Fear remember – Part II By Jim B.
I could hardly believe it had been that long, thirty-three years.
Those times I would wash my hair hoping something would make the ends nice and even. To wish the split ends away.
Fear is in the mind they say. It can do many things to you, even cause you to forget what you want to do. It can take the smallest thing and turn it into something bad and evil. It can scare you so much, you stop doing things of importance.
I have been home for two months and the fear of Kathy’s Barber Shop, just the name, makes me want to run away again. That day, the day Kathy cut off all my hair. The day mom sat crying, not saying a word. That day dad became someone I hated.
I tried to call a number of times. But each time I would let the telephone ring, then hang up when it was answered on the other end. Once, I waited before hanging up to see if someone would say something. Something that would make me speak. Only to hear the voice of someone I did not know.
I was not Kathy.
The last few weeks have been spent trying to find out who it was. I have sat here, in my car in the parking lot, trying to see who comes and goes from the shop. I never saw anyone enter or leave, only the sign being changed, from ‘closed’ to ‘open’ in the morning and back at night.
Everything was the same on the outside. The picture window now had a light darkness to it to block out the sunlight. The pole by the front door still turned slowly, with its red and white candy cane colors. I did not see many people go into it. Mostly the ones who did were there as if on a time schedule.
The other day I learned that Kathy, the one who brought on my fear with the help of my dad and mom, not longer owned the barber shop. She had passed away ten years ago, leaving it to someone who no one knew of. Her daughter, the clerk told me.
Today I was going to face this fear. To face it so it will go away, out of my mind. Out of my life. But now I could not face the person who brought about this fear, for she was no longer in my life.
Should I call, should I just walk in, as the sign says?
I have not seen anyone going in, nor coming out, for the past two hours. Then, It would be just my luck things got busy when I entered.
I could not wait any longer, this fear was tearing me apart. My mind was going in circles just thinking about what would happen.
It was not as if I was going to ask whoever to do something they did not want to! I just want to face my fear, to be able to be like other women and get my hair trimmed. That wasn’t much to ask of myself.
I got out the car. My heart started pounding as I closed the door. Taking a deep breath, my eyes closed, I took a step towards the barber shop.
I wish I could see in there, like you used to be able to.
I stopped at the door, taking another deep breath and slowly letting it out as I opened the door. A soft chime sounded. It was not there the last time I was here.
“Be with you in a minute,” came the soft voice of a woman from the back of the shop. “Have a seat. I’m doing a little washing back here. Just gotta toss the finished ones in the dryer and… There, finished.”
I sat as my eyes slowly viewed the shop. It had not changed since back then. The big barber’s chair was the same, only its metal shone. The mirrors had pictures of cuts and styles for both men and women. There was a different smell to the shop, more of one you would find at a hospital.
“Hi, I’m Cathy, with a ‘C’,” she said reaching out her right hand. “The ‘K’ Kathy was my grandmother: she owned the shop years ago.”
“Hello, nice to met you,” I told her as I shook her hand. “I remember your grandmother very well. Last time I saw her she had to cut off all my hair because some glue fell on my head. That was the only way to get it out of my hair.”
“Glue?” she replied. “The same thing happened to me when I was fifteen. Only grandmom didn’t have to cut off my hair, she was able to use a shampoo.”
“Shampoo,” my mind told me. Why didn’t she use that on me? It would have been nicer.
“So, what can I do for you today?” Cathy inquired.
I started to get weak, my stomach was starting to feel strange. I wanted to run out the barber shop and let my fear have its way. But, I couldn’t do that, it would ruin the rest of my life as it was doing now.
“Well, it has been some years since I’ve had a trim,” I told her. “So, since I was in town I thought I would stop by and let Kathy, your grandmother that is, do her magic.”
“Hummmmm,” she answered, “that’s going to be hard. So, what we say you let Cathy, with the ‘C’, take a shot?”
“Well, I’m here, so, what the heck,” I told her somewhat nervously.
She took the cape from the arm of the chair, shook it, and motioned me to the chair.
