Mother And Daughter By Jim B.
I was on my way to work when I noticed a small group of people gathering in front of the barbershop I go to. I turned at the corner and made my way back past it. The crowd was still the same size. Everyone was watching something inside and I had to find out. I didn’t notice any police around, so it could not be something that happened there, nor of importance. So I looked for an open parking spot and parked my car. As I got out I noticed some of the crowd began walking away. I now wondered if it was anything at all. But still there was a nice crowd, so I ventured over to the barbershop.
When I reached it everyone was just looking in the picture window, no one was saying a word. So I asked, “Hey, what’s going on here?” Sounding somewhat like a police officer, still no one said a word, nor did anyone turn around either. I tried to stand on my tiptoes for a better look. But that didn’t help.
I was about to ask again, but a few more walked away. I slowly nudged my way towards the picture window. As I did I realized there were mostly young women and a few men looking in the window. I thought I noticed someone I knew, but it wasn’t him. Finally, I got to what was the second row from the window. I put myself so I was between two men in the front row. I was able to look over their shoulders.
I was expecting to see something strange going on in the barbershop. But, all that was in the shop were the three barbers, one was a barberette, Gwen, whom I knew and was my barber. Her chair was the first one as you entered the shop. There were five or six customers, two of them were women. This was not unusual because Gwen cut women’s hair, in fact a third of her clientele was women. The others were men, as well as young boys and girls.
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I was able to move up closer to the window when one of the men in front of me walked away. Still I could not see anything unusual. I scratched my head wondering what it was that drew this crowd. Then, just when I wanted to ask again, I got an idea.
I took my cellphone out my coat pocket and call work. I told my boss I was caught in heavy traffic and it would be a while before things started moving. I told him I was going to stop for a haircut, instead of sitting in my car and waiting for things to get going. He asked about how long it would be.
Lucky for me no one was saying anything loud, or he would have heard them. I told him to hold on and I would see what was happening. I put him on hold for a few minutes. “Dave,” I said as I reconnected with him, “a cop said it would be the better part of two, maybe three, hours. Seems the city is repairing a section of the street and things kind of got out of hand.” After telling him what I had lined up for the day I disconnected with him and made my way to the door of the barbershop.
“Hi, Jay,” Gwen said as I walked in. “See you were able to make it in.”
“Yes,” I responded as I took a seat. “So, what’s with the crowd?”
Gwen looked at me and smiled, but didn’t say a word. I looked at her, then the other barbers. But, neither of them said a word.
“Got two ahead of you,” she told me as she uncaped the man in the chair. “But I think the wait will be well worth it!”
“Got something to do with the crowd?” I inquired. Only to get another smile as she motioned for her next customer, one of the women, to the chair.
She was an average, if there is such a classification, woman who looked to be in her early, maybe mid, thirties. She looked to be around five feet six inches, around one hundred and thirty pounds. Well dressed in her skirt and matching blouse and high heels. Her hair was just above her shoulders, which was in bad need of a cut, or trim, with a natural light dirty blond color. You could tell she took care of herself because her make-up was just right and her nails were nice and kind of long, the nail color matched her lipstick color.
When she sat in the chair the crowd outside came to life somewhat. There was a little pushing but nothing that caused a problem or any fighting.
As Gwen caped the woman, I noticed an elderly woman, in her early sixties, being let to the front of the crowd. She just stood there shaking her head, as if she knew the woman in the chair. Then, it became apparent they did when they waved at each other. The elderly woman just smiled and gave the woman in the chair the thumbs-up.
Gwen began brushing the woman’s hair from a center part, working around from the right side to the left side. They never exchanged any words. Then, just as Gwen was about to begin whatever it was she was to do, the door opened and in walked a young lady, who looked to be sixteen. She walked to the chair and gave the woman a kiss, telling her, “Sorry I’m a little late.”
I noticed the elderly woman, outside, smiling. The young woman turned to the window and waved to the elderly woman, then she sat in the waiting chair next to me. I looked at her. As she sat as she told me, “My mother,” pointing to the chair. I looked at them and noticed the likeness.
Then, I heard a recognisable sound I knew from the “click” what it was. I looked to the other barbers but saw nothing. Then, out the side of my left eye I caught Gwen tilting the woman’s head to the left. The humming clippers were in her right hand and a comb in the left. She combed a section back off the woman face, then moved the clippers up to her cheek below her little sideburn.
