A Real Dirty Trick – Mow
My friend Kasy & I were visiting the home of one of our High School classmates on a bright Sunday afternoon in August. I was feeling especially bouncy since I was busy showing off my new hairstyle. Kasy and Diane were looking over my wonderful new spiral curls. I could see the want in Kasy’s eyes as she fingered my curls. Her long straight hair was going to stay that way according to her mother and she had plenty to say about it.
I had worked all summer long at a local fast-food restaurant to keep up with my car payments, insurance payment, gas bills etc. With my parents watching over my finances, there was never much left over for my wants. But I had scrimped a little and worked a few odd jobs to save the $150 dollars that my new spiral perm would cost just in time for school. My hair was full and thick and in the best shape it had ever been in. I had been careful to keep it covered from the sun during the summer.
But as Kasy longingly fingered my curls, Diane reached for the phone and dialed a familiar phone number. She quickly made an appointment with her hairdresser for a spiral perm just like mine. I couldn’t believe it! Right there in front of my face, she was ready to copy my style. Almost out of spite, she just picked up the phone and that was it. She didn’t have to work during the summer. Her parents provided her with a car and all the gas she could burn. And the cost of the hairdresser?
“No problem,” said Diane. “Mom will cover it!”
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I pulled Kasy into the bathroom and told her how mad I was. She agreed with me in disgust. It was then we brewed our devilish scheme. Kasy first noticed the bottle of hair remover on the bathtub sill. She said that we should dump it all over Diane’s head and watch her hair fall out. But I was more cunning than that. I dumped out a half bottle of shampoo in the sink and replaced it with half of the hair remover.
As we walked out of the bathroom together we snickered and snorted about our trick. Thinking back, it wasn’t too smart.
I still remember the exact moment it all came down. The phone rang and my mother beat me to it. I waited for her to hand it over to me, thinking it was one of my many daily phone calls from Kasy. It wasn’t. This time it was Diane’s Mother.
I could feel the pressure mount in the pit of my stomach. Had we been caught? Was Diane bald? My mother continued on the phone, not saying much but simply acknowledging every sentence. I tried to hear some of the conversation, but I was too low. As I started for the door, Mom stepped into my patch and motioned for me to sit down at one of the kitchen chairs. With a final, “I’ll get back to you shortly” she hung up the phone.
I could tell that she was furious even though she was holding her temper, I knew that I was beat.
“Why don’t you tell me about what happened over at Diane’s house Sunday?” she pointed. “And let’s make sure it’s the truth from the start.”
I knew that innocence would be wasted at this point. It later turned out that Kasy spilled her guts about the whole thing and of course she implicated me right away. I was screwed.
It turned out that Diane never used any of the hair remover on her hair. Instead, her mother had used it for the last four days and noticed chunks of her hair breaking off and falling out. Desperate, she went to a doctor and found out what the problem was. Although she hadn’t lost all of her hair and was nowhere near baldness, she was extremely furious and threatening some type of legal action.
After a few days, our parents all met to work out some type of agreement. I knew that I was going to have to face Diane’s Mom soon. Kasy sat next to me in the lawyer’s office, as our future was pondered behind the closed doors. The cold look of the legal secretaries and receptionists told me that everyone in the office knew of our dirty trick. It was the emptiest feeling I had experienced in my life.
When the doors broke open, Kasy and I were escorted into the room to hear our fate. Our parents, Diane’s, the lawyer and his assistant all stared us in the eyes as we walked in. It didn’t take long to deal the cards. Our parents broke the news to us. The punishment was to be an eye for an eye. Haircuts for both of us and a hand-written letter of apology. Somehow my parent’s assurance that I was “getting off easy” didn’t sound so easy.
The following day, my mother kept a close watch on me. I threatened to cut my own hair but that wasn’t going to be allowed she said. I queried her constantly, questioning the legality of the whole thing. “How much do we have to cut off?” I asked. My Mother’s response was just four shocking words, “A Military Crew Cut.”
I was breathless.
I spent the next few hours in my bedroom sobbing, not out of remorse but only self-pity. How did I get myself into this? How can I get myself out of it????
At 2pm we arrived at a barber shop downtown. Kasy, her mother, Diane and her mother were waiting for us. Kasy’s mother had pre-arraigned the shop for our haircuts. The barbershop was operated by a woman named Patty. Her long curly blonde hair hanging down her back made her look short as she walked past us to the door. As the snap of the door lock echoed in the shop, she pulled down the shade above the door window and said, “Okay, who’s gonna be first?”
Patty’s Barbershop smelled of witch hazel and housed all kinds of haircutting equipment that most eighteen-year-old girls have never even imagined. Large mirrors and a waiting bench along the wall faced the single leather barbers chair. A leather razor strop hanging from the wall really brought home the feeling that I was on foreign ground.
Looking back I wish I had volunteered to be first but Kasy’s mother offered her up before I had a chance. Kasy had to be helped into the leather chair. She was trembling and my stomach was weak as Patty pulled my friend’s auburn hair up and clamped it to the crown of her head. Kasy’s eyes were wide as she sat in the chair and stared off into space.
