A Small Town, Summer 1982
A Tight Circle of Friends
I remember being a bit bored. Although that long summer vacation was something every kid looked forward to at the end of the school year, by the time August rolled around, you’d done pretty much everything you’d talked about doing, and had moved on to the stuff no one talked about.
For the boys, it usually meant sneaking off to some treehouse or something to play cards, or ogle the latest Hustler magazine, if they could get their hands on them.
For the girls, it was the slumber parties and the campouts, and just generally getting into trouble with those same boys. I had two really close friends, both of whom were boys. For whatever reason, I just never really got on with the girls and the ‘girlie’ things they did to amuse themselves.
The really sad part was that even though I hung around with the boys, I never really found any of them all that interesting, sexually. There were a few things I’d yet to work out on that score, but that’s for later on in the story.
Brent and Kendall were the two guys I hung around with the most, and they were among the crowd that seemed to congregate at this rather elaborate treehouse. Of course, girls weren’t allowed. As hard as they fought to get me up there, I was shunned.
One day, while we were kidding around and listening to the latest CD by a band most of you probably never heard of, (The Human League, in case you were wondering), Kendall mentioned something that caught my attention right away.
In one of their bids to get me up into the hallowed heights of the treehouse, one of the other boys suggested that if I looked a little more like them, they might be obliged to grant me a guest appearance.
“What do you mean, exactly, Ken Doll?” I kidded. He hated when I called him that, because it was what the other guys seemed to do as well. “I pretty much wear the same clothes as you do.” And right about then, it struck me. He was referring to my hair.
Now, even though I wasn’t the girlie girl type, I still had fairly long hair; well past my shoulders, and bright blonde. I’d occasionally toyed with the idea of getting it cut shorter, which was why this suggestion intrigued me.
“They want me to cut my hair?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
“That’s the deal.” Brent continued. Now most of the boys, by this time, were all sporting various versions of the same summer buzz, including Brent and Kendall. “And we’re not talking about a trip to the salon, either.”
“So, they want me to get a crewcut? In a barbershop?” I asked.
“Not exactly.” Kendall seemed reticent to continue.
“They want to cut it, up there.” Brent finally admitted. “I know it’s not something you’d ever do, so I told them to forget about it. Especially the other part.”
“I’m pretty sure my mother would kill me if I came home with my head buzzed, but at this point, I’d be willing to risk it,” I said, nervously.
“You haven’t heard the last part, Sydney,” Brent warned.
“Well, they’re already shaving my head, what could be worse than that?” I supposed.
“You’d have to be naked while they did it.” Kendall sighed, almost ashamed.
“Naked? In front of you and all those…”
“Hey, we had to do it.” He pointed out. “It’s a sort of an initiation.”
“Yeah. Right, bird brain. Syd’s a girl, or have you missed that all this time.” Brent chortled.
“Tell me about this… initiation.” I inquired, sheepishly, as though I was treading on some sacred secret right, that only the boys were privy to.
“You tell her. I’m not gonna.” Brent must have turned a few shades of red.
“The first time you get into the treehouse, you have to submit to this initiation. It’s pretty simple really. It’s sort of like being born again. Any hair you had going in you leave without.”
“So. you guys shaved each other’s heads?” It seemed a bit weird, but hey, they were guys.
“Not just our heads.” Ken went on. “Everything’s got to go.”
“You mean you shave each other’s bodies?” I laughed. “I don’t mean to sound presumptuous, but that sounds a little…”
“It’s not!” Brent snipped, knowing where I was going. “They shave your head, and you have to do the rest in front of them.”
“So, let me get this straight. I would have to strip naked, let them shave my head? Then I’d have to shave my pubes while they watched?” I was more than a bit put off. It was going to come down to what I was willing to put up with to get up there. I thought about it for a few minutes, and made a counteroffer.
“I want full membership,” I demanded, taking the two by surprise. “If I’m going through the same initiation that you all went through, then that’s the deal.”
