Sebastian's Buzz by Manny
He seemed quite relaxed as he basked in the warm afternoon sun, sipping coffee on the hotel's terrace. Then he lit a cigarette and rocked back on the sturdy iron chair, blowing a huge billow of smoke above him. As he watched the puff dissipate, his thick brown locks shimmered in the sun, emitting a range of brown to copper to golden hues. I found it an effort to take my eyes of his luxurious mane. As he lazily smoked his cigarette, a soft breeze stirred through his hair, dislodging a heavy forelock. He quickly smoothed it back, tugging the silken strands behind his ear.
He turned his head slightly, so that the breeze would hit him face on and send his cascading treasure away from his face. As he did so, he observed me watching him. He smiled a bit, acknowledging the attention I paid him. Then, as if sensing my interest was in his copious mane, he ran his fingers back through his locks of mahogany.
"Beautiful day," he commented casually. "Total nirvana out here." He breathed deeply and exhaled.
I smiled and nodded in agreement, suppressing any embarrassment I might have felt to be caught eyeing him.
Then he asked, "You don't have a cigarette I could bum off you? I finished my pack just as I was starting to get a good buzz."
The mention of "a buzz" made me squirm! I pictured the fellow seated and caped up in old Horace's barber shop, clipped down to the wood, with the remnants of his proud mane covering the white apron. Horace was an old-time stickler for whites -- his tunic, slacks and shoes were all snowy white, along with the large barber capes he used on his clientele.
"Sorry, and I'm not even sure where they sell cigarettes around here. At one time, there used to be a vending machine in Horace's Barber Shop, not too far from here. I can walk you over there; I'm going that way," I said, extending a very improbable invitation.
"A barber shop?" he said in an amused tone. "There's more than one way to get a quick buzz, I guess!" The fellow fondled his thick locks. "Horace won't try to take his clippers to my hair if I pop in there to buy some cigarettes, you think?" he said with a laugh.
I seized on the joke to further my interest in his lovely, pampered hair. "He might! I don't think Horace appreciates long, beautiful hair like yours. But your chances of feeling his clippers plowing through that mane will improve dramatically if you opt for a quick haircut while your there. Why not ask for a tight butch cut? That whole mass of hair would be stripped off in just a matter of minutes! Horace wields his fast-feed clippers like a pro."
"That's a tempting idea. Clipped down to the wood all over. Good bye hair care!" he laughed, once again fondling his long locks.
"You're not serious?!" I exclaimed with a quiver of excitement in my voice.
"Hardly!" he gasped, in alarm. Then he added, "But, I've always been curious...what it would be like to watch it all come off? Every last lock shaved off at the scalp?! My partner would freak out....." he laughed.
".....and that's what really makes you want to do it, right?" I added.
"How did you guess? That's exactly right!" he exclaimed.
"Come on, let's head over to Horace's," I urged.
"To buy the cigs, right?" he asked, sort of joking.
"You need a buzz, remember?" It was imperative I keep the momentum going. I started walking away, and the fellow began to follow me, almost instinctively. "So tell me about this partner of yours who's got you so worried," I said.
"Not sure that I would describe it as worried. I mean it's not like I'm being kept from a life-long desperate urge to shave my head," he laughed. "Just a little curiosity -- what a boot camp like experience would be like? One minute looking one way and a few minutes later an irreversible change. A pit feeling in the stomach....like, what have I done?!"
"Well, it is reversible -- just would take a year or two to get back to this current length," I said eyeing his locks. "You really do have gorgeous hair. The color, the texture, the sheen. Anyone ever told you that before?"
"You know how many times I've heard that!" he scoffed. "To tell you the truth, that's what really is at the heart of my irrational urge to undergo the big chop. I'd love to see the shocked faces of all those people who faun over my precious hair when they see me buzzed down to stubble."
"Including your partner?" I added.
"Exactly! That little control freak needs to learn I'm in charge of me...." he stammered in irritation. "Maybe Horace will be the one to finally administer the mow down! 'Give me a baldy, Horace!' Yes, that's what I'll tell him...."
