“Oh come on mom, do we have to?” Dustin whined from the back seat of the car.
“Please don’t start on me, Dustin. I’m getting a headache.” Janet leaned forward to look at the overcast sky. Even though she did indeed get headaches when the weather changed, she highly suspected the real reason her head was starting to pound was because it was time to take the boys to get their haircut.
She hated taking her boys to get their haircut.
“But I just got a haircut,” Dustin lamented.
“That was nearly three months ago, right after you got out of school.”
Janet sighed and pinched her nose to try and ward off the impending pressure. “Seriously, don’t. You need a haircut, end of story.”
“But this makes like the millionth time,” her pre-teen son said while slumping down in his seat and crossing his arms in a huff.
“Right. So what’s one more?”
Dustin mumbled something incoherent – Janet felt it was wiser to ignore his disgruntled mumblings.
“Where are we going?” Her teenage son muttered in the seat next to her.
“Do I have to actually grace that with an answer?” Janet ground her teeth and made a left turn.
“I mean,” Robert said with exaggerated patience, “I thought that haircut place was the other way.” He sat up a little straighter in his seat and looked around with growing interest. “Where the hell …”
“Robert,” she warned and her son issued a long-suffering sigh. She didn’t exactly oppose cursing, God knew she had a problem with it herself, but it somehow sounded more … obscene coming from her children’s’ mouths.
“Okay, where the HECK are you taking us, mom?” Robert smirked and shot her a cheeky look.
“We’re trying a new place.” She braced for the impact.
She wasn’t disappointed.
“What?!” Robert’s deep brown eyes widened in sudden terror. Her nearly 17-year old son abhorred change of any kind. “But I was used to the other place.”
“Yeah, but they take forever and I don’t feel like waiting around twenty minutes for them to get started on you.”
“That’s only if you don’t have an appointment,” Robert smirked.
“We have had appointments every time we’ve gone there, Rob.” She shot him an impatient glance. “Look. The ladies are nice there, and they do a good job, but you have to admit, they are sloooow. I have things to do. I can’t afford to sit around all afternoon while they gab and snip. Wouldn’t you rather get back home so you can bury your nose in your new game?”
Robert shrugged and Janet savored this one small victory. There weren’t many victories nowadays; she would take what she could get.
“So, this new place …” Robert began, his eyebrows disappearing into his shaggy bangs.
“Is different,” Janet answered and shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She wasn’t exactly sure how her boys would react when they reached the new place.
“What’s it called?” Robert asked.
Janet waved a nonchalant hand and murmured her response.
“Wait, I didn’t catch that. What is it again?” Robert turned to give her his full attention and she sensed Dustin leaning forward from the back seat.
“Uh, well,” she gulped, “I think it’s called ‘Cut by Hotties.’”
Dustin burst out laughing and Robert stroked the peach fuzz on his upper lip. “I think I’ve heard of that place,” Robert said with a grin.
“Yeah well …” Janet wasn’t sure how Robert had heard about the revolutionary barber shop and she wasn’t sure she wanted to know, quite frankly, but she was ready to try anything if it meant she wouldn’t be forced to sit and watch testosterone-driven movies for two hours while the boys got worked on at the other place.
The boys had never liked getting their haircut. Even when they were little, they would bicker, cry and generally throw a fit anytime anyone showed up with a pair of scissors in their hand. And though they had mellowed over time, it still wasn’t top on their priority list. They were beyond the causing a scene stage now, but their stony silence and their heated looks nearly always made the stylists nervous causing them to either not take off enough so that Janet had to trim them up when they got home, or they would take off too much and Janet would be forced to listen to them whine and complain until it grew back to an acceptable (and unruly) length.
As a result of the haircut drama over the years, she took them to several different places, always looking for that one stylist who would cut their hair like they wanted or who wouldn’t tremble under their obstinate behavior.
So far, they had all failed to stand up to the boys’ unrealistic expectations.
