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Fathers, sons, friends and deals by htflatnc

Wem der große Wurf gelungen,
eines Freundes Freund zu sein
- Friedrich Schiller, An die Freude

Jim had known Jason since he could remember. Their moms were good friends belonging to some social and civic groups together and had hit it off. Jim and Jason would see each other at picnics, cookouts, and barbecues, but they were not best of friends. There was two years difference between them with Jason being older. Jason’s friends were his age or a year older while Jim’s were his age. No antagonism, just different groups of guys. The age difference was a big deal to Jason and he didn’t think he could be seen hanging out with someone so young as Jim. Jason’s mom would occasionally ask him why he didn’t seem to be good friends with Jim. Jason would shrug and walk away.
Growing up, both Jim and Jason were big for their ages and liked to play sports. By the time both were in high school, Jason was 6ft5in and weighed 220 lbs. Jim was about an inch shorter and about 20 lbs lighter – the weight difference being two years of working out in the gym.
Then came high school. Everything changed.
Both Jim and Jason were on the football team with Jason likely for first string since he was a senior and had done well last season. Jim, on the other hand, was an unproven sophomore even with a rep from junior high school with five or six guys trying out for the same position as defensive lineman, some of whom already had team experience. There is not just a lot of difference between what a 15-year-old and a 17-year are capable of physically, but also knowledge and skill.
After three weeks of exercises, laps, and practice, the team was ready for its first scrimmage game. Jim didn’t get to play in the first quarter, but was substituted in the second. On his first play, Jim broke through the front line into the backfield and tackled Jason from his left side, both crashing to the ground. Jason was able to hang on to the ball, so there was no fumble. But the sophomore had caused a four-yard loss on third down, so the ball had to be punted.
The next time Jason’s team got the ball, Jim was able to go crashing through the line again. Jason saw him coming this time and was able to side step him. Jason pitched the ball as Jim’s momentum and a stumble took him crashing to the ground. Jason helped Jim to his feet after the play and said, "Not every time." Jim just smiled and said, "I did make you rush it and maybe next time."
Jason complained to his offensive lineman who should have been blocking Jim. On the next play, Jim was double teamed and knocked flat on his back. But that allowed another defensive lineman to get through and cause havoc in the backfield.
The game continued and Jim caused two more sacks and a tipped pass during his quarter of the scrimmage. Jim had caught the coaches’ attention as well.
After his quarter of play and before going in for halftime, Coach Cox called Jim over to talk to him. Coach Cox was in his late 20s. A decade earlier he had been the high school’s quarterback as the school went on to win the state championship. He was still in fine shape. As the newest member of the coaching staff, he was in charge of the sophomores. The coach took off his cap, pushed his hand back through his hair wiping off the perspiration and bringing his hair to attention. His hair was not the only thing the coach was bringing to attention. Jim noticed for the first time that Coach Cox had a squared flattop with the sides skinned very, very close. It was the first time Jim had seen the coach without his ever-present cap on his head, no doubt keeping the coach from a very painful case of sunburn. Coach Cox leaned his head down and the sun reflected off the center of his head with the perspiration still in his hair around the flattop ring seeming to glisten. Jim was awestruck.
"Son, that was a hell of a quarter you played. You figured into over half the defensive plays that quarter," Coach Cox said.
"Thanks, sir," Jim mumbled as he was thinking:"Son? He’s not that much older than me." Jim was looking at the coach square in the eyes not only because that was where you looked at people of authority, but also Jim was getting an eyeful of coach’s flattop and admiring it.
"What’s your name?" Coach Cox asked.
"Jim, Jim Lewis," he answered.
"I like how you took down Morgan and then the way you reacted when you went flying landing face first. You didn’t get mad."
"No, sir; Jason adjusted. I was expecting him to adjust but I didn’t know how since I’d never played against him. So I just played straight ahead." Jim continued to look at Coach Cox in the eye, drinking in the sight of the sunlight as it played with the flattop.
