The Smallest Things by Saturday Morning Barber
It’s funny how the smallest things can change your future. It was 4:43 on a Thursday afternoon when the phone on my desk rang. It was Dana, an old friend and, in this case, a conspirator in a plot of mine. I had asked her to let me know the next time that my ex-fiancé, Rick, had called to make an appointment at the barber shop she works at. She said he had just called to make one for Saturday. I had a plan to put into action. I thanked her and she said she would take care of the rest.
My immediate reaction upon hanging up the phone was to call Dana back on Friday and abort the plan. I mean, Rick and I were not together anymore, and he hadn’t directly tried to get back together. However, Dana said he still asked about me every time she cut his hair. I knew what I had to do, and I knew I had to go through with it. I had briefed my boss on my plan a few weeks ago, and I stopped by her office on the way out on Thursday to make sure it was still ok with her. I work in public relations, but 98% of it is on the phone so the public rarely sees me in a professional setting. My boss wished me luck.
Memories of the times Rick and I had went through my mind as I drove to work on Friday. For the 6 years we were together, I could not remember all of the times he dragged me to the barber shop with him. Davis’ Barbershop was your typical neighborhood shop, dating back into the 1960’s. They still had the old-fashioned hydraulic chairs, and the razor straps on the side of the chair. Robert Davis had owned the shop from the time I could remember my brothers going there. He was Dana and Robert Jr.’s dad. He gave the shop to the kids in the late 80’s when he retired. They kept it nearly the same as he had it. The only change was, if you did not want to wait, you could call ahead for an appointment. With a lot of the clientele dating back to the 1960’s, they were in failing health and could not sit for hours. Rick never had a problem waiting, and watching folks get their hair cut.
Ever other Saturday morning, Rick, my boyfriend, and later fiancé, would have me dress to the nines, usually a skirt, heels and blouse, and have me go with him and sit there and watch him get his military flattop. He said the sight of me sitting there watching him, my legs crossed, my permed brunette “big hair” coiffed, having a cigarette, aroused him so much that afterwards we would come back home and make love for hours. I had to admit watching Dana take the clippers over his scalp aroused me a bit too, although it was mostly idle curiosity in what it felt like. The straight razor never did much for me. It amazed me Dana never cut him once.
We never once left the shop that Rick would not try and bait me. He would never fail to tell me it was my turn and try to get me into Dana’s chair. He knew it embarrassed me, and for some reason it seemed like Rick enjoyed that part. After we would get home and into bed, he would tell me how one of his fantasies was for me to sit in that chair and have Dana take the clippers to my tresses.
Then there was that one Saturday morning we made our bi-monthly trip. It was crowded, as it usually was, and several people were waiting. I took a seat near Dana’s chair as Rick got his number tab. It was a summer morning, and I really did not want to sit in here for the hour or so it appeared it was going to take for Rick’s turn to come up. I said something about going up the street to shop, and Rick not so quietly told me that I might miss his turn, and it wouldn’t be that long. I lit a cigarette and sat back disgusted and somewhat bored.
Dana had finished the customer she was cutting and took his money. We were still about 5 numbers away from Rick’s. Dana turned around and called the number. From down the row of waiting patrons to my right, came a young girl, about my age. She had on jeans, white t-shirt, and tennis shoes. Her hair was bleached blonde, and fell right to her shoulders. The top had a perm in it and she had it teased and sprayed. She sat down in Dana’s chair, and Dana draped her. I had seen a few women in here from time to time, and Dana had told me that a lot of college girls would get their bangs trimmed here because it was only $5.00.
Of course, Rick sat right up and watched the proceedings, as the girl instructed Dana to get rid of “this over-processed mess.” She said she wanted to go short, maybe some wisps on the sides, but a short “little boy” cut. Dana combed her hair and scissored off the length in the back up to her nape. I noticed Rick’s hand had slid to his lap and he was “massaging the salami” as we called it. Dana had the girl check the cut for length and the girl told Dana to take the clippers to it and taper the back. Dana did just that and I could tell Rick was enjoying the proceedings. Dana finished the cut, and I must admit the girl looked cute with the cut. I had been thinking a lot lately about taking the plunge, after several late night sessions recently with Rick. I felt like he and I were getting very close to talking setting the date for the wedding, and maybe this would be the one thing that would prove my undying love for him. To be honest, I wanted to do this to show him how much I wanted to please him.
