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Lars Loses his Locks and Finds a Friend by Manny

Like clock work, each day at approximately the same time, he was there in the park walking his dog. Whether I observed him from the terrace of my apartment or from a bench along his route, I always enjoyed watching his mane of thick blond hair shimmer in the late afternoon sunlight. When the dog would tug at the chain, the fellow would break into a trot and send his near-shoulder length tresses into a wonderous display -- like a golden standard waving regally in the wind. And when the dog did his duty and the fellow leaned over the scoop the poop, the cascade of lush locks would hang deliciously to conceal his handsome face.

Imagine my total shock one afternoon as I sat on the park bench when I saw the familiar dog pulling behind a most unfamiliar site. The blond, Thor-like, Scandinavian god was almost unrecognizable! He'd been shorn down to a butch cut! A brutally shocking makeover! Instead of flowing tresses gently swaying in the breeze, the fellow sported a pelt of bristles cut to a uniform length. Like someone had taken a clippers and mowed off the glorious mane.

And he was carrying on his normal routine, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He was walking the dog like always, seemingly unperturbed by anything!

Just as I was imagining what could have possibly triggered such a radical makeover, the dog began sniffing around my bench, looking for a nice place to relieve himself.

The former-Thor smiled at me and said apologetically, "Oh, I'm sorry we're intruding on your peace and quiet. Hopefully, it'll only be a few seconds."

"What breed of dog is that?" I asked, hoping to engage in a conversation that could lead to his haircut. "I'm thinking about getting a dog myself, but am not sure what type would be good for someone who lives in an apartment."

"It's a short-haired terrior," the fellow replied. "Great for apartments because they don't shed. You want to stay away from longhaired types that look great but are a beast to keep groomed. You'll spend a fortune on aesthetics if you get something like an Irish Setter! And then there's the hair everywhere to contend with...."

"Oh, but long, shimmering hair can be so beautiful. Makes a dog -- and a guy! -- really stand out and be noticed," I said.

A worried expression crept across Thor's face and he subconsciously ran his hand across his stuble. I knew it! He was not as calm about his makeover as he wanted to portray. "You've got a point," he said wistfully.

"Do you come regularly to this park? The dog seems familiar, but...." I paused, hoping Thor would provide the rest of the story.

He laughed awkwardly, "....yes, we come regularly, but you probably don't recognize me without my long hair!"

"That's it! You're the guy with the blond mane -- I mean the one that had...." I acted like I'd put my foot in my mouth and feigned embarrassment.

He rubbed his shorn head again, "And now I look like this! Like an army recruit! Someone at work called me a knob-head today...."

"You look totally different. I hope you don't mind me asking....but, what made you decide to shed that eye-catching mane you sported?" I asked timidly.

"Oh, something I said impulsively. Spur of the moment thing that spiraled out of control. Do I look too dorky?" he asked pleadingly.

"No, not really. The haircut looks sporty and refreshing. It's just that your hair was so....."

"I know, I know. I still can't believe it's gone. I feel almost naked! I've always worn my hair long and now my head feels like a worn-out toothbrush!" he muttered ruefully.

"Hardly! You're head looks like it's covered in a shimmering swatch of gold-colored velvet. It's just a matter of getting used to it...." I said, trying to encourage him.

Just then the dog finished his business, and the fellow leaned down to scoop up the mess with his ready plastic bag. I surveyed the back -- yep, old Thor got butched! Single length all over. Kitchen job by an amateur.

The dog was itching to get on with the walk. "Well, I've got to move on now that Spock's ready. See his pointed ears! That's why I called him Spock. I'm Lars, by the way. Hey, if you want a bit of exercise, why not walk with us?"

I jumped at the chance. "I'm Ted. I tend to be sedentary, so enjoyable exercise is something I shouldn't pass up!"

We walked together for a bit, not saying anything. I wanted to bring up the haircut again, but felt a bit awkward, not wanting to seem too nosey. Lars spoke, "So, if you want a dog, you need to make a commitment. Like, they need exercise and need to get outside to take care of business - in all sorts of weather! But, like any sort of relationship, they're worth the effort and the sacrifice...."

Lars felt his shorn head again as he said the word sacrifice. Then he changed the subject abruptly. "So you wanted to know about my haircut!" he said with a laugh. "I'm only going to tell you because you were kind enough to say it looked good. I can't stand to see myself in the mirror.... It's like the person staring back at me is someone else."

"You did go for a radical change!" I responded.

