Please Note: Hey guys, the story is super long ( around 4k words) as I tried to include so many haircuts. I earnestly hope you guys would enjoy reading the story.
My roommate and long time best friend, Zina, went to her hometown for the summer holiday while I began to pack my bags to visit my father.
My dearest dad, ex-cop, was the strictest disciplinarian that my twin brother, Henry, and I knew of, but he still was the best father we could ask. After our mother left us, we were all he has got.
While dad taught us to be uptight and proper, it was our Uncle Mark who absolutely spoilt us rotten. He was a barber by profession and lived a few houses down from us and often joined us for breakfast or dinner.
You see, dad was old-fashioned and had no regard for extravagant vanity. It was the reason why my twin, Henry and I, had buzzcuts until we were about nine or ten.
“I don’t want my son or daughter spending too much time in front of the mirror while they could have indulged in sports or studies,” he would say.
Since Henry was a boy, the shortest buzzcuts didn’t affect him as much as it did to me. All my friends had long, wavy, and stylish hair when I was growing up, while I had a half-an-inch buzzcut. And don’t even ask about summer: our heads would be reduced to stubble.
“C’mon, it’s time, kids, into the backyard. And don’t dilly-dally for too long!” he would shout from downstairs.
“My hair isn’t even that long!” I whined, looking at Henry, who would only shrug a little and run down the stairs. Dad always began with him while I lazily climbed down the steps and made my way into the backyard.
By the time I’d join them, Henry was already sitting on the wooden stool and caped. Dad would be holding down his head while the battery-operated clipper would be mowing around the back of his head. Short honey-brown hair flew everywhere, then settled over the cape and around the wooden stool.
I would watch with utter disrelish how he bared the back, and white skin emerged. Next, he would hook a hand under the chin, tilt back his head, and run the clippers from forehead to crown. The slow, skillful passes shaved off whatever little length of hair my brother had on his head down to stubble.
I remembered a particular instance around April when I tried to argue against the shaved head look. “It’s not that hot, daddy. I don’t need a haircut.”
“It already sticky and sweaty, kiddo. Believe me–you will feel much better after the haircut.”
“No, thank you, daddy. I already feel better. I am going back to my room.”
“Olivia Anna Owen, sit down right this instant,” he growled. “Unless you don’t want me to punish you.”
However strict, my daddy has never resorted to physical punishments. We were mostly grounded or had to do additional chores, or our toys and TV were taken away. But still, when you are young, it is a big deal.
“This is not fair,” I grumbled, sitting myself down on the stool. Daddy was legit angry and didn’t even bother to cape me that one time.
The machine came alive in his hands, and before I could intuitively look at it, my head was pushed down. The sound changed as it came in contact with my nape, climbing up as the wispy hairs began to crowd my neck. A couple of passes later, it began to tickle.
“Young lady, stop squirming now!” I heard my father scold.
“The hairs, daddy,” I mouthed and pointed my neck simultaneously.
The clippers were switched off as he tried to dust off the snippets with a soft towel. I took this moment to touch the back of my head and sighed. It wasn’t like my hair was long by any chance, but still, I could call it hair. And now, I was simply an egg-head.
“Let’s finish this.” He turned on the clippers, took down the top to nothing, and dusted me off.
I think he understood that I was deeply upset as I felt his hand cupping the back of my head, drew me closer to him, and kissed my forehead.
A year or two rolled by, and Henry and I still sported the buzzed look. I was around twelve when grandmother insisted that we spent the summer months at her place, so dad sent me there as Henry had a sports championship.
It was the two months of no haircuts and lots of ice-cream for me. By the time I came back home, my hair was grown into a shaggy, boy-cut mess. However, according to my father’s definition, my hair was long.
“C’mon, kids, it’s haircut time,” I heard his mandate after the third day of my return. “And Olivia, you will be the first one today.”
The twelve-year-old me had enough of haircuts. I stormed down the stairs and told my father straight up, “No. I am growing out my hair, daddy. Everyone in school has pretty, long hair, and I am really done with stupid haircuts.”
“Olivia, I am not discussing this anymore. Get on the stool, and now!”
I crossed my tiny arms in front and stood my ground. “No. If you have to give me a haircut, you have to force me down, daddy, because I am not going to sit on that stool again.”
I watched him seething red at my defiance. Knowing that my father wouldn’t obviously drag me down, crying and screaming, I took my chance. And for some time, it worked too.
“Very well, then. Go back to your room,” Daddy told me in a low, calm voice, although the ire behind his words was evident.
