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Butterflies II by Mark DeMarlo
By Mark DeMarlo
In the first Butterflies story my grandpa asked my parents to see that I get a haircut. As he wanted me to accompany him to Toronto. His two sisters were flying in from Belfast Ireland
My hair had grown out nicely; it was 7 months since I had gotten that short Ivy which was more of a crew cut. In 1975 at 14 going on 15 as much as I had a developing passion wanting a short barbershop haircut, it was bittersweet. It was Friday late in the afternoon; the following Monday school was starting. I thought I would be starting the 9th grade with hair covering my ears; instead I have to go and get a clean-cut haircut. Turns out I got to the barbershop and the place was closed. Great, I get to put the haircut off. Hopefully I can plead my case to my Dad and he will let me just get a trim. Grandpa will be upset, but he will get over it. So, I turned my bike around and started for home.
Crossing some train tracks I noticed that the caboose on the end of the train was wide open. A friend of mine Kenny was coming out of the caboose carrying some flares. I hollered at him, and he and I rode into nearby woods. Kenny was riding on the handlebars of my bike. Where nobody could see us we lit up a few flares playing with them. We were burning nasty words on a nearby wooden fence. We were having a blast. That is until the owner of the fence called out loudly. That’s "that" Mark Demarlo, I recognize you young man. He continued "I know your father and i’m going to call him. Now get the hell out of here and go home. Before we left I burned in his fence that he was an old poo face.
Kenny and I laughed all the way home. When I walked in the house I stopped laughing. My dad and Mom were mad as hell. It was dark outside, the streetlights were on. Old poo face had called and the worse thing was I had not gotten my hair cut. My dad didn’t believe me that the barber shop was closed. It was only 6:30 pm, wasn’t really late. With time changing it got dark earlier. I finished my dinner and my dad told me to get in the car. He said he knows a barbershop in Garden City that he has noticed before it that it stays open until 8:00 pm. I was devastated, whenever in the past that my dad took me for a haircut it never turned out well for me. I tried to hide in the garage behind my mom’s car, but dad found me like a blood hound. Pulling me by my arm out from behind the 66 Thunderbird that my dad had given my Mom. It was 9 years ago he purchased the T-bird brand new. He treated that Thunderbird better than any of us. It was always waxed, tuned to perfection. It ran so smooth it was hard to tell when the engine was running. A tilt steering wheel, everything was power on that car. From the windows, rag top to the power brakes. The tiny turn signal lights (little rockets) on the right and left hood of the car that driver / passenger could only see. Larger yellow turn signal lights flashed near each headlight. I liked the long horizontal tail lights that when turning would blink in sequential 1-2-3. It was a cool fast car.
I wasn’t going to get out of the haircut. I started giving my dad as he put it "some lip". We are taking your mothers car he said. The Eldorado is acting up again, it’s a lemon. He said it must have come off the assembly line on a Monday or a Friday. To my dad cars rolling off the assembly line on a Monday or Friday have a higher chance of being a lemon? Monday the auto workers have hang overs, and Fridays they want to hurry up and get off work for the weekend. The Elderodo was only a year old, but he didn't buy it brand new like his precious Thunderbird so he had no idea what day of the week it was made. Back then it wasn’t just my dad, but everybody was a bit flippy when it came to their cars. Don’t you dare buy something foreign? You might get tarred and feathered.
I grew some balls for the moment and told my dad I was not going to get my haircut at some hick barbershop in Garden City. Grabbing me again by my arm and putting me in the T-bird. My dad gave me a hard whack three times on my butt, half holding me up with one arm. He said to me with a cigarette hanging bobbing up and down while talking "boy, you got enough guts to hang on a fence, talking to me like that. You give me anymore lip and I’ll take my belt off". Now get your ass in that car. And it kept getting worse, backing out of the driveway he came to close to the Eldorado and scratched up both cars. I swear I seen smoke coming out of his ears. It was the cigarette he was smoking, but as red as he turned it looked like it came out of his ears. My mom came outside and I started crying. I was in brat mode and was mad at my dad. Remembering the three wacks on my butt I had just gotten. My mom was saying. Whats he crying for, what happened. I said "dad hit me". Needless to say I didn’t have to get a haircut that night. I knew my mom would give him hell because he had drank a few beers. My mom wouldn’t let him discipline me when he has been drinking. I thought for a minute or two that I had gotten away without getting a single hair on my head cut
My mom is clever though. She told my grandpa, and to my absolute horror my grandpa said no problem; we will stop and get his hair cut nice and fresh on the way to Toronto. He said he knows just the place. His plan was to leave hours earlier.
He took me to a barbershop in Peterborough Ontario. There was only one barber in the shop; he was around my grandpa’s age. Those butterflies were in my stomach.
I sat down in the old black leather, wood and chrome barber’s chair. The barber fastened a neck strip and cape over me. Pumping up the chair he didn’t ask me but asked my grandpa how he wanted my hair cut. Panic set in and my stomach was churning because my grandpa said "give him a crew-cut, well groomed but a real, real short crew cut. Flat on the top. I want him to look like he goes to a military school. Those boys always have their hair cut like a lad should, they look sharp.
I pleaded with him "grandpa no, please not that short, please grandpa I have to go to school Monday". And you shale start school on Monday, with a crew-cut. As I was still begging not to get a crew-cut the clippers fired up and hair was falling all over me and the floor. In no time he had went from my left to right side and coming back around. Clipped 1/8 of an inch to my crown. Then another shorter clipper blade 1/16 of an inch up near to where he first clipped. I had accepted my fate, I was getting a crew-cut, and it was going to be really short. Then yet another clipper without any kind of a guard on the blade. I could feel the vibrating clipper blade against my skin, on my neck, buzzing real close around my ears. With a comb he lifted the hair on-top and buzz, lift and buzz over and over. A huge chunk of hair around 4" fell severed onto my face, and dropping onto the cape. Buzz, buzz lift buzz more hair fell onto my nose then to the cape. He was rubbing wax into the scarce little bit left on top and made it stand up straight. With a comb and clippers he took it down to an inch, nice and flat. Then warm lather he shaved a clean arch around my ears and the close tapered nape. Edging out neat very close-clipped sideburns, cut up high. Then there were no sideburns. This was by far the shortest haircut, a military crew-cut I have ever had. My grandpa bought some butch-wax on the way out. I looked like I went to the Marine Core Military Academy JROTC. Before we went to the airport I had to change and wear a crisp shirt and a tie. This was in 1975. I looked and felt like a freak. My grandpa looked at me with such pride, he even said "im real proud of the way ya look lad, a fine grandson ya are. With his thick Irish accent. That’s what made it ok, my grandpa was a good man. He took many pictures of me that day with that fresh from the barbershop crew-cut, butch-waxed to perfection and wearing a crisp shirt & tie. At the Toronto airport of all the hundreds of people there I was the only one with a butch-waxed crew-cut. I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide. My grandpa’s two sisters Ellie and Annie asked if I attended a military school. I told them no, pointed in the way of my grandpa and said "he made me get this haircut not even an hour ago". Answering that; grandpa said "its going to last him a while. His father said to make sure he gets a crew-cut. Its your dad who wanted you to get a crew-cut. I got a feeling he is going to make you keep it too. By next week you won’t even be thinking about it. You will get used to it.