Dr. McDaniel Exerts Authority by Manny
I knocked on the door to Dr. McDaniel's office and waited for the instruction -- "Enter!"
The literature professor was busy at his desk, scribbling some notes on a sheet of paper. As he continued writing, without looking up, I was treated to a full, unobstructed view of the ample landing strip that was located smack in the middle of his meticulously manicured flattop. The white skin gleamed brightly, contrasting nicely with his dark hair that had been caked with a waxy substance which made it shine. It looked like Dr. McDaniel had just been to the barber shop. I shuffled on my feet, waiting for my presence to be acknowledged. It seemed like he was playing a bit of a power trip with me by making me wait in that awkward manner.
Finally, he looked up and smiled, "Ah, Cedric! Have a seat."
As he did so, I realized that Dr. McDaniel had gotten new glasses -- thick, black plastic frames that screamed 1960! I could not stop staring at them -- his transformation from a laid-back, longhaired, hippy-type prof to a military-like 50's father had been rather quick and very drastic.
"I see, you're admiring my new glasses!" He adjusted them a bit. "My brother-in-law took me to the base this weekend -- got my flattop tightened up at the barber shop and these new glasses. What do you think?"
I stammered nervously, "Uh, well, ah, they are quite distinctive. And they make you look very authoritarian."
A pleased look spread across Dr. McDaniel's face, as if that was a response he desired to hear. Then he stood and came out from behind his desk. He had on peg-leg blue polyester pants, paired with clunky black wing-tip shoes and white socks. Gone were his trademark jeans and loafers!
His stare locked on my own haircut. "Your shoe, Cedric. It's in need of some attention, don't you think?" The professor's fingers gently stroked my nape, sending chills down my spine. I sat quietly and submissively. "You weren't going to let this grow out, were you?!"
My face reddened. That was exactly what I'd been planning to do! Obviously, Dr. McDaniel was not going to stand for that....
"No, sir," I mumbled. "I just haven't had time to get to the barber shop with all my school work."
Dr. McDaniel smiled approvingly. "Well, in a way, that's fortuitous, because I have a special project for you, Cedric. A foreign exchange student who needs a mentor. Someone to show him around campus. Someone to help him settle in to university life in America." Dr. McDaniel handed me a file. "Someone to help him get a decent haircut! He'll be in class tomorrow."
I gingerly opened the folder. At the top corner of the application form was a photograph of Arvid Knudsen, age 23. Swedish good looks. Shoulder length blond hair!
"He's a literature major and I've been assigned as his advisor. You were so quick in developing a scheme to harvest Dr. O'Reilly's thick ginger braid last month, I thought you would enjoy devising an encore performance with Arvid. That Swedish mane is quite....shall we say, ready for harvest?"
Dr. McDaniel retreated to his desk, pulled open a drawer and retrieved the long ginger braid that he referred to. "I wonder how our dear friend is doing without this in Ireland?" he laughed as he tossed it onto the desk where it landed with a thud. "I'm thinking about having it made into a special wig for you, Cedric! You would look so sweet with the ginger bowlcut!"
That sounded awful! I quickly changed the topic. "About my new project, Arvid, I won't let you down, sir!" I said, hoping for an approving smiled. I kept my eyes averted, in a submissive manner. "Oh, and I like your new wingtip shoes. They look quite practical and much more professional than those loafers you used to sport."
"That sloppy look is a thing of the past! The long hair, the loafers. My brother-in-law, the colonel, is adamant! He wants my shoes to shine like a mirror -- not be some embarrassment. He was very displeased this weekend when he saw how scruffy my loafers looked. 'You can't go on the base with them looking like that!' he bellowed. As I leaned over to wipe them off, his strong and sturdy hand conveyed his displeasure very clearly!" Dr. McDaniel's face conveyed a mixture of embarrassment and excitement as he recalled the incident.
"He spanked you?" I gasped.
"Yes," Dr. McDaniel admitted wistfully. "Actually, I found it the corporal punishment to be quite motivational." Dr. McDaniel eyed me and a slight smile crept across his face. "Stand up, Cedric!" he barked.
I saw him fingering his belt. My face glowed with unwelcome warmth. "Oh, no, Dr. McDaniel! I've never been...."
"Then make sure we don't have to try figuring out if Arvid is a girl or a boy! I want him transformed within a week," Dr. McDaniel snapped as he snatched the folio back from me. "And, make sure you arrive at class early tomorrow, so I can introduce you to Arvid."
When I met Arvid the next day he seemed very happy to be connected to a mentor. Above all, he came across as a shy fellow with a curiosity and adventuresome attitude that wasn't readily apparent at first. And, he wasn't so much handsome as pretty. His glossy tresses with lots of body that flowed past his shoulders, along with other delicate features, were accentuated by his timid manner.
"I can't believe I'm actually here," Arvid commented as we left the lecture hall for the cup of coffee I offered to buy him. "It's a long way from the small hamlet near the Arctic Circle where I grew up. Only 15 houses and one general store. My parents were shocked when I told them I wasn't interested in running the family sheep ranch....that I wanted to go to college. And when I said I was interested in literature, they were in complete disbelief. First to Stockholm and now the the USA. It's a huge distance -- not just geographically but culturally as well!"
