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Conversations, Nov 1978, Part 1 by Archon 2

Author's Note: Once again, sorry for the length of this story, especially since it mostly gives a lot of background to later parts of this story, as well as future stories to come that will feature more 'in the chair' haircut scenes, so please be patient. And, as always, let me know what you think, and how I can make the stories better.


Saturday, early morning. Dave was, as usual, in his backyard starting his chores. The leaves on the trees in his backyard had been turning brown and falling in such abundant amounts that each week he was just amazed at how many were strewn over the lawn and surrounding areas. He couldn't wait for the winter when most of the trees were bare; when all he had to do was mow and edge the lawn, pull out the occasional weed or two, sweep the patio and generally just keep things in order. Even when a big storm hit the area, it didn't take much time for him to complete his chores. But surveying the whole yard, he reckoned that he would have to spend the majority of the morning in the backyard.

After his usual chores were done, he was supposed to turn his attention to the supply of firewood that had been recently delivered. During breakfast, his father had asked him to make sure to clean out the woodpile area first, and then to make sure that the newly delivered wood was on the bottom as he restacked everything. Winters in California weren't generally very cold, but Dave's mother loved to use the fireplace so there had to be wood, and Dave didn't mind this kind of extra work, as it meant a little extra spending money, either by payment on the spot (after an inspection, of course), or a larger allowance for the week which he received on Friday's, and spent by Sunday. Sometimes he spent it all by Friday night or Saturday, depending on whether or not on those days his father took him and his younger brother Matt to the barbershop, because his father would also take them to the nearby malls or stores to shop if there was time.

But it had only been a week since he had gone to the Army Base Fair, where his ‘boot cut' that he had been wearing for almost a year was unceremoniously replaced with the shortest induction cut possible. Well, actually, it was more like Dave's ‘sharp and clean-cut image' that he had projected for almost a year because of his wearing a ‘military style' boot-cut was suddenly taken away by a simple induction cut. If one thought about it—as Dave did, then the induction cut did to Dave what it was supposed to do with recruits at the start of boot camp…take away any sense of self. And that's what Dave hated so much about the induction cut that was suddenly thrust upon him, even though the ‘sense of self' that was taken away was his image of a clean-cut young man, a result of his wearing the boot cut. Talk about irony. He wanted his boot cut back…well, not really, but if he could do that, then it would bode well for his further attempts towards finally getting to be allowed to choose his own haircuts. First, though, he had to find out if his father meant for Dave to get induction cuts from now on, as Dave was beginning to suspect. After all, at the fair, a little after Dave got the induction cut, he was told that his father was asked if he was going to have Dave keep the induction cut—and his answer was ‘maybe.' And then during the week, his father had actually rubbed Dave's head a couple of times, something that he usually never did, commenting on how much he liked the induction cut. Well, to be fair, Dave supposed that his father wouldn't rub his head when he had the boot cut, since it might mess up his combed-up quiff, the only part on his head that basically had any hair. But to Dave it was clear, he must convince his dad that he should have any other haircut than an induction cut.

Dave had even talked himself into believing, during these past few days, that it shouldn't be all that difficult to convince his father that he should go back to wearing a boot cut. After all, wasn't it the boot cut that gave Dave that clean-cut and sharp image that his father had wanted for Dave? And didn't his father make sure that the boot cut was kept looking sharp and fresh by taking his son to the barbershop every two weeks for a recut. Yes, just like the young soldiers on whom his father first saw with the boot cut, every two weeks he stepped into the barbershop with an already short haircut that featured a longish side parted quiff at the front which then blended quickly into the much shorter top and crown, ending with back and sides that were masterfully tapered down to nearly skin. Maybe if one looked closely, the haircut was just a tad ‘fuzzy' around the ears and back neckline—and they may have noticed that the shaved-in side part was not as distinct as it should be—but most adults would assume that this young man had just given a clean-cut haircut. But his father knew better. And the young soldiers with boot cuts knew better. And the barber certainly knew better. So when Dave stepped out of the barbershop after having usually spent nearly half an hour in the chair, adults and other patrons saw a sharp-looking and clean-cut young man who had just happened to have a beautifully tapered but impossibly short—almost high and tight haircut—that had a shaved side part which helped to set off and define the meticulously combed quiff. What they also saw was his father walking beside him, who was so clearly proud of his son; a great son who probably chose this haircut to please his father, which just enhanced their impression of this young man. But, Dave himself knew better.

