Deal Breaker

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“Hi, Rory? This is Joel. We met in the coffee shop yesterday.”

“Oh hi Joel! I remember you! I’m glad you called.”

“Me too. So, what do you think? You wanna go out for dinner this weekend sometime?”

“Oh ya! I’d love to. Saturday is good for me.”

“Great! Me too. Let’s meet at the coffee shop at 4pm and take it from there.”

“Cool. Uhm, Joel …?”

“Yes?”

“I have what might sound like a strange request …”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“Well, I’ve got this thing, that I insist on for all the guys I date.”

“Hmmm. I’m intrigued.”

“Ok, here it is … I need you to shave your head.”

Joel went silent. He wasn’t expecting anything like that. She was some cute blond he met yesterday and he had tremendous, dark, wavy hair that cascaded past his shoulders. His pride and joy.

“Joel? Are you still there?”

“I am. I’m just stunned. Bald? You need me bald?”

“I know, I know, it sounds funny, but it’s such a turn on for me. In fact, it’s a total deal breaker. If you got hair, it’s gotta go.”

“That’s quite a demand. Shouldn’t we go out a few times to see if we hit it off? Maybe then …”

“Nope. Bald or no date.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Can I think about it?”

“Think all you want. Just don’t bother calling me until you’ve shaved your head and are committed to keeping it smooth, shiny and bald.”

Rory hung up the phone. Joel was stunned and speechless. Bald? That’s a total life changer. His hair has been long his entire adult life. It’s how everyone knew him … long hair guy. Now some hottie he just met insists on this? Well, plenty of fish in the sea, he thought. Hard pass on that one …

Two weekends later a dating app hooked him up with a brunette named Nicole. On their third date they went bowling. At the crowded bowling alley Joel noticed this good looking bald man whose head shined like the bowling balls. He then noticed who he was with: Rory. Rory got up to bowl and Nicole noticed her.

“Oh my god, that’s my old roommate Rory! She’s a doll! Let’s go say hi!”.

Nicole dragged a reluctant Joel over and they all met. Joel and Rory played it cool as she introduced everyone to her bald date Steve. Nicole then asked Rory to step out side to smoke some cigs and left the guys to get acquainted.

“So, you been dating Rory a while?” Joel asked.

“It’s our second date. We met at the coffee shop in town.”

“Oh yeah. I go there every once in a while. Maybe that’s why she looked familiar.”

“She’s easy to spot!” Steve said.

“Steve, if you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been doing the chrome dome thing?”

Steve laughed. “Ha! No problem man. Let’s see .. about three years. It started to go so my barber suggested taking it all down. I was reluctant at first. But now, I cringe whenever I see old pics. Plus it’s kind of a chick magnet. Rory practically married me when we first met! What about you? How do you like having all that hair?”

Just then the girls came back. They talked about couples bowling in a few weeks and got ready to leave. Before leaving Joel went to freshen up in the men’s room. As he went to leave Rory was waiting for him.

“Hey, Steve’s cool and all, but I’d dump him in a sec for you if ….”

She then gently kissed his cheek, and continued “besides, Nicole told me she really likes Steve and his bald, shiny head.”

Joel came out to the parking lot and met up with Nicole who was just lighting up another cigarette.

“Hey Joel, what did you think of Steve? I REALLY liked his shaved head. ”

They got in the car and Joel looked at himself and his hair in the rear view mirror.

What’s he gonna do?

Part Two

The following weekend Joel came over to Nicole‘s place for their next Saturday night date. He came in and found her with a cigarette dangling from her lips as she appeared to be fussing with some make up in front of her vanity in the bathroom.

“Hey babe, what do you think?” Nicole said that she appeared to be snipping at little bits of hair on her forehead.

“Uhm … think about what?”

“Bangs! My new bangs, silly. I just cut myself some new bangs.” She said as she fussed with the hair in the front. Joel took a better look at her, with her hair up in a high pony tail and now sporting short blunt bangs on her forehead. “You know I went to the barber program in high school but had to drop out. After seeing Steve last week with Rory it got me thinking about finishing and opening up a shop.”

“Wow, that’s cool. Go for it. And the hair looks great!”

“Thanks. Hey, now that I got the itch, what do think about me practicing on your hair? You could definitely go for a trim!” She said as she put out her cigarette and then began caressing his hair.

