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Pull into the lot.  Only one car—a good sign.  Don’t want a crowd.  No waiting is best. 

Check out the place.  Can’t tell much from here.  A plain frame building.  Revolving red, white, and blue barber pole. Traditional men’s barber shop.  Just what I’ m looking for. 

Most guys don’t share my excitement about a haircut.  For them the monthly trim is a nuisance, nothing more.  Not for me.

There’s an adrenaline rush when approaching a new establishment.  Will someone finally get it right?  Will I find a barber who knows what I want?  Have I made the right choice?  Is this the day for the perfect haircut?

Eight weeks since my last cut.  Gave up on my old place.  Sherry, my former barber, never cut my hair short enough.  Had her own ideas about the best haircut for a man my age.  Partly my fault—should have been more insistent.  That’s not my style. 

Time to find a new barber.  Not in the same shop—that would insult Sherry.  Best try a different location.  But where?

Searched the Yellow Pages; read reviews on-line.  Nothing clicked.  Then Sunday, ten miles from home, I pass a shop I’d never noticed.  Looked promising; doubled back for a closer view.  Simple and unpretentious—liked that.  Liked the name out front—“Classico.” Suggests vintage styles.  Out of my way, but worth the trip to find the right barber.

Call early Monday.  A woman answers.  Peasant voice, businesslike but friendly.  “Yes, we’re open.  No appointment needed.  Come right in.” Don’t need more information.  I’ll give it a try.  Tell my secretary about an urgent appointment.  Be back in ninety minutes.  Should be enough time.

So many times I’ve been let down—by barbers who think they know what’s best; barbers who rush; barbers constantly yakking; barbers who won’t listen; barbers who don’t grasp the importance of a haircut. 

Hope springs eternal.  That’s how it is with me.  Each time I check out a new barber I’m optimistic; each time I’ve been disappointed.  Still, I continue searching. Maybe this one will be different.  Perhaps today my quest will end.

Okay, time to go in.  Don’t stall.  Don’t be chicken.  Forget about past failures. This could be good.

Open the door.  Pause at the threshold. Look around.  Three big chairs facing the back. Large mirrors cover the wall.  Off to the side plastic seats for waiting.  An old barber working on an elderly customer.  He looks up, beckons me to enter. Not who I want cutting my hair. 

Where’s the woman I spoke with?  Don’t tell me she’s gone.  I’ll walk out before I go to the old guy.

Then she appears from the back.  Thirty-something.  A Red Sox cap on her head.  Medium long dark brown hair pulled into a curly pony tail.  A welcoming smile.  Not sexy, but attractive in a healthy, wholesome way.  All signs are promising.  She could be the one.

“Hi, I’m Chris.  Step right up.”

Climb into the middle chair.  Anticipation mounting.  Got to stay calm.  Can’t show how much I want this.  Can’t reveal the thrill I feel. 

Drapes the cape over my shoulders.  Then a white tissue tight around my neck.  Same as a hundred other haircuts. 

“You call a while ago?”

“Yeah, that was me.  Didn’t know if you’re open on Monday.”

“Couple months ago Max decided to open Mondays.  I needed the hours.  Rest of the week I cut hair over in Johnstown.”

Thank God I called the day she’s available.

“Haven’t been here before, have you?”

“Nope.  Place I usually go is closed Mondays. Couldn’t wait any longer.” A lie, of course, but no need to tell my true reason.

“What are we doing today?” The standard question, the one I’ve been preparing for.

“Short on the sides. Short on top—so it stands up.”  Rehearsed these words on the drive, chanting them like a mantra.

“Gonna be a lot shorter.”

“Yeah.  Short for the summer.” Another fib.  Season has nothing to do with it.  Could be the middle of winter.

“Yeah, it’s hot and gonna get hotter.”

She’s right.  My temperature is rising.  Sweat trickles down my arms. 

“Leave it full on the sides—squared off, not rounded.” Sherry never got this right.  A test for Chris.  Get it right and I’m her customer for life.

She nods; seems to understand.  “What number on the sides?”

“Number two.” Sherry used a three and a half.  Today I will go shorter.

“Okay.  That will be good.”

Chris attaches a guard to her clippers.  My pulse is racing.  Struggle to remain composed.  Will she be my savior, the angel who makes my dreams come true? 

She starts buzzing the back.  I watch with a huge grin on my face.  Can’t disguise my pleasure. 

Chris is efficient.  Finishes the back quickly, then moves to the sides.  Nothing out of the ordinary so far. 

As she goes higher on the side I focus more closely.  She removes the guard. Working freehand, guiding the blades straight up my head. Short hairs flying everywhere.

Bit by bit—a fraction of an inch at a time—she carves two vertical walls, first the right side, then the left.  Just the way I imagined.  Like she’s reading my mind

 Now she pauses. The sides are short, but not short enough.  “I’ll take it shorter after I do the top.” Exactly what I want to hear.

