The telephone rang about three and when I answered it, it was my best friend Pam. She was all excited, practically yelling. There had been rumors that day of a modeling job. I didn’t believe it, but Pam is the eternal optimist. And now she was on the phone, telling me that the modeling job was not only real, they really did need some more models, and it was $350/day. I didn’t need a building to fall on me to get the message , and was down to the store in a flash. I couldn’t see Pam or any of the others from our class. The lady at the “separates” counter told me they were all in the back, getting facials and having their hair done. She took my name, gave me a card and sent me back by a staff entrance. When I saw Pam’s “hairdo,” I nearly died. She had been clipped to the bone- and the look on her face was a combination of shock and delight. Janet was in the beautician’s chair awaiting her buzzcut. Nine other of our classmates were waiting as well, staring in stunned silence. Pam explained that we all had to have it done if we wanted the job. I asked some of the others what would happen when their parents saw them nearly bald, and told Pam she was in for it when she got home. They yelled back at me, almost in unison, “Its only hair! It grows back! And it’s $350 a day! Now sit down, and wait for your turn! Do you want to ruin everything??
So I sat down, and thought about it. It was just hair, after all, and it would grow back. Summer vacation was almost here, although I didn’t expect my hair to grow back to its present waist-length. $350 a day would buy lots of…
That was all it took. When opportunity knocks, you’d better answer. One by one, I watched as my friends went from hair to bare, the clippers going through their locks like a hot knife through butter. Frequently, the stylist changed clippers, as they grew hot.
Each of them was given the option of a hot lather shave to finish the job, most declined. They just couldn’t handle the idea. Three of them could though. Lisa, Beth and Amy sat in absolute glee as warm foam and disposable razors made their scalps smooth and shiny. Lisa and Beth had dark, coarse hair, so they had a blue-grey cast to their scalps. Amy, a natural blonde, had no such shadow. I’d made up my mind to have the shave too, but I couldn’t figure out why those three smiled so.
It was 7pm now, it seemed I’d been there for days. And now it was my turn. Slowly I got into the chair, eleven sets of eyes following my every move . Beth, Lisa and Amy were grinning like they shared a secret. A secret that I would share when I told the stylist I wanted to be clipped and shaved.
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Electric clippers don’t just turn on, they snap to life with a ‘pop!’ When I heard that sound, I nearly flew out of the chair. The beautician, feeling somewhat burned-out by now, decided to get expedient. She started at the front of my head, and mowed a bald strip down the center of my scalp right past the nape of my neck in 15 seconds flat. The sudden rush of cool air on my head combined with the vibrations from the clippers held me with a tantalizing grip. Again and again she passed over my head with the clippers, my waist-length hair cascading to the floor in gossamer waves.
Suddenly this beautiful stubble-headed stranger stared out at me from the mirror. I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or both. The lather was warm, but it was mentholated, and the two feelings silently competed for my attention.
Scalp hair, like leg hair, makes a peculiar rasping noise as it is shaved, a sound you hear both inside and outside your head. It was, I found, a soothing sound, one that began to explain my three friends’ secret smile. I too began to grin.
At last she was finished. It had taken forever, and was over all too soon. I felt my now- completely-bald head and almost wet myself. It was exquisite! I almost didn’t care about catching flak at home. Besides, I remembered Mom had done the same thing back in ’68 to protest the Vietnam war, and she was no hypocrite.
Amy, Beth and Lisa came up to the chair, and we stroked each other’s naked scalps simultaneously, a daisy-chain of sorts. Lightning struck again, still delicious, still amazing.
$350 a day was great, so was modeling, at 18 years old , it’s downright terrific. It couldn’t compare, though, to this moment, when four friends rediscovered ourselves with nothing more than clippers, lather and razor.