Not saying a word Gwen pushed the clippers up into her hair, cutting the combed section very close to the skin. As she pulled the clippers away she combed the section of hair off letting the strands of hair fall to the floor behind the chair. She combed another section, then clippers were slowly moved into it, clipping another section of hair. It too was combed away and floated to the floor.
Gwen repeated combing and clipping on the right side until she reached the back of the woman’s head. Then, she walked around behind the chair to the left side and started combing and clipping until she had worked her way to the back of the woman’s head.
Gwen combed a section of hair upward and pushed the clippers up into the hair. This time the section of hair was allowed to fall free by itself. Gwen made three more combings and clippings, then she reached over the woman’s head with the clippers still humming.
Placing it in the middle of her head she moved it back over her head, leaving behind a path of stubble hair about an inch wide. When the clippers reached the back of her head the pile of hair fell to the floor behind the chair. Gwen did this four more times, two each on both sides of the first pass down the middle of the woman’s head.
When she turned the clippers off there was a cheer from the crowd outside the shop. The elderly woman was now blowing the woman in the chair a kiss, she in return winked and smiled at her. The elderly woman waved to her, then to the young lady sitting next to me, and walked away.
As Gwen allowed the cape to slide down into her lap, the woman moved her hands over her clippered head. As she moved them back slowly her smile began to grow. Then, I heard the sound of running water and saw the steam rising from the sink. Gwen tossed a large white towel, the kind barbers use to wrap a man’s face for shaving, into the sink and hot water. She turned around with another one and began tucking it into the collar of the woman’s blouse.
That is when it hit me… Gwen was going to shave her head.
But why was the crowd outside the shop?
I mean, it is strange seeing a woman getting her head shaved. But why was the crowd there!
Then my eyes caught a little red light flickering behind and above me. I looked in the mirror, behind the barber’s chair, to see what it was, but it was too far. So, I turned a little and looked up. It was a video camera… the small kind television stations use when they want to record something and not be around. Or, more like the kind you would use to record something of interest for family viewing. Whatever the reason for it being there, it was pointed at Gwen’s chair and recording everything she was doing.
I turned around just as Gwen was wrapping the warm towel around the woman’s head. The warmth of it took the woman by surprise, causing her to rise up in the chair as her eyes widened. Gwen gently pushed on the towel as it cooled. She removed it and it was quickly replaced by another one… Gwen never reused the same towel when she shaved a man’s face.
As the second towel cooled Gwen piled warm shaving cream from the dispenser into her left hand. She turned, reached for the towel, tossed it aside, and began lathering the woman’s head.
The woman was enjoying it, her smile became brighter. I also noticed the young lady sitting next to me sitting more on the edge of the chair. Her body was bent over a little as it did a little rocking. Her fingers were intertwined with each other.
After wiping her hands Gwen wrapped another warm towel around the woman’s, now lathered head. This was also allowed to cool, then it was removed and she lathered her head again. This time the lather was two layers high.
Again after wiping her hands Gwen removed a straight razor from the glass cabinet. She took hold of the leather strap hanging from the right arm of the chair, and stropped the open blade over it. I saw their eyes met in the mirror behind me and both were smiling. Gwen then raised the straight razor to the lady’s forehead and began to slowly shave a section, revealing nothing but smooth skin. The razor returned and another section was shaved, then another. Gwen continued shaving the lady’s head until she had the right side completely shaved.
She walked behind the chair and tilted her head forward. Placing the razor where she had stopped on the side, she began shaving another section. Slowly she worked her way around the back to the left side.
Still the women in the chair said nothing, but smiled. The young lady sitting next to me was smiling too. It was as if their smiles were feeding each other. But, still I was in the dark as to why she was getting her head shaved and why the crowd was outside watching.
Gwen continued, slowly shaving her head on the left side, until she was finished. She wiped the razor off on the towel, closed it then placed it on the shelf behind her. She removed a hand towel from the pile and wet it with warm water. She turned and began wiping the lady’s head, which caused it to rock a little.
Then, to my, and that of the others looking in the window, surprise Gwen began lathering her head a second time. This time she spread the lather over her head then worked in small rotating motions until her head was, again, completely covered.
