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A Coach Connor Special - part 1 by JB


A Coach Connor Special by JB

Part 1: Father And Son


Dan Connor had always been a jock. At Northridge High School (1956-
1958), he was on nearly all the sports teams: football (3 years), wrestling,
track & field, and baseball.
In 1960 Dan married Kathy, his high school sweetheart, and in 1961 his
son Jeff was born. Also that year, he became a college freshman. Dan
suddenly had a lot on his plate.
In college, Dan continued to excel in football, wrestling and baseball. Dan
graduated from college in 1964 with a degree in Physical Education. That
same year he became an assistant coach at Northridge High School. In 1974
Dan became head of the athletic department and coach of the varsity
football team.
Barber Hank of Hank's Klipper-Kut Barbershop bought the shop from the
previous owner when Hank left the U.S.Navy in 1953, after serving during
the Korean War. Hank has cut Dan Connor's hair since high school. At that
time Dan wore a long boxy flattop, as did most of his classmates, especially
guys who were into sports. When Dan entered college he had Hank cut his
flattop shorter and shorter with each passing year. In 1964, Dan's senior
year at college, the long haired era had begun and many high school and
college age guys were growing their hair out. But guys like Dan, mostly
jocks, rejected this look and everything it stood for. As a result, Dan had
Hank cut his flattop the shortest it had ever been: a Marine-style 'high &
tight' flattop, shaved clean up the sides and back with just a quarter inch
high "U" left on top. Dan kept his high & tight flattop for a few more years
and in 1967 grew it out to a regular flattop.
In 1971 Dan began letting his hair grow out a bit. The times, they were a-
changing. He had Hank give him a sharp taper cut, parted on the side with
his bangs angled in front.
Starting in 1974, Coach Dan Connor began wearing his hair in a short
layer cut, his hair just touching the tops of his ears and collar. His bangs,
just off the eyebrows with a slight part in the middle. He's kept this style for
the last 4 years.

In 1965, when Dan's son Jeff was 4 years old, Dan bought the Butchmaster
Home Haircut Kit (Cadet model), to cut his sons hair. For a couple of years,
Dan gave Jeff a simple butch cut using the plastic 'butch-comb' clipper
attachments that came with the set. For the cold winter months, he used the
1/2 inch attachment, in the spring, 3/8 inch. For the summer of '67, 6 year
old Jeff sported a 1/8 inch butch.
In the fall of that year, just before the start of the school year, Dan
decided to try his hand at a more challenging haircut and proceeded to give
Jeff a flattop. He got the sides and back squared up straight and box-like,
but cut the top too short. Instead of a flat, level surface, the top angled
down in the center, front-to-back. This exposed a large bare patch on top of
Jeff's head.
Seeing that he'd made a mess of his son's hair, Dan took Jeff to the
Klipper-Kut barbershop and had Hank do a repair job. So Jeff started first
grade with a Marine-style high & tight 'horseshoe' flattop: The sides and
back clipped bare to match the unintended strip running down the center.
This was Jeff's first haircut at Hank's barbershop. He had the shortest
haircut at his school and got teased by his classmates. But this didn't seem
to bother Jeff much. He liked how his haircut made him look tough and
grown up.
A couple of months later, both Jeff's and his dad's flattops were getting a
little shaggy, so the two of them went back to Hank's to get squared away
with boxy, 1" flattops. Jeff really liked having the same haircut as his dad.
A few months later, in the spring of '68, it was Jeff's birthday. He had just
turned seven. Dan got the Butchmaster haircut set out from the laundry
room and called Jeff over for his Spring shearing. Jeff, knowing the routine
by now, dragged a tall stool from the kitchen to the back patio and climbed
up. Determined to not make the same mistake as last time, Dan started out
by giving Jeff an all-over half inch butch. Dan stepped back to admire his
handiwork and thought for a second.
"How about a crew-cut, birthday boy?..It's sorta like a flattop only rounder
on the sides."
Jeff liked having a flattop, so this sounded O.K. to him. He shook his head,
yes.
