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I have been thinking lately of getting a really short haircut.  My current style is a very GQ business man’s cut. It covers most of my ears with layers cut into it.  I go with my wife to her stylist to get it cut every six weeks or so.  It has been many years since I’ve had really short hair, I had a flattop as a kid that my dad made me get and keep for a few years when I was around 6 years old. 

I had talked my parents into letting me grow my hair out and they agreed if I kept it combed and it didn’t get too shaggy.  This worked for about a year when one Saturday morning my dad asked if I wanted to go to the office with him and I went.  On the way we stopped at his barber and he told me my hair was too shaggy and it was coming off again.  I tried my best to talk him out of it but I ended up marching into the barbershop and climbing up into the chair. 

Dad told the barber to give me a flattop and out came the clippers and off came my hair.  I still remember the first pass down the center of my head the barber made with the clippers.  He had put gel in my hair and he cut the top freehand.  After the first pass I looked in the mirror and there was a 2″ wide path of ½” hair down the center of my head.  I had a reverse Mohawk for about 10 seconds and then the rest of it came off. 

Several years later I had grown the flattop out into a longish boy cut.  I was in my early teens.  My mom gave me money for a haircut one summer day so I rode my bike up to the local barbershop.  When I walked in I was surprised to see a lady barber working there.  Until then I had just assumed only men were barbers.  I remember her being older but attractive with a nice smile. There were three barbers in the shop and the other two had customers in their chairs.  She greeted me and asked me if I wanted a haircut and had me sit in her chair. 

She asked how I wanted it cut and I told her I just wanted a regular haircut.  My hair was about an inch long in back and maybe three inches long on top.  The next thing I knew my head was pushed forward and the clippers were run all the way up the back of my head.  Over and over they went.  She worked very quickly.  The sides were next and then she scissored the top.  When she turned me around to the mirror I was very surprised to see my reflection.  I had been scalped. 

The sides had been completely tapered to the skin around my ears and the top was now only about an inch long.  She held the mirror up for me to look at the back and it was just as short as the sides.  I could see pale skin almost to my crown.  I was stunned.  I had not wanted to be scalped.  I had just wanted it cleaned up, clipper cuts were not in-style back then.  I was always a shy kid and I didn’t want to say anything to cause a scene so I just paid and left.  My parents were really shocked that I had gotten my hair cut so short.  So was I, but I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want them going up to the barbershop to complain so I just acted like it was no big deal. 

I kept going back to the same barbershop until we moved and she did cut my hair again but never as short as that first time.  Looking back I think this haircut was the beginning of my current interest in getting a short haircut again. 

Those early years were the last time I had really short hair.  Since then I have been going to salons and have come to prefer female stylists.  Since getting married 15 years ago I have only used my wife’s stylist.  She works in a swanky salon and everyone that goes there gets stylish haircuts. 

Back to the present.  I am now in my early 40’s and I’m tired of my current look.  I decided to get a different haircut.  I left the office early on a Friday afternoon and went to a barbershop close to the office.  I had never been there before and when I walked in I saw there were only 2 chairs and they both had customers sitting in them with another guy waiting.  I was disappointed there wasn’t a lady barber.  I really wanted a lady barber to give me the haircut I was after. 

The barber closest to the door said hello and to have a seat, it would be 10 to 15 minutes.  I sat down trying to decide what to do.  I wanted a lady barber but I didn’t just want to walk out of the shop.  I sat there thinking of what I could do.  I decided to play a game.  I would tell the barber to clean it up, if the cut I got wasn’t short enough I would go find another barbershop with a lady barber and have her cut it again.  This way I wouldn’t know what cut I was going to get, I liked the idea of not knowing, I’m not sure why. 

When I got called to take a seat I told the barber to clean it up.  I got caped and he began cutting.  I knew right away I was going to have to go to another shop.  He was using scissors and a comb to cut my hair.  He took his time and worked his way around my head and over the top.  When he was done he spun me around to look in the mirror.  I didn’t look much different.  My hair only covered half my ears now and was still over an inch long at my nape.  It did look good but not the change I was really looking for.  I told him it looked fine and paid him $12 plus tip and left. 

I was now on a mission.  I wanted to get sheared and I wanted to get sheared by a lady barber.  I pulled out my iPhone and opened up a map app I have.  I remembered it had a search feature for Barbers.  A map came up on the phone with several pins marking barbershops in the area.  By touching a pin it gave me the name of the barbershop, its address and phone number.  The third pin I touched was for a place called Sue’s Barbershop and it was only about a mile away from where I was at. 

I was getting excited about this, I had found my next stop.  I started thinking about what I was going to tell Sue about how I wanted to get my haircut.  I thought back to the shearing I got when I was in my early teens and how it felt when the clippers ran up the back of my head.  A story was forming in my mind as I pulled into the barbershop parking lot.  I was able to park in front of the shop and I could see that it was empty, not even a barber was inside.  There was an open sign on the door so I got out of the car and walked up to the door. 

I slowly opened the door and a bell chimed above the door.  From the back of the shop came an attractive lady in her late 30’s with a nice red wedge cut.  She introduced herself as Sue and told me to have a seat in her chair.  She put a tissue around my neck and put a cape on me.  She then began to comb my hair out and commented on how thick it was.  She then asked if I wanted it trimmed up.  I told her no and began to tell my story. 

