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A Coach Connor Special - part 4a by JB by JB
Part 4 continued
Dan gets behind the wheel of the car, "I'm drivin' this time. I'm already a
nervous wreck. I don't think I'd survive the trip with you at the wheel." Jeff
teasingly dismisses his dad's concern with a "phfft" and climbs into the
passenger's side. As Dan backs out of the driveway, Jeff tries to ease his
dad's anxiety about 'Operation: Coach Connor Special' by making small talk,
"Gettin' pretty warm today, huh." He rolls down his window. His dad gives a
vague "hmmph". Jeff thinks, "Well, that didn't work." As the car picks up
speed, Jeff feels the breeze whipping through his long furry flattop. After the
car travels a few more blocks, Jeff becomes inspired: He sticks his fluffy
head out the window like his dogs, Maris and Unitas, and pants with his
tongue lolling out, "Woof! Woof!" His dad looks over and laughs. "It's
working", Jeff thinks. The car slows to a stop as the traffic light ahead turns
Tyler Smoltz just turned 4. He and his mom are walking home after
spending some time at the neighborhood park. As they approach the
intersection, Tyler sees Jeff sticking his furry head out the window with his
tongue out, "Look Mommy, a woofman!" Mom, "What?..A wolfman, where?"
She looks ahead on the sidewalk and sees nothing. Then she looks where
Tyler is pointing, "Oh!.." She spots Jeff in the car window, "Don't point Tyler,
it's not polite." To Jeff, she says, "I'm sorry. He's too young to know better."
Back to Tyler, she says, "I'm sure he can't help looking like that, Sweety. He
was probably born that way." Still feeling inspired, Jeff lets loose with a long
howl, "Arrooohhh!" Tyler emits a little scream and hides behind his mom,
but pokes his head out from behind and sees Jeff grinning at him. He grins
back. The light changes and Dan starts through the intersection. As the car
pulls away, Jeff can here Tyler talking excitedly to his mom, "I want a
woofman haircut, too Mommy. Please? Please? I wanna look like a woofman!
Arroooh!" Dan laughs, "Geez, Jeff. Layin' it on a little thick, aren'tcha?"
"Well, it got yer mind off yer worries, didn't it?" "Yeah. Well, now I'm
worried about that little kid. Probably be seein' a shrink for the rest of his
life." Jeff laughs, "Arrooohhh!"
Back at the shop, 2 more guys get caped up as 3 more come through the
door. There are close to 20 Rangers in the shop now, and it's getting more
than a little crowded. Hank and Arley have shifted into high gear. Arley, "Sit
'em down, buzz 'em off, an' turn 'em loose...Like brandin' a herd o' cattle,
I'll tell ya what. Yeehaw!" A wave of catcalls and guffaws starts at one end
of the shop and makes its way to the other end. Arley, somewhat puzzled,
"Tweren't THAT funny." He looks over to the source of the laughter: The
Connors have arrived.
Dan and Jeff are standing near the entrance with the same big goofy grins
(and haircuts) they had when Kathy discovered them earlier on the back
patio. Amidst the laughter, Jeff does his doggie-shaking-his-head trick
causing his hair to spring back and forth. The laughter intensifies. One of the
guys calls out, "Hey boy, you know any other tricks?...Speak boy, speak!"
Jeff, "Arroooohhh!" Now even Hank and Arley are laughing out loud. As the
laughter subsides, Hank looks over at Dan's half-finished horseshoe, "Good
gravy, Dan. What happened to you? I sure as heck didn't cut yer hair like
that." Dan slowly does a 360 turn to fully display Jeff's handiwork, "Wanted
ta try somethin' new...So I went to a different barber." He points to Jeff with
both hands as Jeff grins. Erik Forslund, "What about you, Jeff? What's with
the doggie hair?" "We knew we were gonna be comin' here t'get our haircut,
like the rest of you, so we thought we'd have a little fun with the clippers
this morning." He reaches up and brushes his hand through his hair.
A few of the latest arrivals to the shop are looking more startled than
amused, they have no idea what's going on, "I don't get it...What's with all
the flattops and goofy haircuts?" He looks at Coach Connor, "You told us
t'get our haircut like yours, above the ears an' stuff." Dan's grin becomes a
little tinged with guilt, "Yeah well..." Scott McAllister, "He tricked us. After
tellin' us t'get our haircut like him, he came here an' got himself flattopped."
Doug Nelson, "So when ya tell Hank and Arley t'cut yer hair like the Coach's,
you end up like this." He swipes his hand across the top of his flattop. Jeff,
"Hey Doug, I see ya made it back here." "Yeah. I got here just before you
did...again. The first time, you were puttin' that danged banner up on the
wall so I couldn't see myself gettin' flattopped."
Jeff walks over and pulls the banner off the wall, "Guess we don't need
this anymore." Scott sees himself in the newly revealed mirrors, and jokes,
"Hey! How'd I get this flattop? Geez. I look like a Marine!" The guys laugh.
Well, the guys who've already gotten their flattops laugh, the others just
sort of grin nervously. All except Mitch Kreuzynski. He's the goofball of the
bunch, the class clown. The other guys call him Doofus because, well......
