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             I had just gotten off the telephone with my sister when the telephone rang again. This time it was mother and she wanted to tell me she was planning to go late to the party, that night.

 And asked if I would meet her a few blocks from Aunt Kay’s apartment, where the party was being held.

 The party was for her.  It was somewhat a “renewal of her life” party planned by Aunt Kay, a close friend of hers. She was just coming out of her shell after five years and dad’s death back then.

 They were very close and his death was very hard on her. But, for the last year or so, she was beginning to become her old self.

 I agreed to meet her for 6PM, instead of 6:30PM, so she could “take care of something,” as she put it. She did not go into details, but said it was going to help her get herself back on track.

 Whatever it was she was not going to tell me.

 ”You will have to trust me,” she told me. “I have given this great thought.”

 We hung up and I started putting dinner together for my husband and children.

 Then, I was off to take a long soak in warm water and a relaxing shower.

 When they arrived I had dinner on the table. All I had to do was finish dressing, if my husband would let me.

 After getting them to the table, I went upstairs and finished dressing.

 It was almost 5:45PM when I left “dad” in the hands of the children. I say it this way because he is a great husband and father but when left with the children he loses control and ends up giving into them as the night progresses.

 I met mom at a little outdoor restaurant. She was dressed in a nice above the knee skirt and matching blouse, with five-inch high heels, something she had not worn since dad’s death. Her hair was combed but not styled like she always does it.

 Her hair was still natural, with some graying, for a lady of sixty-five, who was a mother of two boys, three girls, and twelve grandchildren. Her body was one a twenty-year-old woman would like to have.  Her make-up was of someone trained to apply make-up to an actress or model.

 As we walked towards Aunt Kay’s apartment I asked what it was she wanted to do.

 She looked at me with a smile.

 ”I was unable to get an appointment with my hairdresser today, to get my hair trimmed, because I was late in trying to get an appointment.”

 She remembered the little barbershop dad went to when he got his hair cut.

 ”They also cut women’s hair.” The shop was a few blocks from Aunt Kay’s, so we stopped there first.

 There were not many customers in the three-chair shop.

 As we sat waiting mom’s turn, I remembered the times I would come here with dad and my two brothers, both older than me. Mom was expecting my sister, Mary, and I would go with them just to give her a little rest.

 The shop still had the old barber chairs. I remember sitting in one, while dad got his haircut, it felt like I had fallen into a hole. It was so big my feet did not touch the floor.

 Come to think of it no one’s feet touched the floor either.

 A few minutes had passed, I was looking through a magazine, when the barber at the middle chair called mom’s number.

 She got up, handed me her purse, and walked to the chair and sat in it.

 She and the barber, who had cut dad’s hair, knew each other and said their hellos.

 I remember back a little more and remembered mom had come to the barber shop and got her hair trimmed a few times with dad, sometimes with us in tow.

 The barber, Steve, was a friend of dad.

 They had sometimes been fishing and hunting when they had taken a day off.

 As Steve tossed the cape across mother, she placed one foot on the footrest and crossed the other leg over it.

 Too, my surprise this brought the attention of some of the men waiting their turn, and a little smile to mom, letting her know she still had it.

 He picked up a water bottle and started spraying her hair to dampen it. Her hair was silken soft from years of care. As he brushed through the damp strands the gray strands began to stand out from the soft brown ones.

 He picked up the scissors from the shelf and the comb from his shirt pocket. With the skill of years he combed and sectioned her hair. Pinning each section close to her scalp, not to injure the skin or hair.

 When her head was completely sectioned, except for the last section, he combed a little out and with the shining blades of the scissors cut about four inches off. The damp strands fell into her cape-covered lap. Another section was combed out and the scissors clipped another four inches, falling to join the first.

 Each sectioned was unpinned, combed in smaller sections and cut.

 Four inch sections falling to join those before it in the cape, or on the floor around the chair.

 For years, even before dad’s death, mom had said she wanted to cut her hair short.

 But, dad would look at her with his pleading eyes asking her not to, for dad liked her hair just below the shoulders. He would take hold of it to give her a wild passionate kiss, or to run his fingers through the soft strands. Now those times were gone and so was dad.

 I was deeply involved in the magazine I was reading through, I did not notice Steve combing more of the now shorter hair, and clip another two inches off.

 When I did look up, from the magazine, mom’s hair was being cut to about two inches in length all over. My expression was of surprise, of wonderment.

 But, mom just sat as Steve combed and cut her hair shorter.

 When he was finished cutting her hair, Steve began to dry it with his hands. Shaking the dampness in the air, then he combed it with a center part. Her face showed, her cheeks were rosy with embarrassment, but her looks were better.

 He turned and placed the scissors and comb on the shelf and began searching in a small glass cabinet.

 Finding what he wanted, his right hand reached under the shelf and brought something up. I could not see what it was, because he was standing so it was hidden from view. His left arm moved as if it was making contact with his right.

 Instead of watching to see what happened, I went back to reading the magazine.

 There was a soft “click” sound followed by a softer sound of humming. I knew the sound to be of barber’s clippers but thought they were being used to clip the hair of one of the other customers. As the soft humming turned into one of cutting, my ears told my mind it was closer than I thought.

