Just Like Any Other Day by Gayswimmer
“And this year, no stupid party where I have to smile all night and pretend I’m having a good time. I really mean it, okay?” The one this was directed toward shoved his index fingers in his ears, waved his remaining digits in the air, and stuck his tongue out while sliding across the perfectly, polished concrete floors of the incredibly long, incredibly open loft space. Jake chased after him and quickly had him down on the ground, “and no fricking pile of ridiculously, expensive presents I have to open in front of you, and pretend I’m really into.” Triumphantly, he plunged his heroic body on top of Alan’s, “promise? You have to promise.” After days of pleading, a minor concession was reached, and Jake, grudgingly agreed, that Alan could spend up to a hundred dollars on him. There was one final stipulation: they would go out together on his birthday and, for a change, find something that he really wanted. Nothing for the house. No fancy spa weekend. No monogrammed leather goods. Something he wanted, so long as it wasn’t alive. No other restrictions. But, once the hundred was gone, Alan was allowed to do absolutely nothing else, nothing, except, “well, maybe, pay for a cheap breakfast.”
It took over forty minutes to get to this, not so hip neighborhood, on the far northwest side of the city; Alan had no idea it even existed until that morning. He choked down the semi-charred, heavily buttered, white toast and suffered through the canned, grapefruit juice and almost transparent coffee without complaining. His subtle way of dealing with the less than exemplary service was to leave an overly generous tip.
“Can’t you ever just let it go? It’s just a crummy, local joint, okay?”
“Oh s**t, my sunglasses.”
Jake bopped his boyfriend on the head and yanked them out of the nest of thick, blonde hair. “What did you pay for these again?”
“They’re Prada, okay. And they look awesome on me.” He quickly shoved them up his long, Arian nose before pouring another handful of nickels into the parking meter. “How long is this going to take, anyway?”
“My Birthday. Remember?” Jake handed him two more nickels, “I’m not giving the mayor another fifty for some lame ass parking ticket, okay?” Alan rolled his eyes, then shuffled along behind the love of his life like some doddering, old man in enormous pain. Electronic shops, lost in time, abounded between dollar stores, pawnshops, and auto body repair garages. They had to agreed that the only indication that time had passed since 1965 was this lone video store that, not surprisingly, rented only stuff on VHS, and there was, actually, a relatively, recent poster in one of the many liquor store windows advertising Marlboro Lights for six and a quarter a pack. Not surprisingly, the beauty parlors proudly displaying cutout placards of pretty, young ladies with elegant, bouffant hairdos were somewhat intriguing to the both of them, in an archaeological sort of way.
As usual, Jake was half of a block ahead when he hesitated and impatiently signaled for his reluctant companion to move it along. Jake ducked inside this insignificant, little storefront that’s only distinction was an extremely, faded red and white striped awning shading a bigger than life window that faced the curb. The proprietor peered over his newspaper before getting up from the old, hydraulic chair and snuffing out his cigarette. “You gentlemen didn’t see that, right?”
Halfheartedly, Alan attempted to orient himself to the unfamiliar surroundings instantly noting, that for an establishment that appeared to specialize in men’s grooming, there was only one, relatively small, poorly lit mirror, no shampoo sink, and not a blow dryer in sight. His wide eyes continued to wander around the dingy, narrow space finally zeroing in on this crude sign emblazoned with bold, red letters, “Crewcut, Flattop, Roundtop, Fades, High and Tights, Marine Cut, Regulation Cut ONLY”. The man, who had insisted that he follow him inside, nudged him and shot him one of his cautionary “behave-yourself-or-else” looks. Alan’s eyebrows arched up, “um, sorry.” He cleared his throat and extended his hand, “Alan, Alan Sommerville. Nice place you have here.”
“So, Man, how much for a haircut?” After over three years together, Jake’s directness, especially when it came to anything remotely dealing with money, still embarrassed his partner.