While Dave's father was genuinely proud of him in general, and then was proud of having a who looked so sharp and clean-cut with a boot cut; Dave never chose to get a boot cut, or any other haircut for that matter—it was always up to his dad. So there was indeed something special about Dave having this boot cut to his father, that much was for sure. For one thing, his father, it seemed, constantly made references to Dave about how good it looked on him, mentioning it much more than any other haircut that Dave had. As an example, Dave (and his brothers) were usually told how good their haircuts looked on the way home from the barbershop, but that's generally where it ended. But from Dave's very first boot cut, his father seemed to take an interest again, even ensuring that Dave was properly groomed at all times. This was in stark contrast to when Dave had his short taper just before getting the boot cut. His father rarely—if ever, bothered Dave about how his hair was combed, or reminded him to comb his hair before he went out. His mother was more likely to remind Dave to comb his hair before he came to the table than his father was…and Dave was surprised at how many times (especially at breakfast) that his mother was the one to say something. And when he went to the barbershop his father just told the barber "short taper” and let the barber get to work.

But it was much different from the very first time that his father took Dave for his first boot cut. While his father would also issue precise instructions in the past when Dave or his brothers would be getting a different type of haircut (say going from a taper to a flattop), and would inspect the final haircut (and sometimes have the barber adjust the haircut), that was usually about it. However, when Dave was in the chair for his first boot cut, not only did his father give very precise instructions, his father came to inspect the haircut up close at every step; at one point even checking on how well the barber tapered Dave's haircut by running his hand from the back of his head, then up and over his crown area; then commenting as he continued to run his hand all over Dave's head "Great job on the back, it feels how it looks—bare skin, then it gradually feels longer all the way over the crown.” Another close inspection came after the barber used the straight razor to shave in the side part, then outline the arches over his ears and down the sides (apparently this was the barber's attempt to establish a guideline that his hair could follow once it had grown out enough to be seen). Most unsettlingly, after the barber had finished Dave's haircut by combing his front hair up and over into the signature quiff that set this otherwise extremely short haircut apart from other ‘military style' haircuts, his father moved to Dave's chair for a final inspection.

And what an inspection. In fact, Dave only remembered one such other inspection, when Dave was just a youngster—he didn't remember the haircut, only that something special must have happened, to have garnered such attention from his father. And this ‘boot cut inspection' made Dave think that something special again had happened, judging by how his father was intently inspecting Dave's new haircut by swiveling the chair this way and that, nodding approvingly as he went. Then his father actually stepped forward to put himself between the chair and mirror, at the same time swiveling the chair around so that Dave faced him. Horrified, he was forced to swivel his head up and down, and then sideways, by his father's hand on his chin. Not content to end Dave's humiliation there, his father then inspected the quiff for some time, then asked the barber for a comb, which he used to comb the quiff out and then back into place, satisfied with the results. Dave, of course, couldn't wait to get out of the shop, thinking all this attention might end there. But he was wrong.