I took it as a victory and danced my way back to the room while I heard the buzzing clippers from the backyard. In less than ten minutes, Henry walked in, rubbing his buzzed head.
“Dad’s really mad at you, Liv. Get the haircut.”
“Easy for you to say! I am a girl, and I look hideous.” I pouted away. “Joe doesn’t even look at me.”
“You have got a crush on that stupid guy?” Henry asked incredulously.
“He’s cute!” I defended.
“Whatever. But you are going to regret later.”
“Daddy will be fine in a day or two. I will talk to Uncle Mark to convince him.”
“I hope that works.”
With that, he left, but unfortunately, my brother was right in a way only a twin knows you. I began to regret within a couple of days when dad stopped talking to me altogether. It seemed to be the worst punishment in the world.
By the end of the week, when Uncle Mark joined us for dinner, I ran to him and broke down in tears. I sobbed uncontrollably, heaving until there were no tears left in me.
“For God’s sake, how long are you going to punish the little girl?” Uncle Mark asked daddy.
“I did no such thing,” daddy said in a flat voice, serving himself a spoonful of mashed potato. “She wants to grow her hair, so be it then. But I would have no part in her life.”
“I am sorry, daddy,” I hiccupped between dry sobs. “I will do what you want.”
“What is the point, Olivia? Two weeks later, you will start whining about your hair again.”
“Why don’t I cut her hair?” Uncle Mark interrupted. “I am professional, after all.” He winked at me with a big grin, trying to cheer me up.
Dad grimaced and threw him a look. “If I leave their haircuts in your hand, Mark, I hardly doubt if you would cut it short.” It was true partially. We would have easily convinced him for longer, stylish looks.
“Oh, C’mon. Do you want short haircuts for the kids? I will most definitely make it short. But it’s not necessary to make them bald,” Uncle Mark argued. “A nice high and tight would do the trick.”
Daddy looked at our hopeful faces and finally nodded. “Alright,” he gave in. “But it should be short and regularly cut. I don’t want any fuss with the hair.”
“You got it, brother,” Uncle Mark acquiesced.
And that was the end of the backyard buzzcuts in our life as Uncle Mark would give us haircuts every two weeks after closing his barbershop.
I vividly remembered the first time in that big chair as my legs dangled down. A pin-stripe cape floated over before Uncle Mark tied a tissue around my neck.
“What’s that for?” I asked as he folded it down.
“Well, it is to prevent the hair from tickling your pretty neck, sweetheart,” he replied as he picked up a paddle brush and combed my hair.
“That’s cool.” I glanced around the barbershop and noticed that the clippers were so much larger than the one daddy has, and attached with a long, electric wire. Uncle Mark went to the counter to pick one of them from the hook and came back to stand behind me.
“Liv, sweety,” he spoke to me through the reflection on the mirror. “Can you put down your head for me?”
“You are not going to shave me, right?”
He chuckled and shook his head. “No, no, not at all, sweetheart. Uncle Mark is going to give you a special haircut.”
My face immediately brightened because the little-me trusted him so much. I quickly put down my head, touching my chin to chest the way daddy would make me do it.
“Attagirl!” I felt his palm resting on my head, and the familiar sound of buzzing came alive. The noise was so much prominent and powerful, like a thousand bees around your head.
It grazed over and over my nape, although it didn’t climb as higher as my father would go. The sight of my overgrown honeyed tresses was distressing as they slid down the cape and onto the floor. But at least it was better than being bald, I consoled. The palm over my head shifted as he tilted my head to the side, folded down my ear, and the clippers ran around them.
“You would look really cute with this one, Liv,” I heard him over the noise of the clippers. The head was titled towards the other side as he ran the clippers around the ear and shut it off.
When my head reared up, the sight was a little weird. The hair around my ears was extremely short, while the top remained long. The small glimpse of my back told me that it was of the same length as my sides. Uncle Mark came back with a spray bottle in hand and began to dampen the hair on top, at the same time, fluffing it slightly. Once he was satisfied, he gave a warm smile and took out the shiny scissors from his coat’s pocket.
A thorough combing ensued, and I watched him slicing off my hair in small sections. The pattern looked entrancing. He would lift a hank of wet hair, slice it off, comb it down, and move onto to the next. It went for about several minutes until the hair on top was reasonably shorter, although long as against the back and sides. Whatever bangs I grew, were all snipped down to wispy fringes—half-an-inch over the forehead. He was working deliberately from front to back until it was finally over.
