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Had To Try It by BaldSurfer
"You know what? Let's shave it" I said, staring straight into the mirror.
Nope. That doesn't sound right.
"I need a change. What do you think about shaving it all off?"
No. What if he thinks it's a bad idea? It can't be a question. Can't leave room for doubt.
"I want to be bald. Just Bic it!"
That sounds more confident. No way to mistake what I'm asking for.
I stood there staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, and tried out a few more ways to ask Terry, my barber, to shave my head. I'd never shaved it before, and to be honest, up until a week or 2 ago I'd never even considered the idea. Now it was all I could think about. I've always been a low maintenance kind of guy. For at least the last 10 years, I'd just get a #4 all over buzz every six weeks or so. A little squeeze of gel through it in the morning and it spiked up all day. Never had to worry about checking it, combing it, or caring about it for the rest of the day. I dressed well and it seemed like a haircut that was always in style. So I never even thought about changing it. And then, without any warning, my buddy Dean showed up at the weekly poker game with his head shaved completely bald! Dean usually wore his hair a little longer than mine, but nothing radical or even noteworthy. And there he was, sitting next to me, completely bald. You can imagine the reactions from me and our friends. We were all shocked. Did you lose a bet? Was this one of those charity things? Were you drunk? Dean just laughed it off, and in his characteristic confidence said it was just something he's always wanted to try, and that he likes it and plans to keep it for awhile.
Truth is, after the shock passed, I thought he actually looked really good. There was a stark contrast between his tan face and his bald skull which was as pale white as my butt (which also has never gotten a chance to get tan - haha!), and I imagined it would look even better when the color evened out, but even like this, I thought he looked great. I couldn't stop staring at his head. It looked completely smooth - no sign of stubble, and it was a little shiny and gleamed when the light hit it.
Sure, I'd seen plenty of guys around town with shaved heads. It's pretty common these days. But I'd never actually known anyone with a shaved head, never sat so close to one, or ever envied a bald head before. Now, the more I looked at Dean, the more I started to wonder what it was like. When Dean won a big hand, I took the opportunity to say how that bald head must be lucky and I reached over and rubbed the top of his head - saying I wanted some of that luck to rub off. I'd never felt anything like it. Scalp is so much tighter than other skin, and while it felt perfectly smooth, there was something different about the texture, like you could tell that hair lingered just below the surface. What would that feel like if it was my head? And would it look as goo on me as it did on Dean?
I thought about that bad head as I lay in bed that night. As I stood in the shower shampooing my hair, I wondered what it would feel like to have no hair. As I shaved my face and trimmed my goatee, I tried to imagine lathering and shaving my head. It certainly ran through my mind as I sat in the barber chair and meekly said "The usual" to Terry, my barber.
Over the next few weeks, as Dean's scalp color caught up with his face, I couldn't even remember what he looked like with hair. And the urge to shave my own head was becoming more like an obsession. And why shouldn't I try it? It was summer, so it would certainly be cooler. I didn't think anybody at the garage would care if i showed up bald. And I was between girlfriends, so there wouldn't be any female resistance.
I wanted to do it. I felt like I needed to do it. And if I hated it, it wouldn't be more than a few weeks until it grew back to my usual haircut length. So why couldn't I bring myself to do it? A couple of times, resolved to get my head shaved, I'd drive over to the barber shop, suddenly panic and drive on by. So I thought that if I rehearsed what I would say, how I would say it with confidence and decisiveness so that Terry wouldn't dare ask if I was sure, that I would psyche myself into it. And that's why I was in my bathroom, practicing my order. This was it. No backing down. I threw on a tank top, stopped on the way out of the house and downed a shot of tequila for extra "courage" and made my way to the barber shop. Nervous, but determined, I walked in. Terry was finishing up a customer who was getting a #4 buzz, like my usual and all of a sudden I couldn't believe how "ordinary" it looked. But no more ordinary for me. I was leaving that shop bald and shiny. But just as I started to ask myself if ordinary was really so bad I heard Terry say "You're up, Tommy Boy!" I took a deep breath, sat in the chair and stared at my grown-out buzz as Terry caped me up and said "The usual?"
"Not today," I said without stopping to think anymore. "I'm in the mood to go chrome dome. Let's lather it up and see how smooth you can shave it. Make it shine, Terry." OK - maybe that was a little too much bluster, but it got my point across that I knew exactly what I was asking for, so Terry didn't ask any questions. He just let out a quiet chuckle, said "Okay, then" and reached for the big black Osters. He snapped out the longer blade he'd been using and snapped in one that barely seemed to have any teeth. The clippers roared to life and before I could even think about what was about to happen, he said "Here we go" and carved a wide path of bald white skin down the middle of my head, my inch of light brown hair raining down into my lap.What had I been thinking? What did I think I was going to get out of this? But too late for second guessing, so I tried to ignore the queasy feeling in my gut and tried to enjoy the experience. Three runs of the clippers later and the right side of the top was gone, and in a few seconds the entire top was bald. With the inch of hair ringing the sides of my head, I'd immediately aged from 30 to 50. But as the clippers removed my sideburn and continued all the way up my head, each pass brought me closer to truly bald. Terry worked his way around and as the left sideburn fell, I was bald.
