Northern Fashion – Bald and Proud
When one is on the road with a few trappings of civilization and a laptop computer, one is apt to be stranded somewhere sooner or later. My computer began giving intermittent trouble in New England, and then conked out almost completely in Toronto, Canada. Now restored to semi-usability with new memory and a special overhaul that laptops seem to need now and then, I am once again ready to continue the odyssey that has become my year-long excursion of ‘self-finding’.
I had not had my hair cut or shaved in almost 2 months, realizing that I had to go home and thought I should begin growing it back out. Then I hit this northern city with all its modernity and its very chic fashion arena. I have never seen so many short cuts and balds and various degrees in-between. Not just on street-kids and those professing to be different, but on professionals of all strata. The Torontonians earn an A for casting off inhibitions.
While attending one of the many free outdoor concerts that this city sponsors I sat next to a couple who were both shaved and were obviously enjoying the feeling. During the course of the music we began to chat and their story I thought quite interesting.
Angela is a first-generation Italian Canadian and Jeremy is from Trinidad. First, you notice that they are a racially mixed couple, second you notice they are bald and third, you forget one and two and just enjoy their delightful presence.
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Jeremy himself is from a mixed race family, his father Trinidadian and his mother from Hong Kong. Jeremy is a computer programmer and trouble-shooter, living and working in Toronto. Angela was born in Toronto to immigrant Italian parents and they met when Angela went to Jeremy’s company for a job interview. She didn’t get the job, but she did get Jeremy. They were smitten with each other and fell in love. Over the objections of their parents, they married in a civil ceremony and have been wonderfully happy for over 10 years. They have three children and they were perfectly warm and hospitable.
I asked how it was that they took the plunge and shaved their heads and they told me the following tale.
Angela was 23 and Jeremy 27 when they met. Two years later they married and began a life together trying to make a family life and reconcile with Angela’s father who, in true “old European” fashion, thought Angela should only marry an Italian. The rift seemed to be healing when Angela became pregnant and her father warmed to the prospect of a grandchild. The pregnancy was difficult and Angela had to quit work at 5 months and stay home.
Because of the physical limitations she now faced, she spent a lot of time reading and studying and decided to take her Art degree through correspondence courses so that the time wouldn’t be wasted. It was just the early 1990’s and this wasn’t yet the routine method of schooling. It was during this first confinement that she experimented with cutting her hair. It had been, up until then, long, thick, black and wavy. Lustrous was the word most often applied. Jeremy, on the other hand, had a somewhat nasty-looking afro with some dreadlock features woven in. He thought it made him look older, and possibly tougher, having been “cursed”, he said, with a too-youthful appearance. It did occur to me that he seemed awfully young, but in fact wasn’t.
One afternoon when Angela had been rather indisposed, Jeremy came home to find her in tears in bed. She had been trying to bathe and wash her hair, but each time had to retreat to the bed as wave after wave of illness swept through her. “This is ridiculous,” thundered Jeremy, and he called the doctor. The conversation he had calmed him down, but he wanted to help his wife. He gently helped her to the bathroom where he tried to assist in washing her hair. She was grateful at completion until he began trying to comb out the tangles. At that point Angela looked at her husband and asked him to cut off her hair.
Jeremy was aghast and the conversation revolved around Angela and her hair for the next five minutes as she pleaded with him to “just get rid of the damned stuff”. He offered to take her to a salon, but Angela shook her head, she felt much too ill for that. Resigning himself to the fact that his wife was not kidding, Jeremy retrieved the scissors from the kitchen drawer and asked where he should begin. They didn’t have any haircutting equipment at all, so this was one of those “I trust you” haircuts.
Jeremy snipped a little off the ends and kept asking if he should continue. There seemed to be masses and masses of black hair on the floor just from a few little snips. Angela put her hand up, took the scissors out of Jeremy’s hand, put them in her hair at the top of her left ear and squeezed them shut. “About there,” she said and passed the implement back to a stunned Jeremy. Carefully he ran the comb through the side she had cut off and saw it ended at the top of the ear, there was no way to hide it, only meet it. He followed the line she had started around her head and soon she had a very untidy-looking super-short bob, but not quite a bowl. Not knowing what to do about the bangs, he just continued the line across the eyebrows.
“It looks like an old pudding-bowl cut,” said Jeremy. “Is this what you really want?” Angela combed her hair and managed to detangle it without too much difficulty and then went back to bed quite pleased with herself. Jeremy looked at the huge pile of hair and wondered how he would explain this to his parents and in-laws.
Two days later Angela’s sister arrived and stood in shock at the mess she saw. “What the F— have you done?” she roared, and then collapsed in a heap of laughter. “You look positively ridiculous.”
“I know,” said Angela, and then told Carla what had been happening and how she really felt better without the hair and its attendant needs. Carla picked out her cell phone and made a call. She then looked at her sister, pale, ill, very pregnant, and said to sit down, her friend, a hairdresser, was on her way over. She would fix it up for her.
An hour later, Jeremy arrived home from work just as Mary, the hairdresser, arrived. The four talked over the possibilities and they decided on a short pixie cut. Carla said she would talk to her parents so that there would be no repercussions towards Jeremy. In twenty minutes Mary had snipped and cut Angela’s hair to a sleek short pixie. Nothing touched the ears and the back was buzzed to blend with the shortest hacked-off bits. It all looked very cute. I looked at the picture that Jeremy fished out of his wallet, and it did look sweet.
