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Get It Done! by Justin
Get It Done!
- A coming of age story.
This was the umpteenth time Jake had been told to "Get it done"; but like prior times, he had "forgotten" and it was too late now since The Style Shoppe would be closed.
Not that it bothered Jake one bit mind you. The way he saw it, his dad would be too busy futzing with some project of his to notice - or care. Still, it was hard for him to get the yelling out of his head from the last time he got chewed out for not getting it done when told to do so.
His dad seemed to be a bit more agitated about it then than in the past. It was the first time he ever recalled his dad saying "What do I have to do to have you get it done? Take you myself?"
For Jake it really wasn’t a matter for "forgetting per se more as it not being high on Jake’s list of "to-dos" that he wanted to get done in the first place.
Jake strode in the front door and, as on most days when he came home, started to make a bee line up to his room. Only this time, from the living room, he heard "Young man, get your ass in here this instant".
Jake was stopped cold in his tracks.
"Oh s**t!", Jake thought. He knew that tone in his dad’s voice. He had only heard it once or twice before and he knew, at an instant, he was in for some heavy trouble.
Jake sheepishly moved into the living room where his dad was sitting in his favorite Lazy-Boy. My brother and I would remark that dad’s Lazy-Boy was more than a throne – it was the center of dad’s universe. His TV remote, the cordless phone, his cell phone, and usually an open bottle of cold Bud sat on a nightstand beside it. From here dad ruled the universe and had an uncanny ability to purvey all that was within a lightyear or so. Nothing could escape detection.
"Jake, I’m very disappointed in you. I’ve given you ample opportunity to take care of that s**t.", pointing unmistakably to Jake’s head.
"So, explain yourself young man.", his dad retorted.
"Um, I guess I forgot?", Jake responded as if questioning his own credibility.
"Forgot?", his dad quipped. "I give you one simple order and you "forget"? Did you forget to eat breakfast or lunch today? Did you forget to breath? Did you forget to come home? No, I can see you didn’t forget that. I told you last week I was tired of your excuses. I made it quite clear that as long as you live in this house, which by law you will do until you turn 18, there are certain rules. I told you, for your own good, that I will no longer tolerate your slovenly ways. I will not have my son looking like a hippy. I told you to get that damn hair cut. Just look at you. Stringy unkempt long hair. How do you expect to get a job? Make something of yourself? We’ve gone over this far too many times. I admit, I fault myself for allowing this to develop to this point. I know I should have put my foot down the first time we discussed this, but I didn’t. I had held out hope you’d come to your senses by now. I guess I was wrong."
His dad’s rants were usually shorter than this, so Jake knew he must really be pissed.
"Jee dad" Jake began to mutter, but before "-ad" could exit his mouth, his dad stopped Jake in his tracks.
"This conversation is over. Get your butt to the car now!" his dad belted out as if spoken by a drill Sergeant.
Jake was shocked and shaken. He stood frozen as his dad grabbed his keys off the end table and got up out of his chair. He had never seen his dad look so determined or irate.
"I said get your butt to the car. Now!"
"But dad?" was Jake’s only instinctive response, even if cliché.
Jake remained frozen - still in shock as his dad came to stand face-to-face, eye-to-eye with him.
"What are you waiting for?" his dad growled. "Now, turn around and move your butt to the car before I pick you up and carry you."
With that, Jake’s feet began to move instinctively.
Before he knew it, the car pulled up in front of Joe’s. Jake knew exactly what was about to happen. He dreaded something like this: a recurring nightmare that plagued him ever since he made the argument to his dad over 2 years ago to allow him to wear his hair longer. Despite tacit approval, his dad had not hidden his disdain for long hair on men. He often commented that if he had the inclination, he’d take clippers to Jake’s head while he was asleep. Despite this aversion, his dad had actually been quite progressive about the whole situation; he only demanded Jake keep it trimmed and clean. But after months of letting Jake develop an unkempt birds nest on his head and not at least keeping it off the shoulders, this was the last straw. Jake had promised he’d stop by The Style Shoppe to get a trim. This would have been the fourth time this month Jake had "forgot" to do so.
Jake sat motionless.
"Joe’s?" Jake thought with concern and dread. "Not Joe’s".
Joe’s was the unhippest chop shop in town. Only cops, old men at the VFW, and the Krammer twins went there; and the Krammer twins, who were only 8, were dragged there by their Stepdad when he wasn’t drunk and didn’t have a game to watch that Saturday.
One-eyed Joe ran the joint now. Joe inherited the shop from his father before him, Nathan Grant. Back then it was called Executive Barbershop. In the 40s all the men who worked downtown pretty much made the Executive a staple stop on a weekly basis. Located on the ground floor of the old Mercantile Building, Executive catered to the executives, bankers, and shop owners. Manicures, Shampoos, Shaves and haircuts made Executive a bustling center of socialization for men downtown. Jake’s grandfather, who was an Accountant, had his own shaving mug at Executive. Upon his passing, Jake remembered old Mr. Grant giving the mug to his dad as a remembrance. Mr. Grant and Grandpa were best of friends. One thing was for certain: Mr. Grant kept grandpa looking neat all the time. Jake couldn’t remember a time he didn’t see Grandpa with the neatest slicked down pomaded and toniced hair and sporting the straightest sidepart anywhere - this side of Long Grove anyway. For the longest time, Jake thought Grandpa was a Preacher because he had "Preacher Hair". His dad had to explain the difference between a Preacher and an Accountant, even thought they might have the same haircut.