 I looked up to see Steve slowly pushing the clippers up behind mom’s right ear, cutting her hair to half an inch. As I looked closer I noticed, as he was working the clippers around the back of her head, her hair had been clipped in front of her right ear.

 Not knowing what to say or think, I sat watching.

 Women were getting their hair cut extremely short in boyish cuts. I had even thought of cutting my own hair this short one summer.

 But, my husband, like my dad in a way, liked my hair just around shoulder length.

 Once I did get it cut an inch above the shoulders and he liked it. I had even seen a woman, who came to do business with the compan
y I worked for, with her hair cut to about half an inch all over.

 Of course, you can see young girls in their late teens and twenties with their hair cut even shorter, even with some part of it shaved to the scalp.

 I went back to reading the magazine.

 But, for some reason something in me told me to look up.

 When I looked up Steve was just pushing the clippers over her head. With a few combings of the clippers her hair was now half an inch all over. To see her hair cut this short was strange after all these years.

 But what was I to say, or could I say anything to her?

 Went he was finished the clippers were turned off, but the humming sound still filled the shop.

 My eyes turned to the chairs on either side of the one mom was sitting in to see, in my mind, the young me getting crew cuts.

 I shook my head a little in disbelief, or was it just a coincidence?

 I started to look back to the magazine, but I put it down.

 I wanted to watch any more transformation of my mom’s hair.

 And, I was in for something I thought I would never see her do.

 Steve was dusting small clipped hairs from her face, tossing them in the air around her head like a soft halo. His left hand was dusting her new short haircut causing more hair clippings to fly in the air.

 When he stopped the dusting mom brought her left hand from under the cape and she brushed her new haircut with it. She gave a smile of mixed reaction.

 Was it because of her disbelief she had let Steve cut her hair this short, or one of the softness such a cut gave when you brushed over hair so short.

 My oldest son had gotten his hair cut into a crew cut last summer and when I brushed my hand over it, it felt like a soft hair brush, I had as a child to brush my hair with.

 There was a soft click, with a soft humming, again.

 My eyes quickly turned to the chairs on either side. Seeing nothing they returned to the chair mom was sitting in.

 Steve had his left hand on top of her head, tilting it forward and down a little. He must be trimming the hairline, I thought to myself, to make the back look neat.

 But his hand rose high up the back, then it went back down and slowly rose again. After a few movements like this, his left hand gave the back of her head a few downward and upward brushings.

 He stepped to the left side and placed his left hand on top of her head.

 Then, as I watched in surprising disbelief, he brought the humming clippers up in front of her ear. Slowly he pushed it up the side of her head, leaving behind hair so short you could not see any.

 I had seen this cut on men in the service, but not on a woman.

 I wanted to say something, but it was too late.

 He had already clipped the back of her head this short and now the left side of her head was meeting the same.

 As my eyes flickered in disbelief he was now working on the right side of her head. With a few strokes he was finished.

 So, I thought.

 He stood behind the chair and reached over her head with the clippers humming away.

 Placing them in front of the hairline, he slowly pulled the clippers back over her head. It left hair clipped as short as the sides and back.

 Mom closed her eyes as clipping of hair fell before them with each remaining stroke of the clippers.

 When he was finished, he put the clippers to rest on the hook under the shelf.

 Again he took the hair duster and dusted mom’s face and head, this time smaller hair clippings floated in the air around her head.

 As he dusted the back of her head and neck he undid the cape and let it fall into her lap.

 Mom brought up her hands and wiped her face of a few clippings, then, she brushed them over her head.

 This brought a smile and funny face.

 One a child would make when they have eaten something different for the first time, something that was sour in taste, or something they disliked.

 Steve walked to the right side of the chair and reached over her lap and removed the cape. Mom stretched her arms out and uncrossed and re-crossed her legs.

 I started to get up, with disbelief, when she crossed her arms. He was now tucking a large white towel into the collar of her blouse.

 My ears caught the sound of running water in the sink.

 He reached into a drawer, under the shelf, removing another large white towel.

 He tossed the towel into the sink as the warm water, still running, began steaming.

 While the towel sat in the sink, taking in the warm water, he took a large amount of something from a jar.

 Slowly he spread the creamy white substance over her clipped head. With her head covered with it he worked it in with a soft circling movement. Her head was rocking from side to side, back to front, as he rubbed the substance covering the clipped hairs.

 Wiping his hand, on another towel, he picked up the towel from the sink and wrung it out.

 When it was wrung out just right he turned and wrapped it around mom’s head.

 As the warm towel touched her clipped scalp she pulled her head up, but as he wrapped it around her head she became relaxed.

 I tried to think of why he was doing this.

 Why did he put the creamy substance on her head?

 Why did he wrap her head in a warm towel?

 Two things came to my mind.

 One, it was a cream to soften her scalp to prevent a rash from forming as her hair grew back.

 But, there was the other.

 I could not believe she would do this.

 SHAVE her head!

 As I tossed these two things, and a few others, around in my mind, Steve removed the towel, wiping the cream from her head. He had tossed another towel, just like the first, in the sink.

 As warm water flowed over it the wet steam flowed upward. I looked around to see the expressions on the other customers.

 But, when my eyes returned to mom my fears came true.

 There was a whining sound coming from where Steve was standing.

 His right hand was on top of a silver object, with his left hand under it. There was a soft white cream coming from it.