Usually when Dave came home from getting a haircut, he would just change his shirt and maybe spend some time in front of the mirror trying to convince himself that his haircut wasn't really that bad. But, again, this first boot cut was special—and when they got home, his father asked him to take a shower and make sure that Dave washed all of the pomade out of his hair, and then let his father know. What happened when his father came into the bathroom when Dave was done was just as humiliating as what had occurred in the barbershop, though perhaps easier to take since they were at home. There, in front of the mirror, his father gave him the pomade that they had purchased at the barbershop, and then had Dave use it to comb his quiff into place as his father watched. So Dave, understanding only too well that he had to show his father that he was taking this seriously, started by first placing his comb at the back of his head, and using slow but deliberate strokes, proceeded to comb his hair forward from back to front. Of course the hair at the crown area was too short to move one way or the other, but to Dave this seemed the proper thing to do; after all, it was what he did when he had his short taper haircut. Then moving his comb to the left side, Dave carefully made sure that he combed his bangs just slightly to the right side so that they were away from the shaved part on his left side. Taking a little pomade (and noticing that his father was still intently watching him) Dave worked it a little in his palms, and the applied it carefully to his bangs. Wanting to disarm his father's intense glare and get some feedback which might ease the situation, Dave then took up his comb, and the as he proceeded to style his bangs into a quiff, he said "This is how I saw the barber do it, kind of up and then turned over. Do you have any suggestions, Dad?” Not hearing any, he took a few more swipes with his comb, and then pat his quiff into place with his hand to make it look just right. Then he turned to his father to get his judgment. "Good job, Dave,” his father replied after once again making a thorough inspection, but then also added "make sure, though, that you use the pomade for your entire haircut, like I've always told you.”

And there were inspections throughout the entire time he had his boot cut. It's not that it happened every day, just when it mattered that Dave go out with a perfectly groomed haircut—which came down to basically every time he went anywhere with his parents. In the beginning his father would have to call him over for an inspection before they left; in time Dave learned to simply present himself for an inspection. For leaving the house to go to school or out with his friends—that was easy: If his father was there when Dave left, he made sure his father approved. And when he came home from school or from outside, the basic grooming policy applied: while awake in the house, make sure your quiff is perfectly groomed.

After all these months having the exact same haircut, along with all of this attention on the maintenance of that haircut, Dave had settled into a comfortable pattern of knowing what to expect from each visit to the barbershop, which was in stark contrast to the past, when perhaps a stray comment or instruction from his father (or mother) resulted in a much different haircut. But not with the boot cut; it was apparent that his father took Dave to the barbershop with the intention of his son getting the exact haircut that he was supposed to get. Indeed, before Dave presented himself to his father on the day of the fair, Dave spent a long time combing his quiff and applying just the right amount of pomade to his haircut, since he was going to the army base, and his father would not accept anything other than perfection. And didn't his father say during his inspection that Dave's boot cut was "absolutely the best haircut for you, I can't imagine anything looking better. But then, out of nowhere, the induction cut came along with the possibility that he might have to keep it for some time to come.

But Dave had a plan. At the same time that Dave's father was asked if he was going to have Dave keep the induction cut, his father also heard about a ‘haircut deal' from another father whose son also received an induction cut at the fair. Basically, a ‘haircut deal' was a way for parents to either punish or reward their sons by either punishing bad grades (or something else) with a short haircut; or rewarding good grades with allowing their sons to wear their hair long—in Dave's case, in allowing him to negotiate a longer haircut with his father. So a haircut deal was Dave's plan, which was a very long shot…hopefully he wasn't deluding himself, but then again, he really didn't have much to lose. Or make that ‘much more hair to lose,' as his best friend Steve would have said.

Those were the two big considerations in Dave's mind. Trying to talk his father out of making him get an induction cut—basically a baldie—from now on (if indeed that was going to happen), and to persuade his father to allow him to choose his own haircuts. And as he thought about it through the week, he decided that his angle would be that he had learned from his recent boot cut experience: a haircut every two weeks and insisting that Dave's haircut was well-groomed at all times was how his father showed how much he wanted Dave to look sharp and clean-cut, two admirable traits that every parent wanted for their sons—and he agreed with them. He would further acknowledge to his father that he was wrong to have complained about his haircuts in the past. Didn't Dave keep his boot cut's quiff expertly combed? So the first step was to ask his father if he was going to get an induction cut from now on, and if so, try to ensure a two-week interval between haircuts. And, most importantly, make sure his father understands that Dave has learned his lesson, and if allowed to choose his own haircuts, will choose acceptable ones to his father, and will definitely keep himself well-groomed. To Dave, the logical progression was clear: Start a conversation with his father a couple of days from now, when it would be close to two weeks since the induction cut, which was the usual interval between trips to the barbershop when he had his boot cut, so he could work that into his opening lines, mentioning it as a reason for being so reflective and serious about talking to his dad about his next haircuts.

