Short for the Summer

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It’s a Monday morning, about 10:30, in early June when I pull into the parking lot.  Only two other cars.  A good sign.  Don’t want a crowd today.  No waiting is best.

I check out the place from my car.  Can’t tell much, just a plain, one-story frame building.  A revolving red, white, and blue barber pole out front.  Signs point to a traditional men’s barber shop.  Exactly what I’m looking for.

Most guys don’t share my excitement.  For them the monthly haircut is a nuisance, a bother, a chore.  Not for me.  Every haircut is an adventure, a quest, searching for the elusive perfect cut.

Approaching the shop an adrenaline rush surges through my veins.  The barber who can fulfil my dream may await inside.  Maybe I’ll discover someone who understands my need.  Perhaps she will finally get it right.

Is this the right place?  Will this be the day I get the perfect haircut?  Or will it be one more in a long series of disappointments?  Soon my questions will be answered.

It’s been six weeks since my last trim.  This shaggy mop has been bugging me more and more.  I abandoned the old shop because Sherry, my former barber, never cut my hair short enough.  She had her own ideas about the best hairstyle for a fifty-year-old gent.  That was partly my fault—I could have been more assertive.  But that’s not my style.

I needed to find a new barber.  Not someone at the old shop.  I wanted a complete change of scene, a fresh start.  But where to go?

Searching the Yellow Pages and reading on-line reviews was no help.  They don’t provide the kind of information I require.  Then, last Sunday, while driving ten miles from home, I passed a shop I’d never noticed before.  I made a quick U-turn and doubled back for a closer view.  The exterior was simple and unpretentious—I liked that.  The name out front—“Classico”—suggested vintage styles; nothing fancy, just basic old-fashioned haircuts.

It was out of my way, but if the right barber worked inside, it would be worth the trip.

I called first thing Monday morning.  A woman answered.  She had a pleasant voice, businesslike but friendly.  “Yes, we’re open,” she said.  “No appointment needed.  No waiting.  Come right over.”  That was enough information.  I decided to give it a try.  I invented a story about an urgent appointment; told my secretary I’d be back in ninety minutes.  Figured that would be plenty of time.

So many times I’ve been let down—by barbers with their own idea of what’s best for me; who don’t take the time to listen; who are always gabbing; who don’t appreciate the critical importance of the right cut.

People say hope springs eternal.  That’s how it is with me.  With each new barber I’m hopeful; yet every time I’ve been frustrated.  Still, I continue searching.  Maybe the next one will be different.

Today I’m optimistic.  This could be the day my search ends.

Time to go in.  Stop stalling, I tell myself.  Don’t be so timid.  Forget those past failures.  This one could turn out better than all the others, could be the pot of gold and the end of the rainbow.

I push open the door and pause at the threshold, looking around.  Four large barber chairs face mirrors mounted on the back wall.  Six molded plastic seats in the waiting area on the right, all of them vacant.  Cash register on the left.  A white-haired barber trims an elderly customer.  He beckons me to enter; but I don’t want him cutting my hair.

Where’s the woman who answered the phone?  No sign of her anywhere.  Don’t tell me she’s gone!  I’ll walk out before I go to the old guy.  There’s no thrill unless a woman cuts my hair.  It’s been twenty years since I let a male barber give me a haircut.

Then relief.  A female emerges from the rear.  She’s in her mid-thirties, wearing a Red Sox cap; medium length dark brown hair pulled into a ponytail sticking out the back of the cap.  She flashes a welcoming smile.  She’s neither slender nor heavy.  Not conspicuously sexy, but attractive in a healthy, wholesome way.  All signs are favorable.  Could she be the one?

“Hi, I’m Kristin,” she says.  “Step right up.”

She holds the third chair and I climb in.  My excitement is mounting.  I’ve got an instant hard-on.  Got to stay calm, I tell myself; can’t show how much I want this; don’t want to betray the unmistakable arousal I feel.

She turns the chair so I face the mirror and drapes the striped cape over my shoulders, then she winds a tissue tight around my neck.  It’s beginning just like a hundred other haircuts.  Still, this one might be different.

