After moving to the city from a very small town, I was anxious to get my wife into a barbershop for her first short-back-and-sides boys haircut. I had often cut her hair myself, and at the risk of breaking my arm patting myself on the back, I do excellent haircuts. I often gave her an SB&S at home using the scissors-over-comb method of tapering. I was always able to taper her hair extremely close this way, then clean it up with my Osters.
We had lived for 5 years in a very small town that had only one barber. Back in the 70's it was extremely rare to see a woman with such a severe clippering as to produce a white shading through the shortest part around her head. But that's the way I like it when it's freshly sheared. Living in a tiny community where the sole occupation of every housewife was to gossip about the neighbours, it was impossible to take her to the local barber.
Moving to the city changed that. By the mid-70's attitudes had altered slightly as more women wore their hair shorter in more daring styles. The city also allowed us more anonymity as well.
I checked the new area where we were living & found several old-fashioned barbershops. You know what I was looking for, the type with the big red Belmont or Koken chairs, the broom leaning against the wall over a pile of swept hair, the pungent odour of hair lotions, the row of waiting chairs against the wall, the scissors, razors, combs, shaving accessories lined up on the counter on a towel under the mirror, 3 or 4 different clippers hanging on cup hooks under the counter.
I located two or three such shops within 6 blocks of our new house. To be sure I would get what I wanted, I checked out the one that looked most suitable. The barber was an older gent, rather straight-laced with a no-nonsense appearance to him. He looked professional in his neat smock with a comb sticking out from a breast pocket.
I had him give me a haircut so I could determine two things. I wanted to know if he did the lather & razor shave around the ears & nape, and I wanted to see if he was willing to give a lady a close-cut haircut. While he was answering my first question by razoring around my ears, I tried my second query.
"If I bring in my wife, would you give her a short haircut," I asked half expecting some hesitation from him.
"Sure," he answered. "I can always use new customers. Two is better than just one. Bring her in."
To be sure I was going to get what I wanted, I laid it out to him how her hair was to be cut. "She wants her hair cut very close on the back & sides. She wants it all but shaved, much shorter than you just cut mine. And especially, she wants you to shave her around her ears and nape with the lather & straight razor." By now I'm really expecting some resistance from him, or at least some curious questions.
"You want me to shave her with the straight razor too," he verified.
"Yes. She's rather shy. She really doesn't want to discuss her haircut. She just wants to come in, sit down and have you cut her hair very short. She's sort of embarrassed about wanting a man's haircut, so can you just do it without any questions to her?"
"You bring her in," he replied. "I'll see that she gets a very close man's haircut with a razor-shave."
I told the barber I'd bring her in very close to his quitting time that afternoon, so she'd likely be his last customer of the day. That way there wouldn't be anyone else sitting waiting and watching her being short-sheared. That would have embarrassed her.
I had also figured that if I told him this was the haircut that she wanted, rather than what I wanted, the barber would be more willing to clip her close. If he knew he was just going to be satisfying my whim, he'd likely go a little lighter on the clippers. I wanted her cut close, really close. That's what was going to make it a great SB&S.
This was going to be the first barbering she ever had in a real men's barbershop. I wanted it to go the way I'd so often fantasized. Especially the razor-shaving! Her hair had not been cut for almost 4 months, so I knew there would be some significant hair rolling down the cape.
My wife already knew what was coming. I had bargained with her previously to get her to agree to the barbershop shearing. Having an SB&S was nothing new to her. Having it cut in a real barbershop was. I didn't tell her about requesting the hot lather shave. That was going to be a surprise.
Late in the afternoon, I shampooed her hair. The top was grown out to about 6 inches long from a previous style. Her hair on the back of her neck was almost 4 inches. As I lathered up the shampoo and worked up the foam, I knew this nape was going to be cleaned off entirely in less than an hour.
Shortly afterwards, my wife and I stood on the street a few doors up from the barbershop's red, white & blue rotating pole. I told her I would go in and check to be sure there was no one else in the shop and to ask the barber if he would cut a woman's hair. I hadn't told her I'd already made all the arrangements. Nor did I tell her just how close I was having him cut her hair. She knew she was getting an SB&S, but thought it was going to be more like mine, a conservative businessman's haircut. That wasn't what I had in mind for her.
When I went into the shop, the barber was oiling his clippers. "I've been expecting you." he said. "Is your wife ready for her haircut?"
"She's really looking forward to finally getting an ultra-short masculine haircut," I lied. "I brought a picture like how we want it cut." With that I showed him a photo I'd found months before and had kept for just such an occasion. The picture was of a young man, probably taken back in the 50's, with an extremely severe SB&S. The sides & back were white-walled, and a nice thatch of hair was combed neatly from a side-part meeting the tapered sides near the top of his head.
"Wow, that really is short," he exclaimed. "I haven't done anything that short in years."
"Well, I hope you enjoy getting back into practice," I joked. "If you do it right, just like she wants, she'll be back regularly. She usually gets two or three haircuts for every one that I have." Actually that was true. I could tell the barber was adding this up on his mental cash register. I knew right then that he was going to shear her as short as he thought she liked.
