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At Gate C-17 - Jim's New Gig by Manny


I had spotted him in the gate area earlier -- a young man who felt a little too cute for his own good, strutting around in very tailored, trendy clothes, talking loudly on his phone and flicking his cascading brown locks periodically so that the sheen was on full display in the afternoon sun.

At one point he brought his designer hand bag over and flopped it down in the seat beside me as he continued pacing about with phone in hand. The scent of expensive cologne and his yammering on the phone were concrete evidences of his over-sized presence in the C-17 gate area at DFW.

It was impossible not to eavesdrop on his conversation. ".....no way I am going to sign a new contract with them. That is definite, final! Not sure why you can't get that through your sclerotic brain, Mason!" After a pause while the other party talked, he continued, "It's not the money, how many times do I have to say, that? It's just that I need a break from the modeling industry. I want to run my own life for a bit, make my own decisions, wear the clothes I want to wear. And, yes, cut my hair! That's right! Nothing would give me more pleasure than to have it all chopped off. I want some control over my own life and my own body." The voice on the other end of the line broke into his monologue and he went silent for a few minutes. Then he cut back into the conversation and reinforced his point, "Mason, I get it! You don't have to explain. Of course I know how it'll affect my marketability. But, I want a break. That's my point. And it'll grow back again. Okay, we can talk when we get there. But, let me warn you, I'm not changing my mind!"

After hanging up on poor Mason, the fellow collapsed into the seat next to his bag and let out a big sigh.

The phone call had peeked my interest. I decided to engage him in conversation. "Tough day? You really told that fellow off!"

"Sorry about that drama," he said apologetically. His huge green eyes, framed by his shiny hair, were obviously male model material. "The people who are supposed to be working for me, my agents, want to run my life!"

"That seems to be your theme today, not having control over your own life. But I agree with Mason, your hair....."

"Don't get me started about my hair! See that barbershop right over there? If I had time, I march over there right now and have one of those old geezers take a clippers to it. My declaration of independence. Bald! Shave me bald! I'd love to see the look on Mason's face as I emerged from the baggage claim area clipped down like a marine recruit," he laughed. He ran his fingers through his long hair and continued talking, "Actually, I owe my modeling start to my hair -- shampoo ad in a sports magazine, followed by a national TV commercial for a hair product. Wasn't this long originally. That came later. Eventually, I achieved a full range of modeling gigs....with the long, full hair being featured more and more prominently." He continued running his fingers through his full tresses. Then he simulated a set of clippers. "What I'd love to be featured in today is an add for electric hair clippers! Look, it clips quickly through the thickest, fullest head of hair! In seconds, the long hair will be falling to the floor."

"One of those barbers is available right now. How long do you think it would take to shave it all off? Ten minutes max?" I asked.

"Well, to be honest, I wasn't really thinking about shaving it all off. I just want a short, practical cut for a change, the type most men enjoy. Like yours!" The fellow laughed nervously, "And, I haven't been in a barbershop since I was five," he stammered.

"So, you were being dramatic!" I laughed. "Look, we won't be boarding for at least another 30-40 minutes. I'll watch your things. Go have the geezer take the clippers to you....and go for broke. Be brave -- shave it all off. A baldy! Once in your life you need to experience the thrill of a radical change...doing something wild and crazy."

The fellow fondled his hair tentatively. He glanced at this watch, then at the gate area. 'Flight boarding in 42 minutes....'

He stood up abruptly, "You'll watch my things?"

I smiled broadly. "Sure, if you go for a baldy!"

"You're on. I'll have the barber take it all off, down to the wood! Poor Mason will have a cardiac attack on the spot when he sees me without long hair! Is this insane?" he asked, almost imploring me to call it off.

"Go for it! Be brave....who knows, the bald look might open up a whole new world of opportunity," I said.

The fellow hustled over to the barbershop and pushed the door right open. He looked so out of place with his flowing, male model locks as I watched him through the huge plate glass windows.

He took a seat in the chair and the geezer caped him up. The barber brushed through his hair and I watched the two chat.

Just then I heard his cell phone ring. It was sitting inside his open bag. I saw the name of the caller flash on the screen, Mason O'Dowd.

I decided to answer the phone, "Hello, Mason?"

"Where's Jim?" he asked.

"Barber shop," I replied.

"What, I thought he was at the airport, at DFW!" Mason exclaimed.

"He is. Our flight leaves from gate C-17, right across from the barber shop in the gate area of the terminal. In fact, the barber just finished fastening the cape around his neck. All that hair looks amazing, resting on the snowy white cape. Now I'm watching the barber reach for the clippers. Oh my, he chose a huge set. Real heavy duty type. Poor Jim's hair doesn't stand a chance!"