She had stopped taking them to her stylist years ago simply because she got tired of having to explain her sons’ behavior every time she went in for a color and a trim. She could understand the boys’ reluctance to have anyone touch them or put their fingers in their hair, but enough was enough. Everyone had to have their haircut at some point – it was no big deal.
She pulled into the shopping center and parked the dark blue Corolla in front of the ‘Cut by Hotties’ shop.
No one moved.
The trio sat in the car, all eyes trained on the activities inside the salon. The place was crawling with pretty girls hovering over numerous men in barber chairs. Several men were sitting along the front wall in various stages of having their hair worked on. One man was in a reclined position and was eagerly exposing his neck for a shave. Another man was talking animatedly and using his hands to make his point while keeping his eyes trained on his stylist in the mirror. Yet another man, his back to his stylist was seemingly staring straight at them.
“What’s that dude staring at us for?”
Janet felt a slow flush creep up her neck and cleared her throat. “I really have no …”
She paused as something caught her attention in her peripheral. Two women, both attractive and both wearing what looked like a skimpy uniform, were ambling toward the front door of the salon. One wore comfortable flips-flops, the soles slapped softly on the warm pavement; the other woman wore three-inch backless baby blue heels and looked like she was about ready to topple over trying to walk in them.
“I, uh,” Janet began while pointing to the women. “I’m assuming he’s staring at them.”
The man in the salon wasn’t the only person staring at the women. Robert was staring so hard his glasses began to steam.
“I remember this place now,” Robert said slowly. “It’s like a place for guys to come and get their hair done and,” he jerked his head back to the salon, his eyes greedily scanning over the girls in short red skirts and tight multi-layered black and red spaghetti strapped tunics, “the stylists are supposed to be hot.”
“Yes, well.” Robert’s interest was beginning to make her feel uncomfortable. “It’s for guys and I thought, uh, you might feel more comfortable here,” she finished weakly.
“Cool, let’s go.”
Before Janet could remove her keys from the ignition, Robert and Dustin were out of the car and opening the door to the salon.
“Swell,” Janet mumbled while dropping her keys into her purse. She rolled her eyes and slowly followed her boys into the salon. She noted the “Please tip the girls” sign prominently displayed on the glass door.
Just what kind of a tip are we talking about here? Janet thought as she approached the bubbly brunette behind the counter. “Uh, hi,” she began feeling immediately intimidated by the pretty girl and self-conscious that she was the only female customer in the place. “Robert and Dustin for one o’clock.”
“Right,” the girl responded while chomping on her gum. “We’re all ready for them. Won’t you have a seat?”
Janet looked around but couldn’t see anywhere to sit down. “Where do I sit?”
“Oh,” the girl waved a manicured hand airily behind her, “Just take one of those massage chairs, if you want. They’re quite comfortable.”
Janet slowly walked back to the red leather chairs and sank down, her buttocks perched primly on the edge. She gripped her purse and stared up at the big screen TV – it was tuned to a sports’ channel.
She had never felt so exposed in all her life. Now she knew how men felt when they went into a more traditional salon.
She didn’t like the feeling.
She cleared her throat and tried to look around without actually meeting anyone’s eyes. Maybe her boys wouldn’t like this place either and they could go back to a more traditional-style salon – one that smelled like hair dye and fingernail polish remover.
Janet finally located her boys. They were side-by-side and caught up in a conversation with their stylists.
They didn’t look unhappy. In fact, they looked like they were in a trance, a silly, sappy grin plastered on both of their faces. Robert caught her eye in the mirror at his station and gave her a thumbs-up sign.
Janet carefully schooled her face into a mask of indifference, yet she doubted if anyone would have noticed the lone, frumpy woman in the red leather chair anyway. She gave Robert a little wave as she blindly dug into her bag for her cell phone. As discreetly as possible, she speed-dialed her best friend, Tonya.
“Tonya?” she began, her voice balanced somewhere between amused and worried, “you know that restaurant Hooters?” She waited until Tonya responded before continuing. “Well, we now have a Hooter’s for Hair. Guard your husband, it’s enemy territory over here.”