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At Manny's - Joel Starts His Journey by Manny
He had been sitting forseveral hours in the hotel lobby next to a small mountain of luggage. Since it was mid-afternoon, his room should already have been ready long ago . I was curious. But, what peaked my curiousity more than the unusual wait was the mane of glimmering blond hair that was swept straight back from his face, cascading in well crafted layers to just above his shoulders. Periodically the young man would run his hand back through his hair, slowly, as if enjoying the stimulation of the silken strands brushing against his skin. Then, he would grasp a lock and absentmindedly coil it about his finger playfully. Obviously, he enjoyed his plush mane. The young man's skin was a nice tone of bronze. He had obviously spent a lot of time in the sort -- he looked like a wealthy sort, so probably at the pool or on the tennis courts. The blond fellow busied himself with his smart phone, book and newspaper.
As I watched him from the barber shop, I noticed that his relaxed demeanor suddenly dissipated. He began looking around nervously, standing and then sitting. Fidgeting. A sort of pained, panicked look spread across his face. Since I had no clients, I quickly decided that it was time for me to take a break and stroll across the lobby!
I approached the area where he was sitting and casually asked, "Excuse me, but are you finished with this newspaper? I'm looking for something to read."
He replied, "Yes, feel free to take it."
"I think I'll just read it right here if you don't mind me sitting in this area. I'm on break from the barber shop over there," I said casually.
The fellow looked toward the discreet swirling pole and then looked back at me. "Mind if I ask a huge favor of you?"
Was he going to request a haircut?!?! My heart beat picked up....
"Could you please watch my things for a bit? I'm desperate to use the bathroom," he said with an urgent look on his face.
"Sure. It's over there, behind those pillars," I replied, a bit disappointed.
While he was away I examined the luggage tags on the suitcases. Royal Air Maroc -- he was heading for an exotic destination.....or perhaps he'd just come frome one. Joel Smythe was his name. Mr. Joel Smythe -- with luscious long locks that would look wonderful at my feet, scattered about the black and white tile floor of my barbershop!
Some minutes later he ambled back looking very relaxed and content. Not only had he relieved himself, but he'd taken the opportunity to brush his hair. The sun drenched locks, with their natural highlights, absolutely glistened. He was not a handsome fellow at all. In fact, the only asset of distinction was his hair.
After he'd thanked me profusely, I asked, "When is your hotel room going to be ready?"
"Oh, I've already checked out. I'm just louging around here because my flight doesn't leave until late tonight. Instead of hanging out at the airport, I thought it would be more comfortable here at the hotel with free wi-fi in the lobby. It's just now, I'm a bit of a prisoner here because of my things," he said.
"Let's take them over to the barbershop," I suggested. I have a little room where you can store them, and that way you can explore some of the downtown or get a bite to eat in the bar. I'm Manny, by the way."
He smiled broadly, "And, I'm Joel. Hey, if I could, that would be awesome!"
"There's a lot here. Let me call one of the bell hops to bring a cart over. What are you doing, moving to a new city?!" I exclaimed.
Joel laughed, "Well, obviously I'm not going on an overnight jaunt! No, I'll be on a four-month research trip in Morrocco. Besides clothes and toiletries, I have some equipment and a stash of edibles too!"
I whistled at my favorite bell hop, Juan, and motioned for him to bring a cart. Juan was strong and handsome. Best of all about Juan, is that he'd recently asked me to take his thick mane of black hair, which he'd worn gelled back, down to stubble. He'd had it with the wind and the heat, standing outside the hotel, and one day he told me he wanted the whole lot clipped down to the scalp. And, he looked extremely handsome shorn down to a 5 o'clock shadow.
Juan was his charming self, shooing us away from the heavy lifting. "Any friend of Manny's is a friend of mine," he told Joel. "Manny gives us bell hops a break on haircut prices, and we do anything we can to help him. And he lets us hang out in his back room too when we need to 'disappear' from our boss!"
Joel smiled, "Well, your barber friend seems to be a nice guy!"
As the bell hop was finishing putting the luggage in my back room, I asked, "You still liking your new haircut, Juan?"
