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Melissa (13) and Christine(15) have now been shaved smooth and clean for the past 3 days at the insistence of their Mother Paula.  Melissa had met with her good friends on Saturday and after some initial criticism on the part of Cindi, it had been positive.  Christine, still angry, but beginning to accept her fate had also allowed herself to be exposed to the four friends.  After receiving mostly positive comments she felt a little better, but was still worried about how she would be greeted by her friends.  Monday at the rec center proved to be everything she had feared and more.

Week 1 – Monday

Paula found that she had three days of leave coming, so she had decided to work on Monday and Tuesday and take off the remainder of the week except for Friday afternoon when she would pick up her final paycheck and attend a farewell party at the lunch break.  She could be a little late on Monday and Tuesday.

Melissa had said she was going to the recreation center to sign up for several summer activities.  Christine finally decided that she was going to brave exposure and go with Melissa so she could sign up for the advanced swimming and rescue class that she needed to take so that she could become a lifeguard next summer.  She also wanted to join the summer swimming league team.

Paula arrived in the kitchen at eight o’clock to find that Melissa was already there and eating breakfast.

“You’re up early Melissa.  You have a big day don’t you?”

“I guess so.  I just woke up and decided to get up.”

“How about Christine?”

“She was awake when I came down.”

“Why don’t you give her a little nudge when you go up to set up for your shave.”

‘OK”  Melissa put her dishes in the dishwasher and headed upstairs.

Paula fixed her breakfast and sat down with the newspaper that Melissa had brought in.  She had finished eating and was browsing through the entertainment section when Christine arrived.

“Good morning Christine.”

“Morning.”

“I’m going up to do Melissa.  When you’re finished eating come on up so I can do you.  I have to leave at nine thirty.”

“OK.”

Upstairs Melissa had the requisite towels and chair set up.  One towel was soaking in hot water.  She was waiting a bit impatiently.

“Well, Melissa now that I’m an expert I should be able to do you in short order.”

Paula went through the process of applying a hot towel and shaving gel to Melissa head quickly.  She now had a routine developed for the use of the battery operated shaver.  She began at the back and worked her way from left to right and then did the top.  She had learned the direction of growth on Melissa’s hair and now knew the direction to move the shaver to achieve the best results.

She ran her fingers over Melissa’s head and found it to be to her satisfaction.  She quickly wiped off  the excess gel and dried her head.

“All done Melissa.  Smooth as silk.”

“Thanks Mom.  I’ll put on moisturizer then will you put on that shiner?”

“Of course.  You know, after a while you will get a little tanned and won’t need the colored makeup, but the shine would still be nice.  I’ll have to see if there is any kind of face shiner still available in the stores.  I’ll stop by that makeup shop in the mall sometime and see what they might have.”

“It’s really smooth Mom.”  Melissa sat down to allow Paula to apply the shiny makup to her head.  “You know, Mom I think I could shave myself.  It doesn’t take long and it looks like it’s easy.”  

“It is easy Melissa and I think you could do it yourself.  I was thinking about that myself.  It would be even easier if you and your sister shaved each other.  I am going to let you try doing it this weekend.  When I start my new job next week you can do each other rather than having to get up early.  How would that be?”

“I’d like to try it.  It would be fun Mom.”

“Christine, are you ready.  Hurry up, I need to get you done so I can get to work.”

“OK, I coming.”

Christine came into the bathroom and sat down.  For the first time she didn’t exhibit any reluctance.  Paula hoped that the encounter with Melissa’s friends yesterday had some positive impact.  

The shaving proceeded quickly.  In less than 10 minutes Paula was drying Christine’s head.  “OK, its all done except for the shiner.  Do you want that today.”

“I think so.  It looked better that way.”  Christine applied moisturizer to her smooth head and sat down again to allow Paula to put face shiner makeup on her head.

“OK, it done Christine.  I have to run.  Have fun today.  I’ll see you tonight.”

“Bye, Mom.”

“Bye.”  Christine was already thinking about what might happen at the rec center when she showed up with her bald head.  Her imagination was coming up with all sorts of bad scenarios.

“Are your ready to go Christine?”  Melissa was eager to get to the rec center even though she would be early. She expected to meet her friends there.

“We’ve got plenty of time and I have to do my ears first.”

“That’s right.  I forgot to do mine.”

A few minutes later they were off on their bikes to the rec center in the local park.

Other kids were already there, and Melissa saw Audra talking with some of the kids from their classes.  It was a big park, with football, baseball and soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts as well as an Olympic swimming pool, some hiking trails, and a rec center with a number of activities rooms.

Melissa and Christine locked their bikes in the rack.  Melissa immediately headed toward the group where Audra was standing.  Christine went along with her.

As they arrived all eyes turned toward the two bald girls.  There were cries of excitement and surprise, followed by a hubbub of comments and questions.  

“That’s really wild Christine”, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” and “Can I feel it.”

Melissa and Christine were the sensation of the morning.  Several of the boys joined the group of girls to look at Melissa and Christine.  Some explanations followed.

It was Melissa who made the defining statement.  

