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Its a Small World by P.J.

The summer had flown by, and before they knew it Kyle and Gray were moved into their first college suite together as roommates . Despite the fact that they had enrolled in different degree programs, Kyle in Chemical Engineering, and Gray in Physics, as first year students they shared a lot of general studies classes in common. They were learning that they also shared other extracurricular interests in common. It was gradually becoming apparent during this semester that they seemed to be attracted to the same gender, their own. They hadn't really even come out to themselves, yet, let alone each other at this point.

As exams for the semester finished up, they realized that while being long standing haircut buddies, they had each not had their hair trimmed up in several weeks now. After the big barbershop scene in June they hadn't done anything for the rest of the summer, gave each other the merest of trims in September, and hadn't really paid attention to just how long their luscious locks had become until now. They'd thrown themselves into their studies, and had the good grades to show for it. They had however, been paying attention to what types of haircuts the other guys around campus wore. They were attending college in the north country of New York, and had been fore warned of the chillingly cold winters they would have to endure. It would seem that most of the guys here were growing their hair out at a minimum, expecting to need the added protection for the coming winter.

Their suite mates for the year had accidentally discovered Kyle's and Grays talent for cutting hair. This had led to a word of mouth college barber side line for the two of them. As is wont, the cobblers kids always went barefoot, Kyle and Gray hadn't had time for each other's haircuts. Realizing that time was growing short before heading home for the winter break, they agreed to seek out a local barbershop and treat themselves. The previous barbershop experience had turned out rather pleasantly for all concerned. Surly there was a good local establishment that could do justice to their now shoulder length manes. This would require some discreet questioning of their other haircut buddies, and certain male faculty members who sported handsomely quaffed manes.

One faculty member in particular had caught the eye of both guys. He was a TA in their Poli Sci class. They had agreed to speak with him after the last class of the year. What neither realized at the time was that the other was seriously man crushing on said handsome TA.

They screwed up the courage to wait after class that last day and approached him."Excuse me Jack", Kyle started to say, "if you have a minute, we would like to talk with you". "Of course Guys", Jack replied. "What can I do for you"? Gray jumped in, smiling, and said "we couldn't help but notice that you have a very handsome mane for a faculty member. Would you be able to recommend somewhere locally that attends to it for you"? Jack blushed, then smiled demurely, "well, I really haven't been to any of the local establishments for a haircut in quite some time. Now that you mention it, it's getting quite shaggy actually. And to clear things up a bit, I'm only a TA here, not a tenured faculty member. I just assist the professor." "Now to answer your question, I haven't been to any of the local establishments in quite some time, as my mop will illustrate." I can however, without reservation recommend one fine establishment , the proprietor of which has become a friend of mine." If you're interested in a barbershop that is, and not a salon. He proceeded to tell the guys of this Thesis work, and his general observation up to this point in time.

Kyle and Gray were concerned that since Jack had recommended a barber shop, and not a salon, could the barber handle their long manes. They had no intentions of getting short, extremely barbered cuts, they just wanted to get things neatened up for the holidays. And would Jack also be getting his long mane trimmed by this barber also? This question elicited a bit of squirming from Jack. "Well, you seem to think my hair is in need of attention, I'm still growing it out from an unfortunate experiment related to my research." I'm not ready to have it trimmed yet, I don't think" Jack replied nervously, pushing his fingers through his long plush ginger fringe, and tucking it behind his ear.

Kyle and Gray related their own springtime experience at Franks barbershop back home. They both had new respect for barbers, good barbers, and their capability to work with any length hair on a guy. That visit is what prompted them to try again up here in the north country.

After some further discussion, Jack said he would arrange for them to come in this Saturday for cuts. He gave them the address and said to meet him there at 3:30. He was sure that it would be enough time for each to get cleaned up. Kyle and Gray, not missing a beat said, we'll expect you to get at least a trim up too, Jack, and left the classroom.

As Pete was opening up the shop Saturday, Jack appeared, seemingly out of nowhere , with a small bag from Pete's favorite Bakery. It was still a little before he was due to open so he invited Jack in to catch up on his research and find out what the lad wanted. Goodies almost always implied a favor was needed.