I told her my 20th wedding anniversary was this weekend and I wanted to give my wife a surprise.  We met back when I was in the military and she had always loved the military haircuts I wore back then.  I haven’t had my hair cut that short since then and every couple of years my wife brings up those haircuts and how good they felt and how sharp I looked back then.  She liked to run her hands over the stubble.  I thought I would surprise her and get another short haircut like I had back then. 

Sue told me I had come to t
he right place.  She said she had been a barber in the army for 8 years before opening up her own shop 11 years ago.  She asked if I had a specific haircut in mind and I said no I just wanted it to look good and that I didn’t want to know what she was going to do either until the cut was done.  Sue said she could do that and it had been a while since a customer had requested a military style haircut outside of the cops that came into the shop.  She turned around to her clipper shelf and picked up her clippers. 

It was scary not knowing exactly what she was going to do or just how short she was going to cut it.  The anticipation was almost palpable.  With little fan fare she pushed my head forward and I heard the whir of the clippers as they were turned on. 

With quick steady passes she ran the clippers from the base of my neck all the way up to the crown.  The clippers never left my head.  I suddenly had second thoughts, what had I gotten myself into.  It was then I realized I didn’t know what guide or blade she was using and I reasoned I still had some hair left.  She swiftly worked the clippers over and around my right ear running the clippers all the way up the side of my head.  I could feel the air on my head now so I knew it was clippered pretty short. 

The left side fell to the clippers next.  She went back over everything again with the clippers making sure it was all cut the same.  When she was finished the clippers were turned off and the only sound was the radio playing in the background. 

Sue said I was halfway there and returned to the counter to get something.  When she turned back around she began to put something in my hair.  She massaged it in and then returned with a comb.  She was combing my hair, but I couldn’t figure out what she was doing with it. She returned to the counter and the next thing I heard was the clippers whir again. 

She started in front, I could barely see the comb as she slid it through my hair and then she began to slide the comb again and stopped.  I then heard the clippers cutting hair again.  I also heard the faint sound of the clippers sliding over the teeth of the comb as they cut.  Sue took her time with this part.  Her hand movements seemed to be very deliberate and slow.  She slowly worked her way back across my head until she was at the crown.  She then repeated the process again from front to back.  I couldn’t tell what she was cutting or how much she was cutting.  Very little hair was sliding into my lap.  I saw later that it was because she was depositing it all in back of the chair. 

I think she was finally satisfied with the top because she went back to the counter and returned with a different set of clippers, they had a higher pitch to them, and began working on the sides near the top of my head again.  She did some final touch up on the top with the clippers and then returned to the counter. 

She asked if I wanted my neck shaved and I said yes.  I heard the hum of the hot lather machine and then she was spreading warm shaving cream on my neck, around my ears and sideburns.  It felt good.  With an expert hand she shave my neck and around my ears.  She wiped off the excess shaving cream and asked if I was ready to see the new me. 

With that she spun the chair around to the mirror.  WOW!!!  I had one military high ‘n tight flattop.  The sides were shaved to the skin and the top was extremely short.  The front bump was perhaps 3/8 of an inch tall.  I could see my scalp in the top center of my head, there wasn’t even a 1/8th inch of hair there.  The hair towards the crown was only slightly longer, maybe a ¼ inch.  I had been sheared again. All of my hair was gone.  I looked down and saw where it went.  There was a nice pile of dark hair at the foot of the chair.  It’s hard to believe that all of it had been on my head only 30 minutes before. 

Sue asked what I thought and I was honest and told her it was going to take some getting used to after all these years.  I was still playing along with the story I told her, but in reality, I had never had my hair this short before.  The flattops I had as a kid were long compared to this one. 

I took my hand out from under the cape and rubbed the back of my head.  I could only feel a little rough stubble.  After the initial shock I tried to look at the haircut itself.  It did look okay on me, it definitely looked like I was in the military. I thanked her and told her she had done a great job.  She undid the cape and I handed her a $20 for the haircut and told her to keep the change.  Sue said she hoped the wife would be happy and she wished us a happy anniversary.  I told her I hoped so too and walked out of the shop still rubbing my head. 

I got in the car and stared at my reflection in the rear view mirror.  Sue had done exactly what I had asked and now reality was setting in.  I know I came in here wanting a really short haircut.  Something had come over me, a desire I had not had before when I set out this afternoon to get a short haircut.  I had been hell bent on doing this and I’m not sure why.  I know that once I started, the anticipation of what was going to happen was overwhelming, it took over any rational thought I had about looking normal or what my wife would think or anything else. 

What would my wife think?  She really liked my GQ look.  I had told her I was thinking of something different but I know she won’t be prepared for this, hell, I wasn’t prepared for this.  I was anticipating something more along the lines of the tapered cut I got as a boy, not the “I’m in the military now” flattop I was looking at now.  Would she be mad?  What would I tell her?  Oh honey, it’s not so bad, the barber went a little crazy and this is what I ended up with.  It was a misunderstanding.  Nothing sounded good at the moment, perhaps the truth would work best.  Dear, I’m not sure why but I just wanted to get all of my hair cut off.  What do you think?  It’ll grow, it’s only hair.  It won’t happen again. I just wanted to try something different. 

Was that true?  Would it happen again?  I can’t say no.  Although this is a very severe haircut I lost control of what was happening.  I enjoyed the process, the anticipation, the unknown of what haircut I was going to get.  I knew then and there that this would not be the last time I visited Sue or the last time her clippers left me wondering what I had done.

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