“I know it’s probably weird, but I like the way I look and I want to keep it shaved at least for the summer.”

“Really?  That really is wild.”

Audra finally expressed her thoughts.  “I think they both look really cool.  My Aunt Steffie keeps her hair almost shaved and everyone says she look terrific.  I might get mine shaved too.”

This set off another round of expressions of incredulity which was ended when one of the girls said, “You would look good with your head shaved Audra.  I’ve seen black women with their hair shaved and they all look really good.”
 

Several other girls made favorable comments, although the universal sentiment was that they would never want to shave their heads.  There were a couple of unflattering remarks, which were quickly squashed.  Both Christine and Melissa were well liked by their peers.  Things were going quite well and Christine’s anxiety was beginning to subside when Johnny and his little group of followers showed up and saw Christine and Melissa.

“Hey, look at the skin heads.  What freak show did you two come from.  They must live in such a dirt hole that they got lice.  Is that it, you got lice and had to have your head shaved.  What a pair of losers.”

Melissa wasn’t about
to allow that kind of talk to go unchallenged.  She charged up to Johnny who was a couple of inches taller than she was.

“Go stuff a dirty sock in your pie hole you dirt ball.”  She was furious.

“Get out of my face you little bald fart, before you get hurt.”  

“Leave her alone”  and “get out of here”  came from the group of kids surrounding Christine.

“You’re the fart, you fat turd.  I’m not moving until you take back what you said.”  

“You’re a stupid little pip-squeak.  You can’t make me do anything, so get out of the way,” Johnny snarled.

Johnny stepped forward and bumped deliberately into Melissa.  She stumbled backwards, lost her balance and sat down heavily on the pavement.

“Serves you right for getting in my way,” Johnny snapped at her, sneering.

At that point Tommy moved forward and stepped between Johnny and Melissa.  Tommy was probably the quietest kid in their school.  He rarely spoke in class and never seemed to get involved in the lunch time group conversations.  It was not that he was a loner, although that is how the other kids though of him, it was just that he wasn’t very interested in the usual topics of conversation and didn’t have much to say.  He was the best athlete in their school, and everyone knew that he had been taking martial arts since he was five years old.  There had been a special assembly in which he and other kids his age gave a demonstration.  He had impressed everyone with his strength, speed and skill.

“Ease off Johnny.”

“Says who.”

Tommy didn’t respond – just stood and waited alertly.

“I’m not afraid of you.  My friends are right here.  You can’t push me around.”

 ”But you can mouth off and push around a girl who’s a lot smaller than you can’t you?”  This was a major speech for Tommy.  He waited.  

Several other kids had moved to stand behind Tommy.  Johnny was not liked and there had been other instances when he had made himself unpopular with his  nasty jibes.

Melissa had gotten up and moved to one side. She was still furious, but this looked to be a little more than she could handle.  

“Come on guys we can take this bozo.”  He took a wild swing at Tommy.  Tommy seemed hardly to move, but suddenly Johnny was on his back with the wind knocked out of him.  Tommy looked at the other three kids who had become Johnny’s little gang.

“Maybe you guys should find somewhere else to hang out.”

“Yeah, get out of here.”  Someone echoed Tommy.

Johnny had scrabbled backwards a yard or so.  He had been humiliated and didn’t like it.

“One of you guys give him a hand.”  One of them stepped forward and reached out to Johnny who slapped his hand away.  He stood up.  “Let’s get out of this crummy place.  Bunch of losers.”

Johnny strutted away with his little entourage following.  Tommy stood without moving and no one spoke.  

When they were out of hearing, Tommy finally spoke again.  “He’ll be back again you know.  Bullies like him always show up.  You have to stand up to him.  Don’t let someone like Melissa have to do it alone.  And don’t get into a yelling match with him.  That doesn’t work.”  Tommy turned to Melissa.  “Are you OK.  You have a lot of guts, but he’s a lot bigger than you and he’s willing to hurt anyone smaller than he is.  You should take lessons if you’re going to do that very often.”

The group had suddenly developed a whole new perspective about Tommy.  He was no longer the person they thought they knew.  This was a very different person.  Someone with a great deal of confidence in himself who made sense when he spoke.

The kids erupted in talking about the incident and how Tommy had stopped it from getting worse and what they should have done.

Tommy walked over to Christine.  They were almost the same age, Tommy being  just 2 months older, enough for him to be in the class ahead of Christine.  
“Are you OK?  Johnny doesn’t have much sense.  He just wants to be noticed and be a big shot”

“I’m OK.  I knew someone would say something like that about Melissa and me.”

“Yeah, some kids will.  You just have to ignore them.  People make stupid remarks without thinking when someone is a little bit different.  Most of the kids will get used to it in a day or two.  Right now it seems like a big deal.  Are you planning to take a class this summer.”

“Yeah, advanced swimming and life saving.  I want to be able to be a lifeguard next year at one of the pools.”

“I’m taking the advanced swimming class too.  If I do well enough I might try out for the swimming team next year.  Weren’t you on the junior swimming team last year?”

“How did you know?  Nobody comes to our meets.”

