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DC Duo: Part 1 by James Mann
Josh and I meet in our freshman year of high school. We hit it off almost instantly, the two of us getting seated next to each other on the first day, and it sparked a friendship that would carry on for years to come. Sleepovers, birthday parties and more breakups than either of us were willing to admit had helped us grow closer than most.
We were eighteen, just about to finish our senior year, when the school announced their traditional end-of-the-year trip to Washington D.C. and, unsurprisingly, the two of us were rooming together. We had signed up early, so we got first pick when it came to rooms.
It wasn’t anything too fancy; roughly 350 square feet, not including the bathroom, but that was to be expected. There was only one bed, but that wouldn’t be an issue. We’d shared a bed before.
"I call left!" Josh said, dropping his things and jumping onto the respective side. We’d had to wake up damn near dawn to catch the bus in time, and we were pretty exhausted. I stretched out on the bed next to him, and he shifted so that his back was pressed up against my chest. This wasn’t a new arrangement for us, but it was still funny when people found out and asked us if we were dating.
"Well," Josh would say, "What does it look like?" And we’d leave it at that. I draped my arm over his chest, and we turned it in for the night.
I was awoken the next morning by the sound of running water. Josh wasn’t in bed, having swapped places with a breakfast platter. A note rested on the corner, reading "I didn’t want to wake you ;) —J" I grabbed a piece of toast and made my way over to the bathroom, where Josh was standing in front of the sink. He had taken off his shirt, but a pair of shorts spared me the embarrassment of walking in on him buck-naked.
"Oh, you’re up!" He said, turning to me. Half of his face was covered in shaving cream, and he held his razor in one hand.
"And you’re..." I started, before pausing. "What are you doing?" Turning back around, he studied his reflection in the mirror.
"Well, I was going to shave," he began, putting down the razor and reaching up to feel his face, "But I thought maybe since we’re technically ‘adults’ now, I’d let my beard grow out. For a few days, at least." He rubbed the stubble before shutting off the sink and grabbing a towel. "Yeah, I’ll let it grow." He decided, wiping away the foam. "Just for the trip, at least, and then I’ll see how I like it when we get back."
"Alright, sounds like a plan." I said, taking a bite of my toast. He grabbed a comb and reached a hand up to his hair. He had some pretty severe bed-head, and it just would not lie down. He tilted his head to the side, like the way dogs do when they’re trying to understand something. "You look confused." I said. He kept messing with his hair, trying to force it to lay flat. It wasn’t working.
"I’m just trying to decide what to do with all of this," he explained, gesturing vaguely to the thatch on his head. His hair had grown out from a taper, and it was definitely looking shaggy. Not like in a dirty and unkempt way, but definitely in a sort of controlled chaos. The sides reached his ears and the back reached his collar, but it had a slight curl to it. "Honestly, I’m getting tired of having hair." He grabbed the comb again, pushing it through the thicket. "It’s just such a hassle to manage." His hair was pretty thick, and it was a pretty course texture too. I knew people that would kill for a head of hair like that, but Josh didn’t want anything to do with it. My hair was just about the same. I knew how he felt. "You know what," he started, eyes moving to the razor. "I might just shave it all off." He kept messing around with his hair, which was now sticking up in every possible direction. "I’ve thought about it before, but I’ve never really had the time to actually consider it." Pushing his hair away from his forehead, he turned to face me. "What do you think? Could I pull off the bald look?"
"I mean, yeah." Josh was a good looking guy. Sure, he was no Clark Kent, but there was something about him that made it impossible to look away. You couldn’t not be mesmerized by him. "You could pull off just about anything." He turned to me, a soft blush spreading across his face.
"Oh, come on," he said with a laugh, "You’re just being nice." That was another thing about Josh. He was insanely humble, and he got all flustered the second anyone gave him the slightest bit of praise. It was honestly pretty funny. He looked at the mirror again, pushing his hair away from his face. "You really think so?"
"Absolutely." Josh could walk into a room with a monk’s tonsure and he’d still be the best looking person there. "Now, just how ‘shaved’ are we talking about?" I moved to stand next to him. "Are we stopping after the clippers, or do you want a full shaving-cream-and-razor shave?" He thought about it for a minute, before turning to me.
"I mean, we have the razor." He motioned to the Harry’s cartridge sitting on the counter. "Might as well use it." I picked up the razor, turning it over. It had a nice weight to it.