I think they were both shocked that I might even consider doing it. There were a few moments of silence, before Brent spoke up. “Sydney. You really should think about this, you know.” He cleared his throat. “These boys, they’re no angels. I can’t say for certain what they might do once they’ve got you naked up there.”
“Well, I would hope you’d come to my rescue if they did anything too rash,” I suggested.
“We couldn’t interfere, Syd. You’d have to fend for yourself. That’s the rules.” Kendall informed me.
One on one, I think I could handle all but the biggest of them. If I really wanted in, I guess this was the risk I was going to have to take. I stood and dusted off my jeans. “Tomorrow.” I said “At noon. I’ll be waiting at the bottom of the ladder.”
“Syd, come on. You really…”
“If you didn’t want me to do it, you never would have told me.” I insisted.
I probably shouldn’t say just how many times I turned around on my way to the small wild patch of woods on the other side of the tracks. I finally stood on the coarse stone of the roadbed, waiting for a freight to pass. The smell of creosote and diesel, mixed with the summer heat had me a bit queasy. Of course, it could have been what I was about to do.
Finally, the last car of a seemingly endless consist rolled past, and I was able to cross, only a few minutes late. Butterflies would hardly describe what was rolling in around in my gut as I approached the bottom of the nailed plank ladder that snaked up the side of the ages-old oak.
“You’re late.” A voice called out from above.
“The train. I had to wait for the…”
“You sure about this… Sydney?” A stubbled blonde knob poked out from a window, some twenty feet above me. The tone in his voice was mocking, but I could sense a slight tremble in his tone.
“Wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t,” I called back, stepping back to see him a bit better. His name was Charlie Spooner, not who you’d call the most accommodating kid in town. He had a rep as a bully.
“I s’pose you know what we’re gonna do to that pretty hair of yours?” He made a motion as though he was smoothing out his own nonexistent locks.
“And everything else,” I added, not wanting to leave him any room for more stalling. This was hard enough.
“Then I guess you best get your ass up here then.” He gestured, disappearing back into the window.
Now, I was no fan of heights, but I’d be damned if I was going to let that get the best of me, not with so much else on the line. As I reached the last rung, I had to swing under a low branch to gain access to the fortress.
Once inside, I was met by ten or eleven pairs of eyes, all glued to my form as I stood. Some of them would undoubtedly have to stoop, but the ceiling was plenty high enough for me to stand up fully. I looked around for Brent and Kendall, finding them near the back of the group. If I didn’t know better, they almost seemed ashamed for me, and what I was about to endure. Their eyes were the only ones not glued to me as I crossed the distance to the center of the lofty cabin.
“You can stop right there,” Spooner said, kicking an empty milk crate so it slid to a stop at my feet. “Toss ‘em in there, Sydney.”
Starting with my sneakers, I tossed my converse into the crate. Next was my T-shirt. I think I picked a Metallica emblem for confidence, but it didn’t seem to be working. My unfettered C-cup boobs fell out from underneath, as I hoisted it over my head in one swift motion.
There were the beginnings of some snickering, which were immediately silenced by Charlie himself, of all people. That moment of imagined protection gave me enough courage to lower my cutoffs to my ankles, tossing them into the crate and leaving me only in my panties.
Charlie raised an eyebrow, eyeing the flimsy white garment that offered me my last vestige of modesty. Wincing, I hooked my thumbs into the waistband and pushed them past my hips, allowing them to fall around my ankles. Kicking up, as I always did at home, my toe hooked the leg hole and they spun up until I caught them in my hand. For a moment, I held onto them, as if for strength, but they too fell into the crate. I was totally naked.
“I didn’t think you had it in you, McCreary.” Charlie mused as he grabbed the crate, tossing it through one of the windows. Kendall hadn’t mentioned that part. I imagined my clothes scattered over the ground below, but that was the least of my worries.
