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George's Last Bountiful Harvest by Manny

George spent extra time drying and styling his hair that morning. The thick dark locks gleamed in the intense light that shone down from above the bathroom mirror. He admired the fullness of his glossy mane, particularly the heavy forelock that dangled down to the tips of his equally lush eyelashes. It almost seemed like a shame....

Yes, he had beautiful hair....but not for long! The prolonged period of expectation and waiting for the BIG day would be all in vain if he didn't go through with his carefully planned outing....to Jerry's Barber Shop! It was harvest time! George instinctively knew that Jerry certainly had the instruments needed to fell his plush dark locks. He took out his hand mirror and examined the back of his head. Oh, how long and glorious his tresses looked! And....how ready for the quick thrust of a heavy duty, fast-feed, electric hair clippers they were! He only wished he could watch the mighty mane fall in the wake of the clippers to the floor of Jerry's Barber Shop. Instead, his head would undoubtedly be shove down towards his chest as the lush collection of locks tumbled down from his nape. His consolation would be feeling the erotic vibration of the metal teeth pressed firmly against his sensitive nape....

A long period of patient growth followed by a few brief harvest moments had been part of George's annual cycle for the past six years. He thoroughly enjoyed letting his fabulous mane grow out...and then finding a brand new barber each year to goad into inflicting a hideously short crop on his cherished tresses. When the heavy, soft locks began to fall into view on the cape, George would squirm with restrained excitement. And when he was spun around to the mirror to see what the barber had inflicted on him....well, it was worth the wait and the sacrifice. Especially when the end result made him look awkward with his ear sticking out and his high forehead totally exposed. George knew for sure that he was one of those people who look much better with long hair. The reactions of his friends and acquaintances was almost uniformly negative after the harvest. But he enjoyed stammering and acting like the crop had been unwelcomed.... "I had told the barber to cut it a bit shorter, and this is how I ended up...." He also enjoyed acting very surprised and distraught in the barber's chair -- like he had gotten a much shorter crop than he'd intended.

Each year, the harbinger of harvest came when George felt the tips of his heavy forelock resting on his eyelids. Once that connection was made, he began a month-long process of identifying a harvester to bring in the sheaves of soft dark hair. For several weekends, George would drive through small towns in rural counties looking for exactly the right man to bring the scyth to his overflowing bowl of thick, shimmering hair. As he would drive from hamlet to village he would enjoy seeing the tall stalks of ripened corn, also awaiting the impending harvest.

After a year's growth and a bit of shaping at the salon, his bowlcut would completely cover his ears and his collar in back. As always, he would identify two barbershops during his month-long search: one primary candidate barber to harvest his dense mane and a second shop as a back-up, just in case there was a glitch on the day he'd chosen for the mowdown. Furthermore, the back-up barber would also be employed for a second go at his locks if the first crop wasn't short enough.

This year, the weather was cooperating fully with his plan. The nippy fall air had not yet arrived. In fact, temps were pushing into the 90s still. The hot, humid weather would provide him with an excuse to instruct Jerry to unleash his clippers on the dense, helpless moptop. "Man this heat....." he could hear himself sighing as he eased into the huge barber's chair in the traditional shop.....

George had practiced his opening lines with Jerry for a week. He felt positive that the young man he had identified to clip him down tight would play into his hands and rip off his pampered, dreamy locks in a forceful, no-nonsense way. George would surely emerge looking shorn and feeling vulnerable from that tiny storefront establishment that had but one chair and one barber.

Young Jerry, he read online, had taken over his father's place when the old man retired. And he kept everything frozen in time. He even used his father's old fashioned barbering tunic that buttoned on the shoulder and had a rounded clerical-type collar. Jerry Junior was a bit beefy and sported a non-nonsense sort of brushcut -- a bit of a pile on top with a tidy, closely cropped back and sides. The military-type cut gave the barber a bit of a tough guy look that excited George -- not the typical old timer barber who looked frail. The one review he found on the internet said that "Jerry is not afraid to give you your money's worth." Just the thought of that excited George!

During his scouting expedition for the perfect place, George had carefully noted the times the shop was open. He was almost giddy with excitement as he got into his car for the 45-minute trek to the picturesque village with its historic Main Street. Jerry's was sandwiched between an ice cream parlor and a small dry cleaner.

As George drove slowly past the shop, it looked empty. However, he noticed that the big "Open" sign was displayed in the window. Before getting out of his car, he glanced at this hair in the rearview mirror. It was beautiful hair....and it would look so elegant displayed in clumps on the cape in Jerry's shop! George fondled the dense mane one last time. Even though he'd gone through the harvest cycle six times before, he always felt very nervous getting out of the car and beginning his short march to the chop shop!

