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Lost Luggage (Recovered) by Raldo
New Image It was the day before my uncle’s funeral and I had a duty to be there since I was the only benefactor of his will but so far nothing was going my way. The flight had been delayed and I had arrived much later than I wanted to and then to make matters even worse my luggage was lost. So I took a cab to my uncle’s house empty handed and hoping I might at least find something respectable to wear for his funeral. Much to my relief the wardrobes and cupboards were full of suits and shirts most of which were almost new; he was always very particular about his clothes and his appearance. I looked through the wardrobes and found myself the best dark business suit I could and everything else I needed to complete the outfit and be well dressed for the funeral. I tried them on for size and was very well impressed with how good I looked but thought that I had sort of let myself down by not getting a haircut before I set off, my uncle was always well dressed and I can’t remember ever seeing him with untidy hair. He always wore it in a very short taper cut neatly parted at the side, greased down and brushed back. I thought the least I could do was look the best I could as a sign of respect. I decided that if I was fairly quick there was enough time to get a haircut and get back to have a shower and a shave and be ready on time for the funeral.
I made my way into town to find only one barbershop open, a very traditional shop with a well worn leather chair and everything looking like it was from another era and to top it all a very traditional looking barber sporting a very short high and tight grey flattop. I entered the shop and was made welcome and offered the chair. I’d made my mind up that I was getting a haircut no matter what and this was the only place I could get one so I had to go ahead with it even though I was a little apprehensive. I couldn’t go to the funeral with my hair looking this bad when I knew all the other men in the family would be well dressed and have short haircuts. I felt I owed my uncle at least a haircut out of respect for the house he’d left me.
I sat in the chair and the barber talked to me as he fastened the cape around my neck, it turned out that this was my uncle’s barber for many years and with a disapproving shake of his head the barber said he would not have been impressed by my hair at all and just leave it to him and it would soon look just right and respectable for the funeral – I thought to myself is that a good idea and am I being too trusting but he took over and didn’t seem to want any input from me.
I’ve never been a fan of clipper haircuts so I got very nervous when he finished combing my hair and picked up the clippers and turned them on. He wasted no time taking a firm hold of my head and pushing the clippers into my neckline sending large chunks of hair rolling down the cape towards my feet. A combination of feelings came over me – I didn’t want this to get any worse but I realised that it was too late to put back the hair that was now on the floor so feeling very uncomfortable I kept quiet and took it like a man – what the hell it’s only hair and it will grow back sooner or later. At least I won’t feel too out of place at the funeral since all the men in the family have very short hair and one cousin has his head shaved since there is a lot of MPB in our genes.
So I’m sitting there and hair is rapidly falling all around me and I’m feeling cold and naked as the barber finishes of what turns out to be a very high and severe taper cut with shaved whitewalls, the top is a little longer with a very clean parting to the left and combed smoothly back after an application of hair tonic – not at all what I really wanted but strangely fascinating. The barber held up the hand mirror behind me to show me the back of my head – I’m looking at a strangers head, I’ve never had such a short haircut and I can’t get over how white the skin around the edges looks where the hairline has been shaved up. He flicked his brush around my ears and neck and unhooks the cape, I spent a couple of minutes examining the result in the mirror before paying and putting on my jacket ready to leave, at this point the barber told me how much I looked like my uncle now that I had the same haircut that he used to get and I should call back in a couple of weeks to keep it looking good – I smile at him and politely say maybe.
I left the barbershop and wasted more time looking at my reflection in the shop windows examining what was left of my hair and half wishing I’d left it alone and half beginning to sort of like it. I arrived back at the house and quickly had a shower, fortunately the bathroom cupboard was full of all the male grooming accessories and products I could ever need and most of them were unused, this was fortunate given the loss of my luggage. The only thing that was missing was an electric shaver – I had never quite got into wet shaving but I didn’t have much choice right now. I used a badger hair shaving brush to work up a good lather and then used an old style double edged razor to shave my face smooth it was an enjoyable experience and one that I could get used to, my face felt smoother than it ever did with the electric shaver.
I finished shaving and went into the bedroom to dress. I put on a new stiff white cotton shirt and buttoned it to the neck, I stood the collar up to fasten my tie and I was suddenly aware of a new sensation – my haircut – the edge of the shirt collar was moving the closely cropped hairs on the back of my head and rubbing on the freshly shaved whitewalls sending shivers through me, I was enjoying the haircut now more than I thought I would, it was going to be hard to stop myself running my hands up and down the back of my head all day.
I pulled on the trousers from the suit and they were just a little too big at the waist so I used a pair of smart old fashioned button on braces. I laced up the pair of highly polished black leather shoes, straightened my tie put on my suit jacket and the picture was complete. I looked at myself in the full length mirror and thought how lucky I was that I am almost the same size as my uncle – I look better than I could have hoped for. I know my uncle would have been impressed since every time I ever visited I always got a lecture about smartening myself up and getting my haircut like a man.
I stepped out of the house to head to the funeral looking like a very different man to the one who arrived here a few hours ago. When I arrived at the church several of the relatives did a double take on me, none of them had ever seen me this well dressed and with hair this short before. I had thought on my way from the barbershop that I would feel self-conscious about my new image but much to my surprise I was feeling very good about it – the new look had boosted my self-confidence more than I could have imagined and I was very comfortable and happy to face the world. My cousin with the shaved head was very impressed but told me I should have gone further like him as it would only a matter of time before nature would do the job for me, I smiled and said there was plenty of time before that would happen. By this point I was already getting to enjoy being the new me because of all the compliments and positive comments and at this point I’m even thinking about the next haircut and if I should perhaps go a good deal shorter on top. After the funeral I had planned to stay in the house for a couple of months until everything was sorted out and I’d made a decision about the future. My lost luggage had still not turned up two weeks later but there were plenty of clothes and shoes and everything I needed right there in the house even if it was a radical departure from my usual image. My uncle had been a military man for many years and always dressed very formally, I didn’t mind dressing this way too much I even got to like the way people treated me differently – I think I looked older and a little more distinguished.
