Daft Stories - A Visit to the Barber20th May 2022, 9:28 PM
Saturday was generally ‘shopping day’, and that could be good or bad. It could be an excellent way to spend your pocket money, or if you had to wait around while your sister went clothes shopping, it could be mind numbingly boring.
Every week William liked to stop at Otterdykes jewellers and stare at the Timex Junior Divers watch they had in the window. It had a rotating bezel and was waterproof to ten metres, just like a real diver’s watch. Today wasn’t going to be a good shopping day though, William still hadn't saved enough money, and on top of that he had to go with his Dad to get a haircut. He hated the barbers almost as much as going to the dentist, but he didn't like having long hair either. As his father often said, it was one of those necessary evils.
Tabernham was the closest town and it had a shopping centre with a decent selection of retailers. It had some stores that William really liked, like a couple of model shops, a sporting goods place and an electronics emporium where you could see yourself on the TV screens as you walked past the big window. Of course there were clothes and shoe shops too, way too many, but his sister loved those places. There was a subway under the main road where buskers often played guitars badly, or you’d see homeless people begging for money. Yeah, that made him feel uncomfortable, or if it was really crowded he’d worry about getting lost, but it was infinitely better than trying to shop in the village.
Once out of the car park, the family split into two groups, Felicity going with her mum and William with his dad. They always went to Barnett’s, which was down an alley off the main shopping street. You’d climb some open iron steps, that William didn’t like, and through a door into the first floor salon. Kurt, the barber, was a small man with a neat moustache and thinning hair. He was nice enough, but there were plenty of things about the experience that William disliked. The wait, the uncomfortable silence or the almost secret way that the next person knew it was their turn. The waiting was by far the worst, he wasn't interested in those magazines about hair styles or internal decorating, and he wished he’d brought his own reading material.
It was nearly empty inside, there was just one customer being served, he was quite bald on top with straggly hair around the sides. The barber appeared to be snipping away at invisible hair, trying to make the job seem bigger than it actually was, possibly to stave-off any talk of a discount. William wondered if it would be worth picking up some of the clippings and glueing back to the top of the man’s head. But they were getting mixed up with some of the ginger hair from another customer, and he couldn’t see any glue amongst the pots of brylcreem and hair gel.
When he rose from the big metal chair he handed over some money and pulled a battered old nylon comb from his back pocket. On seeing this Kurt enquired.
“That’s an old comb you got there, how about treating yourself to a new one?”, and he pointed to a sales card showing an array of new plastic grooming devices.
“Oh I couldn't PART with this!”, he smiled and pointed up to his bald head.
The barber chuckled with him and handed over his change.
Next was William’s turn and the wooden booster was deployed on the mechanical seat ready for him. That big tablecloth thing was thrown over his front and tucked into his collar. It completely covered him and as he looked at himself in the mirror with his long, shabby hair, he felt a bit embarrassed.
“I look like a tomgirl in an oversized granny dress”, he thought.
“So what would you like?” the barber enquired.
He wondered what alternatives there might be. Maybe a mohawk, or an afro would look good. He imagined his mum’s face if he got one of those, his dad would probably have to sleep on the couch for at least a week.
He looked at the pictures of the men with different haircuts around the walls, but before he could answer, his dad said the usual, ‘short-back-and-sides’, and then something about him normally having a number two. William supposed there was a toilet here, but he’d never dream of using it, especially for a number two.
A few minutes of snipping and his head started to feel cooler. Looking in the mirror became a little easier, but he still stared down at the floor. As usual, when his fringe was cut, it fell into his eyes, some went up his nose, and when he tried to speak bits went into his mouth. Unable to use his hands, he attempted to blow them away when the barber wasn't looking. It never quite worked, but the tickling was agony.
“Keep your head still young man, I don’t want to cut an ear off”, Kurt jested.
William was relieved when the electric clippers came out. They were warm and buzzy against his skin, but more importantly they were a sign that this ordeal was almost over. The barber, who had mostly been talking to his dad up until now, put away the clippers, and showed William the back of his head with the black handled mirror.
“How’s that for you?”
William was really quite indifferent, but he knew you had to nod your head and say things like, “yeah, that's great”, or “just a little more off the top”, but his dad answered for him.
“Wonderful, you look like a boy again!”
The barber removed the sheet, brushed down his neck and invited him to hop down. William slid to the floor and rubbed his itchy neck, finally glad to have the use of his arms again.
“Anything for the weekend, sir?”, enquired the barber, with a big smile on his face.
Taking this at face value, William replied “yes” and asked if he might take a lollipop from the bowl. To his surprise, everyone thought this was quite funny and he wondered if he should take another, because a weekend normally has two days.
William knew there would be one final indignance when they met up with his mum. She‘d say his hair looked much better, but what came next always made him cringe.
“I’m going to have to start calling you Shaun,” she’d say, “because you’re my shorn lamb.”
He knew it was just a joke, but he hated that name.
They found Mum with Felicity outside ‘Back to the Fuchsia’, the florists next to the opticians. They seemed surprised to see them so soon.
“Hello, you got back quite early”, she remarked.
His dad pointed to William’s head and grinned,
“Yeah, we took a shortcut.”
Copyright RA May 2022
Copyright RA May 2022