The truth of the matter was that only twice had he gotten a brutal haircut on the first go-around -- something that totally satisfied his hope for a punishingly short, radical makeover. The other four times, the barber had been too timid; he had ended up driving to a second shop (the plan B establishment) and giving more precise instructions to take off a lot of what remained. George's ideal, however, was a take-charge barber who needed no encouragement in applying the clippers tightly to the scalp. Would Jerry be the one to leave him totaly shorn and stunned? He hoped so!

As he walked up to the door of the shop, it was clearly closed. A small sign in the shape of a clock noted, "Be back at 1:30." Of course, in a one man shop, the place had to close for lunch! The hot sun bearing down on him caused him to think that an ice cream cone was just what was needed to help him kill some time while he waited for his hair harvester. His helmet of hair felt very hot -- particularly on his forehead, ears and neck -- as he made sure he'd have enough cash for both a cone and a haircut.

George mopped the thick forelock back from his face as he studied the board announcing the flavors of the day. The young fellow behind the ice cream counter sported a shorn look -- bottom half of his head taken down to stubble and the top barely long enough to pinch between his fingers. George noticed that when the guy bent down to scoop the ice cream out of the freezer, the fuzzy pelt on top of his head was quite dense so that no scalp showed -- just like he might see on his own head after his encounter with Jerry's clippers.

Once he'd been served and had paid, George inquired of the lad, "The barber shop next store, would you recommend that place to a fellow needing a haircut?"

A slim smile crept across the clerk's face. "Jerry's my barber. Is that recommendation enough for you?"

George felt a bit uneasy -- in a pleasant sort of way -- about the response. It was indirect and ambiguous. Why the sly smile, he wondered? He decided to press his point.

"Yes, but my hair is considerably longer than yours," he said as he ran his fingers through his abundant, soft locks. "I mean is he a barber-stylist that can shape this up a bit? Follow some precise instructions? If so, I might wait for him to get back from lunch. I need a good inch taken off," said George, trying to judge the young man's reaction.

"In this town, Jerry's is the only option for any kind of man's haircut -- a traditional barber, that is, a man who cuts only men's hair and fairly short. Your types usually go to a salon or the Fantastic Sam's in the county seat, about 20 minutes down the road from here."

"But, I'm headed in the opposite direction," George noted. After a pause, George concluded the conversation by saying, "Well, thanks for your advice! I just might give Jerry a try." Then he exited the ice cream shop. Jerry sounded exactly like his type barber!

George sat himself down on a small bench on the sidewalk that gave a perfect view of the barbershop. He studied all the furnishings -- the chair, the items on the counter, etc. The tall jars of barbicide with combs floating in the aqua blue concoction looked equisite. He'd only eaten about half the cone when he noticed Jerry, in his smart white barbering tunic, approach the shop. As the young barber unlocked the door, his eyes shifted discreetly to the moptop that glistened in the sun just a few feet away. The look on his face was that of a man who desperately wanted to grab the shaggy mane and drag it into his lair.

Suddenly, George felt uneasy and nervous. It always happened that way when the final minutes of his beautiful hair started ticking away.

The barber took a seat in the large chair which was faced away from the mirror, directly towards where George was sitting outside the shop. The man in the tunic made no attempt to disguise the object of his interest -- the moptop on the bench nervously eating an ice cream cone!

George shifted nervously. His secret excitement swelled. He liked being smack at the center of the young barber's attention! All indications were that Jerry would give him a good scalping. George quickly finished his cone and wiped his hands on the napkin. Then he walked right up to the trashcan which was placed between the barber shop and the ice cream store. As he tossed in the soiled napkin, the barber's eyes locked on his. He felt the call strongly -- more like a command to present his locks for shearing! Jerry wanted to tackle his prized tresses. George's legs wobbled a bit as he walked to the shop. His hand touched the door knob and he knew he was as good as caped and in the chair. There was no turning back!

Jerry smiled broadly as the door opened. "Come on in! It's a lot cooler in here than out on that bench!"

"I'll say!" George responded. "I was just about to give up on you and look for another place to get this mop taken care of....that is, before you got back from having lunch," he said as he glanced in the mirror at his lovely hair.

Jerry was up in a flash and motioning for George to take a seat. "Wouldn't want to lose out on a new client..... You've never been here before, have you?"

George sank into the comfortable chair. The nurturing cushioned seat was such a contrast to the pins and needles he felt within him. "Nope first time -- place caught my eye while I was getting an ice cream cone. This heat! The fellow there said you're good at very short haircuts."

Jerry cast the cape and fastened it in place. "With me, the shorter the better!" remarked the barber.

"Well, this heat has been a killer. Give me your very best haircut, Jerry!" George exclaimed.