"Have a seat, and I'll get coffee started" Pete said, disappearing into the back of the shop to start the coffee maker. When he returned, to his surprise, Jack was sitting in Pete's barber chair, not the spare chair he usually sat in. "Jack, this is a pleasant surprise, are you finally going to let me have a go at that shaggy mop of yours?" (Pete was secretly in awe of Jacks gorgeous auburn mane, shaggy as it was, and was also forever angling to get his hands into it for a cut, any cut at all. Jack had so far been totally resistant to all of Pete's charms in getting him to even sit in the customers barber chair, let alone have a go at his mane.)

Jack looked at Pete pensively. "no, no, really, I was just checking out the view from this chair, since I always take the spare one when I'm here doing research." Pete lost no time in reaching out, running his hand through the thick shank of mane on Jacks nape. He almost swooned, quickly catching himself, Pete said" are you sure? I can take a snip here, a snip there, and have this looking sharp in no time. You'll be my first customer of the day. Wha da ya say , come on Jack ol boy." Jack quickly slid out of the chair, his locks sliding through Pete's fingers.
Jack, recovering his composure, said "No, what I came here for today was to ask you for kind of a favor."

Pete smirked back, "I never would have guessed, you bringing me breakfast and all". Jack said, "well, if you don't want the business, I can always send them to one of your competitors. Be a shame to do that seeing as how they both have shoulder length manes similar to mine and all, but, if you don't have the time...." Pete stammered, " enough already , you had me at shoulder length manes and you know it. What's up?"

Jack explained about the 2 guys from one of his TA classes and said I told them to be here at 3:30, I said "they might have to wait but I'd make sure we were the last customers of the day for you. " Jack replied with a wicked grin. Pete paid careful attention to the "We" in that statement. Was Jack caving in, after all this time?

Pete after getting to know Jack better, had a soft spot for him, so he seldom refused his requests. "O.K. sure, we can make sure YOU and your friends are the last customers of the day.
Jack drifted in and out during the course of the day. He watched with particular attention to a high and tight I freshened up on one of my regular GI customers. There was the usual trim ups, and kids Holiday cuts, nothing extra ordinary by any stretch of the imagination. Until 3:30 rolled around.

Kyle and Gray found the place without any trouble, Jacks directions were very specific. Pete's Cuts was painted in big letters on the plate glass window in front. As they entered the shop, Jack fairly bounced out of the spare barber chair he was perched on. He exchanged warm greetings with his new friends while Pete finished up with the customer in the chair. The three guys were engaged in quiet conversation in the front of the shop when Pete approached to cash out his last customer. When he'd finished, Jack introduced him to Kyle and Gray.

Pete couldn't help but admire the three lads, each with thick shoulder length manes, Jacks a rich auburn and kind of softly wavy now that it had grown back a good amount. Kyle's a wavy chestnut with brighter highlights, and Grays dark blonde and more straight then the other two. Everyone's luscious locks more than solidly touching their shoulders. Pete thought to himself...hmm, wonder if I could interest any of them in a high and tight? Ha, probably not, he answered himself.

He smiled at the three of them and said" well now, looks like you are all, he emphasized the ALL part, looking right at Jack , in need of haircuts I see. So, it'll be short back and sides all around then?" Pete laughed. Kyle and Gray looks stricken, Jack had a horrified look on his face. "Pete", Jack said "these two have come here highly recommended by me , told that you are an expert with short and LONG hair, and a consummate professional". Pete smiled demurely back at them all. "I am all of that, you are correct Jack, but a guy can dream can't he?" He laughed again. "O.K. who will be first in the chair" Pete inquired? Kyle and Gray, in unison, said, "Jack's going first, he recommended you, let's see how you do on his hair first".

Pete strolled to the door, checked the clock, and locked the door, he also pulled the shade down. "Not locking you in, as much as locking the others out" He replied to their inquiring eyes. "You all are going to take me well past quitting time for sure" Pete said, waving Jack to the big barber chair.

