Simon was strolling along the pavement, down a street that was located a few blocks from where his family’s home resided. It was a serene and peaceful walk, with the occasional passerby, most simply going about with their own day tasks. As Simon dawdled along, he was constantly accompanied by the many clear reflections of him from the many windows of shops situated along the roads. At every passing of a shop window, he would pause momentarily on the spot, stare briefly, but intently into his reflection, as he pondered over a major dilemma that has troubled him in recent weeks.
For some context, Simon grew up in a very strict family, mainly because his parents had military background. His father was an army major that worked at one of the military camps in the precinct, and her mother worked as a civilian employee supporting the very same camp his dad worked at in administrative tasks. And it was his parents’ crossing during their work duties that sparked their meeting and subsequent marriage.
But more importantly, the gist was that Simon ended up being subjected to strict, no-fuss teachings from his parents, ever since he was of a very tender age. As part of family tradition, the parents wanted the men in the house to keep their hair constantly short, neat and tidy. Imagine a simple #4 by #2 during the colder months, and a severe high and tight that fades down to a #0 during the summer. Simon’s sister too, despite being a girl, was hardly spared. When they were much younger, their mother would bring his sister to this traditional hair salon located at a nearby strip mall, and ask for his sister’s hair to be cropped extremely short and above the ears. His sister’s hair never managed to grow past the ears for a very long time, until when she started attending middle school, and his parents finally relented.
Simon too at first, found himself unable to protest against this harsh practice. He was one of a free mind and strong personality, and he felt initially that the hairstyle of a person is an important symbol of individualism, a channel for him to freely express him, and should not be compromised for the sole sake of adhering to silly family norms. Thus, as he approached the epitome of his teenage years, Simon finally broke off and started on his rebellious journey. That was around the time when he finally ended middle school, and it was a prime opportunity to grow his hair out. He had always wanted to know how it felt like to have longer hair, having never been able to do so before.
All this was however, already history. It’s been close to six months since, and Simon’s hair quickly grew to become a total disaster as it grew – disheveled and scraggly, especially since Simon’s natural texture was curly and kinky. Undoubtedly, Simon enjoyed the excitement of being able to finally grow out his hair at the start, yet the constant need to maintain this increasingly fuzzy mess was totally not part of his initial expectations. He fathomed something had to be done.
And just as he continued to dawdle along, Simon observed some bright, but warm lighting that came from not too far ahead, emanating through the window of one of the shop houses not far away. As Simon strode further up ahead to take a closer look, curious as he is, a sign could be seen clearly hanging off the shop wall, titled ‘Sally’s Hair Salon’. Simon reached up to run his fingers through the pile of unkempt hair on his head and deliberated for a moment.
Could this be a sign to him?
Could this be some form of subtle hint to Simon that he should quit hesitating, and step in to ask for intervention? To ask for someone that can rid him of this scraggly mess that he had not anticipated at the start of his rebellious journey?
Simon could come to no clear-cut answer. He thought real hard, and knew that deep down inside, all he really wanted was to bite the bullet, step into the shop right now and just get this unruly mop of his lobbed off, yet his only hurdle, was the notion of looking like he had backed down and submitted to his parents. His ego spoke to him. But was his ego strong enough to dissuade him from stepping back and walking away from this golden opportunity?
Perhaps it was. But Simon, being a practical person, knew that while it may ultimately seem like his ego would be hurt if he went on and cut his hair off, he understood that it would only be temporary. Yet if he spent any longer with this mop of hair which he did not wanted to keep anymore, it would make him far less happier. And so, with no further excuse, Simon took in a deep, long breath. And the salon door was pushed open, the young man ready to embrace a new look and a restart.
Once inside, Simon was immediately greeted with an environment hosting a myriad of things totally unfamiliar to him – the pungent smell of hair chemicals, black salon chairs crafted with leather that lined both sides of the salon’s walls, bulky machinery that he could make no sense of. All this were a far cry from the barbershops he had frequented in the past for his haircut. Each salon chair was accompanied by a full length mirror. What particularly caught Simon’s eye, was the comfortable ambience of the place, in spite this being his first time in a hair salon. And this was complemented by the warm lighting within, which helped him relax better in this new environment that he is still struggling to process. Simon was certainly quite intimidated by the newness of everything around him, yet knowing that he will soon be able to rid himself of the curly locks that had been tormenting him, this was totally something he could live with.