Jerry grinned as he reached for the large set of Oster's that dangled from the counter. Then, unexpectedly, the barber swiveled the chair so that George faced the mirror! This was very unusual in a traditional shop where men generally were faced away from the mirrors. George gulped a bit nervously. His hair look so long, dangling in his eyes and covering his ears. It looked so innocent and helpless, resting in a pretty way over his ears and past his dark eyebrows.

Jerry snagged the heavy forelock and lifted the bulk of it up from the sweaty forehead with a comb as the clippers surged to life. The barber appeared nonchalant, "A little end of summer action for you, eh?" he commented with restrained excitement as the hand holding the clippers sprang to action. "Looks like this has had more than enough time in the growing out phase...."

In a flash he plowed the machine straight back from the hairline and a huge mound of hair fell off in a large sheaf to the pristine cape.

George was aghast! "Oh my!" he gasped involuntarily.

Jerry was firm and unforgiving with the clippers. A second drive across the top of George's head clearly revealed the new length. Mere STUBBLE! Jerry was stripping him down to the wood, starting at the part where the hair hung densest and longest -- and he was ensuring that George watched every instant of his drastic transformation from moptop to newly booked convict!

The barber deftly flicked his wrist so that a huge shank of gleaming dark hair fell onto the cape in plain view of George's stunned face. "I'm giving you your money's worth! You'll leave here a few pounds lighter and feeling a lot cooler, that's for sure, uh....what's your name?"

The caped client watched another strip of his pampered hair falling away -- almost in slow motion -- tumbling down to his shoulder. Despite his dry mouth, George was able to eek out his name.

Then Jerry clapped his hand down firmly on the stubble and wrenched George's head to the side to get better access to the thick padding of hair that covered his ear. "Gorgeous George! At least you will be when I'm finished giving you a proper haircut. How long had it been since you were last under the cape?"

George watched Jerry strip off the massive "muff" of hair and see his large ear exposed for the first time in months. Oh, did it ever stick out from the head in a dorky way!! He struggled to come up with an answer. "Uh, way too long. Don't you think?"

The barber paused from his action and let George sit up straight. The top and one half of his head was stripped down to stubble. The other side was still covered by long, luxurious hair. "Certainly! I just can't imagine a man fussing with long hair like this every morning," he said swatting at the dangling locks that still covered George's left ear. "Like a little sissy with a blow dryer...carefully arranging his precious locks. Nope, a clipper cut is what my idea of a practical haircut! You asked for my best cut, and that's exactly what you're getting -- a baldy!"

George mustered up some strength to engage in the dialogue, "Well, after you're done with me, I shouldn't spend but a few seconds on my hair each day...."

Jerry smiled and rubbed the stubble a bit with his hand, "The baldy look suits you! Now there are some that say that a baldy is only appropriate for a young boy...but I think a grown man, even a professional one, can proudly sport a streamlined baldy cut! I get these fathers bringing their sons in here for baldies, but when I suggest that they let me clip them down too, oh....they back pedal and hem and haw. 'I work in a professional environment,' one fellow told me just this morning. He had this thick wavy pompadeur -- the product of some gum snapping stylist at Fantastic Sam's, no doubt -- that I was just itching to put an end to."

Without warning, Jerry wrenched George's head in the opposite direction and quickly clipped away the other ear muff. As he held his client's head steady with his palm, his thumb discreetly caressed the buzzed pate beneath it. George watched in the mirror as the last vestiges of his bowl were clipped down tight to the scalp. His two ears now stuck out like Dumbo's! His stomarch felt very queasy. While he'd gotten many ultra-short haircuts before, he'd never been mowed down to the scalp all over like this.

George cleared his voice a bit, "Maybe the baldy cut looks a bit too much like a prison convict for those men you talked about. Can you imagine an attorney with a conservative business suit going into his office with a baldy cut like this?! I mean, in court, they need a power haircut -- like a nice salon style -- to project an image of authority. The baldy makes me feel like a marine recruit!"

"You mean as in 'the few, the proud, the marines'?! George, you just made my point!" the barber laughed. Then he shoved George's chin down to his chest and tackled the shaggy back, stripping off all the long soft hair. "Boy, you're sure giving my clippers a tough workout! You have one dense head of hair. But now I've got it at a much more manageable length, don't you think?" Jerry asked rhetorically. With that the barber made George sit up straight and see himself totally shorn for the first time. Down to the wood!

George looked naked and vulnerable! He winced with embarrassment and remorse. The white scalp was slightly visible through the dense stubble that covered his head like a woman's bathing gap.

"There!" the barber announced, rubbing George's scalp vigorously with his palm. "Love to do that on a newly shorn baldy! Feel the stubble with my hand!" Then he took out a hand whisk and began to dust all the stray hairs from George's head, ears and face. It tickled, and George giggled softly. "You like that, eh?" the barber asked, redoubling his dusting efforts with the soft whisk. "The little boys always giggle when they get dusted after I've stripped them to stubble too! Then they smile real big when I hand them a lollipop!"

