Hi! (A Dream Come True) by Skitch
the 1970's were a terrible time for boys' hair; there was no doubt about it. the late 60's and the flower power "anti- establishment" movement had made all short hairstyles obsolete. anything that wasn't covering the ears and collar and feathered on top was ridiculed mercilessly. he was one of the lucky ones, in that he had this exact style. his mother had given her sons haircuts- low budget home haircuts- but by the time he reached high school, she had for the most part let them keep their hair the way they wanted it, as long as they kept it neat. and he did: he washed and conditioned it, blow drying it to a lustrous sheen.
the only problem was that he didn't actually want his hair like this. he had found a stack of his older brother's Boy's Life magazines from the early 1960's, and was fascinated by the clothing styles and short SHORT haircuts he saw inside. he hoarded these, and kept them under his bed. what he really wanted was to look like they did: button-down collared shirts, black glasses, straight-leg trousers that just covered black wing-tips and a high tapered slicked haircut. a old style clean-cut look. he would take long walks, always managing to find those old man barbershops that were disappearing in those scruffy days, going miles out of his way to find himself in front of the plate glass windows; even if it meant crossing the street back and forth within the same block.
most of the time, the shop was closed, abandoned, or if in fact it was still in business, empty save for one old bald man trimming another bald man's pate. he would sneak a look inside regardless- he liked seeing all the old hair tonics and red leather chairs. the price list said all it needed: Haircuts $5. that was that. what a great time it must've been. he even started thinking about what it would be like to be MADE to have a haircut such as those! it would be mortifying... but deep down, he would fantasize about forced weekly trips to one of those old barbers, their tsk-ing at his "wretched girly mop", and the clippering, snipping and slicking of his hair.
when his parents weren't around, he would sneak down to the bathroom, and spend hours playing with his dad's tubes of old, unused hair grease. he would squeeze a large mound of Groom 'N' Clean into his hands and rub it into his hair, turning it a dark, greasy mess. then combing it, marvelling at the rows of comb marks it left as he made a side part and severely combed it to one side, then switching to the other. then slicking it straight back, his cowlick swooping up and over, like a tsunami. he looked just like the Scouts in the magazine!
suddenly he would hear the car in the driveway, and he would quickly wash it out. he didn't want Dad to catch him wasting his hair grease. after awhile, he switched to Vaseline, lots of it. it would take a lot more effort to wash it out, and there were some close calls with his parents. not that he would get in trouble, more like if they saw him like that, they might insist he keep it that way (which of course he wanted desperately).
one day he was in an unfamiliar part of town, and saw the perfect old barbershop: it was small; two red leather chairs, clippers and tonics and creams all lined up, combs in blud liquid... and an old poster that said "LOOK YOUR BEST- Get your hair cut every ten days!" surrounded by old photographs of men and boys with some of the shortest haircuts he had ever seen! there was the Businessman and the Junior Contour (which looked just like his did when he slicked his cowlick up), but what really made his gasp was The Butch and The Flat-Top Crewcut. there had been some of these photos in the old magazines under his bed, but this one was absolutely perfect and the poster was big enough that you could see every subtle nuance of it.
forget that slicked-up nonsense, he thought. THIS was the haircut he wanted! it was so...fantastic. it looked like the old movies of NASA engineers with their pocket protectors and thick black glasses that shot the men to the moon. and they ALL looked like that! he wouldn't be mocked for looking that way around those guys, would he?
"Huh?" he squeaked, startled. he had been staring so intently at this marvellous, crisp, shortest-haircut-he'd-ever-seen photograph that he hadn't noticed the girl come out of the barbershop and stand near him, watching him gawking at the poster. how long had he been staring at it? he started to blush.
"You like that poster, huh? Me too", she said in a low,conspiratorial voice. "Which one is your favorite?"
she stepped closer to him and whispered in his ear: " Personally, I like the 'Flat-Top Crewcut'. It's perfect for guys with thick soft hair, like yours", and with that, ran her fingers up the back of his neck and into his thick hair. his knees suddenly felt like rubberbands, and he could feel his ears burning. he knew he was blushing an even deeper red than was possible. he was also suddenly more irrationally scared than he had ever been.