He gave me a side parting, slicked down my damp hair, and applied talc around my neck, followed by the dusting. I giggled in a good measure before he helped down the tall, big chair.
“Do you like it, sweety?” he asked, couching down to my level.
I looked at the mirror and saw how different and better it was, even though short, and instinctively felt the back. It was the same stubble, but the gradual length made my head look good.
“I love this, Uncle Mark.” I leaned and kissed his cheeks with a big smile on my face before trotting up towards the waiting chair, where Henry was awaiting his haircut by him. He gave my twin brother the same haircut, only a much-shorter to top, and flat. I also noticed that he shaved Henry’s sides and back with foamy lather and a sharp knife-like object (back then, I didn’t know the term razor). As a result, it looked whitest and smooth to touch. Maybe, Uncle Mark thought I would be scared to receive a shave and never used it on me.
My brother and I had this Uncle Mark’s Special Haircut, as he called it himself, up until school. Since the hair remained short and low-maintenance, daddy never objected at all. Overall, it was a win-win situation for all of us.
When I left for college, I chose to grow to out my hair that cascaded down my shoulders, but secretively missed my Uncle Mark’s Special Haircut. Of course, I wasn’t going to walk into a random barbershop and asked them to cut my hair but wished I wouldn’t have to take care of long har anymore. The shame or shyness of short hair was ancient because my entire childhood and teenage life were dominated with ultra-short ones (even a pixie would look longer!). But now that I was going home, home to dad and Uncle Mark, I didn’t know how they would react.
My concerns were shoved aside when daddy was nothing short of delighted to see me after all these years. He gave me a long, tight hug, kissed my forehead, and even went ahead and cooked my favorite lunch. I waited, hoping he would comment about my hair, but he didn’t. Maybe, he finally accepted that his little girl was all grown-up and allowed to make her decisions.
Post-lunch, I decided to surprise Uncle Mark, but when I reached his barbershop, a fellow barber informed me that he left for some urgent work and would be back soon.
“Why don’t you wait there, Miss?” he proposed, pointing towards the waiting area, which was pretty much the same as before.
I smiled and apprehensively took a seat. It was a little awkward for a woman in a male domain, as the scent of aftershaves and other masculine products wafted in the area. There were three barbers, attending each client with a different haircut.
The one in the far left was busy shaving the nape, exactly the way Uncle Mark used to do Henry, although the top of his head was relatively long while the sides were skilfully tapered. In the middle was an unhappy little boy, receiving quite a short buzzcut. I watched the barber tilt his head this way and that, as the clippers sailed over, and blonde hair rained like snowflakes. The sight made me shiver.
I couldn’t see the customer on the right as the barber shoved his head down and ruthlessly snipped with the clipper-over-comb method. Though the shredded hair around the chair told me this gentleman was getting quite a haircut.
“Next,” I heard the barber shout, one who was on the extreme left and expectedly looked my way.
There were no more customers left, save for the mother of the unhappy kid with a buzzcut, as I glanced around. “Oh, I am not…” I stammered, unable to form a word. “Actually, Uncle Mark…”
“C’mon, Miss, you got to hurry up,” he urged.
Absently, my hand reached up to my neck, feeling the long hair. A trim wouldn’t be a bad thing—I began to wonder. The barber slapped the leather seat invitingly, and slowly I found myself approaching it under a trance.
Gingerly, I took the seat, resting my clammy hand over my lap while my legs placed on the footrest. The barber offered a small smile before gathering my hair to cape me up. The similar pinstripe cape and tissue around my neck flooded my mind with childhood memories.
“What are we doing today?” He asked as he carefully began to comb my hair.
“Err…Uncle Mark actually used to give me a haircut…the special something. It’s like—” I was about to gesture with my hands before he cut me in.
“You mean Mark’s special haircut?”
“Uh, yes. Do you know it?”
“Of course! It’s smooth and fuss-free,” the barber announced gleefully. “Although, Mark wields the razor like no other man.”
Right, the razor. Maybe, I would finally get the feel of it after all these years. The sharp thing dragged down my sensitive nape.
“Yes, that’s what I want.”
“You are certainly sure, Miss? There’s no going back once I start.”
I gave him a reassuring smile. “Yes, that’s what I want – Uncle Mark’s special.”
He nodded and bunched my hair at the nape. “I am going to chop this lot first and then use the clippers,” he told me.
“Do what you need to, Sir. I am done with long hair now.”
