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Oscar - Hair Cut, Status Cut by Manny
Oscar felt extremely nervous as he drove back to the office. Periodically in the car he would feel his freshly cut butch by rubbing his hands across the bristly pelt. The closely clipped hair felt stimulating -- he even enjoyed it. In particular, he liked running his hand up the back of his head, against the grain. But, the image that flashed into the rear view mirror as he drove was jarring -- even slightly terrifying. The barber, through shear force of presence and determination, had made him take a seat after his son's haircut concluded and meekly accept the butch cut. Why had he complied? Why hadn't he insisted that he was only there to ensure his son got his hair cut according to school dress code standards?
Oscar recalled the pit feeling in his stomach that quickly developed when the first image of himself without the executive coif appeared in the mirror as the barber swiveled the chair around. He looked so insignificant with his butch! Worse was the fact that his power helmet of hair had always been a booster of self-confidence. The thick, glossy hair perfectly styled each morning.....sent to the trash can of the barber shop! Now, in the car, half hour after the impromptu haircut, the pit feeling in his stomach endured.
In the office parking lot, Oscar took a good look at his new haircut. His head seemed puny. Instead of looking and feeling like an executive, he felt like a lowly recruit. Furthermore, the contrast with the expensive business suit seemed almost ridiculous. He should be driving a forklift on the loading dock, not seated at the conference table in the wood paneled executive suite.
As Oscar stepped out of the car a stiff wind blew up. Instinctively, he went to shield his stylized locks from being blown to a frazzle, but remembered that there was nothing up there to get mussed up. At least that was one slight benefit of the butch!
As he entered the building, he felt very self-conscious. The receptionist didn't say anything about the haircut, but Oscar could tell that she was giving him the eye over.
"Hi, Betty, I'm back," he murmured to his secretary as he slipped into his suite.
"Mr. Benton! You got your haircut!" she stammered, half-surprised and half-shocked.
"Yes, I told the barber I wanted something shorter...." Oscar croaked softly, his face still tinged with embarrassment.
"And you certainly got what you asked for!" she exclaimed.
As soon as he was at his desk, Oscar heard Betty's gossipy voice in low tones chatting with one of her colleagues, "....and I hardly recognized him....a butch cut......yes, just like I used to give my boys at the beginning of summer...." The hushed tones were broken by a few peals of laughter.
About 20 minutes later Betty appeared at Oscar's door. "Mr. Mathers has asked to see you right away." Oscar felt Betty's eyes drinking in every snippet of his new butch cut. He wanted to crawl under a rock. Anything but walk into his boss' office and endure certain ridicule.
"Is there anything else, Betty?" Oscar asked impatiently since she didn't seem to be moving on from staring at him.
"No, sir. Just that. I'm still trying to get used to your new haircut. That's a butch, isn't it. Single length all over. Do you know what number the barber used?" she pressed.
"No, Betty. I just said 'short' and he took over from there," Oscar replied in a tone that hardly disguised his irritation.
"A #2, I'd guess. Possibly a #3," she continued. "I've administered plenty of butch cuts in my life with three boys in the house, struggling on this limited salary. Never got my husband to let me give him a butch, though. Just the boys. Will you be keeping it short like that or growing it back?"
Oscar felt very irritated by his secretary's attention, but it wasn't totally unexpected. She frequently commented on his clothing, especially if he wore a new tie or suit. "I haven't decided yet. It was great not worrying about it blowing around in the wind when I crossed the parking lot."
"But, it's not very appropriate for a corporate executive. I mean, you had such nice hair for a man your age. The secretaries even thought it made you look sort of dreamy, like that stud Patrick Dempsey. And now, with the butch, well, you look like you should be one of the gardeners mowing the grass out in front, or something," she said.
Oscar's face flared up even brighter with embarrassment. If he couldn't deal with Betty's impertinent remarks, how would he fare at the hands of Mr. Mathers and others who seriously enjoyed throwing him off balance and watching him stumble?
"Thank you for delivering the message, and, now, I'm sure you have plenty of work to do, Betty!" Oscar got up and closed the door to his office, shutting Betty out. Then he went to the mirror that was inside his wardrobe and summoned up the courage to confront his butch.
The image of his clipped head further undermined his confidence. He thought back to the barber tapping the chair and hissing at him for dawdling. He had been treated like a boy! And now he looked like one. He looked like Betty's little son, Johnny, with a beginning of summer butch!
As Oscar scurried to Mr. Mathers' office, several employees gave him the once over. A few even turned their head to take in his unexpected butch cut! Oscar did not make eye contact. He just wanted to be out of their line of scrutiny.
Mr. Mathers' secretary greeted him with a smile that bordered on a suppressed giggle. "Have a seat, Oscar. Mr. Mathers is on the phone right now." Then the giggle escaped from her mouth. "Betty told me about your butch cut! It looks so, uh, sweet....."
