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Induced by A Recruit

There he was! He had decided to come. Would he remember?

"Hi Jason, how are you doing? You are a good salesman, cause here I am. Actually, the financial aid package had more to do with it than you did, but you guys get some of the credit."

Mikes hair was still really short. Not as close clipped as when he had visited in the winter, but still a real short buzzcut--maybe 1/4 inch, and pretty much the same length all over. I couldn't help surveying his cut, and by his sudden grin I realized that I had been caught in the act. If there was any chance he would have forgotten, it was gone now!

"What do you think, do I need a trim? I was going to cut it this past week, but I decided to wait till I got here. Looks like you are due, too--or did you change your mind?"

I gulped--he remembered! Mike had visited our campus early last spring as a pre-freshman, deciding where he would go to college. Because he was a really good athlete, Coach had taken a hand in the visiting arrangements. We are just a Division III school, so our recruiting is low key. Anyway, during their visits, team prospects room with current members of the team, so that is how I met Mike. When I went to meet him down at the gym, Coach took me over to where he was standing with his dad. He turned around to greet me and I did a double take when I realized that he was bald. Not completely, actually, but clipped right down to the scalp. His dad noticed me eyeing Mike's head and commented something about Mike not being into hair this year. Mike said as how it was low maintenance, and then we headed off to get his stuff to take it to my room. As you have probably figured out, I have a real interest in hair, preferably short. My own, however, had never been really short; not real long, either. Just a regular kids cut, on the longish side. Mom didn't approve of them-she liked my hair stylishly long and I never went to a barber--always a stylist. I was all in favor of buzzcuts, but only on other guys. Getting one myself was somehow too dangerous; I couldn't let myself indulge my fantasy to that degree. In the evening, after Mike had been the rounds of advising, financial aid, etc. we had dinner with a bunch of the other guys that were visiting and their hosts; food service always does an extra good job on visiting day. A few of the other prospects had buzzcuts or crewcuts, but for once in my life I had lucked out--my guy's cut was the one really cool cut! After we went back to the room, I finally got my nerve up to comment on his haircut. "

Thats a cool haircut--how long have you had it?"

"Ive been getting an induction cut since last fall at the start of school. This one I got 3 days ago," Mike replied.

I couldn't imagine it being much shorter than it was then, so I asked him if he had had it shaved.

"No, the barber just used the clippers on it. The ones he usually uses around the edges. He used to leave the top a little bit longer, but the last couple of times I had him use the real short ones. It looks about the same, but it lasts a couple of days longer."

At this point, since Mike was so comfortable talking about his haircut, I asked him if I could feel it.

"Sure, everybody wants to. I should charge a couple of bucks."

I ran my hand over his bristles, wondering what it must feel like to him.

"Why do you get it so short?"

"I dunno, really. Partly to bug other people, I guess, but mostly because I just like it real short. I like to feel the clippers running over it. And its so easy to take care of. You should try it some time!"

My enthusiasm at having my first real conversation about short haircuts got the better of me, and I said, "If you come here in the fall, Ill get one too!"

As soon as I said it, I felt a bit of panic, but then I figured I was probably safe--Mike was visiting several other schools.

Mike laughed and said "It's a deal!" He reached over and mussed up my hair. "A nice close induction cut will be a big improvement over that mop!"

Over the intervening months I thought about Mike and my promise many times. Would I actually have the guts to go through with it. What would it feel like to have the clippers not stop at the nape of my neck, but keep going all the way up the back??? And on the top?? I could imagine it, yet I couldn't really picture myself doing it. He wouldn't come, of course. But if he did, would I chicken out? An induction cut. A shaved head. I can't! But I said I would. My own head nothing but sandpaper stubble! He wont remember. And so on. And he came. And he had remembered. And what was I to do? I had to say something! I wanted to back out in the worst way, but with Mike looking at me with a big smile, I just couldn't. "N-no, a deals a deal," I stammered.

"Great! How about this weekend?" Mike shot back. I nodded, thinking conflicting thoughts: 4 more days of having my hair, but 4 days of anticipation.

"So we can go to town and find a barber Saturday morning, I guess."

"Nah," Mike answered, "I have a pair of clippers. My dad got them for me last spring. I was going to the barber every 10 days, and he figured it was a lot cheaper to get the clippers. I made sure he got the kind that cut it really close--not the cheap Walmart kind."

"Then who cuts it for you?"

"Dad did it the first couple of times, and then I decided to try it--figured I couldn't very well mess it up. Turns out its totally easy. I did it every week all summer."

"Then why do you have so much hair now?" I asked.

"Well, I figured you might want to have a little to mow off--more fun that way--so I didn't cut it the last couple of weeks. How about Friday night--your room or mine?"

"I don't care, mine I guess, I have a single."

"Ok, Ill see you about 7:30 Friday, so be prepared to lose all that baby fuzz! I gotta run to registration."