“I think they mentioned you in assembly one time.  You’re a good swimmer aren’t you?”

“I”m OK I guess, but I need to get better if I’m going to make the high school team.  I need to work out a lot this summer and do really well on the junior team this year.”

“Come on Christine, they’re open.”  Melissa called

“I guess we might as well go in and get in line” said Tommy as he gently nudged her arm.  Christine seemed a little ‘out of it’  from the attention she was getting from Tommy.

“Oh, right.  I think this class fills up pretty fast.”

There was little small talk while they waited in line.  Neither of them was the talkative type, but Christine felt oddly relaxed.  Tommy hadn’t mentioned her baldness except to allude to it right at the beginning, and his quiet self-confidence was reassuring.

When they finally reached the front of the line, Christine thought she recognized the girl at the table as one of the seniors on the high school team.  She had gotten a swimming  scholarship for college, but she couldn’t remember her name.

“Hi, guys.  You just made it.  Only one more opening after you.  Here, fill out this form, and you need to get your parents to sign a release.”

Christine filled out the form and handed it back.  

“Christine Jenner.  Hey, that’s sounds familiar.  Aren’t you on the junior swimming squad?

“Yeah, I am.”

“Coach says that you’re pretty good and he thinks you can get a lot better.  I really like your head style too.  That should cut down resistance a lot.  Besides it looks really good!”

Christine was a bit taken aback by these comments.  “Thanks.  I’m going to work hard this summer and next year.  I really want to make the team.  You don’t really think I’ll be able to swim faster do you?  I never though of that.”

“Actually I think it will, but even if it doesn’t it looks really cool.  I think you look great, really exotic.  You should keep it shaved in my opinion.  What do you think  – she looked at Tommy’s application – Thomas.”  

“She looks better than any of the other girls I’ve seen.”  He look at Christine.  “I expect that you’re going to outdo me.  I didn’t realize you were so good.”

“I’m not that good yet, but I want to get a lot better.”

“Well I’ll see you both on Thursday at nine AM.  I’m one of the instructors. Don’t forget to get those release forms signed.”

“OK” They picked up the forms and walked back outside to see what might be happ
ening there.  Melissa and her friends had already signed up for summer soccer league and were engaged in an impromptu soccer game.

“Come on you guys, we need some more for volleyball” shouted one of the girls. The volleyball net had been set up on the basketball court that had volleyball markings and there was a game getting organized.

“Do you want to play some volleyball Christine.  I’ll bet you’re pretty good at that too.”

“I like to play, but I’m not very good.”

“Come on, I have go to the gym this afternoon for my regular workout and lesson, so I can’t stay long. Are you coming back tomorrow?”

“I guess so, they want to get some volleyball teams organized and my swimming coach said I should get a lot of exercise.  I should go to the weight room too.”

After an hour and a half of volleyball, the game broke up as kids headed home or to the little nearby shop for lunch.

“I have to get going Christine.  I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“OK.  How often do you go.”

“Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  That’s why I went for the swimming class on  Tuesday and Thursday.”

“Well, have fun.”

“OK.”

Christine was perplexed.  Tommy had hung around with her the entire morning and had not once mentioned her bald head.  She didn’t quite know what to make of it.  Still she had felt comfortable with him.  He hadn’t had much to say, but his presence was somehow reassuring.

The afternoon was uneventful.  Most of the kids had lost interest in her bald head and she played some paddle ball without anyone saying they didn’t know which ball to hit.  She went to one of the crafts rooms to see what was going on and spent the rest of the afternoon getting starting on a pottery project.

Things began to wind down about 4:00 PM.  Christine looked around for Melissa and spotted her sitting at a picnic bench with her three friends and Beth. Beth had moved into the neighborhood about a year ago, and had yet to become part of any of the little cliques that had formed.  Christine remembered her as a quiet girl who was studious and got good grades.  She seemed to be athletic but was not on any of the school teams.

“We’d better head for home Melissa.  I think we are supposed to start dinner tonight.”

A quick recap of tomorrow’s plans and they all headed toward their various homes.  Audra and Penny along with Beth headed in one direction.  Cindi went with Melissa and Christine.  She lived only about two blocks from them,  closer to the park.  During the ride, Christine was quiet, deep in thought about the day’s events.  Melissa, of course, kept up a running commentary.  Cindi was uncharacteristically quiet.  The day’s events had impressed her.

“You were pretty brave to stand up to Johnny like that.  He really is a creepy snot.  Tommy really made him look like an idiot,” Cindi finally voiced her thoughts.

“I’m not really brave, I was just so mad,” Melissa responded.

“I was afraid that he might hit you Melissa.  I’m glad Tommy let him have it.  He deserved it,’ Cindi added.  “Anyway, I sorry about what I said to you yesterday Melissa.  I think you do look neat.  I just needed time to get used to it.  It guess it’s a lot cooler than long hair and doesn’t take any time.”

Melissa laughed, “Maybe it’s cooler sometimes, but I have to put on sun block to keep from getting sun burned and it has to be shaved every day to keep it smooth.  Anyway I think Christine looks a lot better than me.  Tommy is really cool.  It was really wild what he did to Johnny.  It was so quick!  Is he in some of your classes Christine?”

