Ben - Househusband to Head of Household by Manny
Caleb emerged from the basement, tool chest in hand, and declared, "All done! I replaced the broken handle and now the leaky fawcet is no more."
Ben turned from the kitchen sink where he was finishing the dishes and replied, "That's good -- how much do I owe you? Plumbers never come cheap." As he replied, he flicked back the thick dark hair that hung in soft, shiny sheaves over his ears and past the base of his collar. This thick, straight black hair framed a pair of enormous, crystal blue eyes.
"If I can use the counter here, I'll have the bill written up in a jiffy," Caleb said. "Hopefully, this won't break your budget."
"Well, I'm 'between jobs' -- I think that's the new euphemism for 'unemployed' -- so the slightest extra expense these days tends to break the budget," Ben commented in a flat, humorless tone.
"That your kid playing out in back?" the plumber asked. "He's an active one!"
"Yep, a few weeks after I got laid off and began spending my days lounging around the house, sending out resumes to accounting firms, my wife decided that we'd pull him out of day care. I was 'volun-told' to act as 'house-husband' until I was gainfully employed."
"Ouch!" Caleb said with a laugh.
"Yep, and it's no picnic. With the list of duties she leaves on the counter each morning as she goes to work, there's no time for perusing Netflix or reading sports magazines while I wait for the big interview opportunity. It's washing the dishes, laundry....I'll be making chili for supper.....and there's the little guy to keep on eye on. I hardly ever get out of the house!" Ben whined.
Caleb eyed Ben's lush mane, shimmering in the bright lights of the kitchen. "Seems like you can't break away even for essentials like visiting the barbershop. I'm sure once you get an interview scheduled you'll want to look your professional best."
Ben ran his fingers through his hair, "Not getting haircuts helps with regard to the budget....but long hair can be a pain. My wife likes it long though. She wants it to grow long enough to pull it into a 'man bun' -- thinks that looks sexy."
"Man bun?! Get back. First she turns you into a house-husband and then she dictates that you wear your hair in a man bun?!" Caleb exclaimed.
"It's like the 1950s in the reverse. Harriet and Ozzy instead of Ozzy and Harriet," remarked Ben ruefully.
"Here's your bill -- $79. 75. I cut the labor cost down to the minimum. And guess what -- I'm going to throw in a free haircut -- to help restore your dignity and to help prepare you for the big accounting job offer when it does come. I know it's just a matter of time," chirped Caleb.
"Free haircut?!" Ben exclaimed.
"Sure -- I'm an even better barber than I am a plumber. It's just that fixing toilets and pipes rakes in a lot more cash than cutting hair," Caleb said. "I've got a set of barber shears in the truck if you don't have a pair yourself here."
"Uh, I don't know," Ben said nervously, pawing at his long locks. "I mean I'd like to, it's a thought, but Margaret....."
Caleb snatched up the bill and dramatically tore it into pieces. "There, my plumbing services are free, and so are my barbering services. Tell Margaret it was a two-fer if she gives you grief about the short haircut when she gets home." Caleb stuck his hand out for a shake of agreement. "What do you say, deal?"
Ben hesitated slightly before smiling sheepishly. Then he firmly grasped Caleb's hand and shook it firmly. "Deal! Worth at least $100 in freebies for me."
"And pleasure for me! I love keeping up with my barbering skills. You won't be sorry, Ben. Go get a comb and brush while I go out to the truck to get my barber shears. You're in for a treat," Caleb said excitedly.
"Can you keep an eye on Timmy out there? Margaret would be furious...."
"Margaret this, Margaret that! Be a man," snapped Caleb. "Maybe once we have your hair cut nice and short, it'll come more naturally to you. I just wish I had a set of clippers with me in the car. I was thinking that a nice, tight ivy league would suit you. Thick dark hair looks great clipped close."
"I have a set of clippers," Ben offered, hesitatingly.
"Really?" Caleb replied.
"It was Margaret's idea -- to groom little Timmy. I'll fetch them. But, I've never had my hair cut really short, I mean military like. It's been a floppy business cut most of my professional life," murmured Ben.
"Look friend, you provide the hair and leave the rest to me," stated Caleb with an air of finality.
When the two rendez-vouzed in the kitchen, Ben demonstrated a mixture of excitement and trepidation as he handed over the clippers. He avoided eye contact momentarily, hiding behind the thick forelock that hung past his right eye. "Here, these have never been used."
"Well, their maiden voyage through his mane of yours, Buddy, will be memorable," Caleb chirped as he grasped Ben by his thick glistening mane. He fondled the heavy shank of hair fondly. "Now, take off your shirt and take a seat over here." Caleb pulled a chair out from the kitchen table and motioned for Ben to sit.