 When a pile of the cream had filled his hand he turned to mom and began applying, then softly rubbing, the cream over her clipped scalp.

 With all the cream covering her head he again wrapped her head with a damp warm towel. This time he allowed the towel to sit longer and cool down.

 He turned to the silver object and filled his left hand with the white cream, turned and removed the towel from her head.

 Again he applied the cream, covering her head. She looked like a lady with short white curly hair.

 Wiping his hand of shaving cream he reached into the small glass cabinet and removed a small-elongated object.

 As he walked to the right side of the chair he flicked his right hand. The object opened up causing a silver flat part to jump out. His left hand took hold of the leather strap hanging from the right arm of the chair. With slow up and down movements he sharpened the edge of the flat silver.

 Each stroke quickly sharpening the edge more.

 When he was sure the flat silver was as sharp as it could be he brought it up to mom’s head.

 With sho
rt strokes he shaved the remaining hairs, and the cream covering them, away.

 Each movement of the razor revealed the soft white skin, which had once been covered with soft strands of brownish graying hair. Each stroke revealed more of her scalp, as if she was being readied for surgery.

 With each stroke her smile brightened, her facial features showing more.

 It felt like time was slow, as the right side of her head was razored to the scalp.

 But, it was not.

 Was it only in my mind!

 A mind that was now filled with disbelief of what it was recording.

 My thoughts now began to wonder, “Why?”

 Wonder, “Would I do this?”

 What would my brothers and sisters say to me?

 ”Why did you not stop her?” I could hear one of them say loudly.

 This question I could not answer myself.

 So, how could I answer it for them?

 I just sat, as did the other customers, watching my mom have her head shaved BALD.

 Bald like her father and grandfather.

 Baldness that my father had averted in his 64 short years. Baldness my brothers were hoping they would avert like dad.

 With each stroke he would rub the fingers of his left hand over the area he shaved, to see if it was smooth.

 He would slide the blade over the skin to shave closer and smoother.

 Time passed slowly as he revealed more and more of her scalp. With each stroke she sat, not in disbelief, but of knowing something was happening she wanted to happen.

 Like a child at play, her mind was learning more of its self and she of herself.

 I looked at my watch and the clock on the wall.

 They said 6:45PM.

 We would be late, later than she told me she wanted to be. But, she did not say why she wanted to be late.

 My thoughts were now wondering more and more.

 What would others say of her?

 What would others think of her?

 What would the family think of me?

 Why was my own mind thinking of how I would look?

 Would I cause us to be later by sitting in the chair next?

 Her head was tilted to the right as Steve was finishing.

 The last few strokes of the razor were the slowest of all. All that remained was strips of shaving cream around the edge where her hairline once was, showing the path of the razor.

 Her head was free of hair, BALD.

 He wrapped another warm towel around her head and wiped it clean.

 Slowly he brushed his hand over her head, feeling how soft her scalp felt. Mom’s eyes closed as he stroked her head, I could see her breathing a little faster as if she were having a sexual experience.

 The warm water was steaming the mirror as he put another towel in the sink.

 After wringing it out, he wrapped her head again.

 His left hand was being filled with shaving cream from the dispenser.

 He turned, removed the towel and applied the cream to her head.

 He was going to shave her head again.

 Why?

 He rubbed the shaving cream applying a thicker pile.

 He opened a small drawer under the shelf and searched through it, like he did the glass cabinet.

 This time he came up with a safety razor.

 ”This will get your scalp smoother,” he said, speaking for the first time since she sat in the chair.

 The flowing warm water filled the sink, so the razor could be cleaned of the shaving cream and any hair removed with it.

 Slowly he began shaving her head with upward strokes. Each stroke was short, like a man would take when shaving his face.

 I no longer watched the time, only the skill with which he shaved mom’s head.

 Carefully not to cut, or nick, her soft scalp.

 Her head was tilted to the left, down, and to the right, as each stroke cleared her scalp of fuzz his fingers had felt.

 Smoother to the touch.

 More sensitive.

 When he took the last stroke, his fingers began a searching path over her head. They felt for hair, when felt they were quickly razored away.

 He wanted to get her scalp as smooth as possible, without causing any harm to it.

 Finished, he wiped her scalp clean with a cool towel.

 With all signs of shaving cream removed he applied a liquid to her scalp, which caused her to jump as if it were burning.

 After patting her scalp dry he applied a sweet-smelling powder to the hair duster and dusted her scalp.

 As he dusted her face his right hand pushed the silver pole on the side of the chair forward, causing the chair to lower to its lowest point.

 Mom reached up and brushed her fingers over her shaven head.

 A smile of pleasure came to her lips.

 She looked at Steve and they gave each other a wink.

 Mom stood up and stepped from the chair. I got up and handed her her purse.

 We smiled to each other. I wanted to question her, but could not.

 As we walked out the shop Steve spoke again, ”Come back when you wish.”

 Mom turned and gave him a smile and waved.

 As we walked out I walked a few steps behind her, to see how others would react to her haircut.

 How she would react to others looking at her.

 There were a few heads turned, mostly women who, like myself, could not believe what they saw.

 As we walked the thoughts that had been tossing around in my head while watching her get her head shaved, began to toss themselves around in my head again.

 This time they were moving quicker and asking for answers.

