Herrenschnitt für Damen – Crewcut in Austria by BarberJos
I am looking at the very attractive face in the mirror; it’s me. I turn my head a little bit and see the extreme short hair at the sides. With my hand I feel the stubble at the back and my memory goes back to my youth. My small brother is coming home from the barber and I am always rubbing his head, feeling the rest of his hair, which feels like sandpaper. I found it a pity that a girl could not have her hair like that. Once I asked it the barber where we were sent by our mother, but he refused, knowing that my mother would be angry.
Later as a teenager and a student I had very long hair. Only sometimes, when I saw a girl with very short hair I was reminded of my past wishes.
I look at the very short grey hairs, which cover the top of my head like a brush.
24 hours ago I still had very long hair. I look at the henna-powder that I bought an hour ago in the drugstore. I have known the owner a long time. At first he hardly recognized me with my short shorn hair.
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“Heavens,” he said. “Are you busy with the makeover of the century? I must say it looks very nice and maybe I offend you but you look much younger and more attractive.”
I did not say anything, but just smiled and paid.
When I left the store, an attractive man studied my haircut and said, smiling, “Wow, a real nice crewcut.” Somewhat surprised I looked back, but did not know what to say. In two minutes I got more reactions from men than in the last two months. “Do you know this woman,” I heard one say but I did not dare to look back, although….
Smiling in the mirror I started to moisten my hair. Oh no, I have to put the henna in hot water first. I looked at the strange greenish paint, with the strange smell in the bowl. How long ago did I prepare something like this? Again I look in the mirror and wonder if I will go on.
I hesitate and think two men found me attractive with my mixture of blonde and grey, why hide my age? But suddenly I go on and put the greenish mud on my head and try to distribute it equally over my hair. I cover the whole mass with a plastic cap and go out of the room, waiting for the result. I go upstairs to set the alarm clock, with the vague memory that 45 minutes is a reasonable time to become a real redhead.
For a moment I think a little bit about the reaction of my son when he will come back from school, but let him be honest, he was the one telling me how nice I looked.
In the room I see the old photographs and the diary of John. How long is it ago, 11? 12? 13 years?
Yesterday evening my 10-year-old son, who is reading a lot nowadays came to me and asked, “Mom, I have seen a lot of children’s books in the cupboard in the attic, can I have a look there?” I did not have much time and absently I said that it was okay. Some minutes later he came down with a box, full of photographs and some notebooks “Oh no,” I thought, but before I could do anything , he showed me a photograph and pointed at me and asked, “Is that you?” I looked at the smiling nice girl, with the attractive haircut, and said, “Herrenschnitt für Damen.”
“What did you say?” my son said.
“Oh that is something in the German language,” I said.
“Wow, you were nice then,” my son said. “It looks a little bit like a boy, but is very nice. Why does grandma always say that girls should have long hair and boys short hair?”
I shrugged my shoulders and remembered all too well this kind of remark of my mother when I came back from my holiday with John in Austria.
I opened the diary somewhere in the middle and stared at the sentences. I looked better and saw that this part covered the period shortly before we went to Austria. John was in Sweden.
We had seen each other only 2-3 times after our first meeting at a dance. He went to Sweden during some weeks.
“Nature is beautiful here, today is a free day and I am going to the lake to see if I can see some more Carex.spec. Crazy that I like those plants and nobody seems to enjoy them. In fact I want to go alone, because I need some privacy, but Mia asked if she could join me. In fact I like her very much. Most of the girls are the same with their long sleek hair. She has very short hair. I like her open face. It is curious that I always like this type of girl. I hope that I have the courage to ask Barbara to cut her hair like that, when I come back….
“I just dream how she will look like when I take her to a barber.”
I remember these sentences very well, because I read them just before the beginning of our holidays in Austria. John came back from Sweden and invited me for a holiday in Austria. I liked him very much and even though I hardly knew him I agreed.
The evening before we left, I came to his house, which I liked very much. It was full with bookcases and the walls were covered with a lot of graphic art. And often there was the nice classical music, from the enormous amount of CDs.
John did not have time to prepare food as he usually did and decided to take some fast food from a local store. He went out and I looked around. I saw the diary, in which he had been writing and took a glance at some pages. Suddenly I saw my name and read the sentence
“I just dream how she will look like when I take her to the barber”
I realized that he did not say anything about it to me, since he returned from Sweden. I heard the front door and closed the diary and thought that I could not say anything about it, because I did not ask him permission to look in his diary. When we took our food I had the feeling that he looked with more than usual attention to my hair. We made a list of the things that we should take with us, but most of the attention was paid to the things that should be left at home. John was an experienced backpacker. “No need of a hairdryer etc, because I will cut your hair,” he said smiling, pointing to the small nail scissors, which I should not take in order to reduce our amount of luggage.