"Good boy." Dan removed the 1/2 inch attachment from the clippers and
picked up the large flattopper comb. "O.K. Let's see if I can get the top right
this time." Sliding the clippers over the comb, he worked his way across the
top of Jeff's head, leaving it flat and level with a nice landing strip showing
down the middle. He was careful not to cut any more hair off the front,
leaving it the full 1/2 inch left from the butch-comb clipper attachment. Dan
handed his son a mirror so he could see his new haircut, "How's it look,
Sport?" Jeff reached up and touched the landing strip on top of his head, "I
like it. I like the white part down the middle. Just like yours." Beaming, Dan
bent his head down close to Jeff's and brushed his hand over the top of his
head, "Yep. Just like mine. Your Mom likes it too. That's partly why I still
have my flattop. You probably noticed not very many guys have haircuts like
ours these days." "Yeah, most of 'em have longer hair, 'specially on top. And
here." Jeff pointed at his forehead." "Yep", his dad said, "Only us cool guys
get to have haircuts like this." Jeff picked up the mirror again and studied
his haircut, "Yeah, us cool guys!"

Jeff sported a variety of haircuts over the next year or so. He was the one
who usually decided which style he wanted. Unlike most 8 year olds in 1969,
when his hair got a bit shaggy; touching his ears, he would say, "Time for a
haircut." and would proceed to drag the kitchen stool onto the back patio,
get the haircut set down from the laundry room cupboard, and hop up onto
the stool.
As his dad pinned the cape around Jeff's neck he would ask, "So, what'll it
be, Sport?" Jeff would reply: "A butch!" or, "A crew-cut!" or usually, "A
flattop!"

Jeff's slow transformation from having short hair to long, more or less
mirrored his dad's. In 1971, when Dan grew his hair out to a taper cut, 10
year old Jeff, now a fifth grader, decided to try it as well. Dan knew
something was up when he saw Jeff's hair starting to poke over the tops of
his ears, and his bangs beginning to flop down on his forehead. Normally,
Jeff would've proclaimed "Time for a haircut" by now. Curiously, his dad
explored the new phenomenon, "Gettin' a little shaggy there, Jeff. Flattop
needs a tune-up." "Yeah, well…" Jeff hesitated a bit. For as long as he could
remember, his hair had always been short enough to stand up. This was
new territory and Jeff was unsure how to proceed. "I kinda want it longer,
like yours, just t'see what it's like." A bit of a twinkle entered Dan's eye. Jeff
had always been a headstrong kid, knows what he wants and goes for it.
Seeing this doubt in his son made Dan suddenly realize that his boy was
starting to grow up; think things out; become more mature. "Sure, Sport.
What d'ya say we go to Hank's and see what he can do for ya?" Eying his
son's hair, "I think he can get it to lay down. Here in front, anyhow." The
doubtful look on Jeff's face vanished and was replaced with a big grin. He'd
only been to a real barbershop once or twice when he was 6 and didn't
remember much about it. "Yeah! Lets go to Hank's." He was out the door
and sitting in the car before Dan had even picked up the car keys.
Hank's Klipper-Kut was a small 2-chair barbershop located near both, the
Connor household and Northridge High School. The second chair in the shop
was always empty as Hank was the sole owner of the shop.
Hank got Jeff all situated in the barber chair and proceeded to cape him
up. Jeff, examining the leather upholstery of the barber chair, "This is a lot
better than the kitchen stool." His dad grinned. The expressions on Jeff's
face were changing from moment to moment– taking in all the sights,
sounds, and smells of the barbershop.
Hank, "So, what'll it be then, sir." Dan thought Hank was addressing him
and started to reply, "Well, we…" "I'm growin' my hair out an' I want it to
lay down up here and over here.", Jeff announced excitedly. "That O.K. with
you too, Dad?", Hank asked. Dan chuckled, "Give the man what he wants."
Jeff had thick, straight, dark brown hair like his dad. Almost black, really.
With just a little warmth to it. Hank switched on the rotary clippers, which
caught Jeff by surprise. He was used to the buzz and hum of the
Butchmaster clippers.