Mitch hasn't gotten his haircut yet but he's laughing his head off with the
others. Dan looks at Scott, "You DO look like a Marine, McAllister. How'd
that happen?" Scott grins ear to ear, "I came in here an' got my regular
flattop, my Coach Connor Special. Hank said we'd look like a bunch of
Marines chargin' at the other teams. That got me thinkin'...What if we
REALLY looked like Marines? That'd mess with their heads even more. So me
an' Erik came back here an' got another haircut. I told Hank "Make me look
like a Marine". Arley did the cut, though." Arley, "Takes one t'know one."
Dan, "Ah. I get it now, the second haircuts."
Seeing the piles of hair on the floor, Jeff grabs the push broom and starts
sweeping the hair aside, "Man, looks like someone's been shearin' sheep...
Lots of red hair here too. That must be yours, Rusty." Rusty grins, "Not
anymore!" Scott repeats Arley's airplane noise and glides his hand over
Rusty's head, "Eeerrooom". He then makes an explosion sound, "Kerfooom!"
and vigorously rubs the top of Rusty's flattop.
As the general hubbub of laughter and jokes resumes, Dan walks over to
the phone, "O.K. if I use yer phone, Hank? I need t'call my assistant coaches
an' tell 'em t'get over here." "Oh yeah, sure." Dan, "Oh, an' Jeff? Maybe you
should call the guys who already got their haircuts an' tell 'em t'come, too."
Jeff, "Yeah...only, I don't know which ones have been here." Derek takes a
moment away from his picture taking, "I know which ones have been here.
I've been writing 'em down, in order, so I can match their names to the
photos later. Let's see..."He pulls out his list, "Well, Doug Nelson's already
here, most of the other guys too...Looks like Matt Cooper and Nick
Shackelford...that's it...Unless you count those 2 other guys who got
flattopped by mistake." Dan, "What?" "Yeah..." Derek checks his list again,
"...Randy Baker and...Andy McPherson." Dan, "Geez. More apologies to add
to the list." He suddenly remembers he was going to apologize to Hank and
Arley, and makes a mental note to do just that after he makes the phone
Arley finishes up on one of the guys, leaving his chair vacant. Mitch
Kreuzynski climbs in, "My turn." Mitch 'Doofus' Kreuzynski has straight
brown hair that he wears in a long bowl-cut, always in his eyes, always
below his ears and collar, and always unparted. Arley capes him up, "Quite a
mop y'got here." Mitch, "Not for long. Make me look like a Marine, like ya
did with Scott. Only leave it longer on top, maybe an inch or so, O.K?" Arley,
"Wanna look like a Marine, huh?..OORah!" Erik, "What's oorah?" Arley,
"When a Marine gets all pumped up an' ready t'fight he yells OORah! Sort of
an adrenaline thing." A loud deep chorus of OORah! fills the shop for the
next few seconds, followed by uncontrollable laughter.
Arley takes the #8 clippers to Mitch's hair and in less than a minute has
him buzzed down to his 1" pre-cut. Switching clippers, he clears the path
around Mitch's head like he did with Scott and begins removing all the hair
below the line. Mitch is watching his transformation in the mirrors above the
waiting area with worried fascination. Even for the Doofus, this major
change in appearance is somewhat startling.
Dan and Jeff have finished making the phone calls and have joined the
rest of the guys in the waiting area. By now, the 'waiting area' comprises
almost every square foot of the shop. After a while, Dan gets up and walks
over to a spot between the 2 barber chairs. He runs his hand up the back of
his head, gathering his thoughts. With his back to the team and in a voice
pitched just loud enough to be heard by Hank and Arley over the general
noise of the shop, Dan begins, "I guess I owe you two an apology and an
explanation, huh." Hank, "You mean about not cluein' us in on all of yer
plan? Yeah, we were wonderin' when you were gonna get around to that",
he smiles. Arley, "Oh, we figured out what was happenin' pretty darn quick,
I'll tell ya what." Dan, "Yeah. I thought you probably would...The reason I
kept you in the dark was because if this cockamamie plan blew up in my
face, you two could truthfully claim you didn't know anything about it. I
would take the blame. I didn't want it to reflect poorly on you guys...On the
other hand, if the plan turns out t'be a huge success (and it looks like it
might), you guys can share in the glory. I don't know, maybe I shoulda told
ya everything from the get-go. I thought about it a long time...guess I
decided t'play it safe." Hank, "Well, no harm done." Arley, once again minus
most of his accent, "Hell, we'll probably get a dozen new regular customers
outa this 'cockamamie plan' of yours. So don't beat yerself up too much over
it." Dan, "Thanks guys...I promise, the next cockamamie plan I come up
with, I'll include you from the start." He grins.
A loud chorus of cheers, whistles, and OORahs erupts as coaches Chuck
Henderson and Mike Wahlenczek enter the shop. Mike, "Man, the place is
really packed. Awesome!" Chuck, "And look at all the flattops...I was worried
we'd be the only ones." Dan acknowledges his assistant coaches arrival,
"Hey guys. I'd tell ya t'pull up a chair and makes yerselves at home, but it
seems chairs are a little scarce at the moment."
Arley has begun to flatten Mitch's Marine-cut, taking the front down to just
under an inch and leaving the landing strip 3/8". Mitch watches with
mounting excitement as his scalp becomes visible down the center, "Hey!