“Okay, Sydney. For this part, you’re gonna have to kneel.” He stood only a few inches away, and I waited for him to reach out, grab my boob, or worse. He didn’t.
Slowly, I lowered myself, so I was kneeling on the rough planked floor. It didn’t feel great, but I hardly noticed. I shook out my blonde mane one last time, as if in defiance of what was about to occur.
“Sydney McCreary.” He paused as if for effect. “Are you ready to be one of us?” I heard the telltale buzz of the clippers before I felt them at the top of my forehead. They looked a lot like the trimmers my father used on his beard, only without the black plastic part. He waited for me to nod. They changed pitch as the blades moved into my hair, and there were some quiet cheers as the first of my hair began to float to the floor around my knees and over Charlie’s bare feet.
The sensation was different than anything I had ever experienced before. It was almost like slipping out of a swimming suit on a cold morning, only a whole lot more sensitive. More and more of my hair was making its way to the floor, as I felt him move to the back, running the trimmers upwards, from my neck to the top of my balding head. I shivered, involuntarily as the last of my hair fell away, and he silenced the clippers.
Unable to stop my hands from sliding up to feel where my luxurious tresses had been moments before, I only could feel the finest stubble imaginable. I hadn’t been buzzed; I’d been shaved bald.
“How do you like that, Syd?” Charlie chuckled, running his own hand over mine to feel my barren scalp. I had no idea how I looked, although I had an idea. I had been pulling my hair back tight in the mirror at home, to imagine how it might be. Nothing could have prepared me for the reality of it, though.
Still naked, I was led over to a small mirror, which, I imagined, had most of its reflective surface peel away long before. Every trace of femininity had been stripped away with the culling of my hair, and I looked no different from any of the other boys that still gawked at my nakedness. At least from the shoulders up.
“Now for the rest.” Spooner handed me the trimmers, and took a seat with the rest of the gang, expectantly.
I returned to the middle of the room where a sea of blonde waves still sat lifeless on the floor. My hair felt weird under my bare feet, and it was hard to imagine that it once graced my head.
Nervously, I looked down between my legs at the thick blonde thatch that adorned my pussy. In only a moment, every boy in that room was going watch me shave it. It wasn’t the idea of them seeing me shaved that bothered me, so much as their witnessing the very act of depilation. There was something that seemed so private about the action.
Taking a deep breath, I pressed the button on the trimmers forward causing them to buzz palpably in my fingers. ‘No point prolonging the inevitable.’ I sighed under my breath, as I lowered the blades to my pubic mound, sliding them downward.
I felt, rather than saw, the first curls fall to join my hair on the floor; a slight tickle that rolled down the inside of my thigh. The clippers seemed to make short work of my pubes, thank goodness, and I was soon as bald below as I was above.
“Welcome to the treehouse gang, Syd!” Charlie cheered, followed by some whooping and hollering from the balance of the boys. It took a while for Kendall and Brent to make their way forward, still in shock over my stark new appearance.
“I can’t believe you actually did it.” Brent sighed, running his own hand over my denuded pate. “You look… different.”
“I think he wanted to say ‘good’, but we both knew that would have been a lie.
I hung around for a few hours, still naked, as the rules seemed to state. Strangely, not one of the boys tried to touch me, not even Charlie Spooner. Oh, he made his advances, but I think everyone knew before I did, that I was just as interested in girls as they were. Of course, it may have been being caught perusing an issue of Hustler, that swayed their opinion of me, but that was some weeks later.
As was the custom, I climbed out of the treehouse as naked and hairless as every other initiate, showered with my hair, being thrown out the door above me. I still remember the rough wood of the planked ladder digging into my tender feet.
A Small Town, Summer 2013.
I had returned to my hometown rarely once my parents passed, but it was my thirtieth high school reunion that year. I had been convinced by none other than Kendall Brewer to come back, even though we rarely spoke.
