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Coda by htflatnc

Wer ein holdes Weib errungen,
Mische seinen Jubel ein!
- Friedrich Schiller, An die Freude

N.B.: While not exactly a continuation, this story makes lots of references to what occurred in "Fathers, sons, friends and deals." (storyid=1781)

It was drizzling outside and the headlights of the car cast a ghostly reflection off the pavement making it unclear what was real and what an optical illusion. Steve made this trek two or three times a week, but tonight things just seemed different. Maybe it was the weather; maybe it was the time of year – just before Christmas.

Steve was lost in thought about the immediate past and the immediate future. He was on his way to his regular Friday rendezvous; but even though it was only 6:15, it seemed much later than it was since he was tired and the cold, damp drizzle did not help any. It had been a long week. While he might normally look forward to a respite since he had over two weeks off, he knew next week would be very busy. Although Christmas was coming up, he had not done any shopping – too busy. He led a hectic life between work and trying to keep everything at home together. He was in charge of the cleaning and the cooking since his wife was both working and going to school. It didn’t help that his wife worked irregular hours, often putting in 12- and 14-hour shifts. But they were young and could withstand some minor inconveniences for a better future.
Despite the miserable weather, Steve had nothing but good things to look forward to that night – and he knew it.

There were fourteen stoplights between the parking lot Steve pulled out of and his destination. Counting stoplights from departure point to destination was one of Steve’s many quirks. Anything statistical seemed to fascinate Steve. He would keep a running count of reds and greens. Tonight it was 10 reds and 3 greens so far. One stoplight left before he arrived. It was green but then started to turn yellow. There was nobody in front of him, so Steve sped up and squeezed it for all it was worth. There were only a few cars dotting the block where Steve was headed, so he had no trouble pulling his car to the curb. He got his umbrella out of the back seat and opened his door. Some water had collected at the top of the door jam and managed to give Steve a soaking before he could open the umbrella. It was really cold and made Steve shiver. Could not be more than a few degrees above freezing.

Steve got out of the car and walked quickly to the shop where the blinds were closed, but there was a light on inside. The red, white and blue barber pole out front had been switched off and just sat there rather than beckoning passersby inside. But who would be a random passerby on this dark, cold, wet, miserable night? As a child, Steve loved watching the optical illusion of the twirling barber pole and would imagine riding the red line up the pole only to be dumped over the top to ride the blue line to the top. There wasn’t much about barbershops that Steve didn’t love – especially this one.

Steve rapped on the glass and a few seconds later, a pair of hands parted the blinds to see who was at the door. Some fumbling with locks ensued and the door opened. Gino told Steve to hurry up inside. Steve closed his umbrella, hurriedly closed the door behind him and then stood there for a few seconds dripping onto the floor making a small puddle.

"Hey, what are you doing to my beautiful floor? You’re as bad as my dog coming in out of the rain," Dominic said. He reached over and grabbed a towel and flung it at Steve. "Now mop that mess up."

With that, Steve opened the towel and let it fall to the floor, soaking up the mess he had trailed in like Dominic’s wet dog. Steve bent down and threatened to fling it back at Dominic, but before he could, Gino said, "No you don’t. I’m not having you two acting like teenagers in a locker room here in my shop."

Steve walked over and put the wet rag in the bin with the day’s worth of towels, saying, "Yes, Pop."

Gino wasn’t, in fact, Steve’s pop. He was Dominic’s pop. And Dominic always called his father ‘pop’, so Steve did as well since he was a kid. Dominic and Steve had been best friends growing up. Steve seemed like family and then he became family – marrying the youngest Andruzzi, Theresa. While Dominic and Steve were best friends growing up, Theresa wasn’t best friends with either. Theresa was four years younger than Dominic and Steve and they always called her "Little Squirt." Theresa hated that name and would try every way she could to get back at them.

Steve walked over and hung his coat up on the rack and stood with his arms stretched out. "I’ve got to dry off and warm up. I got wet coming in. So how was your day?" Steve said, changing the subject.

Dominic: "It was busy up until 4 o’clock. Then it started to rain and things slackened off. There wasn’t anybody waiting by 5:30 and we got to close on time. The last two days have been kind of unusual though. Unusual in a good way."

Steve: "How so?"

Dominic: "I’ll tell you in a minute." Dominic walked over to his father and the two talked for a minute and said a couple of things in a low voice to each other and then Dominic walked back to in front of his barber chair.

Gino was busy cleaning his counter and putting his scissors and combs in the drawer, arranging them just so. He unplugged the clippers; untangled the cords, which invariably got knotted up in the course of the day; and then plugged the clippers back in repeating his end-of-the-day ritual.

