Home » Language » English » Diary of a Crewcut (Part 1)

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There’s just something about it, I can’t place it or tell you why. I don’t know when it started, or what it means in terms in Freudian psychoanalysis. And all that stuff that goes along with it.

Something about having a hand firmly, yet gently, clamped to my head while clippers buzz about my head as if to imply a thousand angry bees that would chomp and bite my hair off leaving bristling fuzz in their wake. What makes that happen?

Like I said, I can’t tell you but what I can tell you is some of what happened between my first crew cut and the present time.

Since the first days of getting a crew cut, I can tell you that my ideology and interest in them has changed. But my dedication to the principles of the “all over short haircut” has not waned in the least since I was old enough to really appreciate them.

What causes me to like the feeling of a hand clamped on my head and the buzzing chatter of the metal teeth playing about within a fraction of an inch of my scalp that I find so interesting and intriguing? Perhaps a dive into the past might help discover what it is about this all-over short haircut that has driven me back to it time and time again, and has rather become my `trademark’ hairstyle.

I’ve received numerous compliments since I have come back to and revisited my short style, a lot from women. I don’t know why this would be other than perhaps when it was longer and more straggly, they didn’t like it and when I treated my scalp to the “all-over” crop, I ended up looking neater and they might have appreciate that. Then again, I could be wrong.

So, what caused me to become like this? I don’t really know, but deep down I must have had something for the crew cut. I don’t know how or why it really developed, but it did. And it’s here to stay as long as I have any control over it, anyway!

So how did it all start?


Yes, I do remember it, rather well in fact. It was one of those things that when you think back to it, you don’t know why you do remember it, but you do and now that I am older, I wish I had done it more. If I knew then what I know now.

My brother had gone to the barber one day (and I don’t recall what day it was) and came home, his hair all shorn off. He had gotten a crew cut! Now, I simply hated to have my haircut, but that’s because often my mom cut my hair and she would pull and yank at it so much that it did hurt. Most of the time, my hair was an unkempt mop, cut in bangs right above my eyebrows and down to the natural hairline. I actually had a pretty think head of hair in those days. I wish I still did today. but that is for another part of the story – later on.

My brother then bet me a dollar (living on an allowance, a dollar was like a fortune to me) that I would not get my hair cut like he did. For the dollar, I was tempted. I asked him what I would have to ask for and where I should go.

Go to the barber’s shop down in the center, he told me, and ask for a crew cut. “You’ll get what I have and mom will be happy she doesn’t have to cut our hair all summer,” he said.

It was just after school let out of the year and I think it was close to the end of June when I did it. I went down either the next day or on a Saturday to take the plunge. I recall my brother walking out with a paper grocery bag on his head when my mom came home and when he pulled it off, I don’t exactly recall her reaction, but she was pretty delighted not having to cut his hair all summer. She didn’t ask, that I remember, if I would get one, but since my brother and I had already talked about it, visions of that dollar swam in my mind and I had to feel tempted!

So, anyway, I march myself down to the barber’s with knots in my tummy and butterflies. I wanted to just run home and tell my brother to forget it, but that dollar loomed large on my mind. I gulped down my personal aversion and potential nausea and sat down.

The place was pretty small, that sort of old-fashioned black and white checked tile on the floor, a low counter and a couple of barber chairs. There was a low table and some of those rather uncomfortable late-seventies chairs. Almost like the shop was from about 1975, while the rest of the world moved on. I think the year was 1984? It may have been 1983 too.

So, there was someone in the chair when I got there. I sat down and flicked through a magazine. Someone else entered after me, a guy in a suit. As I recall, I think my brother had even given me enough money to get it done, but I’m not too sure. I wonder if he remembers this at all.

The customer in the chair he soon was all finished. I feared that I would have to get my hair cut and I felt awful. I just wanted to run back home! I thought maybe I’d just pretend the other guy was in there first and sink back into a Mad Magazine or whatever it was.

