There are two things a right-thinking fellow shouldn’t have to pay for in New York City: blowjobs and haircuts. In this town, there are simply so many people so gifted in these practices—and so eager to practice them—that a resourceful fellow soon realizes that there must be barbers and cocksuckers who go wanting. How sad they must be, unable to ply their trades in a market so glutted with competitors. How grateful, then, when offered the opportunity to demonstrate their expertise!
I decided to provide such opportunities. Not merely because I am by nature a generous man, but also because I know myself to be an appreciative and yet discerning recipient of blowjobs and haircuts alike. I may be a challenging customer at times, but when a job is well done, my barbers and cocksuckers know they have impressed a connoisseur.
At first, I thought I might combine these opportunities by finding a cocksucker who wanted to cut hair: a barber to take care of my barber-poling, if you will. But the more I considered it, the more I realized that while gifted cocksuckers frequent my life, I’ve actually given my head over to relatively few good barbers.
My mother was my first barber. (To anticipate your follow-up question: no, what must you be thinking?) She had trained as a beautician and occasionally worked in beauty shops when I was a young child. She would usually come back from a shift with her own hair streaked and piled high, looking far more glamorous than the harried young mother who had left home that morning after breakfast. I remember accompanying her on a summer evening walk, shouting to the neighbors, “Do you know who this is? It’s my mom!”
As my brothers came along, she had less time to work. Her customers were limited to five: her husband and four sons. Whenever she decided it was time for haircuts, she assembled her clippers and called to her boys. I was always the first in the chair, as I put up the least resistance and it reassured the younger boys to watch what would soon happen to them. As it was the seventies, I always requested that my hair be cut long to hide my ears. As she was my mother, she cut my hair as she saw fit.
I complained after my hair had been cut too short, though, of course, it was too late by then. Because I was the first in the chair and my mother’s skills had rusted since she last held scissors, my hair was frequently cut unevenly. “Your hair is straight and your ear lobes are crooked,” Mom would reply. “Get back up in the chair.” Down would hop a brother, his wet bangs half trimmed, and up I would go, submitting my already over-shorn head to more clips. I winced as each new quarter inch fell past my eyes. By the time I got back to the mirror, my ears were shown in all their pokey glory. “Don’t worry,” my mom would called as she snipped a perfect cover for a brother’s ear. “It'll grow back.”
After graduating high school, I moved away from home and my mother’s scissors. I gravitated to the rockers and artists, far from anyone who might compromise our locks. “Oh, son, look at what a mess your hair is, all broken at the ends,” my mother would lament. “At least let me even it out, or maybe some layers to make it look fuller. . .” I would politely thank her, but I liked my hair fine just as it grew out of my head.
By the time I rediscovered careful grooming, I had fewer hairs growing from my head. I found that what looks best on my adult head is just the haircut pushed on me in my elementary school years—conservative, short in back, with all-access ears—just as Mom was taught to cut men’s hair during Camelot.
When visiting home each summer, I sit on a chair in my mother’s kitchen, the prodigal customer in her all-boy beauty salon. For the rest of the year, I look for a barber to keep her haircut maintained, always instructing, “Same thing, just the way it looked two months ago.” For a long time, I’ve relied on the proprietor of the Lucky Star Beauty Salon in Chinatown, who gets it just right for ten dollars, inclusive of my three-dollar tip. I tell him he may be my lucky star but I am the luckiest by far. He smiles and shakes my hand.
Soon after coming to my calling to provide opportunities for neglected barbers and cocksuckers, I realized that while I can teach someone to suck my cock as I like, I may not be able to teach someone how to cut my hair as I like. I’ve just had too few good barbers. Naturally, I couldn’t propose that my man at the Lucky Star throw in an extra service. (To anticipate your next question: no, what must you be thinking?) For now, I decided I would keep barbering apart from cocksucking. I set out to find someone for whom cutting my hair would be pleasure enough to do so.
I found just such a barber. “Whatever you require of me, I will do my best to provide,” he assured me. “I know that a handsome man needs to look his very best. He owes it to people, I think.” He understood perfectly. We worked out details in advance of our first meeting.
He undressed after greeting me. I asked him to turn for me so that I could become acquainted with his appearance. He was a little older than me, with a short salt-and-pepper beard and closely cropped hair. I appreciated that he was well tended.
I invited him to undress me. His fingers trembled as he undid my shirt buttons and gently eased my arms from their sleeves. He bent on one knee to untie first one shoe and then the other, removed one shoe and then the other, remove one sock and then the other. He remained on his knees to unbuckle my belt, unzip and lower my jeans. He averred his eyes as he held first one cuff and then the other so that I could step free. With my jeans folded at this side, his eyes gazed upward. “Oh, Sir . . .” he began.
“Yes?” I planted my fists on my hips.
“Sir, you are the most beautiful man I have ever seen. May I . . . admire you?”
“Yes, but only for a moment.” I closed my eyes and turned away. He could now look at me without the distraction of my gaze. He could only use his eyes to admire me. I had been clear in my instruction.
In my mind’s eye, I pictured the Archaic Torso of Apollo. I wasn’t comparing my body to that of the Greek statue. Rather, I was comparing our situations: we were both to be admired. I pictured Apollo as I adopted his role.
