by Joshua Lampert
Sundown. I’m wearing a short-sleeved shirt, and the October breeze whips the bare skin of my arms, I’m playing with a friend on on the patio of his house. Mom’s outside in her car, honking the horn. I’m eight years old, and I just keep playing. Soon, the clanking knocks on the door and doorbell chimes interrupt our game. “Donna’s salon in thirty minutes,” she says. “We’ll be there in forty if we’re lucky with this traffic.
We arrive without my once asking, “Are we there yet?” It’s late. The autumn crescent moon and the luminescent lettering of the salon’s name above the overhead awning are the only diminutive sources of light that struggle to illuminate theblack sky. The stained-glass door pushes opens right to left onto a warm-colored hair salon, and my eyes inevitably wander towards the only occupied chair.
To my surprise, I recognize my father’s Pierce Brosnan type hair. Letting go of mom’s hand, I eagerly swerve through the chairs in the waiting area and run to my father, who stares into the mirror, patiently awaiting a haircut. I immediately wipe the “good to see you” kiss off my forehead and I scoot my way onto the neighboring seat. My eight-year-old torso sinks into the soft cushion of the pitch-black barber chair. Mom rifles through her pocket book for a pack of tissues. She fumbles with the packet until it opens. She keeps the tissues on her lap, resting on her cross-folded legs.
Donna the hairdresser reaches into her drawer, grabbing the buzzers instead of scissors. A mistake? Quiet, pinned against my chair, I watch my father swallow his saliva and grip the cold, metal handles of the chair. Donna purposefully plugs the clippers into the outlet and turns them on. They inch toward my father’s head. My jaw has dropped. I crack a smile. I have never seen my father with any other hairstyle, never mind a buzz cut. I begin to laugh; my mom cries.
When I was eight years old, my mother and I went to the salon. We watched as Donna shaved my father’s head and his Pierce Brosnan hair fell to the floor. I had no idea that I was witnessing the beginning of my dad’s journey into a ten-year battle with cancer.
1Joshua Lampert is a senior at Bancroft School., Worcester, Massachusetts, and plans to attend Suffolk University, Boston, Massachusetts, in the fall.
Photo credit: Barber Shop. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 4 Jan 2016. http://quest.eb.com/search/115_2835844/1/115_2835844/cite