"Well, I'm not sure if I went for it, but it sure went for me. My best friend, I should say, went for me! WIth a set of clippers and a determination to make good on the silly bet I initiated. I was being really obnoxious about my alma mater before the big game last night during happy hour. He was giving me a hard time and so I announced loudly, 'I'll even put my hair on the line, I'm that sure they'll win.....' I was pretty foolish to mouthed off so flippantly. 'If they lose, you can shave off the lot of it, leave me bald....' I said confidently, running my fingers through my hair. Next thing I knew we were shaking on it. I started worrying in the first minute when the Spartans ran the ball all the way back for a touchdown! Jim's hand was in my hair and he was murmuring about his set of powerful fast-feed electric hair clippers. The game was a nightmare. Each time the Spartans scored against us, my friend would make a loud buzzing sound in my ear and simulate a set of clippers with his hand. At half time, he took out his barbering kit and set the clippers on the coffee table right in front of me. At the end of the third quarter, he made an offer. 'Let me cape you up now and I'll leave a little length on top -- give you a tidy businessman's cut.' It was 32 - 7. I should have agreed, but I was too proud. 'No, I won't abandon my team. I'll strut my bald head around like a badge of honor!' I insisted so foolishly."

"How many beers had you put down by then?" I asked.

"Oh, a few. Two or three. Wish I could say I was drunk....but, I knew what I was saying!" Lars replied wistfully.

"Well, maybe you had a secret fantasy of having your hair shaved off all at once? Watching helplessly as the clippers chewed off your pride and joy right at the scalp," I suggested, hesitantly. "I mean, you must have...."

"Fantasy?! Fright! Total fear -- more like it. Dude, my hair was my identity. I tried to weasle out of it. As the game ended, I offered Jim $200 to let me keep my coif. He just laugh and told me to get into the kitchen. I trailed in behind him and made one last plea as he fastened the cape tightly around my neck. '$500! Last offer,' I said. 'Not for all the gold in Ft. Knox,' came his reply as he ran the clippers across the top of my head. 'Watching these golden locks of yours fall is worth more to me than their weight in pure bullion.' As I felt and saw the first immense shank of hair fall in front of my face and slide down the cape to the kitchen floor, my stomach churned. That sick feeling contrasted with the pleasure of the vibrating clippers on my scalp. The clippers scalp massage sort of lulled me into a transe. I watched the floor in a daze as mounds of my shorn hair fell to Jim's feet. He looked so 'in control' wielding the clippers against my defenseless hair. Finally, Jim held up a mirror and roared with laughter as I saw myself bald for the first time. It was a painful reality. I felt totally humiliated and very vulnerable."

"You're not bald," I said. "You got a butch cut. There must be a good quarter inch left on that furry scalp of yours!"

Lars rubbed his head again. "I don't like the way I look, but I love to rub what's left up here! The feel of the buzzcut and how easy it was to get ready this morning without all the hair to deal with -- that's been the upside of my makeover."

"I think the butch suits you. Makes you look manly. You might feel vulnerable, but you look quite confident. Shoot, if I were you, I'd even have it taken down another notch -- to an eighth of an inch. The stubble-head would suit you even better," I suggested.

Lars' face blushed. "Really? I hadn't thought of going even shorter. That would really take the wind out of Jim's sails. I managed to tell him I liked the shorn look when he called me today to continue gloating; I have no doubt he would prefer that I feel miserable and mournful about my loss."

"I got a set of clippers in my apartment," I said pointing up to my third floor balcony. "What do you say we go up there right now and let me take you down another notch?"

Lars stopped dead in his tracks and then turned to me. He felt his fuzzy pelt again. "Oh, I've come this far..... Why not? Deal!" he announced, extending his hand to shake.

"Deal?" I said nervously.

"Yep. I'll zip that little tidy businesscut of yours off and in return you can take me down to zero! To the wood!" Lars offered. "And I'll throw in letting you help care for my dog when I'm on vacation. You can enjoy a pet without all the constant responsibility. And, we can walk in the evenings together as often as you want. Two baldies walking a short-haired terrior together! A steady exercise routine would take care of these love handles," he chuckled as he gripped my slightly flabby side.

I felt so torn. Of course I wanted everything that Lars offered, especially the warmth he exuded, except...... "I work in a professional environment and a baldy cut would not go over very well," I argued.

Lars took my arm and maneuvered me across the street. "Nonsense! You've been telling me how good the butch looks on me. So, if that's something you meant, you can put your money where your mouth is!" Unexpectedly Lars tussled my hair and purposely threw my fussy little business cut into chaos.

"Hey!" I protested as he laughed.

"Come on, be a sport! It would make me feel a whole lot better about getting butched! Do you realize how much hair came off my head yesterday? I'd be forever indebted to you if let me be your amateur barber," he said, almost pleading. "After being on the receiving end of an amateur kitchen haircut, I'm itching to be on the giving end!"

My heart melted. I looked into his huge blue eyes and said, "Sure, Lars. My fussy businesscut will be all yours." My knees wobbled as we entered my building. What was I getting into? I was nervous, but excited.

Lars put Spock out on the terrace while I got the clippers out. Then I combed my wavy top perfectly into place and stared at my nice, trimmed businesscut. The top was full and luxuriant. And it was being surrendered to Lars who would wield my own clippers on me.

