Greg by Manny
Greg: On the Straight, Narrow, and Butched
Greg reached his hand out from under the white barbering cape that was laden with a thick layer of heavy, shorn ebony tresses. A As he eyed the vast array of his once-prized mane glimmering under the neon kitchen light, Greg felt his buzzed pate. Slowly, his hand moved over the entire surface of his scalp, confirming what he already knew to be true. It was all gone! A smile crept, hesitatingly, across his lips. He’d been buzzed down to the nubs, one hundred percent! And to think, only minutes before, when he’d been ushered into the kitchen and invited to take a seat in the makeshift barbershop, his treasured locks had dangled to his shoulders. Thick, full of body, healthy, shimmering, to die-for hair! And now, it laid in lifeless, discarded clumps all around him. His longhaired, bohemian look was a thing of the past; a very streamlined, traditional butch cut was the new Greg.
Matt looked positively triumphant as he stood over the stunned and amazed Greg, clippers still in hand. The dazed fellow looked so different, shorn of the pretty-boy hair. The transformation had been nothing short of a work of art, one that had been months in the preparation phase and minutes in the execution phase. “What a sharp crewcut!” he exclaimed. “
“I can’t believe it!” came the hesitating, amused response. ““How do I look?” The smile told it all. Matt was convinced Greg did not need a mirror to confirm that he’d made the right decision, submitting to the clippers. But he would satisfy the boy’s curiosity. He reached for the small mirror that lay with his barbering tools and held it in front of Greg’s face. The dazed fellow blinked in disbelief for a few instants before the slight smile blossomed to a fulsome grin.
“Now that’s what I call the perfect summer haircut!” the proud amateur barber pronounced. “Goodbye to hours wasted on hair care,” he said scooping up a mound of the shorn locks from the cape and dramatically dropping them to the floor. “Hello, simplicity!” Matt rubbed his hand rigorously across the top of the clipped pate before unfastening the cape and shaking the whole collection of cut hair to the floor of the kitchen.
Greg picked up the mirror and looked again – it was hard to recognize himself without his long hair. What would everyone say about his transformed look? Although his friends had often heard Matt taunt him publicly about the tyranny of long hair, Greg had never, ever suggested that he was at all responsive to the idea of a tight crewcut! In IIn fact, he was always adamant – playfully so, as Matt was a dear friend – that his long hair was part of his identity. And now it was all gone.
Matt busied himself with a broom, sweeping the shorn locks up into a gigantic mound. “Good riddance, eh, Greg?” he said gaily as he brandished a dustpan brimming with shorn, black hair on its way to the wastebasket. “And you can get rid of all your longhair paraphernalia too – the blow dryers, curling wands, conditioners, hair sprays, gels, mousses, scrunchies, head bands, etc. I’ II’m going to keep you tightly clipped for a good long while, my friend,” he said brandishing the huge set of Oster hair clippers before putting it into the barbering kit.
Greg thought back to when he realized Matt was interested in giving him a heavy-duty haircut. IIt was the first time he’d joined the guys in their Monday evening basketball activities. The rest of the fellows were dressed and ready to hit the bar, but Greg was stuck with some tangles to comb out. The catcalls bounced back and forth from “Let’s just leave him,” to “Hurry up, Greg!” Then he heard Matt say, “The fastest way to get him to the bar is through the doors of a good, old-fashioned barbershop!” There had been some high-spirited laughs followed by one of the fellows shouting, “If you don’t get out here now, we’re coming in there with a pair of scissors!”
At the bar, later that evening, when Greg was making a selection at the jukebox, Matt had sort of cornered him and posed the question, “So what do you say? How about letting me give you a nice, tidy crewcut? I got a pair of clippers at home that will take this mane of your down nice and tight!”
The suggestion had sent a chill down his spine, but Greg was able to laugh off the offer by flicking his head and sending the locks flying in the direction of the would-be barber. “No thanks, not tonight anyway! I’m rather fond of my hair.” That was an understatement. Greg would normally die for his beloved hair.
The next week after basketball, a second offer came from Matt, again at the bar. It was after many beers had been downed, that Matt slipped up behind Greg and suggested, “Well, then what about letting me give you a nice trim. Nothing dramatic. Just the tips.” Greg recalled the delicious feeling of Matt’s fingers fondling and stroking his beautiful, long hair. “Just the tips,” he repeated as he fashioned his fingers into a pair of shears and gingerly snipped off a few imaginary split ends, “ in my kitchen.”
Unexpectedly, Greg found himself desperately wanting to say yes to Matt, to be led into his kitchen – caped and shorn (well, trimmed). But, he used every nerve in his body to suppress this urge to agree. There was the obvious, tantalizing fear -- once under the cape, Matt pulling out the clippers and administering his original offer…a tight crewcut!!? So, Greg suppressed the soft moans of delight that Matt’s fingers on his nape elicited and said with as little emotion as possible in his voice, “I just had my hair trimmed. MMaybe some other time.” It was the truth, after all. He’d just plunked down $42 at the salon for his monthly styling.
That night, Greg found it hard to sleep. WWhy had he not agreed to Matt’s trim? He was desperate to be caped by Matt and given a haircut. Even if Matt ended up chopping away at his hair, he didn’t care. No crewcut, of course, but he would allow the shears to slice through his prized locks and send a few inches of his precious hair to the floor. Why not? It would be fun. And it would always grow back. Next time Matt offered, he would say yes. He would say, “Let’s go for it! How about right now?”?” And then Matt would lead him into the kitchen and out would come the haircutting kit and cape.
But strangely, no further offer from Matt was forthcoming. IIt seemed like the more Greg tried to steer the conversation to his hair and his need for a good trim, the less Matt responded. Greg even started talking about the need to get a real haircut. “This long hair is really becoming such a pain….” said Greg, putting his locks on the line.
Then, one night, exactly six months after he first learned of Matt’s interest in cutting his hair, Greg could stand it no longer. For months, he’d been bursting with desire to be lead into the kitchen, caped and shorn. He even dreamed about having his long hair chopped short. Greg saw Matt at the same jukebox, where Matt had first cornered him. He was getting ready to select a tune. Greg bolted across the bar, throwing all caution to the wind. “Matt, I need you to cut my hair. Tonight! I can’t stand long hair another minute.”
“Got it!” he answered quickly. “To the car, then!” The two walked quickly to the door. As they exited into the breezy night air, Matt said to Greg, “You are going to look great with a crewcut!”
That was the last thing said between the two of them until the clippers were snapped off and the hand first emerged from under the cape to assess the situation.
As they rode to the apartment, Matt’s hand plunged into the thick ebony tresses and stroked them gently. TThen it was up the stairs to the apartment, the door thrown open, the neon light in the kitchen flicked on, the chair pulled to the center, the cape snapped opened and then fastened snuggly. And then, the clippers snapped on, followed by a firm, rhythmic pumping motion through the mass of locks, from forehead to crown and from nape to crown. Sharp, chattering steel teeth and mounds of beautiful hair falling away in sheaths, ushering a new era of baldy bliss.
From the first clump he spotted on the cape to the last stroke up the bristly nape, Greg knew he’d made the right choice! T TThere was no turning back, especially not with Matt by his side to keep him on the straight, narrow and butched!