Late that evening I returned to my own home. When we kissed each other he made an buzzing sound while he went with his hand from my nape to my crown. “Did you ever have short hair?” he asked. “What a crazy idea,” he said, “with such beautiful long hair.” I remembered my brother’s hair. Silently we kissed each other, but both of us did not express our feelings.
Back at home I stood a long time in the bathroom staring at my long hair.
The next day we met each other at the railway station for the night train to Salzburg.
John sat besides me sometimes running with his fingers through my hair, but he did not say anything about cutting my hair, even though I reminded him of the hairdryer that I “forgot”.
Our travel to Salzburg went very well and I was not too tired when we arrived early in the morning. Outside the station John easily found the bus to H. where we should stay in private rooms which where available anywhere. There were not many passengers except a young man and woman with the same long hair and identical green jackets. I had seen them last evening in Holland at the station and made a joke about them suggesting to John that he should have his hair as long and that we certainly must buy the same type of clothes in H.
In H. we easily found a good room at the home of an old widow. The room had a nice view on the lake. John asked if she had no cats, because as he told me later, he was afraid of fleas.
We took a nice rest just staring over the nice lake and pointing to the mountains, which we would climb in the forthcoming days. We did some shopping for the next day and decided that tomorrow we should restrict ourselves to a visit of some alpine meadows, which John knew from the past and which he described as wonderful mountain gardens full of orchids and gentians and of course the carex (sedges), which were not colourful, but the more beautiful (according to John). The next morning we left very early and rather soon we were walking alone along a brook. We kissed each other regularly and in between John showed me all the botanical beauties that I would not have seen alone. At last we came at the promised garden-like meadows and we spent a lot of time there. It was still very silent there and I wondered where we should find the restaurant that John promised me when I suggested that we should take sandwiches with us.
“Do not worry,” John said, “over there it will be crowded, because many persons come there by bus and just walk there a little bit, but good for us hardly anybody comes here.”
The place was crowded indeed and it seemed that hundreds of people were there. It was even difficult to find a good place where we could sit.
Suddenly I saw the well-known identical green jackets of the Dutch couple, but it looked like quite different persons. I hardly recognized them because their long hair had disappeared and both of them seemed to have an identical crewcut. John did not seem to have seen them because he sat in front of me. When the newly cut couple took off their jackets they were not recognisable anymore. I did not say anything to John remembering the curious sentences in his diary, but I remembered my own curious feelings about short shorn hair.
At a certain moment I saw that the girl went to the toilets and impulsively I went also there.
The girl stood there washing her hands and staring and feeling her short hair. I hesitated but suddenly I spoke to her and said, “Excuse me, I saw you and your partner with long hair and I must say I find it very attractive.”
The girl blushed and said, “At first I found it terrible but I’m starting to like it now.” She looked at my own long hair and said, “Do you want to cut your hair also?”
I said, “Yes, my friend seems to like short hair.” Suddenly I just asked, “Where did they cut your hair.”
The girl started to smile and said, “That is quite a story. There is a hairdresser in H. with a strict division in a part for ladies and a part for gentlemen. My friend and I went to that hairdresser and I joined him at the barber, but I had to go to the other part as I did not explain to him clearly enough that it should be really very short. So I tried to explain it to the female hairdresser at the other side and she cut it rather short and when she thought it was enough my friend said that it should be shorter etc. And then she was angry and shouted, ‘You want a herrenschnitt, go over there to the other side.’ So we walked to the other side and the barber smiled, said ‘Sit down, but why did not you say you wanted a herrenschnitt, a jongenskop or a crewcut as the Americans say?’
“He wrapped such a blanket around my neck, pushed my head forward and with clippers he just started to shave my head at the sides. Not really shaving, but very short as you see. He left the hair at the top much longer, maybe a little bit too long. And then he did the same with my friend and that is the whole story. O yes the shop is at the A. street: opposite there is a good coffee shop with very good apple strudel.
“Bye, see you maybe later.”
I went back to John who was reading in a plant identification manual and did not seem to see the rest of the world.
Later I read in his diary: “we arrived at the mountain house and to my surprise I saw the Dutch couple of yesterday. I hardly recognized them, but was surprised that they were so much changed and so very attractive. I wondered if Barbara saw them, but she did not say anything.
“Strange that I am afraid to mention it to her, but maybe later. Maybe I have to look in town if there is a barber somewhere. To my surprise Barbara did not want to walk back, but wanted to return by bus. We came back at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Our widow presented us a nice tea and Barbara said suddenly that she wanted to go to the town to buy some skin cream that she forgot to take with her from Holland. She said maybe I can go alone or I just walk a little bit around and we can see each other at the coffeehouse in the A. street. Barbara left in unexpected hurry, and just when she left I wondered how she knew about the coffeehouse, because we were not there yesterday. I decided to wait for some minutes, but then I went also to town.