Can ya shave it all the way down to the skin in the middle, like ya did with
Scott's? That'd be awesome!" Arley, "Ya mean a horseshoe? Sure, but that'd
leave the rest of yer top stickin' up too high, like a big ol' furry caterpillar
crawlin' around yer head, I'll tell ya what." Mitch, "Yeah, leave it stickin' up
like that." Arley, "O.K. then, if that's what ya want." "Yeah, that's the best
part!" Arley grins and shakes his head as he takes the clippers up the middle
of the back of Mitch's head, over the top, and down the center, stopping
about 2" from his front hairline, "So how's that wooly caterpillar look to ya?"
Mitch bobs his head around to get a good look at his longish horseshoe,
"Great! Only...it doesn't look quite right." "Well, like I said, the rest is a
might too long." "Naw, that isn't it..." Mitch's eyes light up, "Hey! Hand me
the clippers, would ya?" Arley, "What...you want the clippers?" "Yeah. I
gotta fix it." "Well...O.K. then..." Arley hands the clippers to Mitch who,
without hesitation, shoves them up his forehead, turning his U-shaped top
into an 'eleven' which, as it happens, is also the number on his football
jersey. The guys point and laugh as 'Doofus' steps out of the chair. Jeff
nudges his dad's shoulder and points to Mitch, "Twin mohawk", he grins.
Dan, "Now y'know why I didn't let ya cut MY hair like that, huh Sport."
"Yeah...or mine either." They laugh.
Arley, "That, I say, that was one weird kid, I'll tell ya what." Hank, "Got
that right. An' I thought YOU were weird." "ME! Yer the one who put a hex
on that ol' radio so's it don't play nuthin' but moldy oldies an' twingy twangy
country tunes!" One of the guys fiddles with the tuner knob on the radio and
gets the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive", "Sounds O.K. to me", he says. Arley sets
himself up: "What?..", he sputters, "Hank, you done removed the curse on
that spooky ol' radio just now so I'd look like an idiot, didn't ya?" And Hank
knocks him down: "I don't need ta make ya look like an idiot, Arley. You do
just fine all by yerself." You could almost here the 'ba-dump-bump' of the
drum kit rim-shot. As the guys laugh, Dan says to Jeff, "Looks like the Hank
& Arley show is back in town again." "Arley & Hank", Arley corrects him.
Nick Shackelford and Matt Cooper enter the shop and get welcomed in:
"Hey look, Shackelford got himself butched!" and "Geez, look at Matt's
landing strip. Somebody hand me my sunglasses." The two guys grin and
blush as they get laughed at. Dan, "Come on in, guys." They pick their way
through the crowd looking for a place to stand. Matt ends up next to Scott
and sees his clipper-shaved horseshoe flat, "Man, and I thought I got
scalped. Geez!" Arley, "Yep. Got himself a gen-u-ine Marine Corps horseshoe
flattop. We Marines like ta keep our hair short", he runs a finger up the side
of his close taper cut. Hank, "Arley, yer not in the Marine Corps anymore.
Haven't been for about 6 years now." Arley, "No such thing as an ex-Marine.
Once a Marine, always a Marine. Just like once a flattopper, always a
flattopper, ain't that right, Coach." "Yep...Oh, you guys'll grow yer hair out
long again, but after a while, maybe 8 or 10 years from now, you'll be
sportin' a flattop or crew-cut again." The shop suddenly gets very quiet...
Arley, "It's, I say, It's so quiet in here you can hear a dead cricket chirp, I'll
tell ya what." The spell of silence is broken as the guys laugh and the
general cacophony returns to the shop.
Dan looks around the shop, "Seems like we're still missing someone
here..." As if on cue, Ted Anderson walks through the door with his
trademarked slogan, "Never fear, Ted is here." Ted is a 'golden boy' and a
legend in his own mind: The waters part before him and women throw
themselves at his feet. At least, that's how he sees it. Born into a well-to-do
family, he has never been deprived of anything. If he wants it, he gets it:
cash, clothes, car, anything and everything. And he looks the part, too: tall,
an inch taller than Jeff; muscular, he has a home gym; and good looking.
He's especially fond of his long flowing locks of wavy blond hair, swept back
on the sides, just so. He's also a gifted football player. The perfect package,
except...he's a jerk.
With a radiant smile (and perfect teeth), Ted gazes upon his worshipers.
His smile fades as he notices all the flattops, the landing strips, the exposed
ears..."What the hell?.." One of the guys says (unenthusiastically), "Hey
Ted, come in an' join the fun." Ted, "Fun?...What's the deal with the
flattops?" "That's the team haircut. We're all gettin' flattopped." Ted, who
prizes his glorious blond hair, has been thinking constantly about this haircut
since the Coach sprung it on them yesterday. Only in the last hour or so has
he conceded to allow his hair to be trimmed a bit above his ears. But this, a
flattop(!), well, that isn't even part of his universe, "No way, man! I'm not
gettin' a flattop." Dan says to Jeff, "I knew Ted was gonna be a problem."