“He’s a year ahead of me, so there was only one class that we were both in.  They let me take that 9th grade sociology class and he was in it.  He hardly ever spoke, but I think he got a B+”

“OK, I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

“Bye, Cindi.”

Cindi turned down the street toward her house.  Melissa continued on in silence for a while.

“Tommy stayed with you all morning didn’t he?”  Melissa was very curious about this development and wondered what Christine was thinking.  “What did he say about you being bald?”

“He didn’t say anything.  We didn’t talk much.  He’s going to be in the advanced swimming class with me, but he’s not taking the rescue and life saving part.  He has his karate, or whatever it is, practice and training classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  He asked if I was going to be at the rec center tomorrow.  I guess he’ll be coming.”

“It would be cool if he wants to be your boyfriend.”

“Maybe.  I dunno.”  Christine couldn’t quite fathom Tommy’s seeming lack of interest in her bald head.  After all it was a BIG deal, at least to her and the other kids.  Maybe he was just trying to make her feel better or something and wasn’t really interested in her at all.  She hoped he was interested in her.  During the past year a couple of guys had shown some interest, but Christine hadn’t cared for them.  Tommy seemed different.

“Mom said to fix that box of noodles.  I think we’re going to have tuna salad and something else for dinner.  I’ll fix the noodles and you can grab a shower.”

Melissa had really worked up a sweat playing soccer and Paula had an unbending rule that the girls had to shower before dinner if they had been out doing some sweaty activity.

Christine was in the shower when Paula arrived, so Melissa had an opening to tell her about the day’s events.  Her description of the encounter with Johnny and how Tommy had handled it was only slightly embellished.

“The other kids say that he doesn’t talk much and is sort of a loner,  but he seems nice and I think he likes Christine.”

“Well, he does sound like a thoughtful young man.  Did you say he does karate?”

“Somebody said that he’s been doing it since he was five years old and that he has a lot of trophies.  I don’t know what it is called.  It’s something like karate though.  He never talks about it.  He told Christine he goes to the gym to practice and to learn new stuff three times a week.  He must be good if he’s been practicing that long.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised Melissa.  That is a long time and must be a lot of work.  Well, dinner’s ready as soon a Christine comes down.”

Discussion of the day’s events continued during dinner, although Christine was reluctant to say much.  She finally told Paula what Tommy had told her when the crisis was over.  Paula remarked that he seems to be very level headed and perceptive.  Privately she hoped that he was interested in Christine.  Someone with his self assurance would be a big boost to her self esteem.

Week 1 – Tuesday

As usual, Melissa was the first one up.  She showered and carefully examined the top of her head.  She had put on sun block twice, but was worried that it had come off when she got sweaty.  It felt all right but did seem to be a little pink.

Christine was up earlier than usual also and had eaten before Paula could do more than glance at the newspaper.

“I guess it’s time to get you girls nice and smooth.  Let’s get upstairs and get it done.”

“Mom, you need to check my head.  I put on sun block, but it may have come off while I was playing.  It feels OK, but I think it’s a little red.”

“Maybe you should both wear baseball caps, especially during the middle of the day if you’re outside in the sun.&a
mp;nbsp; Let me take a look Melissa.  Well I think you did get a little too much sun.  I should have been more careful about how you need to keep from getting sun-burned.  How about you Christine?”

“I played volleyball in the morning, but I wasn’t out much after that, until later in the afternoon.  I did use the sun block.”

“You look OK.  But wear your baseball cap if you’re out during the middle of the day.  Are you tender at all Melissa?  If you are we’ll have to skip your shave today.”

Paula ran her fingers over the top of Melissa’s head with increasing pressure.  “Did that hurt at all Melissa?”

“No.  It’s OK Mom.  I’ll wear my cap when I’m outside.”

“OK,” Paula concurred. “But I’ll go easy on you today.  I don’t want to cause any problems.  Let’s skip the hot towel and just use the cool gel.”

Paula proceeded to spread the gel on Melissa’s head, but not rubbing it in the way she had done up to then.  She had already cleaned the electric razor.  She began on the right side and carefully worked around Melissa’s ear and then up to the curve of her head.

“If you feel anything Melissa, let me know.”

“Well it feels cool, and I like the way the razor vibrates on my head.”

Paula continued on the left side, then the back.  Finally she began on the top.  She applied very little pressure, not wanting to cause any irritation.

“It’s not going to be as smooth as usual Melissa.  You will probably be able to feel a little roughness.  I guess we all have to learn how to do this and how to take care of a bald head in the sun.”

“I’ll be careful from now on Mom.”

“Well its not bad Melissa.  I think it will be OK from now on if you’re careful like you said.  I think we should skip the face shiner for now so you can be sure the sun block cream will stay on and work.”  Paula used a soft wash cloth to remove the last of the gel and then patted her head dry.  “Done” she announced as she removed the towel from around Melissa’s shoulders.

“Next” Paula proclaimed in just the tone of voice that they had heard Kate use on occasion when there were several male customers waiting for haircuts.  Melissa and Christine both broke out in laughter.