For the entire week he rehearsed how he hoped it would go: "Hey dad (well, maybe ‘excuse me Sir,' depending on the circumstances) I know you didn't plan on me getting an induction cut at the fair—after all, you really liked the boot cut on me; and you took me to the barbershop every two weeks so that my boot cut would look fresh and sharp all of the time. I guess you know that I didn't like the boot cut and of course I complained a lot; but I wanted to let you know that I became used to getting a haircut every two weeks and even came to look forward to going to the barbershop because I knew what to expect. So I wanted to thank you for caring enough about how I looked, and I am hoping that you'll continue to care. (Hm, maybe that's too sappy, but it works in the movies) Now that it has been almost two weeks since I got the induction cut, I want to show that I've learned my lesson and I am being respectful of your wish that I project a sharp and clean-cut image at all times by asking that you take me to the barbershop to get a fresh induction cut—if that's what you have decided. (He didn't expect a response from his father, so he could go directly to the appeal) However, I would appreciate you trusting me enough now to at least grow my hair out again into a boot cut; which, I'm sure you remember, was kept well-groomed at all times. Before you give me your answer about the induction cut, perhaps we could first discuss the possibility of a time when I get to choose my own haircut?

Well timing is everything, but Dave found out he just ran out of time to perfect his plan. Too bad, because it was a pretty good plan for a 13 year old, but Dave never caught a break. Because as he was still mulling this over in the backyard, he heard a familiar voice call out to him.

November, 1978, Week 1 9:00 AM

"Back here, Dad,” Dave replied as he hurriedly made his way toward the patio area where his father had called for him, then did an abrupt turnaround when he heard the door close. Looking around quickly, he found the rake and had just enough time to collect a small pile of leaves that he hoped would convince his father that he had been working diligently. Besides thinking about his upcoming ‘haircut deal' conversation with his father, he had also decided to ask his father for an increase in his allowance—after all, it was getting expensive to go to the movies. Star Wars, Jaws and Grease were big hits, especially if they were judged by the number of times that Dave and his best friend Steve went to see them. Graphic novels were also very expensive, and he had his eye on the new ‘Official Star Wars Graphic Novel Boxed Set' that was on sale at the mall. If he played his cards right, his increased allowance and the extra money he would receive for stacking the wood today might just be enough to buy the novels next week. So he had better look like he was serious about doing his chores.

It didn't take long for Dave's father to round the corner. He was of above normal height, perhaps just a little under 6', with a trim build and brown eyes. His medium brown hair was currently cut into a short taper, though he sometimes had a crew-cut. As he came into view, Dave saw that his father was now dressed in his ‘civvies': chinos, patterned madras shirt, and loafers—Dave was always amazed at how ‘normal' his father could look out of his army uniform.