"Good. I see you understand the game, Lewis. Good job." Jim was dismissed, but he got a glance of the flattop as the coach headed away.
Seeing a flattop was still possible, but was not an every-day occurrence. And now Jim knew he would be seeing one on a regular basis and was thrilled about that.
After the scrimmage in the shower room, Jason ambled up behind Jim and bumped him. Both were stark naked. It wasn’t a hard bump, but a bump of recognition. As he walked past, Jason looked at Jim and said, "Good scrimmage." Jim was grinning from ear to ear, but then he noticed it wasn’t only his pride that was swelling.
A few days later, school had started and Jim was waiting at the school bus stop. Jason rode by in his truck and noticed Jim waiting. He didn’t stop, but went on to school. Later that day at practice, Jason asked Jim if he wanted a ride to school in the morning, which Jim readily accepted. They didn’t live far apart and Jim said he would come over in the morning before school to catch a ride.
And so life continued: school, football practice, football games, Jason and Jim becoming good friends, and Jim getting a chance to see Coach Cox’s flattop from near and afar as often as he could. Jim became more and more fascinated with coach’s flattop and began wondering what it would be like if he got one. But that would be ridiculous. Fifteen-year-olds didn’t get flattops. There were guys at school with short haircuts, including a couple of guys with crewcuts. But there were no high school guys with flattops. Jim (and everyone else then) would have considered Jason to have a short haircut though it wasn’t a crewcut. It was off the ears and collar and he got it cut every month or so.
Jim, on the other hand, had the typical feathered haircut: parted in the middle, covering the ears and to the collar. Jim kept it washed, tidy and neat, but it was also a lot of effort in the morning to get it just right. Shampoo, conditioner, hair brush, hair dryer, hair spray or gel and at least 15 to 20 minutes after the shower were needed. Jim kept a mirror and brush in his locker and would brush his hair once or twice a day to make sure everything was perfect. And all the while, Jim thought what he would need to do to maintain a flattop. Actually, he didn’t know. But asking would be awkward, to say the least.
One day in October as Jason was driving Jim to school. Jim made the mistake of telling Jason that his mom was picking him up after school to take him to his stylist for a haircut. As soon as Jim had told Jason that, he knew he had made a mistake. That mischievous look was on Jason’s face as his eyes lit up. Jason said, "Jimmy’s mommy is going to take little Jimmy to have his cute girly hair styled. Are you going to have ringlets, Jimmy boy? They would look just divine." Jason reached over and touched Jim’s hair and said, "It’s so soft. It would be a shame to cut any of it off." Then he tugged the hair.
By this time, Jason had brought Jim into his circle of friends and they all teased each other unmercifully and played practical jokes on one another. Jim enjoyed being with these guys. So Jim knew he shouldn’t take offense to the teasing.
"Had your fun?" Jim asked.
Jason laughed and said "Yeah."
Then Jim realized he had an opening for some questions of his own and wasn’t about to let it pass. "Jason, why do you keep your hair cut so short? Don’t get me wrong, it looks good on you, but it’s a lot shorter than the other guys."
Jason just looked at Jim incredulously and said, "You really don’t know?"
"No, I don’t. How come?"
"My dad’s a cop. I thought everybody knew that and especially you would. He likes his sons to look clean cut and squared away. Tim’s even got a crewcut. Or haven’t you noticed that either? It took a lot of pleading after junior high school for dad to let me grow my hair out even this long."
Tim was Jason’s little brother, four years younger than Jason and two years younger than Jim. Both of them considered Tim to be something of a pain.
"No, I didn’t know. I know our moms are close, but I don’t think I’ve ever met or seen your dad."
"Well, he works a lot – and I mean a lot. But I bet you have seen him. He’s on television all the time: On the news. He’s chief of detectives and gets interviewed a lot."
"I don’t watch the news, so I may not have," Jim answered.
They got to school and Jason told several of the guys that Jim’s mom was taking him to the stylist to get his hair that afternoon. The reaction from the other guys was a non-reaction. It seems several of the guys went to their stylist with their moms as well. It was, in fact, in that day and age that Jason was the odd one out.
