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The Change by Raldo (recovered)
Christmas 2003 and I’d been feeling unsettled for some time so I decided it would be a good time to make a big change to my life and move as far away as I could and make a new start. As soon as I could I began to apply for new jobs on the other side of the country. Early in the New Year I had several good replies but the stand out one was a civilian post on a USMC base – it couldn’t have been more different to my life right now, it really appealed to me so I had to go for it. After a couple of phone calls I had a date for an interview and everything was organized – flights, accommodation and car since it was a fair distance from the nearest town to the base. I arrived for the interview the day before so I had time to look around and check things out without feeling rushed. I collected the hire car at the airport and drove to the hotel 50 miles away, I checked in, had a shower and went out for a walk. I thought I’d covered everything but as I caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window I realized my hair was getting very long and untidy - I’d never quite got my head around guys who got a haircut before an event in order to look ‘their best’ I always took the view that I looked my best with a couple of weeks growth after a haircut but perhaps I should have had a haircut before I came for the interview since it would probably look better freshly cut and create the right impression with the interview being on a marine base.
Fortunately there was still time to get a haircut, so after checking out with a couple of local guys it turned out there was only one barber shop in town so it had to be there or turn up for the interview looking shaggy – not a good idea for an interview in a military establishment I thought. I took a walk and found the shop a couple of blocks away, it was a one chair shop and the barber an old guy with a short grey crewcut was just finishing up a short buzzcut on a young guy, I took a seat and watched buzz being finished while I waited my turn. As I said earlier I was never too good with haircuts, I’d just get a trim when it got too messy – certainly nothing too extreme – so when I took my turn in the chair and the barber asked how I wanted it cut I said just a trim but while he was fastening the cape around my neck I gave a little thought to the situation and decided maybe this time I should try it a little shorter in view of the interview and the fact that I really wanted the job. As the barber was combing out my hair ready to cut it I said on perhaps on reflection I’d like it if he gave me a nice reasonable short business cut tapered at the back and sides and shorter on top – he did just what I asked. To my surprise it looked good neatly tapered with a side part and angled bangs brushed back – very good image for an interview I thought but definitely short enough, I wouldn’t have wanted it any shorter but it was definitely right for the interview I thought.
The following day I was up early I had a shower then shaved carefully; I then got dressed in the new business suit and crisp white shirt and tie. So with my shoes shined and hair neatly parted and combed I was ready for the day ahead. I was one of five short listed candidates; the interviews lasted most of the morning with a break for lunch. We would find out after lunch if we were successful or not.
After what seemed like an eternity I was the last one to be asked back into the interview room, I had no idea if I was successful or not since we had been kept in a room away from everyone. I enter the room the colonel greeted me with a firm handshake and invited me to take a seat after a short conversation he said that I’d really impressed him and the rest of the interview panel and they would like to offer me the job, I was over the moon just what I needed to make a new start and worlds away from what I’d done previously. The next thing he said was, we’ll need you to start pretty quickly so if that’s ok with you how about two weeks? I was really pleased and very happy to start as soon as I could; it was just what I’d hoped for. Once the formalities were dealt with the colonel took me on a tour of the base to familiarize me with everything, I asked lots of questions and got all the answers that I expected, one of the things I wasn’t sure about was dress code this being a USMC base and me being a civilian employee. The Colonel was very helpful – there are no hard and fast rules on dress and general appearance but he did expect his staff to always be smartly dressed in a plain dark business suit and tie, clean shaven just the way you are right now and of course it goes without saying given where you are going to be working a decent short haircut is essential. Since I’d just had what for me was a short haircut that morning I figured I would be ok but as we walked along the Colonel said he was due for a haircut so he’d show me the barber shop and introduce me the camp barber. It was a very austere place with all the smells and atmosphere of the barbershop I was a regular in when I was a kid and the barber was very friendly with a very firm handshake, he said he would look forward seeing me on a regular basis and the first haircut would be on the house as a welcome to the base. The colonel was quickly in the chair with the crisp white cape fastened tightly around his neck the barber asked no questions just turned on the clippers and began stripping the already very short stubble from the back and sides of his head leaving just the faintest shadow and the slightly grown out flattop on the top of his head, he wasted no time in tightening this and clearing a small landing strip down the center. I just sat and watched in awe through the whole procedure, it looked so extreme compared to my own experience just hours earlier – I even found myself imagining maybe working towards a similar experience when I got used to being around the base for a while. The Colonels haircut got even more interesting when the barber applied shaving cream around the back and sides and began shaving up to the crown with a straight razor. I was very impressed with his haircut when I first met him even though I didn’t want it myself I always thought that very short haircuts looked just right with military uniforms, and as he stepped out of the chair and brushed the back of his head repeatedly with a tissue to remove loose hairs I thought it looked a thousand times better – very masculine and military – I must have been tuning in to all the short military cuts I’d been around today.