“Some 500-600 meters farther on I saw Barbara walking and tried to walk somewhat faster to join her. She walked to the A. Street, where the coffeehouse is. Several times she was rubbing at the back of her head and I was wondering about the bites of horseflies in the forest, although she did not mention anything about it.
“Opposite the coffeehouse Barbara entered a shop. When I came nearer I saw that it was a hairdresser. I remembered that Barbara wanted to buy skin cream and decided to enter the coffeehouse where I could have cup of coffee and the delicious apple strudel. I did not see Barbara through the shop window and looked regularly if I should see her leave the shop.”
It is a crazy thing to read this again after so many years. I remember very well that we came back at our room and that we had our tea. Since I had seen and spoken to the girl with the herrenschnitt I had a very strong wish to go also to the barber. It felt almost as an obsession and it must have surprised John that I wanted to go back by bus. The crazy thing was that I could not share my feelings with him.
It was a complete lie that I forgot my skin cream, but I did not want him to join me.
On the way to the A. Street I felt my heart beating stronger and stronger and wondered how I would have to ask the people at the hairdresser about my haircut. My command of the German language was very bad and I was quite nervous. Several times I felt at the back of my head, wondering how it would feel if my plan would be realized. Rather soon I stood in front of the hairdresser, took a deep breath and entered. After some time a middle-aged lady came, asking what I wanted. I uttered ein haarschnitt (haircut) and the lady took me to the ladies’ part.
I sighed and the hairdresser, feeling my uncertainty, said, “Maybe you can look in these books if there is a haircut that you like. Maybe you can have it bobbed.” I looked at the pictures of a dozen girls and the hairdresser looked over my shoulder. Suddenly I said I want it rather short.
The hairdresser took another book with shorter haircuts and pointed to some of them. “No,” I said, “I want it really short, how do you say that in German, a herrenschnitt für…”
It was not necessary to finish my sentence, because the hairdresser cried: “Heinz, wieder einmal ein mädchen daß solch einer kahlen Kopf wünscht.” (Another girl that likes a bald head.) A barber came in and asked me to go with him to the other part where at that moment no other customer was present.” He pointed to the classic barber’s chair, which I remembered from long ago. And all the memories of the barber that refused to cut my hair as short as I asked, came in my mind.
I hardly heard the question of the barber about the way my hair should be cut. I stammered at first and tried to explain about the Dutch girl and boy that had been here yesterday. The barber started to grin and said that it was clear now what I wanted.
I looked in the mirror and saw how the cape was wrapped around my neck. The barber asked what I wanted to do with the hair. When I said I would leave it with him, he offered me to give a free haircut. I sighed and said joking that it should not mean that he should give me a headshave.
With some more courage, because I started feeling at more ease, I told him that I thought that it would be nice if he would give me a real crewcut, that meant that the hair should be shorter than that of the Dutch girl. “Are you really sure?” said the barber. “I think we will take our time and do it not too fast, even though my wife will complain. It is quiet and we have time enough. Anyway it is clear that the sides and the back can be done very short.”
The barber said: “You must know that I like short hair for most woman, but I have always troubles with my wife if I say that.”
The barber undid my braid, combed the hair and said, “No regrets? You can still stop.”
“No, please go on,” I said and wished that he really would start, even though I was afraid at the same time. How would John find it?
The barber started to cut the hair rather near the head and each time he laid the hair down very carefully. A pile was growing, while more and more hair disappeared from my head. At last I looked at a strange head, it looked awful. The barber saw how I looked to my own face and said: “Don’t be afraid, the real haircutting will change you again into an attractive girl.”
Well let us start the real job. From the wall he took electric clippers and I felt my hair still at the back. “Is it true that in the past you liked to feel the hair of your brother when he came from the barber?” I wondered how the barber knew this. “It is crazy,” said the barber, but the girl yesterday told me that and maybe you have something like that.
In between the barber started and pushed my head forwards and I felt the clippers quite near my skin slowly going upward. “I’m using an attachment to the machine that still leaves about 3mm of hair,” said the barber.
“I wondered how it will look,” I said.
“Not so difficult,” said the barber, “You were rather nervous, but if you look you’ll see that there are also mirrors behind you and me. So you can follow the whole thing.”
I looked at the back of my head and discovered that the clippers had mown a neat lane upward, but I saw also that my white skin was shining through the short hairs that were left.
The barber repeated the movements at the back and within a minute almost all the hair at the back disappeared. I took my hand from under the cape and felt my head. A strange shiver went through my body. The barber turned the chair a quarter and repeated the same procedure at the sides of my head, still leaving the hair at the top much longer.
