Where It BeganRead Now
I remember when I realized how much the way my hair looked affected the way people perceived me.
My mother was my first barber. Now she is one of the sweetest and wisest people I know, but she is no barber.
The night before my first day of school she calls me to the kitchen. As I enter I see she has the chair ready and the clippers in her hand. By then I had already known the drill. I took my shirt off, hopped in the chair and sat as still as I could at 5 years old. My mother put the number two guard on the clipper and ran it over the top of my head. She then took it off and ran the zero up the side and the back of my head And just like that the haircut was over. Two on top, zero on the sides, no blend. I got out of the chair upset not because of the way I looked. I was itchy and she had pulled me away from my Super Nintendo. I had no concern for the way I looked.
The first day of school was upon me. I had everything I needed. Ninja Turtle lunch box with thermos. New clothes, fresh sneakers, and a haircut straight out of Mom’s Barbershop & Kitchen. Little did I know I wasn't prepared for the cold world that can be kindergarten. The cool kids had a field day with my haircut. They asked me why I had a bowl cut. They called me names like Bowl Master and Cereal Head. One girl asked me if my parents couldn't afford to bring me to the barbershop. They didn't notice the Air Jordan's on my feet or the Tommy Hilfiger outfit fresh out of Macy’s. They couldn't see past my haircut and because of that they couldn't see the light that was glowing within me. I went home that day and told my mom she could never cut my hair again. From now on I will be going to the barbershop with my father.
About two weeks went by and my father was ready to get his haircut. I knew this was my chance. I waited by the front door with my jacket on. I wasn't going to let him leave without me. He must have seen how serious I was because he decided to take me with him. Walking into the barbershop the first thing I noticed was the smell. talc powder and clubman after shave filled the air. There was music playing, sports on the tv, and a stack of Playboys I wasn't allowed to touch. The men at the shop argued about which baseball team was better and complained about how their wives made them do things around the house. I instantly understood that the barbershop was more than a place where you go get your haircut. It was a place where men could let loose. They can speak their mind and vent about anything that might be troubling them. And then finally it was my turn.
Sitting in the chair for the first time was very unsettling. I did not know this man from a hole in the wall. I was about to trust him with my hair, which I learned was tied so close to what people would think of me. What did I have to lose? He put the cape around me and proceeded to cut my hair. First thing I noticed was he took so much longer than my mother. Although I was itchy and uncomfortable, I was committed. Just when I thought the haircut was over he pulled out a machine I had never seen before. He used the machine, which I later learned is a trimmer, to go around my hairline. After that he unbuttons the cape and before I can jump out the chair I feel a warm sensation on the back of my neck. It was hot. I looked to the barber to see what he was doing and I noticed the razor in his hand. I had never seen one before and it frightened me, but I couldn't look afraid in front of all the guys at the shop. He proceeded to shave the back of my neck. After he sprays alcohol into his hand and pats the back of my neck. My neck was on fire but only for a few seconds. A little talc powder and I was ready to go back to school.
The next day I walked into school with a newly found confidence. I waited all day for a compliment that never came. However I did notice that no one made fun of me or ignored what I had to say. That day I became one of the cool kids. Not because the haircut changed who I was but instead it allowed everyone else to look past my appearance and see who I really was inside. That is what a good haircut should do for you. Make you shine so bright from within it's hard to see what's on the outside.
The Barber. The Author. The Story.