The barber asked who was next. The guy that came in after me nodded at me. “I believe this young man is next.”

A conspiracy! Had my brother or worse my mom sent him in to pressure me into the chair? I think I smiled a thin, watery, I’m-about-to-throw-up type of smile. The barber gestured towards me and beckoned me into the leather chair. I walked over and sat down. He put a vinyl, plastic cape around my shoulders. “So, what’ll it be,” he asked.

A final swallow, like trying to force a canoe down my throat. “A crew cut, please,” I said. I was hoping he would say `I didn’t hear you son! Just a trim?’ But his hearing was better than I would have hoped and he expertly picked up my brief phrase and picked up the clippers. Other than a few times cutting the hair on the nape of my neck, my mom hardly used the clippers she owned (they were a pair from Sears).

Now, I don’t recall if he snapped on an attachment, but I think he did, it was probably a #2. I know he didn’t ask me how short I wanted it. He just picked up the clippers and got started, almost as if he just realized he had an overdue library book that he just had to return before they fined him!

That was the first time I recall the words “sit still now,” paired with the hand clamped upon my scalp. The clippers began to mow and chew cheerily through my hair. I couldn’t see what he was doing, but I recall the feel of the blades pushing up the back of my head, and then catching a glimpse of a great brown clump of hair dropping off my head.

The barber, his name was Frank I believe, was not one to ponder over his work, he just kept pushing the clippers up the back and sides of my head methodically and almost rapidly. I guess if I had to ask for a barber who was slow and plodding, making me rue every second and turning into a modern day `Torment of Tantalus’ I would have been more eager to abort the whole thing and run home. My mom could fix whatever he botched up.

But Frank was nothing if he wasn’t fast. He worked around my ears, the angry electric clippers chewing through all that fine hair leaving, well I feared what I would look like. My hair had never been as short as I think I feared it was.

Well, Frank the speed demon quickly finished the sides. One wondered if he was going to be late for something the speed he worked at. Perhaps he knew I would chicken out if he delayed any. Perhaps he had ESP and felt that I would vanish like an alien abductee if he waited or asked me if I was certain. Perhaps I wished that aliens would abduct me at that point!

He shifted his hand to the side of the top of my head and then he started mowing the hair off on my scalp. I instantly saw as I strained my eyes as far up my head as they would go. Oh My God! Look what was left behind! It was like I was having my hair mowed off and there was nothing left!

Frank didn’t decide to slow down at this point, he continued at his rapid pace. I wished that I would wake up any moment with my long locks still intact, and tell my brother `forget about it!’

He sheared the rest of my head at a rapid pace. He hadn’t missed a single hair, damn him! I wasn’t waki
ng up and I saw the practical mountain of dark brown hair all over the cape. He finished me up like he was greased lightning, then he asked me a pointless question.

“Do you want me to put it all back?”

I nodded, probably rather vigorously. I look back now and laugh, but then I recall I felt like he was taunting me as if to say “So there, kid, you got what you deserved and what you asked for!”

I remember paying him quickly and leaving his place at a rather pace. I practically ran home from there. At least I had earned that dollar!

I know my brother and I eventually settled on a wooden `James Bond’ type gun that he had made, that I liked. He gave it to me and our bet was settled. I donned the grocery bag when my mom got home and she was delighted that she had earned a summer long reprieve from cutting hair for both her kids. She didn’t seem as excited as she was when my brother had gotten his; perhaps the novelty had worn off. As it was, I’m sure she didn’t really mind it, but I’m sure she had no idea about the `side bet’ going on. No doubt she would have disapproved.

The only photographs I know of were when my cousin Tracy took a picture of me around my birthday. I was sporting a crew cut that was obviously growing out and had not been `neatened up’ any. Perhaps, if I could go back in time to myself then, I would have encouraged myself to keep it short and cropped, but alas, until that time comes around, I guess I have to just wonder what life would have been like had I decided to keep it cropped?

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