He looked in the mirror and smiled broadly. Then he rubbed his stubble. "Best decision I ever made -- no hair in my face, no sweat down my neck. The other guys are still kidding me about my 'baldy' look...but I don't care. Actually, I think Jason might be coming around to this look, and might even follow my example. This morning he asked how often I had to cut it to stay looking sharp like this."
Surprisingly, Joel entered the conversation, "Some of the fellows I do research with in Morrocco did the same thing on our last expedition. Got a local barber to take it all off. Sure made their lives easier. Especially when we have to spend time in these isolated village with no running water and sporadic electricity. Sand is everywhere. Hair quickly becomes a matted up mess in the hinterlands of Morrocco."
"But you didn't want to join them....your colleagues, visiting the local barber?" I asked.
"Oh, I went with them -- took the photos of their brave adventure. The old man used a set of manual clippers....no electricity....pumped them open and shut with his hand, like he was shearing sheep. It took their hair down right to the scalp. As short as Juan's!"
"I meant join them in getting your hair clipped off! I know from personal experience what a pain in the....uh, rear....long hair can be!" I commented, as I glanced in the mirror and admired my long mane of thick chestnut-colored hair with fiery auburn highlights that glistened in the neon light of the barberhshop. What I didn't mention just then was that I also knew what a pleasure it could be to fondle and brush thick, beautiful, gleaming long locks. My hair was only an inch or so shorter than Joel's.
Joel pawed nervously at his hair. "Hell, no! The two were semi-drunk when they dared each other to do it. Fortunately, I was sober." After a brief pause, Joel added, "Although, I have to admit there were several times that summer when I wish I had done it with them. In fact, when the two decided to go back to the barbershop several weeks later -- and they were very sober at the time -- I was very tempted to join them and put an end to this!" Joel grasped his silken locks and stroked them. "But, then, calmer heads prevailed, and I reminded myself that we just had another two weeks to go. We were in a town with nice showers and less sand blowing around.....so, I stuck it out. Plus, well, I've had long hair for a long time. We're old friends," he said with a laugh as he ran his fingers again through his hair and glanced in the mirror.
Juan excused himself, explaining he needed to get back to work, "Hey, Joel, when you're ready for a cab to the airport, just call me and I'll arrange for a large vehicle and get this luggage loaded."
"Thanks, Juan -- you're a sweetie," Joel commented as he touched Juan's strong arm and casually stroked it.
As Juan exited the barber shop he turned back and winked at Joel. I could tell Joel felt flattered. He tried to disguise his excitment by turning to the mirror and surveying his beautiful hair.
"So you'll be there four months this time, Joel?" I asked, returning to my private agenda for the glimmer mane of thick blond hair. "Visiting the same dusty villages or be in different places?"
"No, not the same villages -- but the same sort of villages.....meaning hot and dusty and totally lacking in creature comforts!" he said with a chuckle. Then he turned to me and said, "You have long hair, Manny, almost as long as mine! Sort of strange for a barber....."
I chuckled, "I guess so." I knew he wanted to ask me more about my hair, so I just let the awkward silence reign. Besides, I liked it that he was standing in a barber shop discussing long hair and haircuts.
"Ever thought of having it all shaved off, like Juan's?" he asked.
I picked up a brush and ran it back through my plush mane. "Yes, from time to time. I think we longhairs all have those feelings. Like you in Morrocco last time. But an end to it -- a brutal end. All off in one severe shearing. However, what I really would like is to get a flattop -- a deep pile flat with beveled sides! Watch a barber take most of this off.....falling away in sheaves to the cape. One day, I'll go through with it! A flattop is the ultimate cut -- short and sporty, with an aura of unique and daring. If I didn't have such healthy, attractive hair...."
Then I changed the focus back to my visiting longhair. "You want to take a seat here? It's quite comfortable," I noted, hopefully, patting the big barber chair with its red leather upholstry.
Joel fidgeted. "I want to take a seat in the bar!! How about joining me for a beer, Manny?" he asked, quickly deflecting my invitation.