Christine sat down in the chair.  Paula pinned the towel around her neck.  “What can I do for you young lady,” she asked in the same imperative voice.

Christine giggled and answered meekly “Oh Ma’am, I would like to have a nice smooth shave if you please.”

”Well,  we can certainly take care of that.  I can give you the finest shave this side of the Mississippi River.  Nothing like a really smooth shave to have a girl looking her best, I always say.”

They erupted in gales of laughter at this exchange.

Paula smoothed of the gel and got started.  She knew that Christine had not over-exposed herself, so she could be a little more firm with the electric razor than with Melissa.  She took her time and made sure that Christine really would be “nice and smooth” as she had requested.  She smoothed out the last few rough spots and cleaned the remaining gel from her head.  

Satisfied she declared “There you go Miss, smooth as silk.  A fine job if I do say so myself.  All you need is a little polishing to bring out the shine.”

More laughter followed this declaration.

Christine felt her head and searched for rough spots.  Still in the spirit of the process she answered in her best little girl voice.  “Thank you Ma’am.  It is very nice and smooth, just the way I like it.  I’m sure I’ll have the smoothest head on the volleyball team.”  Somewhere in the back of her mind Christine realized that she was beginning to like it.  

Again they all got a laugh out of it.

“Hand me the moisturizer Melissa.  I’ll do it for you this time Christine.  I’ll put on the face shiner.  In a few more days you won’t need it, but I did find something interesting.  It’s actually made for giving your legs a nice shine.  It’s not going to work very well if you’re getting all wet and sweaty, but for other times it should look nice.”

“Thanks Mom.  You did make it look nice, and the kids liked it.  My swimming instructor said I looked really good and said it would let me swim faster.  That would be neat.”

“I so glad you’re feeling better about it Christine.  Every time I see you I think you look just stunning.  No wonder everyone is impressed.  You’re all done and I have to get to work.  Have fun girls.  I guess you’re going over to the rec center.  Is that right?”

“We have a soccer practice this morning and then we have to pick teams.  I think there’re enough kids for two teams and some substitutes.  Over at Wasena Park they are going to have three teams.  Anyway I think there will be 10 teams altogether.”

“Sounds like you will have a lot of games.  Maybe I can make it to one or two of them.  What about you Christine?”

“We’re going to play volleyball this morning, and in the afternoon I’m going to work out in the gym.  I’ll probably go to the pottery class later.”

“Sounds like you’ll be busy this summer.  See you tonight.”

“Bye Mom.”

“Bye.”

“Christine, let’s make some sandwiches for lunch.  That stuff they have at the rec center is too expensive and anyway I don’t like it very much.”

“I know.  I don’t like it much either.  We have apples and raisin cookies too.  So we can just buy something to drink.”

Ten minutes later they were on their bikes headed toward the park and rec center.  The arrived in short order and locked their bikes in the bike rack.

Melissa headed to the soccer field having verified from the bikes that Audra, Cindy and Penny had already arrived.

Christine looked around for Tommy, but didn’t see him.  She had mentioned that she would probably go to the weight room for a workout in the afternoon after her pottery class.  She needed to sign up just in case.  Sometimes it got so busy that you couldn’t get in.
As she approached  the entrance, Tommy opened the door and greeted her.

“Hi Christine.”  He surveyed her for a moment.  “Good looking outfit.  You look sharp.”

Christine had worn what she thought was her most flattering summer shorts and tank top.  She had her gym cloths and a change of cloths in her back pack just in case.

“Thanks.  You look pretty good yourself.”  A couple of butterflies in Christine’s stomach decided to stop fluttering around.

“Have you checked to see how many kids have signed up to use the gym this afternoon?”

“Yes.  Not very many.  We should sign up anyway.  Sometimes a lot more show up in the afternoon.”

“OK.  Then I need to change to my gym clothes.  I don’t want these to get all sweaty playing volleyball.”

“Good idea.  I need to change too.  I’ll meet you by the exit over there.” He indicated the door that led to the basketball and volleyball courts.

“OK.”

Tommy picked up his gym bag which he had dropped by the door and they went to their respective shower and change rooms.  

In short order they emerged and headed toward the volleyball courts where a dozen or more kids had assembled and had already started to sort themselves out into a pair of teams.  Two and a half hours later, a large gang of sweaty kids decided it was time to take a break.  Chr
istine had received mostly positive comments.  There were a couple of half in jest jibs, which were greeted with countering positive remarks.  After the first half an hour the game was far more important than making remarks about one of the better players even if she was bald.  

The fact that Tommy seemed to be spending most of his time with Christine had not passed unnoticed.   But no one thought it was a good idea to say anything about it.  At least not yet.

The group broke up into smaller groups when noon approached.  Tommy and Christine headed toward the picnic tables.  The others headed toward Benie’s, the little snack shop near the park and the vending machines in the rec center.

“Did you plan to have lunch here?”

“Yeah, we brought our own sandwiches and stuff.  We were going to buy some drinks,” indicating the rec center’s vending machines.