Hank sharpened up the taper on the sides and back of Jeff's head and
'lowered his ears' as Hank put it, meaning that he clipped the hair shorter
around Jeff's ears and neck. Jeff had never heard that expression before and
it struck his funny bone.
With a little Butch Wax and a lot of combing, Hank managed to get a
slight part on the side of Jeff's hair and got his short bangs to lie down a bit.
It still looked like a grown out flattop but was well on its way to becoming a
regular taper cut. Enough so, anyway, for Jeff to give his stamp of approval,
"Neat! I like long hair." Dan, "Whoa, I thought you liked having your hair
short?" "I do. But I like it long too." Jeff reached up and felt his short bangs,
"Just like the other kids." Hank, "They gotta grow up sometime, don't they?"
Dan, "Yeah... guess so."
Hank handed Jeff a lollipop, "There y'go Sport."
"Wow, thanks! A haircut AND a sucker. I like this place. I'm gonna come
back here a lot!" Jeff dashed out the door and headed for the car.
"Looks like y'got another regular customer, Hank."
"Looks that way. He seems to enjoy the best of both worlds, long and
short. A clear thinker. Wouldn't be surprised if he went short again in a few
years."
"Yer probably right. Jeff doesn't seem to be influenced much by peer
pressure. He does his own thing."
"What about you? You need a trim?"
"Naw, I got another couple o'weeks before I need t'get back in the chair.
I'm lettin' my hair grow out too, y'know."
"Like Son, like Father, eh?"
Dan chuckled, "Yeah, I guess you could say that." Dan paid Hank, thanked
him, and headed out to the car.
When Dan pulled into their driveway, Jeff jumped out and ran up the walk
to the front door. As Dan got out of the car, he could hear Jeff shout to his
mom, "I got my ears lowered!" "Oh my, so you did", she replied playfully,
"Did it hurt?" Jeff laughed, "Nooooo".

So Jeff's home-haircut days seemed to be over. The Butchmaster clippers
stayed in their box in the laundry room cupboard as Jeff's hair got longer.
His taper cut lasted only a few months. By then, Jeff was ready to move on
to longer styles even though his dad kept his taper cut for another couple of
years.
By the time Jeff started 7th grade in 1973, he was wearing his hair like
every other kid in his class: Sort of a bowl-cut covering most of his ears,
eyes, and collar. Jeff was as enthusiastic about his long hair as he had been
with his short hair. He and his dad still went to Hank's every few weeks to
get their hair trimmed. Like his dad, Jeff liked to keep his hair neat and
clean.
Early in 1974, on a Saturday morning, Dan and Jeff were at the kitchen
table finishing breakfast. Jeff's mom, Kathy, was busy loading the
dishwasher. Jeff had his head down, mopping up the last of his fried eggs
with a piece of toast. Dan glanced over at his son. Jeff was a teenager now
(barely), his bowl-cut hair down below his eyebrows. "Hair's gettin' kinda
long there, Sport." Dan had a knack for gentle persuasion. He could convey
a host of ideas with one simple, subtle statement. Jeff picked up on the
unsaid part of his dad's observation, "Yeah, I know. Been thinkin' about it
lately. Guess it's time for a trim, huh." By this time, Dan had begun wearing
his hair in a short layer-cut: Swept back a little on the sides, partly covering
his ears, parted in the center, "You and me both, kiddo. Let's go for a
haircut."
Dan placed the breakfast dishes in the sink and grabbed his car keys. He
gave Kathy a peck on the cheek, "Great breakfast, Hon. Me and Jeff are
going to Hank's. Be back in a bit." Kathy looked at her husband's hair and
commented a little wistfully, "I kinda miss the old Dan. The one with the
flattop." "Really? Hmmm. I'll have to think about that one." It seemed Dan
wasn't the only one in the family with the gift of gentle persuasion.
As they walked into the shop, Hank was busy with a customer. There was
another man, a younger guy, sitting in the second chair reading a magazine.