I watched him gather a thick bunch of hair and quickly hack it off at the chin length. The lifeless tresses were dropped on the floor, and then came the next bunch. The entire duration, I held my breath, silently bidding my long hair goodbye. Clearly, this man never liked long hair on clients, given the way he discarded them. In record time, he reduced my hair to a rough, jagged-end bob and ruffled the lot.
It would have been a logical, more sensible thing to have asked him to stop there and tidy the ends. In this way, I would have retained the feminine look with medium-short hair. But this nagging voice in my head told me to go through it. I had short hair for so many years anyway. How bad could it have been?
Pop. Buzz. The sound startled me a little, dragging me out of the reverie.
“The Clippers, Miss,” he clarified and probably thought I was scared.
“Sure.” I smiled at him through the mirror and put my head down for his convenience.
However, I didn’t feel the weight of his palm on my head. Instead, I heard the sound of clippers over the steel comb as chunks of hair rained around me. He began low from my neck, ascending towards the occipital bone. Gradually, I could not feel the hair grazing my skin anymore. Out of sheer curiosity, I glanced up to take a peek and saw him lift a hank of hair over the ear. Nrrrr—out came the clippers, and those severed honey-brown hairs sailed down the cape.
I couldn’t very well express, but the sight was exhilarating as well as dreadful. The acute loss of hair was liberating, but would I be able to pull it off? And how would the people, who saw me with long hair, would react?
The barber spun my chair away from the mirror and busied himself to reduce the other side of my head. It was a moment of small panic as I wanted to watch. You could say that the visual was the only control I had over my haircut, while in reality, it was at the whim of the barber.
When the clippers were turned off, I breathed a small sigh of relief. A small respite was given as the barber walked back to the far counter while I took my hands out of the long cape and tried to feel the hair on my head.
It was arguably short, but I could still fist a bunch. Somehow, I harbored a notion that this barber was going to keep the length longer than Uncle Mark used to leave when I was young. Maybe because I was a woman now and by societal standards, a woman’s beauty is defined by long hair.
The man returned with a large WAHL clipper in hand, and this time, my head was guided down without any warning. In fact, it was much firmer, and the heavy hand restricted the movement of my neck.
Nrrr. The familiar sound reverberated, and I mentally resigned. Well, no more long hair for at least six months, I mused. The machine, powerful and ruthless, made its way up much higher than I had anticipated. I couldn’t exactly tell how short it was plowing into my scalp, but the hairs falling around were at least four-five inches.
Um…wait. I contemplated asking him, but I couldn’t over the raging roar of the clippers.
The firm hand clasped over the top now, tilting my head to the extreme left. To my horror, the furious clippers came in contact with the sideburns and mowed upwards—way, way higher, touching the top of my temples.
He shut the clippers for a second, moving to the other side before I finally found my voice. “Umm…Sir, are you sure this is Uncle Mark’s Special? I mean, he used to—”
He simply cut me off and pushed my head to the extreme right with all his masculine strength. “Miss, please don’t move. The Clippers won’t hurt you, but it is really difficult to work if you constantly squirm,” he grumbled.
Yes, that shut me up. “Oh, I am sorry,” I apologized meekly.
When the buzzing began, I accepted the fact that the haircut was going to be extreme. It reminded of Henry’s haircut—the sides were white-walled, and the top was super-short and flat. Maybe, it’s a good thing—I comforted myself.
The last and the ultimate blow to my saneness came when I realized that the sides were done, and the barber stood directly behind the chair. The firm hold on my head released, as he urged me to gaze up, and hooked his palm under my chin. A small kitten-like squeal escaped my throat when he dipped back my head towards him.
No, no, no, not this again—I mentally screamed.
But it was too late.
The clipper touched my forehead, and in a single swipe, he drove back to the crown. This entire moment was caught in a slow-motion. He brought the clippers to the front again, and as the horror sank in, I began to struggle and twist in earnest.
“Stop, please, stop!”
The buzzing stopped, and my chin was released immediately. “Are you alright, Miss?” he asked with concern.
“I..I am,” I looked around nervously and saw that the other two barbers (who were done clients which their respective clients) were looking at me with similar confusion. My hand flew to my head, feeling the shaved path in the middle and confirmed my worst fear.
The summer head-shave—the egghead—all over again.
“You are shaving my head,” I blabbered out tensely, although he took it as an accusation.
“I thought you asked for Mark’s Special haircut, Miss? So, that’s what I am doing here—shaving your head,” he told me with a slight annoyance. “I asked you twice—twice, and you confirmed. Did you not?”
He did, in all honestly. I just didn’t know that Uncle Mark’s Special haircut was a headshave. It was bad enough that I was sitting in a barbershop, with the middle of my head shaved like a bald guy, and everyone was looking at me as if I was an insane woman.
