Will and Dill's MPB Summer by Derkx
Will and Dill’s Silly Summer
Not realizing their mistake, our parents named us "William" and "Dillon." We were just short of a year apart in our births �" another lack of planning on their part �" and consequently were more like twins than brothers born months apart. To our parents’ remorse, we were instantaneously referred to thereafter as "Will and Dill." One of us (Will) was slightly darker than the other. One (Dill) was slightly taller. One (Will) was a few months’ older. Though not identical physically, we were for sure mental duplicates. I must say, "mental" is an adjective frequently used to describe us.
Because of the awkward timing of our births �" one born in December, the other in the following August �" we were put into the same grade at school.
Growing up, we excelled at pranking each other. Not malicious, body-modifying pranks (nothing permanent except for a few accidental scars). Just run-of-the-mill peeing-in-public and blackening-soap-on-face kinds of pranks. Mom referred to us as "scamps" growing up. In later years she’d just mutter "hopeless" and shake her head. Dad chose to remain totally silent on the subject of his sons.
Despite our lack of scholastic diligence and our generally immature behavior, we were both accepted to an higher education institution. What I mean is, we both got into college. The same college. Wasn’t that school lucky?
The first college summer, between our freshman and sophomore years, we worked at a car wash. We buzzed our heads with Number 1 combs as soon as we realized that we’d be soaking wet ninety percent of the time and our hair would never have time to dry. We were always horsing around with the hoses and had more water exposure than our buddies who lifeguarded that summer.
The second summer, following our sophomore year, was a more serious matter. At least it should have been. When the academic year got rolling again, we’d have to start applying for internships. Like, real job-type internships for the following summer.
Our days of frivolity were numbered. We were no longer teenagers. We had to start behaving like responsible adults, men who would be shaping the destiny of the human race.
So, we decided to have a haircut challenge for that sophomore summer.
We’d be working with a local landscaping company. Amazing Trees and Lawns. (It was a goofy name even though we figured there were probably hundreds of "Amazing" landscapers in the world.)
I, Dill, was the one who found the job, from a flyer posted on a student union bulletin board. I brought it to Will’s attention.
"Not mucking out people’s gardens, I hope. Remember that summer we tangled with the poison ivy?"
"I do remember."
"Who would have thought that a common weed like that could cause such a violent reaction? I never knew innocent children like us could be inflicted with such intense itching. And in very private places."
"We did have calamine lotion as a lubricant," I reminded him. "Whenever we wanted it."
"Yeah, but that didn’t make up for the shots in our respective bottoms. . . . What else have you got, job-wise?"
Will reflected on the prospects for all of five seconds.
"Okay. Groundskeepers we shall be."
We checked the pay: Good. Dress code: Shoes, shorts, T-shirt with company logo. Hair: Anything goes, but long hair has to be tied back. (I had gory visions of some guy’s long hair getting pulled into a wood chipper or tangled in a chain saw. Surely they wouldn’t trust us with dangerous machinery? Not if they knew us.)
The haircut challenge was Will’s idea, as the elder brother. Being compliant (or do I mean complicit?) in all brotherly matters, I, Dill, went along. The plan was that we’d present a variety of different haircuts for each other. We’d print out representative haircuts from the internet and put them into envelopes. Then we’d head off to the barber shop to keep appointments Will had already made. At the barbers’ we’d each present twelve envelopes to the other. We’d each select one envelope from the spread-out array, without knowing what photo was inside. Whatever picture we each selected, that was the haircut we’d get. No questions. No backing out. And no mirror-watching until the haircuts were finished. And we’d have to keep the haircuts all through the summer.
"A dozen is a good number, right?" Will said. "There’s bound to be a good selection."
"Sure. Bound to be." I smiled deviously to myself.
We carried out our online research in separate locations and selected our print-outs. On the appointed day we went to the barber shop. We were early, anxious and in high spirits. It was nervous laughter but at least we were laughing. We hadn’t had haircuts since spring break and hadn’t shaved our beards in just as long, so we were more than ready to be de-scruffied. De-scruffified?
I went first, selecting an envelope from those Will spread out. Which one would he expect me to pick? I wondered. I figured he’d expect me to take one from the center or just to either side of the center. So, I took one from the very end and handed it to my barber.
Then I spread out the envelopes I’d prepared. Following my lead, Will selected one from the end and gave it to his barber.
"Ready, Will?" I asked.
"Ready, Dill," he answered.
Like we were getting into place at the starting gate for a race, we took seats on the side-by-side barber chairs. The barbers turned us to a blank wall, covered us with capes, and collared us with those white paper strips.
Before they started their work, the barbers took the photos from their envelopes, studied them and showed them to each other. I could swear I heard snickering.
My hair was wetted down a little with water spray then combed somehow I didn’t quite comprehend. Fine, so far.
Then I heard clippers being turned on. Dual sets of clippers. I expected that, that whichever hairstyle I picked, clippers would likely be involved. I felt the instrument touching the top of my head then being pushed back. I felt metal on my scalp!