The man looked up and smiled, "How you folks doin' today? Here t'git yer
ears lowered?" Jeff grinned as he remembered back to when he first heard
that expression. Hank did the introductions, "Dan, this is Arley. Just started
workin' here at the shop. Arley, this is Dan Connor and his son, Jeff. Dan's
the head coach over at the high school." Arley jumped out of the chair and
dusted it off with the cape, "Coach, huh? Football? Now we're talkin'. Played
a lotta football back in high school and in the Corps, Marine Corps, that is.
Now, which one of you fine gentlemen is here for a haircut?"
Arley Dixon was a good ol' boy from the South. 26 years old and fresh out
of the U.S. Marine Corps. At 5'8", he was a bit on the short side, but had the
solid athletic build of a Marine. His sandy hair was somewhat curly, or would
have been if it had been allowed to grow out longer. Arley's hair was sharply
tapered up the sides. Not a high & tight, but clippered close: 1/8 inch
around the ears with slight sideburns, angling out to 1" around the crown
and top. He wore his hair parted in the middle although it stood up as much
as it laid down.
Dan spoke up, "Well, we're both here for a cut. You wanna go first Jeff?"
"It's O.K, I'll wait." Arley saw some hesitancy on Jeff's face, "I may, I say, I
may snarl a lot, but I don't bite", he said with a big grin. Dan got into the
chair and thought a second, "I think Jeff's a little unsure about havin'
someone else cut his hair. That it?" Jeff nodded, "Yeah, I guess. Just seems
kinda weird... Sorry." Dan continued, "Me an' Hank are the only two who
have cut his hair." Arley, "My daddy used t'cut my hair too. Right up t'when
I graduated from high school. Ev'ry month he'd git the clippers out an' butch
me real good. Slicker'n hog snot." Jeff laughed out loud. Arley learned early
on that folks in these parts enjoyed his 'Southernisms' and he did his best to
oblige.
Arley gave the cape a quick snap and proceeded to fasten it, and the neck
strip, in place, "All righty then. All caped up an' ready t'go. How d'ya want it
cut today, Coach?" Dan thought a bit and made up his mind, "I was just
made Head of the Athletic Department over at the school. Thinkin' maybe I
should look the part. You know how t'cut a flattop, Arley?" Jeff looked up at
his dad and raised his eyebrows. You couldn't actually see his eyebrows
under the hair, but they were raised. His dad caught his expression and
gave his son a little smile.
Arley answered Dan's question: "Do I? Boy howdy, I'll tell ya what, I was
a barber at the Marine base where I was stationed. Musta cut a couple
dozen flattops a day. High & tights, horseshoes, buzz-cuts, regulation, you
name it. That's where I learned t'be a barber. Do I know how t'cut a flattop?
Pssht, like fallin' off a log backwards." Jeff was grinning ear to ear. He'd
never met a character like Arley before. His non-stop over-the-top Southern
banter left him speechless. Dan, "Then a flattop it is." Thinking about Arley's
U.S.M.C. background, he quickly added, "But not a high & tight. More of a
longer, boxy flat." Arley, "Gotcha, don't wanna scare off the birds, huh?" He
picked up his rotary clippers and quickly got to work.
By that time, Hank was finished with his customer and his chair was once
again empty, "Yer next Jeff." Jeff had been sort of transfixed by Arley's rat-
a-tat patter and by his dad getting a flattop. It was 1974 after all and his
dad had just started wearing his hair in a 'modern' style a couple of months
ago. Before that it was a short taper cut, sort of like Arley's, only a bit
longer. Hank's words broke the spell and Jeff got into the empty chair.
As hank proceeded to get Jeff caped up, he spoke in a quiet, gentle voice:
"Quite a character isn't he, that Arley..." He paused a bit, "Saw some tough
action in Vietnam. I think a lot of this down-home folksiness is his way of
getting back into society, back into everyday life. Sort of cold turkey like.
Jump right in an' hope for the best." Jeff glanced over at Arley working
diligently on his dad's flattop. He couldn't tell if Arley overheard what Hank
said, but he seemed kinda quiet now.
