Lisa’s Haircut by Libby Warren
The barber slowly runs a comb down the length of my brown hair. He runs it slowly, deliberately. He has just begun combing, and I think he intends to comb for a while. I wish he wouldn’t. I mean, all my hair is coming off, so he doesn’t need to comb it. It’s just making me spend more time in this place that I hate. And if for some strange reason the hair needs to be combed, why can’t he cut it off first, and then pick it off the floor and comb it once I’m gone?
Hi. My name is Lisa. I’m sixteen years old and a quiet, serene, peaceful girl. I’m a little bit thin, my skin is slightly dark, and I have big, almond-shaped eyes. I almost always wear blue jeans or blue jean shorts and a white T-shirt. I like to sit in my room, on my bed, barefoot, and pet my cat. I also go on nature walks barefoot sometimes.
The barber is still combing my hair. He’s combing it, not brushing it. I wonder why. Maybe he doesn’t have any brushes, as he is usually used to cutting men’s hair.
So he is combing my hair. He is combing it from top to bottom, from my head down to the end of it. It doesn’t need combing. I brush it every morning, and I even brushed it this morning. It’s really very beautiful hair. I said it is brown but it’s not really brown. I don’t know the name of the color it is, but it’s a beautiful one. And it’s length, well, I’m very proud of that aspect of it. I have resisted the occasional urges to get a different hairstyle for three years now, and have only visited the salon to get the split ends trimmed off. If I were to stand up now my hair would reach half-way down my back. It is moderately thick and quite healthy.
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The barber sets the comb down. No actually, he puts it in a large glass cup of blue liquid. It must be some kind of disinfectant, so if I have a hair disease it won’t be spread to the next customer.
He picks up a pair of scissors. They make me shiver. I’m kind of scared of scissors, especially when they get close to my hair. I guess my fear is borne out of the stories I’ve heard from my friends at school. One of my friends told me about how she had once gotten wildly drunk. When she woke up, she had a pair of scissors in her hand and a faint memory of cutting her hair. Then she had looked behind her and seen a pile of hair on the floor. Reaching up to her head, she quickly figured out where it came from. “From that day on,” she said, “I never got drunk and I never got near scissors.”
Another friend told me about how she had done something her boyfriend didn’t like, and he had, when she was asleep, cut a big chunk out of her hair. How awful.
So anyway, the barber is bringing the scissors toward my hair. He opens them up and positions them where he is going to make his first cut. Time seems to stand still at this drastic moment. It stands still so long that my thoughts float back to this morning.
It was a Saturday morning. It was springtime, and I had my bedroom window open. I could hear birds chirping, and I just lay in bed a few minutes, thinking about what I was going to do that day. Carissa, my best friend, had been planning to take me out on her family’s boat. I would have loved to spend the day boating on the calm, blue lake on the south side of the city. But an emergency funeral came up for her, so we couldn’t do it.
Maybe, I thought, I should call up Carly, one of my other friends, and see if she wanted to go somewhere or do something. But then I decided not to. I decided I would spend the day in my room reading a huge collection of books I had recently gotten from the library. But first I would need to change out of my nightgown and into some clothes.
I got up and went to my dresser and picked out a pair of jean shorts. It was spring, after all, so shorts are the thing to wear. I then got out a white T-shirt and the necessary undergarments. I turned around to close the blinds so I could dress in privacy. As I approached the window, I saw that it was cloudy and windy, like before a good, hard rainstorm. I decided to wear pants, seeing as it looked pretty cold out there. So after closing the blinds, I switched the shorts for pants. Then I took off the nightgown, hung it up carefully, and put on my undergarments. Then put on the pants and shirt and was just settling down to a good book when my mother called up the stairs.
“Lisa, I’m taking Brian to the barber. We’ll be back in about an hour.”
Brian was my younger brother. He was thirteen.
“Wait,” I called, “I want to go along because the library’s right by there and I need some new books.”
“Well then, we’ll be waiting in the car. Come out when you’re ready.”
Five minutes later, we were on our way. The sky was getting darker and I enjoyed the beauty of the clouds. We went to the barber first. I wanted to stay out in the car but mom said it would be a long wait and there were magazines and such in the shop that I could use to pass the time, so I agreed to go in. I walked in slowly, looking with amazement at this new place that was so different to anything I had ever seen.
It smelled like cigarette smoke and cologne. The walls were decorated with “guy” things like sports posters and deer heads. The barber was an older man, kind of fat and old fashioned. He was finishing up on a man in his thirties, the only other person in the shop besides us. We took a seat.
I immediately didn’t like the place. I picked up a wildlife magazine and tried to read but I finally put that down and just looked out the glass shop front at the coming storm. It had actually started to rain outside.
The man in his thirties paid and left and Brain went up and sat in the chair. They talked about sports while I lazily watched the haircut, unaware that I would soon be getting one like that.
The barber finished Brian and called to my mom that it would cost nine dollars.
“No wait,” replied my mother. “I want you to cut my daughter’s hair, too.”
My head jerked toward her. I wondered if I had heard right. But I had.
Time now stops standing still. The scissors are positioned to cut off about ten inches of hair. They close once. Ouch. This can’t be right. I must be dreaming. I pinch myself, but nothing happens. The scissors open again. And close. And open. And close. Finally, a full ten inches has been cut off. I lower my head and a lump comes to my throat. I can’t believe my mom is making me do this. She didn’t give a reason, just made me do it. The barber positions his scissors to cut off my hair at shoulder length. I feel a tear form in my eye. It trickles down my cheek as the scissors close. By the time he has gotten all the way across, I am biting my lower lip and the tears are falling pretty good. He then positions the scissors at ear length. I start crying. The first chunk of hair falls to my shoulder, and then to the back of my chair, and then the floor. The scissors open and close again.
“NOOOOOOO!” I cry loudly. But it doesn’t help. The scissors open and close again and I find myself with an ear-length bob. “Mom, no, please don’t make me. Please say that’s short enough.”
“No, I said I want you to get a buzz cut and I’m sticking to it.”
The barber pulls up a length of hair and cuts it off. Then another. And another. My hair is getting thinner and shorter by the second. A crash of thunder booms outside and drowns out my pleas for a short time. Then, I give up. My hair is so short by now, it doesn’t matter. I just silently cry as my hair gets butchered to no longer than a quarter of an inch.
The barber then proceeds to shave my neck and around my ears. He then brushes the hair off my head, neck, and face. Off goes the cape and I get out the chair quickly. My mother pays 18 dollars and we leave.
But I’m going to grow out my hair again. Next time my mom tries to make me cut it, I’ll run away. I’m going to grow my hair down to my waist.