Oceans Away – Bald and Proud
On this journey of discovery of mine, I have met and talked to quite a surprising number of people who, like myself, have discovered they like to have their locks shorn, or for whatever reason, have their hair cut off. There are also those who are shorn for a variety of other reasons.
While in Florida I met a young family from Great Britain who are sailing around the world. There were 3 children and the two parents and they have been sailing since March of 1999. We had a very long and wonderful chat on the dock and in the yacht and in a restaurant.
My first encounter with them was while having a long and lazy walk along the pier. There they all were, lined up on the aft deck of the vessel while the Mom, whose hair was quite short, ran the clippers over her husband’s pate. He seemed partially bald already, and I stopped and chatted to them about their travels and the motivation to shave their heads.
They had been on a voyage across the Atlantic. Stopping in the Azores then down to the Canary Islands. After their two week stay exploring the islands, they found that the youngest child, a nine-year-old girl, Melissa, had lice. Within the confines of the yacht it was agreed that they really had to do something about this, but they were a long way from any drug-store; or chemists, as they called it. They decided, obviously, the best thing to do was to cut her hair short so that scrubbing with pine-tar soap they had brought for minor rashes and things, would have a chance of working.
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Melissa had light brunette hair past her shoulders, and her older siblings were making her feel embarrassed with their taunting and teasing. In order to restore harmony and stop the teasing, their father Colin, said that everyone would have their hair cut short and that would be the end of it. With limited water on the yacht they couldn’t afford to use it up on washing long hair, or all the bedding and clothing to stop the spread of the lice. That certainly shut-up the twelve-year-old Peter and 14-year-old Ellen.
In the next two days, each member of the family were shorn of their locks, much to the dismay of Faye, the mother. She adored her daughters’ hair and had always taken great pride in her own. Not long, but not short, it hung just to her shoulders. Ellen’s was long and kept in a ponytail. She refused outright to be a party to the haircut, but there isn’t very far you can run when on a small yacht in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
The first to undergo the new regimen of haircuts was Melissa. Her father sat her in a chair on the aft deck and cut her hair with a pair of scissors from a very generic haircut kit bought before they left England. It had two sizes of scissors – large shears and a finer smaller set – a battery-operated pair of clippers with several different guards, a comb that cut as you combed and some other little odds and ends, including a disposable razor with extra blades, cup and a small can of shaving cream.
Colin snipped away with the large shears until Melissa had about an inch of hair left all over her head. It looked like a rather bad and patchy shearing job at the local sheep shearing show. He then decided that Faye would probably make a better job of it and let her take over. Melissa had been cross and whining all through the exercise and Colin was fed up. Faye went through her hair with the clippers very quickly and the hair was allowed to blow overboard. Very soon the child’s head was denuded with a tiny little all-over crew cut. Faye then washed her head with the pine-tar solution and wrapped her head in cling film, as they called it, and set about cleaning up her sleeping area.
The other two children who had been teasing her about the lice and calling Melissa baldie even before her hair had been cut were very quiet. They knew what was in store for them now, and neither one was thrilled with the idea. Faye thought they could do it the next day, but that she and Colin should do theirs that same day so Melissa wouldn’t be left alone at the mercy of her siblings. With that, Colin sat down in the chair and Faye fired up the clippers, took off the guard and simply ran them over his short receding hairline. Having always kept his hair professionally cut short, it wasn’t a big thing to be shaved. It took all of ten minutes in a pair of inexperienced hands.
Once he was finished, he changed places with Faye. He told her she didn’t have to do this, but she said she wanted to, and was actually enjoying the experience. It had awoken some primal interest she wasn’t aware she had. Colin picked up the shears and began snipping her hair off beginning at the front of her head. He simply lay the scissors on her scalp, elevated the chunk of hair and snipped. He very quickly sheared the top of her head to a bristly stubble while all the side and back hair hung untouched. He seemed to take quite delight in rubbing his fingers over the stubble and across her head.
Colin kept scissoring away the auburn mane that he had delighted in for almost 20 years. He watched the hair fall, and some would get caught by the breeze and blow overboard. Once he had cut all her hair off, he turned on the clippers. Unsure of where to begin, he had Faye bend her head forward and he gingerly applied them to the nape of her neck. The children watching had been silent. Now their father asked them to sweep the hair up and put it in a rubbish sack.
Peter asked, “Are you really going to shave our mother bald?”
Colin’s answer was a plain and short “yes.”