I reminded him once more that she didn't want any discussion, just do it with a minimum of chatter so she wouldn't feel uncomfortable. Then I brought my wife into the shop for her first real barbering.
My wife had a very slender body. Dressed in jeans & a boy's shirt, she looked exactly the part for a boy's haircut. It always suited her so well. Clothed like that and with a severe shearing, from the back you couldn't tell she wasn't a boy.
Setting her purse on an empty chair along the wall, she walked to the barber chair and climbed in. The old barber pumped the chair handle about 3 times to bring her up to a working height where he could easily handle her hair. I positioned myself in a chair that earlier in the day I had decided would provide me with an excellent view of both the barber's activity and her image in the mirror when he was between my wife & me. I was determined to not miss a single snip.
The barber wrapped a tissue around her neck & tucked it into itself at the back. Then he unfolded a black & white pin-striped cape from the back of her chair, snapped it in the air and let it billow around her body. When it settled in place, he pinned it at the nape of her neck, being careful to lift the longer nape hairs from under it.
Taking out his comb from his breast pocket, he combed through her hair. First he combed it all straight forward, then he parted it high on the left side combing the longer hair over her head and the rest straight down towards her ear.
True to the instructions I had given him, he asked no questions nor offered any comments. He just went to work on her hair. He reached under his counter and took a large electric clippers from where they were hanging. These clippers, I noticed, had no attachment on them. I'm not sure what the number size might have been, but the swath they cut left her scalp showing a lot of whiteness.
The barber was definitely a no-nonsense hair cutter. He put one hand on top of her head, pushed her head slightly to the right, positioned the shears just below her left sideburn and quickly drew them upwards. When they reached the point just below her side-part he gave his wrist a flick outward and let the shorn hair dribble down the cape. Immediately her temple was completely bared. I doubt if the hair left behind on her head could have been a sixteenth of an inch. He definitely planned to give her the shearing he was convinced she'd wanted in the hope that she'd return often.
There was almost no pausing throughout her haircut. No sooner had he flicked her hair onto the cape, than he made another pass upward beside the first, this time working a little closer to her ear. The third pass went right around her ear from the sideburn that no longer existed. Within seconds my wife's entire left side was completely exposed and looked very stark with her white scalp showing through her dark brown hair.
I thought he would work around her head one strip at a time, but when the barber had sheared the whole left side of her head up to the part, he moved to her right side. The barber was right-handed and judging from the wear marks on the floor beneath the chair, he preferred to cut hair standing in the same spot. I hadn't noticed this before, but he swiveled the chair around so that my wife was now facing the front of the shop looking out the window onto the street. This gave me an excellent view of the shearing of the other side of her head as well.
Since the right side of her head was not parted, the cl
ippers traveled up even higher before the inevitable wrist-flick to clear the clippers of the cut hair. Again beginning at her sideburn, the barber put the clippers against her cheek and raised them quickly up past her temple to near the top of her head. This same motion was repeated several times as he peeled away her hair from around her ears. The whiteness on the side of her head showed through rapidly. Every once in a while, the barber would comb down over the side to remove any stray hairs that had not fallen away. It was clear that as he combed through this sheared hair, there was no length protruding past the teeth of the comb. Her remaining hair was now too short.
The barber paused to oil his clippers one more time. As he did so, my wife stole a glance at me. She looked somewhat concerned, but not angry. I think she had not yet realized just how short she was being sheared. Because she looked directly at me, I had the first preview of how she was going to appear from the front. She was starting to look very boyish already and the barber had not yet begun cutting the top or back.
With his clippers newly oiled, the barber now turned the chair to have a better vantage of the back. Placing his left hand on top of her head, he pushed down so that her chin was touching her chest. In almost the same motion he started the clippering at the base of her nape at the center. The shears were brought up through her hair in one fluid movement, not stopping until above her occipital bone. Then the flick. He was ,for some reason, depositing all her cut hair onto the cape in her lap. Perhaps it would be easier to sweep up later if the bulk was in one spot.
With her sides completely denuded, this first pass up the back left two chunks of untouched hair growing left and right of this newest swath up the back of her head. They didn't remain long. Hardly pausing between passes, the entire back area of hair was soon sheared to the bone. The chunk on the right was removed first as the barber worked his clippers around to meet the whiteness of her right side. Then the remaining hair on the left of the back was reduced to the same length. Her haircut now had a definite SB&S shape to it.
I noticed something interesting. After the barber had re-oiled his clippers, some of the oil was now gleaming on the short bristles left on the back of my wife's hair. It had a shine to it where the oil had rubbed off the shears.
With the real bulk now removed, the barber began blending the sides and back into the top. First he lifted the top hair with his comb, slipped his fingers around the hair as it stood taut, then cut off with his scissors all the hair that was above his fingers. He did this several times. He seemed to be cutting off about 3 inches from the top. It was some time before I could tell just how long he was leaving her top hair. When he quit combing, lifting and cutting, her hair at the center of her top was no more than two and a half inches.