With the second and third swipes, I started to relax. I remembered that metal guards were not unusual in barber shops. I didn’t know which guard was being used, but that was probably all it was. Some guard on the clippers, not the bare blades.
"How you doing over there, Dill?" my brother called. We could only see each other peripherally. I glanced over. He was smirking at me.
"Fine. Same with you?" I realized I was smirking too. His haircut was coming along just as I expected.
"No complaints here."
The haircuts went on for a long time. I could hear and feel the clippers, then the scissors. I wasn’t paying much attention to my own haircut since I couldn’t see it. Instead I keep stealing glances over to my brother’s chair.
When the buzzing and clipping stopped, my barber spread hot shaving foam around my ears and neck (which I pretty much expected) and of course over my clipped-down beard. I was starting to doze off as he was shaving the scruff.
"All done." "Here too." The barbers’ voices stirred me fully awake. They removed our capes and turned our chairs to face each other.
Will and I broke into hysterical laughter, pointing, guffawing. "Wait until you see . . .!"
We were then turned to the mirrors to finally see the outcome through our reflections. Suddenly we both stopped laughing.
Will’s dark, straight hair was cut down on the sides and back, and was shaved to create a male pattern baldness feature on top. No shadow of dark stubble appeared on his scalp. On his face, a wimpy moustache remained. My brother was MPB and looked about twenty years older!
The greater shock for me was my own haircut. My sideburns were shaved short, to the tops of my ears. The sides and back were short, with an exaggerated high arc over the ears, and a block cut at the back that would become an inch-high path of stubble within a few days. The top was the worst! My scalp had been shaved to the bone like Will’s, except not as extensively. Instead, long wavy light strands from the side were combed up and over my scalp to create a pathetic, see-through comb-over. I looked at least twenty-two years older!
I was stunned! Will was stunned! Speechless!
Then all of a sudden we both broke out into laughter again. The barbers joined in. "A good time was had by all," as they say.
"By the way," one of the barbers said, "we looked in the other envelopes."
"You were each given twelve identical pictures. I guess you were both pretty sure what you wanted to do to each other!" That was my plan. And apparently it was Will’s too. We were much too much alike!
My side was starting to hurt from laughing so much. It was true. Will and I had each printed out twelve identical copies of the photos we’d picked. As victims, we had no choice at all.
One of the barbers suggested that we should have some manscaping done as long as we were there. Free of charge if we let them be creative.
In the backroom they used for that kind of grooming, Will and I took off our shirts. We’d put on a few extra pounds since spring break . . . in truth, since Christmas break. (We’d work it off over the summer, we agreed.) Will’s treatment emphasized the extra bit of flab. A circle was shaved on each breast, leaving hairy-ringed nipples in the centers. Likewise a smooth circle was shaved around his hairy belly button, emphasizing its increased volume.
I don’t know whether I was luckier or not. My barber shaved diagonal stripes across my torso. When he was finished, I looked like I had a chest hair comb-over!
"What about this?" I asked, holding up one of my hairy arms. The haircut challenge was Will’s idea. This would be my creative contribution.
It didn’t take long to finish off the manscaping. Will decided to carry on the theme. He had bands of hair, circlets, shaved off his arms and legs. I opted for spiral stripes down my arms and legs.
Our new boss at Amazing Trees didn’t mind at all when we showed up for work with our new fashions. He said a good laugh was great for team morale. "You jokers!"
Customers didn’t mind either. They thought we were hilarious! More importantly, they tipped us very generously.
We kept our appearances, the complete looks, the entire summer, with frequent touch-ups. We maintained lawns, we maintained ourselves. Some pruning here, some pruning there. One difference was that we mowed lawns but shaved the tops of our heads. I was careful to keep my wavy comb-over strands and let them grow longer. Will left his moustache untrimmed to achieve a paint-brush style.
When summer ended, we regretted having to go back to normal (or as normal as my brother and I ever were). We went back to the same barbers to have our heads completely shaved. It felt good with the hot lather and sharp blades now that we knew exactly what was happening. We also indulged and paid extra to have the same service executed on our chests, arms and legs.
It was sad giving up the MPB hair (or should I say "lack of hair"?), but was necessary. When the time came to interview for next summer’s internships, we’d be sporting presentable short haircuts.
We had a good giggle though when we first saw ourselves in the full-length mirrors at the barbers’. At the beginning of summer, we hadn’t considered that we’d inevitably acquire tans over the following months.
For weeks after shaving, we had darker tan caps on the tops of our white scalps, mine with horizontal stripes. And our arms and legs had alternating bands of brown and white until the tans faded and the hair grow out. My chest looked like I was the victim of an animal attack with long white scratches. The circles on Will’s chest made targets of his nipples and belly button. And his upper lip was so pale it looked like a blond moustache from a distance.
We couldn’t have gone on like that, with the MPBs, forever. Too bad. At least we had the memories. And the photos. Plenty of photos. When we showed them to Mom, she shook her head.
"Someday you’ll have boys of your own," was all she said. Was that a curse?