As this girl steps out of Dana’s chair, Rick stands up and tells her how nice she looks. Dana looks at me and rolls her eyes and turns her back on what she knows is going to get ugly. The girl says thanks, and bats her perky little lashes at him as she tells him she works in the office down from his, and she sees him go by everyday in the hall. It was at this point, having steam coming out of my ears, that I stood up and excused myself to do some shopping. Dana had Rick about half finished when I came back about 20 minutes later, after cooling down over little Miss Perky’s scene, and sat down in the same chair. I lit a cigarette and tried to blow off what happened as a stupid petty jealousy thing on my part. I couldn’t be sure Rick had not been hit on before, and I was making too much of it. I had myself convinced that I had been the one that wanted to send Rick over the edge by sitting in the leather chair, and I was just jealous that she had beaten me to it. By the time I was back to normal, and back in love with Rick, Dana was taking the cape off of him and he was paying her. I really thought about doing it that day, and the thought was on my lips when Rick turned around, glared at me and headed for the door.
Rick said very little on the way home, and it wasn’t until Monday that Dana called me at work and filled me in that Rick had bitched the whole time I was gone. Dana told me I should probably be concerned about the incident but I blew it off. Looking back on it I was very naive.
I had a busy day at work on Friday. I did stop long enough, right before I left for lunch, to call Dana and see if Rick had canceled or anything. She said he hadn’t and everything was ready. I noticed my heart was racing and my hand was shaking as I reached for the lit cigarette in the ashtray on my desk, as I hung up the phone.
I drove by the barbershop on the way home, and saw Dana through the window working on a customer. Her burgundy smock and jeans as always and that Western Tennessee “big hair” she couldn’t part with. She had moved to Tennessee to live with her aunt and try to make it in the music business when she was in her teens and early 20’s, but she became discouraged with the music business and came back north to go to beauty school and eventually take over the shop with her brother. She had the charm and grace of a southern belle instilled in her, and she wasn’t afraid to show it. As I was fighting the weekend night traffic, I thought about what a friend she had become after everything had gone wrong.
For the week after Miss Perky got her haircut, it was all Rick talked about. I got sick of hearing it one night, and started an argument. Rick stormed out and didn’t come back. We had arguments before and we always made up. When Rick wasn’t back in a few hours, I started to worry. After work the following afternoon, I came home to find most of Rick’s stuff gone. I called around but could not find him.
A week from that Saturday would be Rick’s weekend for a haircut, so I drove to the shop around 10:30, and sure enough, his car was across the street. I got to the door and as I walked in I spotted him in the back as usual. Seated in the barber chair was Miss Perky. She looked like she was about 17, with her little preppy running shoes and bangle earrings. Dana gave me a sympathy smile as my emotions went from anger, to embarrassment, to humiliation. I quietly asked Rick to stop by that night so we could talk and he said he would. As I turned to leave the shop, Perky informs me that I need to learn how to give a man what he wants if I want to keep him. I stopped dead in my tracks and was ready to thrash her when Dana said, “Put your head down,” in a firm tone she uses for naughty little kids. I figured she used it correctly and went home.
Rick came over that evening, and told me he was in love with Blondie and she was waiting for him while he was there telling me goodbye. I asked him why and he told me that I would not give him the one thing he needed and wanted. He said I knew that the ultimate turn on for him was to see me in that barber chair and that I would not give of myself enough to make it happen. I tried to tell him I had seriously thought about it, but it was too late for that now. I had lost the one man I truly loved in the world to my own vanity. Rick left within 15 minutes and I did not see him for several months.
I ran into Dana at the mall one night while Christmas shopping. I hadn’t seen her in a long time and it was a chance meeting. She told me Rick and the bird (as she called her) came in another half dozen times after that day, but that he had been solo the last few months. She said since he was coming alone, he started making appointments. He had told her that he had made a mistake with me, but that I would not do the extra mile to make him happy.
I told Dana I had thought about it, and he was right. Every birthday, every Christmas, Rick bought me gifts, took me on trips, and spoiled me. I had to make it right. I asked her to let me know the next time Rick called for an appointment. Now that appointment was less than 18 hours away.
I got up at 8 AM Saturday morning, ate some breakfast, and ran a bubble bath. I slipped out of my blue satin pajamas, and stood naked looking in the medicine cabinet mirror. I slowly pinned up my hair and looked in the mirror at what was to be my last hours with long hair. Examining my curly locks, I pulled it back and tried to imagine myself with out it. It would be different with short hair. As I tilted my head from side to side I thought I had been wanting to try some different makeup ideas and such anyway. I slid into the tub to try and relax.