George looked at the big jar on the counter. Would the barber further humiliate him by offering him a piece of candy on the way out? He dreaded it, but secretly hoped so!

Jerry took an edger and began cleaning up the neck and creating a visible outline around the ears -- nice, roomy arches, carved clean with lather and a straight edge razor, to further set off the elephant-like appendages. "You should be able to hear a lot better now that your ears are fully exposed!" the barber quipped. "You won't want to miss a single comment about your new look when your friends see you without that sissy bowlcut." George sat silent -- stunned and blank.

Jerry continued, "So how do you like my best haircut?"

George stared amazed at himself in the mirror. He was hardly recognizable. "I, uh, I....wouldn't....uh, um....have it any other way!"

As soon as he uttered those words, George felt liberated by embracing the baldy look that Jerry had inflicted on him.

Jerry beamed. "So the baldy is a keeper?" he asked as he began to withdraw the hair-ladened cape.

"You bet!" said George as he felt his shorn pate for the first time. "This feels incredible!" Then he looked down at the piles of shorn hair on the floor.

"And that mess looks like a dead coon down there!" quipped the barber.

As George stood to pay, Jerry reached for the jar of suckers. "For my best behaved boys, I let them choose their own flavor," he said with a wink and final rub of George's buzzed pate.

George felt strangely energized by the demeaning and patronizing gesture. He pulled a chocolate sucker out of the jar and pulled off the wrapper. "To match the color of my hair!" he quipped before popping the sucker in his mouth.

"What hair?!" the barber asked. "You mean, to match the head shape that the baldy cut so clearly reveals -- now that's more like it! Your shorn head looks very round, just like this tootsie pop, Georgie. Well, except for those big ears sticking out on the side. It'll build character...those ears sticking out like that. Just remember that if you hear a bit of sniggering when your friends see the new you, they're probably joking among themselves about those enormous ears. Brush it off and hold your shorn head up high."

But the barber's little pep talk had the opposite effect on George who felt humiliated. He hung his head a bit while he began to dig for his wallet.

"Oh, no payment required today! You let me adminster the most enjoyable haircut I've given in ages!" the barber joked. "And I want you to become a regular here!"

Just then, a man with a tidy businesscut leading his shaggy tot into the shop changed the barber's focus.

"Ah, Mr. Golding. You've brought Johnny in. Will it be baldy cuts for both of you today? See how distinguished a grown man like George here looks with his fresh baldy cut?" he said, pointing to his last client's rounded, shorn head.

George nervously pulled the lollipop from his mouth so he didn't look like such a little boy. The business man glanced condescendingly at the shorn man who was trying to conceal the chocolate tootsie pop in his hand.

"Ah, no thanks!" the man remarked with a smirk. "At least not for me. But, Johnny's still at the age where a baldy suits him. Go ahead and harvest that thatch so he's ready to enter second grade looking like a big boy!"

The barber helped the kid scamper up into the chair. "If you're good, son, you'll get your choice of sucker flavors....just like Georgie there got to pick. Do you like his baldy look?"

The tyke squealed, "He looks like Dumbo with those big ears sticking out!"

George's face grew red as he scurried out of the small shop thoroughly humiliated. As he ambled in a daze past the ice cream shop, George noticed the clerk inside staring at him and visibly laughing. The lad called out, "I tried to warn you about Jerry liking to administer very short haircuts! Especially on fellows passing through who he figures he'll never come across again," he called out.

George regained his composure and mustered up his last shreds of dignity to confront his first tormentor. As he stepped up to the glass door he saw his round shorn head and huge protruding ears reflecting in the glass. He gulped. He looked hideous....yet, the baldy cut was....defintely a look he intended to embrace! "Well, in my case, I'd say Jerry has a new steady client. I'm sold on the baldy look! I especially like the way it show-cases my ears...."

"You're kidding!" the ice cream clerk called out incredulously. "You look like a POW! Or a 1st grader!!"

"No more hair in my eyes, relief from this oppressive heat....Jerry knew what I needed...." he remarked as he left the shop. Then he added under his breath, "....and the humiliation of being given the look the barber's decided you will have regardless of your own input or wishes." George explored every square inch of his stubble pate as he slunk back to his parked car.

As he examined himself more closely in the rearview mirror of his car, George vaguely remember the glossy tresses that he'd last seen within that small, rectangular frame. Now it was a brutally clipped stubble that looked like a heavy grade sandpaper. Yes, it was time to end his growth/harvest cycle. He'd found the ideal barber who would keep his shorn and humbled year round! He honked and waved at Jerry as he drove past the shop back to town to face a long line of tormentors who would mock and ridicule his new baldy look.

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