Patty ripped a piece of paper from a dispenser and wrapped it around Kasy’s neck. Then she draped a white cape over her and fastened that at her nape. Removing the clip, Kasy’s beautiful locks fell around her face.
“How short?” queried Patty to Diane’s Mother.
“High and tight,” she quietly replied.
With that, Patty reached for a large electric clipper and turned it on. The crack of the clipper’s switch was quickly drowned out by the hum it made. Patty didn’t even hesitate when she lowered Kasy in the chair. The clipper was drawn from her forehead to the back of her head in a few strokes. The auburn tresses were a high contrast as they slid across the white cape. Kasy’s ears began to show through and her eyes began to tear up during this part of her punishment.
Patty guided Kasy’s head forward and shaved the last remaining locks from her nape. Less than a quarter inch of hair remained as Patty did a final once-over with clippers. Then Patty removed the plastic guard from the clippers and placed it forward of Kasy’s right ear. Raising the clippers once again, the last remaining quarter-inch of hair was left on the sides.
The awe of the spectacle moved all of us to silence. As Patty turned off the clipper and slipped the cape off of Kasy, I could almost hear the sound of her now detached tresses hitting the floor as the cape was pulled off. Patty trampled over Kasy’s shorn locks without even thinking about it. Embracing her Mother, Kasy took a seat beside her. Patty quickly swept up the remains as I stepped toward my fate. I stopped mid-pace and started to plead with Diane’s Mom. “Please don’t make me do this! I’ll do anything but just let me keep my hair? Please?” I blindly pleaded.
There was no turning back, I don’t even remember being seated in the barber chair. Patty had to use several hair clips to get all of my hair piled to the top of my head. A paper collar was wrapped around my neck and then her cape came over my head. She fastened it with some type of a clip that “clicked” as it was secured at my nape. Unusually itchy, it was tight and I was beginning to feel the heat grow there and at the middle of my back.
Patty stepped on a pedal that raised me up slightly and turned me toward the bench. I felt as though I was about to be executed. At this point, Diane’s Mother stood up and took a picture of me in the cape with my hair piled up atop my head. It was humiliating to say the least. I had absolutely no choice in my outcome; I was completely at her mercy. The thought of my $150 perm falling to the floor traumatized me. What would me friends say when I showed up for my Senior year in High School just two weeks from now without my hair? How long will it take me to have long hair again? The thoughts raced through my mind.
Patty reached for the clips and my punishment was about to begin. My spiral curls, all thirty inches of them fell onto my shoulders, attached for the last time. Patty gathered my hair and snapped a rubber band about two inches from the ends.
I watched as she reached for her cutting clippers. Right then I could feel a small drop of sweat begin to run down my nape. Just before I could close my eyes, I noted Patty’s thumb push the clippers’ switch on. Its sound was deafening and the vibration startled me as Patty proceeded to lift my bangs up for the start of the clipping.
A cold feeling overtook the first area that was shaved from the top of my head. The hair fell back across the back of my still untouched curls. My stomach rolled and my chest tightened as her hands guided my head into position for each pass. My fingers were numb from the grip that I held on the armrests of the barber’s chair.
A loud knock at the door interrupted the clippers’ hum. Patty turned off the instrument and walked to the door. I could see that my mother was just as concerned that this humiliation end without any other witnesses as I was. While Patty tried to explain that she was going to re-open in an hour, Diane’s Mother once again stood up and took another picture of me in my half-shaven state. I was at the verge of tears when Patty finally closed the door and returned to her work. “Such a shame to lose these beautiful curls,” she stated.
The clippers passed upward, in front of my right ear and circled around me. The weight of the banded hair began to hurt as it pulled on a smaller and smaller area. Patty, sensing my discomfort, picked up my hair for the final few strokes. Free of any attachment to my head, she handled it from the end. I could still see the shape of my head in it’s mass. Patty then dropped it to the floor and began the once-over that she gave Kasy earlier. Again, my picture was taken. This time, my hair piled at Patty’s feet was carefully included in the frame of the picture.
As Patty released me from her cape, I turned toward the mirror that had been behind me. I didn’t know the person that I was looking at me in that mirror. It was a frightening site to see.
The last glimpse of my hair had Patty picking it up and dropping it into a waste can like common garbage. I was devastated. Somehow I overcame the urge to ask for my shorn locks, thinking that I had denied Diane’s Mom of that satisfaction.
A few days later, I was headed to my first day of school as a Senior. I anticipated the stares and jeers that I was about to receive, but it wasn’t really that bad! In fact many of my friends thought it was a gutsy change from my head full of hair. I had to admit that I was getting a bit lazy since it didn’t take any effort to care for the new style. But I think it was Diane that gave me the greatest satisfaction a few days after the start of school. You see, Diane liked all the attention that Kasy & I were getting with our new crews. When she told her Mother that she had made an appointment with Patty to get her head shaved, her Mother put the skids to the whole idea! This was one style that she wouldn’t get to copy!