At that moment, the fellow was confronted with the reality of the twirling barber pole of Horace's Barber Shop as we rounded the corner. Our rapid pace slowed considerably. The fellow pawed nervously at this hair.
"We're almost there," I said, hoping he wouldn't get cold feet at the last minute. "Ready for your buzz?"
The fellow took a deep breath and then boldly opened the door of the shop and strode in.
However, once inside, his courage quickly withered and he stood, almost paralyzed with fear.
Old Horace stood in the middle of the empty shop and asked the obvious, "Here for a haircut?"
The fellow glanced at himself in the mirror. His Adam's apple bobbed nervously. The locks glistened in the harsh white light of the neon.
"I'm here for a baldy cut. I want this all shaved off," he said quickly.
Horace smiled, eager to please his new client and possibly excited about the task before him. "You've come to the right place! Take a seat there." The old barber patted the top of the chair nearest to him, inviting the longhair to prepare for the drastic makeover.
I was amazed that things were moving forward so quickly. I had expected the fellow to stammer on about cigarettes and slip away from the makeover.
He climbed the sturdy foot rest of the the huge barber chair and then looked over his shoulder at me. "Am I going to regret this?" he quipped nervously.
"I'm sure you will. You have such gorgeous hair...." I said as I grasped a silken lock. It felt heavenly in my hand.
"Not for long," the barber laughed as he shook open a clean cape from the pile in the small cabinet below the counter where his hair-cutting tools lay. In a flash the cape sailed through the air. The barber struggled with the copious length as he worked to secure it into place with a large metal clip. Horace took a brush to the flowing mane. "How much of this is going to survive my clippers? An eighth of an inch? A sixteenth?"
"He wants a full-fledged marine induction cut," I said decisively. "He's tired of the girly-boy look."
"A nice 5 o-clock shadow," the barber clucked cheerfully.
The fellow sat still and submissive, eager and scared.
The old barber picked up the huge set of clippers and eyed it studiously. "Yep, this here is what you need for the baldy look you want."
Horace grasped him by the plush mane that dangled over his collar and jerked his head back, marine-induction haircut style. The clippers roared to life. The caped fellow's lip quivered, yet he remained silent.
The drone of the machine was suddenly thrown off its stride with a shriek as the menacing teeth hit the thick tresses for the first time, right in the center of the forehead at the hairline.
The fellow squirmed slightly, but Horace doubled down on his vice-like grip and kept him in place. With a slow determined drive across the top of his head, vast sheaves of the beautiful silken hair slid down from the head to the shoulders and then collected on the white cape. In slow, wonderful motion, the locks slid down toward's the caped fellow's lap, collecting in a cauldron of cut hair.
The fellow watched his transformation in the mirror with a strange mixture of agony and ecstasy etched across his face. "Oh, my!" he gasped as the first drive of the clippers ended and he saw the shaved strip which gave him a skunk-like look.
To think, less than ten minutes ago he had been enjoying a tranquil smoke on the patio of the hotel, without a care in the world, and now he was watching a brutal end to his trademark tresses. He watched with baited breath as another load of his beautiful hair fell from his head, this time plummeting to ignominy at the barber's feet.
Old Horace could not contain his satisfaction at putting an end to the girlish lock. He was a firm believer that no man should sport hair longer than a tidy taper. "So, what's behind your big change, mister?" The clippers quickly took off another strip of flowing hair.
"Sebastian is my name; friends call me Buster," the fellow replied. "You know, I just needed a change. Simplify my life and my look a bit...."
"From now on, you'll be referred to as Buzz-ster, buddy!" I chirped from the waiting area.
"This haircut is really, really short," Sebastian said nervously. "My partner is going to...."
"....to what?!" old Horace demanded. "To start treating you like a man, now that you look like one?" With that pert remark, he wrenched Sebastian's head to the side and took the clippers to the long hair that covered his ears. "How did you stand all of this?" the barber asked as the clippers emerged through the hair, sending another clump down to the floor. "Are you liking what you see?'
"I'm liking what I feel," Sebastian replied, dodging the question a bit.
