Take Me Out To The Ball Game by HeadBoy
Jenna flipped the burgers as she sang in front of the barbecue grill, ignoring the smoke that wafted into her eyes. The sun was not at its highest point yet, and already it was 80 degrees. She didn’t care, it was a day for baseball.
The parking lot at Jack Murphy stadium was filling slowly, three hours until game time, and only the most hardcore tailgaters were here. Jenna was one of those. “Dean, grab me a beer, would you?” she shouted, over the din of REM blasting from the car stereo.
“Here you go,” he said, handing her a bottle of Rolling Rock, beads of sweat rolling down its long, green neck. “You’re sure you’re okay with this?” he asked, hoping she’d talk him out of what was going to happen at noon.
“You’ll be fine,” she said, running her wet fingers through Dean’s thick, dark hair. “Actually, I’m kinda curious how you’ll look.”
How he’ll look with a buzz cut, because today was “Buzzcut at the Ballpark” day for the San Diego Padres. Sure, it was a shameless rip-off of Seattle’s “Buhner Buzz Night,” but it was a great way to generate interest in a fairly meaningless game, with the Padres 5 games out in front of the National League’s Western Division, it was nearly an afterthought.
“It’s gonna be low maintenance, that’s for sure,” he said, “they don’t even use a guard on the clippers.”
“It’s more dramatic for the news footage,” Jenna said, taking a long swig of her beer, tousling Dean’s hair for the fourth time in about a minute. “You’ll probably look great. No, you’ll definitely look great.”
“Will you hold my hand?”
“Sure coward, will you pass me the mustard?”
The sun got higher in the sky, and the lot was filling up more rapidly, Dean and Jenna threw a frisbee back and forth, dancing to the music, singing along. Jenna’s ponytail stuck through the back of her Padres cap, touching just past her shoulders. It bounced playfully as she bounced back and forth, the walnut highlights glistening in the warm San Diego sun.
Dean ran his fingers through his hair, getting more nervous, more noticeably shaken, as the hour drew nearer. He laughed at a bad joke Jenna told, something about a Rabbi a priest and a hippy in an airplane with Bill Clinton and three parachutes. Why the President would be in a plane with only three parachutes, and no secret service agents, didn’t cross Jenna’s mind. She had her mind on the game; she loved baseball.
The smell of the grass, the hot dog vendor barking out to the crowd, the lousy organ music, doing the stomp whenever a rally started… It was one of her greatest joys in life. Most of all, she loved watching pitchers sweat on the mound, late in the game, bases full of Padres, Tony Gwynn stepping up to the plate, crowd going insane, total strangers joining in as a throng of oneness, cheering on the home team to victory. Gwynn would step up, take the first pitch, tension would build, and he’d drill the second one right over second base, watching it bounce twice as it rolled up to the centerfielder while Eric Owens raced around third, heading for home. AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” would echo off walls in the top of the ninth inning, announcing the arrival of the enforcer, Trevor Hoffman.
The only thing Jenna loved nearly as much as watching Tony hit, was seeing Trevor rip through the heart of a line up, blasting change-ups at the knees of some unlucky Diamondback. The Murph would erupt with squelches of elation at the first “gong,” signaling Hoffman’s supremacy. By the time he’d walked from the bull pen to the mound, the stadium was bedlam, and Jenna was in her Holy place.
Dean liked baseball, and was in love with Jenna, she was different from all the other girls at San Diego State University – not hung up on much, happy to be outside, enjoying the day. She loved to try new things, have adventures, drink beer, dance, watch B-Grade horror movies late at night, and she had freckles that were at once a child-like addition to her face, and an alluring feature that most women would try to hide.
“Almost time, Deano, are you ready?” Jenna asked, pointing to the row of folding chairs near Gate E. The radio station was already set up, giving away bumper stickers, sodas and key chains to early arrivals. Channel 6 had sent a news van, so had Channel 8. They were laying cable, getting ready for the shoot. The shoot of rows of boys and men sitting, submitting to twenty female hairstylists running clippers over their heads, all for the sake of free tickets and to raise awareness for the American Cancer Society.
“You’re holding my hand, right?” Dean asked again, his voice in a quaver.