After wiping her hands Gwen searched a drawer and came up with a safety razor. After moving it under the warm water she turned and began shaving the lady’s head in the back. She took short strokes then rinsed the shaving lather off, then shaved another section. Every so often she would brush the fingertip of her left hand over where she shaved. She continued this until she had shaved the lady’s head a second time.
She wiped what little trace of lather was still on her head with a warm cloth. She gently wiped a lotion over her shaved head, then she put some powder on the hair duster and dusted her head and face.
The cape was removed and the chair turned towards the window. A loud cheer came from the crowd, some loud whistling could also be heard. The lady smiled, waved her hand left hand while brushing her right fingertips over her head, then she turned her head from side to side as Gwen began slowly turning the chair around so they could she her head was completely shaved.
After she threw a few kisses to them Gwen tuned the chair back so it faced the waiting area. The woman stood up and turned toward the window, this caused another loud burst of cheering and whistling from the crowd. She stepped from the chair and the young lady sitting next to me stood up and walked to her and the hugged. The young lady brushed her fingers over the lady’s head and they smiled at each other.
To my surprise, but not to the crowd and Gwen, the lady stepped back a little and waved her left arm back and downward. The young lady did a curtsey, turned to the crowd and waved. Then, she turned back and stepped into the chair and sat down. Another loud cheer rose from the crowd, the young lady blushed as she looked at them.
Gwen tossed the cape across her and pinned it in place. She picked up the comb with her left hand and the clippers with her right hand. As she did with the lady she combed a section of hair and the clippers moved, clipping the section to the skin. The young lady was smiling brighter as she brought her left hand from under cape and gave the lady a thumbs-up.
I looked at the woman. “My daughter,” she commented. I shook my head, wanting to ask why, but I could not bring myself to it. “We’re shaving our head to raise money for a little girl who has to go through chemo,” she told me.
I raised my head back as if to say, “Alright… now I know why.”
As Gwen combed and clippered I became aware of something going on outside the barbershop. I saw a small bucket moving amongst the crowd. Everyone was reaching into their pocket, their wallets, and placing change, bills, whatever came out, into it. So, I reached into my wallet and came out with a bill and handed it to the lady. “Thank you,” she said then leaned over and gave me a kiss on the right cheek. For some reason I felt myself blush.
I looked back to Gwen’s chair as she was finishing the clipping of the young lady’s head. After she dusted her head, Gwen did what she did to her mother.
Using the straight razor first she shaved her head of what little hair, peach fuzz, from her scalp. Then, she relathered her head and shaved her a second time, as she did her mother, with the safety razor.
I now understood why they were doing it. But why the camera?
When Gwen had finished shaving the young lady and she had done the same to the crowd that her mother did, the little red light went out. I looked around to see if anyone was controlling it and from where. But I did not see anyone, nor did anyone come out the back room.
As they stood there, hugging each other and brushing their fingers over each other’s head, the bucket was moving amongst the crowd again. Again they reached into their pockets, their wallets, and put something in the bucket.
Then, the door opened and in walked a man, he was smiling and his arms were reaching out towards them. “Ladies… ladies,” he began saying, “I must admit I really didn’t think the two of you would go through with it. But I see you were true to your word. So, here is the check for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars I promised you I would give if you did this.”
The mother took the check and held it high above her head for the crowd to see. They cheered and whistled. Mother and daughter began eating it up as they hugged and kissed each other.
I found myself standing up and began clapping my hands, which the crowd picked up on and started doing it outside the barbershop, as did everyone in the barbershop too. The mother turned to me, blushing, and mouthed, “Thank you.”
The man then walked to where I was sitting and reached up to where the camera was. He removed it and took out the tape. The woman turned to watch him put it into a case, then in his pocket. “Sixty percent,” she told him.
“Yes,” he replied. “Maybe a little extra if the video sells!” He walked over to Gwen, shook her hand and gave her an envelope, and said, “Thanks.”
Gwen smiled and said, “Any time.”
The mother and daughter turned to Gwen and they hugged, then left the barbershop. The crowd outside was still cheering and clapping as they walked out and got into a car, then drove off.
“You’re next,” she said to me, with a wicked smile. As I sat in the chair she told me, “See, I told you it would be worth the wait!”