It was the buzz of the razor that first sent Ethan into a little panic. He’d always liked having his hair at medium length or so. “Hold on, what are you shaving?” He asked.
Phil paused, and looked down at where Ethan was sitting in the chair. “What, don’t you trust me?” he asked, a bit coyly.
“I…I just usually like my hair longer is all.”
“Well, maybe when you were younger, but this bald spot isn’t going away anytime soon, Ethan. At some point, you’re just going to have to embrace it, and start looking your age. I mean, the combover can work for a time, but at some point…well, let’s just say you aren’t fooling anyone anymore.”
Ethan didn’t know what in the hell Phil was talking about, but before he could say anything, Phil took the hair on the top of his head, brushed it aside…and Ethan’s jaw dropped–the hair…it wasn’t growing from the top of his head, but from the side and the back, and when Phil pushed it aside, he saw a deep receding hairline pushing back to the crown of his head.
It couldn’t be real. Ethan wasn’t balding! His dad had a full head a of hair–hell, even his grandpas had full heads of hair! He reached up, trying to figure out what was wrong, but he could feel it, the smooth skin of his scalp where all of the hair had disappeared. He tried to smooth his hair back down, but now that he’d seen it…he couldn’t unsee it. He was balding–and he wasn’t prepared for the confusion and distress it caused him, when he saw it. “I’m…I can’t be balding like that, not this young.”
Phil just chuckled behind him, “Yeah? How old are you, Ethan? Between this dye job and that combover, you can fool most, but not me.” Phil leaned over and whispered in his ear, “Just trust me, Ethan. Looking your age can be…really freeing. You won’t have to pretend anymore. You won’t have to hide. Won’t that be nice?”
It…did sound nice, somehow. Ethan didn’t object again, as Phil started up the razor, and began cutting into the long hair that had been his combover, Ethan watching it all fall away, his baldness now open and obvious…and the more he looked at it, the less it terrified him, somehow. It did feel good, showing everyone his…his age. He could embrace it. Phil just kept talking and encouraging him the whole time, assuring Ethan how good he would look once he was done with him. Once the hair was cleaned up a bit, he stood him up and led him over to a second chair in the back by a sink, leaned him back, and told him it was time to wash the dye out too. Of course, Ethan couldn’t quite remember dying his hair, but Phil hadn’t been wrong yet–and he did trust him, almost more than he trusted himself. Phil washed his hair out, and then while it was soaking, he told Ethan he was going to strip his beard too. Ethan had let his beard grow out over the summer–but had he dyed it too? Phil applied more of the soap to it, scrubbing it into the hairs, but there seemed to me…more of it, somehow. He could feel Phil tugging on it, pulling it down–it hurt a bit, but it also felt kind of good, in a way he couldn’t quite explain.
After a thorough rinsing, Phil stood Ethan back up, and moved him back into the main chair, and started cleaning up the rest of his hairline. For the most part, Ethan was pointed away from the mirror, so he couldn’t see the results–and while he was desperately curious, he could be patient, and just let Phil work. It wasn’t long before he spun the chair around again, and Ethan gave a little gasp at the face looking back at him.
He…really was old, wasn’t he? The balding was even more severe than he’d thought, pushing back past the crown now, leaving just a thin horseshoe of hair–no more than a couple inches, around the back and sides. Without the dye, it was a greyish white–and his beard. It was huge, stretching down past his chest, curly and thick and a stark white. Part of Ethan was struggling with what he was looking at, certain there had to be a mistake. He wasn’t this old! He was going to college, wasn’t he? Why did he feel so dang confused all of a sudden?
He could see the age elsewhere though–in the creases around his eyes, the jowls only mostly hidden by his beard. Phil told him how good he looked, now that he was ready to act his age, and Ethan had to concede that he was right. He did look good…but he still felt…empty, somehow.
“I guess…I’m having a hard time…remembering, Sir,” Ethan said to the barber. “I don’t even…” he was at a loss, trying to explain what he meant.
“I know what you’re trying to say, Ethan. You’ve been hiding in there for so long, that you don’t even remember what you really look like–or who you even are. But I think you’re done hiding, from now on–we can make sure you never forget who you really are, from now on–in fact, why don’t we write it down, so you don’t forget?”
Phil’s eyes glistened a bit cruelly, and before Ethan could do anything, straps appeared around his wrists and ankles, binding him to the chair, as Phil cut away his clothes, Ethan asking him what the hell he was doing. It became clear soon enough–this was, after all, more than a barber shop. Ethan started setting up his tattoo equipment and his piercing station, while Ethan protested–but there wasn’t anything he was going to be able to do about it. Ethan was going to be a brand new man–but what sort of mods does Phil have in mind for his old bearish customer?
Here’s the next poll! I’ll be mixing and matching from the results, so there will be a few winners chosen from this poll. You can make up to four choices! The bonus patron poll is over here as well.