“Depends. Guys like you who are, um, pretty much, bald,” he rubbed his own slick head, “and just need the fringe cleaned up, that’s eight. Flattops, they’re more, and anything with a razor, you know, whitewalls, shaved heads, stuff like that, ten bucks. Any cut where I only use the clippers,” he pointed to the sign Alan was still eyeing, “they’re eight, too”
“Say, I wanted to pay you up front?” Jake massaged the closely cropped sides of his head. “Let’s say we give you a hundred bucks today for ten haircuts, simple cuts, at eight a crack, with a two dollar tip for each. You go for that?”
The barber threw his hands up in the air, “never done it, but, so long as it’s cash, and you don’t leave here owing me money, sure, why not.”
Without negotiating, which was a real switch, Jake told Alan to give the guy their hundred dollars. “Figure we’ll be in once a week then, for the next couple of months or so.” They shook hands before the barber grabbed the striped cutting cloth and used it to brush off the chair in front of him.
Alan shook his head and edged toward the row of identical chairs shoved against the worn, plaster wall. When he looked around Jake was still standing next to the big, leather barber chair holding the arm. He motioned to the chair, then to Alan, who just pursed his lips and looked the other way.
It was definitely not the typically buttoned-up Jake who started singing, “Happy Birthday to ME. Happy Birthday to ME.” He held the note and moved right in front of his target, “I get to watch YOU get a haircut, just like WE agreed.”
He threw back his big, broad shoulders and got down on one knee for his big finish, “and it is gon-na be sw-ee-ee-eet.”
“Cute. Very cute.” Obligingly, Alan slowly slapped his hands together a couple of times.
“Well, let’s go. Hop up in the chair.”
“Get real. It’s your birthday, Dude. Now, then, why would I be paying for a haircut for myself?”
With this bigger than life grin plastered across his typically, serious face, he patted the seat of the big chair, “just to clarify things, it would actually be a series of ten haircuts.” The grin got even wider, “and, because that’s what I really, really, really want for my birthday.”
The eyebrows arched up even higher than before, “okay, let me get this straight, YOU want ME to get a haircut for YOU, for YOUR birthday? And pay for it, like it’s MY really, special present to YOU?” His long, first finger pointed back and forth, and back and forth and back.
“Yep. That would pretty much be the general idea. But,” he reached over and messed up Alan’s perfectly gelled, uniquely, unkempt hair, “not just any haircut, okay? You’re gonna get one of these super short, military haircuts, you know, the eight buck special.” Once again Alan’s attention was directed to the crude sign with the red lettering, “the only kind you can get here.” Jake made this obnoxious buzzing sound while running his clenched fist over the eccentric mop of curls.
Alan shoved the hand away like he was shooing some annoying fly. Through his clenched teeth, he firmly articulated five, very well chosen, monosyllabic words, “have you lost your mind?”
“Um, you guys wanna take this outside and say, maybe, come back in when you figure out what you wanna do?”
Jake’s strong arm wound its way around Alan’s equally substantial shoulders, “just last week, wasn’t it you, who insisted that you had to get me something special for my birthday?” Each phrase was spoken with the same command he used when he cross-examined a contentious witness in court. His voice was suddenly, mockingly high, “please, please, I can’t just pretend your birthday isn’t happening.” It immediately returned to its normal register, “I said, I really don’t need anything, and honestly, I don’t want anything. But,” he cleared his throat, “after several, long, agonizing days of listening to your excessive pleading and whining, I finally gave in. There was one,” the pinky finger was extended and held in front of Alan’s face, “incidental condition (strong emphasis on the word incidental). Do you remember what that was?”
He twisted his hair the way he always did when he was uncomfortable, “umm, sure.”
“I was only allowed to spend a measly hundred dollars.” His blue eyes twinkled before darting to the floor.
The words came out fast and almost ran together, “you get to decide how to spend it, okay?”
The victor politely motioned to the empty chair.
“Right, but,” Alan’s lips reached toward his left cheek.