"Yeah, me too. Thinks he's God's gift to everyone...He's a good running back
though." Ted, "Screw this..." He turns around to leave, but one of the guys
(a blocker, as it turns out) blocks the door. Ted, "Out of my way, man." The
blocker holds his ground. Ted attempts to push past his teammate, when
several other guys jump up to restrain him, "Hold his arms!" "Pin him
down!" "Somebody get his other arm!" "Let's shave his head!" "Yeah! Get
the clippers!" Dan utters, "Oh geez." Adrenaline and testosterone are always
a volatile combination, and right now it's so thick you could slice it with a
steak knife. Thoughts are quickly swirling through Dan's head: "A forced
haircut was definitely NOT part of the plan...Lawsuits and criminal charges
could ensue and that would be MUCH worse than the worst case scenario I
had envisioned earlier...If the situation gets REALLY out of control, the
whole shop could be trashed." He holds back, ready to spring into action at
the first sign of real trouble. Dan glances over at Hank and Arley and sees
that they're having the same thoughts.
Ted is down on his knees, struggling. It takes 6 guys to restrain him: 1 for
each arm and leg, 1 around his waist, and 1 holding the back of his neck.
They're offering words of encouragement, "C'mon Ted, don't be a jerk."
"Take it like a man." "Let's give 'im a mohawk!" "We need a pair of
clippers!" Hank, seeing that the guy is doomed (and hoping to keep his shop
from being trashed), hands the clippers with the #8 guard over to one of the
guys, "Here, use these. It'll buzz 'im down to a 1" butch...We'll see where it
goes from there." The whirring begins and the clippers are shoved up the
back of Ted's neck, all the way up and across the top. Large clumps of his
golden hair fall to the floor in front of him just inches from his face.
Dan says to Jeff, "I don't want Ted leaving here angry and bitter...We're
gonna need ta sweet talk 'im, bring him around." He looks around at the
other guys in the shop: A couple of them have devilish grins on their faces
but most are troubled and alarmed at the situation. Neither expression is
what he'd hoped for.
Ted's 'pre-cut' is nearly complete and he has stopped struggling. The guys
are loosening their grip. Ted's 'barber' speaks up, "Sorry Ted. Guess we
shouldn'ta done this. Not like this anyhow", finished with Ted's buzz-cut, he
hands the clippers back to Hank, "We just wanted you t'be one of the guys,
y'know?...One of us, that's all." They help him to his feet. "And now you
ARE!", he rubs the top of Ted's furry buzz-cut, "Well, almost." Ted actually
returns a weak smile, "Thanks guys...I guess I needed that...Sometimes I
can be kind of a jerk." "Sometimes?" "Kind of?" Some of the guys laugh.
Dan exhales out of relief, "Wheww." Jeff says to his dad, "Wow, looks like
Ted went through more than one transformation just now." Dan, "You O.K.,
Ted?" "Yeah...I guess." Queen's "We Are The Champions" starts playing over
the spooky old radio. Derek, "C'mon, I got the 'before' and 'during' shots. I
still need the 'after' shot." Dan, "(heh) How about it, Ted? You wanna
complete yer transformation? There's worse things than gettin' a flattop,
y'know." He points at Mitch's twin mohawk as the guys snicker and laugh.
Hank puts the finishing touches on the flattop he was working on before
the ruckus started, while Arley is just starting to give another Ranger his
pre-cut. When Hank's chair becomes vacant, Dan motions to it, "Go for it
Ted, Hank won't bite...Arley maybe, but not Hank." As Ted steps into Hank's
chair, Arley responds to Dan's taunt, "Yer one t'be pointin' at goofy haircuts,
you looked in the mirror lately, Coach?...You look, I say, You look like you
been drug through a knothole backwards, I'll tell ya what." As the guys
snicker some more, Dan looks at his lop-sided half-horseshoe, "I dunno,
looks O.K. to me...If I tilt my head like so, the 2 sides look pretty even."
More laughter. Hank, "Yep. Fine lookin' haircut, Dan", he rolls his eyes in
disbelief. As the guys laugh harder, Erik Forslund says to Jeff, "Those two,
Hank and Arley, they're O.K, y'know? Pretty cool dudes. I think I'll be gettin'
my haircut here from now on, it's kind of a fun place t'be." Jeff, "Yeah, I
know. I've been watchin' the Hank & Arley show since I was a kid." Arley
glances over, "Arley & Hank."
Hank is taking his time with Ted's flattop, being extra careful to get it
looking just right. As he finishes squaring up the sides, Ted makes an
observation, "The left side looks just a bit longer than the right side, don't
you think?" Hank steps back to survey the situation, "By golly, yer right." He
works on the left side a little more, taking off an additional 0.001 microns to
satisfy his customer, "How's that look?" Ted, "Better." Hank resists the
temptation to roll his eyes again, so Arley does it for him.
Hank decides to level Ted's top using the 'deluxe' (regular) method of
clipper-over-comb rather than just eyeballing it. He concentrates as the
clippers glide over the comb, causing small flurries of short blond hair to fall
on Ted's nose and shoulders. Watching in the mirror, Ted's expression is as
intense as Hank's. Soon, the clippers are turned off and Hank looks at Ted's
reflection in the mirror, "Now THAT'S a football player." Ted studies his
flattop..."It seems to stick up a little higher over here..." Hank dutifully
tends to the offending imperfection. Jeff says to his dad, "Looks like the
transformation isn't as complete as I thought." His dad replies, "Baby steps
Jeff, baby steps." Hank, with seemingly genuine politeness, "Now then,
everything O.K?" Ted gazes upon his flattop like Jason beholding the Golden
Fleece, "Nice." Hank, "Don't know what ya were so worried about, son. This
flattop looks mighty fine on you, if I do say so myself. (And I do)." Arley,
"Hey...That's my line." Hank takes the duster to Ted and turns him loose.
