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Gilbert Grays by Manny

Gilbert was a little taken aback when the stylist who called him to come on back into the salon was not his normal fellow. He had made an appointment, after all! Despite his momentary surprise, Gilbert followed, without making any fuss about not being seen by his normal stylist. As they walked back, Gilbert ran his fingers through his plush, silken locks. They fell in heavy sheaves to shoulder length -- not the normal look for a man who had just passed the big 4-0. Long, stylish hair had always been a sign of his youthful, fashion-oriented persona. The only thing that had bothered Gilbert of late was the growing number of silvery strands that stood out against the mane of dense, dark mahogany-colored locks. At first, he had no trouble plucking the stray gray hair here and there. But of late, they were proliferating right near his widow's peak. Pretty soon, he'd pluck himself a receding hairline.

Gilbert had planned on asking his stylist about the possibility of some very localized tint or dye. There was no reason he had to risk the natural sheen and fiery auburn highlights of 98% of his head with a chemical wash!

The new stylist introduced himself as Mason as he indicated for Gilbert to take a seat. "So, what do we have in mind today?" Mason asked casually as he lightly grasped a shank of Gilbert's mane. "Perhaps a haircut that is more fitting to a man of your age?"

Gilbert was absolutely taken aback by that snippy remark! A man of his age?! What on earth did young Mason mean? Gilbert being rendered speechless momentarily gave Mason the opportunity to further twist the knife.

"Relax! You're not the first aging hippy whose had a hard time letting go of the long hair. There's a fair amount of snow on the roof up here. Perhaps you can't see it," Mason explained.

"Well, a few strands, yes...but, my hair still is quite...." stammered Gilbert part indignant, part defensive.

"....quite in need of a makeover. A very short trendy cut is what you need, Gilbert!" Mason concluded with a tone of finality. "Or do you want to end up with a beer belly and stringy gray ponytail?!"

"I was thinking perhaps a little bit of a tint on the graying part," Gilbert eked out nervously.

"And I was thinking of a bald fade!" Gilbert announced, reaching for the clippers.

Just the name -- bald fade! -- sent a huge shimmer down Gilbert's spine. A clippers taken to his beloved, plush, pampered mahogany mane....even the thought of such an assault on his pride paralyzed him.

Mason called over one of his young, snarky cohorts. "Hey, Stone, come here. Don't you agree that a bald fade would take about ten years off Gilbert's look?"

"You bet. That tired hippy look is so pathetic. Is he getting cold feet about going through with the big chop?" Stone asked rhetorically. The look on Gilbert's face told the truth.

"You need to trust the opinions of professionals! You want to stay looking young, let a young person tell you how!" urged Mason as his colleague pranced away. "Look here, a quick pose for the 'before' shot." Mason snapped a quick photo of a bewildered-looking Gilbert.

"But so many people tell me I look great with long hair, that it makes me look young...." Gilbert stammered.

"Really? When was the last time that happened?" Mason snapped.

Gilbert was so thrown off by the whole move against his long hair that he couldn't remember any specific compliment of that nature. His face reddened as he remained unable to answer the question.

"Just as I thought! Maybe 15 years ago....but you must be pushing 50, now!"

"I just turned 40!" Gilbert exclaimed.

Mason swiveled the chair away from the mirror so that Gilbert couldn't watch his transformation.

"And I can make you look 25," Mason countered as he snapped on the clippers. He forced Gilbert's head forward, pressing his chin toward his chest. "You won't regret the bald fade!" he announced, bringing the clippers closer. "Shall I?" he demanded.

Gilbert felt overwhelmed. His heart was pounded. He felt totally unable to resist Mason's pressure.

"Okay," Gilbert finally murmured.

Instantly the clippers hit the thick mane and sheaves of Gilbert's treasure fell to the cape. He shuddered as Mason drove the balding clippers tightly up the scalp. Huge clumps of his beautiful hair fell into plain site on the cape.

Gilbert was paralyzed with fear. The only sign of life was the nervous churning of his stomach. What would his partner Todd say when he arrived home sporting a bald fade?! Todd was crazy about older men with beautiful long hair.....

Mason was very efficient in mowing off the long hair. Quickly, methodically, he took away the flowing locks, leaving nothing but the finest stubble in their place. Gilbert cowered beneath the assault of the clippers feeling totally impotent and emasculated.

"Long hair is a real nuisance, don't you think, Gilbert? All that washing and drying," Mason smirked. "Sure, it'll be shock at first getting used to a sort of pea-head look, but it'll be quite practical. No one will know you're starting to go gray if you keep your head clipped down to the wood. I've had more than a couple former longhairs thank me for given them the little push they needed to shed the fussy locks of cultivated girlish hair." He playfully rubbed Gilbert's clipped scalp. "I dare say you might finally come around too."

Gilbert fondled a few clumps of cut hair that had collected in his lap. They felt soft and silken....and not a gray strand to be found in the collection he held. Todd would be furious with him. He'd probably end up sleeping on the couch. Or even on the receiving end of a "Dear Gilbert" letter.

"Bald fades have been quite the popular cut with the teen crowd for a long time. But, I read that the 70's look is coming back into style. Did you live through that era of center parted hair feathered back and over the collar in back?"

"Oh, David Cassidy was my idol. He had the most amazing hair," Gilbert admitted. "Although, I also had quite the eye for John Schneider on the Dukes of Hazzard. But David Cassidy's dark shiny hair was much more like my own."

"And now it's been reduced to stubble," Mason said. "Let me show you what the new you is like!"

Slowly he swiveled the chair back toward the mirror.

Gilbert felt instantly sick seeing the naked head contrasting with the hair-laden cape. "Oh!" he gasped involuntarily. He was unrecognizable.

"Let me shave in a side part to give you a bit of flair," Mason offered. "Left or right?:"

Why decide, Gilbert thought to himself. Mason was used to making decisions for his timid clients.

"Barber's choice," Gilbert eked out, "Like the whole haircut."

"Then, perhaps I'll leave just like it is. A simple butch cut. No need to fade it or put a fussy little part in it. A #1 butch for you is what the barber has decided for your new look. Oh look at all this hair that's come off! Stone, come over here and see Gilbert's new look!" the stylist called out to his colleague in the next booth

Stone appeared in the area. "Oh, a butch cut! He looks quite boyish, I think."

"Won't he make a wonderful addition to my 'Tuesday Transformation' gallery on our website? Smile for the 'after' photo, Gilbert!" he instructed.

Gilbert smiled sheepishly.

"You are so convincing with your longhairs, Mason," Stone gushed. "I'm going to have to learn your technique."

Mason finished off Gilbert's transformation with a vigorous session under the duster. Then he pulled off the cape and watched the huge collection of Gilbert's cut hair fall to his feet.

Gilbert felt his shorn head for the first time. "Maybe Todd will like my new look....." he murmured skeptically.

The whole way home his stomach churned. He felt queasy knowing that Todd would be furious over the radical divestiture.....

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