 How would my sisters react when she entered Aunt Kay’s apartment?

 What would Aunt Kay and her friends say?

 Who would greet us at the door?

 Soon, these and many more would begin to be answered.

 We were walking up the steps to Aunt Kay’s apartment as she began to brush her fingers over her head more.

 Was she having second thoughts about going in?

 Or, was she wondering why she did it?

 Then, it came to me.

 ”Take care of something”

 ”You will have to trust me”

 ”I have given this great thought”

 She and Steve never spoke a word after she sat in the chair. Nor did she pay him.

 Had she spoken with him about this earlier?

 Did he know she wanted her head shaved?

 Would mother tell me why?

 Mother rang the doorbell, taking a deep breath and letting it out quickly.

 Her head turned towards me with an “Oh, God” smile.

 The door opened with a quick yank. On the other side were my sisters, Connie and Mary.

 Connie, the youngest of us girls, was first to see mother.

 She had a smile, which turned into a gasp, and a glass of red wine for mother.

 Mary, the middle daughter, had opened the door and broke into a loud laughter when seeing mother. She admitted later she thought mother had a skin cap on her head, as to be playing a joke.

 Seeing and hearing the reaction at the door Aunt Ka
y snuck herself up behind my sisters.

 ”My God Cassy,” she said with a laugh and brought her left hand up to mother’s bald head.

 ”What in the world did you do?”

 Mother slowly turned her head from side to side, ”Got my head shaved!”

 Taking the glass of red wine from Connie, giving each of my sisters a kiss on their red cheek, mother took Aunt Kay by the arm and walked into the apartment passing my sisters with a brush, one still in disbelief and the other trying to stop laughing.

 As I walked past my sisters I watched as all mother’s friends and neighbors, who were invited, gave her a mixture of looks. Some gasping like Connie, some giving a small laugh as did Mary, and others with looks of not knowing what to say or do.

 Standing by the couch were my sisters-in-law.

 Both came up to mother and gave her a kiss, with a little look of “what the…?”, and a somewhat cocked head.

 They looked at me with a bigger, “what the HELL?” expression.

 I just shrugged a “you got me…” with my shoulders.

 As the party went about talk was about mother, not her new haircut.

 But, about what she has been doing and some plans she had for a trip. Something my sisters and I knew nothing about.

 Of course, there were some who were still amazed at mother’s brave shaving of her head, and there were a few jokes told which mother accepted with a laugh.

 When we left Connie was still not saying much to mother. Like many, being the youngest in a family, she and mother were close, always trying to catch up on the years before she was born.

 Trying to find out more about her older brothers and sisters. As we left she gave mother a kiss and hug, with tears rolling down her cheeks, trying to find out, figure out, why mother shaved her head.

 Something mother never clearly told anyone that night.

 As we walked the ten blocks home I questioned her, like a detective would a criminal about the whys to a crime.

 Like the hardened criminal she answered around the questions. In a way she was saying “none of your business.”

 As I left her at her apartment, I tried one more time.

 She patted my cheek softly, ”By now have you not found out mothers do not have to tell her children why she does things?”

 Walking the last three blocks home, I begin to think about what she had told me about shaving her head.

 Why did she do it with me?

 All my life we were at odds. Then again, we were always able to talk things out, more so.

 When I got home my husband, Dan, had the children tucked into bed and a big “guess what?” smile. I got a bear hug, a few pats on the ass with some hip movement, and a kiss that sent my blood boiling.

 I knew what he had in mind, and he did not have to ask. Besides I could tell him what mother did tomorrow, or the day after that!

 As we entwined he told me my brother, Ken, called and I was to call him back as soon as possible.

 ”He sounded all excited. What is it about?” he asked.

 ”Oh, just a little hair flying,” I told him, to which I received a “what?” look.

 I knew what Ken wanted, but what could I do or tell him?

 Sending my husband off to pull the sheets, I called my brother from the kitchen telephone. There was no other extension to it so no one would hear what we were talking about until I could tell them.

 Our talk was short and to the point, ”Why did you let mother shave her head?”

 I tried to find words, but did not know why myself.

 So, how could I tell him, even though I wished I could?

 About 10am the next morning, mother called. I had told Dan but he did not believe me much.

 But, after answering the telephone and talking with her, while I finished putting clothing in the washer, I handed him the telephone.

 He could not believe what she told him when he told her I told him about her shaving her head.

 He handed me the telephone with an “Oh, my God” expression on his face, one which I was now accustomed to seeing. To which I quietly told him, “Told you, stupid.”

 Mother and I talked about the telephone calls from my brothers and some friends who were at the party, who wanted to make sure they saw what they saw. We talked with child-like laughter as she told me how upset my brother, Ken, was when she told him she was shaving her head, when he asked what she was doing.

 ”I knew why he was calling,” she said. “So I thought I would throw a monkey wrench into his call.”

 Out talk lasted about an hour, but before I hung up I had to try to find out why and why me?

 So, I asked her outright.

 ”Well, your dad liked my hair around shoulder length, which I did not. And, since his death, I have been trying to get over losing him. It was hard because every now and then I would find something of his.

 “Then, there was me.

 ”Every day I would look in the mirror and see how he liked my hair. I knew it would only be time before I would take that step and let him go.

 “But, I could not find any style that I felt comfortable with.

