The rest of the day was almost bearable, but only because his mom turned out to be more useful than he’d expected.
“See, Adam. This is the haircut I always wanted you to get. Good work there, Lindsey. He looks like a new man.”
Lindsey smiled and Mom cuffed him on the shoulder.
It was a good haircut. He’d been hesitant. It was a bolder look than he’d usually go for. He ran his fingers up the shaved side of his head to the wide strip of curls at the top of his skull. Lindsey had shown him pictures and he’d argued that his hair was too curly and thick to pull off what was essentially a mohawk.
“It’ll look good,” Lindsey promised, running her fingers through his hair. She was around his age, platinum-blonde, wearing a glittery t-shirt that scooped low, showing off two perfect tanned breasts. There was a mole on the left one. She was standing so close he could smell her. She smelled tropical. Like coconuts and mangoes. He tried to control his breathing. He didn’t want her to feel his sharp, nervous breaths on her chest and think he was some kind of creep.
Her tits were probably the reason he’d agreed to such a drastic change. He was so distracted by her cleavage that everything she said sounded good. It had worked out in his favor though. His new cut looked great. His hair spilled over to one side, and his hair looked more curly than wavy now. It wove itself into tight spirals, rather than being some shapeless amorphous blob. And the shaved sides gave his face a whole new look. He couldn’t really put his finger on what looked so different. All he could say was that his weak chin didn’t bother him as much as it usually did. His eyes didn’t look so sunken and dead. He looked masculine. He ran a hand through the tuft of curls and smiled at himself in the mirror.
After they left the salon, they set out to complete part two of the makeover: new clothes. Adam wanted to go to the mall, go all out for something real preppy. Abercrombie or something. That was the brand that all the popular jock dudes in high school used to wear. Mom pushed for Target though.
“You know the mall is overpriced. It’s all made in China, but they charge you seventy-five dollars for a pair of jeans. Ridiculous. Get something just as good at Target. I’ll even help you pay.”
“I don’t need any help paying.”
“Sure you do. If you were rolling in green, you wouldn’t still be in my basement.”
He ignored that comment. He didn’t want to be upset with her. It was like she tried to make herself unpleasant to be around.
They spent about an hour in Target. His attention was pulled in the direction of a graphic t-shirt display in juniors. His eye went right for a Rick and Morty shirt. Reminding himself that he was trying to make his wardrobe better, that he was trying to look manly, he veered away. In the men’s section, he chose several new pairs of jeans. Mom followed him into the dressing room just like in high school. He chased her out, but not before she tugged at the seat of the jeans and announced that they were drooping “in the bum.” She was helpful in choosing shirts though. She helped him select several button up shirts that looked pretty slick. Not too fancy and not too casual. One was a shade of coral that somehow worked with his complexion and hair color. Another was a shade of pastel orange. The rest were light blue.
Before leaving the store, Mom insisted on stopping by the skincare section.
“Here,” she said, thrusting a bottle of face-wash into his hands. “You need to start doing something about that acne.”
He stiffened and almost argued, but held back. She was right. His acne could be part of the problem. He placed the face-wash, toner, and acne spot treatment that she handed him into the basket. She also picked out a new razor because, “Your face always has that stubble on it. You need a closer shave.” There was something weird about a female telling him how he was shaving wrong. Or maybe it wasn’t weird since it was his mom.
They were back home by one and there was still enough time in the day to try out his idea of meeting a girl at the park. It was probably stupid, but he could give it a try. It couldn’t hurt.
He took a shower and used the facewash Mom had picked out. It tingled a little and he hoped that meant it was working. He had two fairly large zits on the left side of his face, along with the smattering of small ones spread over his top lip. And he was gonna go out and try to meet people like this? What a fucking idiot….
He washed his freshly-cut hair and thought back on the internet advice he’d imbibed late into the night. Don’t go fishing to catch fish. Basically, he shouldn’t go out looking to meet women. He should just take care of himself and do things that he enjoyed. If he learned to be happy on his own, then women might like him. He should start getting out of the house more, find hobbies other than watching anime and playing MMOs.
Leaning under the shower spray, he washed the shampoo from his hair and decided to stick to his original plan of going to the library to pick out some books. If there was still enough time in the day, he’d go to the park after. The park was probably a good place to meet people. If it wasn’t, it would still be nice to sit outside and read a book. He’d never done anything like that before. He’d never gone out all on his own to do something so leisurely. If he wasn’t working, he was sitting in front of the computer. Sunshine would do him some good, he assumed. It was a nice day out.
When he was done showering, he put on one of his new outfits. He pulled off the tags and donned the crisp new jeans. The coral-colored shirt. He turned back and forth in front of the mirror. He looked pretty good. He felt pretty good.
Meeting his own eyes in the mirror, he allowed himself a grin. He looked and felt like a new man. His skin felt fresh and clean, tingling in the cool air of the central AC. He fluffed up his hair. He shaped it with his fingers. It didn’t take much to make it presentable. With only a thin strip of hair remaining, his hair looked mussed, but still really cool, without a lot of effort on his part. That was good, because he wouldn’t ever be the type of guy to spend more than a few minutes getting ready. He wasn’t about to primp and preen like a woman. He just wanted to look good enough that chicks found him attractive.
He brushed his teeth, gave his hair one last fluff, and then left.
He popped Alice in Chains into the stereo and bobbed his head along, windows down. His mood was higher than it had been in ages. He felt good. Maybe there was something to all that self-improvement stuff. Maybe it wasn’t about getting a girlfriend, but just about feeling good for himself.
Singing along to ‘Rooster,’ he enjoyed the warm early September breeze on his face. He hadn’t gone to the library since high school. Their internet had been down for a week after a big ice storm and he had to do research for a Civics paper. It was weird to do something just for the heck of it like this. He might be at the start of a big change in his life. This could be a turning point.