“You call a while ago?” she inquires.

“Yeah, that was me,” I admit.  “Didn’t know if you’d be open on Monday.  Most places aren’t.”

“Max decided to open on Mondays a couple months ago,” she informs me.  “I needed more hours so I come here one day a week.  Most of the time I cut hair over in Johnstown.”

I can’t believe my luck.  I hit the one day she’s available.  Thank you, God!

“You haven’t been here before, have you?” she asks.

“Nope.  The place I usually go is closed Mondays.  Couldn’t wait any longer.”  It’s a lie, of course, but I see no reason to reveal my true reason for coming.

“So, what are we doing today?” she says.  It’s the standard question, the one every barber asks; the one I’ve been preparing for.

“Short on the sides,” I tell her.  “Short on top too—short enough so it stands up.”  I rehearsed these words while driving here, repeating them again and again like a mantra.  I hope they convey exactly what I want.

“Sounds like a flat top,” she continues.  “That what you want?”  She’s uttered the magic words, the ones I’ve been afraid to speak.

Yes, of course that’s what I want; it’s what I’ve been hungering for all these years.  “You think it would look okay on me?” I ask, pretending to be undecided, like I need to be persuaded.

“Sure, you’d look great with a flat top,” she says without hesitation.  Yes!  This may be easier than I thought.

“And you can do it?” I probe, knowing not all barbers possess the skill to administer this most exacting of men’s hairstyles.

“You bet.  Flat tops are my specialty,” she announces with pride.  “Here, let me show you.”  She reaches into a drawer, pulls out a handful of photos.  “Tell me what you think,” she says, handing them over for my inspection.

I shuffle through half a dozen pictures.  Each one shows a man sporting a fresh haircut; all display the distinctive level surface atop their heads.  Some are shorter than others; each one is a masterpiece.

“You did these?” I ask.

“You bet, and lots more too,” she says with a hint of boastfulness.

“And you can make me look like that?” I say, pointing to the most impressive one.  The guy in the picture wears a flat top a bit longer than the others; it’s short, but not cut so close that it exposes the scalp on top.  I still have to meet clients; can’t afford to go to appointments looking like a Marine recruit.

“Say the word and I’ll give you the same haircut,” she promises.

That’s exactly what I want, what I’ve been seeking all these years.  I am totally on board, so turned on I can hardly control myself.

Max, the elderly barber at the next chair, speaks up.  “Mister, you should let her do it.  Kristin’s the best.”

“Why not?” I declare, pretending the flat top is their idea, not mine.  “Let’s go for it.”

“It’s gonna be a whole lot shorter,” Kristin cautions.

That won’t be a problem.  “Let’s go short for the summer,” I bravely announce.  Another fib.  The season has nothing to do with it.  It could be the middle of winter and I’d let her clip me short just the same.

“Yeah, it’s hot and gonna get hotter,” she says.

Kristin’s more right than she knows.  My temperature is rising.  Despite the air conditioning, sweat begins trickling down my arms.

“Squared off on the sides, not rounded,” I request, sounding a bit like James Bond ordering a vodka martini.  Sherry never got this part.  It’s a test for Kristin.  If she gets it right, I’m her customer for life.

My barber nods; she seems to understand.  “What number on the sides?”

Sherry always used a three and a half.  “Number two,” I reply decisively, although I’ve never gone this short before.

“That’ll be good,” she tells me.  She’s eager to please; willing to do whatever I ask.  Everything’s coming up roses.

Kristin applies a few drops of oil to the blades of her clippers, fits a guard over the blades, and switches on the power.  The high-pitched whine is music to my ears.  My pulse is racing.  I struggle to remain composed.  Will my new barber rescue me from a lifetime of unsatisfactory haircuts?  Is she the angel who finally makes my dream come true?