“Yes, you know I will,” she said, her voice filled with a smile.
The line began forming quickly, Dean gathered his courage and stood behind a man with a large bald spot in the back. “Not fair, he’s not losing much” Dean thought to himself. Dean counted the people in front of him, sixteen! He would be in the first row, at least it would be quick, and he’d be on the evening news. If it looked good, he’d videotape the news, and keep it for the sake of memories. And if it looked bad, he’d keep the tape to remind him of how stupid he actually is most of the time.
A sportscaster was walking up and down the line, talking to the men in line, asking them if they were nervous. The hairstylists signaled for the first set to sit down, and prepare to lose their hair.
A microphone got shoved in Jenna’s face, “Are you nervous?” the talking head asked. “Are you really going to get buzzed?”
Dean laughed, they’d made a mistake and thought Jenna was going to have her hair buzzed for the sake of tickets. He would butt in and straighten the misunderstanding out.
“Yes, I’m going through with it,” Jenna said, with a pride in her voice. Dean stopped dead in his tracks.
“Come on, you’re holding up the line,” a voice said from behind.
“Really?” the sportscaster asked, signaling for the cameraman to close up on this pretty girl about to provide him with great video.
“You are?” Dean said, finding his voice. This came as a total shock, as far as he knew, Jenna loved her hair.
“Oh, absolutely, I’m a big fan, have been since my dad used to bring me here when I was a little girl. The Pads were terrible for a long time, now we’re going to the World Series and I’m only too happy to do something, no matter how small, to fight cancer.”
She took Dean by the hand, they sat side by side, the PA announced that the event was about to begin. The news camera pulled in tight, “Can I have a copy of the tape?” Jenna asked. The cameraman peered from behind the viewer and nodded.
She pulled her hat off, sat up straight, removed the ponytail from her hair, gave her head a shake and looked dead on into the camera lens with a smile on her face. The cascade of hair framed her face and she had a comfortable girl-next-door quality that the men in the crowd found undeniably attractive. The women on-lookers were just aghast at one of their own submitting to this. Well, many of them were, but some were impressed by her bravery, or apathy, they didn’t know which she was feeling. Some secretly wished they had the courage to do what she was doing, seemingly, without a care in the world.
Dean felt a pair of feminine hands on his neck, turning his head toward the camera. The cameras were rolling, the level of excitement rose measurably, just like when Trevor came out to pitch the ninth inning.
Next came the clarion-like sound of twenty clippers popping to life. Many of the guys in the chairs shook at the sound, Dean was not one of them. He was in a state of shock, too sanguine and awed to move. The lone woman in the chairs, Jenna, couldn’t sit still, she couldn’t wait.
“Everyone scream ‘Go Padres’,” the announcer yelled into the microphone. A crescendo of voices pierced the summer afternoon. Onlookers were baffled, but not surprised. For some, most probably, in attendance it was their first experience seeing a woman shorn up close and personal. Jenna was going to put on a show for them of sorts. A show she would be only too eager to participate in, only too eager to undergo for her beloved ball club.
Jenna looked at her reflection in the camera lens, she felt the warm blades plunge through her crown. Back they went with a palpable zipping. The hair on the top of her head fell magnificently, almost in slow motion, to the ground. The change in temperature and weight was noticeable instantly.
Dean was startled, he didn’t even notice his own hair quickly disappearing. Jenna rocked her head back and forth to the music that blared, lost in the joy of the moment and the excitement of the new and unknown.
“Hold still sweetie,” the hairstylist said. “Are you doing okay? ‘Cause we really can’t stop now.”
“I don’t want you to, keep going.”
Images of harvesting equipment, mowing through a wheat field flashed in Dean’s head. He looked as Jenna’s smile got wider with each pass. The camera pulled in tighter. The clippers plowed through another row of hair, leaving slightly less than a five o’clock shadow in its wake. Her roots were darker than the walnut and auburn mane she was currently saying goodbye to. It had a shiny, soft look to it, and the cameraman was clearly becoming aroused. So was Jenna, this was too new and enticing a moment not to savor.
Over the ears the clippers traveled, catching on Jenna’s ear, but not causing any pain. “Sorry,” offered the hairstylist.
