Crewcut in a Row-Boat by Barber Jos
I sit in the bathroom with an old shirt of my brother. Once or twice a year he cuts my hair.
Most of my life I had long hair and it is tradition that he cuts some centimetres in a straight line.
Today there is confusion because I asked him to cut my hair much shorter at shoulder level. And that means that at least 30cm will be cut. “Why that?” he asks and at first I don’t answer, but then I tell him a part of the truth. “Oh, an eight-year-old girl advised me that it might be much nicer. In fact she said that a short bob, with bangs would be even better. But if I did not have enough courage I could start with shoulder length hair. Is it clear?”
My brother grins because he knows exactly that I will not give any more details.
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Of course it is crazy that a well-known surgeon is cutting my hair and the more crazy because I am really rich and could afford the most expensive hairdressers.
Early in the morning I took my dog to the park and Wendy the small girl who lives in the house opposite said that she wanted to join me. “Well, if you tell your father where you are going it is okay,” I said
We have been good friends for some weeks, in fact from the beginning of June when she and her father started to live in the old flower shop that had been changed recently into a combination of an art gallery and a hairdresser.
Some of my friends assumed that the art gallery was a bad thing for me, because I started my own gallery, specializing in contemporary graphic art only half a year ago.
“Oh no,” I assured them, “it will be better because together with the antique shops we will attract more people.”
As a child I lived in this small old town, which I liked very much, although a lot of the local people could not imagine why I returned to my birthplace.
The truth was simple. My marriage ended in disaster. My husband disliked very much that the consultancy firm that I started 5 years ago was an enormous success.
To be honest I invested more energy in our firm than in my relationship, certainly when it was clear that a pregnancy was impossible.
We rarely expressed our feelings and more than a year ago friends told me that they had seen Sven with a young girl. We had a divorce and I had quite a depression. I sold the firm and was extremely rich.
One of the things that I really liked very much was art and that was the reason that I started the art gallery in my old birthplace. In one of the main streets I bought an old building, with a lot of space for expositions and on the vast first floor there was space enough for an apartment. On the street side there was a nice terrace, where I had a good view of the street and I could sit in the early morning sun. No cars were allowed in the street and that meant that usually it was quiet at night. At the back there was an enormous garden with a lot of birds and already soon I discovered that there was even a nest of a pair of owls.
I was very satisfied about the combination of town life and my nice garden. Moreover the town was not far from some lakes and peat bogs and with my bike I am twenty minutes from a place where I can rent a rowing boat from one of the farmers as I often did in the past.
I like to float for hours on the small lakes where it is very quiet nowadays as only a restricted numbers of boats are allowed in what is now the nature reserve.
The art gallery seemed to be quite a success and I was lucky to find some old school friends who liked to work at my place.
I am very satisfied with my new life and was sure that for the time being I wished to live my own life, without such a terrible man that knows far too well what is good for him and me.
3 months ago the flower shop in front of my gallery closed and after a month it seemed to be sold. At first there seemed to be hardly any activity, but a contractor started to work and after a month the first floor opposite seemed to be finished. On a Saturday an enormous van brought the goods of the family. It was not a real family but it seemed to be a father with a young, maybe 7- or 8-year-old, daughter. It was a nice child with a long ponytail and within a short time she seemed to be used to the new place, playing with the other children in the street. The father, a man of about 35 years old was a nice man with very short hair and he started to work in the old shop and gradually I saw in front a small hairdressing part, whereas the rest of the space changed in an exposition part. At ease he painted the whole thing.
Often he just did nothing or played with his daughter and at one time I even saw them rowing on my lakes.
After a week he seemed to be aware of my presence and sometimes he just moved his hand as a greeting when our eyes met. But up till that time he had not yet introduced himself.
Things changed when one morning I walked with my dog to the nearby park and I just was sitting somewhere on the grass, while my dog was racing around. Suddenly the girl stood in front of me and said: “I am Wendy and what is your name.” Before I could tell her that my name is Isabella, the girl said: “I know who you are and my father says that you have nice things.”