Summoning whatever courage left in my bones, I blinked back the unshed tears of humiliation and tipped my head back to sit straighter. “I am sorry, Sir. I got confused with another hairstyle,” I confessed. “Please, just get it over with.”
“Did you not want your head shaved?”
I sighed and feebly shook my head. “It doesn’t matter now.” I smiled weakly. “Please, shave my head,” I heard myself and couldn’t believe my ears.
I was a twenty-two-year-old woman, sitting caped in a barbershop, and asking a ruthless man holding clippers, to shave me bald. Well, life is unquestionably ironic.
Pop. Buzz. The barber took hold of my chin again, maneuvering my head this way and that, as I closed my eyes and took in the experience. Not that I could actually see the haircut—correction, head shave—but the feeling intensified when I shut my eyes.
Soft hairs caressed down my face, all over the little exposed portion of my neck. Sometime later, the barber released my chin and rubbed the small areas on my head to check the uneven shaving. If he wasn’t satisfied, he drove the clippers a couple of times until he perfected. Whenever those masculine fingers grazed my scalp, I realized how utterly bald my head was.
It seemed like ages when the clippers stopped, and I let out a heavy sigh. “It’s over now, the worst is over,” I chanted, again and again, to prevent myself from breaking down publicly.
“I think this is as far as you should get, Miss, since you were actually hoping for a different haircut,” the barber told me sympathetically.
As far as I should get? What was left after a headshave, anyway? But I didn’t argue and nodded.
“Right then, let me dust you off, and you can be on your way.”
A large fluffy brush dusted off the small snippets of hairs all over my neck and face, as well as my denuded head, followed by another round with sweet-smelling talc. When the chair was finally turned towards the mirror, and the sight made me numb.
I looked like the twelve-year-old bald girl, and I didn’t know to feel happy or sad about it. My eyes were so much more prominent, my cheekbones stood out, and my long neck looked slimmer. For a moment, I actually reveled the shaved head.
Finally, when I was uncaped and abandoned the chair, shuffling past the dark cloud of shorn hair that had once adorned my head, I gazed long into the mirror. My fingers gently probed and explored the scalped head, feeling the coarse stubble which was otherwise not visible.
“Jim, why don’t you guys take a break and let me take over?” I heard a familiar voice as I spun that instant.
The man, in a white barber coat, turned to me at the same time and froze. Uncle Mark! He blinked a couple of times before he found his voice and reached me in three long strides.
“Liv, my sweetheart, is that you?” he asked incredulously.
Wordlessly, I threw my arms around him as he pulled me into a tight embrace. I was his little niece all over again.
“But why did you?” His question hung in the air as he touched my freshly-scalped head.
“Well, I wanted the Uncle Mark Special haircut,” I added sheepishly and shrugged, hoping we would realize the irony of the situation. And he did. He tsked a great deal before chuckling. Since my uncle wouldn’t make me pay, I tipped the barber well, shook his hand, and left the shop with Uncle Mark.
“Ah! I am sorry, kiddo.”
“Nah, it’s alright,” I dismissed my uncle as we made our way out. “It’s not like I haven’t been bald before. I just don’t know how to carry it off.”
“Nonsense, you look really good.”
I grinned and added, “I am sure daddy is going to be elated.”
“Oh, I would bet on that.”
We talked about so many things, and it was after dinner when only both of us were sitting down in the backyard, beer bottles in hand, that I found the courage to ask him.
“What is about Mark’s Special Haircut? The barber told me that day that this is as far as I should go. So, I am curious.”
“Well, sweety, what you got was only a clipper-shave, not exactly a head shave. My specialty is the shave the head so clean, so smooth that it would actually shine,” he explained. “And that is done with a very sharp razor.”
I nodded and took a swig from the bottle. “That reminds me, you never used a razor on me when I was a child. It was always Henry.”
“That’s because I didn’t want to scare you with the tool. You were afraid of sharp things.”
A crazy thought struck me. And before I could ponder upon it, I simply blabbered out. “Will you shave my head now, Uncle Mark?”
His brows shot upwards. “Do you want me to shave your head, sweety?”
I shrugged. “I am already bald by choice. So, why not go through the entire experience? I am really intrigued.”
He gave me one of his quintessential, warm smiles and agreed, “Well, I’d do it if that’s you wish, Liv.”
Thank you so much for reading the story until the end. If you have liked the story, please drop me a comment or any suggestions or criticism that you might have.