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It was summer of 1981, and I was about 10 years old. I was so against having my haircut during the school year because of bullying from my classmates. Grooming was anything but high on my priority list. At the end of the school year though, it was fair game.

This time, my parents cornered me the night before. My mother insisted, `You are going to have your hair cut tomorrow – we will be there when the shop opens’, in a tone that implied negotiation was impossible. Admittedly my hair was ugly, scraggly and itchy – it hung down to my nape and to the bridge of my nose. The ends at the back & sides were also curling up, and I was starting to look like a girl.

Sure enough, the next morning my mother & I were at the barbers by 8:30. However there were 3 men in front of us so it would be a wait just the same. After about 45 minutes the barber who had first opened the shop finished with the client in his chair, an older man. He dusted off the man’s neck & removed the large yellow cape, and the man stepped out of the chair & left the shop after paying. `Next’, the barber said as he walked back to his chair & picked up the yellow cape.

I looked down at the floor as I got to my feet & walked over to the oversize green barber’s chair, and slid back into it. My feet barely touched the footrest; the chair was so big. The barber unfolded the yellow cape and draped it round my neck, then folded a large piece of tissue around my neck before fastening the cape tightly at the back with a metal clip. I looked down at the tops of my white & blue Adidas runners as the barber pumped the chair up several times. `Ok, ma’am,’ he asked, `what are we doing for your son today?’

My mother looked at my hair as the barber started combing out my long tresses. `Take about an inch and a half off all over’, my mother told him, `it has to last all summer’.
`Sure, we can do that’, the barber said, and picked up a spray bottle and moved around my head, squirting water over it and combing it out. Little streams of water began running down the cape toward my feet, and my hair was soon pulled down in front of my eyes, so that it touched my nose. The hair at the back was touching the cape & tissue, and I could feel water running down my neck.

Now the cutting started. The barber picked up a set of stainless steel shears and began cutting away at the hair on my right side. Using the shears over the comb he pulled my hair up and away and snipped away my hair, a bit at a time. Strawberry blonde locks were dropping to the cape & sliding down it, or to the floor. Soon I felt the cold scissors across the back of my neck as the curls were cut away. Then he was pulling the hair away from the back of my head and cutting large pieces away. The cape was slowly becoming covered with pieces of my cut hair. He then did the same with my left side as he had with the right – pulled my hair away with the comb and snipped away the lengths of hair.

Next, the chair swung around to face the mirror, as the shop didn’t have mirrors in front of the chairs. I got a close look at how much of my hair was gone – it was unbelievable! Most of my hair was on the cape or floor. The barber then ran the scissors across the front of my head, sending my long, wet bangs dropping to the cape & sliding down. For the first time in a while I could actually see my eyes again. Now, the barber pulled the hair on the top up from my head and cut away several inch-long pieces of my hair. My neck was now starting to itch from the hair clinging to it, and I could see several pieces of hair clinging to the cape & tissue.

The chair was soon turned so that my back faced the mirror again, and the barber picked up a set of scissors with teeth on the blades. I could hear the snip-snip-snip of the scissors as the thick hair at the back of my hair was cut away and soft tufts of hair began to drop to the floor & cape. Then came the razor, applied gently to the back of my neck at first, and I could feel the tiny hairs tickle my neck as they were cut away. The barber repeated the process for both sides, and then invited my mother to have a look.

`Much better’, she told the barber. `That will last at least until school starts again.’

The barber then began to dust away at my neck, and pulled away the clip & unfastened the cape. He dusted off my face as well and the tissue was removed from my neck, and finally the cape. I looked at what was left of my long hair on the shop floor – more than 2/3s of it was sitting there! My mother paid the barber and we left the shop. Like most boys, I dreaded having my hair cut, but that would change when I reached my 20s..

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