My Friend — I Do Miss You By Jim B.
I am now fifty years old (plus and counting) and have wondered about Debbie for years. I sometimes think of trying to find her, just to see how she is doing and what has happened to her over the years. We were very close friends in grammer school. A lot closer than we thought. To think back about it is strange, to think of the times we missed by not being up front with our feelings towards each other for so many years. The many possiblities we may have lost over these many years apart.
One of these days I will get up the nerve and call one of those talk shows, to see if they can help me find her. Then again, maybe she will not remember me.
A friendship that started in first grade, when we both started school. But it was not until that last day of eighth grade did we know how close our friendship was.
Back then, we did not do the things young adults, pre-teens and teenagers do nowadays.
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Back then, we had other things on our minds, such as just getting out of school without our parents using the leather belt too much, or getting into trouble. Some hoped to get into college. We really did not bother about the opposite sex until tenth grade. But, we still started getting those strange feelings about this time.
It was in eighth grade things began to change for us. You noticed it right away with the girls. They were wearing high heels, skirts that fitted close to their hips and legs, blouses that showed bumps we did not see the year before or during the summer, and the hair on their legs was disappearing. Then, there was the “war paint” they began wearing, and their sweet smell.
As for us boys, we began to look more at the girls. We had that “talk” with dad over the summer, while we were supposed to be fishing. And the girls started making us feel uneasy when they were around us. When it began we could not sit still, even when our female teachers came to our desk. And the girls were always wanting to know if we were free on Friday or Saturday nights.
When we went over to their house for a vist, their parents, mainly their fathers, were always around. Always popping in to see if we needed anything, or if we knew what time it was.
I am a little ahead of myself, so let’s back up a few years to before first grade.
My parents, god bless them, had moved us – my brother, two sisters, and me – to this new neighborhood. I had just turned four and mom was expecting my little sister, the last of the family brew.
With the move they looked for the same things parents look for. The closeness of a grammar school, good neighbors, closeness of a doctor, and other things a family would evolve around. One of these was a barber shop for me, my brother and dad, as well as a beauty salon for my mother and sisters. This they found within a few blocks, four at the most, of where we moved to.
Over the next two years I made friends with a lot of boys. Being one who liked baseball it was great to have a ball park around the corner. I was lucky, as they were just starting to organize little league baseball teams.
After we got settled dad took me and my brother to get our hair cut at the barber shop, which was just two and a half blocks away. Well, it was across the street from the grammar school we would attend. It became a hit with my dad when he found out the barber was a woman. This became a money field for me and my brother.
You see, dad did not want mother to know the barber was a woman, a redhead at that. So, every week we received twenty-five cents, big bucks back then, for spending money, and another twenty-five cents when we went for our haircuts. A little “hush-up” money you could say, but we did not know it at the time.
This was working out well until the day my oldest sister fell and broke her arm.
The doctor had put it in a cast, which had the old type of sling to hold it still. Because her hair was long it became a problem for her, as her hair would get caught in the knot with every movement of her arm. So, mom decided she should get her hair cut short because of it, and the fact it was summer.
When she made this decision the beauty salon was closed, so dad offered to take her to “our” barber. He was sure “our” barber would be willing to cut her hair like mom wanted it cut. Lucky for dad, in a way, mom’s decision was made on a Saturday morning, which meant mom had plenty of things to do.
Therefore, dad would take her with us, to get her hair cut. Dad had gone the day before and asked Tammy if she would cut Katie’s hair. “No problem,” she told dad.
So, Saturday afternoon, when we went for our regular monthly haircuts, Katie came with us.
Everything was going just right, as far as dad was concerned, until we got home.
Sis then broke the “bubble.”
When mom asked how she liked having her hair cut by a man, she let out the secret.
“Mommy, she is a not a man,” came the words dad was not looking to hear.
Well, needless to say mom made a visit the next Tuesday to thank “our” barber. And when she left, they were friends.
Now, how does this go with my liking short hair on a woman…?
Well, for the next eight years this girl who became a pain in my neck, a good one at that, was Tammy’s daughter – but did not know it at the time.