“Ha! I don’t know about that. Maybe after you’re back in the program and I’ve got a little more practice and will see. Besides, I really like my hair as it is.”

“Oh come on. Just a little trim at first but I think eventually you’d look really hot with a high and tight military flat top or even eventually we’ll have to get you balded!”

“Balded?!”

“Ya! A super shiny chrome dome is in your future!” She teased at him.

Joel thought to himself: “What’s with these chicks and bald dudes?”.

A few days later Joel was driving home from work when he had to stop to pick up some batteries. After he left the store he saw a barber pole. It got him thinking, maybe just go in and talk to someone?

A traditional place with all the aromas and memorabilia one would find at a place in its hey day in the 1970’s. A few older men chatting up about the game and an ancient barber jovially cutting away at his client who was also engaged in the sport talk.

Joel was not comfortable at all and quickly left the shop.

He drove around awhile and was feeling stupid. “It’s just a barber shop, if I can’t talk about hair there where can I?” Just then he saw another place, Town Barber Shop. He parked and made up his mind to go in and “just talk”.

Bells rang as he opened up the door and walked in what appeared to be an empty barbershop. Out from the back came a middle-aged woman wearing a cutting smock and a no nonsense attitude.

“Have a seat.” She curtly said. A little stunned, Joel just stood there. “Hey! Wake up! Get in the seat.” She directed. As Joel sat she was already tissuing his neck. Nervously he finally spoke up.

“Hey, uh, can we talk first? I’m pretty nervous.”

“How short do you want?” She asked sternly as the cape was snapped in place.

” I don’t know if I really want my haircut today. But I was looking to get some advice. My girlfriend has suggested trying something really short like a flat top or even a balding. Do you think that would work with my head shape and face?” Joel nervously expressed.

She briefly looked at him in the mirror and picked up her clippers.

“Head shave or flat top?” She asked as if annoyed by his wishy-washiness.

“Oh, I don’t know about either. I was hoping to get your opinion on whether …”

She cut him off: ” I don’t have time to play games let’s just shave your head.” And she turned on the clippers. Joel, suddenly realizing his predicament quickly got up and pulled the Cape and tissue off.

” oh, I’m sorry. I just realized I left my wallet in the car I’ll be back later. It if it’s not there I’ll come back in a day or two. I’m really sorry about this thanks for the advice.” And he left the shop as quickly as he entered.

Feeling both humiliated and weird about the affair he also felt a twinge of relief that he still had his hair. But, not five steps away from the shop he bumped into no other than Rory.

Both were surprised and delighted by the encounter but then a voice beckoned back to Joel.

It was the stern barber.

“Hey! Joel!” She shouted, holding something in her hand. “You left your wallet here!”

Joel, realizing his wallet must’ve slipped out while in the chair experienced a deep feeling of shame … and dread.

Part 3

Joel sheepishly walked back to get his wallet.

“Is this the girlfriend?” The barberette asked.

“What’s going on here?” A confused Rory asked.

“This clown said his girlfriend wants him bald.”

“Nicole wants you bald? Or were you doing it for me?” Rory asked Joel, who was now in a bit of a panic, remained silent. Rory continued: “That’s so sweet, come on let’s go in. I’ve always wanted to watch a man with long hair get shaved smooth and bald”. She then took him by the hand and brought him back inside the barbershop.

Seconds later Joel was back in the chair. As he was getting tissued and caped in place he could here Rory going on and on about how excited she was to watch and looking forward to double dating. “Me and and my baldy, Nicole and her baldy … oh my, who’s baldy is who’s?”

Joel then realized his hair was put into a tight ponytail. The stern barberette then broke her silence: “Blondie, if you’re so excited, be my guest and cut off Joel’s pony. It’ll make the shearing easier.”

“Oh my god! May I?! This is so cool! Are you ready Joel?” Rory asked as she walked closer to the chair.

Joel, as if waking in his own worst nightmare, began to cry. Paralyzed with a combination of shame, excitement and embarrassment, he just became a blubbering mess in the chair.

“Joel, what’s wrong?” Rory kindly asked. Joel was near hysterical “I – I – I ….. cant”.

Anna, the stern barberette, broke in: “That’s it! Blondie, take that sissy out of my shop before I call an ambulance!”

Rory then helped Joel up and out and walked him to his car.

“You ok? What was that all about?”