“Not a problem, just make me bald!” Jenna returned.
“You got it,” said the stylist, beginning to enjoy the lone female head in the row of twenty. Her strokes were long and cautious, then quick and deliberate. Going over the same area more than twice to remove any stubborn hair that refused to submit. The hum was louder, but more comforting, than the music blasting over the PA system. The tingle it brought to Jenna’s scalp left her delirious inside. Butterflies came to her stomach for a second; not regret, just a fleeting moment of wonder, how will this look?
Her eyes fixed on the camera, seeing her head in the process of its liberation. It was not a shock as much as a startle. She liked it, and was clearly enjoying the hoots from the crowd that was now larger and more rowdy than it was five minutes earlier.
“Just try to keep the hair off of my Tony jersey,” she requested to the hairstylist.
The delicate fingers of the stylist had elaborately painted nails that dragged slightly across Jenna’s head, searching for strays – none remained on this side.
The clippers rode up the back, buzzing. Up the back again reducing the long hair to a pretty stubble, and down. Up. Down. Over to the other side, the clippers roared to life again, temporarily cutting nothing but air. They tickled as they grazed over Jenna’s temple. The hairstylist ran the clippers back and forth over the area, leaving a shadow on the side. She ran them over Jenna’s spherical head again and again, chasing away the few stray hairs that had eluded the clippers wave of elimination.
“Hang on, sweetie, nearly done,” the tender voice came again.
Jenna’s eyes were yet again transfixed on her reflection in the camera lens. She liked what she saw; something low maintenance for summer. Something different from all her friends. Something that shocked her boyfriend. Which was, after all, what Jenna liked to do the most. Shock Dean. He was a wonderful guy, but Jenna’s pixie quality was one that liked to get playful; it was the trait that initially attracted Dean to her. If her mission was to keep Dean surprised; mission accomplished.
The hairstylist ran the clippers over Jenna’s now naked scalp in rapid fashion, probably for the crowd, maybe to reduce the stubble a few more fractions. She dusted Jenna off in a hurried, semi-artistic flourish, punctuation on a job well, and rapidly, done.
The cape came off, revealing Jenna to the crowd: nearly bald, clad in her blue-trimmed white number 19 jersey, Padres hat in her left hand. The crowd was stunned, silent even.
“Go Padres,” Jenna yelled, waving her cap in the air as only a true fan can. The parking lot went nuts all over again.
“Next group, please” yelled the announcer into the microphone. The first twenty had taken less than two minutes in actual time, but the event clung to Jenna’s mind like a day-long journey. The next group made its way into the folding chairs, some faces were bold, some terrified. A youngish kid, probably 17 at most, eyed Jenna with that “God you are gorgeous” look that teenage boys have not yet learned how to mask. Jenna smiled at him and gave a playful wink. Her pixie-esque nature was in full bloom. Her face beamed.
She thanked the stylist who didn’t seem to be as rushed as her counterparts to begin the next round of shavings.
The stylist handed Jenna her card. “You two come see me next week and I’ll clean you up for free.”
Jenna nodded and smiled. Dean ran his hands over his girlfriend’s bristly, abbreviated, haircut.
“It feels cool,” he said, rubbing his own to see if it felt as sexy… close, but not quite the same.
“Yeah, how’s it look?” she asked, eagerly.
“Ya know,” Dean said, without pause, “it is pretty damn attractive on you.”
“Yours is downright sexy, too,” she said, digging her nails into his scalp slightly and rubbing.
They headed for the table to pick up their tickets and get their picture snapped for posterity. The cameraman handed Jenna his card. “Call me tomorrow and I’ll have the tape for you.”
On their way to their seats, Jenna put her cap back on her head, it sunk lower than usual, it was now a size, or two, too large. “I’ll need to get a smaller hat, don’t you think?”
“Why don’t you just go without it for a couple of days so I can see how pretty you look?” Dean asked.
Jenna shoved the cap into her back pocket, grabbed Dean’s hand and headed into the game. “Let the whole world see it,” she said rubbing her head, smiling and thinking of Tony winning the game, and her taking Dean to bed when they got home.
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