For eight years I talked about her to Tammy, when I went for my monthly haircut. I told her everything, how I felt about her, the things we did in class. Just about everything.
What it was about Debbie, whose name I never mentioned to Tammy at anytime, was the fact she cut her hair real short, for those times and for girls and women.
I could always tell when Debbie got her hair cut. It was always neatly in place and she smelled of that sweet powder barbers, and beauticians, dusted on you after a haircut. Debbie had this powder on every day, but more so when she got her hair cut.
Back then a girl with a short haircut, as Debbie had hers, was extremely rare, very extremely rare. It was considered “little boy short”, even thought it was not that short. But, to me she looked great.
And, what was more important, she liked how short it was cut, too.
Then, she liked how short I cut my hair. I like my hair cut real short in a “G.I.”, it’s called a “high-n-tight” nowadays. She really went wild when I came to school with a fresh haircut.
She would sit behind me, playing with the back of my neck and head. She would purr like a kitten as she brushed her fingers and hand over my hair. This did crazy things to me when I reached sixth grade, which at the time I did not understand.
And, when she came to school with a fresh haircut… well, let’s say we traded desks so I could enjoy playing with her neck.
Her neck hairs were clipped as short as the back and sides of my “G.I.,” and felt just as good when I brushed my fingers up it. I even saw and felt a little touch of smoothness at the hairline, as if it were shaved.
Another thing we, Debbie and I, did not worry about was our last names, nor did I worry about my barber’s last name. All I remember calling her was “Miss Tammy.” Now don’t get me wrong, Debbie and I did know each other’s last name, it was just we did not call each other by them.
It was the last day of eighth grade and all us boys were lined by the back fence, across from the playground. The park manager was putting up the sign for registration for baseball. We made plans to go there after school ended and pick up the forms, then go home and get our swim suits, and meet at the local public pool. It too was opening this day, and what a better way to start the summer off than a swim in the sun.
For me it was the day I would get my regular summer haircut, a real closely-clipped G.I. Miss Tammy was good at it. Nearly every boy in town would get clipped for the summer. A few would even get their hair all cut off, almost shaved. But my mom would put her foot down when I talked about doing it.
After getting my registration forms I took off for the barber shop. It was close to 10am and she would not have anyone there, so I would be out in a short time.
As I entered the shop I noticed legs sitting in the chair. When I brought my eyes up to see who was sitting in the chair, I heard a voice I knew. One I had known for years, one that was sweet.
“What are you doing here?” we both kind of said at the same time.
“Getting my hair cut for the summer,” Debbie said. “You too, I guess!”
I nodded my head and sat. Then, it came to me.
“Don’t you go to the beauty shop down the street,” I inquired.
Debbie looked around, “Are you talking to me?”
“Yes,” I said.
She smiled. I did not know what to ask or say to her. I knew Miss Tammy cut women’s hair, after all she cut my sister’s a few years back. And I had seen women come out with fresh haircuts. Mom even got hers cut by Miss Tammy a few times, when all she wanted was a trim.
I was looking through, well I was trying to, the latest copy of “Superman”. My eyes kept glancing up at Debbie in the chair, and her legs were swinging just enough to get my attention. Then, it came to me.
I had always enjoyed the feeling of Debbie’s neck, when she came to school with a fresh haircut. This past year I even wanted to kiss it. Now, I would be enjoying another adventure, seeing her get a haircut. This thought made me feel a little uneasy, a strange thing began to happen and the magazine was there to help me out.
The back door to the shop opened. “Hey, Jim,” said Miss Tammy as she came into the shop.
Then, just as she reached the chair, I got another surprise.
“Hi, sweetheart,” she said as she gave Debbie a kiss on the cheek.
My head popped up from the magazine, my eyes opened wide. “Hi, sweetheart,” my brain told me. Not once, not twice, but five times. “Hi, sweetheart,” then there was that little kiss a mother gives her daughter or son.
“Going to get your regular summer’s G.I.,” Miss Tammy asked. I did not answer, so she repeated. This time I answered.
“I like it when you get your hair cut that short,” Debbie softly said. A soft voice with pleasure in it. One I had heard from her many times when I came to school with a fresh haircut. One that had given me strange feelings the past year.