Later in the day, Jim asked Jason how often his mommy took him to the stylist. Jim told him, "Cut it out. If I didn’t know better I’d think you were jealous."
Jason: "Actually, I am jealous that you get to have your hair long, your parents are ok with it, and I don’t."
Jim: "My dad isn’t ok with it. Originally, it was my idea and my mom’s idea. But it’s also becoming less and less my idea."
Jason: "What? How come?"
Jim: "It takes a lot of time in the morning. And I have to fuss with it all through the day to keep it looking neat and tidy – which I do like. It was fine when I was little and was mommy’s little boy. But I’m not him anymore."
Jason: "How often do you get it cut? Oh, excuse me – styled?"
Jim: "You won’t give it up, will you?"
Jason: "Not when I have something good." And he laughed.
Jim: "About every eight weeks. How often do you get yours styled? Oh, excuse me – cut?"
Jason: "My dad takes Tim every two weeks to the barbershop and they get haircuts. I used to go that often back when I had a crewcut as well. But now that dad has let me grow it out some, I skip once and go every four weeks."
Jim thought: useful to know. "Does Tim mind the crewcut?"
Jason: "No, I don’t think so. Actually, I think Tim and I like going to the barbershop with dad since it’s one of the few times we get to spend time with him. Short haircut is the price for that, I guess."
Then, the two went off to class.
Each morning Jim waited for Jason outside by his truck, but this morning the temperatures were in the low 20s and the wind was blowing. Jim went up to the door and rang the doorbell.
The door opened and immediately Jim could smell coffee and Old Spice. "You must be Jim. Glad to finally meet you."
"Thank you, Mr. Morgan," Jim said. "Can I wait inside to wait for Jason? It’s really cold out there this morning."
"Sure," and Mr. Morgan let Jim in. Then it struck Jim, Mr. Morgan had a flattop. A great looking, squared away flattop – the ultimate in sharp, masculine haircuts. And Jim could tell he had just got it cut because of how short it was on the sides.
"I thought that coat of hair on your head would keep you warm. I wouldn’t last any time at all out there with my haircut and without a hat." And with that, Mr. Morgan ran his big mitt over his head further mesmerizing Jim. "What is it with you young guys and your long hair? I just don’t get it. Jason is constantly bugging me to let him grow it out, and I keep telling him no way am I having my son look my daughter." And then Mr. Morgan caught himself, "Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean any offense."
Jim was smiling and looking Mr. Morgan right in the eye and said, "No, that’s alright. No offense taken."
Mr. Morgan: "How long does it take you in the morning with your hair?"
Jim: "Well, I wash it, condition it, dry it off with a towel, brush it out, blow dry it, put hairspray in it, then brush it some more. All in all about 20 minutes, I’d say."
Mr. Morgan: "That’s as much time as my wife takes. See I would have had a son who takes as long as his mother with his hair."
Jim: "And you, how long does it take you with your hair?"
Mr. Morgan: "I wash it, dry it off with a towel, I usually put a little bit of butch wax in the palms of my hands rubbing it around, use my fingers to apply the butch wax to my hair, and then brush it into place. Takes two minutes, tops. Hair stays perfect all day."
Jim: "I wish mine did. I have to brush it several times a day to make sure it’s in place. I keep a mirror and brush in my locker."
Mr. Morgan: "I will grant you your hair looks good, is well groomed, is very neat and properly cared for, but the time you spend. Geez."
Jim was still looking him in the eye while also gazing at Mr. Morgan’s glorious flattop. "I’ll grant you that. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a sharp looking haircut like yours and then not have to spend so much time on my hair."
Mr. Morgan: "Well, grow a pair and get one. I know your father would be happy if you did. And while you’re at it, convince Jason."
And with that Jason came bounding down the stairs into the foyer where his father and Jim were and asked, "Convince Jason of what?"