“I’m alright. I guess I just had a panic attack. I guess I’m just not ready.”

“I’d say so. Let’s forget about that double date. I’ll stick with my real man.” Rory sneered before walking away. Devastated, Joel sat in his car for a while before venturing home.

When he got home he took a shower and had a drink. “What was that all about? Maybe for the best it didn’t work out with Rory, she seems pretty cold.”

He then looked down at his phone, a text from Nicole:

“Rory told me about today. When you’re ready to grow up give me a call. But, I don’t date babies.”

“Wow, that sucks. What’s with these girls? Well at least I still have my hair …”

Almost a year later …

Joel is running errands. He passes by where “Town Barber” used to be …. used to be? It’s now called “Nicole’s.”

“Wow! Could it be?” He thought.

When he got to work his hair got tangled in his seat belt and he noticed how scruffy it looked. He was well past his yearly trim at the salon. Probably because he was freaked out by those girls. So he thought he better hit the mall later.

“Lords ‘n Ladies” was the unisex salon at the mall Joel had gone to most of his adult life. Usually he’d walk in and someone would take him. Today was no exception. “Hi, my name is Piper, what can I do for you today?”. Joel was struck by her wild and curly black hair. “Well, I come in once a year or so for a trim. I like my hair long.”

“Sure, I get it. Let’s get you shampooed”. Piper then led him to the shampoo bowls and began a super excellent and sudsy shampoo. At one point she observed “Joel, it’s really crunchy on the ends. I bet it’s been more than a year.”

“Oh, I must’ve lost track of time”

He said.

Later, in the chair, as she combed out and sectioned his hair, the light seemed to be a bit bright atop his head.

“Joel, honey, not sure if you knew this, but, it’s getting a little thin up here.”

Conclusion

Joel left “Lords n Ladies” with the slightest of trims but a devastating realization: he was officially going bald.

Piper pointed out to him how thin it was on top, and even a bald patch at the crown. How did he ever not notice? She suggested trying something shorter, but he declared he wasn’t ready and got just the ends trimmed. But now, as he caught his reflection in the window, he suddenly looked different. “Is this how others see me?” He thought.

A few days later he was at the hardware store when he ran into chrome dome Steve.

“Hey Joel! Long time no see. Where have you been?”

“I’ve been around.”

“The girls told me how you flaked about getting a haircut.”

“Wow. That was nice of them.”

“Ha! They can be catty!”

“So, you’re still dating Rory?”

“Oh yeah. We may move in together in September. And, since Nicole opened her shop up, I see her once a week for my head shave.”

“Nicole opened a shop?” Joel asked pretending not to have known.

“Oh ya. She took over Town Barber from Anna. Next cut you should pop by! I think she’s still single.”

“Ya maybe. Hey let me ask you something. How thin was your hair when you made the leap to bald?”

“I don’t really recall. The barber noticed and made the suggestion. I didn’t think much about it. Why?”

“I guess my hair is thinner than I realized. I just found out and …”

“Joel, let me have a look.” Steve asked as he started to examine Joel’s hair. “Oh dude, you’re hair is a lot thinner than mine was. You’re actually bald right at the top.”

“Is it really noticeable?”

“Well, I think long hair looks ridiculous anyway, but, ya, you kinda look like a hillbilly or something.”

“Oh man, that’s bad.”

“Hey, let me see if Nicole has any openings today. You should do something.” Steve said as he took out his phone. Joel tried to discourage him but Steve just hushed him. “Hey Nicole, it’s Steve. You have any openings this afternoon? No, not for me. But our old friend Joel would like to come by … ya, that’s right. Cool. Hey Joel, Nicole says you can come by at three o’clock, even if you want just a consultation. That cool?”

Joel, feeling the pressure of the moment, nodded yes.

“Alright Nicole, Steve will be there at 3 o’clock. I’ll see you later this week. Bye. Ok man. Maybe next time I’ll see you you’ll be a new man!”

A little before three Joel did a walk by of Nicole’s. To his surprise he saw Anna working. Was he at the right place? Suddenly Nicole appeared behind him.

“Just doing some window shopping?” she asked as she lit up a cigarette.

“Oh hey! I thought this was your place?”

“It is. Anna works here 2 days a week. Come on in.” She beckoned as she put the cig in her mouth and opened the door. Inside Anna’s client was sobbing as he was getting his hair ruthlessly peeled off. The boy was about 13 and his mother was at her wits end.