"Alright. We might want to get a few disposables, though. Apparently Harry’s isn’t the best brand to use for shaving your head." I’d seen it in a Reddit thread somewhere. I didn’t remember the specifics, but I think Harry’s themselves advised against using their razors to shave your head. "I saw a CVS a few blocks away, I’m sure they’ve got some Bics, or Schicks or something." Schick was pretty well-known for all of their commercials that featured a dude shaving his head.
"That’s not too bad." Josh concluded. "We should probably pick up some clippers too." He ran a hand through his hair. "We need something to take care of all this first."
"What," I joked, "You don’t think those blunt kitchen scissors will work?" He shot me an exaggerated look of annoyance. Always the dramatic one. "Alright, alright, whatever. Throw on a shirt and some shoes and we’ll head out." His expression changed to one of surprise.
"What, right now?"
"Yeah, right now." I grabbed a shirt and tossed to him. "I want to get in and out before the streets are flooded with the masses. Now hurry up before I drag you out in nothing but your shorts."
"But— But my hair—" he started, pulling the shirt over his head.
"Is what we’re going out to take care of." I walked over to the door. "Let’s go!"
"I’m coming, I’m coming." He protested, slipping on a pair of slides. "I guess letting you play barber is all it takes to get you up and going." I grabbed his wrist, tugging him gently.
"You said it, not me." He laughed at that. "Oh, and this," I leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Is for the note." He blushed again at that, and a grin split his face. With that, we opened up the door and stepped outside.
The CVS was what you’d expect. Row after row of shelves, and almost no one to buy it all. Seriously, there were around three other people in the store. Perfect.
"I’ll go find some clippers if you pick up the razors." Josh said, patting me on the back.
"Alright, but nothing too expensive." I answered. "I know some of those can get pretty pricey." With a nod, hopefully meaning that he understood, Josh was off.
It wasn’t to hard to find the razors. I found a nice 4-pack of Schick Extreme 3’s, which would do the job nicely. I went and picked up another can of shaving cream while I was at it. We had some back at the hotel, but it was better to be safe than sorry. I made my way back to Josh, who was standing near the checkout line.
"Find anything good?" He asked.
"Yup," I held up the razors and the can of shaving cream. "You?" He lifted his arm to reveal a pair of Wahl clippers. "I thought I told you nothing too pricey," I said with a slight laugh. "How much are they?"
"Well," he started, "before you say anything, just hear me out completely. They’re forty dollars—"
"Forty? That’s like, half of our spending money!"
"I know, I know, but just listen." Alright, whatever. I’d hear him out, but it better be good. "We need a good pair of clippers. Quality comes before anything else, and these were the best ones I could find." He paused, waiting for me to say something.
"And..." I prompted.
"And," he continued, "I decided that I’m not growing my hair back for a while after this. Barbershop prices add up quickly, you know; why would I want to drop hundreds of dollars a year for something I can do at home for free?"
"You mean for forty dollars." I countered.
"A one-time payment of forty dollars," he corrected. "I’m not backing down from this." Well, he did certainly have a point. And Josh had a history of being stubborn when it comes to things like this.
"Fine, we’ll buy them." I held out my hand to take the clippers, and Josh’s face broke out into a grin. "We better get our money’s worth out of this."
We walked up to the register, and as I put our items on the counter, the cashier looked up at us and smiled. I guessed he was about our age, maybe a few years older, but what really stood out to me was his hair. Or, I should say, his lack of it. He was completely bald.
"If I didn’t know any better, I’d say the two of you are preparing to ditch the hair too." He held up a hand to rub his head, when all of a sudden I realized what he’d said. The two of us?
"Oh, no, it’s just him—" I started saying, but Josh cut me off.
"Yeah, we’re just tired of the constant trips to the barbershop, plus the fact that it never lays flat when we try to style it. It’s just such a hassle." Josh reached up to his hair, which was still a complete mess. Not for much longer, I thought to myself.
"Tell me about it," the cashier said as he scanned our items. "I took the plunge about a year ago, now, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The girlfriend wasn’t too thrilled about it at first, but that’s not my problem. ‘You had such great hair!’ Well, not anymore!" He chuckled. I reached up and felt my hair. I guess it was getting pretty long, but I hadn’t agreed to shave it, had I? A buzzcut, maybe, but even that was stretching it. "I’m not even sure why she got so worked up over it. It’s literally just hair, and it wasn’t even hers." The cashier rang us up and gave us our total, but I was too lost in thought to hear him. I mean, did I want to shave my head? It was just hair, after all, and I could always let it grow back if I didn’t like it.