“Cool,” said Peter and he went and brought back the broom.
At that point Colin ran the clippers up Faye’s neck to the crown of her head. The short stubble flew off into the breeze leaving a very white trail behind on her head. Colin looked at it, almost in shock, and then realized he had not put the guard on. Faye just said, “Never mind, there is nothing you can do now but finish.” Two more swipes up the back to the crown took all the hair from the back of the head. She ran her hand up the bare skin, feeling the tiny prickles left behind. “Oh my!” she breathed, “you weren’t kidding about being bald were you!” she said. At that point the batteries on the clippers failed and they went silent.
“What are we going to do now then?” she asked.
Colin was rather enchanted by the vision he was looking at. He could hardly take his eyes off her hairless nape. “I’ll shave you with the razor instead,” he answered. He then directed Peter to go and recharge the batteries as they had to be ready to do him and Ellen tomorrow. Using a small amount of the fresh water, he wet his hands and applied shaving cream to his palms and rubbed them over Faye’s head. He couldn’t get over the look and feel of the area where she was already shaved. He found himself really quite aroused. As he was massaging the cream into the front of her head he noticed that Faye seemed to actually be enjoying this too. He whispered to her that he really would like to make love to her once they were all finished. She exploded in laughter.
“What? We have three children who are really keen to see what we are up to and you want to do what when? It isn’t like we can send them out to the cinema!” She tweaked his bare midriff and whispered, “Later, after they’re asleep.”
Colin wet his hands again and raised a lather on his wife’s head and then began the delicate job of shaving her. He started at the left side and drew the razor up beside her brow, slowly scraping the hair off with each pass, cleaning the razor in a dish of sea water as it became clogged with her hair bristles. Once he had gone back behind her ear and met the previously denuded area, he continued around, going over that area again and to the right side. That left a patch on top of her head to be shaved. Colin looked at his wife and asked if he could leave a little bit, that he would like to make a little pattern. Her area of hair at this point was the top of her head back to the crown and the width of her eyebrows. Fay just told him to do whatever he wanted. With that he drew the shape of a butterfly in the soap and carefully shaved around it. Once finished he rinsed the excess soap off and looked at his work. The butterfly looked a bit ragged as the top part of her head had only been sheared with scissors. The hair was about a quarter of an inch long and very uneven. He decided to leave it till tomorrow when the clippers would be recharged.
When Faye finally looked at herself she burst out laughing. Ellen said she didn’t know how anybody could laugh after such a humiliation and Faye had to sit down and talk with her daughter. It was agreed that Ellen wouldn’t be shaved like the others, that she would have to agree to keep her hair very short and not use fresh water to clean it. Faye said she would make certain that Ellen was not bald, and at age 14 she should have that choice. She also discussed what might seem like humiliation to one could feel like empowerment to another. She asked her daughter to look at her. “See I am still you mother, I am the same woman I was before the haircut, and it really doesn’t look too bad. My features carry it off quite well. Ellen, I don’t feel humiliated because I am not. However, I understand that you will, and therefore we have made the accommodation. That is the essence of the family working things out together.”
The next day, in the calm of the tropical Atlantic, Colin fired up the clippers, put on the number 2 guard and ran them over Faye’s head. The butterfly was reduced to a mere 1/8th shadow and the rest of her head was totally bare. He applied a soothing cream and then a sunscreen and Faye’s head glistened. Peter thought it looked “awesome” and said so many times. Ellen just hunched down in a corner of the galley and refused to come on deck. Melissa thought Mommy looked kinda funny, that girls should have hair. Melissa then ran her hand over her own little shadowy scalp and disappeared downstairs to do her School of the Air lessons.
Peter didn’t bat an eyelid. He sat in the chair previously occupied by his mother and Colin ran the clippers over his head taking every bit of his blondish growth. No use in wet shaving the kids, just a shave with the guard off was sufficient and easy. He was bald in just a few minutes. He dashed out of the chair down to his sister. “Come on scaredy cat, time to join the baldy crowd.” Ellen just looked at him and buried her head in her arms and drew up her knees. Faye went and talked softly to her and finally she came upstairs.
“I want Mom to do it, not you. We made an agreement and Mom knows what it is. I won’t sit down if Mom isn’t going to do it.” Colin looked at his daughter, at her long ponytail, and handed the clippers to Faye. Faye then set them aside and asked for them to be put away. She then took out the scissors, and before Ellen could catch her breath she undid the pony tail, sectioned it off and snipped the hair right at the base of the skull, level with the top of her ears. Ellen began to cry, but without a mirror, she really had no idea what was happening either. She could feel the blades working their way through her hair, and she could feel her hair falling around her. She had her eyes shut tight.