Then the real blending began in earnest. At the top of her right side, her hair was reduced to barely one inch. On the left side, the parted side, her hair was barely an inch right at the part. Slightly below that, it had been tapered to hardly a quarter inch. The barber had his scissors flying over his comb as he lifted each section running the comb upward and scissoring off the hair that protruded through the teeth. This scissor-over-comb method allowed a perfect, short taper that blended the sides & back with the top hair. I thought he might try combing the hair on the top slightly towards the back, but it was far too short for that.
To perfect the taper, he used thinning scissors. Rapidly cutting with these, short loose hairs gathered on his comb as he ran it through her hair. The effect they produced was a marvelous blending.
Obviously satisfied that she now had a very close-cropped man's SB&S haircut, the barber began his finishing touches. He reached under his counter for another set of electric clippers. With the addition of more oil, he turned them on. They produced a slightly higher pitched hum as they buzzed through her hair. Once again he began at her sideburns on her left side below the part. These clippers shaved her almost to her skin.
He was a master at tapering with these fine-tooth shears. Shaving her extremely close, he perfectly blended upward ensuring that there were no lines in his work. With these shears she was shaved all the way around her head from ear to ear. The shaving was taken up about one inch on each side from her hairline. At the back, she was shaved a little more than 2 inches up from her nape. These clippers left no hair behind except the tiniest of stubble.
Hanging up these clippers on their hook, the barber now undid the cape. He shook all her hair into a pile at his feet. I was afraid he was going to skip a very important part of her haircut, but he did not disappoint me. The cape was replaced and he tucked a small towel around her neck before pinning the cape.
I was intently watching my wife. She now looked like a 12 year-old boy with a very severe SB&S. She was gorgeous!!!! From the back she would pass for a boy without any dispute.
The barber worked up a mug of lather with a brush and some hot water. Satisfied it was thick enough, he applied it all around my wife's hairline being careful to add an extra amount of lather at the base of her naked nape. He stood the brush upright, still with a full coating of lather, and selected a straight razor from the several that lay on a towel on the counter. He stropped it several times on the leather strap that hung from her chair. He spoke to her now for the first time throughout her haircut.
Beginning again on her left side, he placed his hand on the top of her head with his thumb pointing down towards her missing sideburn. Putting the razor to her scalp, as he pulled the razor down, he pulled up the skin on her sideburn with his thumb. Doing so, he completed a perfect shave straight across the bottom of her sideburn. Then he spread a little lather just below the sideburn on her cheek with what remained on the shaving brush. This too was shaved off with the razor. I thought how clean her cheek looked without the little fuzz that grew there.
Shaving around her ear, he used the same method: hand on top of her head, thumb down, razor pulled down as thumb lifts up the skin. With so little hair left on the hairline, I was surprised he knew just where to shave her. At the back of her nape he loosened the cape & towel so he could shave her as low as possible down her neck. The remaining traces of lather were washed clean from her hairline with a warm washcloth.
With both cheeks freshly shaved and her neck and hairline cleaned off, she was ready for her dusting. The barber shook a can of talcum powder into his dusting brush. As he brushed off the tiny hairs from around her neck, a small cloud of talcum powder wafted around her head.
The barber now reached to the counter for a bottle of green hair tonic. He filled one hand with the lotion, then put some of that into his other hand. Rubbing both hands all over my wife's head, she looked like she had just come in out of a rain. The barbershop was filled with the sweet smell of the tonic. Every hair on my wife's head looked soaking wet.
For the final time the barber took his comb from his pocket and began combing her hair. Like the first time, he combed it all forward first. Unlike the first time, she now had very little hair that could be combed. There was no hair at all on the back or sides. The only hair which remained that a comb could alter was on the top of her head. This was parted on the left side, and the rest of her hair was combed in the opposite direction over her head. The front hair was gently lifted slightly so as to not dangle over her forehead. It was not to look like bangs. Boys don't wear bangs.
Her cape was removed. She stood up from the chair. I wanted to catch her first glance in the mirror at her new haircut. I watched her face as she got her first look at herself. I can't call it shock, she'd had it short so often, but I could tell she was surprised at the brevity of her cut. I also sensed that there were things about having the barbering done professionally that she had enjoyed. Later I asked how she liked being shaved. She admitted that it was "different" but sensually enjoyable.
"That's an easy haircut to look after, Miss." The barber spoke for only the second time. "I used to cut my son's hair almost like that when he was young. It's going to save you lots of shampoo and drying time. No fussing." I paid him.
My wife wasn't paying much heed. She was admiring some cacti the barber had growing in his front window. There were about a dozen different kinds. "Would you like to have one of those?" he asked. "Here I'll give you a piece. You can grow your own. Just put it in water until it grows roots."
Each time I returned her to the barbershop for her haircut, the barber gave her a different cactus piece. In a few months she'd collected as many varieties as he had. And with each visit she looked more like a little boy. Her first barbershop SB&S was extremely closely cut. She thought all such haircuts were shaved that short. In the future, hers were.
This story is a true one. There are many more to be told. Anyone caring to email me, be sure to put something in the Subject line pertaining to hair stories or barbering. Everything else will be considered spam & deleted.
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