“Forget it. It’s not that big of a deal, okay.” Jake ambled toward the door, “look, you can buy me another Armani tie or something. Cufflinks. More linen handkerchiefs imported from Belgium.” He casually spun around and almost smiled, “what ever you want. Perhaps another Coach bag; the shiny black one you gave me for Valentine’s Day has the tiniest nick in it.”
“That cost way more than a hundred dollars.”
“Well, then, a Coach, um key chain?”
Alan forced the door shut. “But, come on,” he slowly blew the air out of his mouth, “a military haircut?”
The birthday boy grabbed his boyfriend’s butt and whispered in his ear, “it would be such a huge turn-on.”
“I don’t know.”
Jake slid his hand up and down Alan’s inner thigh, “you can be my studly, military school cadet at home on furlough, with your cute, short haircut. Think about how hot this is gonna be.” Historically, Jake knew that if the Catholic guilt trip didn’t work, the Catholic guilt trip coupled with a little flattery and the promise of really hot sex would, so it didn’t surprise him when, after sighing this very prolonged, very dramatic sigh, Alan finally acquiesced and crawled up into the big, foreboding chair.
“Okay, boys, so what are we doing here, then?” The barber was salivating like some thirsty drunk staring at a cheap bottle of Muscatel, “we ready to see some serious skin?” Alan’s eyes widened as the man lurking behind him shook out the cape and fastened it around his neck.
“Ah-huh. Barber’s choice. Whatever you want to do, Man.” Jake rubbed his palms together, “you are in charge.” Before looking away from his absolute, best friend in the entire world, he bit into his lower lip, then glanced over at the man he had just relinquished all the power to, “the shorter, the better.”
With the clippers humming away at full throttle, the guy holding them looked down at the guy in his chair. Alan’s hand took a final spin around the blonde mass, “I can’t believe I’m doing this. Happy Birthday, Asshole.”
“You’re not going to let me enjoy this one, tiny bit?”
The smile was broad and conciliatory, and the voice went up at least two octaves, “Happy Birthday, Sweetheart.”
The intensity in the barber’s raspy voice bordered on sinister, “the shorter, the better.”
Jake nodded. Alan winced.
Straight across the top of the healthy head of hair the mighty clippers tore, like a powerful tractor plowing through an overgrown field, slicing each blade of grass to a uniform length. The one with no hair to loose watched intently as the other’s cherubic curls spiraled to the cold linoleum floor. A single stripe, wide and clean, welcomed the morning. “Wow, that is gonna be short, all right.”
“A zero.” The barber drove his faithful clippers with ease. “No guard.” More hair got plowed away. More white scalp showed through. “Super close.” His fingers skimmed the stubbly remains. “Induction-style.” Another swath opened wide. “All the way down.” Alan shut his eyes as tightly as he could, the same way he did every time Jake forced him to watch the super gory stuff in the bloody war movies he so loved to inflict on him. The clippers kept humming away. Still, more wheat colored hair tumbled to the floor as still, more white scalp got exposed to the harsh florescent light. Jake continued to watch the clippers make pass after pass, ripping both the left, then the right side down to nothing. When they moved to the back of his friend’s head, he got up and positioned himself in front of the marbleized formica counter.
“You wanna finish this off?”
Without even the slightest hesitation, Jake seized the barber’s trusty instrument and eased it up the back of Alan’s head. He was cautious and slow, savoring every millimeter of the clipper’s journey. The intrepid victim craned his neck, “I hope you are f***ing enjoying this.” Clandestinely, Alan’s hand got moved from under the cape to Jake’s crotch.
Jake leaned over and planted a big, sloppy kiss on Alan’s neck while using his free hand to stroke his boyfriend’s budding erection, “the evidence would conclude that you’re not having such an awful time yourself.”
When the last of the thick, curly hair had been removed, the barber stepped back in, “I’ll just tighten this up for you boys, then.” Before any consensus was reached, he shoved the 00000 blade up the side of Alan’s head stopping just short of the crown. The cleared area absolutely glowed. Jake’s body went stiff. “You wanted it short, right?”