It was then that Mary looked at Jeremy and asked if he was bee-keeping. Jeremy looked puzzled and Mary prodded, “Your hair, it looks like things live in there, how long since it was properly treated? It looks downright unhealthy.” Angela, now nursing a cup of tea looked up. She had never seen Jeremy any other way, just as he had never seen her until then. Mary went on; “You are going to be a Daddy very soon, don’t you want to look your best?” Jeremy looked a little uncomfortable and agreed it was probably about time to cut his hair.
Mary led him to the chair, and once again all of them discussed what style to have. Jeremy surprised everyone with, “just shave the lot off, that would be the best. I can start over on some other style then.” Mary looked at Angela. Angela looked at Jeremy and Carla nodded her head.. That was agreement, and out came the large clippers. Mary plugged them in and simply swept the hair from Jeremy’s head as easily as sweeping it from the floor. No flurry, no sentimentality, she just no-guard shaved him bald.
Angela came and ran her hand over his stubbly head. “It’s rough,” she said. “I thought it would be smoother.”
“That only happens if you shave it with a razor,” said Mary. “Want me to do that?” Angela and Jeremy consulted, and decided yes. Quickly Mary lathered his head and shaved away the offending stubble.
All that had been eight years ago and now here they both were, bald as eggs and obviously reveling in each other. After the baby was born Angela kept her hair short. She let it grow a little longer, but each time she became pregnant, off came the hair again to a short pixie. After their third and last child arrived Angela decided to go all the way like Jeremy. Ever since his shave from Mary, he had kept his head either shaved or shadow short. Angela loved the look and decided she wanted to see how it felt. She was a full-time Mom and simply wanted to do it. She talked to her friends and family, most of whom were opposed, but her mind was made up.
On a Friday evening Jeremy came home late. The children were all in bed and Angela had dinner waiting on the table. After dinner Angela asked Jeremy if he would do her a little favor. “Sure,” he said without asking what. “Good,” said Angela and produced his clippers and razor and shaving foam, “I want you to shave my head until it is as sleek and bald as yours.” She then walked into the bathroom leaving an open-mouthed Jeremy looking at her retreating form. It took a little negotiation, but he eventually agreed to do it. Like last time, he was afraid she would just go ahead and try to do it herself and make a botched job.
Angela sat on the bathroom stool, plugged in the clippers and handed them to Jeremy. He was now resigned to the fact that he was going to have to do this, so he decided to have some fun with it. He went and got each of them a glass of wine, and snapped the Wahls to life. At that time Angela’s hair was to her shoulders, thick and wavy.
Jeremy pushed her head forward onto her chest and parted the hair. He then ran the clippers up the part to the top of the crown. They had not cut or clippered her hair at all. He was just shaving the lot from the back of her head without any preparation. Angela said it felt like someone pulling her hair hard for an instant and then she only felt the metal on her one streak of shaved head. Jeremy went over and over this moving out to the side a little with each pass. Angela’s hair rained down on the floor and the noise swelled in her ears as the vibrations and clippers neared her ears. Eventually, the back was sheared and he had her put her head up. From the front it looked normal, but one hand on the back of her head and Angela realized she was surely being shaved to look like a cue ball. She suddenly felt very aroused and that did not go unnoticed by her attentive husband.
“You have absolutely no hair on the back of your head,” said Jeremy. “Do you want me to continue?” Angela took the hand mirror and looked behind her. “Good grief,” she said. “Maybe we could make love first and then come back to this.” That is what they did.
Back in the chair Angela watched as Jeremy plowed a path down the center of her head to meet the bald area at the crown. As the hair fell away and all you could see was a shadow, both became more and more aroused. Leaving one long strand over Angela’s left temple, Jeremy carefully lathered and began scraping away the shadow remains. “Hon, you have such black hair you will always show shadow, I can’t make it without one, but it is beautifully smooth. I am going to braid your temple lock and then I am done.” Angela ran her hand over and over her head. It felt silky smooth, if a bit sore from the scraping of the razor. The one lock braided reached the top of her shoulder.
Angela’s family and friends were initially stunned, outraged, hysterical and finally accepting of her new look. She did wear a wig to some social events, but on the whole, around her home and family went bare-headed. I asked what had happened to the braided lock. Jeremy told me they had shaved it off after a year as Angela wanted to use a depilatory to rid herself of the shadow. She was sick and tired of shaving around it, so it had to go. For the past 2 years Angela has been using depilatory cream to achieve her shiny pate, and it is an obvious turn-on for the both of them.
After the concert we walked to a small diner and had coffee. Their three children think nothing of their bald parents. Daddy looks just like their favorite baseball star from the Blue Jays, and Mommy is just Mommy. Sometimes with hair and sometimes not. They don’t care. Both boys have their heads shaved and their daughter sports a cute and chunky shaved sides and back, blended and tapered to the top. Short and very sassy, as they say.
After I left them I thought about my own hair, growing it back out again for work, and envied Angela her openness and freedom. With her story full in mind, I decided. To heck with the mainstream, I have to do what I want, and I have to be who I am. I realize I am not only a baldie at heart, I am a baldie, that is me. I love to be bald and I love the sensations of the shaving. For me, it has become “normal”, just as it has for Angela and Jeremy.
What a marvelous and enlightened couple.
Bald and Proud