 ”I was out, two months ago, shopping with Miss Ryan, the lady who lives upstairs above me, and we stopped at this little deli for lunch.

 “When our waitress came to take our order she was bald. “And, the hairlessness brought out many of the facial features that hair hid.

 ”As the weeks passed I began to think of it as a change, not a statement of some kind. I returned to the deli last week and she and I had a talk about her shaven head.

 “After a few days I decided to do it, shave my head.

 ”The only person I knew who could do it was Steve.

 ”So, last Tuesday I went to him for a trim. We talked about it. “I told him about the party last night and told him if I came in Friday he was to shave my head.

 ”He told me he would take it in steps, in case I changed my mind.

 “I told him ‘If I come in there is NO way I am going to leave with hair on my head.’ He was to shave it as smooth as he could get it.

 ”And, that is what he did.

 ”As for why you… Just your luck of the draw.

 ”You called me yesterday morning, telling me you would walk to Aunt Kay’s with me.

 “I tried to get to Steve’s earlier, but I got doing things and time went by.

 ”Like I told Steve, it was Friday or hair.”

 After I accepted her reasoning, we said “bye” and hung up.

 It has been three months and I see mother once or twice a week and her head is shaved every time. She has gotten the shaving down to where she can do it in the shower.

 My brothers have somewhat accepted it and Mary takes it like I do, “What can we do about it?”

 Connie wants to have her examined by a specialist, if you know the kind.

 ”A 65-year old mother and grandmother just does not go around doing crazy things like shaving her head,” she says.

 But I tell her there is nothing we can do about it.

 Her grandchildren…

 Well, the oldest four think “Grandma’s ‘keen'”, the middle few do not know what to think of her, and the youngest just keeps looking for hair to grab hold of.

 Connie and I have been talki
ng every week about mother shaving her head. I tried to convince her why mother did it, and how it has helped her over her loss.

 Slowly she began to understand, and besides, seeing mother bald was beginning to grow on her, she said.

 ”With time,” I told her, “like everything she will stop shaving her head and her hair will grow back.

 ”Maybe not like dad liked it, but short like mother has said she wanted to cut it.”

 Connie and mother have begun spending more time with each other over the past three weeks.

 And, Connie has come to accept she has a mother who was kind of wild, in someway.  That she still has a few ‘oaks’ to chew. ”As long as she is happy,” Connie told me the other day, “I must accept this craziness in her.”

 Mother stopped by today as she and Mary were meeting here when Mary got off from work early, to go shopping for some clothing for mother’s trip and to have dinner.

 Like many grandmothers she looked forward to being with her grandchildren, like many grandmothers she brought small presents for them.

 And, like grandchildren they looked for them. They see things many adults do not, or they do not want to.

 My youngest, Tish, age three, was hanging on to her grandmother as the other three opened their presents one at a time. She stood on the couch staring at her grandmother.

 ”What is up with you, young lady?” mother asked her. Tish just looked, then put her little hand on top of grandmother’s head. ”You got ‘stickies’ on your head” Tish told her grandmother.

 ”Stickies?” mother and I said together.

 Mother brushed her hand over her head. “Oh, you mean the little hairs growing out.”

 ”Stickies,” Tish repeated, “they feel sticky.”

 Mother put her arms around Tish giving her a hug and told her, “I forgot to shave my head yesterday and this morning. That is why I have ‘stickies’.”

 As Tish’s three older brothers joined her in touching grandmother’s ‘stickies’, I got up to go get some lemonade for us. As I was walking to the kitchen the doorbell rang, so I went to answer it first.

 ”It should be your sister, Mary,” mother said. “She is to meet me here for three. We are going shopping, and she promised me dinner,” mother called out to me.

 ”I want to get home in time to watch the movie on Channel Five. I missed it last week,” mother continued kind of loudly as I opened the door.

 ”It is me, Mom,” Mary said as she came in. “Your thirty-two-year-old single daughter.”

 ”What has she been telling you? Anything I should know about?”

 ”Nothing,” I said. “The grandchildren were just opening the gifts she brought them. We are going to have some lemonade, want a glass?”

 Mary said ”yes” as my middle son came running.

 ”Aunt Mar” (he always drops the “y,” we do not know why), “Aunt Mar, did you bring me the ‘you know what’?”

 ”Right here,” Mary said reaching in her purse. She handed him a brown envelope and he ran off to his room. I did not ask either what it was, I trusted my sisters to use her good judgment.

 Thirty minutes passed and Mary and mother were off for the evening, as I wished I could join them. As we said our good-byes I asked where they were going to dinner.

 ”To that little restaurant I told you about a few months ago,” mother told me with a smile.

 ”First we go shopping,” Mary interrupted. “For some things for your trip.”

 After giving the grandchildren a kiss, mother gave me a wink.

 ”First we have to make a stop a few blocks from here. I have to take care of a ‘stickie’ problem!”

 Quietly I said, “With Mary!”

 Mother smiled and kissed me on the cheek.

 Off mom and Mary went talking about whatever.

 As we walked mom and I (Mary) talked about her trip and what she should get. It was hard on her, I could see, planning a vacation without dad.

 But, it was a way of putting the past behind her and starting over.

 We turned the corner and mom told me she had to stop at Steve’s shop.

