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Jacks Research Continues by P.J.
Jack showed up a week before the "spring" semester started. We jokingly call it the spring semester here because sometimes spring doesn't even show her head here till after the colleges have left for the "summer". North country seasons are a bit abbreviated, except winter, that seems to be 6 months long at times.
Jack came in Saturday morning, I didn't recognize him at first. Ski hat, scarf, parka and boots pretty much camouflage most of us up here in winter, Jack was no exception, until of course he removed the ski hat. That glorious auburn mane cascaded out, making him instantly recognizable to me.
Jack, my man, good to see you, how was your holiday, I asked. Great Pete, and yours? Somewhat quiet I must admit, usually I get a flurry of the local folks getting cleaned up for Christmas, then it gets quiet till the semester starts again. It isn't quitting time Jack, so what can I do for you, I asked. Well, you mentioned that you get an influx of new recruits around this time, am I recalling correctly? Yes, next week should bring in an increase in induction cuts and such, why, I said.
Well I was cleaning up my notes while on break and realized I haven't really got much material regarding new recruit cuts. Since school isn't really starting for another week, I wondered if I could sit here Tuesday and observe. I raised my brows, well sure, I don't see why not, you'll see a whole different side of guys cuts to be sure. Tuesday I open at 9:00, come on in anytime. I walked over to where he had flopped in the spare chair and playfully picked up the nice long bangs partially covering his striking emerald eyes. He started to smile. Since your here, and it's still quiet, how about taking your parka off and letting me have a go at that mane? He pulled his head back, letting the thick bang shank drop onto his face, pawed it back trying to get it to stay behind his ear. Now Pete, he said, nervously laughing. You know this hasn't grown out enough yet for a trim even. Jack, really, still don't trust me yet 'eh. It's not that Pete, I just want you to have sufficient material to work with, he replied grinning slyly. Jack, believe me, you've got more than enough for one of my razor shaved high and tights, I assure you. Yikes, no way Pete, in that case, no I don't trust you, and probably never will Jack quipped, a hurt expression on his face. (I loved this playful banter we had with each other, I'm pretty sure he'll only ever half trust me, if and when I ever get my hands in that mane.) Some day man, some day, I lamented to myself. He hopped up, popped the hat on and was out the door, see you Tuesday, he shouted, I'll bring breakfast.
I arrived at the shop Tuesday at a little after 9:00. Jack was waiting for me. He had 2 coffees and an assortment of Danish with him. Jack, thank you, but you didn't have to do that I said, remember, you're the poor grad student, right.
He settled in to the spare chair, coffee in one hand Danish in the other , and the ever present laptop ready on the nearby shelf. We didn't have to wait long for the clientele to start to trickle in. I trimmed up a few of my regulars, took a few minutes break around noon, sending Jack out with some cash to pick up subs for us both.
After lunch the new recruit traffic started. Training hadn't started officially yet but there were always a few new recruits who wanted to get a more personal first cut than the stand in line head shave on induction day at the base barber shop. My cut was one of the few that usually garnered a pass by the Sergeant, negating the more public humiliation of standing, watching and waiting to be the next one sheared bald. Most guys today had relatively short hair to begin with so there wasn't a lot to lose. Jack was still impressed by the attitudes of the young recruits. Some resigned to a few weeks of basic, having no hair, then being allowed to grow it out a few millimeters. Others excited to be stripped practically bald for the first time since they were born.
Things were pretty routine until late in the day, A young kid,(guy really) walked in , took off his jacket and hat and hung them on the row of hooks near the door. I had my back to him momentarily, looking at Jack. I saw the eyebrows shoot up and Jack gave a quick intake of breath, looking over at the new customer. He wasn't usually so dramatic so I wondered what had gotten his attention in such a manner. I turned around to see a young guy of about 18, I'd recon, with hair the same color as Jacks, That gorgeous deep auburn color. It was wavy, bordering on curly, and it was amazing. The waves cascaded over his shoulders, he flipped it up off his face, over to one side, like you can only do with LONG hair. It almost shimmered in the soft lighting of the shop as he approached the waiting chairs. No one else was in the shop, so I patted the big chair and said, no need to sit over there son, I think this is the seat you want, right? He smiled sheepishly, flipping the huge bang mop up and over again.