Well, not really bald. In fact, against the pale whiteness of my virgin scalp, the light brown stubble was fairly pronounced. But Terry quickly ran the edgers over my whole head, taking the stubble down even further. Terry, who'd been silent since he started cutting, asked "So what do you think so far?"
I stared for a minute. The hint of stubble still left a dullness to my scalp, not the shiny gloss Dean wore so proudly. But my head was good shape. My goatee, which I admit isn't as full as I'd wish, looked more pronounced with no other hair competing for attention.Truth was, I didn't look like ME anymore, but I was starting to like this new version. "So far, so good" was my reply, just in case Terry was thinking that he was done, but he knew better. He laughed and said "On to phase 3" and walked to the back of the shop, returning with a steaming wet towel that he wrapped around my head. All the tension in my body seemed to release at once as I was enveloped in that warmth. But it looked like a silly turban and I was glad that the whop was empty at that moment.
After a few moments, Terry removed the towel, and I stifled a shiver as my warm bare scalp hit the cool air. But that vanished as Terry coated my head with a thick layer of warm lather. He put a fresh blade in his straight edge razor and started scraping away the remains of my right sideburn. It didn't feel odd until the razor stroked upward, above my ear and all the way up the side of my head and I saw that first stripe of shining completely bare scalp. Using short deliberate strokes, he worked his way around the side and back and again ended by shaving the left sideburn. I appreciated the care and attention with which he worked, but I was getting impatient to see the finished product. And I really couldn't wait to touch it. But as Terry began to shave the top, he still took short careful strokes. The "skritch skritch" sound of the razor seemed loud in my head, though I'm sure nobody else could hear it. After what felt like hours, the lather was gone and I was completely bald. As Terry put down the razor and turned his back, I finally gave in, reached my hand out from under the cape and ran it over the top of my head. My heart sank as I felt a sandpapery stubble. Why wasn't I as smooth as Dean? But then I heard the whir of the Hot lather machine and Terry turned around and smiled. "Not done yet, buddy. This second go-round is where you get that baby's butt smooth you asked for. As he shaved me again, the scratchy sound was less distinct, probably since only the tiniest remnants of hair were being scraped away. After he was done, and he'd run his hands over my entire head, searching for rough patches and shaving them when he did, Terry wiped away the last of the shaving cream and said "I'll be back in one second, but promise me not to feel your head til I get back." I couldn't wait, but agreed. He hurried to the back and returned with another towel. I closed my eyes, waiting for that comforting warmth, but sat up in shock as an ice-cold towel covered my head. After the initial shock, it felt pretty good, and then Terry removed it, rubbed a dab of moisturizer over my head and said "OK. Now."
I reached up and touched the still-cold skin of my scalp. My hand slid easily across my slick smooth scalp. The skin was almost numb to my touch. But it felt unlike anything before. I was immediately swept up by the new sensations of this virgin scalp, seeing the light of day for the first time. And then I looked at my reflection, my head shining, my goatee complimenting the look, And as a relatively pale guy, the color difference was not as pronounced as I'd expected. I loved this new image. I couldn't imagine ever wanting hair again. Terry saw the big smile and said "Why do I get the feeling that I lost a customer today?" I assured him that while I was already sure I wanted to stay bald, I'd still come in and get a shave from him every so often. I walked out into the shining sun, loving my bald head and wondering why I'd ever hesitated.
The poker game was at my house that night. I couldn't wait for the guys to see my new look - especially since I thought I looked even better than Dean did. I was still setting up in the den when I heard Andy walk in and yell Hey! From behind me I heard him yell "Holy crap!" and start laughing as he walked in the room. I turned, ready to defend my decision and there was Andy, his thick red/blond beard intact but with a head as bald as mine. We laughed, compared notes about the decision, saying how we each thought it was something you have to try at least once, and barely noticed as Mike came in - his black MPB gone. "I had to try it" was all he needed to tell us. When Tony came in, his hair still intact, he became the butt of our jokes, the only guy not cool enough to have gone bald. Dean, who was always last to show up - so he could make an "entrance", finally walked in, bald and gleaming, but no longer unique. "Geez, you guys are like sheep! Can't I do anything without you guys copying it?"
"But Dean, buddy," I said, "we make it look good!" Dean looked a bit deflated, but perked up as we joked about looking like some kind of middle-age street gang. Then all eyes fell on Tony and his unremarkable black hair. He looked terrified as Andy said "So Tony, if this is a gang, are you in or are you out?" Tony, always the timid member of the group, gulped hard and shuddered as he ran his hand through his stringy hair and started to think "I guess I've got to try it sometime..."