Everything’s fine so far.  The top is critical.  Its shape and length define the look I seek. All my old barbers have failed.  Will Chris pass the test?  Can she deliver what I want?  My heart is pounding; my cock is throbbing.  I’m ready, but anxious.  I’ve been disappointed so often.  Maybe not this time.

Chris grabs a bottle; sprays water over my head.  Takes a stiff-bristle brush; forces the wet hair straight back.  I sit rigid, nervously awaiting the next stage.

She stands at my side. “Look right at me.” I submit to her authority; completely under her control.  She leans in.  The green fabric of her smock only inches from my face.  I breathe her intoxicating scent.  My guts are quiver, ready to explode. 

Clippers in her right hand, she begins mowing the top.  Clumps of damp hair drop into my lap.  Her body blocks my view; I concentrate on the sensation of the blades running across my head.  My cock grows harder as she passes the clippers back and forth.  Her attention never wavers.  I grip the chair to control my arousal.  I want Chris to continue; want her to keep cutting until there’s nothing left. 

She steps back so I can see.  “What do you think?  This what you had in mind?”

I stare at the mirror.  Hair standing straight up, short across the top, squared like I requested.  A classic look.  Don’t see many guys with a cut like this.  Chris gets it; totally understands where I want to go.

Not yet the correct length—still a bit too long.&
amp;nbsp; “You could take it shorter.”  Not an order, more like a prayer.  How will she answer?  Will she go further?

“Yeah, that would be good.” Not a moment’s hesitation; not the slightest reservation.  Like she was waiting for me to speak up.  She’s absolutely passed the test. 

Clippers buzzing again.  Chris stands at my side. Without being told I obediently turn toward her.  All I see is green cloth as she resumes sculpting the top of my head.  Blades lightly skim the surface of my upright hair.  Slowly, deliberately, slicing off another fraction of an inch.  I’m in ecstasy. 

Finally, she stops and allows me to inspect her handiwork.

Gaze into the mirror once more.  Eyes zero in on the top.  Each hair erect.  No more than half an inch in front; shorter toward the crown.  Squared off, but still slightly rounded, just as I told her. 

This is the look I’ve searched for; the one I dream about late at night.  A dozen barbers have tried and failed.  Chris is first to get it right.

I check the impulse to stroke the velvet layer atop my head.  There are other people watching.  A young mother waiting patiently with a curly-headed daughter and a shaggy-haired son.  She intently observes my haircut.  Don’t want her to see how turned on I am.  Pretend this is an everyday happening. 

Chris waits for my verdict.  Try to sound nonchalant.  “Yeah, that looks good,” I say. A huge understatement.  I should shout, “It’s perfect!  You’re a genius!” But I stifle the urge. 

“Have you ever thought about a flat top?” she asks. 

Of course I’ve thought about a flat top; obsessed over it for years.  Perhaps she really can read my mind.  “I’ve tried a flat top before.  Didn’t work out.” Perhaps someday I’ll try again. Not ready for that today.

Chris powers her clippers again.  Without hurrying, she resumes trimming side of my head.  It looks fine, but she’s not satisfied.  Now the changes are almost imperceptible.  I don’t complain.  Want to prolong this haircut as long as possible.

She returns to the top.  Peering at the shortened surface; making a few minor adjustments.  She’s a perfectionist; I’m delighted to be her victim.  Minutes of fine-tuning pass before she’s finally satisfied.  Puts her clippers away and selects a jar from beneath the mirror.  It’s the butch wax I remember from my youth. The ideal finishing touch.

Rubs two fingers of paste in her hands.  Massages it into my scalp.  Then attacks with her brush until every hair is back in place.  “There, that will keep it looking good.” 

The elderly barber has finished his customer.  The young mother escorts her son to his waiting chair.  She smiles in my direction; the barber looks over at me.  Cut the boy’s hair like mine she says.  Must like the way I look.  Never felt so great.

Chris releases the cape; removes the tissue; shaves the back of my neck.  The haircut is done.  I step down from the chair; struggle to hide the bulge in my pants.

Fourteen dollars is the price of a regular haircut.  I hand Chris a twenty and a ten.  “That’s too much.”

She’s done an amazing job.  Need to show my appreciation. “Take it, you earned it.”   

Chris gives me her business card.  “Hope you come back.”

“You can count on it.”

Our eyes meet briefly.  She silently signals her understanding of my needs.  If I come back she will give the haircut I want.  That’s the unspoken bond between us.

“Have a nice day.”

I leave the shop.  No matter what else happens, this ranks among my best days.

Back in the car I adjust the rear view mirror.  Pass the palm of my hand across the top of my head.  I’m in heaven.  I vow to return in four weeks for a second rendezvous with my incredible new barber. 

Until then I will enjoy my new look and rerun memories of this perfect haircut.

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