Dominic beckoned for Steve to come take a seat. "I’ll wrap a warm towel on your head, Steve, before we get started. That will warm you up."

Steve didn’t need to be told twice. He came over and sat down in Dominic’s chair. Steve loved these old plush barber chairs and had since the days he had to sit on a board across the armrests of Gino’s chair when he was three-years-old. Back then, he would usually come in the shop with his grandfather. Back then, Gino wasn’t much older than his son and Steve were currently.

Gino finished fidgeting with his equipment, walked over to the coat rack and put on his coat and put a hat over his bald head. When Steve would see Gino and Dominic, he realized how lucky he was to have a full head of hair. A full head of hair that Dominic could cut into his perfect flattop every week. Rejuvenation – not only for the flattop, but for Steve as well. He could talk to Dominic about anything and everything and whatever they said would not leave the shop. Haircuts are cheaper than psychiatrists or psychologists, Steve thought. Steve and Dominic really were best of friends.

Dominic had the steaming towel wrapped around Steve’s head and Steve was purring like a kitten with a warm bowl of milk.

"See you later, pop," Dominic called as his father headed out the door.

Steve opened his eyes and said the same as the door shut with a rush of cold air hitting both of them. Dominic shuddered and said, "It really is cold out there."

Steve chuckled and said, "Baby, it’s cold outside." And the two started singing and laughing. The towel had cooled down and was becoming clammy, so Dominic unwrapped Steve and said, "Let the haircut begin." Dominic put a paper strip around Steve’s neck and wrapped Steve up with the pinstripe, cotton cloth. He took a short-bristled flattop brush and pushed it back through Steve’s rain-drenched hair bringing it back to attention.

Without saying anything else, Dominic went to work on Steve’s flattop.

Steve: "You said the last two days have been unusual here at the shop. How so?"

Dominic: "This afternoon, one of your football players came in and asked to get a flattop."

Steve: "Yeah? Do you know who he was?"

Dominic: "He had never been here before. He sat down in pop’s chair, pop asked him how he wanted his hair cut, and he said he wanted a flattop. Pop asked him if he was sure. He said he was real sure. He said he had heard you – Coach Cox, you are Coach Cox, aren’t you? – came in here to get your hair cut and he had always admired your crisp flattop. So he knew this was the place to come. He said what prompted him to this flattop conversion was that a couple of other guys showed up at school on Friday with flattops. So he thought he would get one and see how he liked it over Christmas break."

Steve: "Yeah? Do you know who the other two guys were?"

Dominic: "I’m getting there. Hold on."

Dominic stopped cutting Steve’s hair for a second and was obviously thinking, then said "Phil Phillips was the kid’s name who got the flattop today. Pop told him that it would be better if I cut his flattop instead. So he moved over to my chair and I went to work."

Steve: "So Phillips was in here getting a flattop. Let’s see if we’re talking about the same guy. About 6ft tall, 200 lbs, light brown hair, always a mess, long especially on top – reaches down below his chin."

Dominic: "That’s him and it doesn’t reach his chin any more. He wanted a flattop like yours. Flat decked horseshoe with the back, sides and landing strip shaved. I wrapped the hot towel around his head, and he was like you: So content and happy."

Steve: "You get the same way when pop shaves your head."

Dominic: "Yeah, I do. I’ve got to admit that. Phil almost came out of the chair when I unwrapped the towel and started lathering up his head. He wasn’t expecting that at all. He asked me if I was going to shave his head. I told him partly. Told him that you got the back and sides shaved, so he said, that was what he wanted too. And then he said the damndest thing when I lathered his landing strip. He told me to be careful creaming the top of his head because he was about to cream his pants. I just had to bust out laughing."

Steve: "Damn. Phil and I have a lot in common. You know I get like that too. I wish I’d gotten here earlier to witness that."

Dominic: "Yeah, I know you do, plus you like to see the hair fly."

Steve: "That was one time in boot camp I really enjoyed: Seeing the look on guys’ faces as they waited in line to get their hair cut; the dread, the shock; waiting to see the hair on the hippies hitting the ground with some of them in tears. I loved it."

Dominic: "Well, he wasn’t busting out in tears – he had a smile on his face the entire haircut. It was something else. Hair was flying everywhere. His hair is real thick. I took it down to just over an inch, and then I started to flatten it out. His hair is like a spring. Boing, it would shoot out and you’d never know what direction it was going to go. It was almost like I needed goggles."

Steve started chuckling and said "Phillips wanted a flattop like mine."

Dominic: "Yeah, and he got one: A five-finger flattop just like yours." And with that, Dominic laid his hand down on top of Steve’s head to see if the width of the flattop was still five fingers. "He also asked me how often you got your hair cut. I told him every week. He said he wasn’t really surprised since he thought every time he saw you it looked as though you had just gotten a haircut."