"Nothing, never mind," Mr. Morgan said, and turned around and left. Jim continued to stare and admire the rear view of Mr. Morgan’s freshly-cut flattop.
"Convince me of what?" Jason asked, snapping Jim out of his torpor.
"I’ll tell you on the way to school." And the two headed out the door.
As the two approached Jason’s truck, Jason said "I’ve got to get a new tire" as he looked at the front left tire. He walked back to the rear left and looked at it and said, "This one needs replacing as well. How are they over on your side?"
Jim looked at the front tire on the left side, then the back, and then walked around to the rear right tire. "He said they all look alike to me. I take it you’re looking at the tread."
Jason: "Yeah, of course."
Jim: "Well, you’ll need four tires."
Jason: "Glad Christmas is just six weeks away. I hope it will make it till then."
That gave Jim an idea as the two loaded into the pickup and Jason fired it up. Jason had never let Jim pay for the gas, so he would figure out a way of getting Jim tires for his truck for Christmas. Jim knew it would be expensive, but he thought he had enough money saved up from working last summer to swing it. Jim would ask his father about it.
When they got in the truck, Jim finally noticed that Jason had gotten a haircut. "You got a haircut. Did your daddy take you to the barber shop? I notice they didn’t put any ringlets in your hair. The barber just went snip, snip, snip – or was it buzz, buzz, buzz?"
Jason said, "Yes I went to the barber shop with my dad and Tim. Dad got his flattop. Tim got his crewcut. And I got mine buzzed a lot shorter than usual since Thanksgiving is coming up next week and dad wanted me to still have a presentable haircut when my grandparents come. My granddad is even more of a short-hair fanatic than my dad is."
Jim: "It looks good. The barber did a good job."
Jason: "Aww, thanks. Now what was my dad talking about you convincing me."
Jim: "Oh, that. Hmm. I told him I liked his flattop, it looked good on him. Then he said if I thought so, then I should get one rather than having what he called girly hair. I said that I just might. And then he asked me to try and convince you."
Jason: "Yeah, he would call what you have girly hair. And he’s kinda right. But you’re not serious, are you? And he wanted you to convince me?"
Jim: "Well, that’s what I said. But I wouldn’t get a flattop if I were going to be the only guy in high school with one. So trying to convince you wouldn’t be a bad idea if I were really thinking about it. What do you think?"
Jason: "No. Not now. It’s too cold this time of year anyway."
Jim: "You’re right," but he smiled because he knew he had planted a seed. Or one may have already been planted. The lack of reaction from Jason may have meant something.
Over Thanksgiving, Jim talked to his dad and floated the idea of buying Jason a set of tires for his truck for Christmas. Jim told his dad that Jason wouldn’t let him pay for the gas or anything on the truck, so he thought he would give him the tires for Christmas. Jim’s dad said he thought that was a nice, thoughtful idea that Jason and his family would appreciate. Jim’s dad said he would talk to Mr. Budd, the owner of the tire dealership he used for his company business and find out how much a set of four truck tires for Jim’s truck would cost.
The football regular season was over and Jim and Jason’s high school was in the state playoffs. Their season had not been brilliant – they lost two games. But they were in the playoffs. They won their first game, but lost the second in the semi-finals to the team that went on to win the state championship.
Jim bugged his dad about the tires the week after Thanksgiving and his dad promised again he would check on the price. The next week, his dad gave Jim a piece of paper with two prices written on it. The first price was $625. The second price was $425. Jim told his dad that he didn’t understand. His dad told him the higher price was full retail and the second price was the discounted price, so it was $425 for the tires. Jim had enough money, but then his dad told him that he would split the cost. Jim was really happy about that.
The next day, Jim rang the doorbell at the Morgan’s house. Tim answered the door. "Come on in," Tim said. "Jason will be down in a minute."
Jim: "I’d like to talk to your father."
Tim went towards the kitchen and came back with Mr. Morgan. Tim went over and sat on the steps going upstairs.
