney explained that it was her grandfathers shop, and she eventually wanted to be able to open it back up again.  I invited Dylan to have a seat so we could get started, but rather than talk about how she wanted her hair, all Dylan and Courtney could talk about was how they could get the shop going again.

I combed thru Dylan’s hair, and just as a passing joke thru out my idea…”Maybe Dylan could run it for you.”  With that the wheels were put in motion, Courtney thought that my idea was perfect.  Dylan, who before today had no idea what she wanted to do for a living, was all excited by the idea of becoming a barber.  The next hour was then all about how Dylan could become a barber.  There was a barber college about 25 miles away, but Dylan couldn’t afford to even pay the full rent for the apartment, let alone pay for barber school.

Courtney then did something totally unexpected, offering to let Dylan live rent free until Dylan finished school.  It made me love her more than I already did, but never told her about it.  We then got around to Dylan’s haircut.  I put the cape over her shoulders and asked what she wanted.  Dylan was all excited by what had happened today, and was more than ready to go…”Well, at first I just wanted it off my shoulders, but now I think I want it just like Courtney’s.”

Courtney was flattered by Dylan’s offer, but told her to do what she wanted.  Dylan told her that she wanted it cut just like hers, and figured it would probably end up buzzed short when she was a barber student.  So, with that I started cutting Dylan’s hair off just below her ears.  Just like with Courtney, I went thru the motions of thinning out the sides and back, do they laid down smoothly.  Her bangs were next, and I decided that she could pull off going a little shorter than Courtney.  With a few quick snips, Dylan’s bangs were now barely an inch long.  I then grabbed a pair of clippers, like with her bangs, I decided she could pull off a shorter nape.  I took the pair with the smallest blades.  Courtney saw what I had in my hand as I turned around and gave an approving smile.  The clippers took Dylan’s nape down to the skin, and Courtney quickly chimed in…”Hey, I want mine like that too.”  I took the cape off, declaring Dylan finished.  When she first got up from the chair, I thought as skinny as she was, she looked more like a 10 year old than being 18, but when she stood by Courtney, they both looked beautiful.

A couple weeks later Dylan started barber school, and Courtney and I started working on the shop.  I took both chairs to my workshop, and gave them new upholstery and a thorough rehab.  A fresh coat of paint and a new floor in the shop soon followed.  It would be ready to go as soon as Dylan had her barbers license  Courtney and I were now a couple, and we thought of Dylan more of a daughter, than anything else.

Six month’s later “Dylan’s Barber Shop” opened, and quickly became the busiest shop in the area.  Dylan now wore her hair in a short buzzed pixie cut.  Within a couple month’s of opening, Dylan told us she was going to add a second barber.  To our surprise, it wasn’t just another barber that started working in the shop, but a classmate of Dylan’s from school.  When Dylan introduced Kirsten to us it wasn’t as just the new barber in the shop, but as the new partner in her life as well.   Courtney and I couldn’t have been more happy for both of them.



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