“Oh Isabella is a nice name, but I think that most people give you a short name.” She is right, because most people just say Bell.
She started to talk about a lot of things and when my dog came she played with Flytsa.
“What a strange name for a dog,” she said and I had to confess that she was probably the only dog with that name in the world.
We walked back together and just before I entered my house she asked if it was possible to borrow my dog sometimes, which seemed to mean that she proposed to walk sometimes with the dog. “And maybe we can take him to the beach, because dogs like that very much.”
A week later my old friend Gaby visited me. She is a journalist working for one of the well-known papers and one of the first questions was of course what was happening at the shop opposite. “I don’t know exactly,” I said. “Oh there is a man starting something like a combination of an art shop and a hair salon. I met his daughter and she told me a lot of things.”
.”But that must be Michael Berg,” said Gaby. “You know he was one of the most important hairdressers, doing also a lot of work for all kind of fashion journals? Did not you see my interview with him last year? He was the owner of some hairdressing shops, but was totally fed up with his work and then his wife died.
“You must know him, he has an enormous art collection and I think he told me that he was regularly at the sales of the well known auctioneers. Oh Bell I must introduce you to him, he is such an interesting and handsome man.”
“You are not going to introduce me, maybe you remember why I started to live here,” I said
I managed to look very menacing when I told Gaby that I did not need her help.
Moreover I realized that thanks to Wendy I would shake hands within a short time.
Later we saw Wendy with her father leaving the shop and Gaby nodded to confirm that it was indeed the well-known hairdresser. We did not talk anymore about Michael, except when Gaby left and pointed to the hair salon. “He can give you a real good haircut and that is what you need to start your new life. I can introduce you.”
“Gaby I don’t want you…” Oh heavens I thought, when she has the idea….
It was silent in my house and I looked for a CD with Dvorak’s chamber music. I like his music, particularly those late string quartets. I took some catalogues of sales and there I sat near the door of the terrace, listening to that romantic music. I could not concentrate and just stared at the house of Wendy and her father. At that moment they returned and it seemed that both of them stared in my direction. But they could not see me from there.
Wendy pulled her father in the direction of my house and after some moments I heard the doorbell. I opened the door and Wendy introduced her father and blurted out, “Can we take your dog to the beach, because he is just sitting here.” Her father started with some clumsy excuses, but I knew already that I did not want to refuse anything to this lonely and charming girl. Wendy even suggested that I joined them, but I refused, excusing myself that I had a lot of work that must be finished.
Father and daughter left with my dog and I wondered where I had seen the famous hairdresser before.
I sensed a vague connection with art sales, but… no I don’t know.
But it was true that I had a lot of work, because in about two weeks there will be a new exposition at my gallery and I still had to prepare a catalogue and the invitation for the vernissage, as it is called. In fact I don’t like those official openings, but know that it will be necessary otherwise the gallery will be no more than the hobby of a rich woman. No, I have more ambitions and certainly I don’t want a gallery that is an economical disaster.
Soon I was so busy with my work that I even forgot the music and the absence of my dog.
It was already late in the evening when I heard my dog outside.
Wendy came alone and I saw her father at the other side of the street entering his “shop”. The girl seemed to be quite happy and told how they walked along the beach, even taking a bath together with the dog. “Oh that was very nice.”
“And by the way my father says that you have such a nice face and you will be wonderful with very short hair. Oh oh, he told me not to speak it about with you. Please don’t tell my father that I told you that you will be very nice. He will be very angry if he knows. But I think that he likes you, because I often see that he looks when you…. No don’t tell him.” With a “see you tomorrow,” she ran away, leaving me rather confused.
To be honest I have been looking more than once during the last few weeks if I saw Michael somewhere at or near his house.
In the hall I looked in the big mirror and wondered about my hair. Short hair, how long ago is that?
I went back to my computer and after an hour my work was finished.