Hank interrupted Jeff's train of thought again, "So Jeff. You gettin' a
flattop too?" "What? No." Jeff's words came out a little too loud and a little
too quick, making the others laugh. Dan, "You'd never know it from looking
at him now, but Jeff had a flattop just a couple of years ago." Arley, "That
so? Even I got rid of my flattop earlier'n that, and I'm a Marine!" "It was 3
years ago, I was only 10 years old", Jeff said defensively, but with a grin, "I
already did that whole flattop thing. Now I like my hair long." Hank, "So a
flattop it is, then." He winked at the others. "Just a trim", Jeff said with
emphasis. "Just so it's outa my eyes an' stuff, geez." The others laughed.
"Just teasin' ya a bit, Jeff", Hank said, "I know how y'like it cut." The
magnetic clippers came on with a hum and Hank got to work on Jeff's hair.
He didn't bother with the shears, Jeff's hair was just too thick for that.
After a few minutes, Hank was done trimming Jeff's hair. Jeff grabbed a
sucker from the jar on the counter and re-took his seat in the waiting area,
the sucker wedged in his cheek. Arley was taking his time with Dan's flattop,
getting it just right. He had just finished taking the top down, exposing the
landing strip in the middle. Jeff decided to do a little teasing himself: "Looks
pretty good...in a dorky sorta way." His dad, seeing the grin on Jeff's face,
came back, "Who you callin' a dork, dork?" "I'm callin' YOU a dork, dork."
Arley, "Sounds like, I say, it sounds like the seal pen at the zoo around
here." When the laughter died down, Arley did the finishing touches on
Dan's flattop. "So there y'go, Coach. How's it look to ya?" Dan studied his
haircut in both mirrors, patted the stiff hair on top of his head, "Not too
short, not too long. Looks just right. Good job, Arley." Arley beamed, "Thank
you, sir." Dan paid for the haircuts, giving both barbers a generous tip,
"Looks like y'got some competition Hank", Dan said, running his hand up the
back of his head. Hank smiled, "Well if that's competition, then I'm gettin' in
line for second helpings. Arley's a skilled barber an' I'm lucky t'have him
here."
Jeff was kind of quiet on the drive home. He was thinking of what Hank
said about Arley, the war, and all. "Dad, I don't know if you heard what
Hank said about Arley bein' in the war an..." "I heard him, Son. I'm sure
Arley must have heard too. I think Hank meant for us to hear. It was his
way of letting us know there's more to Arley than just a loud-mouthed joker.
We should show him some respect." "That's what I thought too." His dad
smiled. Jeff suddenly changed the subject: "So why'd you get a flattop
anyway?" His dad laughed at the sudden mood change. "Well, let's
see...There's the reason I gave at the barbershop: Now that I'm head of the
Athletic Department, I should look the part. Don't you think this makes me
look the part?" "You look like a cop." "Well there y'go. Makes me look like an
authority figure, right?...Your mom kinda misses the flattop too. And y'know
what? So do I. Well, sometimes." After a short pause, "I don't think I'll be
keeping it though. I'll let it grow out. Just wanted to try it one more time."

As a sophomore at Northridge High School in 1976–'77, 15 year old Jeff
had moved beyond the bowl-cut stage and had evolved into the layered &
feathered stage. His hair was easily 5 inches long now and to his surprise,
Jeff discovered he had a little natural wave to his hair. This gave extra shape
and volume, allowing the sides to be feathered back with ease and kept his
center-parted bangs separated to either side of his face.
He always had a long-handled comb protruding from his back pocket
which he whipped out and used several times a day. It wasn't vanity though.
Jeff simply enjoyed his long hair, just like he enjoyed his flattops and all the
other hairstyles he'd had.
Jeff inherited the 'good hair' gene from both his parents, and he knew it.
He could see it. Just like everyone else. And it became apparent that Jeff
also inherited a handsome face and athletic body from his parents. He was
becoming taller and his scrappy frame had begun to fill out. Like his dad,
Jeff excelled in every sport he tried. Football was his favorite. He was quite
literally made for it.