One-eyed Joe was now the sole proprietor since ‘62. Things began to change quickly around that time. By the mid-60s Joe’s clientele had shrunk dramatically. The bank had moved out by the new development where the mall was built. Joe tried to appeal to a wider customer base, but few if any college age or younger guys went there. A new "style" shop had opened near the mall and most hip guys went there, if they went anywhere. Joe was not having any of this "hair styling" nonsense. He had learned barbering from his father and that was that. He saw no need to "go back to school" to learn new-fangled ways just to appeal to some damn hippies. If it weren’t for the fact the Airbase was not far away and some of the Airmen, staff and families lived off-base, his predominant customers would be cops and the old men who hung out at the VFW. Still, times were becoming more dire. The writing was on the wall. The only thing left unknown was just how long Joe could stick it out.
The bell that hung above the door cut through the silence as Jake opened the door and he and his dad entered the shop. The shop was well lit revealing a row of empty chairs along a wall of mirrors, a long bench with neatly placed Car & Truck, Playboy and Life magazines, and an assortment of newspapers. On the opposite side, a wall full of mirrors along which was a counter where bottles, jars, towels, and various equipment sat and from which hung several clippers on hooks. And in front of that, a rather ominous looking red leather and chrome barber chair with foot & arm rests. A white and blue stripped cotton cloth lay hanging over the arm, and there was One-eyed Joe – sitting in the chair reading a newspaper.
Despite wearing a patch over one eye, Joe apparently had no problem making a living as a barber. Before joining his father as an apprentice, Joe learned the importance of wearing eye protection when doing metal work. The wrong angle hit was just enough to send a metal fragment on a perfect trajectory into Joe’s eye. Despite the ordeal, he quickly learned how to compensate. Within a few years, Joe had learned from a Master Barber the art and was well on his way to becoming a Master himself.
Joe peered his one good eye over the paper to see what challenge lay before him.
"John? Is this your son Jake?" Joe said in confusion.
"Yes. Believe it or not, it is."
"I haven’t seen young Jake here for years. Quite a young man."
"Do you have time for a haircut Joe? I know you’ve got to be getting ready to close, so don’t want to delay you."
"Nonsense. For one of my best customers? Never. But didn’t I give you a haircut just this past weekend? Not that I can’t use the business, but I must say, my work still looks pretty damn sharp on you."
John’s hair was immaculately groomed. Neatly trimmed around the ears, off the collar, flipped to the right in front, and a very meticulously placed straight part on the left side. John had sported the same haircut since he was a boy and he saw no reason to change it as an adult. Being an Insurance Salesman meant he needed to maintain a manicured appearance in dealing with the public. He rarely left the house not wearing a suit and tie, spit shined shoes and his hair perfect. Weekends he would relax and forgoe the business attire, but that hair – that would always be impeccable and the same no matter if he was out running errands, or had just got out of the barber chair for his bi-weekly trim. Maintenance was the key, according to Joe, for maintaining a consistent well groomed appearance.
"This is not for me, but for young Jake here. As you can see…" John grabbed a handful of Jakes hair and held it up: "… I’ve let this go for too long. And by too long I mean WAY TOO LONG."
Joe’s expression of surprise was unmistakable.
"But I don’t do ‘Hair Styling’ that these guys are ‘in to’" Joe said apologetically, but also definitively with pride.
"Hair Styling is not what he needs. I want my son back. Can you help?"
"Well, I… " Joe paused. "Sure John, if that’s what you want."
Looking at Jake with one-eye, Joe inquired: "Is that what Jake wants?"
Jake looked dumbfounded. He could hardly believe he was even here. Jake said nothing for what must have been several seconds, but to Jake, almost instantaneously, he heard his dad say: "Well, I guess he has no objection. Good. So let’s get on with it."
Joe folded the paper, got up out of the chair, and brushed off the seat with the paper.
Jake continued to stand there frozen in dread. Could he just make a break for it and run? Will he wake up to find it all just a bad nightmare? If only he could have the day to do over again, he would have gone to The Style Shoppe for a trim earlier.
"C’mon Jake, wakeup" he said to himself. "This is just a dream. C’mon wake up. C’mon!"
"C’mon!" John bellowed in his ear.
That got Jake’s attention. "Holy s**t, this was real. This was really happening", Jake thought to himself.
John leaned in to whisper in his ear "If you don’t stop embarrassing me and sit your butt in that chair, I’m going to drag you by that f’ing long hair and put you in that chair myself. Do I make myself clear?"