"I think you're looking quite innocent without that playboy's mane, Buzz-ster," I remarked.
Instantly, his face blushed.
"Like a marine recruit stripped of his old life and look," the barber noted. "I started my career as a barber at Parris Island. Can't tell you how many massive collections of thatch I stripped away there in the early 1970s. The hippies all still being reoriented from their decadent lifestyles towards the battlefields of Vietnam and Cambodia. Felt sorry for them. Of course they were holding back tears about the end of their moptop looks, when they really should have been focused on the really danger that lay ahead. It was those Beatles that changed everything, shaking all that long hair around and screaming instead of singing," Horace noted with disgust.
The rest of Sebastian's long hair was clipped of in silence. His head looked small and insignificant without that abundant collection of lustrous hair adorning it.
"What do you think, Baldy?" the barber asked as he took the whisk to the snippets that were sprinkled across his face.
"It's unbelievable!" Sebastian replied. "Would you mind very much if my friend there took a picture of me like this? I want to text it to my partner," he explained.
"Sure," the old barber replied, lightly rubbing the stubble that remained atop Sebastian's head.
He handed me his cellphone from under the cape, taking care to not send any of the cut hair to the floor. "I want as much of the cape to appear in the photo, with, of course, the bald head featured," he instructed.
I snapped a few delicious shots and watched Sebastian's face flash a smile. "Oh, this is perfect!" He pounded out a quick text.
Almost instantly, the phone rang and a videolink was established. I heard an agitated voice demanding, "Are you insane?! What happened to your hair?! Where are you, you idiot?"
"I had it all shaved off. Every bit of it. I told you I was tired of it," Sebastian replied with forceful conviction. "Just told the barber to shave it off, marine induction style."
"You look awful! Like a little insignificant pea head!" the voice came back. Then the video link dropped.
Sebastian's face fell. He seemed crestfallen. His moment of independence came at a price.
"Do you think that too?" he asked me, obviously hoping for affirmation that he'd done the right thing.
I cracked a thin, mean grin. "Totally. You had such nice hair....." I murmured, collecting a long, shorn lock and holding it up. Then I dropped it to the floor. "But now, you look like an insecure recruit with your baldy cut." I rubbed the bristled scalp. "Is that how you're feeling? Vulnerable? Like you made a big mistake?"
Sebastian gulped. "Yes," he eeked out.
"What's been done's been done, Buster," the barber announced unsympathetically as he unfastened the clip and removed the cape. The load of lovely cut hair fell to his feet making the white shoes stand out dramatically amid the carpet of silken mahogany.
"Maybe a cigarette would help me feel better. Where's the vending machine?" Sebastian asked
I chuckled. "Oh, there's no vending machine here. I just needed a reason to get you over here.... But, guess what? I happen to have a cig after all. Here you go, Buzz-ster!" I said handing him a cigarette.
He smiled sheepishly and blushed. Then he looked in the mirror and fondled his clipped head. "I really needed this. And, I kind of like the way it looks. It's really growing on me....ha, ha. Get it? And, I feel lightheaded and happy."
We stepped outside the shop, and Sebastian lit up. He took a deep drag and blew a few rings of smoke. His shaved head looked fantastic in the sunlight. He exuded a manly, confident attitude. He seemed serene and content.
We walked in silence back toward the hotel. The replay of his radical makeover projected on the screen of my brain. I loved re-living his big change almost as much as watching it happen.
After we were about a half block away, Sebastian turned to me and playfully tussled my tidy businesscut. "We should've had Horace put an end to this while we were there....."
My heart beat wildly and my feet instantly felt like anchors. My gait slowed. I stared at his baldy.....what would everyone at the office say if I showed up clipped down to the wood -- no vestige of my pert side part remaining? I looked longingly at his butch.
I felt Sebastian put his arm about my shoulder and slowly, but firmly, turn me in an about face to head back to Horace's Barber Shop....I tried to drag my feet, but he propelled me forward. He whispered in my ear, "No fussing in the mirror over this fussy side part, trying to get it perfectly straight."
It would be my first butch.....