Claire, my partner, wasn’t able to come due to work obligations, so I was on my own. I have to say it was a bit weird driving down the old main street. Many things had changed, but it was surprising how much of the old place still looked the same.
One thing that didn’t look the same was Kendall Bain. Gone was the spry young man I had known, replaced by a rather portly fellow, who actually seemed to jiggle when he laughed. I couldn’t help but chuckle, albeit inwardly.
I had remained a ‘member’ of the treehouse gang right up until I left for college the next fall. Much to my parents’ chagrin, I’d maintained the required coif right up until I left. Amazingly, had it not been for that extremely abbreviated crewcut, I never would have met Claire, who seemed to have a thing for short-haired women. That first semester at Cornell was a whirlwind of struggling grades and burgeoning romance. Fortunately, I got my act together, as did she.
The reunion was the usual affair, requiring formal attire; old friends with equally old faces. I hoped that I looked better than some of them. I’d just about had enough of the dinner and dancing, especially as I hadn’t spotted a single gay couple in the bunch, male or female.
As I made my way to my rental, I was accosted by a ‘pssst’ from a darkened corner of the building. The glow of a cigarette revealed the chiseled face of a handsome man. For a moment, I thought of running for my car, but this was my hometown, and I would be damned if I would shy away from anything, or anyone for that matter.
“Sydney McCreary. I’ll be goddamned.” I knew that voice.
“Well, well. How are you, Charlie?” I strode up to him, offering him my hand, which he took, although I think he was hoping for more. Time had been more than kind to Charlie Spooner, who cut an impressive figure in the diminished illumination of a nearby streetlamp. “You look good.”
“I s’pose you’re still batting for the other team?” He asked, hopefully.
“It’s a lifelong affliction, I’m afraid.” I chuckled.
He moved into the light, and I saw he still sported the severe buzzcut he had when I saw him last. “I see you still keep that hair nice and short. Guess I cured you of that, anyway.”
“Actually, Charlie, I owe you a debt of gratitude. Had it not been for that treehouse buzz, I may never have met my partner.”
“Is that right?” he sighed, tossing his but into the street. “You wanna see something?” He asked, a twinkle in his eye, literally.
“I suppose I can trust you.” I sighed, warily.
“Come on.” He pointed to a late model Mercedes that gleamed black under that same lamp.
He drove for a short while, before parking in the lot from an abandoned warehouse. “Charlie Spooner, what are you up to.” For a minute I thought he wanted to park, but he swiftly got out of the car.
“This way.” He motioned, heading for the edge of the lot.
“Where are you taking me?” I asked, not entirely certain whether this was such a good idea. I slipped off my heels, my bare feet sensing the cinders underneath.
“It’s not too far.” He insisted, disappearing into a row of goldenrod that stood almost as tall as me. After a few steps, I knew exactly where we were. The tracks had long since been ripped up, but the place still looked the same. I’d never forget it.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! It can’t possibly still be here.” I spouted.
“Look up, Syd.” He said, stopping suddenly.
There, some twenty feet over our heads was our old treehouse. I was amazed at how well it had held up to time. “How is that even possible?”
“Well, it kinda got handed down. My kids played here, and now it’ll be my grandkids in a few years, when they’re old enough.” He said, proudly. “Wanna see?”
I literally jumped onto the ladder that seemed better built than it had been in my day. The old familiar move of swinging under the branch never left me, and I was soon standing in a place dripping in nostalgia. “Holy shit. It looks the same.”
“Almost.” He reached over and flipped a switch on the wall, lighting up the place.
“We never had electricity.” I sighed.
“Well, times have changed. You know, cellphones, computers.” He chuckled. “Some things have changed, and some haven’t.” He grinned, pulling out a set of trimmers that looked identical to the ones he had shaved me with so many years before. “Wanna re-up?”
My dress was around my ankles before I knew what I was doing. “Absolutely.”