"Dude!" I was snapped out of my thoughts by Josh, who was waving his hand in front of my face. "You coming?"
"Oh, yeah. Sorry about that." Josh did seem pretty excited to cut my hair. Should I let him? As we made our way back to the hotel, that’s all I could think about.
"Alright," I started to say when we got back to the room," "What was all that about?" Josh turned and looked at me, a playful grin on his face.
"What ever do you mean?" He asked, feigning innocence.
"You know exactly what I mean, dude." Josh started taking the tools out of the bag. "Back at CVS? The cashier with the shaved head? Who’s ‘we’?" Josh’s smile grew at this.
"Oh, come on. I was just having some fun." He picked up a pair of scissors from the kitchen, looking from them to me in exaggerated motions. "Unless...?" He opened and shut them a few times. "You did say you wanted to get your money’s worth from the clippers. I know a way to make that happen." He waggled his eyebrows at this.
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever. I’ll think about it later." It would be kinda nice. Ditching the hair, plowing the clippers through my forelock. Sounded like a fun time.
"I’m not hearing a no." Josh prompted.
"Yeah, well it’s not a yes either." I paused. "Yet." Josh perked up at this, but I cut him off before he could say anything. "Aren’t you the one who wanted to go bald?" At that, Josh practically sprinted to the bathroom. By the time I’d walked in, he’d already set up a chair and taken off his shirt. The scissors, clippers, shaving cream and razors were already on the counter.
"Well? What are you waiting for?" Josh, sitting in the chair, was practically vibrating with excitement.
"Alright, alright," I chuckled. "Calm down. I want to cut your hair, not you." I picked up the scissors, studying them for a moment. "I’m using these first. Your hair is, like, insanely thick. I don’t want to break the clippers." Josh looked at his hair one final time in the mirror, flicking his bangs over to one side. "Second thoughts?" I asked.
"It’s going to be weird, not having all this hair." He said. "But it’s a welcome change. Now, quit stalling and start cutting!"
I lifted Josh’s forelock, sliding the scissors down to the base.
"That’s a lot of hair," I laughed. "Cleaning this up is going to be a monster." I closed the scissors around the hair, and they sliced through with a crunch. What had once been a thick and full clump of hair had now been reduced to less than an inch of stubble. I dropped it on Josh’s shoulders.
"Holy hell." Josh breathed out, reaching up a hand to feel the new length. "That’s short." I picked up a new section, scissors chopping it off with ease.
"Yup. No going back now." I joked. Josh didn’t seem to mind. The scissors were working surprisingly well. Cut after cut, they were doing their job at ridding Josh of his hair. Nowhere near enough for the razor, but still.
I finished with the top of Josh’s head. Stepping back, I admired my handiwork. It looked terrible. It was choppy, and it wasn’t even in the slightest. Some areas stood out like bristles on a toothbrush, and some were so short that I could see his scalp. It was time to move on to the clippers.
"You’re not going to do the sides?" Josh asked, a hint of concern in his voice.
"Don’t worry," I reassured him. "I’m not leaving you with an old man’s cut." I plugged the clippers in and flicked them on with a snap. "I just don’t need the scissors anymore. The clippers should work just fine."
That they did. I brought them to his sideburn, careful not to catch the day’s worth of stubble (not that it would’ve made a difference), and pushed the clippers upwards. They chewed through Josh’s hair like butter, destroying his sideburn. I pushed the clippers through. They kept going, mowing his hair down to the scalp. Reaching the top of his head, I pulled the clippers away. The buzzed hair fell forwards, collecting in Josh’s lap.
Josh’s scalp was a stark white; it clashed with his otherwise tan skin. Leaning his head forward, Josh studied the difference in skin tone.
"Maybe we should’ve started with a longer buzz first," I suggested. "Give you some time to get some color up there." Josh thought about it before turning back to the mirror.
"Wouldn’t have made a difference. I would’ve gotten bored with it and busted out the razor anyways." Knowing Josh, that’s probably exactly what would’ve happened, too.
There was a lot more hair than either of us were expecting. After clearing the left side of his head to nothing more than mere stubble, Josh’s shoulders were covered with all of the hair I’d cut off. I got to work on the right side, and Josh reached up a hand to feel the buzzed section.