Steve: "So did he say he would start getting his flattop freshened up once a week?"

Dominic: "He said he would see whether he liked the flattop first before deciding. But considering the smile on his face during the haircut, his reaction when he saw himself in the mirror while sitting in the chair, his reaction seeing himself full length with the flattop after standing up and then running his hands up the shaved back and sides and over the bristles on top, I think it’s a pretty safe bet he’ll start coming in once a week."

Steve: "That would be great if he did."

Dominic: "When the haircut was finished and he was paying, he asked me besides getting it cut every week, what he needed to do to maintain the flattop looking crisp. I handed him a jar of butch wax and an oval, red, plastic flattop brush with the short bristles and said these would help. He said he wasn’t sure how to use them, so I had him open the jar of butch wax, wet his hands without drying them, put a little bit of it in his palm – not too much, I told him – and then rub his hands together spreading the butch wax and water on his hands and fingers. I then told him to rub his palms back over the top of his head and then use the fingers to spread the butch wax around. Then use the brush to make sure the flattop was at full attention. He said he really liked doing that because he got to feel the bristles and the shaved strip down through the middle. He also said that it was a lot less trouble than taking care of his long hair. Said he didn’t normally take care of it because of how much time it took to make it look good. I told him I thought his long hair looked like a bird’s nest. Phil said he would have no trouble keeping his hair neat and looking good just like Coach Cox. Oh, that reminds me, I need to order some more butch wax. I’ve sold four jars in the last two days. I’ve only got three jars left. I ordered ten jars thinking it would take a long time to sell them, but I was wrong."

Steve: "You sold four additional jars of butch wax? Does that mean you cut four new flattops yesterday?"

Dominic: "Yes. Two flattops were on high school football players of yours, Coach Cox, and two were on younger kids that in a year or two are likely to be calling you Coach Cox."

Steve: "Do you know the names of the two football players?"

Dominic: "Oh, oh, oh. Before I get to that I’ve got to tell you one more funny part of the story with Phil Phillips. I asked him where he had been getting his hair cut before he came here. He said he went to a stylist – down a couple of blocks from the shop. I asked him if it was a place called ‘To Dye For’ and he said yes. I told him that it was my mom, my aunt and sister Maria who worked down there. He said Maria was the one who would style his hair. I told him she had her work cut out for her if his hair was as messy as when he came in here. He said he agreed. I had to give him a shampoo before I cut his hair today. He said that was standard procedure when Maria would style his. After the haircut, he said he liked the haircut I gave him better than the style Maria would give him, but he thought Maria was a lot cuter. I told him I was glad he liked the haircut and that Maria couldn’t do a good flattop – I know, I tried her back when I had hair for a flattop – but I was crushed that he thought Maria was cuter. We both got a laugh out of that. So did pop. Phil is a good guy. The shampoo, haircut, and supplies cost $15, but he gave me $25 and told me Merry Christmas. He also said it was less than he paid Maria to get his hair styled. So that made me happy and he was happy he had some money left over."

Steve: "Phil is definitely right about one thing. Maria is a lot cuter than you are. Now tell me about the other three flattops yesterday – especially the two high school football players."

Dominic: "Hold on, I’ve got to level off the top deck. It takes all my concentrating to do that, so I can’t be talking to you at the same time unless you want me to mess it up."

Steve: "Definitely not. Carry on."

Dominic pumped the barber chair up so that the top of Steve’s head was at Dominic’s eye level. For three or four minutes there was nothing other than the distinctive sound of Oster 76 clippers as they inched their way back over the top of Steve’s flattop leaving Steve in suspense about which of his players got a flattop. Finally Master Dominic was satisfied that Steve, like every other of his customers getting a flattop, would step away with a crisp, squared and in every way perfect flattop deck.

While Dominic was perfecting the deck, Steve went back to his thought about Dominic as a barber versus a psychologist. After Steve’s two combat tours, he was required to go talk to a psychologist so he could make a comparison. The psychologist didn’t talk back much other to ask some questions. He never knew where he stood with the psychologist. With Dominic, he knew exactly where he stood and quickly after anything he said. The psychologist was always telling him that he didn’t judge what Steve said, thought or did. Dominic always judged, but Steve knew Dominic was trying to do what he thought was right for Steve and Steve appreciated that even if he didn’t always agree. Sometimes Steve thought Dominic was right and he would change his mind. And most importantly, talking to Dominic was fun. Talking to the psychologist wasn’t.

After Dominic finished working on the top, he came over and stood in front of Steve’s chair. He had used the last of the hot towels on Steve to warm him up. He had put four more wet towels in the steamer to bake, but they weren’t ready yet.