I looked on the internet if there were any messages and than looked for a search engine and typed: michael berg hairdresser.
After a few moments I saw a whole list of sites with information.
I even saw the interview by Gaby with some photographs. At first I was confused by the picture of a man with a ponytail. In the interview it was mentioned that he radically changed his own haircut because his daughter commented that it was crazy to hide those bald spots on his crown. Oh what a cute girl. Suddenly I remembered why I had the feeling that I knew Michael.
I remembered a sale of a small auctioneer. There was not much of my interest except a very fine collection of woodcuts of a virtually unknown graphic artist dating from the twenties. I had the hope that I could buy them for a low price. Arriving rather late at the sale there was a place left next to a man with a ponytail. The lots that I wanted to buy were not yet sold.
I am a rather curious person and from time to time I just looked which lots my neighbor had marked in his catalogue. My neighbor seemed to do the same thing. And then turning the next page we both saw that we were interested in the same lots. And then totally surprised I heard him whisper, “This is going wrong. Well, you take the first, I the second and so on. Otherwise we just lose a lot of money.” When the sale was finished he just gave me a card and said “If you ever want to sell them…” I put the card with the woodcuts in the cupboard and totally forgot about it. Nice to share a lot of interest with this nice man.
I went down and indeed I found the card of Michael Berg. I went again to my computer and read further about the life of Michael Berg.
He even started to study biology, but after some years he started to travel around the world, sometimes earning money as a barber, a job for which he did not have any official papers.
In Paris he worked at a hairdresser suggesting that he had a lot of experience, even though in reality he had hardly any experience with female hair and after that he went to London where he worked for one of the most famous hairdressers.
He returned to Holland, opened his own shop and within a short time he was so successful that there was a whole ring of shops.
In the interview he confessed that the only thing that he liked was haircutting and that he disliked things like rollers and all the terrible chemicals that were necessary for perms.
The famous hair designer confessed that he liked short or even very short hair most of all and he referred to the makeover of the famous model Isabella… from very long in many stages to very short….
He declared: “I think that beautiful girls like Isabella could be even more nice with a total headshave. It is a crazy world, but do you know that there are hair fetishists who even think and say that the bald head is the only nice ‘haircut’. That is crazy because for these extreme haircuts you need really a very nice face.
“But if you really want to see the most wonderful short haircuts you must look on the internet at my own site or the sites of other men that are crazy about short hair.”
I looked for the site of the great hair sculptor himself and must confess that most of the shown haircuts are extremely nice. The makeover of Isabella is also there and although I am older I am totally surprised to see that my face shows such a strong resemblance with the famous star. One after another I see the different pictures and stare at the last one where hardly any hair is left with very a short stubble and where only somewhat longer hairs are left feather-like surrounding the face.
I feel my own head and know that there is a strong wish developing to have my hair indeed as short…
I look what the links mentioned on Michael’s site have to offer. There are examples of the almost ridiculous headshaves of fat-faced girls and others that are called nice but that make the girls only extremely ugly. One site is really nice, it shows how girls gradually get a nice, often very short, crewcut.
I am tired and just before I want to stop this curious short hair travel on the web I see a reference to a haircut story archive. Here I see that there is an enormous collection of all kind of stories. The index indicates that the stories span a whole range of interest in the cutting of female hair.
I look under new stories and stare at the title of a story by barber Mike.
I open the story and start to read and suddenly I recognize the description of my own world.
Suddenly I realize that Mike is the far too obvious pseudonym of the hairdresser Michael, oh my god.
It is the story of the rich owner of a factory, his wife suddenly dies of a heart disease and he is left with two daughters. He really wants to take care of the education of his children and sells his factory.