 At first I thought she was talking about a new gift shop or meat store.

 Then, my eyes caught sight of “Steve’s Shop”. I stopped.

 Mom must have known I had stopped because after taking a few steps she turned.

 ”Got to get rid of the ‘stickies’, she told me, as she pointed to her head.

 ”Come on,” she called to me, as she waved her hand for me to continue walking. ”Your sister was there when I lost all my hair. You will only have to watch a little come off.”

 I closed my eyes for a few seconds, took a breath and followed her across the street and into “Steve’s Barber Shop”.

 As we walked in Steve was sitting in his chair. He looked up. ”Hi, Ann,” he said and got out the chair.

 ”Evening Steve,” mom replied as she handed me her purse and got into the chair.

 ”Just a shave this time. Did not have time the past few days. “You remember my daughter, Mary.”

 ”Yes, been a few years, but I remember her most when she was… about seven. Tom brought the boys in for crew cuts and she wanted one,” Steve recalled to us, with instant remembrance.

 ”Do you remember that day, Mary?”

 My eyes rolled upward from the magazine as I smiled and told him, “Yes. That was many years ago.”

 I went back to reading the magazine as mom told me, “Make it a short magazine, it will not take that long.”

 At first I did not understand,but as Steve began tucking a large towel into the collar of her blouse, I knew.

 But, I started reading the magazine, a big one, anyway.

 Mom started telling Steve about her trip and how hard it was planning it without dad.

 Steve told her, “Tom would want you to.”

 Mom acknowledged him with a few tears and a quiet, “Yes, I know.

 “But, still it is hard.”

 As I heard the sound of water running in the sink, I tried to continue reading the magazine. I remember Sue telling me how hard it was for her not to want to watch.

 How the sounds of the clippers, the running water, made her mind uncontrollable and continued to bring her eyes and mind back to the chair mother was sitting in.

 The thoughts she had tumbling around in her mind. Not wanting to know or see what her eyes were seeing, and her mind recording every activity.

 Thinking about why they were going to be late for the party and if she would cause them to be later.

 Like her, my mind began wondering about myself. Thoughts began flip-flopping, thoughts I had never had. My mind began showing photographs of myself. I shook my head to bring my thoughts back.

 With a few blinks of my eyes, they came focused on mom in the chair.

 Steve was wrapping a larger warm towel around her head. He applied light pressure with his hands, shaping the towel around her head.

 Mom was relaxed, more than I was.

 He turned and took another towel from the ones on the shelf and tossed it into the sink.

 The water was hotter, steam was flowing upward fogging the shining clear mirror. His left hand was being filled with white
shaving cream from the dispenser.

 The cream looked soft…

 I watched as the pile grew in his hand.

 Focused were my eyes, my mind wondering.

 Slowly, in my eyes and mind, Steve turned and removed the towel. Tossing it under the shelf where others were like it. His right hand began applying the shaving cream on mom’s head. Gently the cream was spread over her ‘stickies’.

 Covering them, hiding them from view.

 Head covered, he gently rubbed the cream into the ‘stickies’. Filling the space between each. Surrounding each to be softened for gentle removing.

 Taking the other towel he again wrapped her head.

 The steam slowly decreased its upward movement as it cooled.

 After a few seconds he turned back to mom, removed the towel, and began lathering her head with more shaving cream. This time he rubbed it in with circling movements. Mom’s eyes closed with pleasure as a gentle smile came to her lips. Her head rocked slowly with each movement.

 ”She looked like a lady with short white curls,” my mind recalled Sue saying.

 ”Soon they would be gone.”

 With that though Steve took a safety razor from the glass cabinet.

 He passed it under the warm running water.

 First, he shaved the right side of her head. Each short stroke was followed by a gentle rub of the fingers on his left hand. Each stroke removed the ‘stickies’ leaving behind darkened skin that matched her tanned face.

 The soft white skin that Sue had seen was now tanned with days of sun.

 Slowly, but not to damage the skin.

 Days with no cover, no hair, to block the sun.

 Her head was tilted as he worked around the back, her eyes looking upward to see my reactions.

 Wondering, as she did when with Sue, what I was thinking.

 Wondering, I was…

 Wondering what those on the cruise would say about her. How would she react to their gazes, their questions?

 What would the single elderly gentlemen say?

 He stopped and began searching in the glass cabinet, then in the drawer under the shelf.

 Looking for another razor.

 My eyes glanced at the other customers.

 What were they thinking?

 Were any of them here that day?

 ”Here they are,” Steve spoke as he pulled out a pack of safety razors. Taking one he quickly turned and started shaving again. Mom laughed when he said this.

 I did not see anything funny, but to her it was.

 Slowly he was working around the left side.

 ”A Mohawk,” my mind told me as he shaved the last stroke from the side of her head.

 ”Wow, Wow, Wow,” my mind said.

 Like Sue, I could not believe I was watching what I was watching.

 Slowly the remaining ‘stickies’ were removed.

 Slowly her head was becoming bald like that night. The night she showed up at Aunt Kay’s with her head shaved, shaved to look like her father, her brother, and her uncles.

 What would granddad say if he saw his daughter?

 What would dad say!

 With the last stroke only little strikes of shaving cream was seen, outlining the paths of the razor.

 Paths which overlapped each other.

