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Razor Blade by Sgt. D


One day at Ft. Bliss, Texas, a new Supply Sergeant was reassigned to the Air Defense Artillery unit I was stationed at.

He was your typical "lifer" (career military), gung-ho, had a potbelly and a H&T crewcut. His name was Sgt. Gillette. At the time, many years ago, I had just reenlisted and was a Buck Sergeant E-5, and 22 years old.

Like most of the young soldiers on the base, I tried to wear my hair as long as I possibly could, with bangs down to my eyes, and trimmed around the ears. The "lifers" would always give our hair strange looks, but they never said a word unless it was too long. Then we were told to "get a haircut."

Because one of my buddies was the Supply Clerk, I visited the Supply Room almost every day. Because of his last name, my friend, Sgt. Gillette, was nicknamed "Razor Blade."

Razor Blade didn't like "lifers" very much. After a while, though, I got to be friends with Sgt. Gillette. We'd would talk from time to time, and one day (finally!) we got into a discussion about haircuts. He asked me why all the younger guys felt the need to have long hair. After all we were in the Army!

But Razor Blade really grabbed my attention when he said, "I believe there is only one hairstyle for a man and I am wearing it -- a CREWCUT!"

Then he tried to talk me into getting one.

At the time, I liked the look of my hair, and the fact that I fit in with my circle of friends at the Battery. It was the 70's, and we all were very conscious about "fitting in" at the local drive-in restaurant and places off post where the "cool" people hung out. We didn't want to be trademarked as being in the military, and we especially didn't want to look like a "lifer."

A couple months later, Razor Blade asked me to go to his house for Thanksgiving dinner. I had no other plans, so I accepted reluctantly. I went to Razor Blade's quarters on base. He had two boys, one a toddler and the other about 8 years old, naturally with a very short crewcut. His wife made us a great dinner, and afterwards we had a few drinks. While his wife was cleaning up the kitchen, the subject of haircuts came up again. We were slightly tipsy at this point.

Sgt. Gillette said he was anxious for the toddler to get older so he could cut off his curls and give him a crewcut like his other son. Suddenly he asked me, "How about letting me cut your hair?"

I was hesitant, but soon I relented. "Why not?" I agreed.

Razor Blade left and came back with a cape and a barbering kit. He said, "You'll look great a crewcut."

Why I let him do it, I still don't know. But he took the clippers and sheared off the sides and back with a #1, then asked if I would like a little in front cut flat.

"Yes," I told him, "but not too short."

He then cut the top completely flat, leaving a little over an inch in the front. Ii felt really great watching as my hair cascaded down the cape. The clippers felt good too. I enjoyed looking at my new haircut, and couldn't keep my hands from rubbing my now closely clipped hair. I'll never forget that Thanksgiving.

The next day, I got razed by my buddies about my new "lifer" look, but the First Sergeant and Captain liked my haircut. They even seemed more friendly towards me. In the end my buddies won out, and I let my hair grow back -- much to Razor Blade's disappointment, and my buddies delight.

I'm very grateful that short hair is popular again today, and I wish it had could have been back then. I hope the young guys today appreciate how lucky they are to be able to cut their hair any way they want and still be accepted by their peers and friends. It was a totally different scene years ago. I hope we men never go back to long hair. I wish I had appreciated the "lifers" back then like I do now. Live and learn.

I wear a H&T flat top now -- and just like old Razor Blade, I have come to believe that "there is only one hairstyle for a man, and I am wearing it -- a CREWCUT!"



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