After some time he realizes that only living at home is not nice and he decides to buy an old flower shop. At the other side of the street is an art gallery where a very attractive woman sells the most nice sculptures. She often sits on the terrace of the first floor and he has the idea that the woman seems to be interested. Happily his younger daughter meets the woman when she goes to a park where the woman goes with her dog. He tells his daughter that the woman strongly resembles the star Isabella. Surprising himself he tells the daughter that the woman resembles Isabella the famous photo model and he wonders how the woman will look like with short hair. In his fantasy he wants to take her to a famous hairdresser that will give her that nice crewcut about which he is dreaming. In the story the man wants to take the woman to the lakes where he likes to row. They seem to share a lot of interests. They even talk about the owls in her garden and in the end he takes her to the hairdresser. A whole description of the haircut follows and then the story just ends with, “…how can I tell the woman that I really like her? And make my dream come true.”
I sit there staring at my computer, knowing that this story has been written by the famous Michael, the father of that cute girl Wendy. I must be careful, Wendy will be never my daughter, but I know that she is very dear to me and my feelings about the father were already clear since some weeks.
Suddenly I decide to write a small story about the woman in the story.
La Bella Bella, by Sharon
Last night I read the story of a lonely owner of a factory and I had the idea that I recognised myself in that haircut story. But I am still a little bit afraid to lose my hair. Maybe I will have a nice bob first and if you like me you can invite me to spend a day on the lake and the famous hairdresser can make my hair even shorter and shorter.
It is not a story but I send the letter to the archive and ask them to place it as soon as possible.
Then I take a bath, wondering how I will look tomorrow. During the night I have the most curious dreams of barbers even shaving my head.
Early next morning I ring my brother, asking if he can cut my hair.
Before I go to him I walk with my dog to the park where Wendy is playing with some other children. When she sees me she asks if my hair will be cut and says: “I think you have no courage. You better start with a bob to your shoulder or when you really have the nerve a short bob with bangs and then you can look with your eyes just from under the bangs.”
With her hands she indicates what she means and we both start to laugh.
We don’t speak about my hair any longer and I go back and take the car to visit my brother.
I ask my brother to cut my hair shorter than usual, but it is not really a success.
On my way back I see a well-known hairdressing salon and I can be helped at once.
I tell how it must be done, my hair is washed first and than the very short bob is created.
Layer after layer is cut and I feel how short the hair at the nape is made.
In a mirror I see that the long hair on top makes a nice transition to the very short hairs at my nape and I see that my skin at the nape is rather white. At the sides my ears are only partly covered and I try to imagine what kind of earrings I will use.
For the first time in twenty years I have bangs, which are made almost as long as Wendy suggested. It looks very attractive and I shake my hair and I am satisfied about this first stage. Back at home I enter my house and the first thing that I do is studying my nice head from all sides. It feels very good, but to be honest I am rather curious what the next hours will bring.
I take a seat on my terrace and the first one that observes my haircut from the street is Wendy, who greets me with a “Woww! Oh, I am going to ask my father to cut my hair like that!” and she runs away. Some minutes later I can see that she sits in the chair and half an hour later she crosses the street to show me her hair. I smile, but have no courage to look to the other side of the street.
“Well,” I say, “we look like sisters now. Come in and have a tea or cola or…”
Wendy forgets her hair rather soon and asks if we can have a look under the tree where the owls have their nest. There are a lot of owl balls and we collect them. “Oh look, you see bones and skulls, just like my father said. He says that you can see which species they eat, because all those mice are different.” Together we look for a long time and I even find a pincet and a loupe with which we can have a better look. An hour later she stops and wants to take the owl balls that are left to her father. I am alone and wondering what her father is thinking.
I don’t see Wendy any more and spend most of the evening listening to classical music.
Later I look the Internet and see that my message is present on the archive.
I wonder if Michael will read this and send him a copy by email. And then I am really nervous and switch off all the lights.
At eleven o’clock I hear a letter falling down in my postbox. After some minutes I go down and see the letter. I stare and wait some time before I open it.
I read and see Dear Bellabel.
He has seen the internet and invites me tomorrow to float for hours on the lake.