I knew it wasn’t the haircut that was giving me the case of the nerves and vapors. It was the fact that if this didn’t work, I would never be able to get Rick back. It had been a long time without him and I missed him holding me. An absent minded finger slid south and my eyes closed, as my head rested on the back of the tub for a good 10 minutes or so. It had been way too long. I could not finish this here, but I certainly was feeling very feminine, despite the doubts I had as to how feminine I would look when the day was over.
I toweled off and sat down on the commode to shave my legs. I plugged the electric shaver in and removed the stubble from the left leg when the memory of the million or so times Rick had asked me to let my hand slip while doing this. Of course, I had given him the “itching” excuse and dropped the subject. The little blonde’s words of “give a man what he wants and needs” ran through my head, and I was smooth from the hips down in about 10 minutes time. I have to admit, it did feel good, and helped my confidence.
I moved into the bedroom for my barber shop “attire”. White silk blouse, white bra, black miniskirt, black pumps and black fishnet hose with garter belt. I teased my hair for the last time as high as I could get it and finished my heavy makeup with my usual charcoal eye shadow and red lipstick. I looked at the clock, it was 9:30. Rick’s appointment was 10:30. Mine was 10:20.
Dana and I had planned the whole thing. The plan was for Dana to keep someone in her chair until Rick got there. He always showed about 15 minutes early as a habit. Dana had theorized that the memory of coming there with me negated his waiting for an hour or so, like he used to do with me. According to the plan, Dana was going to tell Rick she had an appointment coming, and was running late. I, of course, was that appointment.
I parked up the street, so as to not be obvious. I saw Rick’s car in the rear view mirror and he took a spot at a meter right across from the shop. I looked at the clock on my radio and it said 10:14. I noticed my palms sweating as I reached for my purse. I took one last drag on the cigarette in the ashtray, and crushed it out as I opened the car door and walked up the street opposite the shop.
As I crossed the street, headed straight for the front door of the shop, I tugged at my miniskirt from the backside. It had been a few months since I had worn it, and it was snug, and riding up into the great unknown. I got a look at Rick through the glass door as I waited for a car to pass, so I could cross the street. He was still so damned handsome. Despite what had happened I was still in love with him and this was the sacrifice to win back his affection and love.
As I opened the front door of the shop and set off the little bell attached, this incredible fear and anxiety attacked. I glanced at Dana, her big hair standing tall, and realized that mine was about to be all over the floor and in my lap. What was I doing?
I regained what little composure I had left and walked to the chair on Rick’ s right and sat down. I crossed my right leg over my left, as to give him the best view of my legs that I had tried to keep in shape. I lit a cigarette and tried to keep it from shaking. Rick had often told me that he loved seeing the lipstick circle on it and I made sure I had it in my left hand where he could see it. I caught him stealing sidelong glances at me in the mirror that was behind the barber chairs.
I started to calm down when Dana undid the black and white striped cape around the gentleman’s neck and used the small clippers on the back of his neck and around the ears. This was it, as my turn was moments away. I felt a bed of sweat trickle down my thighs and around my well-powdered and recently smoothed area.
Dana put the warm cream on the gentleman’s neck and picked up the razor strap. With long strokes she sharpened the straight razor. I never had paid much attention when she did this to Rick. I had told her to do me like any male customer so I assumed she would use it on me as well. What WAS I doing?
She wiped his neck clean, and took the cape off. The gentleman stood and brushed himself off. He paid Dana and headed for the door. I was about to get up when the phone rang. Dana walked to the counter to answer it. It seemed like an hour had passed as she wrote down the afternoon appointment she was taking. she hung up the phone, walked to her chair, brushed the chair seat with the cape, looked right at me and said “Next.”
I took a deep breath, and stood up taking a last long drag off my cigarette. As I bent to lay it in the ashtray, I caught Rick’s eye and he said quietly, “What the hell are you doing?”
“What I should have done a long time ago,” I answered.
His eyes got wide as I turned and sat down in the chair. I was directly in front of him, with both feet on the metal foot rests as Dana put the black and white pinstripes around my neck. She slid the paper strip into place and tightened the cape. She asked how I wanted it cut. My mouth was full of cotton, or so it seemed, but I managed to get out “1 1/2 Osters, flatten the top with a landing strip, leave me some bangs.” Rick’s mouth fell open.