“Haaaaa,” I answered. “My haircut!”
“Yes, short as I always do,” I told her.
Miss Tammy walked behind the chair and took hold of the cape. With the skill I had seen her use many times, she tossed the cape over Debbie and pulled it up and around her neck. Before she pinned it in place she wrapped a small strip of tissue paper around her neck, then pinned the cape in place.
I watched as Debbie pulled the cape up to above her knee and crossed her legs. My heart began to quicken, I had never seen her do this before. For some strange reason my eyes could not move, I wanted to view their loveliness. They looked so soft, so natural, so hairless. My dad never told me about this feeling, maybe he covered it in that part he called “other strange happenings” I would come across. Whatever, the magazine was still sitting on my lap.
My eyes wanted to read the magazine, but my mind had other ideas. That deep black part of my mind was beginning to show its powers. My eyes tried to look up between her legs, to search for that place “of joy and pleasure”, as my dad had put it. That place that would get me, and every other male, into trouble if we let our mind take control.
There was that loud click, the one I had heard for years behind me, of the clippers coming to action. Its loud humming brought my eyes searching for it. Miss Tammy was standing behind the chair holding the clippers in her right hand as she oiled the chewing teeth, then she snapped on one of the large attachments. The one she used to comb over the top of my head.
She stepped to the right of the chair, with comb in her left hand she combed Debbie’s hair from its side part. Then, she began pushing the clippers up the side of her head. Hair fell into Debbie’s lap with each upward pass. Debbie just sat there, not moving around like many little boys I had seen when she began clipping them. Nor like the women I had seen as she clipped their necks with the same attachment, but only on the backs of their necks.
Slowly she worked her way around the back, tilting Debbie’s head down. A few upward passes were made on the left side and the clippers were turned off. She turned to the shelf and removed the attachment and placed a smaller one in its place. Again she started on the right side cutting her hair shorter, but not going up as high as before. Again Debbie sat as her hair grew shorter. When she had clipped around to the left side she removed the attachment without turning the clippers off. She then stepped behind the chair, again she tilted Debbie’s head downward. She placed the clippers at the hairline and made short upward movements, clipping the base of her nape shorter and closer.
Finished with the clippers she hung it under the shelf, and picked up the comb and scissors. She combed Debbie’s hair out from the side part, all the way round her head. Then, she combed a section and scissored the hairs evenly across. She combed up and scissored, again and again she repeated this. Debbie’s haircut was beginning to take shape.
With her head tilted downward her eyes looked up and towards me. My breathing got shallow and quickened as I heard Debbie voice say to me, “You know mom, I think Jim would look better if he had a shorter haircut than he usually gets for the summer.”
Miss Tammy stopped cutting and looked towards me. She stepped towards me and looked me over, from side to side. “Yes, he would,” she told her, “but his mother would have a fit. Any shorter and he would be getting his head shaved.”
My head came up a little more from the magazine. “Shave my head?” my mind told me. Why would Debbie say that, why would Miss Tammy, her mother, say it too?
I had for the last few years wanted to get my head shaved, after Ken got his. Like Miss Tammy said my mother would have a fit and I would hear about it all summer. She would want to come with me every time I came to get my hair cut, to make sure I did not get my head shaved again. Miss Tammy knew this, but for some reason this time her voice told another story. Then again, I would be thirteen in a few weeks, a teenager.
Mom and dad always said when we turned thirteen we would have more to say about some things we wanted to do. I could put up with her displeasure for two weeks. And I knew dad would stand behind me, after all he told me I could shave my head if I wanted to. But, as we all know, moms are the boss.
But, why did Debbie want me to shave my head?
She never said anything to me about it before, even when I told her I wanted to. She never said anything even when Ken came to school that year with his head shaved. I thought she liked the way I had my hair cut.
“What do you think, Jim?” I heard Debbie’s voice ask me. “Think you would like to get your head shaved for the summer?”
My mind began to turn as it heard the question again within it. I looked up from the magazine, the thought came from the back of my mind. But the words could not be spoken. Then, a light went on in my brain.