Once more, Alan’s hand emerged from beneath the striped cape. His thumb crept over the fresh cut, slowly picking up speed. “Great. Nothing like the feel of a freshly skinned scalp.” The rest of his hand joined the startled thumb cautiously surveying the carnage, “you are such a f***er.” Although the words were only mouthed, the message came through loud and clear.
As the 00000 blade continued to round Alan’s head, it created this super, shiny surface, seamlessly outlining the pale shadow of hair remaining on top. After the warm lather was dabbled around his ears and the base of his neck, his head looked like some delectable confection layered with creamy whipped cream; it pretty much took all of Jake’s self-control not to run over and rambunctiously lick it off. The hungry clippers took one last joy ride over the top of Alan’s head once the sides were clean. He couldn’t remember ever coming in public, let alone in his shorts before, but it felt pretty amazing. From the look on his face and the squirming pelvis, Jake appeared to be experiencing a similar first.
Staring in the mirror, trying to acclimate himself to his new, outrageously short high & tight, he saw his boyfriend’s, now grim face come into view. “Wow, Dude, that is way shorter than I ever thought he’d go. Sorry.” Alan got very quiet. Jake gave the barber the thumbs up as his typically sarcastic tone became even more assuaging, “do you hate me, Buddy?” Alan wrapped his sorry head with his hands and looked like he was either going to start sobbing uncontrollably, or actually hire a hit man to hunt Jake down. Unable to maintain the straight face any longer, Jake started laughing then began layering long, appreciative kisses on the top of the sacrificial head, “but you look so f***ing hot.”
“It may take a little while for me to see that.”
“This is the, I’m not kidding, Al, the sexiest birthday present ever.” He kept compulsively touching the fresh haircut. “And, the really cool thing about this is, that this is the gift that just keeps on giving and giving, week, after week, after week, after week, after week, after week.” His deep voice trailed off as a somewhat disorientated Alan stumbled toward the door.
“The sunglasses!” As his way of showing his undying gratitude, Jake went back inside to retrieve them, then encouraged Alan to follow him further up the still deserted street in the opposite direction from the car, past yet another series of bad electronics stores. Alan slid the glasses down his nose and looked over the the top of them, “can’t we just go home?”
Looking a little confused, which hardly ever happened, Jake finally produced a wadded up piece of paper from his encumbered wallet and attempted to unfolded it, then pointed to this military surplus store tucked between a wig shop and another cheesy diner on the other side of the street. “Figured we would just make this one last stop and pick up a few, um, well-chosen accessories to go with that sweet, new haircut. My treat.” Alan felt Jake’s hand run over the stubble left on the very top of his head, “and then, we can head home.” There was this huge, shameless smile, “and you can give me the rest of my present.”
“The rest of your present?” He eased into Jake’s shoulder and forced his hand inside the back pocket of his boyfriend’s tight Levi’s, “do I need to remind the prosecutor of our original agreement?” His hand squeezed Jake’s butt as his tone went from sardonic to seductive, “you know, the part where, once the hundred’s gone, I’m allowed to do, absolutely nothing else.”
Serious groping began in the middle of the intersection, less than half of a block from the car, and lasted through two full cycles of the stoplight. Alan looked especially irresistible in his recently acquired dress blues, as he struggled to move Jake to the safety of the parkway. “Now, um, maybe you can help me out.” In the mad abandon of the moment, the white cover got knocked off, exposing the glistening high & tight. Jake used the mishap to his advantage, efficiently permitting his fingertips to glide across the slick sides of his boyfriend’s head. The one still adjusting to the power of his new, military presence pulled away, “remind me again, who was it, anyway, that made me promise not to do anything special for his birthday, no party, nothing beyond some, crummy, cheap breakfast?” The words were spoken softly, and slipped in between this sequence of very long, deep kisses. “Wasn’t I pretty much ordered to treat this like it was any other day of the year, just another lousy Thursday?”