I got up from the bench expecting to leave the barber shop and continue with the tour of the base when the Colonel said you may as well get your welcome haircut done now while we are here and the shop is quiet – I wanted to protest and point out that I’d just had a haircut yesterday but I thought it best to submit willingly and even enthusiastically not wishing to appear like a wimp and thinking that since my hair was already ‘short’ (by my standards) a little bit more of a trim would not stand out in this environment and it would soon grow back.
I took a seat with no feeling of trepidation or anticipation after all I only needed a trim. The Colonel watched as the white cape was fastened around my neck, without a word the barber picked up the clipper and turned them on and moved in quickly and left me in shock by proceeding to strip all the hair from the back and sides of my head – he definitely enjoyed doing it and I couldn’t believe how much hair was falling on the cape considering how recently it had been cut – I guess he doesn’t often get the chance to cut hair this ‘long’ since every marine I’ve seen today looks to be completely shaved up to their lids so he seemed to be making the most of it and giving me the full treatment taking off as much as he could. I sat still watching it cover the cape and took it like a man even though I would have preferred to continue fantasizing about it maybe happening at some future date. I was keen that neither of them got the wrong idea about me before I’d even started the job and as the barber worked I felt myself, much to my surprise starting to genuinely enjoy the whole experience. I’ve never had clippers so close to my scalp before except for the tapering around the edges, this was a new and very interesting experience – the buzzing on my head and cold metal touching my skin, I didn’t think it could get any better – I was itching to bring my hands from under the cape and feel the damage, the suspense was killing me – but the best part was yet to come the back and sides being shaved twice was an incredible sensation that I could never have anticipated – watching the whole event was outstanding and it just occurred to my that this would now be a regular event since we were some distance from the nearest town and this was the only barber shop available.
My head felt very cold and naked and this feeling was amplified by the barber flicking the back and sides of my head with his brush to remove loose hairs. He removed the cape and brushed my shoulders as I stood up – I spent a fair while looking at myself in the mirror and seeing this very smart stranger with the most outstanding haircut looking back at me, the sides of my head were gleaming and not a trace of hair and the remaining hair on top was crisp and short and standing very firmly to attention. I was still trying to grasp what had just happened and now the suspense was over I could touch my new haircut – I ran my hands up and down the back and sides and explored with my finger tips – it felt naked and very sensitive but at the same time very good, better than I could have expected – I liked it, I liked it a lot but it would take a while to get used to. I don’t think I would have readily sat in the chair and asked for this haircut and it would have taken a long time to build up to it by getting progressively shorter haircuts - but standing in front of the mirror and looking at the whole package of me in a smart business suit and tie with an incredible shaved high and tight flattop was definitely a good look for me and I would certainly fit in around here. I think I’ll spend a lot of time today checking my new look out in mirrors and windows and it will be hard to stop touching it for some time.
The Colonel was very impressed with the outcome and the fact that I hadn’t protested about not needing a haircut which made me feel even better. I shook hands with the barber and thanked him for the best experience of the year; he was quick to point out that I’d be seeing him again on a regular basis to keep it looking this good – that was something I hadn’t thought about but I know it will be much anticipated pleasure and I’ll enjoy every second of every visit.