"Gee, I'd love to. But, I'm on duty. I need to be on hand in case someone in desperate need of a haircut should show up," I said. "But, I'd like to join you for a beer. Why not go order two and bring them back here -- we can hang out in the back room where we stored your luggage if you'd feel too nervous sitting in a traditional barber chair."
Joel's eyes lit up, "But, will they let me leave the bar with the beers?"
"Tell them it's for Manny -- they'll let you!" I said.
"You seemed to be well-connected and well-like, Manny," he replied. "I'll be right back."
We ended up in the back room, which actually made for a more private, intimate venue where we could get to know each other better. Joel was an anthopologist, studying remote Berber cultures. The chat also confirmed my suspicion that he too found Juan extremely handsome.....
We were talking about something totally unrelated, when Joel paused and said, "You know, I really should take advantage of this situation and have you give me a haircut. I mean, take a few inches off. Lighten this load a bit. Nothing drastic. Maybe to mid-collar length in back. What do you say, Manny?"
"I'd be delighted. It's be an even swap -- you pony up for another round of beers after I give you a good trim, and the haircut will be on me!" I said eagerly.
Joel led the way out into the shop and plopped into the chair. Finally, I would get my hands into his beautiful hair. And better yet, I would plunge my shears into the flowing mane as well. At least several inches would fall....and once he was under the cape, the probability of even more coming off was very high. I did have the habit of giving shorter than requested haircuts from time to time, especially to clients who were not regulars!
He seemed a bit nervous as I fastened the cape around his neck. "You have such nice hair," I commented. I picked up a brush and began pulling in through he dense mane. "Love the way your hair feels. Great body too. But I can see how even this amount of body won't sustain this style in the midst of humidity and wind!"
Joel cracked a bashful smile. He looked so sweet and vulnverable all caped up in my shop -- with the clippers so close by!
Just then, I saw Juan heading to the shop. "Here comes the handsome Juan; I wonder what he wants?" I said.
"Maybe to ask me for my cell phone number," Joel said with a laugh.
"Maybe he saw you ready to get a haircut and he's hoping to watch you get clipped down to the wood, in preparation for you time in Morrocco!" I retorted.
"You're too funny, Manny!" Joel replied.
Juan popped his head into the barbershop. "Hey, Joel. What time do you need to leave here for the airport? I'm going to put in a request with the taxi company. Cars are tight this evening with the rain. Or, I was thinking....I live near the airport and wouldn't mind dropping you by if the timing works."
"Um, in about two hours," Joel said. "I'd really appreciate that.... So nice of you, but I don't want you going out of your way."
"Nonsense! And the timing works perfectly. I'll take you myself!" Juan replied happily. Then he noted, "So, you decided to have Manny cut your hair after all! Guess all that talk about being hot and sandy made you think more clearly."
"Your haircut inspired me, Juan -- looks very manly and handsome. But, Manny here is determined that I keep my long hair, just like his," Joel laughed.
"Manny, give the guy what he wants! I think he'd look swell with a baldy!" was Juan cheerily.
Juan smiled and returned to work. I moved quickly and reached for the clippers. "So you decided to go with the baldy look after all!"
Joel's eyes bulged and I saw him grip the arm rests under the cape. "No, I was joking, Manny! Pulling Juan's leg...."
"Were you? Usually a barber can sense what a client really wants, Joel. It's an intuition that comes with experience. I just can't tell if you want the butch cut like Juan's or that flattop I talked about."
Joel sat still and silent.
"I'll tell you what. Let's start with a taper. I'll leave the top, nice and full and long. And then, we can touch base and see what else goes and what -- if anything much! -- stays," I suggested.
I reached for a People magazine and pointed out a movie star with a long full top stylized and combed straight back that met a very agressive taper around the ears and up the back. Like a sharp wedge giving way to a full bowl-cut top.
"Ok," Joel agreed with a slight tone of hesitation.
