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Just Like Marty's by Ken


It was the early 80s and every guy, or at least most of them, have long hair. So did I, even though I never really liked it. I grew it long because every guy in high school seemed to have long hair and the last thing anyone wants in high school is to be different.

I had a job in the back room of a small locally owned restaurant. I liked the job and I liked the boss. We got along well. I would sometimes wash dishes, sometimes help out in the kitchen, other times, I'd help the wait staff, bus tables, things like that.

One day, I was in the back cutting up boxes for the dumpster and Marty, the owner was out back. We were chatting and he commented on my hair. "You're hair's gotten long, hasn't it?"

I nodded. "Yeah."

"Let me ask you, do you really like your hair that long?"

I shook my head. "Not really, Marty. But everyone else has long hair."

"So you do to. Right?"

"I guess."

"Does that make sense to you?"

"Not really."

"It's already looking to be a hot summer," Marty said looking at the sky. He was right, there were already heat advisories posed and it wasn't even the middle of June yet. "That hair's going to be hot."

"I guess so. Maybe I'll get it cut...maybe I'll get a summer hair cut."

"Really?"

"Yeah. Get it shortened up a bit, maybe up around the ears."

"Well, that would look better. I tell you what, you walk to work, right?"

"Yep, every day. Why?"

"You walk by Hanks Barbershop, up there on the corner of Union Road. You know where it is?"

"Yeah, never been in there, but, yeah, I walk right by it."

"I tell you what. I've known Hank for years, he cuts my hair. I pay for the hair cut. I'll stop by in the morning and take care of it. Get a nice summer hair cut before coming in to work tomorrow."

I had to think about that. "I don't know, Marty. My Mom's friend usually cuts my hair."

"So. Then go there. But, in case you change your mind, I'll let Hank know you might be by. Okay?"

"Okay, thanks, Marty." Marty was the best boss ever. My father had passed long ago, and he was kind of like a father to me. Not just me, but to a bunch of the other guys there. He was just a good guy, gave nice raises, took care of us.


The next morning, I asked my mom is her friend could cut my hair that day. It was going to be another hot one. But she was out of town for two weeks. So, it was wait another two weeks to get my hair cut, or go to Hanks. It was an appealing idea, get it shortened up before it go too hot. Plus, Marty was nice enough to pay for it. I'd only been working for him for a few months, but already he wasn't anyone I wanted to let down. So I left a bit early for work so I could stop by at Hanks.

The bell rang as I walked into the shop. It was only 2 o'clock on a Wednesday and no one was in the shop, except for a man sitting in the barber chair reading the paper.

He sprung up and said "Welcome to Hanks...what'll it be?"

"Well, I want a short summer cut. My boss said for me to stop buy?"

"You boss Marty?" He smiled.

"Yes sir."

"Ah, well, then you have a seat, young man. I've known Marty for almost 30 years now." I took a seat and he wrapped a tissue paper around my neck. Then he snapped the cap and wrapped it around my neck and fastened it. I was quite excited to get my hair cut shorter. "So, then Marty was saying you wanted a nice short summer cut. The heat and all that."

"Yes sir, I really don't like it this long. So I'm looking forward to having it off my ears."

"Well, do you have any idea of what you want?"

"Not really, I do want it cut much shorter." My hair was touching my shoulders.

"Marty was in this morning for his summer cut, you want what he got? I must warn you, it's short."

"I guess that sounds fine. He's paying for it, so, why not."

"You got it." He spun the chair so I was looking out the window. He reached around and plugged in a set of clippers. He turned them on and that's when my heart first skipped a beat. With one hand, he combed my hair back, then he placed the clipper at the top of my head and started cutting. He brought from the front to the back over and over again. I could feel the cool of the air conditioning. I couldn't see what he was doing, but I was in a cold panic of how short it was going to be. I wanted it shorter, but this, not so sure. My heart skipped another beat when his hand went to the top of my head to tilt it to the right and I could feel the warmth of his fingers. He cut the sides and the back, running the clipper from bottom to top pretty quickly. I saw some clumps of light brown hair accumulate on the floor and the cape.

"Okay, not much longer," he announced. He hung up those clippers and grabbed another pair, smaller. He started at the top again and repeated the process. Slower this time, and I didn't see any hair pile up, just some small clipping get in my face, so had to close my hair for the duration, or risk getting it in my eyes. When he was done he used a small brush to sweep the hair away from my face. He took the cape off an spun me toward the mirror.

It didn't even look like me. "I'm bald," I said.

"No, that's not bald, here, feel, you have a little hair left."

I felt my head and he was right, it was stubble. "Mary's hair isn't this short," I said.

"It is now. He got his summer cut this morning. But you know, you've gone this far, you should finish it up. What do you think?"

My head was still swirling at the idea of all my hair reduced to just stubble. Some where, I heard myself say "Okay."

"Atta boy," Hank said. "You're going to love it."

He didn't turn me away from the mirror this time. He wrapped a hot towel around my head and placed a couple of razor blades in some handle thing. Then he covered my head with white shaving cream. He slowly ran the razor over my head. He was right, I wasn't bald, but I was going to be in short order. I kept, for fear, my head a solid as a rock and watched as this incredibly skilled barber shaved my head smooth bald. When he was done, he rubbed my head down with a soft warm towel, then rubbed some lotion into it.

I reached up and felt my smooth head. I couldn't believe it. I was bald. I'd gone from a full head of light brown hair to a big round bald head. I didn't have to pay. Hank said he'd shave it once a week for two-fifty. But 15 dollars a month, he'd shave my head bald any time I walked by his shop. I started at the shiny bald head looking back at me. "I'll think about it," I said.

I walked to work, it was only another 10 minute walk, and felt my bald head every chance I could. When I got to work, I was surprised how well received my hair cut got by everyone. A Marty Special, they were calling it. I wasn't the first guy who got their head shaved who worked there, no counting Marty, of course. I worked the day and everything was fine. Carmen, one of the waitresses, who wouldn't give me the time of day, all of a sudden was willing to talk to me. She was actually very nice.

When I got home, my mom was stunned but she said she liked it. The next, when I got up, I could feel the stubble, the hair starting to grow back. I left a little early for work and stopped by Hanks.

"Hey, Hank," I said. "I just got paid. Here's 45 dollars. That should take me from now until the middle of September. Right?"

He smiled, "Yep. Have a seat."

Middle of September, that's two weeks into school. I'd be ready for it then, after three months of being bald.



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