In his Junior year, 1977-'78, Jeff was already playing on the varsity
football team at Northridge High, being groomed for the quarterback
position. With his dad as Head Coach, one might have expected accusations
of favoritism. But it was obvious to all that Jeff was the man for the job. He
proved his skills every time he took to the field.
Even with his good looks, gridiron skills, and increasingly muscular build
(weightlifting and a high calorie diet saw to that), Jeff was still the good
natured kid he'd always been. Happy, curious, and observant. He treated
others with respect and they respected him. He was well liked and
approachable.
Jeff's dad, Coach Connor, would sometimes playfully tease him in public.
This was his way of keeping Jeff from getting too full of himself. He needn't
have worried though. Jeff inherited a lot of things from his parents but
cockiness was not one of them. When they crossed paths, whether in the
locker room or in the school halls, his dad would say, with a straight face
(and a glint in his eye), "You're clumsy, Connor." (he wasn't), or "You throw
like a girl, Jeff." (he didn't), or "Get a haircut, hippy." Now, there was some
truth to that last one. Jeff's hair was more than 7 inches long now.
Jeff often had a comeback to his dad's tauntings. On one occasion, near
the end of the school year, his dad passed him in the locker room and gave
his "Get a haircut, hippy" taunt. (He used that one a lot.) Jeff came back
with "I will when you will, Elvis. Yer hair's almost as long as mine." They
both laughed, which was a relief to some of Jeff's nearby teammates who,
not knowing the relationship Jeff had with his dad, thought this might have
been the start of a serious altercation.
It was true though. Coach Connor's hair was getting quite long now.
Nowhere near as long as his son's, but longer than it had ever been:
Covering most of his ears; touching his eyebrows and collar; with 2 inch
long sideburns. The Coach walked into his office and sat down, staring off
into space. His son's comeback got him thinking. Like a slot machine, in his
head, the wheels were starting to spin…
In all honesty, Jeff too, had been thinking about his hair lately. He'd worn
it long for several years now and he'd had about as much fun with it as he
could. Jeff, like a lot of guys at this time, often wore a baseball cap as part
of his daily 'uniform'. When the hat came off, he was left with 'hat hair', a
noticeable indentation around his head where the cap had been. This would
prompt him to pull out his comb and spend time getting his hair to look
decent again. Plus, he didn't much like the way his hair stuck out the back of
his football helmet. And it was ALWAYS flopping into his eyes. He'd
developed a habit of tossing his head back every time his bangs
misbehaved. Time for a change.

Several weeks later, in August of '78, Jeff and his dad were at home
watching a ballgame, the score was lopsided and the outcome was pretty
much decided. Abruptly, Jeff got up and announced, "Time for a haircut."
Out of habit, his dad got up to get the Butchmaster clippers from the
laundry room, "I'll get the clippers, you grab a kitchen stool and… oh, wait."
Jeff laughed, "C'mon Dad, we're goin' to Hank's." Jeff had his driver's license
now and was jangling the car keys in the air, "It's gettin' hot out. I need
t'get rid of some of this hair" He lifted a large handful to demonstrate. Jeff
switched to a low authoritative tone of voice, "You're overdue for a cut too,
young man. Now get in the car, and don't make me tell you twice." His dad
laughed at Jeff's role reversal game, screwed up his face and complained,
"Aw gee, do I have to?" Jeff was now hysterical with laughter. After he
composed himself a bit, "Seriously though. I'm gettin' my hair cut. You
comin'?" "Sure, lets go." Dan called into the other room, "Hon? Jeff an' me
are goin' t'get our haircut. Be back soon." She replied, "Again?" As Dan
walked past his son, he lifted a long strand of Jeff's hair, "Looks like
Halloween's comin' early this year."
Dan opened the driver's-side door and started to get into the car. Jeff
gave a little 'yoo-hoo' whistle, "I'm the one with the keys, Dad." "Oops. Still
haven't gotten used to you driving yet." Dan went around to the passenger's
side as Jeff got behind the wheel.
On the drive over to Hank's, Dan offered helpful driving tips to Jeff: "That
car's turning, Jeff", and "Watch out for that kid on the bike", and "Stop sign,
Son". After the 4th or 5th 'tip' Jeff got a little exasperated, "Daaad, c'mon.
