Bad Hair

Submitted into Contest #33 in response to: Write a story set in a salon or barbershop.... view prompt

22 comments

Science Fiction

My name is Jordan White, but to the world, I am a Murphy. I was born a Murphy, even before I was given a name. No matter what I do: everything that can go wrong in my life, goes wrong in my life.

In grocery stores I’m always in the longest cue. I never get a seat in the bus or metro; I always have to stand in the back. Taxis don’t stop for me and I have no success at hitchhiking. Bouncers at clubs hardly ever let me in, claiming the maximum capacity of the venue has been reached. The list of things that work well for normal human beings but not for people like me is long and painful.

That’s the fate of a Murphy. We can protest the injustice being done to us, but no one listens. We have the majority, but we don’t have anything to say in society. Most of the times, it’s as if we aren’t even recognized as real people and there’s very little we can do about it.

 

One time, when I was much younger than I am now, I tried to fool the world: I went to a clandestine barbershop to have my long hair cut.

When I say “cut”, I mean that I wanted my head to be shaven completely bald. That was quite a daring decision. I knew that cutting my hair was allowed but shaving it bald was considered a crime. I didn’t think of myself as a criminal or a revolutionary, but I had a good reason for my civil disobedience: I really wanted to go to the concert of “Baldrick and the Babes” with “The Hairless Eagles” as supporting act. Due to the limited availability of tickets, no Murphy’s were allowed. No one would sell a ticket to someone with hair. This meant that I would either have to shave or find a barber.

I tried the black market first, looking for a shaving machine or razor blades. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the crazy prices merchants were asking for those precious goods. Only scissors were within my pay grade, but I would never fool anyone into thinking I was bald for real if I cut my hair with scissors. I had no other choice than to find someone who could give me a clean shave, hence my visit to an illegal barber.

I was afraid that I would be among gangsters and anarchists wanting to overthrow society. Much to my surprise, the other customers at the barbershop were normal people, just like you and me.

“Bald?” the barber asked.

“Bald!” I answered.

“Do you also need a fake ID?”

I was surprised at the question and I laughed: “Why would I need a fake ID? If you’re bald, no one ever asks for your ID. Everyone can see that you’re not a Murphy.”

There was laughter in the barbershop which I misinterpreted as an approval of what I just said. I had been asked for my ID many times, but I had never seen it happen to one of those privileged baldies. The thought alone that they would be bothered to prove their identity was absurd.

“I have a promo today,” the barber said. “Twenty bucks to have your picture taken. Five hundred for a new ID.”

“Wow, that’s almost as expensive as a new razor and a set of razor blades,” I said.

“It’s a good investment,” the barber argued.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I can only pay for a haircut. I’m sure I’ll manage without a fake ID.”

Several people in the room sighed, but they didn't say a word. In the mirror, I saw an old man shake his head, as if he pitied me. I wondered why.

“If you say so,” the barber answered. “Good luck with that.”

I thought he was being rude, but in hindsight, it was stupid of me to think my ruse would work.

 

At the box office, I put my hard-earned money on the counter and asked for a ticket. The bald woman behind the counter looked into my eyes and said: “Can I see your ID please?”

My first instinct was to run away, but I kept my calm. I decided to try talking my way out of it: “I’m afraid that I don’t have it on me.”

That didn’t work well.

“Every citizen is required to carry her or his ID at all times,” the woman said. “If you can’t produce your ID right now, I’m afraid I’ll have to inform security.”

“Oh wait,” I said, trying to hide the state of panic I was in. “Here it is.”

The woman behind the counter looked at the picture on my ID, then at me and my bald head. She didn’t say anything. She just pointed at the sign saying: “No Murphy’s allowed.”

“I understand,” I said, and I realized that I had to get out of the place as quickly and as inconspicuously as possible. I wanted to take my money back, but the bald woman put her hand on a fifty-dollar bill.

“For my silence, mister White,” she said as she handed back my ID.

I didn’t protest. I knew that she could betray me if she wanted. As a matter of fact, it was her duty to report me to the authorities. It was a criminal offense to impersonate a bald person when you were a Murphy. I could be trialed as a terrorist if I had the bad luck being brought before a ruthless judge. I couldn’t take that risk.

I went straight home. I had lost half the money I had saved for the concert on a visit to the barber and the bribe for the woman at the box office, but I considered myself lucky to have escaped worse. I wore a hat until my hair was sufficiently long enough so that no one would notice that my head had been shaven recently.