Steve still wanted Dominic to continue with the story. "Who were the two football players who came in for a flattop," Steve asked.

Dominic: "All three of the Morgans came in and they brought someone I had never seen before. You know the Morgans?"

Steve: "I know Jason Morgan. He was quarterback for our team this year. Good athlete. Works hard. Great attitude. Great team leader. Very good kid."

Dominic: "He is a good kid – now a good kid with a flattop. I’ve seen him and his younger brother grow up and Jason is a fine young man. Mr. Morgan got his flattop first. He gets one every two weeks and I keep his looking sharp. His is an 8 finger rather than a 5 finger like yours. So a wider flattop patch on top. He gets the back and sides clipped with the edgers. It’s not lathered and shaved like yours, but almost as close. He also doesn’t have a horseshoe like yours, but rather the closed ring. I see him on the news from time to time, and say ‘I do a really good job keeping that man looking sharp.’" And then he laughed, as did Steve.

Steve: "Modesty is not one of your traits."

Dominic: "Look who’s talking."

Steve: "So Morgan’s dad has a sharp looking flattop. I didn’t know that. You say he’s on the news pretty often. How come? And also how long have you been cutting his hair?"

Dominic: "He’s a cop like Theresa. But he’s way up in the department so I don’t know if she knows him or not – or maybe more important whether he knows her. And I’ve been cutting the Morgans’ hair since I got out of barber school eight years ago."

Steve: "I’m starting to put two and two together. Theresa says there’s a cop in the department brass with a flattop that’s almost as good looking as me. She says she loves looking at guys with flattops especially if they’re in suits or uniforms. Says the Marine Blues she saw me in plus the flattop got her to notice me and forget about what she thought about me as a kid. She said I looked dashing. I bet that is Morgan’s father. And since he is a cop, it would go a long way to way to explain why he has a short haircut."

Dominic: "After Mr. Morgan got through, Jason got up in my chair. I asked him if he wanted the usual and he said he wanted to start getting his dad’s usual. I asked him if he meant he wanted to start getting a flattop, and he said ‘yes, sir, just like dad’s’. He started talking to me and said he hoped his would look as good as his dad’s flattop. I said I would make sure that it did. I cleaned off the clippers from Mr. Morgan’s haircut and then started them up. Jason was gripping the arms of the chair, but that is usual for him. He also was quiet during the haircut, which again is usual for him. What wasn’t usual is that he kept touching where I had cut. After about the third time, I asked him if he would like me to turn the chair around so he could see in the mirror and watch his haircut progress. He said that would be great. After that, he calmed down and wasn’t constantly touching his hair the way he had been. I took the back and sides all the way down with the edgers. When I had finished, he reached up and ran his hand over the area and said, ‘I’ve missed this. I’ve always liked the way this feels.’ I got the spray bottle and wet his hair on top down. I overdid it and he looked like you did when you first walked in – like a wet pup. I then butch waxed it, brushed it and blow dried it up. After I finished that, he ran his hand again over the top just touching the hair. I then began squaring the flattop up and that took almost ten minutes of cutting getting it perfect. When I had finished, Jason again ran his hand over the top deck just grazing the hair and said ‘Much better. Looks really good and sharp like dad’s.’ I then put the last touches of tying the back and sides into the top and gave him an outline shave. I turned him around to face Mr. Morgan and asked him what he thought. Mr. Morgan said, ‘You’re a wizard, Dom. You can make even us Morgan men handsome.’ Jason told his dad that he had been apprehensive at first about getting the flattop, but that he really liked it and would probably keep it even after high school."

Steve: "I bet he does look good with one of your flattops. He’s a good looking kid to begin with. George Goodwin is the quarterback coach and has nothing other than good things to say about Morgan. I’ve had some contact with him, but it’s been pretty limited. That’s going to change next semester though since Morgan will be wrestling and I’m the new wrestling coach. I’ll get to know him real well then."

Dominic: "I didn’t know you were going to be the new wrestling coach. Congratulations. I know you had wanted to do that. Why were you keeping it a secret?"

Steve: "I wasn’t keeping it a secret. It just happened this week. Gary Novak’s wife got transferred out west, so he took another job. Gary resigned on Tuesday and I was named wrestling coach on Wednesday."

Dominic: "Congratulations again. I know you’re going to enjoy that. "

Steve: "Definitely looking forward to it. Just wish they had given me more time to prepare. But enough of that. Get back to the story."