Jim: "Mr. Morgan, has Jason said anything to you about getting tires for Christmas?"
Mr. Morgan: "Yes, he has, but I don’t think I’ll be able to do it because it costs so much, it’s the end of the year, and there are so many things to pay for. They wanted over $600 dollars for a set of tires for his truck. I just can’t afford that at the moment."
Jim: "Have you told Jason that."
Mr. Morgan: "Yes."
Jim: "I’ve talked to my dad who does a lot of business with Mr. Budd at one of the tire dealerships. Mr. Budd has given him a much lower price for a set of tires for Jason’s truck. Jason doesn’t ever let me pay for his gas and he drives me all around all the time. I’d like to give Jason a set of tires for Christmas, but also make it so that he thinks it’s coming from you and Mrs. Morgan."
Mr. Morgan: "That is so thoughtful and nice. Are you sure?"
All the while Jim had been looking at Mr. Morgan right in the eye, but it dawned on Mr. Morgan that Jim was also looking at his flattop. He remembered the conversation when Jim said he admired his flattop. So he thought he would press a little. That is what detectives do.
Jim: "I am sure, and thanks. But also remember that if Jim doesn’t have tires, I don’t have a ride. And I like having a ride and will help to continue having one."
Mr. Morgan and Tim chuckled.
Mr. Morgan reached up and gripped Jim’s shoulder. Jim felt like electricity was running through his body. Mr. Morgan said, "You’re a good friend to Jason and to our family. We are fortunate."
Jim was almost blubbering at this point.
Mr. Morgan then pressed in: "I can see you keep looking at my flattop. I think you really do like them. When you told me earlier you were thinking about getting a flattop, you were serious weren’t you."
Jim cleared his throat and then said, "Yes, sir. I was serious."
Mr. Morgan: "So if Jason asks you if you’ll get a flattop, you’ll say you will?"
Jim: "Yes, sir. But I have asked him and he said no."
Mr. Morgan: "Jim, let me take care of that. And hopefully you’ll get your wish to get a flattop and won’t be the only one in school who has one."
With that, Jason came down the stairs, kicking Tim out of the way, and asking, "Won’t be the only one in school with what?"
"Nothing, dear," is all Mr. Morgan said as he walked away with Jim getting a good ogling of the rear of Mr. Morgan’s flattop. Even though it had been a week since his haircut, Mr. Morgan’s flattop still looked good, Jim thought.
Jason: "What was that all about?"
Jim: "Nothing, dear." And the two bounded out the door.
On the way to school, Jason despaired that he didn’t think he was going to get new tires for the truck for Christmas. Jason said he didn’t have enough money to pay for both good Christmas presents for his family and for new tires. Jim told Jason to calm down and not to do anything because he was sure things would work out somehow. Jason knew that Jim was usually optimistic, but he wondered whether Jim actually knew something. At any rate, Jason left it at that.
That evening, Jason’s dad made a point of coming home to have dinner with his family. This was something that Mr. Morgan regretted happened all too rarely, but that was one of the costs of his job – and he did enjoy his work. After dinner, Mr. Morgan asked Jason to come in the den because there was something he wanted to talk about. Tim managed to get in the den before either one of them did and managed to be unnoticed.
Mr. Morgan: "Jason, I know I told you that your mom and I wouldn’t be able to afford a new set of tires for your truck. But things changed today. I got a bonus at work."
Jason: "That’s great dad."
Mr. Morgan: "But the thing is, it’s only enough to cover the cost of your tires with nothing else left over for anyone or anything else. And your mother doesn’t know about it. She’d probably want to spend it on 101 things that need doing around here."
Jason: "Yes, sir."
Mr. Morgan: "So what I’m suggesting is that rather than giving the tires to you as a Christmas present, we make a deal."
Jason: "A deal? What kind of a deal?"
Mr. Morgan: "You’re always asking to let your hair grow out and of course, I’d prefer if you had a short haircut like Tim’s."
Jason: "Yes, sir."