He sat stiffly in the chair, smiling at me. I'm Pete son, I said, introducing myself, what's your name I asked, proffering my hand? Hi Pete, I'm Miles sir. I reached for a steri strip and fresh cape. What can I do for you today Miles, I said, shaking the cape out with a flourish around him. I'm assuming, of course that you want me to do something with your hair, right son? I wrapped his neck with the steri strip and snapped the cape tight. Are you new at one of the colleges this semester son, I haven't seen you around here before. Trust me, with this head of hair, I'd remember you too, by the way, I said, as I started brushing him out.
Jack was transfixed, staring unabashedly at Miles, almost open mouthed. By the way, I said, this gentleman is Jack, he's here doing some research for a paper he's writing. Jack, almost in slow motion, reached out his hand, never taking his eyes off of Miles's mane. Miles reached out from under the cape and shook Jacks hand enthusiastically. In that moment I realized why Jack was acting so strange. It's been said that everyone has a doppelganger, or a twin, out there somewhere. This guy was a bit younger than Jack, but that was about the only difference, that, and the fact that Miles hair was about half again longer than Jacks, and had a slight bit more wave to it. Jack, Miles said, always nice to meet another ginger, man, Miles said, smiling and nodding at Jacks head. Not to be rude Miles, Jack said, smiling back, but Oh, what a magnificent ginger you are, man. Miles blushed a little pink at the flirtatious compliment. Thanks man, I get that a lot since its grown out like this. While all this was going on I was quite enjoying myself, brushing and running my hands through Miles thick wavy mane. It was divine, thick wavy tresses, almost collarbone length at the front, and fully shoulder blade length in back, what a head of hair I thought. Miles, you do have quite the mane here son, I said smiling, and you take great care with it too, this is in great condition. Thanks Pete, Miles replied, I figured if I'm going to grow it out I'm going to do it right. This is two and a half years worth, from a tight side undercut with about a nose length fringe he replied proudly. Much to my parents displeasure. I figured I was only going to get one shot at this so I gave it my best effort.
Well son, I can't really imagine why you're here, with hair like this, but I'll be happy to do anything you require to it, for sure son. Well Pete, that's why I'm here sir, I'm told you're one of the few barbers up here near the base who can do an induction cut and I won't have to get it repeated tomorrow, is that true? You could have heard a pin drop in the shop. Miles, I asked quietly, "are you saying what I think you're saying son"? You need me to give you an induction cut? Yes, Pete, I know it's hard to believe, but that's exactly what I need. I thought we were going to have to get the paddles out for Jack, he looked like he was going to have a heart attack. Jack leaned forward, almost falling out of the chair, "Miles, man, do you mean to tell me you've enlisted in the Army? Oh, son," was all Jack could squeak out.
While Jack was busy regaining his composure, Miles said, I prefer to have this mane cut somewhere more private, other than the base barber shop, with all the other recruits ogling and laughing. I started this grow out knowing I was going to enlist, ROTC, and attend College up here for Aeronautical Engineering. As this school year closed, and I graduated, I realized I'm quite attached to this mane. This color hair is a family trait, seems that one male in each generation gets it. I now appreciate it. Miles sighed, Pete, yes, would you give me an induction cut?
I casually walked over and locked the door and pulled the shade. Miles, I'd be honored to do that for you. On two conditions. Miles wrinkled his brow, what's that? he asked. First, no charge. This ones on me. Consider it a thank you for your service in advance. Second, unless you have other plans, would you consider donating this, I gave his thick mane a shake, since it's all going to come off? Miles pondered for a minute, to the first condition, thank you Pete, and to the second, sure, I hadn't considered it but absolutely yes, if someone else could get this amazing auburn hair, thanks for the idea Pete.
Oh, and one more thing Miles said. He reached out from under the cape and handed Jack his phone. Jack, for posterity's sake, will you take some before shots? Jack , hand trembling, took the camera. You want to document this Jack asked , eyebrows raised in question. Oh yeah, Miles replied smiling. I want send these pics to my folks They've been waiting a loooong time for this.