Dominic: "Jason walked over to the mirror and looked at his new haircut and rubbed it some more. He said ‘I’ve always taken pride in my appearance – dad taught us that. But now I definitely have something to be even more proud of.’ And then he went over where Tim had been sitting, and sat next to his dad. Tim stood in front of his dad and then started pleading that he would like to start getting a flattop as well. Mr. Morgan said that he wouldn’t need convincing because he thought that would be a good idea. He told Tim though that it would be at least one haircut and maybe two before he could get a flattop. In the meantime, he wanted Tim to get the back and sides cut because it was the same length for both the flattop and the crewcut. Mr. Morgan said he didn’t want Tim getting shaggy, especially since they were having family pictures taken tonight – in fact, I bet that’s where they are now."

Steve: "So there’s another Morgan with a flattop. Great. I’ll look forward to seeing him in the not too distant future. Do you know if he plays any sports?"

Dominic: "He’s in junior high school and I know he is on both the football and basketball teams."

Steve: "They can do that in junior high school, but he’ll have to choose one or the other when he gets to high school because of season overlap and scheduling conflicts."

Dominic: "Well like his brother and Mr. Morgan Tim is tall. He’s 6ft tall and only 13-years-old. He’s got a few growth spurts ahead of him. He’ll be as tall as his brother if not taller. Anyway, Tim got up in my chair and I clipped down the back and sides the way I always do. When I had finished, I took the spray bottle and wet down his hair on top. I put some butch wax in his hair and it stood up perfect, just like his brother’s. I then took a blow dryer and made the hair stand up even better. I pushed my hand over the top grazing the top and said to Mr. Morgan, ‘Tim could get a flattop now. It’s about half an inch so it will be a short one. I could shape this up into a flattop without cutting a lot off. But it’s up to you.’ Mr. Morgan said, ‘Fine, but it’s up to Tim.’ Excited, Tim said ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’. I told him he needed to calm down and keep still because cutting the top required me to be precise in how I cut his hair. He said he understood and calmed down immediately. Like his brother, it took me about ten minutes to cut the top of his flattop. He didn’t move a muscle – calm and quiet as I concentrated on leveling him out. His flattop was noticeably shorter than his brother’s or his father’s but it still looked good I thought. So did Tim. When I finished, he was excited and ran his hand over the top like his brother and said ‘This is great.’ I finished tying the top into the back and the sides and then gave him an outline shave. As soon as I was done, he rushed over to Mr. Morgan and sat on the other side from Jason and told his dad thank you for letting him get a flattop. Tim said he really liked it better than the crewcut. He said he didn’t feel like a little kid any more. Mr. Morgan leaned over, rubbed the back of his head and kissed his forehead."

At this point, Dominic walked over to the steamer and checked the towels. They were the perfect temperature. There were four towels, so Steve would be getting the royal treatment: Three hot towels before shaving the back and sides, a cold towel after the shave, and a hot towel after an outline shave. Even though Dominic would shave the back and sides, Steve still got an outline shave. It was part of the royal treatment.

When Dominic enveloped Steve’s head with the warmth of the towel, Dominic continued with the story. "I thought I had finished with flattops for the day, but I was far from finished. The long-haired kid who had come in with the Morgans got up and walked over to my chair. He reached over extending his hand and told me that his name was Jim Lewis. I was impressed. I liked that. I told him that my name was Dominic Andruzzi and shook hands – nice firm grip. Then Jim sat down. Jim was the very opposite of the Morgans when he gets a haircut. He talks up a storm. We talked about everything under the sun it seems. We talked about flattops. We talked about his family. We talked about the Morgans and how he got to know them. We talked about you."

Steve: "You talked about me?"

Dominic: "Yes, we did. Jim really admires you and likes you. He really appreciated the time you have spent with him teaching him. He said that you had really helped him see how he could improve playing football. And he very much appreciated that. He did have one very wrong idea about you, and I think I set him straight on that."

Steve: "What idea was that? I can’t think of anything."

Dominic: "I’ll get to that. Let me continue with the story. Before I put the cape around Jim, I asked him how he wanted his hair cut. He told me that he definitely wanted a flattop, but that he wanted to talk to me about it. He said he knew I was a flattop expert from the way I had cut the Morgans and he said that he knew I cut your flattop. He said that your flattop and the flattop the Morgans had were different just from looking at them, but that he would appreciate knowing what those differences were before he decided what kind of flattop he wanted. So I, the flattop expert, explained it to him. I told him that the most important difference was the width of the flattop on top of the head. I said that you had a five-finger flattop and I laid my hand on top of his head. I asked him if he felt how wide that was and he said yes. I said that the Morgans had eight-finger flattops and then put three more fingers on his head as I slipped my left hand over. Again, I asked him if he felt how wide that was and he said yes. I said that also, you had a horseshoe flattop and that the Morgans had flattops where the ring closed and traced a horseshoe and a closed ring on top of his head and asked him if he understood. He said that he did understand and thanked me for showing that difference. I said finally, that you get the back, sides and landing strip lathered and shaved while the Morgans have the back and sides of theirs clipped down as short as possible with edgers. I said that with the edgers, the back and sides will feel like sandpaper. He said he thought that was great. He then asked me what a landing strip was, so I explained that. He thought it was funny. He said he could remember as a kid playing with Matchbox So I then asked him if he knew what kind of flattop he wanted. He thanked me for the flattop education and said he thought he did, but it was a hybrid of the two and would like to know from me if it was possible. He said that he liked the horseshoe shape of yours, but he would like his eight-fingers wide and use the edgers on the back and sides rather than lathering and shaving it. He then asked me if that was possible. I told him it was absolutely possible and would be a very good flattop."