“I didn’t think about doing that.  How about if I borrow you bike so I can get to Bernie’s and get a sub.  I’ll get some drinks for you and Melissa too.”

“Sure, if you don’t mind riding a girl’s sort of bike.  Both of us like that tropical mango drink that they have.  I’ll wait for you here.  Oh, and here’s the key to the lock.”

Great.  I won’t be very long.”

Christine went to the locker room where she retrieved her lunch and headed back to the picnic table.

“Hey Christine, we’re all in the conference room having lunch.  Where are you going.”  This from Jessie, one of Christine’s closest friends, who was also on the junior swimming team.

“I’m supposed to meet Tommy out by the picnic tables.  He went to Bernie’s to get some stuff.”

“He’s a neat guy.  He likes you doesn’t he?

“I guess so.  He doesn’t talk much.”

“Well neither do you.  You’ll be the quietest pair in school.  Have fun.”

“Thanks, I will.”

Tommy appeared out of the trees where the bike path curved around some particularly large oaks and ashes.

“Here’re the drinks.  Hang on to my sub while I put you bike back.”

“OK, thanks Tommy.”

They opened their sandwiches and drinks and began to eat.  

“They had a tuna salad sub, which is not bad, and I bought some tortilla chips.  Take some.  They’re not salty like potato chips, but I like them. “

“Coach said that too much salt is not good for you, so I don’t eat much stuff like that.  Tortilla chips are pretty good though.  I like them, especially the blue ones.
I brought some raisin cookies if you want some.  I have an extra apple too.”

Melissa spotted them and came over.

“You guys eating out here.”

“Yeah, it’s kind of nice and it’s not too hot.  Tommy got a can of that Mango Tropical punch for you.”

“Hey, thanks Tommy.  I’m going in to eat with the gang.”

“OK.  We should head for home about four thirty.”

They ate more or less in silence, sharing what they had brought to their impromptu picnic.

“Would you like to walk over to Bernie’s for an ice cream sandwich?”

“Sure, we have plenty of time.”

They headed toward the walkway and dumped their trash in a nearby canister.

Once again there was little said, but Christine felt a warm glow enveloping her.  The rest of the afternoon was equally special for Christine.  Tommy laughed at his clumsy attempt to make a pitcher out of clay following her instructions, and proved to be very knowledgeable about how to use the weights to strengthen her upper body and arms which was what she needed to work on the most, that and her endurance.  Christine still wondered what Tommy thought about her shaved head, but she wasn’t going to raise the question as long as he seemed oblivious to it.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday came.  Tommy was always present even if he had little to say.  During swimming class they had time trials of two lengths of the pool.  One of the boys had given Christine a little razzing about her bald head, claiming that she did it because that was the only way she could be faster in the pool.  Tommy responded by saying that of course it would make her faster.  Just wait  and see.  Christine gave an all out effort and had her best time ever for  fifty meters.  Tommy had yelled encouragement the whole time.   Her time was actually the best of any of the girl’s and most of the boys including Tommy and the boy who had razzed her. She was exhilarated.

On Friday before Tommy left for his Tae kwon do class he told Christine he would call her that night.  Christine was jittery with anticipation that afternoon.

About eight o’clock the phone rang and was answered by Paula.

“It’s for you Christine.”  Paula smiled to herself.  She had heard a great deal about Tommy from Melissa, and a little from Christine.  But she knew that Christine was, for the first time,  smitten by a boy her own age.

She listened with one ear to the one-sided conversation careful not to appear to be eavesdropping.
 
“I think so.  Hang on while I ask her.”

“Mom, Tommy asked me to go with him to the Crown Cinema for the matinee movies Saturday.  They have two comedies rated G and another one that is PG-13.  We’ll ride our bikes there.”

“Of course Christine.  That sounds like fun.  I’m sure you will have a good time.    Is he meeting you here.  If he is I’d like to meet him.”

“We’re meeting at the park.  It’s about halfway between us and close to the theater.  Maybe we’ll come back here after the movie.”

“That would be nice.  Tell him I’m eager to meet him.”

“OK”

Christine’s mind was definitely off on a journey of its own for the remainder of the evening.  Attempts to engage her in conversation were met with “Huh.”  Paula smiled at her and quit trying.  She remembered something similar happening to her with her first serious boyfriend. Week 1 Saturday – Christine and Tommy

Saturday arrived, and the three of them had a leisurely breakfast of French toast with cinnamon and brown sugar prepared by Melissa.

Melissa began talking about her plans for the day while drinking a glass of orange juice.  Christine had grunted a few “yeahs” and “uh-huhs,” clearly preoccupied.  Finally Melissa got her attention.”

“Christine, you’re going on a real date with Tommy aren’t you?”

“We’re just hanging out and going to the movie.”

“But he called you and asked you if you would go to the movie with him didn’t he?  Doesn’t that make it a date?”

“I suppose so.  What’s the big deal.”

“He must like you a lot to do that.”

“I don’t want to talk about it Melissa.  We’re just going out.  I like him and I guess he likes me.  Let’s leave it at that.”

“OK.  I hope he likes you a lot though.”