Jack snapped off a full series of before pics , Miles hamming a bit for the camera. Then quietly asked Miles if he could send a set to himself. Miles smiled somewhat demurely, and said sure. Jack said I'd like to follow up with you occasionally and see how you're doing if that's O.K.? Miles nodded and shyly smiled back. The two seemed to be having a conversation though their eyes as well as their mouths.
O.K. Miles, I said, plucking my fast feed Osters off thier hook, anything else before we get down to business? No, I guess not Miles said smiling sadly , looking at his reflection in the mirror. Want to watch, or be surprised, I asked? Surprise me Pete, turn me so I'm watching Jack. Wow, didn't see that coming I thought to myself. Jack was clearly surprised also. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to tell from Jacks expression how things are looking, Miles quipped.
Oh, almost forgot, I said, looking at Jack, if we're donating, I'll need your help. Jack looked a bit fearful. Pete, I'm not doing any of the cutting , you know that right, he stammered. Yes, Yes, I know. I got a handful of rubber bands out of a drawer and handed them to him. This will be a bit unconventional, but I think we can do it. I'm going to clipper off sections and hand them to you to band up. O....K. Jack quietly said, glancing at Miles mane.
Here we go Miles, ready? I fired up the hungry Osters, got behind Miles, Plunged first my hand, followed by the chattering teeth of the Osters into the dense mane at Miles nape. Slowly I brought the clippers up into the bulk. The pitch increased to a whine as the hungry teeth slowly peeled off the first gorgeous handful of hair from the back of Miles head. I captured all of it as it came off in my hand. Miles, meanwhile, had gone silent and contemplative, almost disappearing into himself. O.K. Miles, I chirped, no turning back now man. I handed the first section over to Jack. Jack looked as if I was handing him a live weasel by the tail. Oh, my God, Miles, he moaned, this is so much hair, man. Miles just gave a wan smile. I thought I detected an increase in wetness around Miles eyes, I couldn't be sure though. Jack banded the section and laid it on the counter. I had a #4 guard on the clipper , I wanted an intermediate step where Miles was shorn, but not quite peeled yet when I got through removing the bulk for donation. Then I'd use the 00000 blade to peel him down to the wood.
I proceeded to remove all the hair on the back of his head, ear to ear, up to the crown, in this manner. Plunging the clippers in was amazing, the back of his head slowly emerging from under the thick dense auburn mane, one pass at a time. All that remained was the soft auburn velvet. Handful after thick soft handful was handed to Jack, who dejectedly banding each section. Oh, Pete, Miles said, finally stirring out of his reverie. My head feels weird, it's so light, kind of front heavy now. I brushed my hand from his nape to his crown, reveling in the soft 1/2" auburn velvet I'd left behind. Small wonder son, I replied. This is all that's left back here. As I finished rubbing his head, Miles sucked in his breath. Oh, God, that's sooooo short Pete. Heh, heh, I laughed, you ain't felt nothin yet man, I responded, laughing. Jack was stone faced.
Now came the fun part for Miles and I. I started on Miles right side. Jack would soon see the transformations progress in earnest. I worked my way around Miles ear with the chattering clippers. Capturing the mounds of thick wavy bulk as they came free. What a divine feeling, holding this soft almost silky bulk in my hand. I captured all the hair on the right side in one huge handful as I moved around his ear, and as I clippered off in front of miles ear, it came free. Jacks jaw dropped. Miles took in Jacks expression and grimaced. It looks bad doesn't it Jack, Miles asked. I interjected , Jack you say NOTHING until I'm finished cutting for the donation, understand. Miles, you're just going to have to wait a few more minutes. I quickly repeated the process on the left side. Miles looked quite the site now, just a huge pony tail of mane on top of his head, the rest reduced to 1/2" long fur.
Since I'd already duck clipped the top out of the way at the beginning of the cut, it was an easy task to push the fast feed Osters in and gradually sever the thick foot and a half of amazing hair, it looked for all the world like the tail from show horse, it was so thick. I handed it to jack to band up, as he gaped open mouthed at Miles.