Dominic finished with the last of the three hot towels and he wasn’t sure if Steve was asleep or not. So he asked Steve: "Are you asleep."

Steve: "I’m relaxed, but not asleep. I’m enjoying the story too much to fall asleep."

Dominic went over to the lather machine and the whirr of the machine filled the shop for a minute. Dominic came back over to Steve and began lathering the back and sides of his head and dabbed some on top before spreading that out.

Dominic: "I then caped Jim up and began combing his hair. Jim told me that he was both nervous and excited and the way he usually dealt with that was by talking a lot. He said that if he talked too much, to just tell him and he would shut up. I told him that I liked to talk and listen as well, so there would be no problem. All the time I was combing his hair, and I told him that he had very nice hair. He asked me what my name was again and I told him. He then asked me if Maria Andruzzi was my sister. I said she was. Then he said that was his stylist. His mother had tried to get him to schedule an appointment to get his hair cut and styled before Christmas since it had been two months. I asked him if that was how often he usually got it cut. He said yes and then told me that I was the second Andruzzi who told him he had nice hair. Of course, that made me laugh."

Steve: "What is Maria going to find out that you’ve taken two of her regular customers who have decided to start getting flattops from the expert."

Dominic: "It’s not two. It’s three. I haven’t finished."

Steve laughed. "Please continue."

Dominic: "I asked him if his parents liked his hair long. He said his mom did and she took him to the stylist. He said his father didn’t but put up with it to keep the peace. I asked them how he thought they would react. He said his mom didn’t know he was getting a flattop and he didn’t know how she would react, but he was pretty sure there wouldn’t be a problem. Jim then said that yesterday Jason had taken him over to Jim’s father’s office. While there, he told his father that he had seen pictures of him in high school and in college with a flattop and was wondering whether it was his father’s idea or grandfather’s idea. He said that it was his idea and asked why. Jim said that he then asked his father whether he liked flattops. He father said he definitely did and envied Mr. Morgan for still having one. Jim then asked him if he would have a problem if he got a flattop, and father said absolutely no problem at all – in fact he would be delighted. Jim then said that he had been thinking about getting one and since his father had helped out with the tires, he was going to get one."

Steve: "Tires? What tires?"

Dominic: "I don’t know and didn’t ask. But he was basically getting a flattop to thank his father for helping him out."

Steve: "That sounds about right. Jim is a really good kid. It’s a good Christmas present for his dad too."

Dominic: "And he said his mom would probably be ok with it because she had met his dad while they were in college and his father had a flattop then. He said his father told him the only reason he didn’t have one still is that it just didn’t fit in with work. Jim said he really liked his father and liked being with him, but that his father worked a lot and he didn’t get a chance to spend that much time with him. Jim said that he knew his father got his hair cut here at this shop and that pop cut it, so maybe coming to the barber shop would be some time they could spend together. I asked him if his father was Mike Lewis and he said ‘yes’. It’s a small world."

With that, Dominic had finished shaving the back and sides of Steve’s head as well as the landing strip. He took a cold towel from the sink and asked Steve if he was ready. Steve said he was, so Dominic wrapped the cold towel around his head.

Dominic continued: "Jim said that his mom and Jason’s mom were really good friends, but that he had never seen or met Mr. Morgan until recently. Jim said ‘I didn’t even know that Mr. Morgan was a cop. I’ve known Jason for a long time, but we have only become good friends as a result of playing football together this year. Jason is a senior and I’m a sophomore, so we will only be in high school together one year. I really regret not getting to know Jason sooner, because he is a really good guy and we’ve had a lot of fun together this year. My brother Pete and Tim are friends and the same age. They both played football together this past year.’ And Jim said that because he played football he had the good fortune – his words – of getting to know you. I told him that you were my brother-in-law and had married my younger sister Theresa. He smiled at that and said that was great and had not known that. He asked how long you had been married and I told him that you were newlyweds – first anniversary coming up in January. He told me I had a great brother-in-law and I said I knew that was true. I told him that you and I had grown up together, had played football together, and were best of friends since I could remember. He said I was lucky having such a great best friend. He said you had helped him a lot this past year. He said there was only one thing that kind of bothered him about you. I asked him what that was. He said that you called him ‘son’ and that you weren’t that much older than him. He just didn’t know how to take it. I told him that he took it completely the wrong way. I said: ‘I’ve known Steve – Coach Cox – my entire life almost. He’s always been a teacher and when he’s in teaching mode, he calls people ‘son’. It’s a sign he really cares about you and really likes you and really thinks he can help you do better.’ Jim said he had really misinterpreted it and felt a lot better. He said that you had definitely helped him improve and he appreciated your advice. So I set Jim straight for you."

