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Bald at the Beach Pt 2: Justins Next Day by YoungBald
Knowing I had the number, I felt at peace enough to go to bed. Garrett, the man I met who ended up shaving my head, had secretly left his phone number in the back pocket of the jeans he lent me to wear. I immediately thought of messaging him, thanking him for the life changing experience. But being content with everything that had happened and very tired from all the excitement, I felt it better just to go to sleep.
The next day I was up so much earlier than my father. I’m sure he had more than the drinks I had sneaking into the bar, and needed to sleep it off. Me on the other hand, sprung up. I didn’t know just where to go, but I wanted to enjoy being outside while the sun was rising before it got too hot. Still sweaty from the night before and fighting off the mild hangover I had received myself from going out with Garrett and his friends, I went to the shower.
I stared deeply into the mirror's reflection, observing the newly visible curve of my head. My tired eyes and newly shaved scalp made me look much older than 18. I noticed that because my hair had started as a light colored brown instead of something darker, there wasn’t very much shadow, which I loved.
The shower was an experience all its own. I jumped when I turned the water on as the feeling on my head was completely new. But soon it turned into a warm stream of water running down off my head and into my face extra hard. As I opened my eyes from a solid minute of rubbing the wet top I caught sight of and laughed at the mini bottle of shampoo I brought with me. I cut the shower short because I realised we were only a couple blocks away from the coffee shop and I practically wanted to run down there to get my hands on some caffeine.
After towelling myself off and trying not to disturb my dad I flipped my suitcase open to find some clothes. What went with a shaved head? All of the clothes I had brought were still me and I liked them, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that whatever I wore wouldn’t be fitting with the new look I had. I thought of what I’ve seen men with shaved heads wear before, as I never took my eyes off of them. But many of them were much older than me and definitely were more masculine. There weren’t a lot of bald teenagers after all.
With some debate I decided on another one of my tshirts, a pair of ripped jeans, and my sneakers. I was sure I’d regret it with the heat already rising for the day but I wanted to get an impression of what I would look like in my normal manner of dress for when I went home. Then I went to the bathroom and put on sunscreen for my little walk. I sprayed a cloud of SFP on my arms, face, and most importantly, my head. I knew the dangers of an exposed scalp on a hot day and I didn’t want to start off my new look with a sunburn. I looked at myself again, still unsure but enjoying the oily sheen I had given myself. I smirked as it glistened in the bathroom light and left my hotel room with my key, wallet, phone, and sunglasses. I ran back really quickly and with the sunglasses on I didn’t recognize myself. What I did see was a bald stranger staring back at me. I felt the mustache and chin hair that was beginning to have extra prominence on my face, and finally went out.
It was about nine when I actually made it out the door, and the boardwalk was finally starting to wake up again. Not many stores were open but joggers and bicyclers owned the strip in this part of the day. I didn’t feel much different, but I was surrounded by strangers who had no idea what I usually looked like. The one thing I did notice was the constant wind from the ocean went up all around me and it felt incredible.
When I made it inside the coffee store, the frigid air hit my head again also. I kind of stumbled to the front as the blast of cold air felt so good I began to stir in my jeans. I knew this was bound to happen too. I stuttered out my order and waited to the side. I scratched the back of my head while I played on the phone. The eleven or so hours since I had shaved my head hadn't produced stubble yet but I knew it was bound to happen soon. I looked at Garrett's number, which I had put in my phone already, but blanked on what to possibly say.
Walking out of the store, I sipped my large cup of hot coffee on that already 75 degree day and stared at the blank message box on my screen. I parked on a bench outside of the place and began to run through what to say. I had a way with words as I was a writer back home but I didn’t know where to begin. We were so intimate and Garrett left me his number but I didn’t want to risk making too much out of a simple hookup. I had the feeling though that this felt like so much more than a simple hookup and it troubled me. I continued to rub the top of my head in deep thought, and later covering my screen with the thin film of oil from the sunscreen I had put on my head.
While I was having a brainstorming session, one of the patrols parked his bike at the trash can next to me and looked out at the ocean. He leaned against the metal top of the can and sipped the coffee he had himself from another chain down the boardwalk. It was a man in his mid 30’s with a shapely build and very tanned skin, which I’m sure he got from being outside all day. When he took the helmet he was wearing off it revealed his own bald head, slick with sweat and the same lived in, sun-kissed color as the rest of him. He couldn’t see my eyes widen through my thick, polarized sunglasses but what he did see was the coincidence of another guy drinking his coffee right next to him, who just so happened to be bald too.