“Why would I want to shave my head? I thought you liked me with a G.I.,” I questioned her.
Miss Tammy continued combing and scissoring. I could see a different look in Debbie’s eyes, one of questioning – as if she was searching for an answer. I went back to reading my magazine.
“I do,” she replied. “But I would like to see what you look like with your head shaved.”
Her answer caught me off guard. I expected her to agree with me. But instead, she sent the ball back at me, and it hit hard. I thought about it again. Again I came up with “in two weeks I would be thirteen and would be able to do anything, to a point, I wanted.” Did that mean I could shave my head?
I could not chance it, maybe it was not one of those things mom would let me do. But, I sure would like to. Then, I did not want to be stopped from getting my hair cut by Miss Tammy, now that I knew who she was. I could make my monthly visits with Debbie. We could enjoy seeing each other get our hair cut, then find a place where we could go and tell each other how much we like each other’s haircut.
But, that dark part of my mind took over and out came a reply, a challenge. It came out without me thinking, even after saying it I could not believe I had said it. Nor was I expecting the reply I got to it.
“I’ll be thirteen in two weeks and will be able to do what I want, including shave my head,” I told her. “But I think I can put up with my mom for two weeks. I will get my head shaved for the summer,” I told Debbie and her mother. “I can put up with my mother for two weeks, but I don’t think your mother could put up with my mother when she comes around.”
I watched as joy went to disappointment on Debbie’s face, something I had never seen before. I felt disappointed myself, but knew what my mother would do. I also knew my dad would stand by me, but he would catch hell from mom. Then, my deep mind did it again.
“But then, I have always wanted to do something my mom did not want me to do,” I let out. “So I think I will get my head shaved.”
With that said I saw enjoyment and a smile come back to Debbie’s face. I felt pleased with myself, but deep down I knew I would regret the decision. And my mother would not let me regret it either. But then it came out, that deep mind tossed another challenge, one that would get me off the hook. One that said my mother once again won.
“But I’ll do it only if you get a short crewcut,” I told Debbie.
With that said I went back to reading my magazine. I knew Miss Tammy, she was like my mother in some ways. She would not let her daughter get a short crewcut, nor would she give her one. I felt safe, I felt sure I had talked myself out of trouble, big trouble.
But that was quickly changed. My ears searched for the sound of the lather machine, my eyes looked to see if they were correct all these years. Did Debbie get her hairline shaved like me and the other boys and men? I watched for the cape to fall down over her lap, to be removed by Miss Tammy when she was finished. But neither of those happened.
Instead there was a click sound followed by the humming of the clippers. I looked up. The cape was still around Debbie’s neck. Miss Tammy was not applying shaving cream along her hairline. I watched as she slid on the quarter-inch attachment and allowed the clippers to sing its song. She dropped a few drops of oil on the chewing teeth and shook it off.
Not a word was said. Not even a hint of what was to happen.
I watched as Miss Tammy stood behind the chair and brought the singing clippers over the top of Debbie’s head. “Well, my dear,” she said as she moved the clippers into the hairline. “You always said you wanted a crewcut.”
With that said she combed the clippers back pushing a pile of natural blond hair back and down to the floor. Debbie’s eyes lit up like a bright star on a clear night. Her smile was bigger than when I said I would get my head shaved. I could not believe what my eyes were seeing. I did not think her mother would do it, nor let her do it.
Pass after pass after pass was made, clipping her hair to a quarter of an inch. With the top clipped, Miss Tammy took off the attachment and began clipping – buzzing – the right side. What hair there was was quickly buzzed shorter. I could hardly see any hair, it was as if she were being shaved with a razor. A fate I was now expected to take.
I could not back out now, not even if my mother were there with me. I had made a challenge and it was taken and accomplished.
Debbie sat smiling as her mother clipper around her head. Her wish, one that I did know about, was coming true. Miss Tammy did not hesitate when I made the challenge, it was as if she was pleased for her daughter. I only hoped my mother would be as understanding.
I watched with a pleasure I never knew. It could not match any I had ever had before. I was watching the girl I was falling for get a haircut, something I had wanted to see for many years. Now she was getting a haircut she wanted, one she liked on me.