I was very excited to start Joel's haircut with the clippers instead of the shears. I grabbed a wide-tooth comb and ran them throug the blond locks straight down. Then I nudged Joel's head forward and brought the clippers up through the nape which holding the hair down with the comb. A huge shriek of the clippers exploded like fireworks, and a torrent of blond hair fell in its wake like a shimmering gold display in a 4th of July finale. Four-inch clumps collected at my feet. Out of the lovely mane of hair, I had carved the first wedge of the taper. The darker hair of the wedge contrasted nicely with the lighter hair of the cascades on either side that exuded the sun-kissed appeal.
I pushed Joel's head down further and clippered it again in the same place, this time taking the taper up farther, shearing the entire bottom half of his head. I loved the feel of the silken locks tumbling over my hand. I glanced down at the floor. It was a wonderful start to Joel's divestiture.
Joel struggled to sit up, to ensure that his lovely hair still held its prime position on top, but I forcefully nudged his head down again. A second drive of the clippers widened the wedged taper. A lot of hair fell. Joel relaxed into a more submissive, prostrate position with his head bowed low and I tightened up the nice taper that had formed.
Several drives with the clippers later, and finally the back was done -- a short, dark taper rising to meet thick, glistening golden locks. Joel seemed relieved to be virtually untouched in front. "What about Juan offering to take me to the airport?" he said, as if emerging from thought.
"What about him thinking you were going to get a baldy just like his?" I replied, dampening his enthusiasm. I wrenched Joel's head to the side and quickly drove the clippers up through the abundant mane, sending the first shank of shorn locks to the cape. I quickly culpted a "low and tight" taper around the ears. His dangling locks fell away in sheaves.
Joel shifted uneasily under the cape. "You're going to leave it long on top, right Manny?" he asked nervously.
"Sure, but with a nice short taper around the ears and back. Why? Are you changing your mind?" I asked.
"No, I like how this is turning out. And it will be a lot easier with less hair. Seems like you're taking off about half of what I came in here with," Joel commented.
I surveyed the plush, dense top. Joel didn't know that while I was going to leave the length, I also planned to administer a prolonged, vigorous session with the thinning shears! The bulky top would get taken down for sure!
"Will the same fellows be with you on this trip to Morrocco -- you know, the ones that got baldy cuts?" I asked, trying to bring the topic back to what I intended for poor Joel.
"Yep, we'll be in this research together for a while," Joel replied.
"They sound like a lot of fun," I remarked as I clipped away the other side, finishing up the taper. Then I began tackling Joel's hair with the thinning shears.
"Maybe if we had downed a few more beers in your back room, I'd be sitting here with a baldy cut by now," Joel chuckled.
I was more convinced than ever that Joel wanted it....but, my fiendish side got the best of me.....and I would play a few mind games with him! "Men with great hair like you and me, Joel, shouldn't shave it all off. I mean look at how stunning this modern style is on you." I held up the hand mirror to show an exquisitely crafted hair style. Then I rubbed my finger briskly up the tapered nape which sent a shiver down his spine.
"But I'm afraid that the top will still be flopping in my eyes. I mean, the short bottom will be so much better, in terms of dealing with the heat. But the long top....I mean a few puffs of wind and....well, no gel in the world would keep in this sort of tidy style," he commented.
I unfastened the cape. Joel looked admiringly at himself in the mirror and felt the closely clipped nape. "Oh, it's so short back here."
When he started to get up from the chair, I quickly clamped a hand down on his shoulder and forced him to remain seated, "Oh, this isn't over, Joel. I just wanted to swap out the cape, since this one was already so full of you shorn hair. Now, I want to clean up the neck with some lather and a straight edge razor -- and carve some trendy arches around your ears.
Joel was in a bit of a confused daze. I loved jerking him about!
"You know, I was thinking....a flattop might be just what you need. Just enough length on top for your beautiful hair to register -- and a nicely clipped surface over most of your pate for comfort and coolness. How about it? It's my signature cut -- a deep pile flattop with nicely beveled edges and the sides clipped down to the skin."
Joel sat frozen and transfixed.
I pushed the envelope by reaching for the comb and clippers again. I combed the abundant top straight forward. The massive forelock hung down past his mouth. I lifted it up with the comb so that he could see what was happening and brandished the clippers near the hairline. "Shall I? Clipped it down into a nice plush flat?"
