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Stepfather Bonding by Lorenzo F

This is a true story which happened to me when I was 16.

I was a typical mama's boy who did whatever I wanted and that included my hair. I had grown it out to shoulder length and had a ponytail which I cherished more than anything. This was the mid 1990s the time of grunge, Nirvana and ultimately my role model the 1990s version of Johnny Depp.

In 1996, my Mom met someone new after my parents' divorce - some guy called Cliff. Cliff was a good guy, he was very nice to my Mom, treated her well but he was a little conservative for my liking. He was also bald, but I just assumed it was because he lost his hair - although he was only in his late 30s. Cliff treated me and my sister really well and, in a way, he was the Dad influence I never had. At times he would comment on my hair saying it was too long, but it seemed like a joke and never materialized. He even caught me once smoking in the backyard behind the shed and didn't even tell my Mom or anything. He kept saying to me boys always have their little secrets and should take a few risks here and there.

Over the summer, my Mum and younger sister went to visit family for a week, and I didn't want to go rather stay behind and enjoy the time alone. Cliff stayed behind too as he was working. By then we were all living together. One night in the backyard Cliff was outside having a cigar and a couple beers and I joined him on the porch. We bonded over sports, and he even let me have a sip of beer. I felt really good to have that opportunity to get to really know each other and I saw him at that moment as being my Dad. Then came the question - why do I have that hair? I told him about my grunge obsession, and he told me that it was a bit girly and that I would like better with a masculine haircut. He didn't push me or anything but just kept questioning why I had it so long and telling me how different I would look with it shorter. He told me about how his Dad used to shave his head every weekend through summer as a kid and that it was a tradition they shared. He told me he could give me a real haircut if I wanted but said he thought I wasn't up for something so drastic away from my pretty boy image I had. We finished the night and I went to bed in a way feeling guilty about having long hair even though he never forced or told me to get rid of it.

The next day was a really hot day, and I was working outside. I couldn't stop thinking about our conversation the night prior and I was hyper focused on how my hair was annoying me in the heat. But I never had short hair and this Johnny Depp hairstyle took me years to do. I also did well with the girls. That night, Cliff ordered some Pizzas and asked if I wanted to stay in. We were sitting outside again talking and I blurted out to him that "I was thinking of changing my image up". Cliff just smiled and encouraged me to do whatever I wanted to do. I was nervous and dancing around the topic and Cliff could sense it and asked, "Did you want to get rid of that ponytail son?".. I instinctively responded with "Yes, Sir". I don't think I had used that term before but felt like I wanted him to respect me, and I wanted to show him respect.

Cliff then said to me "alright son take that singlet off" and proceeded inside to grab some clippers and returned back on the porch. He told me to sit down and goes "let's make a real man out of you". I didn't see any scissors so got a bit nervous going "how short are you going to go". Cliff then said to me "let me decide that for you son". As nervous as I was, I felt submissive and said to him "you are in charge". Cliff then laughed and said, "Indeed I am". He grabbed the clippers and then said to me "are you ready". I responded "I can't wait" even though my stomach was churning. Cliff could sense the apprehension on me and put his hand on my shoulder and assured me "This will be the beginning of a new me". Cliff then proceeded to buzz my head and all of my long hair just fell off within minutes. Cliff used a number 4 clipper which took a lot off and I was staring at my image in the window, and I was a whole new person. By the end of it, I was shorn. Cliff was very proud saying I looked better with the change.

As we were finishing up something came over me like some hypnotic spell. I then said to him that it wasn't short enough and that I wanted to go shorter. Cliff laughed and responded "That's what I want to hear son, let's go shorter". I responded "Yes sir, shorter is better". I have no idea who I was turning into but he kept buzzing me down. After a few different numbers on the blade, I finally looked at him and said "can you make me bald like you". Cliff looked at me with so much love and asked "are you sure?". I said "yes, i want to look like you... my Dad". Cliff gave me a hug and said "Bald will look good on you". He took me down to a zero and then got shaving cream and a razor and skinned me down to a bald look. It took 2 years for me to grow the hair and 10 minutes to get rid of all of it. After that, there was some unspoken bond between us that changed us forever.

Through the summer, we kept the tradition of him shaving my head every weekend and we got to know each other more in the process. We ended up doing hikes, camping and even fishing and it felt like a real father and son bond. One of my friends liked my look and even asked Cliff to shave his head one night when he was over. Through the cooler seasons, I grew it a bit but the beginning of May was always the beginning of bald season for me.

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