Jack was ashen faced and wobbly kneed, looking at Kyle and Gray like he'd just been betrayed by his best friends. "Guys, I never said I was getting my hair cut, did I"? he quickly slid onto one of the waiting area chairs, arms and legs crossed in a defiant pose. Kyle and Gray both approached him, Kyle , emboldened, reached out and fluffed Jacks mane, causing it to fall solidly across his face. Jack, surprised, pushed his plush fringe back out of the way, looking inquiringly into Kyle's eyes. Kyle said softly "Jack, man, we're not taking no for an answer, how about if I go first, then you , then Gray." He suggested. Kyle softly touched the thick locks at Jacks left ear, from what you've told us, Pete can touch this up so you'll look incredible. Jacks defenses were starting to weaken, Pete could tell. Gray took his turn. Jack, we'll keep a close eye on Pete so he doesn't go crazy. Besides, if he screws things up with you, he loses me as a customer, right, Gray ran his hand through his thick blonde mane, fluffing it up. "O.K. back off, both of you, I'll think about it, O.K."? Kyle, you get in the chair, Jack ordered. As I observed this little exchange, I realized there was more than just a mutual attraction to long hair going on. Suddenly I was jealous of their attention to Jack, Uh Oh.

Kyle slipped into the chair, never taking his eyes off of Jack. As Pete taped and caped him, Kyle said" come over here please Jack". Jack cautiously approached the big chair. " Pete, Jack is going to tell you how he wants you to cut my hair tonight, O.K." "Um, sure, O.K. I guess, Jack"? Pete said. And, when its Jacks turn in the chair, I'm going to tell you how to cut Jacks hair, O.K. Jack" Jack was wide eyed. "Huh, what, whoa, wait a minute" He said, stammering and flustered. Jack, Kyle said, we gotta trust each other, right"? Gray chimed in with, "sure, and the two of you can do rock, paper scissors for who gets to describe my cut." Everybody laughed, then Gray looked directly into Kyle's eyes and said, no really, that's what's going to happen, O.K."? it was also dawning on Gray that he might have a competing interest in Jack. At the same time he felt strangely about Jack getting to pick how his roomie was going to look for the near future, that was his job, not Jacks, Hmm.

I got a brush, ( no comb was going to make it through this mane)and started brushing out the plush chestnut locks, this past summer's lighter highlights still very much in evidence. "Kyle, I mused, your last cut was done by a very good barber, I must say. This still looks good, just bit uneven after all this time, what are you thinking you want me to do"? "Ahem", Jack said loudly, "Pete, I believe it's me who gets to call the cut here", he smiled wickedly at Kyle, "right Kyle"? Kyle smiled, wilting a bit under Jacks stern gaze, "Yes, Right". "So Pete", Jack reached out, almost caressing the thick shoulder length locks, letting them slip slowly through his fingers. "How about one of your famous razor shaved high and tights"? Kyle's eyes popped, "Jack!, the deal is off, no picking ,none, nada, zip". Jack raised his hands in protest, "KIDDING!, settle down dude". Kyle, clearly agited, said, "NO!, you can suggest now, I have to approve". Jack, knowing he'd crossed a line , though inadvertently, said, a quiet "yes, O.K."

Jack smiled hopefully at Kyle, "O.K. are we staying long or going short"? "Long, definitely", Kyle replied tersely. "Hmm", Jack studied Kyle, he reached out and ran his hands through the long thick fringe, tucking it behind Kyle's right ear. Then ruffling the thick heavy shank on his nape. "Pete, take about this much off back here", Jack said, indicating about 2-3 inches of thick locks to be removed in back. Gradually shorten it as you come around to just chin length on the sides", Jack said as he ran his hand through the thick shaggy locks covering Kyle's ears and neck. "Then for his fringe, do a part anywhere, somewhere between nose and lip length, leaving long enough to tuck if he wants to", Jack finished, tucking Kyle's thick fringe behind his right ear again. "Sound O.K. Kyle", Jack inquired? "Long enough"? Kyle gave a long slow exhale, "that's quite a bit shorter than it is now man. Gray, what do you think, you're my usual barber". Gray , realizing there was more going on here, and also realizing now, how he felt about Kyle, said, "well, I guess I used to be your barber, looks like you've got a new one now", he shrugged his shoulders, and sat on a waiting area chair. Jack piped up and said, "hey, I'm calling the shot here right"? Kyle gave a wan smile, looking quizzically at Gray, and said, "OH, yeah, I guess that's O.K."?

I could now feel the tension in the room, I wasn't pleased with Jack at the moment, but I'd have to let that ride. He was toying with Kyle and it didn't sit well with me for some reason.
I quickly set about cutting, shearing off thick handfuls in back first, taking the full 3 inches as indicated earlier, not 2, this would be just at the collar of his t shirt. I started getting lost in the moment. Kyle had exquisite hair, I took my time layering , trimming, till the back rested perfectly on the cape, thick, not blunt, the long locks wavy texture allowing the remaining summer highlights to glint in the shop lights. I normally wouldn't start with the back for a cut like this but there was way too much eye contact being exchanged between the 3 guys and I wanted to see if that settled out, so it gave me a good vantage point for observation.

