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What A Change - I'm Bald by Gil
I’m an American architect living in Israel with my long term girlfriend while working on a very large long-term project. I had a full head of dark wavy hair until now, and it’s always been on the long side (I had a ponytail to my shoulderblades when I got here three years ago), but its been getting shorter and shorter over time. I’ve gone in the past few years from my ponytail to the length of about 4-5 inches (just short enough not to get into my eyes and long enough to reach my collar), which it was yesterday morning. I really liked my hair at that length. I could do all sorts of different things with it, I could grease it back, I could mouse it curly, I could just let it dry naturally into a sort of John Travolta sort of thing, or I could blow dry it straight. I’d often get complements on my hair – on its shine, and on how lucky I was that it was so full and thick (especially from balding friends). So what made me shave it you ask – here’s my story.
I don’t have a computer at home (my lap top broke and I want to wait until I’m in the States on a visit to either fix it or replace it), and I just recently got hooked up to the Internet at work. I was busily surfing the net, after being without it for quite a long period, and I was really enjoying it, when a co-worker came into my office to see how it works. It was very early in the morning, prior to the arrival of most of the other workers, and he was walking around shaving with an electric razor (which to be truthful kind of agitated me). I told him to give me a topic, any topic, and I’d show him how much material was available on the net. He looked at the electric razor and said to look up “shaving”. A ton of stuff came up, I was surprised by the amount. We went into a few sites and after a while he went back to his office. I continued with the search. I was surprised at how fascinated I was by the subject. I opened a few sites about head shaving and was mesmerized. I just couldn’t stop reading the stories and looking at the before and after pictures. I kept on for hours, until I had to leave the office for some appointments.
The rest of the day I just couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d seen and read. I’d never really contemplated shaving my head before, but now I was fixated. I thought that it would pass – sort of like fantasizing about a beautiful woman that just walked by, but it didn’t pass. Everywhere I went I kept seeing men with shaved heads. I kept wondering what was going on, why I hadn’t noticed them before, and why was I so intrigued?
That evening, after work, I went to see my lawyer regarding a lawsuit. I was in a car accident about a year ago, someone made a u-turn right into me. Anyway, I’ve been going to the same lawyer since the accident and we’ve become very friendly and even get together socially. His hair had been short as long as I’ve known him, sort of a long crew cut, but now I walk into his office and see a totally shaved head. Shocked, I asked what made him do it. He said it was the end result of his daughter cutting his hair while he was napping. I told him that it really suited him, he agreed and said that he planned on keeping it shaved. I also mentioned that I just happened to have been surfing the shaved head sites on the net that very morning, and that I was now preoccupied with the subject and couldn’t get the subject out of my mind. He said that it feels great, that touching it was very sensual, and that his wife really loves it. Then he added that I should give it a try since I was so very interested. I said no way, I really like my hair and so does my girlfriend. He said I was just too chicken to try it and that if I didn’t like it shaved I could just grow it right back. Just the thought intrigued me, he could tell he was hitting a nerve and kept on. We were supposed to go out together on Friday. He offered to come over a little early and help with the task, so that we’d be the “bald twins” that evening, and get a lot of extra attention. I vehemently said no thanks, even though the thought of him shaving my head actually excited me. I got him back onto the subject of my lawsuit, he requested a written report from my back doctor regarding the damage to my neck and back. I got up to leave and he started in on me again about shaving my head. As I went out the door he called out for me to ask my girlfriend what she thinks about it. I told him to leave me alone, but I couldn’t stop thinking about actually doing it.
I didn’t know what was going on, first the sites on the Internet, then my lawyer, and it was exciting me. I didn’t understand why I was all of a sudden so fixated with the subject, I thought that maybe I should shave my head just to see what its like (hair does grow back). Everywhere I looked I kept seeing men, young and old, with shaved heads and it looked good to me all of a sudden.