"No! Clip it down all the way -- just like Juan's! Take it all off!!" Joel cried out.
In a flash, the naked teeth of my huge set of fast feed Oster clippers were chewing off the plush locks right at Joel's scalp. Mounds of his treasured hair fell away....and the male model image quickly gave way to that of an escaped convict! I made very little effort to contain my glee as I watched the hair fall away. "No use crying over cut hair! Oh, Joel -- did you ever think you'd leave this hotel with a baldy cut when you checked in?"
By now, there was very little hair left on his head and Joel stared at his denuded pate in the mirror. A look of horror was awfully concealed. "Oh, Manny, what have I asked for?"
"The flattop would have been better -- your head has a bit of a pinshape!" I chortled with delight. "Or is it just a bit misshapen, lop-sided....?" There was absolutely nothing wrong with Joel's head, but I did enjoy turning the knife.
"The only important thing is that Juan like it," said Joel, trying to comfort himself about his decision.
"Oh, Juan is sweet on his colleague Jason. What about those anthropoligist colleagues of yours?" I asked.
"They are family men," he said glumly.
I stroked Joel's shorn head tenderly....almost feeling sorry for him. Does it matter that I find you sexy, sitting here looking innocent and vulnerable with your new baldy cut?"
Joel's eyes lit up, "Manny?" It was like I had never crossed his mind.
"Maybe I should close up shop for the afternoon and drive you myself to the airport," I suggested. Then I picked up a brush and ran it through my long, lovely hair, flicking it casually so that it shimmered in the light of the barbershop.
"I could give you a butch, Manny, just like mine," Joel offered meekly from the chair.
I laughed casually and dusted his shorn head. "No thanks, Joel. But, we do have time. If you'd like to give me a vigorous wash and blow job.....I will take a seat here in the next chair. You can recline the seat and carefully lay my head back into the sink. After the water is warm, you give my locks a good dousing and then lather me up."
Joel stood up. But instead of reclining my seat, he reached for a cape and snapped it open.
"Joel, what are you doing?" I asked nervously.
The cape sailed through the air......and I found myself sitting frozen in place. Nervous, compliant, submissive. Joel pull the cape tightly about my neck. "You need a haircut, Manny, much more than you need a shampoo job!"
"But, Joel. I'm very fond of my long hair," I murmured.
"So, was I," he stated flatly as he grasped my silken locks.
I was petrified and secretly excited. After years of dreaming about this moment, wondering when I would finally be brutally be stripped of my thick chestnut-colored mane with fiery auburn highlights....mercilessly stripped of all of it, down to the wood. I took a deep breath and waited for the familiar sound of the Oster's springing to life.
Just then, Juan's muscular profile appeared in the door of the shop. "Joel! You look fantastic!!" He stepped in. "I knew you'd shed that girly hair...let me feel your stubble."
Joel rushed towards him and let Juan rub and fondle his butch. "I hoped you'd like it."
"I do. And I like you!" Juan stammered.
"But what about Jason?" Joel asked.
"Jason? How did you know about us. Manny, were you gossiping about me?! It doesn't matter. Jason and I are history. I told him I'd met someone else. Come on. Let's get your luggage. We can swing by my place on the way to the airport," Juan said, grasping Joel by his hand.
The two scurried from the barbershop in a total hurry, oblivious that I'd been left in the chair. I sat there, staring at myself in the reflection, caped and ready to be shorn. The long hair lay longingly on the white cape, as if begging for someone to snap on the clippers and administer a brutal clipping.
I slowly reached up behind my neck and struggled to unfasten the cape. Feeling totally let down and abandoned, I spotted the clippers on the counter, the ones that Joel had intended to use. I looked into the mirror and saw my locks shimmering, as if mocking me. I could give myself a butch....I certainly could! I reached for the clippers and snapped them on. I grasped my long forelock.....
And then the tinkle of the bells on the door sounded. I heard a man clear his throat. "Uh, excuse me."
I turned to see an older gentleman with whispy salt and pepper hair. "I'd like a trim, please."
"Sure, have a seat," I said. My only consolation was at least this would be a paying customer.