The first couple of weeks flew and I was getting ready for an appointment in town when I noticed that my hair which was still very short by my previous standards was not looking quite as good as it had two weeks ago, the sides were no longer smooth and hair free and the top was not staying in place like it did – I couldn’t believe It was me thinking this I always resisted getting a haircut for as long as possible but I thought I looked a mess and needed a haircut, I was beginning to like the new me and feeling comfortable. I set off to town early so I could call at the barbers, he was pleased to see me and this time I knew what to expect and what to ask for. Once I was in the chair and caped up I said I’d like him to taper the sides higher maybe just short of the crown and cut the top of flat like his. He was slightly surprised in view of how long it was before my first haircut with him but he was happy to go as short as I wanted. I sat back and relaxed into the haircut as the clippers sheared away the hair that had grown back and more too. The only problem now is that there is so little hair to cut the experience doesn’t last long enough – next time maybe I’ll get a shave too. He finished up my haircut and held up the hand mirror for me to inspect it all round – I was surprised to see he’d given me a landing strip on top, he said the haircut was not finished without it – I had no wish to disagree and when I ran my hand over it I knew I’d enjoy having it. He removed the cape and brushed me down, this time I enjoyed examining myself in the mirror and I got the full picture since I was correctly dressed in a formal suit. I was happier with this haircut than the first, I paid with a good tip but spent a while looking in the mirror and running my hands over an over my head feeling the difference between the smooth shaved sides and the closely cropped bristly hair on top. The barber said this haircut would be less fuss for me but need more frequent haircuts to keep it looking perfect and I should have it freshened up every week - I could get used to that.
After living here for two months and several good haircuts I decided to move here permanently – I have a new home and an excellent new image and this is the only way everyone here has ever known me – always smartly dressed and very short hair. The following summer I was into my second year living here and my cousin was coming for a vacation that I was going to enjoy. When he arrived we did the mutual head rubbing thing, he was very complimentary about my haircut he said that it looked good at the funeral but it looked so much now it was really short. I spent a while examining his shaved head – I hated it when he first did it but that was before I became a haircut fan and I was looking at it in a different light now and it was good having his company. He shaved his head every morning and I couldn’t get over how good he looked and how smooth it always felt, that was part of what I liked with my weekly haircut – the smoothness of the whitewalls when they are freshly shaved. At the end of his first week here I said I was heading to town for a haircut the following morning and he said he’d join me since he liked to have his head shaved by a barber occasionally – we decided to make a day of it. The following morning I was eating breakfast when my cousin came up behind me and started to examine the crown of my head where the landing strip was growing back in, he started laughing and said he’d told me at the funeral that it was only a matter of time before my hair started to go like all the other men in the family. I had to own up to it that I’d begun to notice it some time ago but since it was so short and the landing strip was shaved every week it didn’t matter much to me but I was beginning to notice the hair at my temples was receding too. I was having a good time ribbing me and badgering me about getting a head shave like him, he said it was better to do it now than wait until the baldness became obvious. I wasn’t too keen on the idea but I did think it looked good on him and I liked the idea of my entire head being smooth every day. We are about the same height and build and do bear a strong family resemblance so I told myself if he looked good with a shaved head then there was no reason that I shouldn’t and looking at him I had some idea of how I might look.
The following morning we were up and out early and waiting for the barber to open, I had still not agreed to a head shave but in the back of my mind I wanted to be talked into it. My cousin took the chair first and I watched intently as his head was covered with lather and shaved smooth with a straight razor twice – it took no time at all before he was admiring himself in the mirror and running his hand over his bare scalp. I had to admit that he did look seriously good in his suit with his head shining – I was a little envious but it was a haircut that I’d never considered.
I got in the chair and was caped up ready to go when the barber said he thought that I should consider getting my head shaved like my cousin, he said it was the haircut I should have had for a while now and like my cousin pointed out how my hair was vanishing anyway. After a short deliberation I gritted my teeth and with my heart pounding I said go for it, I suppose I knew deep down that I’d end up either fully shaved or with very closely cropped hair so giving in and having it shaved now would be the best option. What hair I had was quickly shaved down to the skin with clippers, I watched intently as he pressed the clippers down firmly on my head determined to get as close as possible, I could see he was enjoying doing it. Hot lather was applied and worked into the covering of stubble and then carefully shaved away with the same straight razor that had just smoothed my cousin’s scalp. The skin was stretched tightly with the barbers thumb to get as close a shave as possible as he worked his way around my head. A second covering of hot lather was applied to my newly smooth scalp and the process repeated just as thoroughly. The process was finished off with oil being rubbed in and dried off and then gel to leave it shining. I got out of the chair feeling very naked but already like the way I looked, my cousin came over and congratulated me on how excellent it looked and rubbed my head with both hands. I wasn’t ready for how strange and how good that felt, I’d really loved having short hair and thoroughly enjoyed every haircut but this was on another level I could feel every movement of air around me and the touch of my own and my cousins hands on the bare shaved scalp were intense beyond what I could have imagined. I was an instant convert but my cousin said he knew I would be – it’s in the genes.
I could never have imagined that when I came here to my uncle’s funeral almost two years ago that I would end up living here and changing my appearance so radically. I know that a shaved head is not for everyone but it is certainly the look for me and I can’t imagine myself with any hair at all now - not even the shortest flattop.