As Dave's father reached him, he noticed the small pile of leaves that his son was busily messing with, and then remarked "If you're going to finish the wood pile today, you're going to have to pick up the pace, or maybe actually start working.”
[Dave thought: Damn, I shouldn't have tried that]
Trying to sound serious, Dave replied, "I was sizing up the situation and making a plan,” which was a variation of what his father always instructed him to do before he started every task, so it could be done ‘effectively and efficiently.'
"Sure you were,” Dave's father replied as he began to chuckle. "Just try to get it done…today, please.”
"Yes sir,” replied Dave, then asked, "Hey dad, do you remember the ‘Star Wars Graphic Novel Boxed Set' that I told you was coming out this week? Well, it's in at the B Dalton's bookstore at the mall.”
"Well if you a good job today, you might be able to buy it tonight.” "But,” continued his father, "I want you to do a good job, and I want it done today.”
Dave looked into his father's eyes, and replied, "Yes sir, I'll get it done. But I can't afford it at the moment, even if you pay me really well for doing the wood pile.”
[Dave thought: How much should I ask for?]
Chuckling again, Dave's father replied "You and your comics. And wasn't Stars Wars last year's big movie…so how much are you short?”
Dave answered nervously, "Well…the whole amount. The set with tax and everything will be about $20, and I was hoping that I could earn $10 for doing the wood pile. Then I could purchase the set next week when I get my allowance…and yes, that means I already spent my allowance for the week.”
[Dave thought: Should I ask for an advance as well? It would be sweet to get the set today]
"Dave,” started his father, who then continued, "If you would learn how to spend your money more wisely, then…” suddenly pausing, his father took a breath then continued, "Ok, sorry about that…you earned it and can spend it on what you want. Just remember that you will always want things that you will have to save for—so it's a good idea for you to try to put a little money away each week. So what did you spend your allowance on already?”
"Stuff, you know—and I did have some money left over from last week, which I used to buy a gift certificate for Matt's birthday,” replied Dave. Matt was Dave's younger brother by four years; and though Dave generally described Matt as a pain in the ass, Dave always tried to be a good older brother to Matt.
Dave's father, clearly pleased at hearing this, smiled at his son then said, "That makes me happy, thanks for thinking about Matt. I'm actually taking Matt out to do some shopping in a little while. And that reminds me, your mom and I just made some plans to take Matt to Chuck E. Cheese's for his birthday next Saturday…now I know you might have other things to do, but your mother and I would appreciate it if you would come to his party.”
[Dave thought: Matt's birthday party is next week…that means I might have to wait at least 2 more weeks to go to the barbershop. Maybe he can take me on a weekday…no, everyone will be too busy. Damn Matt and his birthday. This means that when I finally get another induction cut I will look so…bald again. That is if he has decided on me getting an induction cut. Maybe I should just ask if he has decided, and then go from there…]
"Yes sir, I'll be there. I've been waiting for the chance to go to Chuck E. Cheese's for some time,” Dave replied as he tried to collect his thoughts about starting the conversation with his father about his haircuts.

But before he could ask his father if he had time to talk to him about his plan, his father told him, "Dave, tell you what. I was going to take Matt to the mall right after I took him to base for a haircut and then to get his new Military ID, but we'll come home first to pick you up so that you can come to the mall with us…and I'll buy you your graphic novel set so you don't have to wait till next week. But I'm serious about this…you need to do a good job, OK?”
[Dave thought: YES! Graphic Novel…and Matt is going to the barbershop. Should I ask him about the haircut deal now…maybe I can talk him into taking me to the barbershop as well if he's decided on me keeping an induction cut, and I won't look too different…, OH YEAH, Graphic Novel!]
"Wow, Thanks Dad! I'll make sure I do a great job, and I'll pay you back next Friday. I. . . ”
Dave's father put his hand up before Dave could finish, the said "Well you deserve it; getting Matt a present without having to be reminded by your mother or me.”
[Dave thought: Man, he's being really cool today. This just might work if I can talk to him now]
Then Dave, before he could chicken out, took his first steps towards a haircut deal with his father by suddenly asking: "Sir, do you have time to discuss a few things that have been on my mind?”
His father, with an inquisitive look on his face, studied Dave for a little while [Dave thought: Yikes, what's wrong…what is he thinking…nah, don't worry, it will be ok…] and then relaxed and signaled he was ready for whatever was to come, "Ok Dave, I always have time to talk to you. What's on your mind? Do we need to sit down somewhere?”