When I came into the kitchen where Lars was, he could sense how nervous I was -- maybe even a bit sad. He ran his fingers through my hair, "You know, maybe you should keep your businesscut. One baldy between us is enough. But I still want you to take me down another notch. The thought of stubble suddenly has me feeling excited. Hey, I've gone this far," Lars said, taking a seat, "I might as well go all the way!" He looked up at me and smiled broadly. "OK, Buddy, taking me down all the way." I took a cape out and cast it about him. I could sense, despite his words, that Lars was nervous too. I fastened the cape snuggly about his neck, but then my hands froze.

"Come on!" he urged. "Let's get this done!"

Instead, I unfastened the metal clip and withdrew the cape. "No....me first," I gasped through an air constricted vocal chord. "We're going to sport twin baldy cuts."

"Are you sure?" Lars said, staring intently at me.

I couldn't speak. I just nodded yes.

Then Lars stood and clapped a bear hug around me and carressed my businesscut. "I just met you but I feel we've been friends forever." He stroked my thick wavy thatch of hair. "Boy, do you ever need a haircut, Buddy!"

Lars made me sit. I felt frozen in fear. The cape was fastened around my neck. Lars hummed happily as he figured out the clippers. "This is how Jim tackled me," he said as he grasped my forelock with one hand. He pulled it up a bit to give the clippers access. Then I heard the click and hum of the clippers coming to life. A split second later, the strong metal teeth were chewing their way across the top of my head. Lars was forceful in ripping off my perfectly trimmed business cut. "Whoa, this is leaving you with just a five o'clock shadow," he laughed. "It's fun playing the barber instead of the helpless victim," Lars exclaimed. He shoved my head forward playfully and tackled the nape. Up, up, up the clippers went, tightly clinging to my numb scalp. Then he ran his fingers and the strip he had just created. "Nice, sharp stubble, pal!" It seemed like the clipping went on forever. Lars was in high spirits stripping me of all vestiges of my tidy stylized businesscut.

Finally, I spoke. "You've already gone over my entire head at least three times, Lars. There can't be anything left to cut."

He cleared his throat a bit. "Uh, yep, uh, that's right. It's just that as soon as this ends, it'll be my turn under the cape again. The stubble is soooo short! You're going to freak out when you see yourself!"

With that, he whipped off the cape. I saw some large clumps of my businesscut on the floor in the midst of a layer of short snippets that covered a rather large area. I felt my shorn head for the first time and my stomach churned. Lars had obliterated everything. It felt like a medium grain sandpaper. I ran to the bathroom and snapped on the light. My head looked like a cueball. All my hair was gone. "Oh, my!" was all I could eek out.

Lars appeared in the mirror behind me looking a bit sheepish. "Not what you expected? Oh poor, poor you. I feel guilty," he said. "I talked you into this."

"I look like a freak!" I pouted.

"A sweet, caring freak," he added tenderly as he stroked my shorn head. "A big change is good every now and again," he said philosophically. "When you walk into your office tomorrow, shorn down to the nubs and everyone stares at you an sniggers, oh, that'll be a character-building moment." Then he swallowed nervously and added, "Now it's my turn to surrender the rest of this....."

As I fastened the cape around Lars' neck, I commented, "I wish I had been the one doing this yesterday, having to pull out all the heavy locks from under the cape in order to fasten it snuggly about your neck. The pretty boy scared s**tless and frozen in fear."

"I have a confession to make," Lars said unexpectedly. "Remember when you suggested that getting the big chop might have been a secret fantasy, something more exciting than frightening?"

"Yes..." I said, anticipating his confession.

"I was so happy that the cape was in place to conceal just how excited I was! In fact, the whole bet had not been at all spontaneous. I set myself up to be shorn! After 15 years of heavy, long hair, it was finally going to be stripped off and in the most humiliating way. You see, I had inside information that two of our star players had been injured in a car crash the night before and would not be playing. We were doomed to lose, and all my long hair was doomed to fall along with their defeat. All my friends laughing as Jim clipped off what had always been my pride and joy. I knew he would never accept the $500. For years he's been pestering my to cut my hair off and had offered many times to do it himself. Having beautiful long hair is a real burden. Half the people you know badger you to cut it off and the other half fawn over it in such an exaggerated way and warn against any tendency to go shorter. 'Oh, you have such great hair. Please don't cut it off!' they'd regularly exhort. I just got tired of it. So now that my long hair is history, I want you to take the rest of it off, Pal! Down to sandpaper!"

I sent the clippers across the top of his scalp and watch the tufts of the silken hair fall away. The clip job was going to be brutal. "I have a confession too. I've always dreamed of someone strong-arming me into surrendering my businesscut to the clippers. To be shorn to the wood and to look and feel ridiculous."

"I was happy to be of service," Lars said, looking up at me and winking. "Let's promise to each other right now that we'll keep each other shorn no matter the ridicule or butterflies in the stomach!" He stuck his hand out from under the cape, "Shake on it?"

"You bet!" I said, clasping his hand, "From here on out, it's just stubble for us, my baldy bad boy!"

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