Mr. Morgan: "So what I’m suggesting is that while you’re in high school, you and I go every two weeks to the barber shop as usual and you get a flattop rather than a crewcut like Tim’s. And then you’ll get the set of tires for your truck."
Jason: "That seems like a reasonable deal. Do I have to give you an answer right now?"
Mr. Morgan: "No, but I would like an answer before Thursday. That’s our regularly scheduled haircut day. Besides, if you do decide to get one, your mother has family pictures scheduled for Friday and you can show off your new flattop."
Jason stood up and said as he was leaving, "Thanks, dad, for the offer. I’ll let you know before Thursday."
Jason was in turmoil. In one fell swoop, he could solve his truck’s tire problem, but at the cost of the little hair he had. And he would be the only guy in high school with a flattop – and for the rest of the year. But then he remembered Jim’s offer a while back. Jim said he liked his dad’s flattop. Jim said he would get one if Jason would. Jim tried to talk Jason into getting a flattop, but Jason had said no. So, could Jason revive the deal with Jim? It would be easier if Jason weren’t the only one with a flattop at school. The two were popular, but would their popularity survive a flattop?
The next day, as Jim was waiting in the foyer talking to Jason’s dad, Jason came down the steps and asked Jim: "Do you remember you told me a while back that you really liked my dad’s flattop and you were tired of messing with your hair for twenty minutes or more every morning?"
Jim: "Yes."
Jason: "And do you remember telling me that you would get a flattop if I got one as well."
Jim: "Yes. And I also remember you said ‘no’."
Jason: "If my answer were 'yes' now would you still want to get a flattop?"
Jim: "OK, fine. When are we going to do this?"
Jason: "Thursday. 4 o’clock. That’s when all Morgans get haircuts."
Mr. Morgan: "So, I guess you’re taking me up on the deal?"
Jason: "Yes, sir."
Mr. Morgan: "Good. Glad you are. And Jim, welcome to the Morgan alternate Thursday 4 o’clock tradition of getting haircuts at Gino’s barber shop. You’re welcome to come as long as you wish."
Jim: "Thanks, Mr. Morgan."
And with that the two bounded out the door. Jason saying,"You were right. Things did work out."
Jim asked Jason if he would take him that afternoon after school to run two errands. Jason said he would. Jim went to the bank and then he went to his father’s office. The tires were now arranged with Jason having a 10 o’clock appointment on Saturday at Mr. Budd’s tire dealership.
The next morning was Thursday morning and Jim rang the Morgan’s doorbell. Mr. Morgan answered and Jim came in from the cold.
Jim: "The tires are all arranged. 10 o’clock on Saturday at Mr. Budd’s tire dealership."
Mr. Morgan: "Thanks. Jason asked about that and I said I would arrange it. Again, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. Jason is lucky to have you as a friend."
Jim: "Thank you for arranging it so I could get a sharp looking flattop like yours and not be the only guy in school who has one."
Mr. Morgan: "My pleasure. And thank you for arranging it so my son is getting one as well."
Jason came bounding down the stairs again and asked "Getting what as well?"
Mr. Morgan did his usual thing, turning and walking away. Jim thought, I’ll have a flattop just like his this afternoon.
Jason then said, "Dad, before you go. I want you both to know that I know that it was Jim who paid for the tires and you set me up for the flattop."
Jim and Jason’s dad had that "Oh, no" look on their face that they had been discovered.
Jason: "But you know – it doesn’t bother me. I get my tires. And I need the tires. My best friend gets the flattop he’s been mooning about for a couple of months and won’t be the only guy in high school with one. And I also am going to get an opportunity to go with my dad, little brother and best friend every two weeks to get a haircut. Dad, I really have always enjoyed going to the barber shop with you even when I’ve bitched and moaned about my hair being short. And, finally, best friend, you are getting a haircut every two weeks with us Morgans. You’re not getting one flattop and then going back to your girly hair."
Tim was in the background grinning. And it dawned on Jim and Mr. Morgan how Jason had found out.

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