Sit by Ted
I transferred in to C.... College after one year at a local community college. Roommates were assigned for transfers, so that is how I wound up with Tom. Nice room, too, as the luck of the draw worked out. Bigger than many, and even had it’s own sink in the corner. Tom was a math major, a no nonsense sort of guy, tall, clean shaven, with dark brown hair in an all over buzzcut. He’s the kind of guy who makes up his mind and acts on it. Not lie me, who stews about every decision. I’m a computer science major. I’m a little shorter than Tom, blond, and my hair was long. Not shoulder length or anything, but long. Down to my collar, combed back on top with a center part, and a good 6 or 8 inches long. I mention this, since that’s the whole point of this note. I guess you could call me a hair freak. It took a lot of time, shampoo, conditioner, combing and the like. What’s crazy is that I really liked the look of short hair, and I do mean short--buzzcuts, clipper shaves, high and tights. I had never had a short cut, not even a crewcut as a kid. Mom always took me to her stylist. I envied my young friends with their summer buzzes, especially at the swimming pool. I remember wishing my hair was short, but it never occurred to me to do something about it.
In high school, one spring break, 3 of my buddies decided to shave their heads for a lark. They tried to talk me into doing it too. I wanted to, but chickened out.Seeing their bald heads I kicked myself, but it was too late. Well, why didn’t I just go get a buzzcut? A couple of times I got up my nerve and walked to the neighborhood barber shop...and walked on by. I hated my inability to act, but that’s how it was. I guess a psychologist would have a good case study with me.
Anyway, one Friday evening, a couple of weeks after the semester started, Tom closed his books and went to his dresser and pulled out a box. Out came a pair of hair clippers and some little plastic combs. He snapped one of them on the blades and went over to the mirror by the sink and plugged the clippers in. No hesitation, just put the blades against his forehead and pushed them back up the center of his head. A shower of hair fell into the sink as he slid the clippers again and again across the top of his head. Then he bent over and ran them up the back and the sides. I sat there and watched the whole performance. After running them over his whole head a few more times he set down the clippers and asked me, “How did I do? Did I miss anything?” He came over to me so I could see. All his hair was reduced to no more than a quarter of an inch in length. It looked great! And no misses.
Then he turned to me, “How about it? Don’t you want me to trim off some of your mane? I don’t see how you can stand it with that much hair. Takes too damn much fussing for me.” I was tempted, believe me, I was tempted, but of course I said “No”. he shook his head and looked at me, “You sure? It doesn’t have to be a buzzcut. I’m a pretty decent barber. And in my opinion, you’d look a hell of a lot better with a lot less hair instead of that ‘big hair’ look.” Well, I opened up at that point and tried to explain how it was with me and my hair. How I had always wanted it short, but never had the nerve to do anything about it. He offered again, here was my chance.. I wavered. I declined.
All day Saturday I couldn’t get the notion out of my mind. I was being a damn fool, letting my hair run my life. At one point I even got out his clippers and held them, trying to imagine them cutting my hair. But I put them away. Sunday was no better, and after supper when we came back to the room I asked Tom, “If I was going to give myself a crewcut, which of the attachments would I use?” I had brought myself to the edge. Tom looked at me. “You really going to do it?” “I’m not sure. I might.” He pulled out the clippers and dug out one of the plastic combs. “This is a half inch. It’ll be a bit long around the edges, but about right on top. Do you want me to do it?” I wavered. “No. Maybe I’ll start it myself and you can trim the edges. If I decide to, that is.” Tom took the clippers over to the sink and plugged them in, switched them on and handed them to me. “I’m going over to the library to take back a book. See you in half an hour. Have fun!”
He picked up his book and went out, leaving me standing there with the buzzing clippers. I switched them off. Didn’t want hair clippings all over my clean shirt. Took off my shirt and tossed it on my bed. Picked up the clippers. I snapped off the plastic attachment and looked at it from the side. Half an inch? Geez it looked short! But that’s what it said on the bottom. I held the comb to my forehead. A huge length of hair stuck up through the comb and practically none underneath! But that’s what a crewcut is, damn it! Don’t be an idiot! Guys all over campus have crewcuts and buzzcuts. Put it on the clippers and just do it. Put them against my forehead and push them back, like Tom did. Buzzzzz. Yeah, right!. Yes, you dope, get rid of this mop. It’s only hair!
I snapped the attachment back on and flipped the switch. I put the buzzing clippers against my forehead. . . . . . . . . . . and stood there. . . . . . and stood there. My arm got tired, so I shut off the clippers and set them down. My hair was kind of messed up, so I combed it again. Pulled the forelock down; it reached to my chin. Off! Picked up the clippers and put them beside the lock and pushed them back. Nothing happened, of course, with the clippers off. Snapped them on and stood there. it would take months to grow my hair back. Cut it off, like you want. All my nice shiny blond hair?
I must have turned the clippers on half a dozen times, but never got my nerve to use them. Writing this, I realize how idiotic is all sounds, but that’s how it was. Anyhow, I was standing there with the clippers running again when the door opened and Tom came in. He looked at me as I took the clippers away from my forehead, “Haven’t you done it yet?”
“No!, I just can’t bring myself to do it.” He tossed his jacket on the bed and grabbed my desk chair and pushed it over to me. “Sit! The tyranny of your hair is about to end!” He took the clippers away from me. “Sit!” He pushed the chair against the back of my knees hard and I sat. Suddenly. One of Tom’s hands came across my face covering my eyes and pulling my head back and I felt the clippers land against my forehead and heard their pitch change as they moved back up the middle of my head. It was happening! They came again, and then I heard Tom say something like, “No, dammit, do it right!” He took his hand away for a moment, and then I felt the clippers again in the front. They felt different--warm and more vibration, as they ran back the length of my head. More passes across the top of my head. I tried to reach up and feel, but Tom pushed my hand away, “Not until I’m done. Then you can feel to your heart’s content.” I felt the clippers run up the side of my head from my sideburn up to the top. And then suddenly I got a look at the clippers as Tom came around to the side. There was no plastic comb on them! In a panic, “What are you doing? Where’s the comb thing?”