She pushes my head down so my chin rests on my collar bone, and starts mowing the back.  Cold steel presses against my bare neck; the hungry clippers chew into my overgrow locks.  I can’t see what she’s doing, but I’m confident it’s going to be suitably short.  A huge grin spreads over my face.  I can’t disguise my pleasure.

Kristin is an efficient operator.  There’s no wasted motion, no unnecessary chatter.  She finishes the back and moves to the right side.  Nothing out of the ordinary so far.

She begins below my ear, shearing away the sideburn.  As she moves higher I focus more intently.  Midway up the side she removes the guard.  She’s working freehand now, expertly guiding the blades further up my head.  Tiny hairs fly from my scalp.  Grey clippings fall into my lap.  With each pass, she takes it shorter, removing a fraction of an inch at a time.   Just as I requested, she’s carving two vertical walls, first the on right, then on the left.  I watch mesmerized as Kristin skillfully sculpts the distinctive squared profile like a master craftsperson.

She pauses.  The sides are short, but not as short as I’d like.  “I’ll come back and take it shorter after I do the top,” she informs me.  Just what I wanted to hear.

Everything’s fine so far, but the top is crucial.  Its shape and length define the look.  This is where all my previous barbers have failed.  None has succeeded in creating the perfect level surface I desire.  Will Kristin pass the test?  Can she deliver?

My heart is pounding; my cock throbbing.  I’m ready for her to continue, yet concerned.  I’ve been disappointed so often.  Not this time, I pray.

Kristin sprays a mist of water over my head.  Using a stiff-bristle brush, she forces the damp hair straight back.  I sit perfectly still as she attacks the top again and again, breathlessly awaiting the next stage.

Standing at my side, she orders, “Look right at me.”  I meekly do as she commands, ready for whatever comes next, happy to be bossed by my authoritative dominatrix.   She leans in, the green fabric of her smock only inches from my face, close enough so I can inhale her intoxicating perfume.  All my senses are on full alert.  My brain is reeling; my gut is quivering, ready to explode.  This is the moment I’ve been waiting for.

With clippers in her right hand and a comb in her left, Kirstin begins methodically trimming the top.  Her body blocks my view.  I feel her comb lifting my damp hair.  I close my eyes and concentrate on the urgent drone of the insatiable blades, trying to memorize every sensation.  I imagine the clippers skimming across my crown, greedily chewing at my shortened hair.  My cock grows harder as Kristin guides the clippers from the front to the back.  Her attention never wavers; her steady progress does not falter.  I grip the arms of the chair to contain my excitement.

Kristin begins to the front a second time, making another pass, shearing the top closer still.  I pray she will continue.  Silently I beg her to keep cutting until nothing remains.

At last she steps back.  Now I can view my new image in the mirror.  “What d’ya think?  This what you had in mind?” she asks.

I stare straight ahead.  Clumps of severed hair litter my shoulders and pile in my lap.  The visage staring back at me is familiar, yet wonderfully different.  My hair is much shorter and standing straight up; flat across the top; squared off on the sides just as I ordered.  It’s an old-school look.  I resemble the old Baltimore Colts quarterback, Johnny Unitas, or maybe a military man.  You don’t see many civilians with a cut like this now days, but I don’t care.

Kristin gets it; she totally understands where I needed to go.

But I’m not ready for her to stop; I want to extend my pleasure as long as possible.  I pretend it’s still too long.  “You could take it shorter,” I suggest hopefully.  It’s not an order, more like a prayer, a heartfelt plea, imploring her to continue fulfilling my fantasy.

“Yeah, that would be good,” she agrees.  There’s not a moment of indecision; not the slightest hesitation.  It’s almost like she’s been waiting for me to speak up.  She’s absolutely passed the test.

Her clippers are buzzing once more.  She’s standing at my side.  Without being told I obediently turn toward her.  All I see is green cloth as she resumes cropping the top of my head.  She’s put the comb aside; she’s working freehand now, without a safety net.  The slightest slip and the look will be ruined, but Kristin never falters.  The pulsating blades lightly skim the surface of my upright hair.  Slowly, methodically, she removes another fraction of an inch.  There’s no more than a quarter inch left.  It’s shorter than in the picture I chose, but I don’t care.  Don’t want her to stop.  I’m in ecstasy, coming dangerously close to a climax.