"Uhhhmm...no, I was... was just looking... to... see what time it was!" and rushed past her, not even looking back. a fast walk, almost at a run, the kind of walk when you're late. his heart was beating in his throat, he was sweating even though he shivered with the setting sun on his face. he didn't stop until he got home. At dinner, he hardly ate anything, and tossed and turned all night. he couldn't get that image out of his head, and that girl's voice and the way she touched him...!
over the next few weeks, he stopped almost all of his previous activities: no more long walks looking in windows, no more playing with tonics and haircream, and he almost threw out those old magazines, if he had remembered they were there. he didn't even look at himself in the mirror while doing a cursory pass at his hair. but there was a strange, deep, awkward sensation that gnawed at him that he couldn't shake. he knew it would pass eventually; as soon as classes started in the fall, then he could drown himself in studies. he never dreamed he would actually look forward to "back-to-school" when his mom dragged him to the stores.
"Oh honey, that's a nice looking shirt and pants. I didn't think you liked wearing those anymore... and are you sure you want those shoes? I'll buy them for you, but you need to wear them."
he snapped back to reality and looked in disbelief. he was standing in front of the full length mirror, and the young man that stared back at him was wearing not the latest "cool" clothes, but the clearance rack, cast-off, 10 years ago-style black glasses, collared button-down shirt and "high water" trousers, barely touching the tops of shiny black wingtip shoes! "I'm so glad you've decided to save me some money this time around. this ensemble is a bargain, and you look so handsome in it!" his mother said, pecking him on the cheek. before he could say anything, the salesman had rung her up for the sale, and the die was cast.
what was going on? his heart sank. he didn't want to have to wear this "dork" stuff all year long!? oh man am i gonna get it on Monday, he groaned. why did i even consent to this? he overheard his mom telling his dad that he "went straight over to the sales rack and was already to go within 5 minutes of our coming into the store"...?? he was surely losing his mind. well, now you've done it. even his little sister laughed at what he got. and she was in A / V club!
Monday morning dawned, gray and mocking. sure enough, the insults started immediately, from the moment he stepped through the doors:
"Dude, did your mom dress you in the dark?"
"Is there a flood?"
"I didn't know I enrolled at Dork High School!"
"Hi! boy, you're hard to track down." it was that girl from in front of the barbershop! "i just started here. we moved in down the street from you last month. didn't you see the truck? so, now i'm new here... do you know where everything is? maybe you can show me around the school... are you OK?"
she was here! at his school! he had completely blotted her out of his mind... and didn't really know why. she was really pretty and sweet, and as they walked around, he showed her where all the classes were, and they chatted about this and that. she was so easy to talk to! how is it they had moved in down the block and he hadn't even noticed?
"well, this is my class", she said. "I guess I'll be seeing you around?"
"y-yeah", he stammered a little.
as he turned to leave, the bell rang, and there was a mad dash for classes. she suddenly spun around and said, "By the way... you never told me which of those haircuts you liked that day. It's OK- I have a pretty good idea which one you want, judging by what you're wearing. See ya!" and was gone. The entire hallway was now completely empty, except for him, and a nasally hall monitor, who yelled, "get to class, nerd!" Some jocks laughed. his face reddened to new heights of crimson, and he vowed he would never leave his bedroom again.
"Honey? are you OK?" his mom tapped on his door.
"Yeah, i just don't feel too good." he laid on the bed, thoroughly wiped out by the day's emotional rollercoaster. Oh the names he heard. no way am i wearing this crap ever again... not that it makes any difference- the damage was done. Pariah was the word he was looking for.
"Oh, what a shame. Your friend Delilah is at the door, asking if you were around."
"You two lovebirds have a date or something? you know it's impolite to stand up a young lady," piped in his dad, who was then roundly shushed. "I'm just saying:, he continued. "Unless you're at Death's door, you'd better get down here and present yourself."
Great, he thought. all the ridicule at school, and now she's come over to twist the knife. He didn't even comb his hair; it was a rat's nest by now, but he didn't care. he was going to be as polite as possible in front of his parents, but no WAY was he gonna take any more insults. he clomped down the staits and opened the door, stepped out onto the porch. she was sitting on the steps, and as he came out and shut the door, she jumped up and grabbed him by the wrist.
"Oh good, you're still wearing your sexy clothes from school. This'll be even better. Come on, let's go!"
"Wait, where are you taking me?" he said.
