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Best Buds Reunited: The Shoe by burrlypup

*Gabe’s Perspective*

Eddie is a buddy of mine from the early 2000s when we were both stationed in San Diego. I got out after 8 years in 2006, but Eddie has just finished 20 and is enjoying retirement at 39 years old. I own and operate a one-man barbershop near the Marine base in Miami, an interest which started when I began giving cuts to buddies in the barracks. Imagine my surprise when Eddie walked into my shop after 12 years! We picked up like no time had passed at all, closed up my shop early and we grabbed a case of beer and chilled out in my apartment that I owned one floor above my barbershop.

"Funny isn’t it? You used to make fun of all those dorky flattops and now you’re wearing one!" I laughed as I rubbed Eddies’ grown out flattop. He cringed a little, and I noticed his discomfort, but then he regained his composure.

"I’m still a bit touchy about people touching my head," Eddie winked. I recalled our barrack days and when he had me cut his hair every week so he wouldn’t have to go to a barber. Initially, I gave him a quick #00000 blade all over his head, but over our time together he warmed up to me and allowed more contact for high and tights and the ‘shoe’. We got so much hell for that cut during inspection.

"Think I can get a haircut before I leave?" Eddie asked. I simply got up and told him to come along. A minute later we were already downstairs and in my shop. Intuitively, Eddie took a seat and I wrapped a cape around him.

"Skinfade flattop, short as you can cut but leave it flat," Eddie instructed me. I brushed through his hair, it was thick and dense, so it stood erect without any wax or hairspray. After taking a moment to study the curvature of his head, I used my Andis -t-edgers on the back and sides of his head. To my surprise, he didn’t flinch even as my hands were in full contact with the nearly shaved parts of his nape. He even seemed to enjoy the cut. I raised the clippers his hairline, then shifted them back an inch before making the first level cut across the top of his head. The result was what we called the ‘skunk stripe’ or landing strip. Judging from the growth on the sides, I knew he had the landing strip clipper shaved as well, if not completely shaved.

I steadied myself against the chair as I sculpted the most level flattop possible. It was tilted forward due to the shape of his head, so the landing strip was visible without him even leaning forward. Eddie reached up and stroked his head, particularly the clipper shaved parts on the back and sides and landing strip.

"Let’s make it razor smooth," he told me.

"Yes Sir!" I responded. As Eddie rested his hand on the arm of the chair, I noticed his wedding band.

"Dude! You got married?!?" I asked him. He just smiled and nodded as I placed hot, steamy towels around his head.

"Five years, we have two kids. Oh, and we just moved here." Eddie told me as I nearly lost my sh*t in excitement. I was happy to have my best buddy back!

I ditched the straight razor and picked up the fancy five-bladed Gillette. He asked for smooth and that’s what he was gonna get. After removing the hot towels, I dabbed some hot lather all around the back and sides of his head and down the length of the landing strip.

"Remember what Sgt. Ryan said when you showed up with a horseshoe flattop?" I chuckled.

"I never lived that down. The way he manhandled my head when he shaved it off in front of everyone." Eddie responded. "Or how he woke me up an hour before everyone else just to lather up and shave my head for a week."

"Well don’t forget I got punished for giving you the cut. I scrubbed toilets for a month!"

"Yet, here we are nearly 20 years later." Eddie looked up at me as I pulled the razor down the middle of his head, with the grain, followed by another gentle stroke against it. With the back and sides of his head completely shaved and smooth to the touch, I began blending the border between the shaved and clipped regions of his head. It was silent as I performed this task, and we felt completely comfortable together in that silence.

I took another hot, steamed towel and wrapped it around his head, pulling it taut as I massaged his head and neck. I removed it, wiping his head down and then I slapped some after shave on my palms and rubbed it onto the back and sides of his head, and then the landing strip. I don’t know what came over me but I continued to rub his head. I sensed he was enjoying the massage so I continued for at least five minutes until my hands began to fatigue. The next moment, I whipped off the cape and he stood up, rubbing his nape to the top of his head.

We walked out of my shop into the hot, humid air. It was almost 21:00 and still hot.

"So, you got a wife, kids?" Eddie asked me as he pulled out two cigars.

"I think you know the answer to that," I winked at him.

"You never know. Sometimes I remember our last week in San Diego. All that booze, we kinda got carried away and…" Eddie blushed a little.

"You’re married. Let’s keep things simple bud."

"Of course." Eddie responded, followed by a long pause.

"I remember it well." I said before we both burst out with laughter.

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