Jake then realized the nightmare had come true. Here he was – in the den of the beast about to be vanquished. Seeing no line of retreat, he gave into his fate. Ahead of him was the Executioner and soon his end would be at hand.
"There’s no escape this time" he said to himself.
Like a Condemned, he approached The Chair with trepidation and purpose.
The magnitude of the situation enveloped him in white and blue stripes. With no place to go, no recourse to peruse, Jake was ceremoniously prepped. The neck tissue of restraint was placed. He was now captive to his nemesis whose glare bewitched him into submission. The cyclops behind him, assembled the tools of his craft that soon would be inflicted upon the hapless victim. Then, from the dark silence, the clatter of the instrument of torture was engaged.
Jake knew that this was it. Over 2 years of hard work to get his locks perfected; a cascading curtain over his ears on each side, separating in the middle by two flowing curved flips that hung just above his eyes. A soft velvet angelic curtain of chestnut and chocolate, soon to be no more.
"So, what’ll it be kid?" One-eyed Joe asked of the hapless victim.
"I don’t care as long as it’s neat, shows he has ears, a neck, eyes, and he could pass for getting a job." his dad commanded.
"Ok, just relax kid. This will be over before you know it. We’ll first get rid of this bulk so we can see what we have to work with." Joe raised the clattering Oster clippers up the side of Jakes head removing the curtain that flowed in front of his right ear.
A quick pass around the ear soon revealed the ear Jake had so proudly covered.
A pass up the back behind the ear completed the exposure on that side.
A firm grip pushed the head so Jake’s chin was planted in his chest. The clippers were forced up the back to the crown in several passes creating a well-groomed tapered appearance.
Then onto the other side. First the hair in front of the ear, then the curtain covering it, and then from behind until that ear was also excavated.
Jake sat staring back at the mushroom mop head looking at him. But soon the mop top would be dealt with. One-eyed Joe quickly grabbed the hair on top with the comb and clippered off long chunks. Soon, Jake’s top was no longer than maybe a 3-4 inches. Meanwhile, a mound of long dark hair had collected in his lap and onto his shoulders.
A group of guys Jakes age with even longer hair, passed by the shop and caught John’s eye.
"Kids these days." Jakes dad turned to Joe. "When I was a boy my dad made sure I wore a proper haircut. Not this long hair crap."
"Yes, I know. Your dad came in often. Always asked for a Regular Business cut – a Side-parted Executive Contour with the sharpest sidepart we could do, neatly tapered back and sides, and always slicked down. Always. I recall the day your dad had me give that haircut to you. A rite of passage. That’s a man’s haircut. Still works for you today. Too few young men ask for that now."
Joe had cleared away enough of Jake’s longhair to gauge his features for the haircut that would best suit him.
"Ok dad, what should we do here? A Regular Side-parted Business cut, a Flattop or Crewcut for this young man?" Joe inquired while pointing to a poster on the wall with these haircuts and their slight variations pictured.
"Hmm…" he paused and thought as he inspected the poster and the cut so far.
Jake thought "Well I’ll at least have some hair left to style. I can make this work I suppose."
"Hell, let’s go crew. He can keep it that way till he’s 18 and won’t have to worry about ‘Styling’"
"Crewcut dad?" Jake said sorrowfully, disappointed and scared. "I’ll take care of it if you let me keep it longer dad. I promise."
"Will you? Let’s see. You promise if I let you keep it long enough to comb, you’ll wear it side-parted, tapered back and sides, and off the ears like a man should?"
"Ok" Jake agreed.
"And slicked down."
"Slicked down?" Jake looked teary eyed and uncertain.
"Yes, slicked down like the picture. These are the conditions. Sharply Parted on the side, tapered back and sides, off the ears, and kept in place with Brylcreem, pomade or hair tonic. That way I can be assured you’re serious and I’ll know if you are living up to the agreement or have decided to slack off again. It will give you discipline if you have to go the extra step. Or you can have a crewcut. Your choice. What’ll it be?"
Jake hesitated. The idea of being forced to wear "Preacher Hair" was not appealing, even if it looked good on Grandad. But on him? He’d never live it down with his friends – all of who had longhair like he used to. Not even his dad wore his hair slicked down anymore. But having a crewcut would be even worse. He loved his hair, so at least having some would be better than a crewcut he thought. But an old boring Side-Parted Preacher Haircut? Slicked down? Oh man, the dilemma.
"Well?" John grew impatient. "Joe doesn’t have all day. Decide now or I will."
Tapping his watch, John began to countdown: "5-4-3" he paused. "2-1".
"Ok crewcut it is" he said.
"Wait! A Regular Business cut I suppose" Jake exclaimed.
"Crewcut. You’re too late. You’ve got to learn to be a man and be decisive. Make a decision and stick to it."
"But…?" Jake pleaded.
"Get it done Joe. Crewcut."
"One Crewcut coming up." Joe confirmed.
"Dad, please!" Jake begged.
End Part 1