Steve: "Thank you. And I had no idea Jason was taking it that way. I’m really not even aware when I call somebody ‘son’ but maybe I should watch it."

Dominic took the cold towel off Steve’s head and said, "Pores should be closed now." He then went back over to the lather machine and whirr sounded again. He went over to Steve and applied the lather at the nape of his neck and around his ears.

Dominic: "You won’t have any trouble with Jim on that count. No trouble at all."

Steve: "So that was the wrong idea that Lewis had about me that you set him straight about?"

Dominic: "Yes."

Steve: "It took you long enough to answer my question."

Dominic: "You’ve got somebody with a straight razor to the back of your neck. You should be more careful." And they both laughed. And with that Dominic had finished the outline shave.

Dominic: "By the time Jim and I had our long conversation together, I had finished his flattop. I asked him what he thought. He gave me two thumbs up and said he would be keeping it. Jason piped in then and said ‘You’re right you’ll be keeping it. No more of that girly hair for Jim.’ And they all got a kick out of that. Jim got out of the chair and began rubbing up the back and sides of his head and told me I was right – it is like sandpaper. Mr. Morgan then intervened and said there was something important left to do. He went over to the counter and picked up three jars of butch wax and three of the oval, red, plastic flattop brushes and said they would all need this and would all need to know how to use them. He told them to open up the jars of butch wax. Jim lifted his to his nose and said that he really liked the scent. The other two boys did the same and said they agreed. Mr. Morgan said to take a little bit of the butch wax and put it in the palm of their hand, which they did. He then told them to rub it around in their palms. I brought over the squirt bottle and wet their hair for them. Mr. Morgan then told them to rub their palms over the top of their head and that would apply the butch wax and then use their fingers to work it in. They all then went over to the mirror and used the brush to make their hair at full attention. Mr. Morgan said that was the way to groom a flattop in the morning after they had a shower. Jim piped it that it was simple compared to what he had been doing every morning. Mr. Morgan then asked me how much for the haircuts, the butch wax and the brushes. Jim then chimed in that his father had given him enough money to pay for all the haircuts and to give Dominic a nice Christmas tip, but that he didn’t have enough for the butch wax and the plastic brushes. Jim said his dad did that to thank Mr. Morgan for taking Jim to get a flattop. Mr. Morgan thanked Jim and told Jim to thank his dad. Mr. Morgan paid for the butch wax and the plastic brushes. And off they went – four happy guys with flattops."

Dominic unfurled the cape from Steve and Steve said, "And that’s not the end of the story?"

Dominic: "No there’s one more part. When Jim got home, his father was there. His little brother Pete saw Jim’s flattop and started giving Jim a hard time. Mr. Lewis told Pete to stop it, but Pete didn’t. Mr. Lewis said that was it. He picked up the phone and called here. It was about 5 minutes before closing and asked if he could come over for a last minute haircut. I told him that wasn’t a problem. So in about ten minutes, Mr. Lewis comes in the shop dragging a teenage boy who is crying. Jim is also there. Mr. Lewis tells Pete to get in the chair and he obeys, but he is still sobbing. Pete has hair just like Jim did before he got his hair cut. I asked Mr. Lewis what it was to be. Mr. Lewis said that he wanted Pete to get a flattop just like Jim’s, which caused Pete to cry even more. What caused him to calm down was when I asked Jim about how he liked his flattop and getting one with Mr. Morgan, Jason and Tim. Pete asked if Tim had gotten a flattop and I said I had given him one a little while ago. No more problems with Pete. He said that if Tim got one, it would be ok."

Steve: "Dom, it’s been great, but I’ve got to go. Theresa will be expecting me. She’s cooking tonight." Steve opened the door and it was still cold, but it had stopped raining.

Dominic said good night and closed up the shop.


Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the Morgan family hurried through the doors of the portrait studio. There was a young receptionist there in her early 20s. She greeted them and they told her they had an appointment for a family portrait to be taken. The receptionist took them through a door into another room.