That evening I brought up the subject of him shaving his head to my girlfriend, she said that she already heard about it from his wife, and that it was apparently quite attractive on him. I told her that he thought I should also do it, and asked her what she thought. She blew me off, saying that there was no point in discussing it since I’d never have the nerve to do it. I reworded the question and asked her if she thought that it would suit me, her only reply was: ”Well, you’d gain a good half hour in the morning, with all of the playing around you do with your hair” (a slight exagerration). I didn’t know if this was a yes or a no, but didn’t want to press the point. A little voice in the back of my head said, “Go ahead, do it. Go into the bathroom and shave it off. Show her what you’re made of.” But, when I got to the john another little voice said to me “No, your hair is too nice, and you may not like the shape of your head bald.” So after a few minutes of starring in the mirror, I did chicken out.
That night on TV, men with shaved heads were in almost every program, and again they looked good to me. The next day at work my boss’s 16-year-old son came in to visit with a newly shaved head. I interviewed 2 applicants for a support position on our project and both had shaved heads. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, was there some sort of international conspiracy to get me to shave my head. Even on my way home after work the driver next to me at a red light had a shaved head and caught me starring at him. I stopped at the local liquor store and there was a new checker and he had a shaved head and it again looked very good to me. That was it, I decided that I would join the ranks and also shave my head. My longish hair all of a sudden didn’t look as good as a smoothly shaved head. I also knew that I’d never get this fixation out of my system if I didn’t do it at least once.
My stomach churning, I called my friend the lawyer from my car, and told him that tonight I was going to join him and become bald by choice. He told me that I wouldn’t regret it and that he’d love to help me shave it, but that he was busy until too late that evening and that I should wait until the next day. I said that I didn’t want to put it off any longer, that I had decided and didn’t see any reason to put it off, and therefore wanted to get it over with a.s.a.p. So he gave me instructions. He told me to go to his house to get his clippers from his wife. Then I was to shear off all my hair with the zero blade - no attachment. Then to lather it up, wait a few moments, and then slowly shave against the grain (I didn’t know which way was the grain, but didn’t want to show my ignorance by asking) with a safety razor (I didn’t even know that scalp has a grain). Then to rinse my head a few times with cold water in order to close the pores and to make my head shine. I was then to call him and tell him how it came out and he’d come over on the way home to check out the new bald me and to get his clippers. The thought of actually doing it excited me. It was time to make a change.
I drove to his house, asked his wife for the clippers, she went to get them but asked me why, what did I need them for. I told her, but she didn’t believe her ears. She asked why such a significant change from someone so preoccupied with his hair, to now wanting no hair. I couldn’t explain. I just wanted it. I wanted a smooth, shiny, sensuous, baldhead just like her husband’s.
My girlfriend was informed by phone of my upcoming tonsorial change, and before I could even put my stuff down she said: “Are you really going to do it? I didn’t think you’d have the nerve. Good thing you’re an architect, everyone expects them to be a little bizarre.” I gave her a look (kind of a sneer), and without saying a word I went into the bathroom, intending to do the deed. I was all set – clippers, shaving cream, and a few disposable razors on the counter waiting. I put a towel around my neck, all of a sudden I thought what does she mean by bizarre. I went out with the towel still on and asked what she meant. She said that it wasn’t like with our friend shaving his head. He had had less than an inch of hair and an excuse – his daughter started the process and he had no choice but to finish it. Since I had fairly long hair for a man, such a huge change would be considered strange. She recommended that I try a shorter haircut so that we could see shape of my head first, before shaving it. She added that “bald” doesn’t flatter everyone and may not suit me as much as our friend, especially if my head was an odd shape or lumpy. I explained about the cleanness of it, the strength of it, the bold bald manliness of it, of the sensuousness of it, and that it would grow back if we didn’t like it. She just smirked at my enthusiasm and said – then go ahead, get into the bathroom and do it, get it over with and then get back out here with the new bald, sexy, shiny, sensuous me. But she said it with a tone of derision. I said just wait 15 mins. and you’ll have a new and improved boyfriend. Now I got a look of derision instead of the tone (guys, you all know the look). In the same mocking tone that she had just used she added “Get in there then, curly – or should I start calling you Kojak?” Without answering I went into the john with the wind partially gone out of my sails, looked in the mirror, pulled my hair off of my forehead, grabbed the clippers, turned them on, moved them towards my scalp, but I just couldn’t do it. My girlfriend had ruined it for me. I didn’t want to be bizarre or strange, I wanted to be masculine and strong, and what if I did have a funnily shaped head. I gave it up. I went back out to the kitchen and was greeted by “what a huge change, hardly recognized you” (more derision). I told her that she was right, that I’d try a short haircut first, so I could see the shape of my head before doing anything drastic. I felt lousy and she just sort of smiled (one of those all-knowing smiles).