Rick said, “You don’t have to do this”
“Yeah, I do.”
Dana fastened my hair into a long ponytail and took the shears to it. I found my nails digging into my palms as the ponytail came off. Dana showed me the tail, and then laid it on the counter.
Rick was so wide-eyed he looked like the young boy he was when I met him. Dana put the 1 1/2 blade on the Osters and turned to me when the phone rang again. She hung them back up and answered the phone.
Rick quietly said “I can’t believe you are getting a haircut.”
I discreetly pulled the black and white cape up above my miniskirt and crossed my legs slowly. I wanted to do it slow enough that Rick would get an eyeful of my handiwork, and from the look on his face, he got quite an eyeful.
As my heel got comfy to support my crossed leg, I said to Rick sassily, “Actually this is my second haircut today.” I swear you could hear his trouser snake trying to bust the zipper from across the room. I was teasing him and I knew it. I also knew I was getting to him and I loved that!
It was then that I realized Dana was off the phone, as her left hand landed on top of my head and then moved to the switch on the bottom of the Oster clippers in her right hand and they screamed alive. From across the room, they are not that loud. My grip tightened on the armrests as I next remember starring at the pinstripes and seeing long, curly, brown chestnut locks sailing down the cape and onto the floor.
As the cold steel blade worked its way up the back of my head, it was a strange sensation of fear and pleasure. I enjoyed the vibrating, as it gave me goosebumps and a state of arousal, felt from my head to my nipples, and down to the sudden wetness that appeared with the first snip of the scissors. As Dana worked around to the side of my head, the fear of what I would look like came back. As she held my ear down and took the clippers behind it, she said I didn’t have to go through the whole haircut with only one breath and I suddenly remembered how to exhale.
The rest of the “side mounts” as Rick and I always called them wasn’t bad, except I never realized how warm the blades and motor gets. Having it go over nearly bald skin is a sensation. Having the landing strip put in is like getting the top cut with shears. It’s not the same thing as the clippers on skin.
As Dana ran the trimmers around the finished product, she asked what I thought. I looked at Rick and he was smiling big. I asked her if she wasn’t going to straight razor me and she said OK. I heard Dana dispense the cream in her hand. She lathered the left side of my neck and working her way around to the right she quietly told me, “You have more guts than I do to sit there and let me do this.”
She sharpened the blade on the strap and let it dangle as she pushed my head down and held my neck taut. The first touch of the cold, metal blade to my skin, and the scraping of the blade, caused a reaction I was not expecting. The rippling effect of this caused me to shiver. Dana asked if I were all right. She told me later I was biting my lip, had tears in my eye, and was trying to maintain my composure. She said I then proceeded to blush.
I do remember never answering Dana, after all I was trying to not to scream or moan, or both, at the time. After the next stroke, Dana said something to the effect that if it was that good, maybe she would start having her neck shaved.
She finished the work in a matter of seconds, and wiped it clean and powdered it. I looked at me in the mirror. I had mixed emotions. Dana took the cape off and then handed me a small box. Inside were some large hoop earrings. With all that hair, I wore smaller earrings. I put the hoops in, and they looked great with the cut. I stood up and hugged Dana. I paid her the $5.00, stepped over the chair, looked at Rick and said, “I’ll be home all day and night,” and headed for the door. As the bell dinged on the door, I heard Dana say, “Next.”
There was a knock at the door one hour after I got home. I had taken a bath to get rid of the loose hair and styled it. It still felt strange, but the new confidence I had was something I hadn’t planned on. I looked through the peephole, saw it was Rick and opened the door as I turned around. Rick came in, and locked the door behind him. He was carrying a dozen red roses. He handed them to me, as he smiled and ran his hand up the back of my head. I started to cry from the emotions going through me right then. He quietly picked me up, carried me down the hallway to the bedroom and the time for words had passed.
24 Saturdays later, on June 6, 1998, Rick and I were wed at 4:00 PM. We both went to the barber that morning for trims. I know you aren’t supposed to see each other before the ceremony. I couldn’t miss the standing every-other-Saturday appointment, could I? I have to show you the wedding pictures some time. Me with my flattop and veil, standing next to my maid of honor, Dana, with her southern belle do. Like I said, funny how the smallest thing changes your future.