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Raymond's Thanksgiving Remembrances by Manny


It had been years since I had seen my cousin Raymond, so his plans to join us for Thanksgiving made me happy. Ray and I had been close as kids, especially the two summers we spent as young teens on the farm with our grandparents. But, Ray had moved out of state for college and then his career had taken him even further out to the west coast. When I received a postcard from him saying he planned to be in Harrisburg around Thanksgiving, I dispatched an invite and he accepted.

The first thing that stunned me when he arrived was the sleek Jaguar he was driving -- he'd obviously done quite well financially!

The second thing that sent me into a bit of a shock was the mane of hair he sported. Thick, luxurious blond hair that was styled to perfection in a longish coif that fell to the base of his collar in shimmering waves. He looked like a movie star!

"Raymond!" I gasped as I opened the door. "Welcome! You look fantastic. How long has it been? Fifteen or eighteen years?"

"This is for you," he said as he handed me a bottle of Moet champagne. "It's been chilled and ready to serve."

"This is a far cry from Grandma's cool-aide!" I remarked. "Remember those two summers we spent together on the farm?"

"Boy, do I ever," he replied as he casually mopped his thick forelock bag from his face. "Remember the first evening we were there and Grandpa called us down to the kitchen...."

"....and he brandished those manual hand clippers at us? I hated those butch haircuts he gave us. Peeled off all our hair first thing. He'd have a heyday with you if he were here today," I said, swatting at my cousin's glorious hair.

"Looks like time has been cruel to you in the hair department, Travis," Raymond laughed. He tussled my hair that was quite thin and wispy, marked by advanced MPB. "Seems hard to believe we're cousins who draw from the same gene pool!"

Throughout the meal and afternoon, I couldn't help looking at Raymond thick hair. I felt so jealous. And he was cruel to taunt me. Of course, it was good-natured kidding, but it still hurt.

After a polite amount of time, the other guests took their leave, but Raymond offered to stay on and help me with the clean-up. We had a great time chatting in the kitchen as we washed the pans and put the dishes away. We reminisced mostly about our time on the farm as the happiest and most carefree days of our childhood.

"Remember how we had to share a bed at Grandma's?" I asked.

"You would draw a line and say we couldn't cross it. But, I loved pinning you down and rubbing your freshly clipped head. You looked so innocent with a baldy cut!" Raymond laughed.

"Your hair is so long now!" I exclaimed. "Finances tight? Can't afford a decent barber?"

"Money's no issue for me. I got in on the dot.com boom and made a bundle. Hair is rather on the long side, though," he said, mopping his forelock back from his face again. "I wonder what ever happened to those hand clippers of Grandpa?" he mused.

Then an idea I had been toying on ever since I clapped eyes on my longhaired cousin jerked into high gear. I knew exactly where Grandpa's manual clippers were -- along with the cape and shears he used on us!

"What do you say I put on a ball game? You're not in a hurry I hope," I said.

"Not at all. I'd like to put my feet up and possibly catch a wink. That drive from the west coast was rather exhausting," Raymond replied.

In less that five minutes after hitting the recliner, Raymond was sound asleep and snoring to confirm his exhaustion. I fondled his beautiful hair. I was so jealous. It felt silken and luxurious.

Then, I went into the basement and pulled out a box that contained the remnants from the farm that had ended up with me after my grandfather passed.

The cape, clippers and shears were brought upstairs and ready for action!

As Raymond slept and arranged the cape around his torso. I thought for sure he'd awake as I moved him to get in place around the neck and fasten it with the big metal clip.

Then I awaited anxiously for him to wake up. Finally, I decided to take things into my own hand. I dialed my cellphone, which was setting on the table next to Raymond. The loud ringing jolted him awake.

I answered my own call and spoke harshly into the machine, "No we are not interested! Calling on Thanksgiving....is nothing sacred any more?!"

Raymond stirred. "What was that?" His eyes blinked open...and then he perceived the cape around him. "What's with this?!" he stammered as he struggled to sit up.

"Grandpa's cape!" I announced. Then I held up the antique hand machines, "And his clippers. You were wondering about them."

Raymond struggled to his feet. His lovely hair looked so ready to be shorn, resting on the cape. "You're not serious!" he exclaimed.

I took advantage of his sleepy state of confusion and hustled him over to a mirror with a chair set in front of it. "Why not? For old times' sake!" Then I maneuvered him into the chair. I imitated my grandfather's voice. "You look like a girl, Raymond!"

Then I grasped a shank of his long soft hair near the nape and steadied his head. The clippers were in the other hand, poised to begin shearing him bald.

"Oh, Travis, I'm not sure about this...." he stammered. But, he sat submissively.

"I am!" I announced. "I am very sure about this."

I primed the machine a few times and then brought it right to the base of that bothersome forelock that Raymond had battled with all afternoon. The first crunches were glorious! Massive shanks of the silken hair soiled the pristine white cape.

Raymond's worried face broke into a smile. "OMG! You're giving me a baldy!"

I was very authoritarian and efficient with the hand clippers, just as my grandfather had been. Raymond's hair looked beautiful as it fell to the cape and floor. He played nervously with long clumps of it that rested on his lap. "I can't believe this...." he muttered.

Think how much easier the trip home will be with your baldy, Raymond." I rubbed the top that was now nothing but sharp stubble. "You're looking so sweet and innocent."

I tackled the hair from the side of his head and uncovered his largish ear.

"Did you like your summer butch cuts, Raymond?" I asked, curiously.

He paused. Then he admitted, "I acted like I hated them, but secretly, I loved being clipped bald by the old man."

I clipped in silence for a while. Then I confessed, "....so did I." Then I added, "and I loved the way you rubbed my clipped head in bed at night."

By this time, Raymond's head had been reduced to a tight butch. He looked vulnerable and boyish.

"The people in my office are going to make fun of me next week," he said shyly.

"Now that you know where grandpa's clippers are, you'll have to visit more often," I said as I began removing the cape.

"Look at all that hair!" Raymond exclaimed as he glanced at the floor.

Then he eyed my head. "Let's put an end to that wispy remnant of hair. Take a seat, Travis!"

I complied meekly.

"Let's do this every year," Raymond said as he fastened the cape around my neck.



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