Arley finishes with his Ranger as well.
Dan looks at all the Northridge Rangers in the shop: Nothing but flattops
(plus 1 butch and a twin mohawk) as far as the eye can see. In a voice loud
enough to be heard throughout the shop he says, "Well Jeff, looks like we're
the only two left." Jeff grins, "Saved the best for last." A chorus of groans
and catcalls travels around the shop. Dan steps into Hank's chair as Jeff
climbs into Arley's. As the two of them are getting caped up, Hank starts
another episode of the Hank & Arley show, "Hey Jeff? What's riskier than
gettin' a haircut from a one-eyed barber?" Jeff, "Uhhh, I dunno...What?"
"Gettin' a haircut from a Marine Corps barber, isn't that right, Arley."
Arley, "Well har, I say, har-dee-har and har." As the laughter subsides,
Arley comes back, "Hey Coach?" "Yes Arley?" The guys are all listening
intently, as if watching a stage performance, "How d'ya keep a cranky ol'
barber from messin' up yer haircut?" "Gee Arley, I do not know. How do you
keep a cranky old barber from messing up yer haircut?" "By lettin' a young,
studly, Marine Corps barber cut yer hair instead, isn't that right Hank."
Amidst the laughter, Hank adds a zinger, "Let us know if ya find one, Arley."
Even Arley laughs at that one.
Hank, "O.K, gettin' down to business here..." He surveys Dan's 'haircut', "I
was gonna ask ya how ya wanted it cut, but after seein' it up close, I don't
think ya have any choice." Dan, "Yep. Make me look like a Marine." The
guys chuckle. Scott McAllister speaks up, "Hey, that's what I said." Coach
Mike Wahlenczek adds, "Yeah, an' look what happened t'you, bro." Scott
grins and turns a little red in the face as the guffaws die down. Dan, "Stand
over here, Scott. Right up front. I want Hank ta use you as a model for my
haircut...See that sharp lookin' guy there, Hank?" "(Probably not)", Arley
mumbles. Dan continues through the laughter, "Cut it just like Scott's."
Arley takes his hand and swipes it through Jeff's long bushy flattop,
making it spring back and forth, "When I was a kid I had a pet raccoon that
looked like this." Jeff grins as his hair bounces back to its upright position,
"Cut mine just like Scott's, too, like a Marine." Scott, being singled out for
attention, gets an inspired idea, "Hey! Y'know what'd be fun?...You two
should have a race...See who can get their haircut finished first!" The shop
erupts with a loud chant of "RACE! RACE! RACE! RACE!" Through the noise,
Dan says to Hank and Arley, "What d'ya think?..On a normal day you guys
wouldn't even consider such an idea. Wouldn't be professional. But there
hasn't been ANYthing normal about today, right? It'd be a one-time-only
sorta thing." Arley looks over at Hank, "It WOULD be kinda fun, just this
once. Plus, it'd make, I say, it'd make a great episode of the Arley & Hank
show." "Hank & Arley", Hank corrects him. He pretends to think it over,
having already made up his mind as soon as Scott came up with the idea,
"Sure. Let's go for it." Arley can't resist getting in some trash talk, "Hmmm,
A Marine Corps barber cuttin' a Marine-style haircut...Guess we know who's
gonna win THIS race, I'll tell ya what!" Hank talks trash right back, "Care
t'make a wager on it, BOY?" Several of the guys go "Oooohh" in response to
Hank's dare. Arley, "What'd you have in mind, OLD MAN?" The guys go
"Oooohh" again. Hank, "The loser gets the same haircut, OORah!" Another
loud chorus of "OORah!" echoes through the shop for the next few seconds.
Coaches Henderson and Wahlenczek weren't in the shop during the first
volley of "OORah!" a while ago. Chuck Henderson, "Man! You guys sound
like yer ready for battle, like you could take on anything...Must be the
flattops." Dan, "Yep. It's in the Flattopper's Manual: "A flattop will make a
guy feel like he can handle anything." More "OORah!"s ensue. Chuck, "If you
guys do that when you charge onto the field, you'll scare the other teams
right out of their jockstraps." More "OORah!"s, mixed with laughter this
time. Arley accepts Hank's challenge, "You're on. Ain't no way I'm gonna
lose this race."
Dan, "Barbers ready?..." Hank and Arley switch their clippers on and off
like NASCAR drivers revving their engines. "Scott, count it down." Scott,
"Ready...Set...GO!" The barbers fire up their clippers to top gear and dive
right in: Arley attacks Jeff's furry flattop by clearing the 'timber line' path
around his head. Hank takes Dan's sides up higher and evens them out. The
guys begin a spirited chant, "ArLEY! ArLEY! ArLEY!" mixed with, "HANK!