It was then, when a lady, seemingly in her early twenties, which gestured for Simon’s attention as she stood behind the front desk, which was strategically positioned just beside the salon entrance. He was startled by her presence, having been too overwhelmed by the new environment around him, and failing to take notice of her when he first entered.
“Are you here for a haircut?” the lady asked.
She was dressed in a sheer white top, paired with skinny jeans and ivory heels, a demure beauty by Simon’s standards. She was someone Simon would be willing to hit on any time if given the chance. The young man, slightly disillusioned by the beauty of the woman, scrambled quickly to get a grip on himself proper. In a slightly panting fashion, he answered, “Yeah, just a haircut. But I am not sure if you are still open for business?”
The lady broke into a vibrant smile, clearly pleased that Simon is going to become one of her customers.
“Sure, please make yourself comfortable over here, and I will be with you in just a moment,” she said to him, as she escorted him over to take a seat at one of the salon chairs. She disappeared into a room situated behinds the front desk subsequently, but only for a short moment. In no time did she return, this time pushing a trolley full of haircutting tools, such as a variety of haircutting scissors, some that Simon had never seen before, hair clippers, barrette clips, combs. But of them all, the most intriguing one was the white hairdressing cape that laid atop the trolley. There was always some sort of fascination which Simon bore for haircutting capes, particularly those that looked clean, neat, and large in size.
As the lady began to unfold the cape, he could begin to see how huge it was in size. Expecting to be caped soon, Simon straightened his back and sat up straight proper. Oh yes, Simon was sure ready for his haircut. She proceeded to toss the cape over Simon by the front, fastening the cape snuggly by the back of his neck. It was much more snug than the usual barber capes that were secured with hairdressing clips because there were no sewn-on fasteners, but this one that the lady used had them, and she made sure that it was real tight. Perhaps it was a signifier of the onslaught of hair that was to come. Oh, and the cape was real huge. It covered the entirety of Simon’s silhouette, leaving but his feet exposed by the footrest of the chair. Just the kind of cape that Simon envisioned.
“I am Sally, and you can address me as such. So what haircut do you have in mind for today?” she began to ask as she made her final adjustments to the tightness of the cape. Simon was caught at a loss with Sally’s question, not actually having anything in mind, except for cutting it short. Real short.
But what he knew for certain was that he would like to have most of his crinkly hair cut off, and he had no intention of hiding it from his newfound hairdresser. “Short. I was thinking of a very short and tidy look,” he henceforth answered, with his cards open on the table now.
“That’s quite a change, are you sure about that? It’s at least a good six inches you have here, and it’s going to take take a long while to grow back if you regret it,” Sally warned. He knew for sure he wanted most of his crinkly hair gone by today, but he had absolutely no clue how short to go for. Would he regret it as she said? Simon was becoming uncertain now.
Sally then spoke again. “Perhaps I could cut off most of the length from the sides & back, super short and close to the scalp, but leave the top part a little longer?” she said.
Simon pondered for a moment, and thought, why not? If it did not meet his expectations, he could simply ask Sally to cut it shorter. He gave her a nod, approving of Sally’s recommendation. She broke into a smile upon knowing of Simon’s permission to go ahead, and began to prep herself, getting ready to get her hands dirty and resolve Simon’s hair-growing disaster.
Sally browsed the tools she had on the trolley, picking out the ones she needed for the haircut and placed them on the top of the trolley. Among those picked were a pair of compact-sized hair clippers, and a couple of barrette hair pins. She then sectioned Simon’s hair into two parts, with the crown area at the top being one section, the sides & back being another. She held the top section firmly in place with the long hair pins, preventing the long curls on top from getting messed up with the sides and back. Sally then started combing out the tangles hanging from the sides and back, on one hand attempting to tame the mess of unruly curls, and another analysing how short she was going to shear the sides & back down to.
Sally was slowly taking her time, but Simon did not make a big fuss of it. He was beginning to enjoy the salon atmosphere, and the accompaniment of a beautiful lady such as Sally certainly helped. Moreover, Sally had a great eye for detail, something that did not go unnoticed from the young man. The detail-oriented Sally had made Simon ease up a little more from the mounting tension that he had been in when he first entered the hair salon.