With the feeling of something in my throat I walked to the chair and sat in it. She tossed the cape across me and pulled it up and around my neck. Before pinning it in place she pulled my five or so feet of hair and laid it over my left shoulder. I watched, in the old mirrors behind the customers’ chairs, how it fell heavily into my lap. It felt like a loaf of bread as it landed. I had never thought it weighed that much.
With the cape pinned in place she pulled my hair back over my shoulder and let it fall behind me. “So, how much do you want trimmed off?” she asked as she spread my hair out.
“Well, to tell you the truth,” I begin saying, with nervousness, “I was thinking maybe it was time I cut a lot of it off. Maybe to around my shoulders!”
I could see her looking my hair over. I hate it when someone does that. It makes me feel as if there was something wrong behind me, and I could not see what it was. She tugged my hair as she combed her big comb through it. My head rocked a number of times as she did this.
“That’s a lot to cut off at once,” she told me. “I can cut, say, to mid back and you can think more about it. If you want to go shorter you can come back and I’ll cut it to the shoulders for you.”
The idea sounded good, but what would it do to my fear? If I walked out with some of my hair cut off, the fear would still be there. It would bother me even more.
“No, I better do it now,” I replied. “If you cut some now, I may never come back. So, just do it and I’ll see from there.”
No sooner had I said that than I saw her bring her scissors from the shelf. She took hold of a section of hair, pulled it out and down to the right, then without a word she began cutting. My heart jumped into my throat when I saw three feet fall to the floor. My eyes, then, saw the shortness to which my hair had been cut. The bottom was just touching my shoulder.
I felt her pull another section. I heard the sound the scissors made as she cut it, but I could not see it fall to the floor. She did this three more times, then she cut the last section on the left side. Like the first section, I viewed it. This time some strands of hair fell into my lap.
Cathy took a spray-bottle and wet my hair. She combed it out from the center part. Taking her scissors she nipped at the ends, slowly cutting my hair to an even length around my head.
“I’ll have to thin it out a little,” she said as she combed my hair back off my face. “You have too much bulk for it at this length. It would be hard to do anything with it if I don’t.”
I looked at myself in the mirror, turning my head from side to side. I could not believe I had done this. My hair was somewhat stilling out more now that the length was not there. It framed my face more, something I did not expect.
I brushed my fingers through it, pushing it back off my face as Cathy had done.
“What about bangs?” I asked her.
She combed some hair over my eyes. She twisted the section into halves, pulling each side back off my face. “Just might help a little,” she told me. “But, I still have to get some of this bulk back here,” she said as she combed through the hair in the back of my head.
I looked at myself again, still not believing what just happened. I did not want my face covered like it was. And my head now looked more like a pile of hair with eyes and a nose, than I thought it would. “How would you thin it out?” I inquired.
“Well, I could do it three ways,” she replied as she combed through my hair in the back. “But I think the best thing to do, would be to just comb a few sections out and cut them to about half their length.”
I shook my head in agreement, not really understanding what it was she was going to do.
She made a part, and combed a section of hair out from under. She combed it out a number of times, then combed it out to about half the length. Placing the scissors on top of her finger and thumb, she cut along it. She parted another section and cut it to half its length. She did this working her way around my head. It was kind of looking funny. The top was still as full as it was. The bottom was thin and less full.
Then, she started over, this time more towards the top. As she worked towards the back I could see what was happening. I could not understand it, but the bulk she told me about was disappearing. She was just starting to cut the left side when the telephone in the back room rang.
“Excuse me,” she told me as she stopped cutting and walked towards the room. “A friend is sending me some new pictures of cuts to hang up.”
I looked at myself in the mirror. I ran my fingers through my hair, pushing it back over my ears, then back off my face on top. I liked how it looked off my face. Maybe a little shorter, something more like this, I told myself. It would be easy to handle, just wash and comb.
It would be like having long hair, but a lot shorter. Besides, I don’t want to spend time, like my friends, messing with my hair.
I did not notice Cathy coming back as I turned my head to the left.
“Nice,” Cathy said as she brushed her left hand through the right side of my head. “But you would have to have it cut shorter to get the right effect!”
