Many of my interactions with my family caused me to feel traumatized, including getting my hair cut. My father was fond of crewcuts. I wasn't. I don't remember my first barbershop haircut, but I do remember one in particular when I was five.
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon. Glen came in from the woodshed, arched his eyebrows and stiffened his back, then waved toward Luke and me. "Y'all kids get in the car. We're gonna see the barber."
A pulse beat in my throat as I backed away toward the kitchen. I did not want a haircut, not now; not ever! It always made me feel violated, but somehow, my father did not seem to understand this. My hair belonged to me, and me alone; and losing it meant losing a part of me. Also, I wanted sameness, and I felt that my father had no ethical right to force change on me at all, especially in such a savage way.
Glen started walking toward me, his nostrils flaring. "Boy, you and me are gonna head out to the woodpile in a minute. Now, do like I told you," he said, raising his hand.
Faced with this alternative, I headed to the station wagon. It was not the physical pain that I feared; it was the thought of being overpowered, of not being in control of my environment that distressed me. With my body being so numb all the time, I didn't feel any sting whenever I got spanked; I felt only a vague sense of pressure to my bottom. However, I did have a compulsion to be in control all the time.
As we walked into the brightly-lit barbershop, Mr. Stover glanced our way. The smell of shaving cream and cologne filled the room. Mr. Stover was the most popular barber in the town of 3,000. He appeared as congenial as Santa Claus, and as decent a person as one could find anywhere. He could talk about virtually any subject.
An elderly customer sat in the barber chair. While the customer rambled on about deer season being too short, Mr. Stover practically scalped him with his evil pair of scissors. The gentleman climbed out of Mr. Stover's chair and paid for his haircut with a smile on his face. I was stunned at the man's odd behavior.
"Y'all come back now," Mr. Stover called as he waved goodbye.
My father insisted that I get in the chair next. Reluctantly, I crawled up into the seat, wincing.
"He wants a crew cut today," Glen hollered, grinning.
I quickly looked up and drew back slightly. No, I didn't either! I didn't want my hair, or any other part of my body, stolen from me. I wanted it, and they don't have the right to take it away. My chest tightened as I looked at the shiny chrome in the chair.
Mr. Stover glanced at me while he cleaned his scissors, and grinned. "You have a girlfriend yet?" he asked with a teasing gleam in his eye.
I soon lost focus as I realized the implications of what was about to happen. This tragic violation of my being could not be real; I needed to escape, so I shut my eyes to avoid witnessing this procedure and focused my mind on my favorite place. My mind imagined the barbershop disappearing and my forest quickly came into sight. I smiled inside at the thought, and relaxed.
Mr. Stover laughed and patted me on the back. "I'd say it's time you got yourself a girlfriend."
His comment and his unexpected touch jolted me back to reality. I was about to lose a part of my body, a part of me. The clippers started doing their dirty work. I cringed at the light touch of his hands near my head. The snipping sound grated in my ears. I wanted to cry, but the tears would not come.
Finally, I looked into the horrible mirror. The child peering back at me had been shorn of nearly all of his hair; only one strand in the very front remained. Surely, this could not be me! I stared further, and suddenly, my heart sank as the truth set in; it was my image. I shook my head helplessly, betrayed by the people around me. I felt more convinced than ever that this outer world, so foreign to me, held only pain and suffering. The people of this world, this society, could not be trusted. I withdrew further into my private inner world.
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