"you still have to show me which haircut you're going to get. i just got $10 for my birthday present, and i'm going to buy you a trip to the barbershop. hurry up, i can't wait to see you with a short haircut to match your clothes. it's gonna be so hot."
they walked all the way to that barbershop where they met, and they stood for a moment at the poster. he could barely breathe, they had run most of the way. "come on", she insisted. the door opened, and the pungent smell of the collective barbershop items was overwhelming. everything was just as he imagined it was over 50 years ago. the magazines, the furniture, the fixtures was a time capsule. he stood on the tiled floor, unable to move. part of him wanted to cut and run, but then the barber came out from the back room. he was tall and wore a white smock that buttoned down one side. his hair! his hair was just like the picture on the poster, but it was even shorter than that. he could see a large patch on the top that the scalp showed through. the back and sides were practically non-existant, and it was so flat on top, it was as though it was in another dimension. he had never seen a harcut like this before in real life. he realized that the haircuts in his old magazines couldn't hold a candle to the sculpted hair of this person. there was a 8x10 photograph on the wall that showed this same man in a Marine Corps uniform that he hadn't seen from outside. this guy was for real, and the lad's knees almost buckled. what was he letting himself in for?
"Hi, Uncle George!" Delilah said, greeting the barber. Uncle George? "yeah, my uncle owns this shop. it's been in the family for generations. someday when i'm old enough, im gonna be a barber, too!" she said, proudly.
"well, hello, Delilah, who have you brought me this time?" said her uncle. his silver hair (what little there was) sparkled under the lights.
at this point, he was in a daze of disbelief. she led him to the big leather chair. "isn't he handsome? and he's quite a gentleman. He escorted me all around school and showed me where everything is, and i figured since i got some money for my birthday, i would treat him to a Flat-Top Crewcut, since he seems to like how it looks on the poster", she said, as the barber tied the cape around the neck of the shaking lad. he was beside himself. this was actually happening, and he couldn't stop it. he didn't want to stop it; he was completely docile.
as the chair raised one ka-chunk after another, she suddenly stopped and her blue eyes met his, and she stared into his soul. " It WAS the Flat-Top Crewcut that you were thinking about, wasn't it?" she said, softly.
her smile and her determination over the past few hours got the best of him, and he nodded dreamily. he heard the words, but couldn't figure out who was saying them: " yes, i was thinking of the Flat-Top Crewcut. but since it's Delilah's birthday and she has the final say perhaps the poster isn't short enough. Perhaps as her present she would like for me to have a haircut more like the man in the photo over there on the wall, instead." it was his own voice asking for this! he was completely unable to stop the words coming out of his mouth. maybe this is what happens when you suppress...had he suppressed this all this time? was that why he was so lost these past few months? "if that's OK with you", he sighed..."Delilah?"
they both nodded, the barber turned to his tools. Delilah pulled a chair over close, so as to have an unobstructed view of what was to come. her eyes were like saucers. "you are going to look so hot", she purred.
"It sure has been a long time since you've had your hair cut", said the barber. "Quite a mop you've got up here, son. Delilah, you did the right thing, bringing him to me." Delilah beamed. she was enjoying herself immensely. she really liked this boy, not like the other ones she coerced into her uncle's chair. those were just longhaired creeps, deserving of a good shearing. her eyes narrowed, and a wicked grin came over her at the memories.
"Delilah", said Uncle George, holding up what looked to be the biggest, blackest, most vicious-looking clippers he had ever seen, " since it IS your birthday and all, would you like to do the honors of removing all this bulk?" she leaped out of her chair. "Oh boy! can I? thanks!" The barber attached a blade with a loud SNAP, plugged them into the wall, and handed them to her. "you DO know how to use these, don't you?" he said with a knowing tone. she giggled. "oh boy, do i! i mean... yes, Uncle George!"
His eyes were as saucer-like as hers had been as she stepped into his field of view. "Hi!" she said, with her eyes locked on his. she leant in and kissed him on the nose as she flicked the on switch. the big, red clippers jumped to life, and he tensed up. "Don't worry, i won't mess up... too much", she said, with a now-familiar tone that he kind of was starting to like. he closed his eyes. he knew he had to- he couldn't watch. suddenly her lips were kissing his, and at that same moment, she sent the giant clippers right down the middle of his head! immediately a shower of 10 inch long hair shuddered and showered down his forehead, off his nose and slithered down his chest to settle in his lap. his eyes snapped open to see her marvelling at her handiwork. "Wow!" she gurgled. "wow..." she paused for a split second, but only for a split second, for the next thing he knew, she was taking another swipe through his feathered hair.