“Breaking the wicked witch’s spell! Cutting off your hair! Sit still.” I tried to reach up again and got my hand slapped away. I felt his hand, warm against the top of my head, as he pushed my head down and ran the clippers up the back. Hair was raining down all around, great long messes of it, in my lap, on the floor, tumbling onto my shoulders and down. And the clippers across the back and then around my other ear. . Back on top, here and there. and then they went silent. “There! that was fun! And now the big bad hair demon is gone and maybe you can get your life back.”
He stepped away and looked at me. “One hell of an improvement, if you ask me, though I notice you didn’t ask.” I brushed the loose hair off may arms and reached up. Nothing but tiny sandpapery stubble, all over my head. I stood up and looked in the mirror. A combination of shock and excited thrill! In the strong overhead light, my head looked totally bare. “My God, Tom! You shaved my head! I’m bald!” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. “You’re not shaved, just clipped.” I guess I repeated myself, “I can’t believe you shaved my head”, I said as I rubbed my bristly scalp.
Tom looked at me for a moment, “You’re not shaved. . . . not yet. Sit!” “What?” He pushed me towards the chair. “Sit!” I sat, still rubbing my head. Tom went to his dresser. When he came back I heard a kind of squirt noise and saw his handful of shaving foam just before he pushed my hand away and plopped it onto my head, and rubbed it around. I started to get up, but he pushed me back down. I know I could have stopped him, but I didn’t. He went back to his dresser and returned with one of his disposable razors in his hand. In a moment I felt it, or heard it, or both, as it scraped its way across the front of my head. This is what I would have felt if I had had my head shaved back in high school! And it was happening now!
First the scrape as the blade bit into new territory and then a silent rub as it slid where it had been before. Tom’s hand pushing my head this way and that and the blade scraping and sliding, back along the top, up the sides and back. Brief trips to the sink to rinse away the foam. And then his fingers exploring every inch of my head with a scrape here and there. Done. “There, man! As you were saying, I shaved your head and you are bald, really bald! Go rinse off.”
I touched my head. No long locks of hair, no sandpapery stubble, nothing! Just smooth skin. I rinsed my head with handfuls of water at the sink, and laughed at the slippery smooth feel of my scalp. And in the mirror, bald! Really bald, with no trace of a hair, and being blond, no shadow. Tom looked at me, “That’s the end of the tyrrany of your hair. I probably shouldn’t have shaved you bald, but I just figured that might break the spell. Anyway, I always wanted to see shat it was like to shave somebody. Are you mad at me?” “Mad at you?” I rubbed my shiny, smooth head again, “No. I probably needed this. I sure wasn’t going to do it myself. But it isn’t exactly a crewcut. I guess you did break the spell. I’ll find out when it starts to grow back.”
That night, lying in bed, feeling my baldness I still remember. In the morning, running my electric shaver up to where the sideburn had been and instead of stopping carefully, I slid it right up my head, across the top and down to the other cheek.And in the shower, rubbing my slippery scalp with soapy hands, and feeling the spray on my bare head. I debated wearing a hat to class, and finally decided to tough it out. Couple of laughs, several rubs and a couple of compliments during the day. By supper time the smoothness was pretty well gone, and the sandpaper feel was coming back, although as yet, very fine sandpaper. You could see the tiny hairs, kind of sparkling in the light. It wouldn’t be long before It would look like a buzzcut.
When we came back to the room Tom rubbed my head, “Growing some stubble, I see. That hair of yours doesn’t give up easy. I think we’ll have to beat it into submission again. Sit!” He was serious. “You want to shave my head again?” “Yeah, I figure we’ll keep you bald for a while to make sure the spell is really broken. Sit!” I sat.
This became a nightly ritual, shaving off the day’s stubble to smoothness again. And as the days went on, I was surprised to find how quickly I was getting used to having no hair. In October we have Fall break, a Monday and Tuesday with no classes, and Tom was planning to take off Thursday and Friday to attend a family wedding. Wednesday night Tom announced, “Well, you’ve been bald for two and a half weeks. I think the spell has been broken, so you can let it grow now. We’ll see what you look like with a little bit of fuzz.
It was surprising how fast my hair grew. Coarse sandpaper on Thursday night, and by Friday long enough for the tiny hairs to rock side to side under my fingers. My tee shirt would get hung up on the stubble rather than slipping on smoothly and an allover blond micro fuzz was showing. I stood in front of the mirror for a minute.Then I remembered that other time, when I had stood there until Tom came back. Well he wasn’t coming back for three more days. I laughed, and said, out loud,”You lose, hair!” Foam and the razor, doing it myself this time. Watching the flexible blades fit the shape of my head as I pressed them firmly against my scalp, and wipe off the foam and stubble, leaving smooth, clean skin behind. Bald again! And I enjoyed doing it and loved getting that silky smooth feeling back.Tom will be surprised. Or maybe he won’t.
Well, I’m still shaving my head. I did grow back a couple of weeks worth for the Holiday break, so as not to shock my family to badly. At the start of the spring term I had essentially that half inch crewcut that had started the whole business, but it didn’t survive the first night back. I got to “sit!” again, and the hair gave up without a struggle. Shaved bald again. Yeah!