Ben hesitated a bit before finally unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a well-sculpted chest. He tossed back his long hair one final time and took a seat.
As Caleb brushed through the soft, shiny hair, Ben squirmed a bit in the chair.
"What is it, Ben?" he asked. "Everything all right?"
"Since I haven't even had a nibble on any of the resumes I've sent out, I've almost given up hope on re-entering the paid workforce...." Ben began haltingly.
"That's not a helpful approach," Caleb chided.
"It's just that....well, what I'm trying to say is that, perhaps now is, well, uh, the time to go ahead and finally do it," he replied, almost forcing the words out.
"Do it?! Just tell me what you want, Buddy!" Caleb exclaimed.
"I want a flattop!" Ben blurted out. "There, I said it!! Skinned up the sides and cut down close on top -- landing strip that could accommodate a B-747, if you would!" The words tumbled off his tongue in an excited, almost celebratory way.
Caleb toyed a bit with the heavy, long locks. "That would be a pretty radical office look for an accountant, Ben."
"I don't care! It's the haircut I remember my father sporting before he died when I just a few years older than Timmy out there," he answered. "He was a major in the army."
"And what about Margaret's reaction?" Caleb continued.
"Screw that! Can you cut an aggressively short flattop?" Ben demanded.
The machine sprang to life and Caleb forced the longhaired's head forward. The cold metal teeth were thrust beneath the heavy locks and zeroed in on their prey. "No guards -- taking you down to the scalp, Buddy!" Caleb announced as he began a long, but forceful and determined drive up the back of Ben's head.
Sheaves of soft, dark hair fell to the kitchen floor in torrents. Mounds quickly piled up at Caleb's feet and began to carpet the kitchen floor with a padding of shimmering, lovely black hair.
"I can't believe this is happening," Ben squealed from beneath a veil of dark, heavy locks. "Oh, it feels awesome."
"I agree!" added Caleb as more shorn hair added to the pile at his feet.
Suddenly, Caleb was seized to up the ante. As his screaming clippers reached the crown, he continued tight and ran them firmly down the top of Ben's head toward his forehead, sending a mass a shimmering hair right down past the piercing blue eyes. It was like a huge, powerful bulldozer had knocked down a swath of old-growth forest effortlessly.
"What's gotten into you, Caleb? Is anything going to be left up there?" Ben cried out as he eyed the huge load of hair on his lap.
"You're getting shoed!" the amateur barber cried out. "Margaret will jump back in respect when she walks in the door and finds her man with a tough-as-nails macho look in the form of a radical horseshoe flattop. You hand her the dish rag and have her tidy up the kitchen -- then tell her to bring you a beer in the den where you'll be reclining, watching football."
Ben picked up a mass of shorn hair and held it up, semi-triumphantly. "Good bye househusband!" he cried out gleefully.
"Oh, the lily white virgin scalp contrasts so nicely with the dark black rim of hair," Caleb gushed. "After I finish with the clippers, I'm going to lather shave this skin and make it smooth!"
Just as Caleb was turning off the clippers, the kitchen door was pushed open. "What is going on here?!" Margaret demanded, as she entered.
The two men were tongue-tied at the inopportune intrusion.
"Well?!" she demanded. "This place is a mess -- and you. Your hair!! You look ridiculous!" she snapped at Ben.
He shifted feebly in his chair. "Just a minute, dear, it's that, uh...." The shorn man was totally tongue-tied.
Then Margaret shrieked, "Where's Timmy?! I don't see him in the yard!"
"OMG!" Ben gasped, jumping up and running out the door to look for his son.
Caleb scowled at Margaret. "You need to treat your husband with more respect!"
"And you need to mind your own business," she hissed.
"Ben has become my business! And there's your precious little man-bun on the floor. Stop yapping and start sweeping! This kitchen is yours to clean!" Caleb snapped.
A few minutes later, Ben kicked the kitchen door open and stood there looking like a manly marine, with his bare muscular chest, holding Timmy. "He's safe and sound, Margaret. You need to chill out. And, by the way -- the haircut is called a horseshoe. And it's a keeper. Sweep up this mess, and have dinner ready by 6:00. Caleb, Timmy and I are going for a walk. And then we're watching the football game in the den -- so have that picked up too. Mix us up some fresh guacamole."
With that, the men-folk strode out the door......and Margaret began to search for the broom in order to start her new housework routine. With one haircut, Ben had become the strong, forceful husband that she'd longed to have......