Dave shifted his stance a little, then made sure to look up at his father before he replied "no, here is fine.” Then Dave continued, "well, sir, your bringing up taking Matt to the barbershop today…and me getting this induction cut last week…uh…I wanted to…uh…talk to you—no, I wanted to ask you what you had decided about my next haircut?”
[Dave thought: I think I said that right]
"You're not going to the barbershop with us today, if that's what you mean,” replied Dave's father. And then he added, somewhat warily, "And, I hope this is not going to turn into another gripe session—I don't have the time.”
[Dave thought: Remember, tell him I won't complain anymore, just want to know if I'm getting an induction cut from now on…liked going to the barbershop every two weeks…I want to suggest that…]
"Dave?” inquired his father.
"No sir, I wasn't going to complain about my haircut. In fact, I wanted to tell you that I'm not…that since …wait, sorry, let me start again. You see, dad, I get it—the reason why you make me get the haircuts, so I'm not going to complain or argue with you anymore about having to go to the barbershop, or even having short hair when almost everyone else doesn't. As you've always said, it's not about them, it's about me. I came to appreciate that when I had the boot cut, you always made sure that it always looked neat and ‘sharp,' never letting it look like it had grown out and become untidy. And I wanted to show you that I learned that lesson by asking you to continue to take me to the barbershop every two weeks so that my haircut can always be neat and sharp.
[Dave paused and thought: This will be perfect, I'll ask him to take me today, after only a week…he'll really think I'm serious] …

Dave continued, "I meant to ask you next week to take me to the barbershop, since it would have been two weeks since I got the induction cut, but when you told me you were taking Matt to the barbershop today, I decided to ask you now…I'm ready to get it re-cut today. Oh, I also want to talk about…perhaps…me getting to decide on my haircuts…when I go to high school, next year.”
[Dave thought: that went well! Glad I remembered about high school, though I need to add that I wanted to show him that I realized I had to grow up and start making decisions for myself since I was going to start high school next year]

Clearly surprised, his father was silent for a while. Dave looked at his father, and saw that his father was deep in thought.

"Wow, Dave,” his father started, then continued "I'm certainly glad that you're not complaining about your haircut now, so thanks for that. But if I understand you correctly, you are saying that you will not be arguing with me about having to go to the barbershop—that you even want to go regularly—but that you want to be able to decide on your haircut?” Another pause, then "Is that correct, Dave?”

[Dave thought: Remember high school. And it's only been one week so I'm serious about understanding the need to go to the barbershop…hm, maybe offer to pay for my own haircut today since it's only been a week…that would impress him]
"Yes sir,” replied Dave, adding "I really want to show that I'm trying to act more like a grown-up, now that I'll be a high-school student next year—it's about time. I'll even pay for my haircut today, since it's only been a week, and haircuts aren't free.”

Another pause ensued as each person considered what the other had said.

"Let me ask this another way, Dave,” started his father. Then pausing again, he asked carefully "You want to go to the barbershop today only if I had decided that I wanted you to keep getting an induction cut…and that you would even pay for it?”
"Yes sir,” replied Dave, adding "to tell you the whole truth, it would also help with me not looking scalped—err, too different—after each haircut if I went as frequently as I did when I had the boot cut, so yes, I'm thinking about that as well. But remember sir, that I also want to be able to choose my own haircut when I get to high school—or maybe we can come to a mutual agreement. I would even be OK with paying for my own haircuts.”
"Well, started his father, "this is an interesting turn of events that is in the right direction. But on the other hand, it also sounds to me like you are still worried about what others think about your haircut—ashamed that your father wants you to look like a clean-cut young man.”
[Dave thought: Yikes, this is not going well, maybe if I just agree…after all, it's the truth]

Dave then laid his cards out on the table, "Yes sir, you could say that, but it's my problem, I know—and I'm trying to get over it. And yes, one way that I know will help is if I get my haircuts close together so that I don't look ‘shaved again' or whatever when I go to school. I mean, it helped with the boot cuts…each time I went to school after a haircut it seemed that everyone was sort of used to me getting a boot cut…and in fact, so did I. But this induction cut was like a curveball…once again when I went to school it was big news—I looked so different! So please, I just want everyone to get used to me having the same haircut.”