"It’s so weird," he started. "It’s like, prickly? But it’s also kind of soft at the same time. It almost feels like velvet, but tougher." He rubbed his hand along his head, and I could hear a faint scratching sound. "I’ve never had my hair this short before."
"Yeah, well don’t get used to it." I said with a chuckle. "After this, we bring out the razor and make you smooth." Josh perked up at this, turning to face me.
"Well, what are you waiting for? Finish up with the buzzing so we can get on with the shaving!"
I’d gotten the hang of the clippers at this point. They went over Josh’s head with no problem, exposing his white scalp more and more with each pass. His hair fell in clumps, tumbling from his head and landing on his shoulders, in his lap or on the floor.
"Housekeeping is going to throw a fit if we don’t get this cleaned up," Josh said. "Turns out I had a lot more hair than I thought." He was right; piles upon piles of hair were all over the bathroom. The white marble of the floor was barely visible through Josh’s dark curls, and more hair was piling up by the second. Making one last pass over the top of his head, I flicked off the clippers and brushed the hair off of Josh’s shoulders.
"Alright," I started, "that completes stage one." Josh reached up a hand and rubbed his shorn pelt. Seeing him with no hair was strange, but he looked good. Great, even. Some people just aren’t meant to have hair.
"This feels awesome." He said. "I’ve never felt my scalp before. This is a totally new sensation." He stood up, sending the hair that had collected in his lap tumbling to the floor. "Come on over here and feel this." I reached out a hand to feel the short buzz, and was slightly taken aback by the texture.
"Wow, that’s…" I paused, trying to find the right words. "Surprisingly soft. Well, maybe ‘soft’ isn’t the right word, but I was expecting it to feel a lot coarser." He kept rubbing his hand over the top of his head.
"Dude, you’ve got to try this."
"Try what, exactly?" I asked. I just felt his hair, what else could he be referring to? Josh must’ve sensed my confusion, and he turned to me to clarify.
"This." he emphasized, tugging on my forelock. "You’ve got to get rid of all this so you can feel what I feel." I batted his hand away, smile playing on my lips, and told him I still hadn’t made up my mind. Josh did look great with a nearly-shaved head. Maybe I could pull it off too.
Turning the faucet handle, Josh stepped up to the mirror and uncapped the bottle of shaving cream.
"Now to finish the job…" he murmured, squirting the foam into his hand. It expanded rapidly, nearly doubling in volume. Josh began to spread the shaving cream around his head, and I stepped out to grab the razors. By the time I’d stepped back in Josh had covered the entirety of his head, save for his face and eyebrows.
"Alright, how do we go about this?" I asked, more to myself than Josh. "Want me to just start at the front and shave back?"
"Whatever you think will work," He said. "I’m more focused on coming out of this bald, I’m not too concerned with the how." Stepping up to the sink, I grabbed one of the Schick’s and placed it at Josh’s hairline. Pulling back with the razor, I watched as Josh’s expression changed from one of excitement to one of pure bewilderment.
"I can hear it." He said. "The razor. Do that again, I can hear it." Heeding his demands, I set the razor near the first pass and pulled back again. The smooth strip was much more noticeable now. "Yeah, I can hear you shaving my head," he practically giggled. "It’s like a raspy sort of scraping."
"That’s pretty cool." I admitted. "I mean, I guess it makes sense, but still. Awesome."
The shaving itself didn’t take too long. We finished the first pass pretty quickly, but Josh decided he wasn’t satisfied with the smoothness and wanted to shave again. It was a pretty simple process; lather, shave, rinse and repeat, and it got the job done. In no time at all, Josh’s stubble had been reduced to a completely smooth scalp. His facial stubble actually added a nice contrast, accentuating his jawline and drawing more attention to his hairless scalp. Josh had picked up a decent tan, but the thickness of his hair had prevented his scalp from getting the same treatment. The difference in skin tone was almost comical but, of course, Josh rocked it. It would catch up soon enough, anyways.
"Well," Josh began, turning away from the mirror. "I’m going to start cleaning up all this hair, but you stay right there." Josh mentioned to my general area, exaggerating when he got to the chair. "What," he chuckled, heading to the door. "You didn’t think our little barbershop was closing just yet, did you?"
"I’m not entirely sure I get what you mean, dude." I offered back.
"Just, stay in the bathroom." Turning back to me, Josh gave me a little wink. "We’re not finished with the clippers."
to be continued…