“Anna, go ahead and bald Timmy. If he can’t handle a whiffle he’s gonna need to man up quick.”

“You got it Cheryl.” Anna said as she replaced the guard on the clippers. “Ok Timmy, since you didn’t want the whiffle I now have to bald you. Head down!”

As the shearing commenced Nicole led Joel to her chair. “So Steve told me you were having a hair crisis.” as she took another drag from her cigarette.

“Well, uhm, looks like I’m thinning on top and I might need some help with a new look.”

As Nicole started examining his hair, Anna finished up her shearing. “Cheryl, just have Timmy come by every Wednesday after school for his clean up. The discipline will keep him from turning out effeminate like some people.” Anna said, clearly referring to Joel in the next chair. “Thanks Anna for the help. Timmy will be here every Wednesday.” Cheryl then paid and she and a buzzed bald Timmy left the shop.

After examining Joel’s hair Nicole took another drag of her cigarette then put it out. “Look Joel, it’s pretty bad. You look ridiculous with this hair as it is. I don’t think you want to do the combover thing.”

“I just don’t know if I’m ready for a chrome dome” he said.

Anna who had her coat on and was about to leave, piped in: “Shoe him.”

“Shoe?” Joel asked

“Ok Nicole, see you next week. Hopefully this boy doesn’t have another melt down.” Said Anna as she walked out the door.

Nicole walked to the mirror and put her long black hair up in a high pony tail. Her thick, short, blunt bangs had been recently trimmed to almost the top of her forehead. She then pulled out another Virginia Slim 120 from her cigarette case and lit it up.

“Horse shoe flat top. You’re getting a horse shoe flat top with a super wide landing strip. It lets you keep some hair but it tackles the balding issue perfectly. Don’t even think about chickening out.” She then put the cig in the corner of her mouth and wrapped the tissue around his neck. Exhaling smoke through her nose she caped him in snugly. Reaching for the oster 64 clippers she put the 000 guard on.

Joel started to speak “I – I – ”

Nicole, cig still in the corner of her mouth “No, no, no. Sit quiet now” a long ash fell on Joel’s cheek. She then took another drag and blew on his face.”Head down!”. A bit scared, Joel followed order. Cig back in her mouth, Nicole peeled off Joel’s long hair from his nape up to his crown. Bottom to top multiple times leaving piles of long hair on the floor. Then she went to his left side, mercilessly peeling off the hair around his ear to the roll of his head. Sideburns, or what used to be sideburns, were essentially balded. Over to the right side she repeated the procedure. Peel after peel revealing skin with just a hint of stubble. Joel looked truly ridiculous now. Basically bald back and sides with this long stringy mess cascading from the top. He was too stunned to cry …

Nicole put out her cig and lit another, keeping it dangling in the corner of her mouth.

“Time to flat the stuff on top.” She said as she placed the large flat top comb on top of his head. “Now Joel be nice and straight for me, I like this flat an’ nice.” Placing the comb flat against his bangs she then ran the clippers over the comb, peeling off a large chunk of 13 inches off hair. Peel, peel, peel, the hair buzzed off to the floor. As she reached the crown there was less hair to fell – as it was mostly bald there naturally.

Nicole continued refining the flat top til as perfect as can be. Joel was utterly transformed. “Joel, we gonna make this super nice now”. Nicole then lathered up his sides and back then razor shaved them smooth and bald.

Joel’s eyes were now welling up. “Are we done now?”

“Oh no baby, let’s get this landing strip nice, wide and shiny” Nicole said as she lathered up the top of his head.

Five minutes later Joel was shaved completely smooth, shiny and bald except for a nearly undetectable horseshoe of hair at the top front of his head.

Although his eyes welled, he did not cry. In fact he liked what he saw: a real man.

“Joel, why not come by every Saturday at 3pm. You can be my last client of the day and we’ll keep you lookin’ sharp. Maybe we can join Steve and Rory in the bowling league too!”

“It’s a deal!”

The End

2 responses to “Deal Breaker

  1. How does one improve upon perfection. Answer … you don’t.

    What more could I possibly add to Whoknows’ one word ‘response’ to the above story (and five others of equal significance submitted on the same date merely a week ago).

    One can only aspire to this level of writing ability in their dreams. Such is the stuff that dreams are made of, apparently. “Litter.”

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