The rest of the week was interesting, to say the least. I was going to satisfy one of my farthest-out fantasies by running the clippers over Mikes head. At the same time, I was going to experience something I had never wanted (dared?) to imagine--having them run over mine. I must have looked in the mirror a thousand times. I even tried slicking it back after a shower, to try to see the shape of my head; it didn't work, because the short hairs around the sides wouldn't lie down. Friday dawned, sunny and hot. I awoke with a definite sense of what a condemned man might feel on the day of his execution. "Knock it off!!" I told myself. "You are just going to get a haircut, stupid. Mom and the rest of the family wont even see it. Nobody will care. You don't have a girlfriend at the moment. It will grow back pretty fast. Anyway, think about cutting Mike's hair! Go to class and stop fussing." As it always does, the day passed, and a little after 7 I was sitting in my room, listening to a CD. I had gone in the bathroom and combed my hair. It took about 3 tries til I got the part just right. It was getting pretty long-down in my eyes if I didn't comb it. I did need a haircut--well I was going to get one--soon! There was a knock at the door and Mike stuck his head in. He had a small red cardboard box and what looked like an old sheet. He dropped the sheet on my desk chair and opened the box to take out a pair of clippers. They were smaller than I was expecting, and thats all there was in the box-just the clippers--no comb, no plastic attachments, nothing but the clippers.

"Do you want to go first or shall I flip you for the privilege?" he asked.

No, I didn't want to go first. "Flip you." He pulled out a quarter, tossed it and I called heads--heads it was. "You first," I said.

Mike picked up the sheet, handed it to me, and plopped down in the chair. I tossed it over him and snugged it around his neck. Then I picked up the clippers. "How do I do this?" I asked.

"Its really not that complicated. First plug them in, then switch them on and then use them," he explained in a very patient voice, like he was talking to a five year old.

"I know that, I said, but how do I use them?"

"OK, you just slide them through the hair. Keep the front of the blade down against the skin, but don't let the edge or the corners of the blade dig in--that hurts! And go over it three or four times to make sure you get it all as short as possible." My hands were shaking noticeably as I picked up the clippers and switched them on. They gave off a quiet, business-like hum. I stood there for a long minute, trying to settle my excitement, til Mike said, "C'mon, do it. Whatcha waiting for?" Gingerly, I put the blades on his cheek and slid them up the side of his head. A small wad of his blond hair piled up on the front of the clippers. I pulled the clippers away, and there was a swath of essentially bare skin where Mikes hair had been. Boy, these clippers cut short! I made a second and third pass. It didn't look like anything more came off, but the path the clippers left looked even shorter. I ran my finger over it, and found that it wasn't smooth, but covered with an extremely short stubble, like sandpaper. I pulled his ear aside and widened the bare path.

This was starting to be a lot of fun, especially the realization that I would be baring his entire head. I moved around to the back, and pushed the humming blades all the way from the nape of his neck up onto the crown of his head. The small brush of hair beside the shaved path yielded in its turn. I was going as slowly as I could, to make the experience last as long as possible, but in no time the back and sides of Mike's head were reduced to stubble. Only the top was left--a short blond cap with a raggedy rim. I put my left hand on the back of Mike's head, partly to steady his head, but mostly to feel his bristly scalp. Then the clippers plowed their way right up the center of his head, pushing their mound of hair back onto my hand. Gradually I widened the streak of tanned scalp until finally, regretfully, the last of Mikes hair was on the floor. Even though the clippers had done their job well, I made a careful inspection of my handiwork, and made the pretense of clipping a few missed spots. Finally, reluctantly, I pronounced it done, and switched off the clippers. I took off the sheet and Mike got up to look at himself in the mirror. He looked practically bald, standing under the light, with just a dusting of stubble showing. It looked as great as it had six months earlier, when I had first met him. And suddenly I woke up to a little item that had slipped my mind entirely in the excitement of clipping Mike's head--my turn!!!! However, my adrenalin was running so high, that I didn't give a damn! I tossed Mike the sheet and plopped down in the chair. He tossed the sheet over me and switched on the clippers. "This should be fun. I've never buzzed anyone else, and you have such a mop!"

There was nothing tentative about Mikes approach. He put the clippers down on my forehead, right below the part. "Here it goes," he said and pushed the humming clippers right back along the side of my head, all the way to the back. A shower of hunks of hair landed on my shoulder and tumbled into my lap, and the feel of those clippers running right against my scalp burned its way right into my brain. Pass after pass, higher and higher, til he was just about to the center of my head.

Mike ran his hand down my head and dumped a great pile of severed locks on the apron. He then attacked the side and worked his way around to the back. "There you go, thats looking better! Do you want me to do the other half?" I couldn't resist pulling my hand out to explore my head. It encountered the usual mop of hair as I slid my fingers across, until suddenly it came to the clearing in the woods. The rest of my head felt totally strange; a sea of tiny, stiff bristles with my scalp very very close below the surface. "Finish the job! Get rid of the rest of it!"

Mike went to work with a vengeance, right up the middle. In no time the job was done. My lap and the floor were littered with hunks of my hair, totally obscuring the small heap of fuzz from Mike's head. Mike pulled off the sheet and I got up and went to the mirror. YIKES!! A total stranger looked back at me from the mirror! I touched my head and the stranger did likewise, so I figured it had to be me.

With the light from overhead and my blond former hair, I really looked bald. The stubble was surprisingly stiff, and so short it didn't move when I ran my hand over it. The guy in the mirror didn't look half bad, actually. Maybe I wouldn't wear my baseball cap after all. It was going to take some getting used to. "Whatcha think? I think its a big improvement over that mess you had before," Mike said.

"I dunno," I said. "Anyway, it'll grow back eventually." Mike stuffed the clippers back in the box and folded up the sheet while I swept up my fallen locks. I idly considered keeping a sample, but finally dumped them all in the trash basket.

"Well," Mike asked, "what are you doing next Friday? Or shall I go back to cutting my own?" I thought for a long minute, and rubbed my head again.

"Same time, same place, same haircuts!!" I replied.

Mike grinned broadly, "Come on, Ill buy you a Coke, while you make your public debut."

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