Apollo has his flaws—he is headless and misses extremities—and I certainly have mine. But despite our incompleteness, we may be admired for the beauty that is beheld, rather than the beauty that simply is. When admired, we are completed in an admirer’s gaze.
I thought of that statue and remembered Ranier Maria Rilke’s poem about admiring it. I don’t know this poem by heart, so don’t ask for a recitation when you see me, but I certainly walk around with the final line.
We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,
gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.
Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast's fur:
would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.
I opened my eyes and looked at my admirer. ““Same thing,” I ordered. “Just the way it looked two months ago.”
He nodded and stood. I sat in a chair in the kitchen. My eyes were closed as hair tumbled over my face and shoulders. My upturned palms caught the clippings that fell into my lap, some getting caught in my pubic hair.
I looked into a mirror. “Shorter in the back,” I ordered.
“Yes, Sir, of course.” Again the base of my skull tingled, humming loudest in the left ear and then back in the right. “You know, Sir, and this is just a suggestion, but if I may, you may want to consider a buzz cut.”
I opened my eyes. “Really?”
“I think you have a lovely skull, Sir. And we’d leave enough blond showing so that the effect would glimmer.”
I scratched my ear lobe. “Hmmm, I’ll consider that suggestion. I’ve never done that, so clearly, I won’t do it on a first date.”
“Yes, Sir,” he chuckled. “You can’t give away everything on a first date.”
He cut and returned the mirror to me. “Very good.” I commended. I closed my eyes and looked away so that he could admire his affect on my appearance.
“And this, Sir?” He waved a hand near my body. “Would you care to have your body trimmed?”
I nodded. “Yes, let’s do that.” I moved forward to the end of the seat, extending my body to allow fuller access to his clippers. I closed my eyes. He could look and admire, touching me only with his utensil and, when necessary, the fingers of one hand. I resisted flinches when he trimmed near my nipples, the base of my cock and the flesh of my scrotum. I rested my hands on my head so that he could reduce the hairs under my arm to mere wisps.
He lightly touched my stomach. “And this, Sir? The hair on your belly is very . . . luxurious. But would Sir consider trimming it?”
I opened my eyes. “Really? Well, I hadn’t thought to do that.”
“It’s very masculine, Sir, don’t get me wrong. Still, you might care to try it, to see if you like it trimmed. If not, of course it will grow back.”
I had heard those words before. Still, warmer weather was coming, and I thought, well, why not expose a little more skin. “Sure,” I said, closing my eyes. “Let’s see what you can do.” I sat back as an unfamiliar sensation tickled its way down and across my torso.
“Sir, if you approve, I believe I am finished.” I stood and brushed away the loose hairs. I walked to a full-mirror. “Is Sir pleased?”
“I’m very pleased.” I turned left and right, looking at my reflection. “It looks like the body of another man.” I shifted again. “A thinner man.”
“Sir, you are perfect. May I please shower you? You mentioned liking the scent of eucalyptus and I have that oil for you.” I followed and watched as he prepared the water. He held back the curtain and I stepped inside. “May I join you, Sir, or should I wash you from where I stand?”
I looked down. “You’ll only make a mess of the floor. Step inside, please.”
I closed my eyes, absenting myself into my head. I raised my arms, making them vanish from my torso. I stood contrapposto, legs askance to his washings. He rinsed me for a long time, watching as the water he directed ran over the body he had shaped. Once my skin began to redden in streams, he turned off the water and toweled my body. He dusted me with a fine white powder. I opened my eyes and watched as he combed my hair.
“Sir, if I may ask: do you have a date tonight?”
I nodded. “I do, in fact.”
“She’s a very lucky girl, Sir. May I ask something else, Sir?”
I turned my head. “Yes, you may ask.”
“Sir, may I hold you? In my arms?”
I took his hands in mine. “You’ve done very well. Yes, you may hold me in your arms.” I pulled him close and wrapped his arms around my waist. I put my own arms on his shoulders. I held him, his face against my chest. I held him and felt his warmth and let him feel mine. Finally, he pulled back. “Thank you, Sir. You’ve been very good to me. One moment, please; I have something for you.” He left the bathroom and stepped into the kitchen. “It’s a little something, I thought you might want to share it with your date.”
He handed me a bag. I reached inside to pull out a bottle. “Scotch!” I said. “Twelve-year-old scotch?”
“I know you prefer bourbon, Sir, and I am sorry. But if you care to try this, I’m sure you’ll like it. If not, I’ll be sure it’s bourbon from now on.”
I stepped forward, putting my face to his. “I told you how I wanted my hair and yet you thought to suggest otherwise. I didn’t ask you to trim my belly and yet you thought to suggest it. You know I prefer bourbon and yet you thought to suggest scotch. I haven’t asked you to make suggestions. I was expecting you to take directions.”
He lowered his eyes. “I’m very sorry, Sir. I’ll try to do better, if you will allow me to serve you again.”
I turned my head and kissed his nose. “You make assumptions, but I am a reasonable person. Let me see how your suggestions grow on me.”
“You are kind, Sir.” He squeezed my hand. “I’ll go now to lay out your clothes.”
On my date that night, a cocksucker did not go wanting. My fresh grooming was nicely received. The scotch had a smoky, burning finish.
The next morning, I sent a note to my new personal groomer. “Well done. See you next month.”