Paula did the cleanup and decided to forego the newspaper until later.  She went upstairs and found that everything was ready.

“Well girls, today I want to show both of you how to shave each other.  Next week you’ll need to do it unless you want to get up pretty early so I can do if for you.  Its actually pretty easy.  Are either of you in a big hurry to get anywhere?  I guess not.  Who wants to go first. “

“I’d like to try shaving Christine.”

“Is that OK with you Christine.”

“Sure.”

“I don’t think you should use the hot towel, besides I think you don’t need it any more.  So just spread on the gel Melissa.&
nbsp; That’s it.  It doesn’t have to be very thick.  That’s good.  You can massage it in a little.  Yes, like that.  OK, watch closely while I do this side.  Oh yes, don’t forget to pop the head on the razor and wash it off once in a while.  Otherwise it will clog up.  See how I move it up so that it stays flat against her head.  That’s important because it keep both rows of cutters touching the skin and gives a smoother shave.  After I’ve done a little I feel it with my fingers to see if it’s smooth.  Like this.  Now you try it.”

Melissa took the razor and gingerly touched it to Christine’s head.  She move it slowly upwards and stopped when she had reached the curve at the top of Christine’s head.

“That’s pretty good Melissa, but you need to make sure you’re keeping it flat to her head.  Your hand will move sort of like this.”  She moved her hand as though she held the razor and was following the curve of Christine’s head.  Melissa imitated the motion holding the razor.

“How does it feel Melissa?”

“It’s not as smooth as you make it.  I can feel a little scratchiness.”

“That’s OK.  You need to practice and learn how hard to press.  You know you can practice on yourself to get the idea.  You don’t want to press too hard, because that would probably cause some irritation.”  Go ahead and finish that side and the back.  Then I’ll check it.”

Melissa proceeded to finish the right side working around the ear and then started on the back.  As she proceeded she became more confident and began to lose her hesitancy.  

“You’re doing fine Melissa.  Just go around to the other side and finish up where I started.  Then do the top, but first clear the razor.  Just push that red button and the head pops right off.  That’s it.”

Melissa ran the razor under hot water and then fumbled with it trying to snap the head back on.  “I can’t get it back on Mom.”

“You have to keep it straight.  Hold it straight up and then push down on the head.”

There was a sharp click as the head snapped into place.  “Got it” Melissa exclaimed.

She proceeded to finish up the left side of Christine head.  “I think it’s better.”

Paula examined the area.  “You’re learning.  In a couple of days you’ll be just as good as I am.”

Melissa began shaving the top of Christine’s head moving carefully from front to back as she had observed Paula doing.  It was easier to tell how you were doing there and she started to feel confident.

Paula examined the result.  “You’re doing quite well Melissa.  You’ll be an expert in no time.  There are still some rough spots, so I’ll go over it again to make it really smooth.”   

“What does Tommy think of your bare head?”  she asked Christine.

Christine had been in a reverie of her own and barely heard what Paula had asked her.

“Huh.  Oh.  I don’t know.  He’s never mentioned it or asked me about it.  He acts as though he has never noticed it.  It’s kind of weird.”  

“Well maybe he just doesn’t know what to say.  He may be afraid to say anything because he’s not sure how you will take it.  But he wouldn’t have asked you out if he didn’t like you.  And he probably likes your bald head.  As least that is what I think anyway.”  Paula continued her careful progress over Christine’s head rendering it as smooth as silk.  

“I guess so.  But I wish he would say something.  I keep expecting him to make some comment and he never does.  He must have some opinion!”

“Give him time.  He’ll tell you what he thinks when he feels comfortable about it.  OK, it done.  Come on Melissa, you’re next.  And I want you to help do her Christine.  You can put on the moisturizer after.”  

Paula repeated the process she had gone through with Melissa.  Christine had finally got her attention focused on what she was expected to do and followed Paula instructions.  “You’re getting the hang of it Christine.  You just have to concentrate a little and it will come easy.  We’ll do it again tomorrow.”

Christine  spread the gel on Melissa’s head and carefully rubbed it in the way she had seen Paula do it.  She began on the right side and shaved upward.

“Try to keep it flat on her head.  I found that it works better to go from front to back after you do around her ears.  Yes, like that.  Check your results fairly often until you get the hang of it.  You’ll soon know exactly how hard to press and the best direction to go.”

Christine continued on the left side and then did the back.  “I guess you do have to feel it a lot to don’t you?”  

“Yes you do, at least in the beginning.  You should clean the head about now too.”

“Oh, yeah, I forgot.”  She popped the head off and ran warm water through it and rinsed the cutters.

Beginning at the front of Melissa head she started to make a long pass, but quickly realized that short strokes were better.  Paula nodded in approval when she glanced her way.  She continued with slow careful strokes, checking her results frequently.  She realized that she needed to apply more pressure to make it smooth.  As she got to the crown of Melissa’s head she thought she was doing it better.  At least it seemed to feel smoother.

“I think I’m catching on to it Mom.  You have to push harder than I thought.”

“Yeah, Christine, the last part you did felt a lot like the way Mom does it,” Melissa added.