"Well, I haven't exactly decided yet if I want you to keep taking you to the barbershop for an induction cut. And yes, I really thought the boot cut was the best haircut for you; and now that you brought it up, it was probably that it would have been your regular haircut, but then you got the induction cut at the fair.”
[Dave thought: This is still ok, remember, no matter what he decided my next haircut would have been, I would have been teased big time since I had gone so long without a haircut. And my suggesting that I get a haircut on a regular basis, and paying for them has to impress him]

Dave's father then surprised…no, rather his father threw a surprise curveball at Dave, with a plan of his own that he had been thinking about, and which he now shared with Dave.

4:30 PM, Backyard

Dave and his best friend Steve were at the back side of the house, busily stacking the wood pile, hoping that they would finish quickly as the sun went down early nowadays, and they couldn't wait to start reading the Star Wars Graphic Novels that Dave's father had bought for him earlier. After a frenzied half hour or so, the boys were finishing up, making sure that all of the wood was stacked neatly, and that the area was absolutely swept clean.

"Do you really think your dad will give me $5 for helping you?” asked Steve.
"Didn't you hear him?” replied Dave, who added that "but remember, we have to pass inspection first.”
"I'm not saluting your dad or standing at attention when he is inspecting our work.”
"You never do, Steve,” answered Dave, who then added "are you going to start up again, Steve?”
"Ok. I'm just surprised that he's also paying me to help you pile the wood, which is why he bought you the novels to begin with.”
"He's just being nice, and for some reason he has always liked you, Steve.”
"Aw, I like him too,” Steve replied, but then since he couldn't help himself, added "he's almost like another dad to me…but I'm not getting an induction cut just to please him…and I'm certainly not going to pay for it as well!”
"Damn, Steve…I didn't tell you the whole story,” said Dave...”I only told you that I went to the barbershop and that I paid for my haircut, but I didn't tell you the whole story…But once you hear everything, I think you'll agree with me that I'm going to win this round with my dad. It won't be long before I get to choose my own haircut.”
"If you say so,” retorted Steve, who then proceeded to point at Dave's fresh induction cut and laugh. Then he added…”Ok dude, great start; though I wouldn't have chosen that haircut, you did…and that's all that matters.”
"Laugh now, Steve, but I'm telling you, I think I handled it well. And I'm happy that I talked my dad into taking me to get this haircut, even though, like you noticed when you first came and had your laugh attack…”
"Hey, I was just…”
"Being your usual self,” interrupted Dave, finishing Steve's sentence. Dave then continued, "Like I said…”
It was then Steve's turn to interrupt Dave, who jumped in with "yes, even though it was only a week since your last haircut, even I could plainly see that you got shaved again! Dude, you wasted your money…on Monday you'll just be the kid who didn't get away from the clippers!
"Thanks Steve, I'm glad that you can always put things into perspective, "replied Dave. "But,” he continued, "Like I was going to say, at least I handled it well…At the barbershop, I just went up when it was my turn, and the barber asked me ‘what will it be?'”
"Wait, wait,” interrupted Steve, and then asked, "So the barber, suddenly seeing that you were a grown-up who made his own decisions, asked you how you wanted your haircut after getting instructions from your father all these years…you went to the barbershop by the PX, correct?”
"Yeah, it was the one by the PX,” replied Dave…”and,” he continued, "it may have been a new barber to me…ok, I guess he heard my dad tell me to ‘go ahead and tell the barber what you want.' But yeah, that's right Steve…my dad had me tell the barber what haircut to give me!
"So what,” started Steve, continuing with "I don't think you had any other choice.”
”Well the barber didn't know I didn't have any other choice, and I did stroll up to the chair confidently, and told him to give me another induction cut.”
"Did you get your money's worth?” asked Steve.
"Yes I did!” replied Dave. He continued, "In fact, I acted like I was interested in how well he cut my hair. When he was done with the first few swipes of my head, I put my hand up for him to wait while I tilted my head down and sort of looked at how short it was…well it was short alright, and I thought, dammit, here we go again…but then I just said ‘looks good,' so the barber continued. And then when he started with the sides, I had noticed that there wasn't much hair on the cape, so I used that to joke with the barber—and hopefully prove to my dad that I was ok with short haircuts from now on—saying, ‘are you sure you're cutting the sides…not much seems to be on the cape.' Well, when he turned the chair around, not only did I feel the air rush by, but I saw how short the side looked, and I just nodded and told him keep going. And here's the best part, Steve…when he was finished, he asked me what I thought—and instead of just saying ‘thanks,' I took the time to look it over—even rubbed my head—and then proceeded to pay him myself, and then thanked him for doing such a good job. I think my dad was proud of me, and I certainly helped make my case.