After dinner I called my friend and told him not to bother to come by cause I hadn’t done it yet. I lied to him, I said that we had unexpected guests over, and that I didn’t think it would be appropriate to just get up, go into the bathroom, and shave my head. It’d be just too weird. He called me chicken again, and said that he could come over later after finishing work, even though it’d be very late, and do it for me if I wanted. I told him not to bother, I didn’t want to say that I was “whipped”, that my girlfriend had planted all sorts of doubts in my head and that I may never actually do it. I was very disappointed and felt lousy. I still wanted to know what I’d look like totally shaved and how having a smooth scalp feels, and not just get a shorter haircut.
The next day I scheduled an early afternoon appointment with the back doctor and spent the morning working. About 11 o’clock I decided to surf the haircut sites on the web to see how I should cut my hair. I decided on a “finger cut” or “ceasar cut” (I couldn’t really tell them apart) and that after the doctor I‘d go and have my hair cut. I also entered the shaved head sites and again the thought of shaving my head excited me. I’ve truthfully never been fixated like this before, even by Playboy when I was 13. I knew that I’d never be satisfied until I actually tried it, but that my girlfriend was right – I should try a short haircut first, and then depending on the shape of my head, shave it.
I went to the back doctor and lo and behold he’d also shaven his head since I’d last seen him. He’s balding and his prior style was a very obvious and unflattering comb over. I told him that I needed for him to check my back and then to send a written report regarding the damage to my lawyer for my lawsuit. I then complemented him on his new hairstyle (or lack there of), that it made him look much younger and stronger. He explained that his two “bald by choice” teenage sons had been after him for a while to do it, but that he’d put it off for years because he thought it was just too extreme, and added that he was pleasantly surprised that it did flatter him. I left his office in a stupor thinking should I do it or not? Was this some sort of sign?
Although I’m not a smoker, I just bum from smokers around me, I needed a cigarette. I not only wanted one, I needed one. Eventhough it had started to drizzle, I decided to walk about a block and a half to my local liquor store in order to buy cigarettes. On the way I passed a hair salon with two guys, one with really long hair, standing out front smoking under the shop canopy. I approached and requested a cigarette. I went into the empty shop with the younger longhaired of the two to get the cigarette. His hair was very, very long and wavy, pulled back into a ponytail well past the middle of his back. After he gave me the cigarette, since I was already in the shop I asked him if he was free to cut my hair, eventhough I normally go some place else. He said that he was free, no appointments until early evening. He told me to go in the back and get shampooed. I came back sat in his chair and told him that I wanted a “finger cut”or a “ceasar cut”. He had no idea what I was talking about, apparently these terms don’t translate. So I tried to explain to him what I wanted in half English, half hand gestures. His English wasn’t very good and my Hebrew minimal, he didn’t understand what I meant and didn’t get my hand and finger gestures at all. He just shrugged. So on the spur of the moment I said, “You know what, just shave my head.” This he understood. He was flabbergasted and tried to talk me out of it. He said that I had very nice hair, and that it would be a shame to shave it off. He said for me to explain in English to the other barber, still standing outside watching the rain, what I wanted and that he’d do that instead. I said no, that I had decided – “shave it smooth with a straight razor”. He said that I was crazy, but o.k. He said “say goodbye to your lovely hair”. He picked up the clippers. I told him to start on the top right in the middle so that I couldn’t change my mind. He called me crazy again and plowed on in, one swipe right down the middle. The feel of the clippers surprised me. A huge clump of hair fell onto my right shoulder and then my lap. He stood aside for me to see and said, “What do you think? Pretty ugly, huh. There’s no turning back now.” I was enthralled by the reflection in the mirror.