pass after pass, she was throrough, and professional. within a minute, the top of his once-proud mane was in a pile in his lap. lap? he couldn't see his lap! she stepped out of view, but the hungry clippers continued their meal. she went up the left side; whatever sideburns he was trying to grow were now in small piles on his shoulder. she brushed them off and said " you won't be needing those anymore." Uncle George had her pause so he could switch blades on the clippers, and this time they made a slightlly higher sound. he handed them back to her, and she continued to mow the sides and back. his 'wings' that he had spent so many hours on were reduced to mere stubble, and she made deep happy sounds as she went up the back, from his hairline all the way up to his crown!
a breeze blew through the room, and what hair that was left on his head stood at attention. "all the better for me to catch any loose ones", she said, rubbing her hand all around his skull, checking for strays. he went from goosebumps to practically melting in the red leather chair at this sensation. this was heaven! i want this to happen always! if she becomes a barber, i hope i get to be her favorite customer. he sighed audibly.
"I wish i could finish, but i don't want to mess it up" she pouted, and relented the clippers back to her uncle. he took over. his was a gentler, more professional touch, but he liked his previous barber's touch better. she returned to her seat in front of him, with a gleam in her eyes. "Boy do you look so much better, and we're not even done with you ", she purred again. ""just wait until i'm old enough to cut all of it. you'll be well-groomed for as long as i say."
his heart skipped a beat. "yes, ma'am", he said, with a strange new submissive, yet confident tone in his voice. " Mmmm, good boy", she purred again. she licked her lips. " i do SO love it when you're obedient". he liked how she took charge of the situation. he could really get used to being... her haircut slave? the thought made him blissfully happy.
the barber spun him around to face the mirror, and said. "what do you think of Delilah's handiwork? is she cut out to be a barber?" as he massaged a sweet smelling sticky substance into his hair. it made the hair on top of his head all stiff and it stuck straight up. even though he could barely see anything with his glasses off, he said. "yes sir; she can cut my hair anytime she likes."
"you hear that, kid? you better hold on to this one; he's a keeper."
"i plan on it," said Delilah, as he was spun around and saw her again. her eyes sparkled.
A comb was passed through the stiff sticky substance in his now-clippered hair, standing it on end as a smaller but equally sharp-looking pair of clippers sliced off the ends that were unlucky enough to be on the other side of it. from front to back and side to side, the comb moved, paused, clippers making a zzizzing, almost xylophone sound as it passed over the teeth. hundreds of smaller and smaller length hairs showered down upon the lad, as though it were a snowstorm; a black haired snowstorm. it stuck to his nose, and he could see miniscule hairs meshing into his eyelashes. the barber would stop at times to clear them with a stiff brush, then continue to go side to side, front to back.
he couldn't believe he was allowing this to happen to his hair! he would've been able to salvage some sort of decency by switching back to his old clothes, but this? no way! he was a dead man! still...those eyes... he WAS her slave...and deep down, he had been waiting for this day for a long, long time. he really wanted this, and now it was happening.
Delilah sat, silent, staring. she wanted to touch it, but was patient...she would be have her soft, velvet to pet soon enough. and boy, was she going to pet it. what a great birthday present!
as the barber finished up blending what little hair there was at the temples, he massaged some more waxy, stiff stuff into the bristly, 1/4 inch hairs that stood like sentries around the perimeter of the geometrically level, velvet-centered sculpture. Uncle George dusted him off with a horsehair brush, and whisked away the cape. an entire small animal of hair flew to the floor, and Delilah ran over to sweep it up and throw it dramatically into the wastebasket. "that is that, hair!" she snickered. then she paid her uncle the $10. "the haircut is for your birthday, dear", Uncle George said.
"that's fine", she replied, "keep it as a tip."
"A ten-dollar tip? why thank you!" he said, as Delilah grabbed the lad's wrist (again) and sped him out the door. she dragged him to the park, and as they sat with the sun warming his newly-shorn head, she kissed him sweetly on the lips while petting the center stripe over and over with her two fingers. he hadn't even had a chance to see what it looked like, but it didn't matter, if this was how he was to have his hair cut like, he would submit, gladly. he kept hearing a loud purring sound, but couldn't figure out if it was her or himself. chances are, it was both of them.
they separated at the end of the block, and as the sun shone in the way it does when it sets, she positioned him so that his head was blocking the beams so that the light would cause the leftover velvety hairs to sparkle like stars, or freshly mown wheat. she kissed him one last time and rubbed her hands all over it. "see you at school tomorrow", she purred, and then ran inside.
