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Rock And Roll by BaldSurfer
The bad had been together since we were in high school. The four of us all loved music - and being in a band seemed like a great way to meet girls. So me, Digger, Frax and Billy became Beaten Hearts. Digger was our drummer, Frax played lead guitar and Billy played bass. I was the front man - lead singer, plus I played some rhythm guitar because I wanted to look more like a "real" musician and not just some singer. We played a few parties, then a school dance, and eventually started getting gigs at local bars. We worked hard at it, practicing a few nights a week, and over the last few years we started to develop a strong local fan base. We sold out at every bar we played, so we started asking for more money, and as we grew, we were able to demand a share of the door charge and bar revenue. Finally, we were playing often enough and charging enough that I could even quit my crappy bar tending job and make my living playing rock and roll. And when we started posting videos of our original music on YouTube, we quickly gained followers across the country. I was never going to be a millionaire, but I could pay my bills doing what I loved. Life was AWESOME!
But I had a secret that I'd kept from most of the world, including the guys who were not only my band mates but also my best friends in the world. I was around 19 when I realized that my thick black hair, which hung halfway down my back, was starting to quickly disappear. I should have expected it. My dad and my brothers had also puberty early, like I did. From 5th grade on, I was always the hairiest kid in school. But my dad and brothers had lost the MPB battle by 25 or so, with nothing but a sad ring of fringe left. So at 19, as my widow's peak quickly started to recede, I started wearing a baseball hat all the time. Over the next few years, I accumulated a collection of over a hundred hats, and nobody could remember the last time they saw me without one. Even girlfriends rarely got a glimpse of my head - I'd turn the lights out before removing my hat, and would put one back on the moment I awoke. Everyone joked about the fact that they never saw me without a hat, beanie or "do rag". I just told them it was my style statement. The hair loss continued, cruelly marching back over my crown. It got so bad that when Billy invited me to his wedding and joked that I couldn't wear a hat, I lied about a death in the family to get out of attending. With a hat on, my hair still looked like a "Rock God", jet black and flowing well past my shoulders. But in those shameful private hatless moments, when I looked in the mirror, all I could see was the bare scalp that shone back from the top of my head.
One night, we were playing a sold out gig at one of the biggest clubs in town. We were at the top of our game. The crowd knew every word to our songs. I felt like a real rock star. I leaned out into the crowd, slapping hands with devoted fans, when someone accidentally knocked my hat off and it fell into the crowd. I could feel the collective gasp of surprise as the secret shame of a shiny pate reflected off the stage lights. I struggled to finish the song, and then turned to my startled band mates and asked them to end the set early. The guys took pity and said nothing, and when we came back out 20 minutes later, I was wearing a new hat, but the crowd's attitude had changed. They looked at me differently. Their energy was gone. I'd lost them. And my heart sank.
The next day, the guys from the band came over to my house and told me we needed to talk. They were sympathetic and only took a few cheap shots. I think they'd suspected that the hats had been hiding some hair loss. They just didn't seem to have imagined how far it had gone. But it was public now. Our most ardent fans had seen it, and their reaction had been clear. And it was obvious that a lead rock singer couldn't have a bald head with long black fringe. "Do you want to look like those 60 year old guys you see at the market, with bald heads, pony tails and a gold hoop in their ear?"
To everyone but me, the answer seemed painfully obvious: a rock star couldn't be balding but he could certainly be BALD. Shaved head bald. Shiny. Hairless. I couldn't imagine it. I thought I could keep hiding under my hats, win back the audience, and keep the image of myself that was in my head - the rock star with flowing black locks. But the guys insisted that the illusion had been shattered. After an hour of arguing, we decided to leave it up to our fans. We posted a video on YouTube in which the guys insisted that I show my hatless bald head, and ask ourfans to vote on whether I should keep my long hair or shave my head. In less than a day, over a thousand people voted for the shave, and only five people voted for me to keep my hair. So it seemed that, if I wanted to keep my rock star dreams alive, I was going to have to shave my head.
I couldn't even imagine it. Bald? ME? No black mane hanging down my back. No longer waving my hair back and forth on stage, gleaming in the lights. Bald? Could I really do it?
It was Saturday morning, the vote was clear and irrevocable, and the guys showed up at my house to take me to Tony's Barber Shop. When they barged into my house, my hat was already in place and I tried to convince them that this wasn't necessary. But they weren't buying it. Next thing I knew, we were parking in the strip mall and walking into Tony's. Nightmares about my grade school crewcuts ran through my head as I walked into that shop for the first time in almost 20 years. I'd hoped that the shop would be busy and the guys would have no patience to wait, but it was empty, and Tony sat in his barber chair, reading the paper.
Tony jumped up and asked who needed a haircut. The guys shoved me into the barber chair and whipped off my hat. Before I could say a word, Digger said "Tony, look at this sad mess. This boy needs to accept his fate. Shave him bald. Hot lather, the works." I considered arguing but knew I'd lose. Tony had a wily smile as he wrapped a cape around me. Without saying a word or even acknowledging me, he grabbed my hair in his fist like a pony tail, reached for his scissors and sliced through it. He dropped 12 inches of black hair in my lap before I could get a word out. I thought I'd be sick right there in the chair. My hair - my self image - was gone in a matter of seconds. Sad, defeated and left with no choice, I tried to relax as I heard the big black clippers come to life. He pressed them to my right sideburn and pushed upwards, leaving only a tiny hint of stubble behind. With each pass, the sides of my head became as hairless as nature had made the top. Within a few minutes, the guy looking back at me in the mirror was a stranger with a sandpaper head. Where was the rock star? I thought he was dead.
With my friends' encouragement, Tony covered my entire head with hot lather. If I was being honest, I'd have to admit that it was an amazing and calming feeling. Then Tony slowly ran a straight razor over my head - and as the "skritch skritch" of the razor echoed in my head, the last traces of my black hair vanished.
As Tony wiped the last traces of shaving cream from my head, I studied my reflection. It was different. It wasn't anything I'd ever imagined for myself. But I suddenly realized that it looked GOOD! I had nothing left to hide. I had a smooth, shining head. I looked tough. I lokked younger. I looked like a different kind of rock star. Maybe this could work.
We played a gig that night. As I walked on stage, for the first time in years with no hat, Frax grabbed the mike and said to the crowd "Say hello to the man! The star! The heart of Beaten Hearts, SLICK RICK! The crowd went nuts! I took their energy and gave it back to them times ten. As I sweated under the hot lights, I could practically feel the glisten of my bare head. I was a new man - and again felt like a rock star, loving the crowd as much as they loved me. That was 6 months ago. In that time, I don't think I ever let a day go by that I didn't lather up and shave my head as smooth as I could. I was FREE!