My heart raced as I watched the old geezer holding the clippers as the two continued their conversation a bit. The client had a bit of a worried smile on his face. The barber pushed his head forward towards the cape and mounds of his hair dangled forward, covering much of his face.

"Stop the haircut! He is making a huge mistake!" shouted Mason over the phone.

"Yikes! Timber! Too late, Mason. The barber is pushing the clippers up through his hair.... Holy cow, huge clumps are falling to the cape right as we speak," I said.

"He's getting a clipper cut?" Mason panted. "I knew he's been wanting to cut it, but shaved bald?!

"Down to the wood," he told me. "Now the barber is running the clippers across the top of his head. It's like he's in a marine boot camp! Hair is falling in torrents! He has a bit of a dazed look on his face. Oh, there's a bit of a crowd gathering in front of the window to watch. I can't see...."

"He is an idiot! His hair is main distinctive, his trademark."

"Was, Mason. His hair was his main distinctive and trademark. Now, he's quickly turning into a handsome baldy! Mason, the barber is taking him down almost to the scalp. Like a five o'clock shadow," I added. "Wow, those clippers are awfully powerful. It's amazing how quickly they're making short work out of his long hair. Perhaps you can explore the possibility of him advertising for shaving gel and razors. He'd look so sexy with a towel wrapped around his waist, looking into a bathroom mirror, dragging a razor across his head...."

Mason perked up a bit, "Yes, that's a great idea. Of course, the former longhaired model now smooth, clean! But, any contract would probably stipulate he keep the cueball throughout the terms. Not sure Jim would agree to that."

"Nothing would please Jim more than the shiny bald look on him for the next five years! That would be the perfect antidote to his having had to endure long hair for so long," I laughed. "You know how insistent he's been to ordering the big chop."

"If I can arrange a deal while you're in flight, I'll use the power of attorney he's given me to sign," said Mason. "Do you agree?"

"Do it! You are a loyal agent, Mason. I know Jim would be thrilled to have a new contract wrapped up for him by the time our flight lands in Miami. Perhaps you could work out a little deal for me...." I laughed.

By the time I hung up Jim's phone, his haircut was nearing an end. The cape was virtually solid brown. His head looked small without the full mane of hair. I detected a rather queasy look on Jim's face, even before the barber spun the chair around to show off the new bald look.

Minutes later, Jim staggered out of the shop rubbing his bald head. The clipped look was extremely severe. "I can't believe I just did that," he stammered as he neared me in the gate area.

"Did you see that crowd watching outside the window of the shop?" I asked.

"Not really. Once the clipping started and the hair started falling to the cape in torrents, I got really light headed. Had to grip the arms of the chair to steady myself. Couldn't think about anything else except what was happening to me was insanity. I still can't believe I'm bald....no hair. How does it look?" Jim asked.

"Totally different. Like a marine recruit leaving the boot camp barbershop." I gave myself permission to stroke his stubble. "Wow, feel that." Jim seemed to enjoy the stroking, so I continued it a bit.

"I still feel light headed. Do you think there's time for me to go check out my new look before the flight boards?" he asked.

"Sure, go ahead, they haven't started calling the flight yet," I said.

Right after he left the gate area, I heard a text come through on Jim's phone. I saw it was from Mason. "Good news. Gillette would be thrilled to sign you on. Are you sure you want to model with a shaved chromedome look?"

I quickly texted back, "Absolutely. Use your PoA to sign. Love the hair-free look and feel!" Mason had no idea the text wasn't coming from poor, unsuspecting Jim.

When Jim got back to the gate he was rubbing his head, "I sort of miss the soft, silken feel. Now that the long hair is gone, I'm thinking I made a mistake. This stubble is sharp and almost cutting."

"There's a solution for that," I noted. "Lather shaved, totally bald...smooth silken feel."

"Oh, I could never do that!" Jim said with a startled voice. "I wonder how long it'll take to grow back?"

Then his phone signaled a new text message. He looked quizzically at the screen. "What's gotten into Mason? A Gillette contract? What's this about? The PoA?"

Just then the flight was called, starting with the premium cabin. Jim jumped up and forgot the message on his phone. "Not sure I did the right thing with the baldy" he sighed wistfully.

"I'm not either. You had such amazing hair.... Now with it gone, your head looks rather small and perhaps a bit misshapen," I smirked.

Jim slinked away, feeling his stubble.

A few minutes later when I slipped through first class on the way to coach, I heard him yammering away on the phone, "Mason, you'll have to simply undo the contract! Chromedome bald for the next five years?! You can't be serious!"

I felt a bit bad for my part in Jim's dilemma. Not too bad though....he'd be paid a pretty penny for his bald look!




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