Jake’s hand rushed over the front panel of the perfectly tailored sky blue trousers. “Well, that would, pretty much, be your call, Cadet. But,” he started to unfasten the brass buttons that ran all the way up Alan’s hard chest to his perfectly, slender neck, “with you appearing so, um, ready for action, I sure would hate to waste the better part of the day quibbling over,” he kissed the stubble on the top of Alan’s head again, “something someone obviously made you promise while you were most definitely under major duress.”
Almost eight months later, Alan breezed through the door of the barbershop around eleven on a Saturday morning shocked to find the place overflowing with guys patiently waiting their turns. After watching at least a dozen of them get their routine, military haircuts, he got an extra special treat, as a couple of very, hot frat boys removed their shirts, climbed up into the chair and had their heads shaved totally bald. A little wobbly and uncomfortably hard, he finally moved toward the chair himself, “busy today, huh?”
“Saturday. Where’s my friend Jake this afternoon?”
“Um, working. Thought I’d just surprise him. Our anniversary.”
“Figured, I’d never see you guys again, and from the looks of this,” he brushed his hand through almost three inches of new growth, “but then, they all come back, sooner or later.”
“Yeah, I guess it’s been a while. Stuff to do.” He looked in the mirror before the barber spun him around, “I never thought I’d say it, but I can’t wait to get rid of this.
“Another convert. I’ll have you looking real sharp again in just a couple of minutes, Man.”
“So, I was thinking,” the bare blade raced across the top of his head and an enormous clump of curls bolted past his face.
“So, what about them Bears?”
“Ahhhh.” He laughed nervously and smiled up at the barber, “thought maybe we’d ease back into this and just do a fade today.”
“Sorry. I just figured. Next time, okay?”
Alan ran his hand across the fresh stripe and grinned, “feels fantastic.” He relaxed back into the chair and happily watched the rest of his pretty blonde hair litter the floor, totally reconnecting with the sensation of the cold metal speeding across his scalp. By the time the efficient clippers were silenced, he was rock hard and had creamed his boxers once again. “What do you think about, um,” the barber already had the 00000 in his hand, but slowed down this time, “what do you call them, whitewalls?”
Almost before he mouthed the word, the perimeter of his head was covered with hot lather and soon the razor was clearing it off, leaving completely bare scalp in its wake. Alan skimmed his hands back and forth over the baby smooth skin, “wow, awesome, Dude.” After admiring his freshly shaved high & tight, he slipping the barber a twenty, smiled, and edged toward the now, familiar door.
The barber followed him, “so, don’t be a stranger, okay?”
As Alan backed out of the door he touched his head one more time, “catch you next week, Thursday, okay?”
A quick stop at the military surplus store turned into an hour and half long expedition, but Alan was really excited about the great stuff he unearthed, especially the snug fatigues that accentuated everything, specifically his crotch, in the most perfect way. As he sped back downtown, he took every opportunity to look in the mirror, wondering why he had let his hair grow back in anyway. It made him hard just looking at the fresh haircut, and when he let his hands run over it, his dick almost ached.
The cat greeted him; Jake wasn’t home yet. Clothes went flying every which way. Although the boots were a pain in the ass to lace up, Alan was already anticipating how exciting it was going to be to watch Jake try to rip them off. When he heard the key turn in the lock, he took one last look in the enormous hall mirror to adjust his military issue ammunition belt making certain it rested comfortably on his hips just below the jock strap and the exceptionally, worn fatigues. The door slowly creaked open. Alan quietly stood there, a little bent over, machine gun facing straight ahead, posed for combat. An older woman, not his mother, peered in. “Al, you home yet?” Jake’s head appeared over her shoulder, “um, Judge Thompson here,” he pointed down at her head, “just needed a copy of my, umm.” Alan whipped the helmet off and attempted to cover the rippling abs he worked so hard to maintain. Unfortunately, his innocent smirk and lowered eyelids did little to hide the camo-green war paint he had rubbed on his face and bare chest. Jake relieved him of his weapon, “at ease, Soldier.”
Alan stroked the super clean whitewalls proudly glistening in the mid-afternoon sun, “Happy Anniversary.”