"How are you?" the cop said in a nice, professional sort of way.
"Good. Good. Trying to beat the heat." I said casually to the guy, nodding my head. Even though I was charismatic I never was able to have casual talks with older guys like that before and especially cops. I even surprised myself.
"I hear ya. At least you don’t have to wear this stupid thing." the cop said, adjusting the inside of his helmet and swiping some of the sweat beads from his head."
"At least you don’t have to worry about helmet hair." I said with a laugh. But as soon as I said it my throat felt tight, like maybe he wasn’t as okay with talking about being bald and I just made a stupid comment to the police officer.
"You’re right!" he chuckled. "Not that we have much of a choice!" he said, nodding back at me. Then I realized, he must have thought I was really bald too!
"At least it's comfortable. We look cooler anyway." I smirked. Maybe this wasn’t so bad.
The cop looked down to throw his cup away and hopped back on his bike with a grunt. "Wish it felt cooler out here though. Have a good day sir." he said as he began to ride away.
It was such a small interaction to anybody else, then I realized we had solidarity because of the lack of hair on top of our heads. I'm sure if I was still passing for the young, less masculine kid I might have seemed before, he wouldn’t have given me the time of day. Then I began to type, filled with confidence I didn’t even think of what I had written until it was said:
"Hey Garrett, its Justin. I just wanted to thank you for the fun I had with you the other night. And for making me feel so good. This haircut feels incredible but I’m sure it doesn’t look as good as yours. Sorry if I’m being a little forward but I saw you left your number and maybe we could talk soon."
For the next two hours walking up and back down the boardwalk I couldn’t stop checking my phone. My anxiety went up with each passing minute that I made a fool of myself, but I tried to keep reminding myself it was early. Around noon I began to head back to the hotel room to see what we would do with the day. Slowly walking all the way back down more people began to emerge out of the hotels. I saw a lot of groups of young people my age. Preppy boys with neatly combed hair, button down shirts, and sandals. Redneck dudes that lived near the shore in jeans and wife beaters with scruffy beards. I didn’t know where I belonged anymore. And I had no idea how my own friend group would react. Nobody knew I, let alone another guy, had shaved my head the night before.
I held my breath as I sat on the concrete wall that divided the walk from the sand of the beach. I opened my camera and tried to position myself. I raised the camera up so the haircut was in full view. I must have taken dozens of pictures but none of them felt quite right. Finally I raised the camera up again and took a video. With the shine in full view I used my hand to rub the top of it front to back and gave a smirk with a giant thumbs up. Short and simple. Lost for another caption I simply chose to type ‘so this happened…’ and put it on my social media story. Everyone told at once. Now we waited for the comments to roll in.
When I got back to the room my dad was just getting up. He rolled over in bed when I came in, not questioning I had gone out for coffee or a walk. He did remark "Damn, you almost don't look like yourself with that shaved head."
"I mean it was kind of spur of the moment." I said quietly. "I know its really different but-"
"No, I wasn’t trying to knock it." he interrupted me to clarify. "If you’re happy then that's what matters. Do you like it?" he asked me in the way he always did. He was generally very supportive if I liked something of my own.
"Yeah. Yeah I do." I said, giving it another rub.
"Cool. So do you want to go to the beach?" he asked.
"Sounds good." I said. "Let me just get ready, I kinda hopped out of bed."
I then went to the bathroom again, turning the water on and pleasuring myself in the mirror. In a sense of clarity post doing that, I ran shaving cream over my face and shaved the little beard off. I wasn’t used to having more hair on my face then my head. I considered rubbing the shaving cream all over my head and cleaning up anything that might have begun to poke through, but for some reason I decided not to.
I held my breath in hesitation as we were leaving to go out. I couldn’t bring my phone to the beach. As I slid my clothes off and put my bathing suit on, nothing. As I found my sandals and my sunglasses again, nothing. I was grabbing my towel and walking out when I heard my phone buzz just as I was closing the front door. I ran back in so fast I nearly tripped over my own sandal and fell.
And surely there was a text from Garrett that read:
"hey man, sorry I sleep in. I’m glad u like it, it looked really hot on u. Of course I’m down to chat, I never meet guys as cool to talk to as u are. Or wh o look as good bald ;)"
Smiling again, I told him I looked forward to talking to him soon. I gave myself one more look in the mirror with a rub before I left. I had to get some tan going after all.