Once the hair was reduced to an untidy chili-bowl Faye went ahead and began shaping and snipping section by section. She started at the nape where she lay the scissors on Ellen’s neck and snipped up to the crown. It left about half an inch. She continued this around and above the ears until the chili-bowl was very high above the ears and right tight to the crown. Taking the smaller scissors she snipped until the short hair was even. Once the bowl effect had become clear Faye took Ellen’s hand and had her run her fingers up the back of her neck. “My God Mom, it’s so high, I didn’t think you would cut it up that high!” Faye reassured her that it was looking quite alright, but that she had to cut the fringe and the sides. They had compromised that nothing was to be longer than 2 inches. Ellen now had half an inch all over the sides and back with a thick line of definition at eyebrow level. The hair that was still long, hanging in the bowl just above her ears was still longer than the agreed length.
Next, Faye took the scissors and cut Ellen’s bangs, or fringe, as they call it, almost to the hairline. She then angled the scissors and cut down the side towards the ear. She then angled straight up to the crown. The longer pieces rained down and Ellen was left with a two-inch long front chili-bowl, but only the half inch from the crown back. The bowl angled with her remarkable cheekbones to give a sweeping effect from the front and an angled effect from the side. From the back it looked like a boyish cut with the longer hair not visible. Ellen wasn’t happy with it, but she was grateful that she hadn’t been reduced to a hairless head like the rest of the family.
Over the weeks they travelled about the Caribbean Islands and they let their hair grow out as they were lice free and in an area where fresh water was plentiful. Now they were in Florida and they were letting the children do what they wanted with their hair. While they were sailing, however, Colin had decided to stay shaved and Faye had decided to stay short. She looked at the horseshoe high and tight I was sporting at the time and thought it looked cute. Her hair was about two inches or so all over, obviously growing out, and Colin looked rather excited at the prospect of another shaving. Faye studied my head, saw where the strip was shaved, saw that the hair stood up neatly around the hairline for about a quarter inch and faded down to nothing at my ears. I have never had anyone inspect my head so closely before. She asked Colin if she should, and he said, “Why not?” At that point they decided to do it the next day and asked if I would come and have lunch with them and help Colin. I couldn’t refuse.
I met them for lunch and Faye explained to the children what she was going to do. Ellen thought it grotesque, I guess she won’t have a short or bald fetish. Peter said “cool”, the operative word apparently for 12-year-old boys, and Melissa said, “Girls have hair but my mummy doesn’t because she’s afraid of lice.” Once lunch was finished we went to the aft deck and the shearing began. Since being in Florida, they had obtained a set of electric clippers that worked from the power source of the yacht, and that would make things quicker and easier for them. It is hard to be accurate when the deck is moving as it does on the ocean, so a faster pair of clippers would be easier to deal with.
Colin looked at my head and then flipped the switch. With no guard he raced up the back of Faye’s neck and peeled off the hair all the way around her nape and over her ears. She now had a cap of 2 inches of auburn hair. At that point we began working as a team, one to hold up the hair with the comb and the other to, shear it off but it wouldn’t stand up. It was so fine. We cut it to an inch and it still wouldn’t stand up properly. At that point I suggested the barber. As there was one not far from the pier, we walked over, with Faye getting some really odd stares. When we walked in, the barber just shook his head and said “What was this supposed to be then?”
“Like hers,” said Colin and pointed at me.
“In the chair ma’am,” said the barber, and with that he threw a cape around her and switched on the small clippers. With a comb and clippers he reduced Faye’s hair to a half inch and then began shaving in the landing strip. “Where do you want the horseshoe to end? Crown? Behind the ears? Where?” Faye pointed to the centre of her ears and the clippers quickly shaved everything from everywhere else. He then gelled the hair that was left, lifted it and slid the clippers over the comb. Magically the hair stood up and he cleaned everything up in a few minutes. I looked at Colin who was obviously in need of his wife’s attentions, and I bade my farewells. I was invited to “tea”, which I later found out was what we call dinner, for the following day, and then I was off on my travels again.
Many thanks to the Fairfax family of Great Britain. It is nice to share e-mails with you and I hope all who read this will wish you well on the rest of your voyage.