Christine continued and went over a few places a second time.  Finally she thought she was through.  “I guess you should check it now Mom.”

“OK.  I think you’re doing just fine Christine.  A little more practice is all that you need.  Yes, it pretty good for a first time.  You can take a break and I’ll finish up for you.”  

Paula decided to go over Melissa’s head a second time.  “I’m going to do you again Melissa just to make it really smooth.”

“OK, Mom.  I like having it shaved anyway.”

Paula carefully went over Melissa bare scalp once more searching for any hint of roughness and shaving them smooth.  Melissa’s original pale scalp had now taken on the same color as her face and arms.  Paula thought she looked utterly beguiling.

She cleaned up Melissa head and pronounced it done.  “Put on the moisturizer and I’ll add shiner to you both.  I assume you want shiner Christine”

“Sure Mom.  It looks nice.”

In short order Melissa left to go to Penny’s house to meet with Cindy and Audra for an afternoon of talking and playing games.

Paula  went back to working at her computer, and Christine spent the morning deciding what to wear that afternoon.  She had lunch and killed a little more time by making lunch for Paula who thanked her and gave her a hug.  Christine was anxiously waiting for the precise time to leave to meet Tommy at the rec center.  They had agreed to meet at two o’clock.   It was one thirty and she still had fifteen minutes to wait until she left.  Finally at one forty she went upstairs to tell Paula that she was going.

“I’m leaving Mom.”

Paula could sense her nervousness.  “You look great Christine.  Tommy will be knocked over.  You enjoy yourself.  B
e careful riding on Elm street.”

“Thanks, Mom.  We’ll be careful.  It has a bike lane, so it’s safe.”

Ten minutes later she rode into to the park.  Tommy was waiting for her just outside the rec center.

“Hi.”
“Hi.”
“you look really nice Christine.  Are you ready to go.”
“Thanks.  I’m ready.”

They rode in near silence until they arrived at the Crown theater.  It was a small neighborhood theater that catered to the young people in the vicinity.  It had a bike rack out front – an oddity for a movie theater.

They locked their bikes in the rack.  Tommy turned toward her as she straightened up from closing the lock on her bike lock cable.  He held out his hand to her.  After a very slight hesitation she reached out and took it.  He squeezed gently and she responded with a squeeze of her own.  They turned toward the box office and Christine floated along beside Tommy in  a  euphoric trance.  Finally Tommy spoke.  

“Which one do you want to see?”

“Oh, I can’t make up my mind, you decide.”

She felt him start to take his hand away to pay for the tickets and realized she had to let go.  Two hours later they exited the theater, still holding hands.  Christine vaguely remembered the lemonade she drank and the popcorn they shared.  She remembered laughing at some parts of the movie.  She remembered the girl at the ticket booth staring at her.  She even vaguely remembered hearing some remark about a bald chick as they exited the theater, but mostly she remembered the floating-on-air feelings that enveloped her.

They rode slowly back to Christine’s house where they sat at the picnic table in the back yard.  Christine brought out two glasses of lemonade.

Their conversation was sparse.  They talked a little about what the activities that would take up much of their time and when they could be together.  Christine would be practicing two days a week for the Crown Hill Park Bull Dogs summer swimming team as well as taking the advanced swimming class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for four weeks, and the rescue class on Tuesday afternoons for six weeks.  She was expected to work out in the exercise room at least twice a week.   And, of course there were the swim meets on Friday or Saturday starting in two weeks.  It was going to be a very busy schedule and she wanted to find time to be with Tommy.  They arrived at a schedule that allowed them to go to the gym twice a week and still have an afternoon free

Paula stepped out onto the screened porch and saw them sitting at the picnic bench.  “You’re back.  How was the movie?”  She opened the screen door and stepped out into the yard.

“Hi, Mom.  This is Tommy.  We had a great time!”  Her voice was bright with excitement.

“Well, I’m very glad to meet you Tommy.  I’ve heard a lot about you from Christine and Melissa.  I hear that you are quite the hero at the park.”

“It wasn’t much.  Johnny just needed to have someone stand up to him.  And I didn’t want to see Melissa get hurt.  He’s got a mean streak that’s going to get him in trouble some day.”

“I’m glad you stopped anything bad from happening anyway.  It’s not always easy to stand up to bullies.  Can you stay for dinner Tommy?  We have plenty”

“I’m sorry Mrs. Jenner, but my Aunt and Uncle from Minnesota are in town and They’ll be having dinner with us.  I have to get home pretty soon.”

“Well maybe another time then.  I’m glad you enjoyed yourselves.”

During dinner and for the remainder of the evening Christine continued to glow.
After helping with dinner clean up, Melissa and Christine watched a couple of TV shows.  Melissa ended up talking on the phone first with Audra and later with Penny.  Christine started reading a new mystery novel from her favorite author.
Her state of euphoria still enveloped her as she went to bed.  At first she was still too keyed up to sleep, but soon the intensity of the day’s events caught up with her and she slipped into a pleasant lethargy which led quickly to a sound sleep.

To be continued in Part 4

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