A Family Affair by JimB.
I have been going to Karen since I got out the Marine Corps, back in 1975. I was, more, looking for a barber close to where I lived, rather than a barberette.
Back then, as is still, the number of barber shops, as I grew up knowing, had been slowly disappearing, being taken over by unisex salons. This made it hard to find a real barber. But I got lucky, in a way.
After a few weeks of looking around I decided to venture into this unisex salon in the shopping center about two miles from where I lived. I was not used to having to make an appointment, but got lucky. At this salon you could walk in, but you may have to wait some for the next stylist. Having nothing to do, and in need of a haircut, I waited my turn, which ended up being less than half an hour.
This is when I met Karen.
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She was, and still is, a very lovely lady, and pleasant to be around. Always asking how you are, what is new, the usual chit-chat you have. On my first visit I learned she was a licensed barber, one of the few still around, and was working in a unisex salon because “barber shops were fast fading away”. She also mentioned she still did the “good ol’ barber shop things”, like shaving the face – if I was interested. We talked about myself and what I had been doing for the last twelve years of my life – the Marine Corps.
Well, over the years she had moved to other salons/shops, but never wanted to open her own… too many problems.
Seven months ago a friend of hers, from barber school days, called her to tell her she had found four old barber chairs in good condition. That she had bought them and was going to open a barbershop. And, wanted to know if she was interested in coming to work there. Needless to say Karen didn’t wait long: within a week she was with her friend.
Last Saturday I went for my regular monthly haircut, actually a buzzing with a nice razor trim – like the old barbers gave with a haircut.
When I pulled up in the parking lot a woman, with her teenage daughter and son, was entering the shop. I had seen her getting her hair cut by Karen, but not her children, a number of times. She was one of Karen’s regular female customers. She and her husband, whom I have also seen, have been customers of Karen’s for the last fifteen years, since 1985. As their children, one boy and three girls – the youngest being twins, grew needing their hair cut they also became customers of Karen.
When I entered the shop Karen and I said our welcome and ‘hi’s, as she told me she had three ahead of me. I could come back in about two hours, or wait. I chose to wait… and I am glad I did.
I got a soft drink, grabbed a magazine, and took the only seat open, which was next to the lady and her children. She looked to be in her late thirties, her daughter and son around fifteen and sixteen.
When Karen had finished her customer, the lady, whose name I learned was Diann, got into the chair. Meantime I continued reading the magazine.
The shop had been somewhat quiet… But then the silence was broken with the sound of clippers coming to life. I looked at the other three barbers, but they were using scissors and combs. Then, I glanced up at Karen’s chair just as she was beginning a second pass with the clippers over Diann’s head. My eyes quickly eyed in on the clippers noticing she had the quarter-inch attachment on it.
She was making pass after pass over Diann’s head like she would mine or another male. Diann was not saying anything, just the usual chat with Karen. I glanced to my right, her son and daughter were just sitting and watching what was going on.
Karen worked the clippers over Diann’s head as she usually does with a male. Nothing fancy, not fast nor slow. I noticed the average length of hair falling from Diann’s head was around seven or eight inches long.
When she finished Diann’s head was a quarter of an inch all over, a nice short brush cut, so I thought.
Then, I saw Karen remove the attachment and toss it on the shelf. She clicked the clippers, with its .0000 head, back to life and began buzzing the right side of Diann’s head. She worked the clippers up and around her head until she had the back and sides buzzed to almost nothing. Still nothing was said by Diann, nor Karen.
Karen undid the cape and let it slide into her lap. She tucked a large white towel in her collar and spread it over her shoulders. This was followed by Karen applying a thin line of warm shaving cream along the hairline, then taking her straight razor and shaving a thin line from the front of one ear, around the back to the other side.
Finished, Karen removed the cape and Diann brushed her head with her fingers and smiled. She stepped out the chair and her son took his place there.
Not a word was spoken… When she had him caped his hair was clipped to the same short crewcut, more a high-n-tight, like his mom.
When he stepped from the chair his sister took her place.
Again Karen and Diann did not speak, nor did the daughter.
Karen picked up the clippers, put the quarter inch attachment on… and went to work on the daughter, sending lengths of hair twelve inches long to the floor. Just like she did with mom and brother, the daughter was clippered to a quarter of an inch all over. Then, the attachment was removed and tossed on the shelf.
With the .0000 head on the clippers Karen buzzed the sides and back of her head to almost nothing. When she was finished she tucked the large white towel in her collar and spread it over her shoulders. This was followed by the winding of the shaving dispenser.
But, unlike she did to mom and brother, she did not spread the shaving cream along the hairline. Instead she spread the shaving cream high over and up the sides and back, covering the buzzed area all around her head.
Taking her straight razor she shaved every thing from the arc of the head downward to the hair line. Shaving the sides and back smooth to the skin.
When she was finished, the teenage girl stepped from the chair moving the tips of her fingers over the shaven area and smiling, mom walked to the chair to pay Karen. As she was doing this she told Karen, that her husband and the twins (girls) would be in later that afternoon. That Allen (her husband) would be getting his head shaved, as usual. And, the twins, without any question, would be getting the same haircut that Margaret (her daughter) just got, and in the same manner.
Karen said, “OK,” and they left.
Karen saw I had a little surprised look on my face as I sat in the chair, and she knew why.
She told me about Diann and Allen. That they had been regular customers of hers for the last fifteen years. Diann started getting her hair cut in the short crew cut, more of a high-n-tight if you ask me, ten years ago for the summer months. This was followed by Allen shaving his head. The son and oldest daughter followed a year later. When the twins turned ten she started getting their hair cut the same way. There were no questions to be asked when they came for their May haircuts. Just go to it.
Karen mention that last summer, May, Allen and Diann came in together. After she had shaved Allen’s head he asked Diann to get hers shaved, too. But, she said she could not take the chance… she got strange looks from her co-workers with the crew cut (more a high-n-tight if you ask me). So, you could imagine what they would say if she walked in with her head shaved.
Went Karen got finished with me, my head was shaved, though I hadn’t asked for it. It kind of just happened as she told me of Allen and Diann and their children.
Note: This actually happened last month, May 2000. It has taken me almost a month to decide to write it in the form of a story. JimB.