"So you're a farm boy!" I laughed. "When Dr. McDaniel showed me your photo I pictured you as some hot shot playboy or male model with that long hair....which is even longer now than in the photo."
Arvid ran his fingers through his hair. "Playboy, ha! That's very funny. I couldn't afford that lifestyle -- sports cars, luxury hobbies, expensive watches.... Actually, this is a typical farmer's haircut where I'm from -- no skill needed for Mom or Dad to snip off a few centimeters periodically. Kitchen haircuts. There were no professional places for that sort of thing within 300 kilometers from where we lived."
Arvid eyed my own flattop horseshoe curiously. "The professor and you wear your hair very short. Dr. McDaniel is like something out of an American movie! He's handsome and so manly. That haircut makes him look like a policeman and military officer."
"If you think this is short, you'll be quite surprised to see me tomorrow. I'm going to the barbershop this afternoon to have my shoe tightened up!" I chirped.
"Shoe? Tightened?" Arvid questioned.
"That's lingo, slang. You're a farmer boy -- what shape do you see with the hair on top?" I asked bowing my head slightly.
A grin broke out, "Oh, a horseshoe! And the clippers run tight to the scalp to get that bald look? I do know what clippers are -- we shear the sheep by hand every year!"
"Precisely!" I replied. "We need to get you a typically American haircut, Arvid. Come with me to the barber after we finish this coffee."
He smiled broadly. "Oh, could I? That would be amazing! I should cut my hair too -- a typical American haircut."
His receptivity to my invitation surprised me. I was hardly expecting him to agree. "If you want to attract the professor's attention and gain his approval, you should get a flattop just like his," I suggested.
"I will shock my family when I send a photo of my new haircut!" Arvid said, chuckling.
Then we sat awkwardly, in silence, for a bit, sipping our coffee. I could tell he was cogitating on the idea of cutting off his long hair.
Finally, Arvid looked up and fixed his gaze on me in a very direct manner. "And what if I should prefer a shoe? Would that gain your attention and approval, Cedric?"
I was taken aback by his bold, direct come-on. So much for me thinking him to be shy and timid!
I could not contain my excitement over pretty Arvid's quick interest in me.
"There's only one way to find out! Let's not wait another minute. There's a chair in the University Barber Shop with your name on it, Arvid!" I bubbled.
In a flash we were on our way, scurrying across campus. I had visions of me playing the dominant role and instructing the barber to shear Arvid down to the bone. 'Shoe him!' I would command.
But, that plan was suddenly thrown into disarray.
Dr. McDaniel was spotted walking toward us. At first I was eager to tell him the news about our destination.
"I am going to show Arvid around, Dr. McDaniel. And our first destination is the University Barber Shop. Arvid and I are getting haircuts!" I babbled.
"No, Cedric!" he snapped unexpectedly. "I need you to run this envelop over to the registrar's office about Arvid's arrival. Stay there while they go over it and make sure they have all the documents they need. I will take Arvid to the barbershop myself!" Dr. McDaniel glared at me through his plastic framed glasses with a commanding presence that made me quickly wither. "What are you waiting for?" he snapped, thrusting the envelop into my hands.
I lowered my head, "Yes, sir. Of course, sir." Arvid and I looked longingly at each other as I was sent on my way and the professor prodded poor Arvid toward the barbershop.
The next day I spotted Arvid sitting nervously, twitching in his seat. He was bald! His head was totally shaved clean. I was absolutely taken aback.
"Oh, Arvid! What happened to you?" I said, quickly sneaking a stroking motion across his sensitive, exposed scalp.
"My head looks like an egg," he sniffled. "Dr. McDaniel marched me to the shop like a drill sergeant. I felt like I was in a bootcamp scene from a movie -- Platoon or Tribes. The authoritative way Dr. McDaniel treated me made me feel very small and vulnerable. The barber and he made fun of my long hair as I was made it sit in the chair. The cape was fastened so tight around my neck, I couldn't breathe. When the barber turned the chair away from the mirror, I felt dizzy. Then Dr. McDaniel announced, 'Chromedome! Strip him clean.' In an instant I was like one of the sheep on our farm in Sweden, locked into a position and watching my blond hair fall to the cape. So much came off. The barber and Dr. McDaniel were laughing and telling me I would look very different with no hair."
"Oh, you do look very different, Arvid. But, it's a good type of different," I murmured, trying to cheer him up a bit.
His eyes perked up a bit, "Really, you think so?" He smiled faintly. "That would mean so much to me if you thought I looked good with the chromedome."
"So good," I said, swallowing hard to force it out of me, "So good, that I want one myself. Stripped clean! No hair either. A total egghead." I felt dizzy and swooned as I said it. My stomach churned. It was the last thing in the world I wanted. In fact, I wanted to let my hair grown out -- longer and longer -- past my shoulders.
Just then, Dr. McDaniel strode into the classroom and walked past us toward the lecturn. "Ah, fellows, you've found each other," he commented as he ambled by. Then he paused, "Don't you think Arvid looks much improved, Cedric?"
"Yes, sir," I demurred, not making eye contact.
"You should get a chromedome yourself, Cedric," he said curtly.
"That is an excellent idea, sir," I replied meekly. "I'll do it right as soon as class ends......"