We stepped out of the barbershop into the cold winter afternoon – another sensation to savor as we continued our tour of the base, I think I may need a hat. I was enjoying the haircut even more now that I looked like everyone else, whatever I may have thought about extreme haircuts before they are a definite advantage in a place like this, it was good not standing out from the crowd but I was starting to think about how everyone back home would react.
My new look received a mixed reaction but for the most part positive, it was strange walking around with such a short haircut when everyone else had longer hair – I did feel a little more out of place to start with than I had on the marine base but I’m sure that after a few more haircuts I wouldn’t give it a second thought
Everything was sorted very quickly and I was moved and settled into accommodation on the base a couple of days before I started my new job. The second morning back I realized that my hair had grown back a fair bit in the last week so I decided it was time to get it tightened up before Monday so I looked my best for the first day of the new job. I was really looking forward to the haircut, I entered the barbershop and took a seat; the barber smiled at me welcomed me back. There were four marines waiting before me; I enjoyed watching one of them get a head shave and the others get high and tights, I was definitely looking forward to this haircut. My turn came, no questions were asked I sat in the chair the white cape was fastened tightly around my neck and I was very efficiently given the same haircut as last time and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it and would have sat through it again. I got out of the chair and the barber brushed me down, I thanked him for an excellent haircut. As I left the barbershop I thought to myself I’m going to really enjoy working here and going through this weekly ritual.
I really enjoyed having a shaved high and tight flattop for the first couple of years in the job and I didn’t think I would ever consider a change of haircut – that was until I was cornered by the colonel who was drumming up support and willing victims to join in a sponsored head shaving event at the base to raise funds for a local charity. I don’t quite know how it happened but I found myself agreeing to have my head shaved with everyone telling me it was already so short it wouldn’t be such a radical change and it would grow out in no time at all. Thinking about it through the rest of the day I did find the idea interesting and even a little exciting and as much as I enjoyed my weekly haircut it had become matter of fact and didn’t set my pulse racing like it had in the beginning. I had been noticing all the marines with shaved heads for some time and thinking how good they looked and wondering how it would feel to go all the way and this would be an easy and convenient excuse to try it not that I really needed one.
Four weeks of fund raising and growing anticipation and the big day was upon us. Thirty guys including the colonel were about to be shaved bald. None of us really had that much hair to loose but I think a lot of the guys feel they need an excuse for such an extreme haircut when they have a full head of hair. For me the four week build up had been a real buzz and I was about to make the most of it and enjoy every second. I watched with growing anticipation as the first six guys were quickly relieved of their hair and the remaining stubble razor shaved smooth to leave them shinning – what a sight they looked incredible standing there in their uniforms and naked heads – I couldn’t wait to be one of them.
My turn wasn’t long in coming – my heart was racing sitting there in front of this crowd of work colleagues and marines – at least I was in good company. The cape was fastened nice and tightly and without hesitation the clippers were ploughed from my forehead to crown half a dozen times and my neat flattop was history. Hot lather quickly covered my head and I was shaved smooth with rapid precision – I was finished and away to the restroom as fast as possible I wanted to check it in a mirror and touch and explore it. I wasn’t expecting it to look good but I was more than surprised by what I saw, the high and tight flattop was a great haircut and a perfect image for the environment I was working in but this was another level. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought it made me look far more masculine and powerful than I could ever have imagined, standing there dressed in my suit and tie topped of with my new perfect shinning shaved head I looked outstanding. I rejoined the event feeling 10 feet tall, I didn’t get a single negative comment just endless compliments – this had to be a permanent good-bye to hair…
That was three years ago – I’ve continued to shave it almost every day since then with absolutely no regrets or any possibility of ever growing even the smallest horseshoe flattop back, smoothly shaved is the only haircut for me. I could never have imagined five years ago when I went for a trim at the town barber before my job interview that I would end up looking so radically different to the image I had always presented – This was one big change.