Would this little challenge bring us closer? Would our lives become different? What would her mother think of me?
That was something I would have to handle later. Now my thoughts were of this strange feeling I was going through. I laid the magazine down and watched with strange feelings. I had never seen a woman, or girl, get her hair cut from the beginning. I was enjoying this unusual luck. My mind thought of the times we would have admiring each other’s haircut. I wondered what it would have been like had we came across each other, here, before this.
Quickly my attention was brought back to the present, as Miss Tammy turned off the clippers. As she hung it on its hook, under the shelf, she undid the cape and let it slide down the front of Debbie. Her right hand took hold of a large white towel, and she began tucking it into Debbie’s collar.
The clicking sound of the shaving dispenser sounded as Miss Tammy filled her left hand with shaving cream. My eyes watched as she spread the soft warm lather along Debbie’s hairline.
Wiping her hands clean she picked up the straight razor and began stropping it over the leather strap. I looked at Debbie, her breathing was full – as was mine. I could not believe what I had seen. The girl of my dreams, the one I had had many adventures in hair with, had just gotten the haircut of her dreams. Now the finishing touch was coming.
With the skill I had seen her use before – on me, on my friends, my dad and brother – she began shaving Debbie’s hairline. Debbie sat as we had, as if she had been trim shaved like this before. I remembered the times I felt the smoothness along her hairline, only I did not ask. How long had she been getting her hair cut then the hairline shaved?
“There,” Miss Tammy announced. “Let me wipe, and a little powder. There, what do you think Jim?”
I could not believe it. There sat Debbie, a young woman, with a haircut I had seen only boys and men get. The natural blondness of her hair made it look as if her head was shaved, but up close you could see the softness of the crewcut. The cut did not take from her beauty, it brought out her eyes and warm smile I liked so much.
I watched as Debbie brought her hands up to her head and combed them back over her head. I knew she would be just as pleased if I had my head shaved.
“Well,” came a soft question. “What do you think?”
All I could do was smile. I wanted to rush to the chair and run my fingers over her head. To feel what she had felt on my head for years. But I just smiled.
Debbie stepped from the chair and bowed, waving her right arm out to the chair.
I walked to the chair looking at Debbie’s crew cut. She looked pleased.
She stood there as her mother tossed the cape on me. She was smiling, it made things feel better. I could face my mother and take whatever she dished out to me.
As Miss Tammy began clipping my hair Debbie stepped back to the waiting chairs. Her smile made all the difference to me. It did not take long before Miss Tammy had my head clipped to the shortest it had ever been. I sat there looking at Debbie as she shaved my head, not wondering any more about what my mother would say or do.
It was about a half hour later when I stepped from the chair that I really realized how Debbie felt for me. I had not taken two steps from the chair and she was draping her arms around my neck and giving me the kiss I had long waited for.
When I got home I tried to sneak past mom, but she was sitting in the living room on the telephone.
“Thanks for calling,” she said and hung the telephone up. She looked at me, my head shaved.
“Well, young man,” she said somewhat oddly. “I hope you were taught a good lesson, and will be more careful when you are doing something with glue.”
Glue? What did she mean by that? Who was she talking to when I came in?
“Miss Tammy told me how you and Debbie were playing around while you were suppose to being gluing that strip of wood in place. I just hope she didn’t have to cut Debbie’s hair too short,” she told me as she walked into the kitchen.
Later, when we were by ourselves, at the pool, Debbie told me what her mother did. She told my mother we were gluing a strip of wood to the wall and we got to playing around and the can of glue fell on us. And, she did what thought was best when the glue would not wash out.
Needless to say the next few days was great for us. As was the rest of the summer, and more. For the next five years we got our hair cut together. I never got my head shaved again, but Debbie always got a crew cut when summer came around.
We lost contact with each other when she went off to college and I joined the service. Her mother moved to Missouri when she remarried, the year after we finished high school.
I remember those years each time I look in my yearbooks. I remember how we smiled at each other when we were getting our hair cut. How we sat looking at each other as me ran our fingers through each other’s hair. The many times I kissed her neck, the feelings I got.
My friend, I do miss you!