She said she was going to apply makeup to the men before the portrait and the two boys started saying no way. Then she asked: "Why is it always you big, young, strong guys who object to having makeup put on. Think of it as putting on eye black to keep the glare down. You big strong guys don’t seem to mind putting on eye black for baseball or football. This is the same thing."

That won them over. She then said: "You’re so tall. Come sit on these stools so I can reach to put it on." And she started applying the makeup and said, "I’m glad you cooperated. I thought I might have to wrestle you down." And Jason said, "That might be fun." And she laughed, saying "It might."

She then took all four of the Morgans through another door that led into the area where the portrait was to be taken. There was already a family in there having their portrait taken.

"Davy, we’re trying to have our picture made. Will you stop fidgeting or I’m going to kill you," the wife said.

The photographer then asked the other son to brush his hair back because a forelock had fallen down covering his eyes. "Billy, I told you to get a haircut before we came here. I could just kill you."

There was a sudden flash and a photograph of the family had been taken.

Davy was fidgeting again and this time, he had pulled off the snap-on tie he was wearing. The wife saw this and said, "Davy, put that tie back on before I kill you." Davy managed to get the tie back on and there was another flash as a second photograph was taken.

Mr. Morgan leaned over to his wife and kissed her on the cheek. He then whispered to her, "I really do love you."

Mrs. Morgan turned to him and said, "You’d better." And Mr. Morgan laughed. She continued, "But I have to admit I am very lucky to have three very handsome Morgan men in my life." And she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.

Just then there was another flash and the two boys came running past the Morgans and went out into the lobby. The wife followed by her husband then came out. She stopped and looked at Mr. Morgan. She said, "I’ve seen you on television. What is it you do?"

Mr. Morgan said, "I’m a police detective. And if anything happens to those boys of yours, I’ll know where to come looking first."

She didn’t care for that, but her husband laughed as they left.

The photographer then told them, "Come in, come in." And all four Morgans went with Mrs. Morgan taking a seat and Jason, Tim and Mr. Morgan behind with Mr. Morgan putting his hand on her shoulder. "Perfect," the photographer said. "I couldn’t have arranged you any better." There was a sudden flash and the first photograph was taken.

"You are all so tall. And what a good looking group you are," the photographer said and there was a flash and the second photograph was taken.

"Do you want to rearrange for another pose," the photographer asked. Jason grabbed a second chair, Mrs. Morgan stood up, and Jason and Tim sat down. Mr. Morgan placed his hand on Jason’s shoulder and Mrs. Morgan her hand on Tim’s. Flash and a third photograph was taken. Suddenly there was a voice from the lobby with the woman yelling after her son, "I’m going to kill you." At that, they all laughed.

They had paid for only three photographs, but the photographer asked them if they would pose for some more. He took two more photographs of the Morgans in two more poses. The photographer then made them an offer – he would provide the Morgans with prints of all five photographs in all the sizes they had paid for plus give them 100 Christmas cards with one of the photographs if the Morgans would allow him to display their photograph in the lobby as an advertisement of the work he did. He asked them if they would trust him to pick one of the pictures to put on the Christmas card. The photographer gushed about how photogenic the family was and how pleasant it was to deal with them. Mr. Morgan agreed and signed a waiver for allowing their photograph to be displayed in the lobby. He said the Christmas cards would be ready Saturday afternoon. And Mr. Morgan said he would come and pick them up. As they were about to leave, the photographer said, "And I love those flattops you three have. They’re going to look great in the photographs."


Later that evening, Steve got home. Theresa was in the kitchen cooking. She heard him come in, but continued cooking. He was able to sneak up behind her and hug her. She asked, "Is that a prowler?"

Steve said, "Yes, I’m a prrrrowler," rolling his r’s.

Theresa: "Well, you know I’m police. I’ll have to get my gun and shoot you."

Steve: "No, don’t shoot me. But do get your handcuffs," and he kissed her on the nape of her neck.

Theresa: "What? I get only one kiss? I’m cooking your dinner. I deserve at least three." And Steve needed no further encouragement. Theresa turned around and looked at him. "You got a haircut. And Dom, as always, made it perfect. You’re always sexy, but you’re even sexier when you’ve just had a haircut."

Steve: "Dom told me all about that other policeman with the flattop you were saying was so sexy. He’s chief of detectives, it turns out. I know who my competition is."

Theresa: "Dom knows him?"

Steve: "He was in the shop yesterday with his two sons and one of their neighbors – all getting flattops."

Theresa: "Good thing I wasn’t there. I might have gone home with them."

Steve: "We’ll see them tomorrow night at the Christmas ball. We’re still going, aren’t we? It turns out one of this policeman’s sons is one of my football players. It will be fun to see him outside of school."

Theresa: "You flattop guys, you all know each other."

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