 He wrapped her head with a warm towel, letting it cool before removing it. He picked up another razor, searching with the fingers of his left hand for ‘stickies’.

 Quickly his right hand razored them away when found. ”Smoothness,” Sue had told me as she recalled seeing the same.

 Some cream was removed from a jar and spread over her shaven scalp. It was white but blended into her scalp as he gently rubbed it over. He sprinkled some powder on the hair duster and dusted her scalp.

 The powder had a sweet smell, one I remembered from visits with dad as a child. The same smell I remember being dusted across my neck as a teenager with short hair.

 ”Finished,” Steve said to mom, as he removed the towel from her blouse. Mom brought up her hands and stroked her head.

 ”Soft and smooth,” she told him.

 ”Just as the last time,” he replied.

 She stood up on the metal arm, holding the footrest up, tossing out her arms in a “what do you think?” gesture.

 Then, she smiled at me. “Feels good.”

 I sat looking at her.

 I still could not believe I had watched her get her head shaved, as Sue did.

 How her facial features showed. She did not look like the mother I grew up knowing, but she was.

 Like Sue, my mind began to wonder about myself.

 Slowly she walked to where I sat.

 Thinking.

 Our eyes met as she stood in front of me. My heart began to race, my breathing quickened. Thoughts without pictures raced through my mind.

 ”Today is Tuesday… I do not leave until Friday. We could spend tomorrow, or the next day, shopping. We would have more time,” mom said softly, her left hand combing through my hair.

 I looked up at her.

 ”What about your movie?”

 ”What do you think VCR’s are for?” she said as she continued combing her fingers through my hair. She knew of my thoughts, as she always did.

 I smiled.

 She sat in the chair next to me.

 Steve was standing next to the barber’s chair, cape in hand. The chair looked big, like it did when I was a child. Mom leaned over a little and in a whisper told me “You can get that Crew Cut and no one will say ‘no’.”

 She patted my lap and made herself comfortable.

 I closed my eyes and quickly a picture of me with a Crew Cut appeared in my mind. I raised my hand and combed my fingers through my hair.

 It had been fifteen years since I had short hair.

 Since, I last cut it more than a trim.

 Each month I thought of cutting it shorter. I even spent time each month looking through those hair magazines. Looking for a short cut I would like, one I would feel comfortable with.

 One that was me!

 Now I had the chance, the chance to go wild.

 Wild like mom.

 The past summers I had seen some women with a Crew Cut. Ones you would not think would cut their hair this way, like my mother. No one would have ever thought she would shave her head, but she did.

 Now, I had to decide…

 For the past month I had looked at myself in the mirror, as if I could see myself with short hair. I would dream of watching my long strands fall around me, sliding downward.

 Friends would tell me how much better I looked when I wore my hair pulled off my face.

 My make-up and dress changed.

 Changed to reflect someone who had short hair.

 My eyebrows were clipped shorter, and thinner.

 Earrings were larger, I even had my nose pierced and wore a stone that matched my dress each day.

 I do not know why this change!

 It was as if my inner self was speaking out. The real me, I had hidden for years, was coming out.

 The chair began to speak…

 ”Come, leave those long locks around me.

 “Get out of me with the real you.”

 Slowly I rose and walked to the chair.

 It smiled at me.

 I climbed into its soft green leather and poli
shed stainless steel. My left foot rested gently on the green leather of the footrest, the other leg smoothly flowing over, crossing the first.

 Steve tossed the cape across, a strip of white tissue was wrapped around my neck, and the cape pulled up and around my neck. My chin rose stretching my neck causing more of it to come up from the cape.

 As he brushed my hair out, from its center part, he asked, “Crew cut?”

 I looked at him in the mirror, behind where the customers wait their turn.

 I looked at mom sitting there with her shaven head, bald and beautiful.

 ”Sounds like a good summer hair cut,” I told him.

 He began spraying a light water mist on my hair, combing it out with each spray of water, to dampen the golden brown strands. Pinned into four piles around my head, only the strands on the back of my neck hung freely.

 I watched in the large wall mirror as Steve chose his instruments of destruction from the shelf. Their teeth small and large, their blades sharp to the touch.

 Both were strong in their past history.

 He turned and combed the hanging strands, once, twice, a third time.

 The coldness of the scissors was spread open, one cold blade sliding between the strands and the skin of my neck. The other slowly closed with a “shirrr” sound cutting the damp hair, to let them fall to the floor behind the chair.

 Twice the blades opened and closed sending ten inches of damp brown to be swept away forever.

 My neck felt the dampness of hair touching it as he undid a section high in back. The comb combed once, twice. The scissors opened and closed twice.

 Hair fell to my shoulder sliding down into my cape-covered lap. Hair fell to the floor behind me where the first had fallen. The second section fell with the dampness again touching my skin. Again, in two cuts of the blades of the scissors sent the strands fell to meet the ones before it.

 I watched the mirror to see the third and fourth section unpinned, to fall before my eyes.

 Then, to watch the wet hairs fall into my lap.

 I watched waiting…

 My attention was broken by the sound of “click!”

 Steve stood behind me, clippers humming as he tilted my head downward with his left hand. The black plastic cover of the clippers touched my neck below the hairline.

 Slowly he began pushing it upward. The humming sound turned to a cutting sound. High it rose sending inches of hair to the floor behind me.