HANK! HANK!" Arley takes the clippers up and around Jeff's sides, clearing
away all the hair below the timber line while Hank is already starting to
lower Dan's top. Arley glances over and sees that Hank is further along than
himself. He steps up his pace and quickly, but accurately, lowers Jeff's deck
down to the proper height. All he has left to do is press the clippers down
the middle and he'll be...Hank yells "Done!" Arley takes the final swipe down
the middle of Jeff's head, completing the horseshoe. The clippers are
switched off. Arley, "Tweren't fair! The Coach's horseshoe was already half
done before we started, I'll tell ya what!" Hank, "Then why'd you accept the
bet? You knew that before the race began." Arley sputters, "Yeah but.....
...you knew...aw, goose spit!" Dan and Jeff step out of their chairs and join
the rest of the guys to watch the Hank & Arley show. Hank, "So...Yer chair,
or mine?" Arley stomps over and climbs into Hank's chair, "Tweren't fair", he
repeats and gives Hank a little wink to let him know his indignation is just
part of the show. Well, most of it anyway. Hank fastens the cape around
Arley's neck as the guys begin chanting again, "ArLEY! ArLEY!" Hank begins
by clearing the path around Arley's head. The chanting subsides as Hank
removes all the hair from the sides and back leaving just the center-parted
short cut on top. Hank works a little Butch Wax and water into Arley's
remaining hair and stands it up with the blow dryer and brush. As he begins
taking the top down, Arley can't help himself and has to get in one more dig,
"Try t'get it even this time, why don'tcha." Dan, "I don't think I'd be trash
talkin' a barber who's cuttin' my hair if I were you, Arley...You might end up
lookin' like Mitch here." Mitch 'Doofus' is delighted to be singled out again.
He stands up and lowers his head down to fully display his numeral "11"
twin mohawk. As the guys laugh, Arley heeds Dan's advice, "You got, I say,
you got a point there Coach, I'll tell ya what...(weird kid)." Hank finishes
leveling Arley's horseshoe flattop and presses the clippers down the middle
to open up the back, creating the distinctive "U" shape. He hangs the
clippers up on the rack and dusts off Arley's face and ears, "So, how's it look
Marine?" Arley tilts his head this way and that, "Not bad...Not bad a'tall...
OORah!" A deep chorus of "OORah!" answers him back. Hank removes the
cape, and as Arley steps out of the chair he says sincerely, "Mighty fine
haircut, Hank. If I do say so myself, (and I do)." Hank and Jeff both smile,
hearing Arley use his tired old line in such a heartfelt way.
Dan makes his way to the middle of the shop and raises his voice to be
heard, "Hey guys?..." He waits a few seconds to get their attention..."I was
gonna tell ya to gather around, but if we were gathered any closer they'd
have t'call us the Northridge Sardines." He waits for the laughter to subside,
"Before you all head home and listen to yer parents compliment you on how
handsome you look with yer new haircuts..." He pauses while the guys
whistle and "OORah!" He continues, "...I just wanna tell you how proud I am
of you right now...All of you..."As the guys chant and cheer, he scans the
room and locks eyes on several of the guys to silently single them out: Scott
McAllister, Doug Nelson, Erik Forslund, Matt Cooper, Nick Shackelford, Ted
Anderson, even Mitch 'Doofus' Kreuzynski, "When you came here today, you
didn't think you were gonna be leavin' with yer tops taken down flatter than
a football field..." A chant of "Rangers Rock!" works its way around the shop,
"Those of you who came here first were mighty surprised to discover you'd
gotten a flattop instead of the regular above-the-ears haircut like I told ya
yesterday, and I really am sorry I tricked you like that." Doug Nelson butts
in, "It was that danged banner that Jeff put up. We couldn't see ourselves
gettin' flattopped." Jeff grins and takes a bow as the guys chuckle. Dan
continues, "I didn't think you'd come if y'knew ahead of time about the
flattops." Somebody yells, "Ya got THAT right!" The guys laugh. Dan, "It
took courage for those first guys, like Doug, to get over the shock of gettin'
a flattop and come back down here to cheer the rest of you on. And it took
another kind of courage for those of you who got here later, saw what was
going on, an stayed t'get yer haircut anyway...Some of you needed a little
more persuading than others", he grins and looks at Ted. A chant of "Ted!
Ted! Ted!" circles the room. Ted actually blushes a bit. Dan, "I'd like ta
thank coaches Henderson and Wahlenczek. They weren't too keen on gettin'
themselves flattopped either, but they stepped up and did it anyhow, just
like you. And Jeff...Thanks Son...for yer support, yer ideas- it was his idea
to cover up the mirrors with the banner, but he didn't know about the flattop
part of my plan till last night...So don't be too hard on 'im. And last, but not
least, I'd like ta thank Hank and Arley here for bein' such good sports an'
goin' along with my crazy, team haircut idea." Another chorus of "HANK!
