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I Should Have Kept Quiet! by Jonathan


It had to be the hottest day I'd ever seen. My mother's family in Houston Texas had just had a huge family reunion. My father, mother and I were heading back home to California driving across the massive state of Texas. Of course it was summer and of course it was hot and humid. Thermometers along the roadside seemed to be busting over their edges at 110 degrees f. If that weren't bad enough it was humid as hell.

I was 13 at the time and a rebellious spoiled brat as even I can remember. It was 1970 and most cars on the road still didn't come with air conditioning. It was an extra cost luxury that most people didn't get with their cars. My dad's old 1961 Chevy didn't have it as we drove through the blazing heat somewhere along route 66. The main highways were just starting to be completed and this soon would unfortunately or fortunately change parts of the country like this forever. It all depended on how you looked at progress. Many little bustling towns would soon be completely passed over by motorists. This would soon start to erode at their economies.

All four windows were rolled down on the old Chevy as we plowed through the desolate inferno at 80 miles per hour. Even the odvious breeze did little to help. Cacti, dust and tumble weeds provided a scenery that only seemed to intensify the stifling heat!

We were in the Northwestern corner of midland Texas soon to reach Arizona, then hopefully California. There was no plan of course drive, then stop somewhere along the way for the night at some cheap motel, then head out again. My parents should have driven in the cooler night time, but no they wouldn't listen to my idea.

I was growing my hair out longer as it was now in style. I'd done it last year, but my father had a fit when I got two D's and it was cut tidy up over the ears again as a sort of punishment. The wind was wipping my shoulder length dark brown hair around as I road in the back seat. It felt strange and cool at the same time. I mistakenly kept complaining and begging to stop and get a drink. I persisted to tell my parents we should just find a place now and spend the night. It was around 3 in the afternoon now.

I should have kept my mouth shut as I would really regret my bratty attitude about three hours later that evening. I had no idea my dad was a nervous wreck watching the temperature gauge climb higher on the nearly 10 year old Chevy. It was probably a miracle it hadn't over heated already. We saw many many old and even newer cars pulled over along the side of the road overheated.

Suddenly as we approached the town of Big Spring Texas my dad yelled out the f word.

"What's wrong honey?" my mom asked.

"The dam car is nearly overheated and the needle on the gage is dangerously close to hot," he said.

We'd seen those other poor souls pulled over stuck and overheated, now it was our turn. Of course back then, no cell phones or call boxes. We'd likely bake to death out in what might have been 115 degree heat.

"Dam it, dam it," my dad yelled.

I had to chime in with a bunch of I told you so's from the back seat. The truth was I was a little scared at what might happen to us if this old heap stopped out here.

"Duncan I don't want another word out of you for awhile!" my dad yelled.

I could tell he was stressed at both my parents lit up two cigs in the front seat to smoke. The sign said Welcome to Big Spring Texas. We had no choice but to pull off and look for somewhere to stop. The old Chevy was on its last legs now.

The town was spread out and we drove to the nearest gas station and stopped. At that very moment a hose broke on the car and water and steam spewed out all over.

"Cold drinks in there dad!I'm thirsty!" I yelled.

"Not yet!" my dad said.

He had the car to deal with and my poor mom who walked over to what little shade she could find and smoke a cigerette. I should have realized once again how stressed he was.

"When we get home you're getting another haircut, you're looking like a girl," he snapped.

Now I knew I needed to shut my mouth! I didn't want to start 6th grade with another clipper short haircut and look like a dope.

Nearly an hour passed and the gas station mechanic had rounded up a hose to fit the old Chevy. The plan was now to spend the night in Big Spring and head to California in the morning. We drove off looking for a hotel or a motel.

My mom spotted a great big place called Hotel Settles. It was the tallest building in the town.

"Oh honey, look at that hotel," she said.

"Too expensive!" he snapped.

We drove and drove to the center of this midland town. Finally he'd picked what looked like the cheapest dump he could find. It was a bet up Spanish style motel that looked at least 50 years old and had no air conditioning.

As we pulled in I had to make one last regrettable comment that likely caused me to lose all my hair in 30 minutes or so.

"Dad, this place looks beat up and dumpy. Can't you take your family someplace nicer!" I yelled.

"No more outta you Duncan!" he snapped.

We checked in and the room was a dump with one bed. The man said he'd roll a roll away bed in for me. Somehow the room seemed hotter than the outside. We opened all the windows and turned on the dusty old ceiling fan.

We finally got some cold pop to drink after we unpacked. As we sat on the small stoop outside the door I noticed something really disturbing!

The owner of the motel was shaving one of his son's heads with a pair of electric hair clippers outside the motel office door. The boy was sitting in a chair with no shirt on and being shorn down bald. My heart raced at this sight. Losing my hair like that was a 13 year old's nightmare. The kid sat completely compliant as the dad shaved his long hair completely off. He must of been about my age. The other boy was playing with the hose as he ran around shirtless in the dirt parking lot.

"Now that's a proper haircut for a young man," my dad said.

I had no idea he was serious. In 15 minutes I'd be sitting in that old kitchen chair in the dirt getting my beautiful long hair completely shaved to the bone.

When the kid's hair was done he got the hose and rinsed his bald scalp over and over with the cool water. The head shimmering in the sun as the water poured over it. The younger kid got on the chair next. Soon his light brown hair was falling to the dirt ground.

"Hey, you got time for one more of those haircut specials of yours?" my dad asked.

My dad pointed to the top of my head laughing.

"Sure buddy, why not!" the man responded.

"Oh no, not me I'm not shaving my head!" I yelled.

Could he be serious? I knew this was pay back for my horrible attitude all that afternoon. I was in panick mode. Being shaved bald headed was my worst nightmare. I'd have to face my friends and school started in two weeks. No this can't happen to me I said to myself.

"Are you sure Duncan wants a haircut like that?" asked my mom.

"He needs a haircut, it's free and it'll teach him a lesson," my dad said.

I had to think fast, he was dead serious about this. The other kids hair was nearly shaved off now. Would I being next in that little chair being sheared like a bratty sheep? Could I run? I froze in panick mode now.

"Next!" yelled the man.

"Come one over here kid, your next!" the man demanded.

"No!" I said.

"Duncan, get over there!" my dad said.

"No I don't want to be bald!" I yelled.

I was ready to cry at this point. I knew this was for real now.

"Get him over here, don't be such a chicken kid," said the man.

Just then the man came over to us. His older son and he grabbed my arms and literally dragged me over to that chair. I could feel hot tears running down my checks. I started to sob.

"Come on don't be a cry baby, I didn't cry," said the now bald youngest son.

I sat still and realized what a fool I must of looked like whiny and all at 13 years old.Suddenly the sting of the blades ran across my scalp above my forehead. Two long stands of my dark brown hair hit the dirt. More rubbing of the metal blades on my scalp and longer stands cept falling all around me. My hair was coming right off. My head faster than I imagined. The big heavy set man twisted and turnEd my head in funny directions as he shaved it. I was red with anger now. I felt him fold down an ear and the clippers shaved loudly around it. Then the other ear was being help down firm by this man's fingers. He rubbed my scalp with his massive hands to check it. All over once more he ran the clippers across and over my head. I felt lighter and strange. He twisted my head once again, then finished the last bits off my neck.

"Done, get up and wash it kid," he said.

The older boy handed me the hose. When I wet my head and felt I expected to feel wet hair, no hair! Just sand papery stuble. I hated my bald head! It was worse when I looked in the mirror. My forehead, white scalp and ears were all I saw. That day I may have gotten a little better at knowing when to keep my mouth shut!



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