Within a minute the other side was finished and I saw my nice ears. My face had changed a lot even though my bangs were still long. The barber took a comb and started to make a nice transition to the longer part, just like it was done with my brother in the past.
My brother and I were resembling each other rather much and it was crazy that in a few minutes I almost recognized my brother’s face in the mirror. That was not too bad because I like that face very much. The barber stared at my bangs and with thinning scissors he cut most of it , leaving a short feather-like fringe. To my surprise my face had changed very much, almost no hair, but a beautiful face with a nice bone structure stared at me from the mirror.
When I had finished my coffee and the apple strudel I wondered how long Barbara had been in the shop at the other side of the street. I paid and walked across the street and entered. There seemed to be nobody and I thought maybe Barbara had left the shop and was strolling around. I just wanted to leave the shop when a lady came from the back and asked what I wanted.
I asked something about a lady wanting to buy a skin cream some minutes ago.
The lady looked as if I was crazy. And shrugged her shoulders. I stood there a little bit clumsy and said suddenly maybe I can have a haircut, while my wife is shopping.
The lady showed me to the barber part where a boy was getting a classic haircut, the sides extremely short and the hair at the top longer, just like I had as a small schoolboy in the past. The woman walked to a pile of blonde hair near the barberchair and took it away. “Hey Heinz a new customer, hurry a little bit she,” said.
The barber came to me and said: “It will take maybe 10 minutes more and then I can help you.”
I thought about the appointment with Barbara in the coffee shop and wanted to go away. I looked at the pile of hair in the hand of the woman and suddenly realized that it must be from the boy. I looked better and wondered suddenly if it was a girl in the barber’s chair. And then the shock came as the boy turned his head, turned her chair and I heard the well-known voice of Barbara asking, “What are you doing here?” I saw a beautiful grinning face, boy-like, girl-like, maybe the almost bisexual fresh mixture, about which I was fantasizing in my diary.
I was totally surprised and somewhat sheepishly I said, “I was thinking about a haircut for myself, no I was looking for you, because I saw you disappearing in this shop. As you did not come outside again I was wondering where you went buying your skin cream. Heavens, you are changed almost totally, but to be honest I like it very much.”
I was looking at John and knew that he really liked it, but in fact I wanted to go farther with my hair experiment. “Hmm,” I said, “in fact I want my hair still shorter at the top, a kind of fur of very short bristles.” I explained my wishes to the barber, not waiting for any comments from John.
The barber again took the clippers and was moving again over my head; only the front part with the bangs he left longer. I saw that John was totally surprised and could not suppress a big smile. The barber finished the job by cutting the front part over a comb with scissors and I was satisfied with the result.
In between the barber understood that John was my friend and after finishing his job with my hair he asked John to sit in the chair. John asked for the same crewcut like I had and straightaway the barber made nice work again and we looked satisfied at each other’s hair.
In the diary John wrote: “I wanted to pay, but the barber said that it would be okay, because my wife had sold her hair exactly for the money needed for two haircuts.”
We walked back to our rooms and the widow did not recognize us at first, but started to smile as she realized who we were. She told how she had cut her hair as a girl in the twenties and how shocked her family had been at that time.
Later that night we made love and were feeling each other, kissing each other’s head.
I suddenly hear the sound of the alarm bell and go to the bathroom to wash the rests of the henna out of my very short hair. With a towel I dry my head and just when I want to look in the mirror I hear the bell of the front door. It is Steve, who at first seems to be shocked by my hair, but his comment is an understatement, which I appreciate as he says: “Not bad. Now you are the nice girl of the photograph, only a little bit red,” which as I see later is the second understatement, because my hair is totally red.
Steven wants to see more of the photographs and asks who the man is on some of the photographs. “It was John,” I say, “but we were only together for half a year.” Steven sees that I almost start to cry and says, “You miss him.”
What happened in these months after our return from Austria? I pressed John too much and I was jealous of the female student with whom he worked. I wanted to live with him and wanted to create my own place in his house. He was a busy man and I did not understand that it was impossible for him to do all these things together. In my stupidity I thought that it would make him jealous and make him more active to organize a place for me in his house if I started a pseudo-relationship with one of his colleagues. John was jealous but something different happened. He looked for a job in Australia and disappeared as suddenly as I met him.
I realized that I made the mistake of my life. After a year I developed a strong wish to have a child and Steven was made. The father wanted to marry me but I wanted this child for myself.
I let my hair grow and grow and gradually I learned to live my own life with Steven. Yesterday Steven found the box with a number of things which John sent me some weeks after his departure to Australia.
Looking in the mirror I see a more mature, but still youthful woman, still very attractive and I remember the remarks this morning when I bought the henna powder.
The bell of the front door goes again and Steven opens the door. “Mum, there is a man with an enormous amount of flowers.” I look out of the window and see the man with a nice crewcut….