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A Different Kind of Rebellion by Bald Surfer


I wouldn't exactly call my parents hippies, but they were certainly unconventional. My dad was an artist at a small advertising firm and my mom was a poet. My dad's artistic job gave him the freedom to look however he wanted so he always had long hair, usually tied back in a pony tail. From my early childhood, my parents taught me to think for myself, not go along with the crowd and to never give in to peer pressure. And I don't think they ever realized that in their own way, they were forcing me to conform to THEIR standard of non-conformity.

I never got haircuts as a child, and by the time I started grade school, my hair was well below my shoulders. Even though very few other boys I knew had long hair, I liked it. The only thing I didn't like was that people often thought I was a little girl. Fortunately, puberty kicked in a bit early and by sixth grade, I had enough of a peach fuzz mustache that made me look more manly. I began to enjoy the way my long hair made me stand out in a crowd, and I could tie it back in a pony tail when playing or bike riding. As high school approached, a lot of my buddies were getting rid of their boyish floppy haircuts and getting buzzcuts. They looked pretty cool and definitely more mature. They started pushing me to cut my hair off, and I started to think it might be a good idea. My parents were dead against it and told me that I should be a leader, not a follower and that other people shouldn't dictate how I look. I let the idea drop and my pony tail remained dangling half way down my back.

Sophomore year in high school, I tried out for the baseball team and I made it. I was really excited, but on the first day of practice, the coach told me that my hair would be problem - it would slow me down, get in the way and be uncomfortably hot. He said he wouldn't force me to cut it, but thought I should consider it. A few days into practice, I realized he was right. My hair was way too long. After pleading with my parents and insisting it was MY choice, we agreed on a compromise and my mom, with tears in her eyes, cut 8 inches off my hair, leaving it still a few inches below my shoulders. I'd still need to tie it back to play ball but it was certainly easier to deal with during baseball season. We won the county championship that season, and after the winning game, we players had a huge party where we got drunk and partied all night. When I stumbled home after 3 am, my parents were waiting - madder than I'd ever seen them. They screamed at me for drinking and blowing my curfew. They thought I'd given in to the bad influence of the other players, so they were going to make me quit the team. I argued that we still had to go to the state finals and that team needed me, but they insisted. I told them I wouldn't do it, I wasn't quitting. So the next morning, my dad called the school principle and told him that they would not let me continue on the team.

I was so angry I just started crying and screaming at them but it was too late. I left for school, filled for the first time with hatred for my dad. All day I kept thinking about how mad I was at him. I didn't want to talk to him. I didn't want to see him. And I certainly didn't want to look like him. And suddenly I knew how to make the break and show my dad that I didn't want to be anything like him.

After school, with only one thing on mind, I walked into town and headed straight to the barber shop. I'd walked past it before, but I'd never set foot inside one before. When I got there, a chair was open and the barber motioned for me to sit down. He lifted my hair up, put a piece of paper around my neck and then put a cape on me. He undid my pony tail, ran a comb through my long hair and remarked that he didn't think he'd ever seen me before. I looked at my hair as he combed it, shiny jet black, hanging over my shoulders. I'd loved my hair and the way I looked, and my stomach was in knots as I thought about what I was about to do. Finally, after my hair was combed out, he said, "So, what are we doing today? Clean up those split ends?"

"No," I replied, scared but still resolute. "Take it all off."
"A few inches? Maybe a nice layer cut over your collar?"
"No. ALL of it. I want the shortest buzzcut you can do."

He said that the shortest buzzcut without shaving me bald was a Number 1. I didn't know what the numbers meant, but said that if that was the shortest, that was what I wanted. He asked me one last time if I was sure and, even though I was so nervous that I thought I'd pass out, I said yes.

"Okay. You're the boss. But this will go easier if we get most of this off first" so he put the pony tail back in, but higher on my head. "Ready?" he asked and I nodded. He grabbed a big scissor and sliced off the pony tail. As the remaining hair fell loose, barely below my ears, i couldn't believe what I'd just done, but there was no turning back. The barber grabbed a big black clipper, put a silver blade on it and flipped the switch. I jumped a little when I heard the powerful motor start to hum. He placed the clippers at my left sideburn and pushed them up, leaving the slightest bit of black stubble. What was I doing? I stared at the black ponytail that still laid on my lap and with every pass of the clippers, moe hair piled up on the cape as well.By the time he'd worked his way around to the other side of my head, I'd calmed down, marveling at the feel of the air conditioner breeze on my head and neck. Then he placed the clippers to my forehead and plowed backwards and with each swipe he shaved away the last of my resemblance to my father and that made me feel great. I resisted the urge to touch my head until the barber was done razor shaving around my ears and down my neck. When he was finally done, he took off the cape, brushed away the stray clippings and said "Voila! You're a new man!" I smiled as I rubbed my head, not just because of the cool feeling of the buzzcut, but because I was truly a "new man", no longer forced to be like my dad.

I walked into the house and didn't say a word. My mom walked out of the kitchen, saw me and started to cry. "What did you do to your beautiful hair?" She called for my dad and he seemed sad and angry at the same time. They asked me why I'd done it.
"You always told me to make my own choices and not give in to pressure. You meant from my friends, but I don't want to be like you either. This is me. This is my choice. If you don't respect it, you've been full of s*** my whole life." I walked out of the room, leaving them stunned and silent.

I looked in my bedroom mirror, admired my new look and realized that I'd finally grown up and become my own man.



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