Since Jack wanted a part anywhere style for Kyle, I moved to the sides, brushing all the top hair from left to right, trimming the right side, Kyle was losing good solid 3-4 inches, requiring some careful layering here too. I was careful to leave the front portion , the fringe really, a bit long, just at his chin for now. Kyle was watching as the 3-4 inch long locks accumulated in his lap as I snipped my way along, adding to the 3 inch long pile from the back. It was becoming an impressive amount. "Pete, This isn't getting too short is it", Kyle asked, eyeing Jack harshly. "Um, no, It's coming along nicely, I think it'll look fine". I gave his shoulder a reassuring squeeze. "Certainly a good clean up to be sure, but not short". I flipped the long thick top over to the left, repeating the process. Once done with that all the remained was the fringe. Just as I began to brush that down to cut, Jack smiled and nodded slightly catching Kyle's eyes. "Kyle, this is going to look sooo good man", Jack cooed to Kyle. Kyle sighed, "I hope so man, I hate short hair". Kyle was watching Gray, not Jack though, as he said it. Gray gave no indication that he was even part of the conversation.
As I trimmed away on Kyle's fringe, I had to admit, Jack had a good eye, this cut was going to look great, and would work well with the subtle waves in Kyle's hair. Since I'd cut a significant amount already, I elected to leave the fringe just below his mouth, only requiring that I trim another inch or so off. "Boy Pete", Kyle lamented," that's quite a bit of hair off for just a trim. Glad I didn't want it any shorter" he said, looking straight at Jack though.

I said "yes, but the result is quite good looking if I do say so Kyle". I brushed it all out, parting it several ways, Kyle now examining the new look in the big mirror. I reached over for my favorite Osters, pushed his head down, and brushed the newly cut locks away from his neck. Firing up the Osters, I started to shave his neck, removing the fuzzies. He and Jack, barked" Hey", simultaneously, "NO"! they exclaimed together. I stopped. Kyle said, "why are you shaving it all off"? "Kyle", I said giving his shoulder a reassuring squeeze again," I'm not , I just need to clean up your neck, and I'll also clean up your sideburns and beard line too". Kyle exhaled loudly, "OH, sorry Pete, I just thought....It felt like.. Oh, well. O.K. then".
Jack was studying Kyle's hair, I could tell he wanted to touch it, run his hands through it. He was too polite to just do it though. I thought it looked great for a long cut, a little bit Bob, a little bit Beatles, but with a wavy touch.

I finished outlining his sideburns first, then used the peanut clippers to outline his scruff, it was probably only a 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. Being a shade or 2 darker than his hair, it played well with the cut, and when finished, he was strikingly handsome. I hadn't noticed his intense blue eyes till now. Instead of being locked on Jack, as I thought they might be, they were locked on Gray, who was averting his gaze.

I brushed Kyle down, and unsnapped the cape, letting the thick mound of hair slide slowly to the floor. I handed Kyle the brush, here, I'll let you decide where to part it , O.K. ? Kyle was studying himself in the mirror, oblivious to both Jack and Gray who were both now watching him intently. Kyle leaned over, brushed his fringe down over his face, and reached under it with his right hand, standing up straight, and giving the mop a flip to the right. The texture of the wavy hair helped keep it there. I didn't see that coming, but quite liked the look. Kyle turned to me and smiled, nice Pete, kinda short, but nice, I like it. "Jack", Kyle inquired, "is it what you expected"? Jack, said, smiling," phenomenal dude. Glad you like it".

Kyle got up, walked over and sat next to Gray. "Well, Gray, what do you think? You've been awfully quiet. Are you having second thoughts about a barbershop haircut? You've got time, Jack's next remember. I won't rag on you for backing out, and I'll be happy to cut it for you instead, if that's what you want man". Kyle reached up and ruffled Grays thick mane.
"No, I'm O.K. I guess if Pete's going to be your barber, he may as well be mine too".

I broke the tension with "Jack buddy, your next I believe". I patted him on the back and started guiding him to the big red and chrome chair. I'd been waiting months for this day.....
To be continued.

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