“Are you ready? You know there’s no backing out once I make the first push with the hair clippers,” Sally asked, hair clippers in hand, giving Simon a final opportunity to back away from the decision. Simon was going to be at the full mercy of Sally, leaving the predicament of his hair entirely to her. Despite that, Simon was convinced. He nodded for Sally to begin. And so it has.
Sally gave Simon’s head a gentle, but firm press forward, until it was hanging at an approximate 45 degree angle, and he was greeted with the sounds of the hair clippers being turned on. Without further ado, it was then driven up the nape of Simon, a first taste of the clippers’ metallic blades for Simon in a long while. The disheveled heap of hair at the back of Simon’s head began to be dislodged by the clipper blades, leaving only short stubble in its wake. A couple more passes were made up Simon’s nape in rapid fashion, sending loads of curly hair clippings tumbling down the cape and onto the salon floor. A cool breeze could increasingly be felt by Simon on the back of his head.
Sally then moved on to the left side of Simon, and drove the hair clippers up by the temple of Simon. Scraggly locks of hair fell, and gradually gathered in Simon’s lap, shielded by the cover of the cape. He could now see how short the sides were in the mirror, and was pleased by the oncoming look as it slowly revealed with each passing of the hair clippers through his hair.
After working on both sides of Simon’s head, Sally unpinned the crown section, releasing the unruly mess of the top over Simon’s side and back once again, giving an impression of an undercut. She then ran her comb through to gently untangle the messy locks on top. Sally did this to the best of her abilities, noting that Simon’s hair was really curly at the top and was already full of knots. After running through with the comb many times, Simon’s hair finally gave in a little and laid down a bit better, and he discovered his hair was actually long enough to touch his nose!
Putting the hair clippers back onto the table, Sally picked up her scissors and combed Simon’s hair once more towards the front. ‘Schnick schnick!’ she ran the scissors through the frontal portion of Simon’s hair, where the supposed fringe was. Sally ran her fingers through the length, stopping just short of going past the eyebrows, and made a few clean snips across. The snip sent some three inches of hair raining down right in front of his eyes, and it was an amazing sight to behold. Simon now had a thick and curly brow-skimming bang, and Sally teased him slightly with a wide smile on her face. Simon was slightly aroused, and did not mind even though the bang look was quite certainly awful, to say the least. Luckily, that was not the final look as Sally had more adjustments to make.
Sally then went on and cropped the rest of Simon’s hair in the crown section. She would use the comb to lift up a horizontal section of hair, stretch it out to its entirety, and cut off excess length in a clean, straight fashion. His hair on the top was quickly cropped to as short as about one and a half to two inches long, and more hair gathered in his lap. His brow-framing bang was also snipped even shorter, so that it would blend in with the length on top.
It was a difficult task for Simon to be unimpressed by Sally’s skill as she was working on the finishing touches to the haircut with the thinning shears over his entire head. Sally had been real efficient throughout the haircut, and it would be fair to say she was a good and polite hairdresser. He just wished the haircut would have taken longer, so that he could have Sally attending to him longer.
Simon now sported a masculine but modern hairstyle. Sally suggested a finishing touch to it, and he readily agreed. She grabbed a tube of hair clay off the shelf beside the station and styled his hair neatly with it. She then grabbed the hand mirror and showed Simon the back of his head. The nape and back was sheared cleanly down to short stubble, but Simon was nonetheless satisfied with the look. He gave a nod of approval, and Sally unfastened the cape off Simon gently, and the pile of hair that gathered earlier in Simon’s lap now slid off to the floor. Simon felt liberated after the haircut, but not just that. He had grown to have an eye for Sally. He took a few more glances of her, unable to take his eyes off her as he walked towards the front desk to make payment. Her slim figure, long and auburn tresses attracted him very much.
“Actually, this haircut’s on me,” Sally said as Simon offered to pay for her services.
“It’s a sign of thanks for letting me perform this makeover on you, and I hope you enjoyed the haircut,” she said with a bright smile, touching Simon’s heart even more. Simon thanked her for the reception, and a wonderful haircut, a service he had not managed to receive for a long time now.
With one last, final glance of her, Simon stepped out of the salon. This was his first haircut at Sally’s Salon, but certainly, not the last one.