Finally, she pauses, invites me to inspect her creation again.  I gaze into the mirror.  My eyes lock on the top of my head.  Each hair is standing erect—an inch high in front; shorter toward the crown.  Squared off and perfectly flat, just like I asked her to do.

It’s the look I’ve been searching for; the one I’ve dreamed about late at night.  A dozen barbers have tried and failed.  Kristin is the first to get it right.

I restrain the impulse to reach up and stroke the pristine velvet layer covering my head.  Other people are watching.  A young mother waits with a curly-headed daughter and a shaggy-haired son.  She’s been observing my haircut.  Can’t let her see how turned on I am.  Got to pretend this haircut is an everyday event.

Kristin awaits my verdict.  Trying to sound nonchalant, I say, “Yeah, that looks good.”  It’s a huge understatement of course.  I feel like shouting, “It’s perfect!  You’re a genius!” but stifle the urge.

“I can take it shorter if you like,” she offers.

“Not today,” I tell her, hinting I may go shorter in the future; maybe try for a high and tight with a landing strip.  Perhaps next time or the time after, but not now.  This is enough excitement for one day.

Kristin powers her clippers one more time.  Without hurrying, she returns to trimming the sides.  They look okay, but she’s not satisfied.  Now the changes are almost imperceptible, but I’m not going to complain.

Then she goes back to the top, peers at the shortened surface, and makes a few minor adjustments.  She’s a perfectionist and I’m happy to be her victim.  Blissful moments of fine-tuning pass before she’s finally satisfied.  Resting her clippers, she selects a jar from a cabinet beneath the mirror.  It’s the butch wax I remember from my youth.  The ideal finishing touch.

Kristin rubs two fingers of paste in her hands and massages it into my scalp.  Then she attacks with her brush until every hair is back in place.  “That will keep it looking sharp,” she announces.  I make a mental note to stop and buy some on my way home.

Max has finished with his customer.  The young mother leads her son to his empty chair.  She smiles in my direction; the barber glances over.  “Cut Tommy’s hair just like she did for that gentleman,” she instructs him.  She obviously likes the way I look.  I’ve never felt so great.  I’d love to stay and watch the boy’s haircut, but that would be too conspicuous.

Kristin releases the cape; removes the tissue; and prepares to shave my neck.  “Squared or tapered?” she asks.  In the past I always said tapered, but today it has to be square to complement the sharp angles on top.  She applies the warm lather and plies her razor with the same skill she displayed clipping the top.  A brief massage with a splash of bay rum is the finishing touch.  The haircut is done.  My flat top is complete.

Stepping down from the chair, I struggle to hide the bulge in my pants.

Fourteen dollars is the price of a regular haircut, sixteen for a flat top.  I hand Kristin a twenty and a ten, twice my usual tip.  I want to show my appreciation for an amazing job.

“That’s too much,” she protests.

“Take it, you earned it,” I insist.

Kristin hands me her business card.  “Hope you come back,” she says.

“You can count on it,” I assure her.

Our eyes meet briefly.  I sense an unspoken bond between us; a mutual understanding.  Does her knowing look confirm a recognition of my needs?  Is it my imagination, or does she really appreciate my condition?

One thing is certain; she’s the barber of my dreams.  I’m confident she’ll deliver another perfect flat top next time and the time after.

“Have a nice day,” she cheerfully calls as I exit.

No matter what else happens, this day will rank among my very best.

Back in the car, I adjust the rear view mirror and lightly pass my palm across the bristles sprouting from the top of my head; I gently rub the short hairs on the back.  I’m in haircut heaven.   I vow to return in four weeks for another rendezvous with my brilliant barber.

Tonight I will stand naked in front of the bathroom mirror, admire my amazing new haircut, and release my pent up energy.

Tomorrow, and for days after, I will celebrate my new look and replay memories of this perfect haircut.

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