 Once, twice, five times the clippers made upward movement, sending hair to the floor.

 ”Click!” The clippers stopped.

 He took the comb and scissors from his shirt pocket, his left hand undid the pin holding the hair together, for the last time, over my left eye. The damp strands fell down covering my face, the inner strands sticking to my face with a wet feeling.

 Twice the comb combed a path downward.

 Once, the scissors opened and closed sending hair sliding down my shoulders in to my lap, twice, the scissors dropped another heavily into my lap. I could not see the mirror, only the pile of hair in my lap.

 I felt his hand unpinning the last section on the right side of my head.

 It flowingly fell for the last time before my eyes.

 The comb again made two downward passes, the scissors two quick cuts sending the long damp strands into my lap. The pile wet and heavy slowly began to dry as it sat waiting its final resting.

 My eyes jumped, up to look in the mirror, causing the damp strands before my eyes to part, with the sound of “click”.

 He stood, humming clippers in hand, standing on the right side of the chair and me. My head was tilted to the left as his right hand brought the clippers up in front of my ear. The humming sound grew loud as hair fell quickly under its munching teeth. Falling to my lap, making the pile grow.

 He moved the clippers over the top of my ear, working it behind next.

 Slowly the clippers moved up the back of my head and neck, where it had worked before. Step by step he moved around to the left side of my head.

 Up behind the ear, over the ear, and the final pass sending the last damp dry strands into my lap. His last passes were taken from behind me, as he combed the clippers over the top of my head. Once, twice, five times and my hair was one length all over.

 I looked at the lady in the mirror. The face I knew, but the haircut I had not seen on her before. Her eyes were bigger, but beautiful. Her head was like a porcupine. I watched as he brushed the clippers’ teeth, putting another black plastic cover on.

 ”Click!” they jumped into action again.

 He stood behind me, clippers humming they were brought over my head.

 Again they made passes over the top of my head cutting the hair smaller, half the size they were cut to.

 Five quick passes and he was now standing on the right side of the chair.

 With the skill he had used before on my head he began upward movements of the clippers. Slowly they worked together moving around the back of my head, coming to a final click when the last upward pass was made in front of my left ear.

 Standing there he changed the cover on the still humming clippers.

 One size smaller.

 His left hand moved to the top of my head, tilting it to the right.

 The humming sound began upward movements, working around my head. Higher it’s path, cutting the sides shorter than I had ever seen on my brother.

 ”Click!” They were done.

 As he walked to the shelf, his right hand touched the chair’s right arm and pushed the chair. It turned so I could see the shelf and the instruments of destruction.

 He began dusting my face of small clipping, around and over the ears and across the neck. His hand brushed the top of my head, sending small clippings into the air around it.

 I blinked twice, to focus on the lady in the mirror.

 I watched as mom walked up behind the chair. Her hand brushed up the back of my neck and head. Our eyes met in the mirror, we both had smiles of enjoyment.

 Steve stood on the left of the chair, scissors and comb in hand.

 Quickly he began scissoring my hair to form the arch of the head. To being shaped like a porcupine. As he worked around mom walked to the left side and brushed her hand over the top of my head.

 The feeling was sexual and unbelievable.

 With the last snip of the scissors he looked at us in the mirror.

 ”What you wanted?” he asked.

 I turned my head side to side, a little, to see the final cut. My hands came from under the cape, to brush the brush of hair on my head. Small clipping clung to them. I took a deep breath, one of “at last my hair cut.”

 ”Shorter”, came the voice on the left of me. ”Shorter. The sides and back need to be shorter.

 “A lot shorter.

 “And, the top, too. You know, Steve,” mom said.

 He looked at me in the mirror. I turned my head to look him in the eyes.

 Slowly he turned the chair to face the waiting customers, his right hand grabbing the clippers from the shelf. It still had the small cover on it, the one he had just clipped the sides and back with.

 He stood behind me and brought the clippers over my hea
d singing their song. With quick passes over my head it was reduced to the same length as the sides and back, a small porcupine.

 He stood on the right side and, humming clippers still in hand, he removed the cover.

 With quick upward movements the hairs felt shorter to the touch of the cold metal of the cover-free clippers.

 I could not see the strand, as I looked hard in the mirror to find them. Each pass was high up the side, to where my head began to arch.

 Quickly he worked around my head, high up the back, high up the left side.

 I watched mom smile with each higher movement of the clippers.

 Slowly I began to recognize the lady in the mirror.

 She was the lady I saw in my dream as a child, as a teenager, and now as a woman.

 Finally, I had the haircut I had longed for, now I had the cut every one said I could not have.

 I had found myself, the real me.

 Not another person’s me.

 Steve undid the cape and let it fall down into my lap covering the pile of hair, which once was a crown on my head.

 He began tucking a towel in my collar, mom looked up with surprise on her face.

 There was a low whining sound, one I, and mom, had heard before.

 My eyes caught Steve turning from the dispenser; his left hand had a smile pile of shaving cream. The pile was not as large as it was when he used the cream on mom’s head.

 He began applying the cream to the back of my neck, high up to the bend.

 Over the top of the ears and in front of them.

 He removed a straight razor from the glass cabinet and began slow upward and downward movements on the leather strap hanging from the right arDATA[]]

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