You're makin' me nervous." Dan held his tongue after that, but kept his feet
braced firmly up against the floorboard.
The traffic light ahead turned yellow and Jeff slowed to a stop. After a few
seconds, Dan decided to bring up the topic he'd been mulling over for a
while now: "I've been thinking about something for the last few weeks.
Thought I'd get your opinion on it." His dad often included him in decision
making when it was something important, so Jeff was a bit leery, "Okaaay.."
Dan continued, "It's about the upcoming football season. I've been thinking
of ways to give the team an extra advantage." Thoughts began swirling
through Jeff's head: New uniforms?..Better equipment?..Steroids?.."
"Haircuts.", his dad said, "Team haircuts. I'm thinkin' flattops." Jeff laughed.
Dan, "What, bad idea?" "No. Well...I don't know. I was thinkin' something
else all serious-like. Nevermind, you don't wanna know what I was thinkin."
Dan, "It'd be a big morale booster, don't ya think? Everybody: Me; you; all
the guys on the team; we all get flattops. It'd be a great show of unity.
Scare the crap outa the other teams." Jeff thought for a second, "Well, it's
not a bad idea. I just don't think the guys would go for it. I mean, flattops?
Nobody has short haircuts anymore. Haven't for years. Arley said even guys
in the military are wearin' their hair longer these days." Dan, "That's the
whole point. Nobody else does, but WE will. It'll show the world that the
Northridge Rangers football team means business. No fear." "I get what yer
sayin', Dad. And you know me, I'll try just about anything if there's a good
reason for it. I wouldn't mind gettin' a flattop. Well...maybe a little. And I
know at least 1 or 2, maybe 3 of the other guys who would go along with it.
But the others? Nope. No way. Sorry Dad. I just don't think it would work."
The light turned green and Jeff proceeded through the intersection. Dan,
"Hmmm.. I suppose yer right. I'll have t'give it some more thought." Jeff
didn't like shooting down his dad's idea like that. It actually wasn't a bad
idea, just not do-able. As he pulled up to Hank's shop, Jeff offered an
alternative, "Maybe a different haircut, something longer. The guys probably
wouldn't mind that too much."

As they entered the shop, Dan saw that Hank was on his own, "Arley not
around today?" "Oh, he's here. Just out takin' his lunchbreak. Should be
back soon." Hank motioned to his chair and Dan got in as Jeff waited his
turn. Hank, "So, just the usual today?" "Let's take it a little shorter this time,
Hank. The summer heat and all. How about a regular medium cut, just off
the ears. Maybe a bit of a taper." "Okey doke." He fastened the cape around
Dan's neck and got down to business.
Hank, "Excited about football startin', Jeff? You're gonna be a senior this
year, right?" "Yeah. Got a practice comin' up next week." His dad added,
"He's quarterbacking this year." "That so? Good for you. Always knew you
were quarterback material." Jeff grinned. Hank finished up the sides of Dan's
hair, "What about yer sideburns. Want me t'shorten them up too?" "Yeah.
Take 'em up about halfway. I'll let you be the judge, Hank. And leave the
front maybe an inch above the eyebrows." "You still want it parted in the
middle here?" "Yeah, that'll be good."
Hank got back to work on Dan's hair. After a long lull in the conversation,
Hank, without looking up from his work, began: "Hey Jeff. Why do barbers
make such good drivers?" Not knowing where this was going, Jeff replied,
"Uhhh. I dunno know. Why?" "Because they know all the shortcuts."
"Ahhhhgh" Jeff groaned with sort of a sick grin. Jeff's groan brought a smile
to Hank's face. Dan, "That one was pretty bad, Hank." "Well, there's more
where that came from." Jeff, "Oh great."
Hank finished up Dan's medium cut and handed him the mirror for
inspection: Just above the ears, slight taper, above the eyebrows.