"Pretty drastic, eh, Louise?" Oscar said, feeling his clipped head nervously. He always had a sweet spot for Louise and she obviously reciprocated.
"Why did you do it?" she asked seriously. "It's pretty, uh...."
"....awful! Right? I look terrible, don't I?" Oscar lamented.
"You look like a pea head, Oscar. And you had such nice hair. I always wanted to run my fingers through it...."
Suddenly a voice boomed from the inner office. "Tell Baldy I can see him now!"
Oscar's heart skipped a beat. Mr. Mathers' already knew! The word of his shearing had spread through the office. He was being summonsed into his boss' office just to be humiliated!
Oscar slunk in.
Mr. Mathers belted out a hearty laugh. "Oh, my! Look at you!! A real baldy haircut!" He stood from his desk and walked over, shutting the door behind them.
Oscar felt isolated and totally humiliated to be the object of his boss' blatant derision.
And then an even more embarrassing incident happened. Mr. Mathers' reached up and stroked the shorn head briefly!!!
"Just couldn't resist that. You didn't mind, though, did you, Oscar?" he stated.
"No, sir," Oscar was forced to reply.
"Go ahead and sit, Baldy," the boss ordered.
Oscar complied meekly. Unexpectedly Mr. Mathers' hand began stroking the shorn head again. "I hear you left the office to go get this haircut. Is that true?"
"Yes, sir," Oscar replied.
"And, do you like your new look?" Mr. Mathers' pressed.
Oscar was in a quandary....tell the truth and seem like an idiot? Tell a lie and seem like an idiot?!
He decided to punt the question. "What do you think, Mr. Mathers?"
"I think you look like a bit of an idiot! Like you're some sort of marine recruit. Now drop to the floor and give me ten push-ups, Oscar!" Mr. Mathers' commanded.
Oscar sat frozen. His boss could not be serious!
"You're kidding, right?" he asked incredulously.
"Afraid not! Take off your suit coat and give me ten!" Mr. Mathers' voice boomed again.
It was easier to comply than question. Oscar quickly stripped off his power suit jacket and felt even more impotent. He began doing push-ups. The truth was, he was totally out of shape and began sucking air after #3.
Then Mr. Mathers did something even more cruel. He stepped on Oscar's tie, tethering him close to the ground!
Oscar strained, but Mr. Mathers did not relent. "Take off your tie, Baldy! Those fancy cuff links too, and roll up your sleeves," he ordered.
Oscar complied again in silence. Quickly, obediently. He was almost glad to be stripped of his trappings of power and to grovel helplessly at Mr. Mathers' feet.
As Oscar continued with his push-ups, Mr. Mathers told him about a new assignment, "I am going to detail you to the warehouse to help take inventory. For the next three months, you will report to foreman and do whatever odd tasks he has for you. Be his gopher. Get him a hot cup of coffee. Find ways to be useful. That sort of thing. Any questions, Baldy?"
"No, sir!" Oscar replied.
"Good!" Then Mr. Mathers' instructed his secretary. "Send in the warehouse foreman."
The buff thirty-something foreman dressed in a standard beige jumpsuit walked timidly into the office. Oscar's eyes quickly riveted to the fantastic flattop the foreman sported -- a plush pelt of thick brown hair standing straight up with shaved sides. His piercing blue eyes mesmerized Oscar. "You wanted to see me, Sir? I hope I'm not in trouble."
"Not at all, Chip. This here is Oscar. He likes to be called 'Baldy'. He'll be working for you for the next three months. I want him to get to know the operation of the warehouse thoroughly. From top to bottom. No job is too low, demeaning or dirty for him. He's the type of employee who likes to please. Is there a jump suit he can slip into? This fashionable suit he wore to work today won't suit him for this new job."
"Sure. I'll also issue Baldy a locker where he can keep his lunch pail. We'll get him set up for this special project, no problem." Chip's hand began to stroke Oscar's shorn head. "I'm glad he's the type of employee who likes to please. And I have the perfect job to start with -- I've always wondered if each vat of ball bearings contains precisely 100,000 each. I want a few random samples counted by hand. That'll be your first project, Baldy! Do you mind if he stays late?" Chip asked Mr. Mathers.
"All night, if that's what it takes," chirped Mr. Mathers.
Oscar looked at the handsome foreman with the incredible flattop. All night with Chip might be just the thing dreams were made of..... As the two left Mr. Mather's suite, Chip's firm hand swatted Oscar's fanny. "You're the type who likes to please....and I'm the type who likes to be pleased." The second swat Chip delivered stung far more than a moment.
Oscar's face reddened, but he felt warm inside. For the moment he did not mind his severe cut in status....