“We are lucky, beause Wendy will go to a friend at her new school and will stay there till the evening. If you have no objection I will take my scissors with me, although Wendy told me that you looked really beautiful; as she said you look so cute.”
The next morning I am on my terrace early and when I see Michael I make a movement that suggests that I am rowing. I ring him for the first time and we decide that we will go by bike.
At first we don’t know what to say and then we are talking about so many things. And within a short time we are in a small rowing boat. It is a nice warm day and I am the one starting to row, while Mike is sitting there quite relaxed.
We easily talk about my divorce and his loneliness after the unexpected death of his wife.
But the nice thing is that we are not afraid about silences, but just as well find the time to enjoy the sounds of the songbirds. At the small lake we stop rowing and then Michael sits besides me and touches my lips with his fingers. We kiss and I feel how he touches my hair and feels my head. I grin and ask him how he will cut my hair. I say that I want a relationship with a human being and not with a professional hairdresser.
“No problem,” he says, “I like your hair as it is now, but you must know that Wendy told me that she thinks that you will be most beautiful with a very short kind of crewcut. I promised her that I would cut her hair as short as yours.”
I try to look very serious and angry and says that means that my hair must be cut as short as that because madam wishes that. Mike grins and says, “You know that she has strong will. But I must be honest – she told me that you will be never her mother, but her best friend.”
We both smile and I see that Mike takes his scissors.
“What will you do with the hair you cut?” I say. Mike takes a plastic bag and shows that he will put all the locks in that bag. He invites me to sit on the bottom of the boat in front of him and then starts to cut. He brought a small comb and even hand clippers and then I feel the clippers moving over the comb quite near my skin. I ask him why he is using the clippers and not the scissors. “Oh it is much easier to make all the hairs the same length.”
I touch my head with my hands and feel that all the hair at the sides and the back is very short now. It is not yet finished says Mike and now I feel that he cuts the hair on top also very short. For a moment I shiver, but I smile knowing that Mike knows very well what he is doing. He takes the clippers again and I feel them moving over the thin comb. He is repeating this several times, controlling if the length is okay. Then he cuts the bangs and I realise that the whole skin above my brows is exposed now. With a small thinning scissor he cuts the hair around my face feather-like
He sighs and says, “You are even more beautiful than I thought.”
I feel my short shorn head, it feels very nice and suddenly I realise that yesterday I still had hair halfway down my back.
I wonder how I look and Mike the experienced hairdresser takes two small mirrors from his backpack and helps me to study my hair. At first I am shocked, not expecting that it might be so short, but I also see my handsome face and give my barber a kiss.
I feel everywhere short hairs on my body and there is only one solution.
We are going to swim and as usual I go just naked. We swim a little bit around and then we are quite near each other. Later we look for a nice place and make love in the boat.
We are quite relaxed and have a wonderful afternoon and early evening on the lake.
Later we return and it seems crazy but it is for the first time that I enter the house of Mike and I am surprised about the enormous collection of art.
Mike leaves to fetch Wendy.
The girl is really happy when she sees me and immediately she just wants to sit between us.
She starts to feel my hair, thinks a short moment and says, looking from under her bangs, “The crewcut is nice for you but I think the bob is best for me. But you can try even a headshave.”
“Oh no,” I say. “For the time being it has been enough.”
“Hey dad,” she said. “For the time being, that means that….” I pull Wendy by her bob and threaten to cut her hair as short as mine.
“Oh that is good,” she says, “the bob was only a joke…. Hey dad,” and that means that dad must work again.
Later that evening we sit on the sofa and I say, “I will read you a nice haircut story……”
Three weeks later the three of us are going to Portugal and the evening before we leave Mike cuts our hair again. But then suddenly late in the evening I ask Mike to make my hair still shorter. He grins and then he starts to buzz my hair and within some minutes I see my perfect almost bald head. This is something which I will do only during the holiday and I know that within some days my hair will be visible again, but for the time being it will be very short.
Wendy finds it too short for herself, but says that it is perfect for me and Mike just loves me.