When Watching Just Isn’t Enough
A cautionary tale, for all those mothers and fathers that bring their young daughters to the barbershop, only to watch as the boys are tonsured, and the girls are not.
Susie Parker sat in the rather uncomfortable chair, trying to distract herself with the single toy she was allowed to bring with her. In her young mind, she was still interested in the goings-on in the shop. She hated the fact that she had to sit around while her two brothers received their ultra-short haircuts. After all, her mother didn’t drag them along when she took Susie to the salon for her monthly trim.
It always gave Susie a thrill though, when the barber would spin his chair around after her brothers were done. “You’re next young lady.” He would say.
She would run her hand down her platinum blonde hair and, on two occasions, had actually made it as far as sitting in the chair, before her mother intervened.
“Stop encouraging her, Bob.” Her mother would scold. “You don’t want short hair like your brothers, do you, Susie?” Her mother would ask. Each time she would nod her head, her response was largely ignored.
The salon always smelled awful, a sour sort of smell that lingered in Susie’s nostrils for hours after the measured inch was cut from her hair. It hung, jet straight down her back, except when her mother tied it back in a ponytail.
Susie was tired of the ‘battle of the brush’, as she called it, when her mother would attack her hair each morning before school. Her hair was beautiful, but it was very fine, and snarled just looking at it. So, when she slept, the tangles would sometimes seem insurmountable.
“What on earth do you do in your sleep, little girl.” Her mother would hiss, as she worked to release the fine strands into some sort of order. The ponytail, depending on how high her mother would tie it, would almost always be painful by the end of the day. Without fail, Susie wouldn’t wait to get home before pulling the hair tie along the length of her tresses, releasing it, and relieving the pulling on the forehead and ears.
The cycle continued for years. Every other week, with rare exception, Susie would be expected to sit through her brother’s liberating haircuts, envious of their experience.
She wondered how it felt to have the clippers slide along their scalp, skinning the hair away, until only the finest stubble remained. She knew how it felt to touch it. Her brothers would tease her with it, knowing all too well how jealous she was. She just had to know what it felt like for the breeze to tickle her bare head, and for her ears to be so unfettered by the riot of silvery strands. ‘Some day’, she thought.
It was a few years later when she would finally have her chance. She had been old enough to mind herself for a couple of years, and so had not been to the barbershop with her brothers. She didn’t dare tell her mother that she wanted to go, longed to go, even if it was just to watch.
Susie, or Sue as she now wanted to be called (She was fourteen after all), had been shopping with her mother for back-to-school clothes. On the way home, they were picking her brothers up from the barbers.
They’d been waiting out front in the small strip plaza for nearly ten minutes when her mother grew impatient. “I wonder what’s taking so long.”
“You want me to go check on them, Mom?” Sue asked, hopefully.
“Alright. Thanks, Susie.” Her mother smiled.
Sue grimaced at the use of her childish nickname, but knew it was just her mother trying desperately to hang onto her little girl. “Be right back, Mommy.” Sue said mockingly, earning a sideways glance from her mother.
As she entered the shop, the smells and sounds came rushing back to her instantly. She had missed this. She spotted Jim, her younger brother sitting in the back, his head already relieved of its hair. Mark, her twin, whom she was at war with constantly, was still in the chair, the barber just finishing up on the short flattop he preferred.
“Mom’s wondering what’s up.” Sue spouted as she sat down next to Jim.
“They were pretty backed up when we got here. What are you going to do?” Jim explained. “Is she pissed?”
“No, just waiting,” Sue said, as Mark finally climbed out of the chair.
Much to her surprise, the barber spun his chair towards her. “You’re next, young lady.”
Sue knew that her mother was sitting in the car, and it was hot out there, otherwise she would not have hesitated. “Don’t think I don’t want to, Bob. I’ve been wanting to do something with this mop forever.” Sue whined, lifting her hair away from her back, and then allowing it to fall back into place. “Besides, my mother would kill me.”
“You should just go for it, Sue.” Mark prodded. “Jeez, you’ve been wanting to forever.”
Sue could feel an uneasy tension in her middle as she seriously thought about doing it. The idea of having the barber just skin her head to the bone was almost too powerful to overcome.
“Mom’s waiting. Let’s go.” She finally sighed.
The barber shrugged but said into her ear as she walked by. “One of these days, Susie Parker.”
They squared up at the register, and headed out to the car and their waiting mother.
“What took you guys so long?” Their mother asked, the heat starting to show on her face.
As her brothers explained, Sue saw a close friend out the window. “I’ll walk home, Mom. I want to talk to Bridget.” Before her mother could object, Sue was out of the car and halfway across the parking lot.
“Hey, Gidge!” Sue called to her friend who was just about to turn the corner.
“Hi, Soup. S’up” Bridget answered back, turning to greet her friend. ‘Soup’, had evolved from ‘Soupy’ at Sue’s insistence. She didn’t mind the nickname, everyone had one, after all.
“You want to watch something… interesting?” Sue asked, glancing over at the barbershop.
“What are you doing, Soup?” Bridget asked, suspiciously. “I know you’ve always talked about it, but are you really…”
“I really am. We’ll see what happens.” Sue smirked, grabbing her friend by the shirtsleeve and pulling her along.