When people asked me: “Why the hat?” I pretended to laugh and answered: “Bad hair day!”

What else could I do or say? Every day is a bad hair day for people who were born with hair.

March 15, 2020 11:56

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22 comments

Maybe Jupiter
03:51 Mar 31, 2020

I searched up Murphy and the definition was 'a potato ' 😂

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Ola Hotchpotch
14:24 Mar 22, 2020

Beautifully written story.Specially about the part of the woman behind the counter taking his money or reporting him as a terrorist. Funny the way things are.

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Bruno Lowagie
15:38 Mar 22, 2020

It could happen just like that...

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Anitha Sankaran
03:12 Mar 22, 2020

Wonderful story. It reminds me of my bad hair day. I have a short pixie hair cut. I went to take a picture for my id. Since my ears weren't visible, I was forced to cut my sideburns myself. It was a huge mess. I felt like I want to hide behind a hat.

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Keri Dyck
22:11 Mar 17, 2020

Hahaha! Oh wow! The originality was great!

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Bruno Lowagie
05:20 Mar 18, 2020

I didn't know which turn the story would take when I started writing. The story more or less wrote itself ;-)

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Fred Aiken
09:59 Mar 27, 2020

This was a really nice story. I liked that you didn’t have to provide all that much backstory, but we still got a sense of what this universe was like. There’s a lot of different themes going all at once, and I think they blend well with one another. Good job!

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Bruno Lowagie
13:24 Mar 27, 2020

Thanks! I counted on readers to see analogies with the world we currently live in so that I didn't have to explain everything in the story. I'm happy to see that approach worked!

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Tim Law
08:32 Mar 26, 2020

Bruno this is brilliant... A world where the hairless are privileged... A utopia or a dystopia I wonder...

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Bruno Lowagie
08:43 Mar 26, 2020

Utopia or dystopia? I guess that depends on whether you were born with or without hair...

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Tim Law
21:00 Mar 26, 2020

Very true... I was quite hairy at birth so guess I’d be quite the Murphy...

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Lindy Guidry
02:55 Mar 24, 2020

This reminds me of a story by Dr. Seuss, "The Sneetches." Please take that as a very high compliment!~ As a child, it was my very favorite book! Compliments on a great story.

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Bruno Lowagie
08:10 Mar 24, 2020

Thanks! I had to look up the story and I liked it. I grew up in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, so I only discovered Dr. Seuss when I was already an adult.

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Xion Gordon
02:43 Mar 23, 2020

I really enjoyed this story. It made me laugh. Very well written. Keep up the good work! 👍

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Bruno Lowagie
05:18 Mar 23, 2020

Thanks! I enjoyed writing it!

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Ben K
14:19 Mar 19, 2020

This was a fantastic romp through the mind of someone on the fringes of society. It was lighthearted and fun. Made me chuckles a few times.

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Bruno Lowagie
15:48 Mar 19, 2020

Thanks! You describe exactly what I tried to achieve with my story!

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Archit Shankar
17:37 Mar 22, 2020

A funny and engaging story. Well done. However you've kept a lot of things open to questioning, like how come the Murphys are a majority and they're still being treated unjustly? Plus, your resolution is not that great. It doesn't really solve the overall problem of the story: the Murphys are being treated unjustly. Unless the real problem is for Jordan to run away from the lady at the box office. Your story just seems more like an anecdote than a story

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Bruno Lowagie
18:27 Mar 22, 2020

There are plenty of historical examples where a minority was in charge over a majority of "Murphy's". The first example that comes to mind is ancient Rome (an evident choice for me because I studied Latin in highschool). Saddam's Iraq is a more recent example. The reason I chose not to go for a "happy ending" with a resolution is pure realism. Think of how the Arab Spring didn't resolve much for the majority of people in the countries involved. Obviously, it's not a "true story" but I wanted to capture the feeling of frustration many people ...

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Jasmeen Waraich
01:06 Mar 22, 2020

Great story :) But why is shaving bald a crime? Just curious! :)

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Bruno Lowagie
05:52 Mar 22, 2020

It's a metaphor. In a world ruled by people who are "naturally bald", it isn't easy for people who are born in a different way. The ruling class does everything to protect its privileges and forbids everything that could make someone who is different their equal.

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Jasmeen Waraich
14:49 Mar 22, 2020

Thank you for the information!

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