If Mr. Woods can do it, so can I!
I convinced myself that there was nothing to it as I stared in the mirror. I thought about all of the times I sat in the barber shop watching him give haircuts and shaves to my father, brothers and other regulars & walk-ins from around the neighborhood. I looked at my mid-sized afro as I flipped the switch on my father’s hair clippers. I had asked him about us cutting our own hair on multiple occasions and his answer was, as always, “No. And don’t let me catch you messing with them!”
Ok, when someone says “don’t let me catch you”, 8-year-old me interprets that as “do it, but don’t let me find out about it”.
If you’re reading this and you either know me, have read my blogs or both, you already know this isn’t gonna end well.
I stood there as the clippers vibrated in my hand, staring at the shape of my hair. Just a little off the top. Just a little off the top. I can do this.
I pressed the clippers against the top of my forehead. It was like a lawn mower, ready to cut a very high brush of grass. In my mind, the motor revved as I smiled in confidence before pushing it forward with no clipper guard attached.
After easing back and forth against resistance, I got about 3 inches back before stopping to look at my work.
It WASN’T just a little off the top.
I had scorched the earth.
The bulldozer had run through the forest.
My mouth opened wide in terror as I looked at the darkened patch of scalp which showed mere grains of what used to be my beautiful black shag carpet. Panicking, I quickly grabbed my father’s black pick with the fist on the handle and peace sign. I picked my hair from back to front, opposite of my normal routine, in desperate hopes of covering the damage.
After a few more failed attempts I put everything down on the sink and turned on the water to wash the combination of evicted hair and tears from my face.
“Don’t let me catch you messing with them…”
I stood in my bedroom, trembling as my father pulled his belt through the pant loops as my mother pleaded for him to show mercy. I often wondered if he bought that belt because of the size of the buckle which caused it to sound like a triangle that people clanged to tell the people in the fields that dinner was ready.
After a few minutes of heated discussion, without warning, my father began to laugh boisterously. I thought to myself, this is new.
“You know what?” he half-asked. I ain’t gonna whoop yo’ butt. Not THIS time. You goin’ to school like that.”
The thought of putting my work on exhibition at school hit me. Awakened me. Terrified me.
“Daddy please,” I quickly begged as a new batch of tears rolled down my cheeks. “Send me to Mr. Woods so he can fix it. Or maybe YOU can fix it. Please, I WANT a whoopin’!”
My words fell on deaf ears as his laughter faded into his bedroom…
You know, the only thing worse than facing a classroom full of shocked faces and riotous laughter (after being forced to remove the hat you wore to hide your shame)…
…is returning to school the next day, unaware that a private class meeting had been held by your classmates, without your knowledge and inclusion. A meeting held after one of my classmates came up with a “genius” plan.
No, I wasn’t a part of this coordinated event, at least not in the way you would expect.
The next day, after school, I’d say it took all of 10 seconds after I exited the building before I was mobbed and held down on the ground in the seated position as everyone produced their Hot Wheels cars from their pockets.
One of my larger classmates put me in the headlock from behind.
That’s when all the kids took turns placing their cars on my cheeks, driving them along my forehead and into the parking space that USED to be my hair. Then pulling out for the next kid/car that was already making its way around the curve of either side of my screaming mouth and weeping eyes.
I suppose one day, when they do an exposé entitled, “Into The Childhood Mind Of A Serial Killer Barber”, they’ll reference this event; the moment that led to me strangling my haircut customers after hours with clipper cords before shoving Hot Wheels cars up their-
Thanks for reading!