Tomorrow! he had spent the entire weekend with her. Blissful as it was, and how he ached to be with her even though she just left... how was going to be able to live this down? oh man! here it was, 1975, and NOBODY had this... style? was he dreaming? he reached up and touched it...!!! it was TRUE! he was gonna get KILLED tomorrow! he hadn't even seen it yet! he ran home and heard a combination of derisive comments from his sister mixed with praiseful gushes from his parents as he sped upstairs to the bathroom and switched on the light.
he almost passed out when he saw the reflection. there, standing before him, was a young man straight out of 1962 Boy's Life, button-down shirt, black glasses, straight trousers, black shoes, and a perfect ... i mean, perfect F-L-A-T Flat-Top Crewcut. the top of his head was completely level, and he swore he could rest a dinner plate setting on it. every hair was standing at attention, and the product in it caused it to shine in a completely different way than its past glory. he could see his pink scalp not only all the way up the back and sides, but in a wide patch in the middle of the top of his head.
he felt weak, and his stomach did backflips. he ran into his room to hide in the closet. he wasn't leaving this room again! as he opened the closet door, the full length mirror in his room caught his reflection again, and as the darkness gathered, he sat and sobbed uncontrollably... a torrent of emotion had finally caught up to him. he cried and cried until he could cry no more, then he fell asleep to vicious, horrible dreams of his upcoming "assassination" at the hands of the male members of the student body. even the hall monitor had a go.
as the sun came up, his fitful sleep was aggravated by the severe stuffiness of having been cooped up in the closet for so long. he finally grudgingly came out, the finality having set in. "today is as good as any a day to die" he sighed. he opened the door... and there was Delilah standing there.
"Hi", she said, a little less enthusiastically than normal. "Are you OK? your mom came down to ask me to come and talk to you. she said you were really upset about what i did to you." she sniffed a little. " I really didn't mean to hurt you; i just thought since you looked so hot in your new clothes"- and with this, she stepped forward and rubbed the back of his neck -"and that you liked that picture so much..." his heart was in his throat, and she touched his stripe..." that i figure you really wanted to have that haircut."
she smiled as she petted the middle stripe with her two fingers. "I know i acted like i was going to make you keep it that way forever, but..." she looked down... " you don't really have to, if you don't want to."
then she levelled her eyes at his. "you DO look REALLY hot, though. i would be proud to be seen with you, if you would consent to walk with me to school."
at that moment, in the peripherary of his vision, he saw in the reflection a handsome, clean-cut young man reach out and take the hand of what was to be the love of his life, as well as the personification of the most beautiful and sweetest haircut master a slave could ever ask for.
"it's OK, really", he finally said, with a new confident tone in his voice. "as you can see, i've actually been fantasizing about looking this way and getting this haircut for as long as i can remember. i really DO like it, and i really DO want to keep it this way forever, with your help."
he showed her the magazines under the bed, and they sat on the floor, flipping through them, each showing the other the various photos therein. they talked for a long time, and he told her about all the barbershops he used to stalk and the strange urges that he thought were his curse and his alone. she brought out a large envelope of even better pictures of short haircuts- some better than the one on the poster and others even more extreme- and told him stories of the boys she had coerced into the barber chair. they sat silently for awhile with his head in her lap and her hands found themselves petting his crisp, velvety haircut for a long time that morning.
he looked into her blue eyes. the stars aligned, the world wobbled on its axis as it repositioned its orbit. all missing pieces had been found, and the universe chimed that their circle was now complete.
"i am yours, now and forever, sir", he said.
she stepped forward, kissed him and petted his stripe. she licked her lips.
"mmm... i do SO love it when you're obedient", she purred.
the crowds parted in the halls as the two walked proudly to class. not a word was spoken. any ill spoken comments were met with swift and decisive retribution by the dedicated duo. Delilah's other birthday present was a home haircutting kit, and within six weeks, the entire male student body had either a Butch or a Flat-Top Crewcut, just like her handsome love.
but not QUITE as nice as his, mind you...