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My (Really!) True Haircut History -TODAY by BaldSurfer
OK. I know I left off my personal history with a few years left to go. And I promise to fill them in, but I need to share today's story while it's still fresh. And for any doubters - this (like the rest of my Haircut History stories) is 100% true.
I've spent the summer (since mid-May) with a #1 top to skin fade. My current barber does a killer fade. It's amazing how much work and how many different clippers it takes to fade from 1/8 inch of hair to clean-shaven scalp without any lines or flaws. But J* puts in all the time and effort needed and the results are always perfect. But it's a cut that needs frequent maintenance, so I was getting a cut 2-3 times a month. No complaints. I love getting buzzed and shaved, I love spending time in a cool barber shop, and the cost isn't an issue.
A little bit about my barber shop. There are 4 barbers, 2 white, 2 black, and thus a very mixed group of customers. Head shaves are fairly common with the black customers and a decent amount of MPB white guys. And the large contingent of high school/college kids get varying degrees of buzzes. So not only is it a great place to get a cut/shave, it's also a great place to watch great buzz-shave action while you wait.
Summer is winding down, but we'll be sweating in Florida for another couple of months and over the last few days, I realized I hadn't been bald in nearly a year. So I went in today, my fade just growing back in, with just one goal in mind. As he caped me, I asked J* what was new. He said "Same old, same old." I laughed and said that wasn't good enough and it was time for a change, and told him to chrome the dome. With barely a chuckle, he grinned and said OK.
This was no surprise. He'd been through it with me before. The other barbers had seen me do it before. So the only people who registered any kind of surprise or interest were the waiting customers, who watched with great curiosity. But there was no "are you sure?" nonsense. It was something I do at least once a year, so he knew that I knew exactly what I was asking for.
J* started with bare clippers, running up the sides, not all that different from the start of my fade - except that he took the clippers all the way up the sides of my head. He worked his way around, skinning the sides and back, with the top still untouched. J^ has a habit of turning the chair as he works, so I don't get to watch it all in the mirror, but I could feel the clippers bare my scalp as the short hairs fell to the cape. As he finished the sides and back, I was facing the mirror again, the 3/8 inch on the top of my head all that was left. It took only 5 or 6 passes to strip the last of my hair to a hint of stubble.
So many of the stories we tell on this site (especially mine) focus on that first radical shave down the middle of a full head of hair. It seems to have such dramatic impact in our fiction. But I get my hair shaved off all the time. There's no more anxiety. No mystery or surprise at what I'll look like. No "moment of truth" when that first pass of the clippers seals your fate. When I get my head shaved, it's because I WANT to be bald again. I know what I want and I know what it will look like. So, to me, the emotional impact isn't the shock of the first pass. For me, I get excited by the feeling as I watch the clippers take that LAST pass, removing the last visible hair on my head. That's the stroke that completes the transition to Bald By Choice. I go into the shop wanting to be bald, and that last swipe of the clippers feels like victory.
But clippers are just the start. After the overall zero buzz, J* runs the edgers over my whole head, with barely a dusting of stubble coming off, but it makes the next phase easier.
Next, he rubs a thin layer of hot shaving lather over my entire head. It looks odd, and I can feel the eyes of the whole shop watching.Then he wraps a hot towel over my head, and I'm so relaxed, I nearly nod off to sleep. When the towel comes off, a thicker layer of hot lather is spread over my head and I'm enveloped in the comforting and relaxing warmth. With a fresh straight edge blade, J^ starts to shave my head, with the grain. He takes small, gentle strokes, never more than 2 inches at a time. The "skritch skritch" of the razor echoes inside my head. a sound that only head shavers can understand. When you're excited to get your head shaved, the sound and sensation is almost erotic.
When he's done, I LOOK bald - which I love - but I also know without lifting my hands from beneath the cape, that my head wouldn't feel nearly as smooth as it looks. But that's OK. I know he's not done. Again we repeat hot lather, hot towel, more hot lather. Then a shave AGAINST the grain. The scratching sound in my head tells me that more stubble is being scraped away.
After that second shave comes an ice cold towel over my head. I can practically feel all the pores of my scalp slam shut. Then J* rubs a moisturizer over my whole head and runs an electric massager over my entire shaved scalp. Then he wipes away the remaining moisturizer, applies powder to dry the surface and runs an electric shaver over my head, feeling for rough spots and using the shaver to get them smooth. A quick goatee trim, and I'm done - loving my return to shiny and bald.
We all know that a barber will never get your head shaved as smooth as you can do on your own, but everything else about the barbershop headshave, with a barber as good as J*, still makes it a worthwhile and exhilarating experience.
It was sunny when I got home, so I stripped down and dove into the pool, loving the feeling as my newly bald (and still tingling) head cut through the water. But this being Florida, an hour later we had pouring rain. I stood in the backyard, feeling every raindrop hit my head and feeling each drop roll off as well. That, too, is a sensation that only fellow head shavers can understand. And of course, I can't resist stopping at every mirror in the house, looking at my shiny dome. It's amazing how radically different a shaved head looks and feels, even compared to the minimal hair I sported with my usual 1/8 inch on top bald fade.
I've missed being bald. I'll be shaving every day for awhile. It's a lot of work, since I have a full head of hair, so I know the routine will get tiresome at some point. Then, I'll grow it back to at least a short buzz. But that's not today or tomorrow. Today, for the first time in nearly a year, I'm completely shaven bald. I love the way it looks. I love the way it feels. I love the extra attention I get from girls when I'm bald. So I'll enjoy tonight. I'll get up tomorrow, lather up and shave it even smoother, and enjoy this feeling for as long as it lasts. And even when I grow it back, I know I'll always revisit the sensation, look and confidence that fills me when I sit down in the barber's chair and say "shave my head".