"Everything seems to be in order, Hank. Looks great." Hank loosened the
cape and cleaned up Dan's neckline. Hank, "Knock, knock…" Jeff gave the
tired reply, "Who's there?" "Barber chair." "Barber chair, who?" "Barber
chair, you!" Hank pointed at the chair, "It's your turn, Sport. Get yerself
over here." Jeff grinned and shook his head as he took a seat in Hank's
chair.
Arley, back from his lunchbreak, had been standing in the doorway of the
shop during Hank's last 'joke', "Oh lord. Is he tellin' them cornball jokes
agin? I'm gonna stuff my ears with some good ol' Southern-grown cotton
jus' so's I cain't hear them corny jokes of his all the live-long day, I'll tell ya
what." Jeff couldn't help but grin every time Arley let loose with one of his
southern-style tirades.
"Hey Arley", Jeff greeted him as Hank caped him up. "Hey yerself, Sport"
Arley replied. He glanced over at Dan, "Hey Coach. Looks like you already
got yer ears lowered, huh." "Yep." "Well dang. Guess there's nuthin' left for
me t'do but sit here an' take a nap." He climbed into his barber chair and
made himself comfortable. Hank, "There's a broom over there with your
name on it, Arley." Arley took the hint, "Oh man", he fake complained, "I
feel like a horse that's been rode hard an' put away wet." He grabbed the
broom and began sweeping the hair off the floor.
"You guys put on quite a show", Dan said, "You oughta charge admission."
Arley decided to run with it: "Now there's an idea. Charge 5 bucks a head
jus' t'come through that there door. Why, folks would come from miles
around jus' t'catch the Arley & Hank show" "Hank & Arley", Hank interjected.
Arley continued, "We'd be millionaires in no time." He thumped himself
upside the head, "Now, why didn't I think of that!" He gave a sidelong
glance at Dan and grinned.
Hank picked up the clippers, "The usual today, Jeff?" "Naw, I'm goin'
shorter too. Cut it like Dad's", he motioned with his chin..."Well, not like it is
now. Like it was when we came in, y'know, mostly covering the ears, just
above the eyebrows, like that." "Sounds like a plan", Hank said and got to
work on Jeff's hair.
Dan was staring at nothing in particular. In his head, he was still trying to
piece together the team haircut idea, how to make it work. Jeff's words
came back to him: 'Maybe a different haircut, something longer'. Naw, that
wouldn't do. What would be the point? It's gotta be something big,
something everybody would remember. It's gotta be flattops, or crew-cuts,
or...What was it Jeff just said? 'Not like it is now, like it was when we came
in.' Not only were the wheels spinning, they were starting to click into
place...
At home, later that afternoon, Dan was on the sofa in front of the TV. The
TV was on but Dan wasn't aware of anything on the screen. The details of
his team haircut idea were coming together. He visualized the various
factors as if they were on a blackboard- a football play diagram. The best
outcome? The psychological boost works, the guys win every game and go
on to take the State Championship. The worst? Only a few guys get their
haircut, they get ridiculed, morale plummets, they loose every game.
Chances were, the outcome would be somewhere in between the best/worst
scenarios. Dan reached his decision: "It'll work. I know it will work."
He picked up the phone and called Hank at his shop. Told him about the
team haircut idea. Hank, "Y'know? It just might work." "Yeah, that's what
I'm thinkin' too." Dan continued, "Since this is my idea and all, I figure I
should pay for the guys haircuts. It shouldn't cost them anything. Would you
consider a team discount rate or something, Hank?" "Oh, I think we could
swing a deal...Hang on a sec while I ask Arley..." Dan heard Hank clue Arley
in on the plan. He couldn't make out everything that Arley was saying but he
heard "goose spit" and "hog heaven". Hank came back to the phone, "Yeah,
Dan?...Arley's O.K. with it." "Great. Tell him thanks." Hank, "So, when's this
taking place?" "Next Saturday, if all goes well." "Sounds good. We might
even get a few more regular customers outa this." "Wouldn't be surprised,
Hank. Thanks for your support. Be seein' ya sometime next week t'get my
team haircut, my Coach Connor Special." Hank chuckled, "Will do. I'll keep
the clippers warm for ya."
The last wheel clicked into place - Jackpot!




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