As I turned my head to right I ran my left fingers through the left side of my head. She was now combing the right side back off my face and over my ear. She combed down my neck. “This is where you will have the problem.”
“See,” she told me as she turned my head to the left. “Right now your hair is too long for what you are doing. I would have to cut it a lot shorter, and a lot shorter back here.”
I liked how my face looked with my hair combed off my face. My eyes showed more, my little ears were purify. Maybe I could pierce them once, or twice, more to take away from how short my hair would be.
“What do you think?” I asked her. “Do you think I have the face for such a short cut?”
She combed more of my hair back off my face. Gently she turned my head forward, then stepped in front of the chair. She pushed her fingers up in my hair, on top then on the sides. She looked me over from side to side. I was beginning to feel comfortable.
“From what I see,” she said as her fingers pushed my hair back over my ears, “shorter hair would do you fine.”
“Shorter.” I wondered how much shorter she would have to cut my hair. Then, a bell sounded in the back room. “Be right back,” she told me as she rushed to the back room.
As she returned she was looking over pages of whatever it was she just received. She held a few up as if she was trying to see through the paper. Then, she held one to the side and I saw they were pictures.
She walked to the mirror along the wall behind the customers waiting area. “What do you think,” she asked as she held one on the mirror. “Think I should stick them here, or in a folder?”
I could not see what they looked like, but I told her, “Maybe a few and the rest in a folder.”
“Want to see some of them? You may find one you like,” she told me as she handed me some of the pictures. I looked through them as she started separating a few from the pile.
“Nice,” I told her handing them back to her. “But I think I will stick with what we were talking about doing.”
She smiled and took the pictures from me. She continued to separate a few from the pile, then she began waving one in the air. “Here, here,” she said waving it in my direction. She had a smile on her face. “What do you think of this one?”
Her hand stopped waving as she held the picture almost on my lap. When I got a close look of it I could not help but take a deep breath in disbelief. The picture was of a woman with her head shaved. Was she trying to tell me I should shave my head!
I took another deep breath and pushing the picture away I told her, “Not something a woman my age would do.”
She smiled. Held the picture up to my face. “She looks to be around your age,” she told me. “I wasn’t saying you should, just wanted you to see it!”
Putting the picture in the pile on the shelf, she began combing my hair again. “So, what have we decided to do?” she inquired. “Going to leave it like this, or go shorter?”
I took a deep breath and blew it out loudly. “Let’s do what you said,” I told her. “I can let it grow out if it doesn’t work out.”
She began combing a section out, then she cut it even with the sections she had cut shorter to thin my hair out. She worked faster this time. Before I knew it the right side of my head had hair that was just three inches long. My head was pushed downward as she began cutting the back. With some quick combing and cutting she was finished and combing my hair back off my face.
“All you’ll need to do is put some gel in and comb it back,” she told me.
I looked at myself as she rubbed some cream in her hands, then rubbed her fingers through my hair. It began to stick up, but she quickly combed my hair back. It laid flat, not like it did when she was showing me how it would look, when my hair was a little longer.
I started to say something, when she began brushing my hair with a hairbrush. She was pulling the brush upward as she brushed the top back. It began to look soft, as did the sides when she did the same there.
“Now, that looks better,” I told her. “I’ll have to come back and let you show me how you do that.”
She smiled as she began brushing my hair in another style. I liked how she did it this time, too. “There are a number of ways you can brush your hair with it at this length,” she told me as she began to brush my hair another way.
When she was finished with the new one, I looked it over. It looked a little unsexy, but nice. “Well, this one looks better than the picture you showed me,” I said to her with a chuckle.
She laughed with me, shaking her head in agreement. Then she patted me on the shoulder. “I don’t think I would have recommended the shaven head to you. But there is one that is much shorter. I really think you would look great with it.”
Cathy turned and walked to the shelf and began looking through the pictures. She found the one she was telling me about, and held it out for me to look at more. “I think this would be great for you,” she said as she began turning around.
I tried to look and see the picture, in the mirrors, but could not.
“Here,” she told me as she brought the picture in front of me. “What do you think?”