Hip to Be Square(d) by BaldSurfer
Gavin and Trey finished a tough workout. As they walked out of the gym, Trey grabbed a paper towel and wiped the sweat from his smoothly shaven head. Gavin's baseball cap kept the sweat from his eyes, but beads of sweat still hung from the his thick long beard.
"That was a great pump, Trey. Gonna go home, shower up, run a couple errands and then swing by for a trim up."
"Cool, bro," said Trey, the barber who over the last few years had also become one of Gavin's closest friends.
Gavin walked into his small apartment, threw off his baseball cap and shook free the six inches of hair at the top of his head. He took off his workout clothes and stepped into the the steaming shower. He shampooed his hair and beard, rubbed conditioner into both, and as he waited for the conditioner to sink in, he lathered and shaved the few days of stubble that covered his tight muscular chest and six pack abs.
When he was finally done, he dried off, and pulled on his underwear and a white "wifebeater" undershirt that clung tight against his smooth ripped torso. He worked a big fingerful of Layrite Extra Firm pomade into his wavy hair. The sides were still pretty tight, even 2 weeks out from his last fade, but the long top needed lots of product to control and style. He used a comb to define a sharp side part and then used a round brush to build the high pompadour. An extra dab of pomade gave his long dense beard some shape. He pulled at the curly whiskers and thought how long it would look if it wasn't so damn curly. He was proud of his thick full beard, and after nearly a year, it was the envy of every other hipster in his Brooklyn neighborhood, but he wished they could see how long it REALLY was, when it didn't curl up so tightly. He pulled on his skinny jeans, carefully rolled the cuffs up a few inches and put on a blue and white plaid shirt that hung loosely, hiding his strong frame, and he buttoned it all the way to the top. If you wanted to seem hip in Brooklyn, you couldn't look like you cared about being ripped, so he hid his pride under ill-fitting shirts. Then he put on his horn-rimmed glasses that were just for show and had no prescription. "I'm back to being Clark Kent" he thought to himself and chuckled.
At the market, he couldn't help but notice how every guy under 35 seemed to have adopted a similar look. Then, while waiting for his coffee at Brooklyn Bean, 3 different people mistook him for a person they knew, including an angry girl who accused him of standing her up for a date. Had his "hip" look become so mainstream that he looked like everybody else in the neighborhood?
"I'm telling you, Trey, I don't know why I didn't notice it sooner, but this hipster style is so freaking common, I'm like just Mr. Generic. I'm getting yelled at by girls I don't even know!"
Trey laughed at his friend in the barber chair as he wrapped a towel around his neck and then snapped the barber cape over him.
"You're right, Gav. This look is played out. I git you in at the beginning but it's done. I say we go for a big change. Hell, it's almost summer. Let's chop this all off. You need a new look. I say let's be bold. Let's get rid of it and go for something more timeless."
"I'm not shaving my head like you, Trey."
"Of course not. If I had any hair left on the top of my head, I'd have kept something too. But when I gout out of the Marines at 25 and tried to grow my hair back, there wasn't nothing left. I have a much cooler idea for you. You won't be bald, but I think we'll be losing most of this."
"I don't want some buzzcut where I look like a tennis ball. I want STYLE!"
"Hey, when you got here 3 years ago, with your floppy frat boy hair and that douche bag skinny neck beard, I told you to trust me and you did. We faded up your sides, got the pomp going and I've kept that epic beard in shape. I made you so cool that a few years later, everybody is doing it. So I want you to trust me again. I'm going to remake you - timeless, classic, tough. Trust me?"
Nervously, Gavin agreed. Trey turned the barber chair away from the mirror and grabbed the Oster 76 clippers. They purred to life and Trey placed them near the top of Gavin's ear and pushed upward. Gavin had no fear. This was the same way his biweekly fades all started. But the clippers traveled higher up the sides than usual, all the way up the side of his head. But he trusted his friend and was eager for a change. Trey continued. skinning the side, the back and the other side. Gavin didn't need the mirror to know that barely any stubble was left. He was anxious to know where this was all going, but stayed quiet.
"I'm gonna need to get rid of the bulk before I do my artistry on the top," Trey said as he lifted the long hair at the top of Gavin's head and sliced through it with his scissors. He threw 5 inch hanks of hair in Gavin's lap as he gleefully chopped away. Then, he rubbed a bit of pomade into the top and Gavin thought the ordeal was over as Trey used a bow dryer and brush to make Gavin's hair stand straight. But then he grabbed the clippers again, and using a comb began to shear Gavin's hair away, seemingly very close to his scalp.
"C'mon, man, I'm getting nervous. What are you doing up there?"
"You're getting a flat, bro. A clean Marine high and tight flatty. It's going to look awesome!"
Gavin gulped. A flat top? Gavin had loved the non-conformity of his hipster look - even though it was now so common. He'd never been a short hair guy, but since it was too late to argue, he tried to relax and let Trey continue. Trey pressed the comb tight against Gavin's head and zipped the clippers across. When that was done, Trey dropped the comb, raised the clippers and Gavin felt him push them across the top of his head and Gavin knew there'd be nothing but bare skin at the peak of his head. Trey worked slowly and carefully perfecting the cut and when he was finally done, he worked in a little more pomade to make what was left stand up straight.