“Your mom’s going to kill you.” Bridget insisted, stating the obvious.
“Maybe. Maybe not.” Sue smiled, pulling the door open to the barbershop. They caught Bob lounging in one of his own chairs, reading the paper.
“Change your mind, Susie?” Bob asked, curiously.
“First of all, it’s Sue. Susie’s dead.” Sue barked, quietly.
“Okay. Just being friendly.” He apologized.
“If we’re going to be friends, It’s ‘Soup’.” She offered.
Once again, Bob swung the chair in Sue’s direction. This time she didn’t even hesitate. It was comfortable, the leather upholstery cool against her legs.
“First off, young lady, I don’t do long cuts.” Bob insisted.
“I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” Sue answered back. “Watch.” She grabbed a comb from her purse and began to part her hair, working around her head until there was a line that ran all the way around, about two inches above her ears.
Bob watched, skeptically as she delineated the top of her head from the rest, securing the long ponytail at her crown and then twisting it into a knot. “What are you up to, Girl?”
Satisfied with what she saw in the mirror, Sue turned back towards Bridget who was all smiles. “Everything below the part… gone. Think you can do that for me, Bobby?”
“Okay, okay…enough.” Bob chuckled.” Yeah, I can do it. What are we talking about here, I mean, how much hair do you want me to leave?”
“What are my choices?” Sue asked, honestly.
“Well, a number four is about half an inch, two is a quarter, and so on,” Bob explained.
“Is there a zero?” Sue asked.
“Yeah, there is, but that’ll be pretty much to the bone, kid.” The barber warned.
“Do it, Soup. It’ll be so rad.” Bridget encouraged from her seat on the far side of the room.
“Yeah, do it, Bob.” Sue gushed.
“A zero?” He checked.
“Zero,” Sue answered, confidently.
Bob picked up a grey-colored clipper from the hooks below the counter, giving it a spray and a brush so that the metal gleamed in the fluorescents.
“You sure now?” He asked. “Your mom’s okay with it?”
“It’s hair, Bob, not surgery.” Sue chided. “Just do it.”
Sue heard her friend gasp as the clippers made their first pass in front of her ear. Sue had to admit, that she had almost done the same. The cool metal felt strange against the skin of her scalp as the clippers slowly made their way around her head. Long wispy strands of silvery blonde hair slithered to the floor as they rolled over the cape, too heavy to make purchase as they fell.
As the back was clipped, Sue could actually feel the weight fall away from her head, a little at a time, and it gave her the most delicious feeling inside.
As the clippers made their way to the other side, Bridget giggled. “Oh my God, Soup! This is definitely interesting.”
Almost disappointed, Sue heard the clippers fall silent. She looked down to a sea of blonde that surrounded the chair like so much straw. She reached up from under the cape, allowing her fingers to slowly explore the newly exposed skin. A shudder coursed through her with the strangely foreign feeling, her exposed scalp ultra-sensitive.
Just the slightest resistance, like the finest sandpaper, was all she felt. Her reflection in the mirror was even more astounding. She knew that when she released the rest of her hair, the shaved part would be hidden, but right now, it was out there, and then some. Sue’s ears, which she always considered petite, stood out prominently from each side of her head. They weren’t unattractive or inordinately large, it was just a shock to see them so exposed.
“You want me to finish it up for you?” Bob asked, hopefully.
“What do you mean?” Sue couldn’t imagine him thinking that she wanted to shave off the rest.
“Shave it, you know, with a razor.” He explained.
“Oh, I thought you meant this.” Sue indicated the messy topknot she had fashioned at her crown.
“If that’s what you want, sure. Why not?” The barber grinned.
“Let’s leave that alone, for now. But, yes, I’d like the shave, for sure.” Sue again ran her fingers over the exposed scalp, wondering how smooth it might be.
“Awesome, Soup. That’s going to feel so amazing.” Bridget bubbled.
Sue smiled as the warm lather was spread over the lower half of her head, and it grew wider as the razor tugged gently against it. The sound and feel of the shaving was electrifying Sue’s imagination. As Bob slowly stripped away all traces of hair, Sue imagined him continuing upward, slowly and stealthily stealing a little of the top at a time. He would think she wouldn’t notice as the blade stole a few hairs here and a few there, slowly and steadily working their way up.
All too soon, Bob finished the job with a warm towel wrapped around the back and sides of Sue’s head. As the towel was taken away, the look in the mirror was about the same. But as her fingers caressed the silky-smooth skin that was her exposed scalp, the reaction couldn’t have been any more different.
Sue felt her insides tighten as she stroked the skin, eliciting the same sensations she felt when she imagined herself with a boy.
The moment of truth was at hand as Sue reached up, releasing the topknot, allowing what remained of her hair to cascade over the freshly shaved back and sides. Was it going to be enough to fool her mother? Sue turned her head from side to side, realizing that her hair was too thin to disguise the jet white skin beneath. From a distance, it would fool anyone, but up close it was all too obvious that she had a drastic undercut.
Bridget walked over and ran her hand beneath the thin veil of blonde, touching the incredibly smooth skin. “Wow, that’s so rad, Soup. You know you can tell, right?” She asked, cautiously.
“Yep. My mom’s going to kill me.”
To be Continued…