HANK!" and "ArLEY! ArLEY!" erupts. Hank gives his thoughts about the days
events, "Y'know...What happened here today is a one-of-a-kind thing. An' I
don't just mean the haircuts, there was a lot more to it than that. The joking
and teasing, the tension, the courage. The sense of comradery with yer
teammates, those (and the haircuts) are things that you'll remember for the
rest of yer life. I've been cuttin' hair here since Dan, Coach Connor, was yer
age, longer even. An' I'll tell ya right now, there's never been another day
like it, not even close. And we've got this man, standin' right here, ta thank
for it: yer Coach, Dan Connor." "Coach! Coach! Coach! Coach!" Dan tries
mightily to keep his eyes dry, but doesn't quite succeed. Dan, "Well, that's
about all I have t'say right now, guys. Again, thanks for showin' up. Thanks
for yer spirit. Thanks for yer courage...", he smirks, "And thanks for yer
hair", the guys chuckle, "You guys can head on home now if ya want...Oh
an' remember, we got a practice on Monday, and our first game on Friday,
thanks...Thank you." Dan turns around and exhales a big sigh of relief, joy,
pride, and a dozen other emotions he's kept bottled up for the last couple of
months since he came up with his team haircut idea. Phase 1 of Operation:
Coach Connor Special has been a major success. Phase 2, winning the first
game, has yet to be determined.
None of the guys have left the shop yet. They're milling around, talking,
joking, comparing haircuts...Nobody wants what they've just experienced to
come to an end. Jeff, "Almost forgot..." He walks over and grabs a sucker
from the jar on the counter, unwraps it, and sticks it in his cheek. Scott,
"Was Jeffy a good widdle boy today?" The guys laugh, but Jeff is unphased,
"It'sh tra'ishun", he removes the sucker from his mouth, "It's a tradition...
I've been comin' here gettin' my haircut since I was a little kid. Hank would
always hand me a sucker afterwards because yes, I was a good little boy...
And now, well, it just makes me feel like I belong." He pokes the sucker
back into his cheek. After a few seconds, a mass migration begins as the
guys all head for the lollipop jar. After some more laughing and joking, the
guys start leaving the shop in two's and three's saying, "See ya later" and
"Thanks" as they go.
Soon, the shop is empty except for Hank and Arley, Dan and Jeff, and
Derek Miller. Dan walks over to the lollipop jar , there's still one sucker left.
He takes it and sticks it into his mouth. He gets out his billfold, removes a
five, and pokes it into Hank's shirt pocket, "That'sh for the refill, he says. He
removes the sucker from his mouth and thinks for a second, gets out
another five and pokes it into Hank's pocket as well, "I have a feeling that
jar's gonna be emptied on a regular basis from now on." Hank, "Yep. I think
a lot of these guys'll be comin' back here for more of the ol' Hank & Arley
show." "Arley & Hank", Arley says automatically. Dan tries a little
experiment: "Yeah, these guys got themselves an Arley & Hank show they'll
never forget." Arley, I keep tellin' y'all it's Hank & Arley, the Hank & Arley
show...I mean...Wait...What now?..." They all laugh, except Arley, who
seems genuinely flummoxed.
Derek, "I'd like t'get one more photo...of you guys standin' behind Hank,
O.K?" Hank is sitting in his barber chair, legs crossed, coffee cup in hand
and a tired look in his eyes. Arley moves over and stands behind Hank, to
the left. Dan is on the right with Jeff in the middle, the suckers bulging their
cheeks out. Derek, "That looks good...Arley and Mr. Connor? Could you fold
yer arms together all proud-like?..Yeah, like that. An' turn slightly outward,
away from the chair...And Jeff, rest yer hands on top of Hank's chair...Yeah,
perfect...O.K. now, I don't want ya ta smile, I want ya ta look all serious an'
tired-like. That shouldn't be too hard, huh?" He waits a second to get the
facial expressions he's looking for, then [click]. "Thanks. I think that's the
best shot of the day."
That photo will win Derek the first of many awards in a long and renowned
career as a photo journalist. It will also hang proudly, for decades, up on the
wall in the Klipper-Kut, next to the old radio.
Derek, "Well, looks like the party's over, so I'll be going now, too." Hank,
"Thanks Derek. It was a pleasure havin' ya here today." Dan, "Yeah, thanks
Derek. You really came through for us. I look forward ta seein' all those
photos." Arley, "Come back an' see us from time ta time, O.K? Ya don't even
have t'get a haircut or nuthin'. Just ta talk..I won't threaten t'give ya a
mohawk no more", he grins. Derek grins back, "Yeah, I'll be comin' here
some more", he thinks for a sec, then adds, "This, I say, this is one special
place, I'll tell ya whut." They all chuckle. Arley, "Ya nailed the accent perfect
that time...Quick learner...Don't go gittin' any ideas about learnin' t'cut hair,
or I'll be out of a job, I'll tell ya what." Hank, "Now why on Earth would I
hire a young guy with an accent who's good at cuttin' hair? I already made
that mistake once." As they all laugh, Derek turns and heads out the door,
raising his hand in farewell as he leaves.
Hank gets out of his chair and goes over to the radio. He changes it back
to 'his' station and returns to his seat. Arley, hearing the old country tunes
once again, "Oh lord. We finally git some decent music comin' from that ol'
thing, an' then you go an' turn it back to some song about a guy who's dog
just got run over by his ex-girlfriend who's on her way to the chapel t'get
married to the guys best friend, I'll tell ya what." Dan and Jeff laugh as Arley
continues, "Well, no more, I tell ya." He stomps over to the radio and
messes with the knobs..."Well, whut the...? Where's the other station at?...
...Hank, you done put the curse back onto this spooky ol' radio agin, didn't
ya?" Hank, "It's not cursed, Arley. Ya just have t'know how ta work it...