At that moment 3 teenage boys came in all excited. When they saw me they said that they were going into a pre-army prep course soon (most Israelis do this the year before enlisting) and that they also wanted to get “buzzed” like me. The barber explained that he wasn’t just buzzing my hair off, that he was going to shave me completely smooth with a razor. I couldn’t believe it, just hearing the words added to my excitement. I couldn’t believe how quickly my hair was coming off. It takes so long to grow, but comes off in a flash. I started to look like someone else – no dark wavy hair framing my face, just shiny smoothness. I was a little in shock. The feel of the clippers was new to me and a bit scary, but I was still very much looking forward to seeing the final product.
While this was going on the other barber came in from outside, told one of the teenagers to go get shampooed, but the kid just ran his hand trough his “Beetle” haircut and said “no need, just shave me bald, like him”. Meaning me, just being described as “bald” was such a sudden change for me. I enjoyed hearing it. The other teens seemed really enthused and agreed that they’d all do it. I was half way buzzed when the old guy from the sidewalk newsstand out front ducked in to the shop to get out of the rain and warm up a bit. He looked at me and the kid also getting buzzed, and said to my barber that he’d give a thousand dollars if my barber would shave off his very long hair, just like us. The barber said jokingly – “you don’t have a thousand dollars. I’ll do it for $50”. The newsstand guy said as he rushed back out to serve a waiting customer “Lucky for you I don’t have an extra $50 either, cause I’d love to see it.”
The teens frantically tried to see if they had enough between them, but they didn’t and were quite disappointed. My barber looked relieved. I asked him quietly while they were lamenting their lack of cash, “Would you really have shaved you head for $50?” He said sure, but really meant, “Thank god they don’t have it.” I could tell that he didn’t think I was included in this offer. I was getting even more excited thinking about it, now not only would I get shaved, I would cause someone else to as well. I blurted out for all to hear “I’ll give you $50, if I can do it to you.” His face fell. The teens started chanting like Indians, saying something that translates to something like “good-bye ponytail, hello baldy” (from what I could decipher). He meekly said “O.k., no problem, as soon as I’m done with you”, but I could tell that he was s**tting in his pants and really didn’t want to do it, and that if the teenagers, who weren’t much younger then him, hadn’t been there, he’d have tried and probably succeeded in finding an excuse to get out of it.
All of a sudden my haircut was taking longer on the left side, much longer than the speediness of the right. When he finally finished buzzing me, he made a big deal of showing me the back with a mirror, and then asked if we could stop for a cigarette break. I said sure, but I knew that he was stalling, hoping that the teens would be done and have to leave, and he’d not have to do it. My reflection in the mirror excited me even more than I thought it would. My head wasn’t oddly shaped at all, in fact it was perfect – no bumps, sort of a rounded square, and my eyes, which are light blue-green, all of a sudden looked twice as big. I was pleased so far, but was eager to feel the steel of the razor on my scalp removing the 5 o’clock shadow that the clippers had left. I was really glad that I’d stopped here to do it, it was a double whammy – I was now ostensibly bald and I was going to shave my barber’s head too. I ran my hands over my scalp – what a change, instead of my old silky hair, it was rough and stubbily.