Although the change was dramatic, Miles didn't look half bad yet. The cut was a tiny bit uneven, but that's O.K. it was only temporary. Jack just stood in front of Miles, gaping at him. Miles had a pained expression on his face. I know, I know, it's really bad isn't it? I've never, and I mean NEVER had hair this short Miles said, groaning. Miles, I said quietly, rubbing the back of his head again, it really looks quite good, considering. Miles looked at me inquisitively. Say what, he quipped. Jack silently nodded his head. Miles, man you look pretty good, Jack said. I know I was ready to cry when this started, but, wow man. I turned Miles to face the mirror. He just stared. Wow, Pete, this is nothing like I ever imagined man. Hmmm. I kinda wish I could leave it this way. Ha, ha, Miles I quipped, not till you finish your payback years for the ROTC program. You won't see hair as long as a #4 around these ears for quite awhile. He sighed, thank, thanks for reminding me Pete. With almost no hair, Miles looked more than ever like Jack, features wise. Now Jack had the plush mane all by himself. Jack picked up Miles Phone again and quick snapped off a couple of pics . Jack! Really! Miles Barked. NO worries dude, Jack replied, you look good man, send these to your parents instead of what's coming next.
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. O.K. Boys, funs over, now we get serious, I said. Miles, are you ready? I asked as I changed clipper guards out and put the 00000 ought blade on. Jack went stone faced again. Miles silently nodded. I turned him to face Jack again. This was the reaction I wanted to watch on Jacks face.
The clippers chattered to life, I tilted Miles head back. Just like the boot camp barbers now bud, I quipped. The chattering blades resting on his forehead for a second or two, I slowly and steadily pushed back through the auburn fur on top of his head. A lily white stripe of pretty much nothing but skin was appearing behind the blades. I repeated this across the top of his head, the white strip widening to first a band, then the whole top of his head shaved down. I quickly removed the soft velvet on the sides, stripping all the fur off, working my way around to the back. I didn't relish this part at all. clippering a guy down from a mane like that is always a thrill for us barbers, shaving someone tot the skin like this was never high on my list of good looks for guys. I loved high and tights, but that was a s far as I went. I pushed his head forward gently, and peeled off the remaining velvet from the back. Now finished, Miles lifted his head up at my touch. Jack was teary eyed, and turned away. Miles murmured to me, turn me around Pete, this can't be good. I slowly swung the chair around to face the mirror, I saw Jack rub his eyes and turn around. Miles head twisted from side to side, just a mere shadow of auburn haze left on it. Yikes, Oh man, Pete. I guess you did it, Miles quipped. I softly patted his shoulder. Yes, welcome to the Army son, I said softly. Jack stood at attention and saluted Miles. I decided to break the solemnity of the moment. Jack, would you like to be next, I said, waving the menacing Osters in his direction. Jack fairly jumped, and ran for the back of the shop. Pete, if you ever want me to come out of the back of this shop, put those down. Miles and I laughed. All put away Jack, Miles shouted, come on out. Jack appeared, running his hand through his thick heavy mane. Sure Jack, Miles smiled, rub it in man. You still have yours, enjoy it for me will you, Miles said smiling.
I brushed Miles off, and unsnapped the cape. Removing it with a flourish. Miles stood up, walked close to the mirror, and examined his reflection closely. Ugh, this looks like s**t man.
Yes, it does, I know, I said. But, consider this, come see me in about 12 weeks, we can discuss what you can and cannot grow out for the foreseeable future at that time. Thanks Pete, I think I will. Jack snapped a couple of candid shots of the newly shorn Miles, and handed his phone back. When you come back in, be sure to call me will you Miles, Jack said, shaking hands with him. Absolutely, count on it Jack, Miles said, winking at him.
Miles put his cap on , grimacing at how it stuck to his stubble like Velcro. He smiled and shook my hand warmly, saying thank you again for the privacy generosity, and respect Pete, I won't forget it, and out the door he went.
Jack and I were going to have an interesting conversation over dinner tonight for sure.