"Ready to look now, or you want to wait until I demolish the beard?"
"The beard's going too?" Gavin asked..
"Of course. It's all out of balance. And the big beard is as much of a cliche as the haircut was."
"I hate being clean shaven, though. I look like I'm 12. So maybe we could keep a goatee?"
"Sure, if you want to look like my high school wood shop teacher. But don't worry. I'll leave you a little something."
Gavin was getting nervous. Trey was his friend, He trusted him. But he knew he had hardly any hair left and now a year's worth of beard was coming off? It was almost too much to take. Then he remembered how his current look had become so common that he felt like a clone. And besides, he knew his beard grew fast and thick so if he had any regrets, he could have a decent beard started within a few days.
"Just do it and get this over with already."
"Dude, you gotta trust me. You're gonna look so kickass, you'll start a whole new trend!"
With that, Trey grabbed the clippers and pushed them down from Gavin's sideburn, inches of coarse curly beard hair raining down onto the cape. He cleared Gavin's cheek, his chin and then staring wit the other sideburn, cleared the other side. Only Gavin's thick mustache remained. Trey traded the Osters for an edger. He thrust the small clippers through the bottom of the mustache, just above the top of Gavin's lip. Slowly and methodically, he worked from the center out the each side, defining the edge of the mustache as a clean line, millimeters above Gavin's upper lip. Then he started under Gavin's nose, and started the top line nearly a half in below his nose. He shaped a sharp almost triangular mustache, and then used scissors to shorten the remaining hairs. Gavin's thick heavy whiskers would still look dense and full in their newly defined military-regulation shape.
Gavin was tempted to turn and look at the mirror as Trey dispensed a large mound of steaming shaving cream from the dispenser, but he held strong. Trey rubbed the warm foam over Gavin's newly bared face, but then continued to rub the warm lather all the way up the back and sides of his head. As Trey began to scrape the straight edge razor down Gavin's temple, the scratching sound echoed loudly in Gavin's head. "Scritch, scritch" continued to resound as Trey shaved the sides and back of Gavin's head clean. Then Trey shaved Gavin's face. This was even more disconcerting to Gavin, who hadn't shaved his face in nearly 3 years. Then Trey carefully shaved around the sharply defined edges of Gavin's small military mustache.Just as Gavin thought it was all over, Trey dispensed one more dollop of warm shaving cream and gently applied it to the top of Gavin's head. Gavin was already numb to the shock and strangeness of this radical change, but this still startled him a bit. And as Trey shaved a landing strip all the way to the back of Gavin's head, that sound in his head of the echoing razor was even more distinct.
With a wipe of a warm moist rag, Trey was finally done. He asked of Gavin was ready to see his new self, and Gavin was bursting with anticipation and a little anxiety. Trey spun the chair around and Gavin barely recognized the man he saw in the mirror.
The sides of his head were bald and pale white. The black hair on the top of his head was barely more than half an inch in the front, standing up straight, his thick short hair looking as flat as a table. His beard was gone. His mustache was short, and precise. Even the far ends didn't extend down to his upper lip. He looked tough. He looked like a soldier. He looked like a Marine. And he didn't look like anybody else in Brooklyn.
Trey held up a hand mirror to show hi the back - the bald white back, shaved so high that it met the shaved landing strip, like looking at the open end of a horseshoe. Trey tilted the mirror to show Gavin the top, so precisely cut and shaved, and the horseshoe formed by his thick black hair was pronounced. Gavin tried to grasp what had happened.
"What do you think, bro?" Trey asked.
"Not sure yet" was Gavin's reply as Trey laughed and pulled off the barber cape.
Gavin stood up and walked towards the mirror. He ran his hand up the back of his head, feeling only the barest hint of stubble. He stared at his small, defined mustache and his pale clean shaven face. And almost without thinking, he reached toward the collar of his buttoned-up plaid "nerd shirt", grabbed it and ripped it open, buttons popping and flying in all directions. He looked again, his white ribbed tank top clinging to his tight muscular body. Now it was a man, a real man, staring back at him. Suddenly he felt empowered by the change. He felt more like himself than he had in years. He rubbed the top of his head, feeling where the bald landing strip became stubble. This was a look! This was a badass look! He finally smiled, and Trey, nervous until he got his friend's approval, started to laugh and let out a loud "I told ya so, Gav!"
Gavin threw his ripped plaid shirt in the trash, thanked Trey and went to pay him. Trey refused payment and told him this haircut would need almost weekly maintenance, so this first cut was free. Gavin thanked him and walked to the door. Trey held up the thick horn-rimmed glasses Gavin had left on the counter and said "Don't forget these."
Gavin turned back, his body rippling under the tank top, smiled at his friend and said, "Give those to some other Clark Kent. I'm Superman, bitch!" and Gavin walked tall and proud out into the sunshine.