Besides, I'm too tired and hungry t'bother with curses." Hank's words catch
Dan off guard. He looks at his watch, "Geez. It's after 4:00. You guys didn't
have a lunch break today, did ya? Man, that's one more thing I didn't take
into account when I came up with this plan...Here you guys are, workin' like
mad all day an' not a bite ta eat. What was I thinking? Why don't ya close
up the shop a little early an' I'll take ya both out for a nice big dinner."
Hank, "Don't be so hard on yerself, Dan. I wouldn't trade this day for
anything. Best thing that ever happened at the ol' shop, or ever will, I
reckon...But that dinner offer does sound mighty good 'bout now." Jeff walks
over to the corner where the banner had been tossed aside. He rolls it up
and sticks it under his arm. It will find a new home on his bedroom wall.
Arley, "I'm feelin' a might peckish, too. Been runnin' on empty for the last
couple of hours. I'm so hungry I could eat a horse, a cow, 2 pigs, and a
chicken," "I'll tell ya what." Jeff and Arley finish the sentence together and
laugh. Hank turns off the radio and switches off the lights in the shop as
they all head for the door. Arley says to Jeff, "You makin' fun of the way I
talk?" Jeff grins, "Always."
___6 days later: Friday, Sept. 8, 1978. Game Night___
Longtime radio personalities Buck and Bud, of the "Buck & Bud Show"
have been doing the play-by-play commentating of local high school football
games for more than 10 years now: "Welcome back to the Buck & Bud
Show, broadcasting live from the sidelines at Northridge Field. Tonight's
match-up, the first of the season, is between the Northridge Rangers and
their rivals from across town, the Crosstown Rivals." "I spoke to both
coaches on the phone a little earlier: Crosstown High's, Coach Higgenlooper
said that after swapping out a couple of his players' positions he's noticed a
big improvement in the Rivals practice sessions.. While the Rangers' Coach
Connor told me to expect some big differences this year." "Big differences?
What, like new uniforms or something?" "I dunno, he wouldn't say. Guess
we'll have to wait and see." "Well we won't have to wait long because the
teams are starting to come onto the field...Here come the Crosstown Rivals."
Loud cheers erupt from the Crosstown High section as their team runs
onto the field. "Sounds like the Rivals are ready to rumble...Wonder if
Northridge can match their spirit." "Here they come now..." The Northridge
Rangers smash through their paper banner as they come running onto the
field. "Well there's one difference: The Rangers aren't wearing their helmets.
...They've got 'em tucked under their arms." "Forget the helmets, look at
those haircuts!" "Man, oh man! Flattops! A whole sea of flattops!" "Too bad
we don't have TV cameras here, folks...You gotta see this to believe it."
The Northridge section echoes with foot stomps and deafening yells.
"Listen to the noise coming from the Northridge fans..." "Nevermind the
fans, listen to the Rangers themselves!.." The Rangers run toward the center
of the field yelling "OORah! OORah!" Bud, "Is that the Army yell I here?"
Hank and Arley are in the stands sitting next to Kathy Connor. Arley has a
radio up to his ear listening to the Buck & Bud Show, "Not Army, you idiot,
Marines!" Buck, "That's the Marine yell, I think...Man I wonder what those
Rival boys are thinkin' right now with this platoon of flattopped Marines
barrelin' down on 'em?" "That's a real band of brothers those Rangers have
there." "More like a band of gorillas...You hear that?" Some of the Rangers
have shortened the "OORah!" to just "OOh! OOh! OOh!"
A couple of the Rival players toss their hands in the air, "Crap, how're we
s'posed t'go up against that?!" Hank, watching from the stands, "Well, I'll
be...Looks like Dan got it right. Some of those Rival boys look like they're
already givin' up...Smart guy y'got there, Kathy." "You wouldn't think so if
you'd caught him and Jeff on the patio after giving each other those goofy
haircuts", she laughs.
Bud, "Yes sir, that's quite a sight, folks. Flattops here, flattops there,
flattops everywhe...no wait...is that a mohawk I see?..Over there, number
eleven..." he checks his roster sheet, "Yeah, Kreuzynski, number 11. Looks
like he got himself a mohawk...No...No, I stand corrected. Now that he's
facing us I can see he's got a double mohawk!...Oh wait, I get it now, he's
cut his hair to match the number on his uniform, #11", he laughs, "Well,
how's that for school spirit, folks!" Arley, listening on the radio, "Well stuff, I
say, stuff me with grits an' hush my mouth...That weird kid knew what he
was doin' after all, I'll tell ya what."
Buck, "Hey, ya hear that?...Even the cheerleaders have gotten into the
act." Down on the field, the rally squad gets the crowd going with their
Bud, "I don't know, folks. The game hasn't even started yet, but if these
guys play even half as good as I think they will, they'll walk away with it."
And so they did. Final score- Northridge Rangers: 52, Crosstown Rivals: 3.
An outcome they would repeat time and again, remaining undefeated for the
entire season and clinching the title of State Champions.
Maybe the 'special' part of their Coach Connor Special wasn't the haircuts.
Maybe it was the attitude, the unity, and team spirit that went along with it.
And all this came about because a small town high school football coach
had a crazy idea about team haircuts: A Coach Connor Special.