I noticed that the other barber had already finished the first boy, and had started in on the second – a curly auburn haired kid. When my guy came back and started to lather me up, I asked him if he was stalling till the boys left. He didn’t answer, but he spent a tremendous amount of time soaping my head. He was stalling. Now he was making a show of sharpening the straight razor and wouldn’t have stopped for a long while, except that I asked him rather loudly “Are you stalling?” All eyes shot over to him, he said “No, no, I’m just not as used to doing this as the other guy and therefore not as fast as him. You do want me to be careful don’t you?” He then started running the blade over my head. What a feeling, what a sensation, it felt great, a rush. I wanted to reach up and touch the smoothness, but I controlled myself. He finished. No more hair. I looked great. I ran my hand over my freshly shaven scalp, but it still didn’t feel smooth, even though it looked it. I was disappointed and mentioned to the barber that I had wanted it smooth. He told me to relax, that he wasn’t done with me yet and started lathering me up again. This time shaving against the grain in very small, slow, time consuming strokes – taking a tremendous amount of time. The second teen was already bald and the third was in the chair waiting for the clippers. I again accused my guy of stalling. I’d been in the chair for what felt like a very long time. One of the finished teens sensing what my barber was doing, spoke up and said that they had nowhere to rush off to, and that they would hang around to see the big event. My barber paused a split second realizing that his fate, or rather his hair’s fate was now sealed. He finished me up, totally smooth and then rubbed some sort of soothing lotion into my scalp which made it shine. The sensation of direct contact with my scalp was incredible. I was extremely pleased. I really liked the way that it looked, and couldn’t wait to get home and have my girlfriend run her hands all over my smooth and shiny head, but now it was my turn to shave the barber. I was out of control.
The barber requested another cigarette break, another stall, but this time I said no, that he could smoke in the chair while I was buzzing his hair. He paled, gulped and sat down in the chair. I put the cape around his neck and secured it with the assistance of the other barber. He looked doomed, he had such a sad look on his face that I said to him – “just sit back and enjoy it”. He said in a quiet voice, that he hadn’t cut his hair in three years and really liked his ponytail, and that he was kind of sorry to see it go. The other barber (the owner of the shop apparently) hearing this just leaned right in and clipped it off right above the rubber band. He handed it to him, and said, “if you love this scraggly thing so much, here keep it in a box. I’ve been wanting to tell you to get rid of it for a while.” What a thrill. My guy was in shock. His remaining hair sprang up like a lion’s mane. The three already shaved teens were sitting watching. A customer walked in, saw what was going on, turned on his heels and left as fast as he could. We all laughed. My prey smiled, looked at me and said “o.k. get this over with”. So I picked up the clippers, smiled down at my victim and started right on top, down the center, just like he’d done to me. His hair was very different than mine, much finer, the buzzed area looked really bald – no visible stubble. He looked like a clown and I told him so and again everyone broke out laughing including him. He said to me – just get it over with – with a smile on his face. He’d finally relaxed and reconciled himself to it. The rest came off rather quickly, and to be truthful he looked rather like a skinned rabbit. His face was tanned (even though it was late fall) and his scalp was white-white. He then explained how to make the lather. I lathered him up, asked if they had a regular safety razor, a Gillette or a Schick or something, cause I wasn’t so confident about using the straight razor. The other barber chimed in that he’d do it since they only had straight razors. I was relieved. I sat down with the other baldies to watch the shaving, and to look at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t believe the huge mounds of hair on the floor – I could identify my ex-hair, it felt good unattached. I was pleased with my new look, very macho, and I couldn’t wait to get home. The skinning of the barber was completed in a matter of minutes. I went to pay my now bald barber, who kept touching his dome while looking in the mirror. He looked at me and said, “It really suits you, even though you had really nice hair, you should keep it this way.” I agreed with him. After a pause he looked at me and said “Know what, your choice, either keep your $50 or come back every few days and I’ll shave you until the money is used up.” I chose the later.
I left the warmth of the shop, the cold rain felt odd on my newly exposed scalp. I wiped the water off with my hand and felt a new smooth and sensitive area that I didn’t have an hour before. I decided to duck into the liquor store and finally buy cigarettes and a lighter. The cashier was extremely friendly and she complemented me on the change. She smiled at me, said that it flattered me a lot, and that I must have a lot of guts. She also said that she didn’t know that I smoked cause I’d never included cigarettes in my prior frequent purchases there before. I just said “it’s the new me” and smiled back. Her reaction made me feel even more confident that I had done the right thing.
I couldn’t wait to get home and have my girlfriend run her nails over my bare scalp. I rushed into the apartment. She smiled and screamed, “you did it”. I picked her up and carried her off to the other room for our new experience. It was great.
I don’t think I’ll ever let it grow back. I can’t wait to shave it again by myself.