"Did you lose your mind, along with your hair?” asked Steve in a serious voice.
"Of course not,” Dave replied, then continued, "but once I tell you the whole story, you'll see that I had to do what I did, because…”
"Because I was right, you had no other choice,” interrupted Steve, who then once again started to laugh.
"Shut up Steve…and listen,” Dave replied, and then proceeded to recount his earlier conversation with his dad about his ‘haircut deal' that he wanted to make. Approaching the end, just after his father let Dave know that he hadn't yet decided on whether or not Dave would be keeping his induction cut, Dave broke off the narrative and stated "that's when he threw me the curveball.
"Interesting, I'm listening,” said Steve, who then added, "So what was the curveball?”

Stopping for a while to collect his thoughts, Dave then finished the narrative quickly:
"My dad: ‘I had actually decided to do what I told you at the fair, when I was so upset at you always complaining about your haircut. So when I was out today I was going to buy a pair of hair clippers so that you would get your hair cut at home. I was tired of your complaining, and since it seemed to me that you didn't appreciate that you had a great looking haircut given to you by a professional at a barbershop, well, I just decided on the clippers. Besides, an induction cut looks good on you and can be done at home.'”
"Me: You're buying a pair of clippers!?! Wait, I'm getting an induction cut from now on!?! Wait, what about Matt—he'd better get one from now on as well!?!
"My dad: ‘What happened to the grown-up mature attitude about haircuts? Are you really still so immature that you have to drag Matt into this, when we're talking about you?'”
"Me: You're right, Sir. Sorry about that. Can you please tell me if this is your final decision?”
"My dad: ‘Well, you have to admit that it solves some of the issues that you brought up. No more money spent on your haircuts, and you get a haircut as often as it takes to keep you looking the same. You admitted that you really want to look the same all the time. So this will take care of all of my issues with your haircuts, as well as yours.'”
"Me: But Sir, I also wanted to be able to choose my own haircuts next year. If you buy the clippers, well, I think I'll be stuck with an induction cut. I was serious too, sir, when I said I appreciate the trips to the barbershops now…I said that earlier, remember? Before you told me about buying the clippers. Plus I'm willing to pay for my haircuts from now on. Please don't buy the clippers.”
"My dad: ‘Dave, let me tell you this: I want to believe you, and if I can see positive behavior from you from now on, and you can prove to me that you're serious about not complaining anymore about going to the barbershop—or whatever haircut you get from now on, I will promise that I will consider a ‘haircut deal' like the one I heard about at the fair.'”
"Me: Oh, so you knew that's where I got the idea.”
"My dad: ‘I figured it out…and Matt filled me in.'”
"Me: Remind me to thank Matt…just kidding, Sir. What can I do to convince you that I deserve a haircut deal?”
"My dad: ‘You've been thinking about this…what do you suggest? I'm listening, and open to what you propose.'”
"Me: Ok, to prove that I value going to the barbershop and won't complain anymore, why don't you allow me to keep going to the barbershop to get an induction cut which I will pay for? Every two weeks, in fact…and this will also teach me to save money from my allowance. So if at any time I don't have the money, or I complain to you—or if you hear me complain to anyone else about having an induction cut, then you can take out the money for the clippers from my allowance and give me my induction cuts at home. But, if keep my end of the bargain, I want us to come to an agreement about me choosing my haircuts before I start high school. That's almost a year that I have to live up to my agreement—you have to see that I'm serious!
"My dad: ‘You seem to have forgotten that with a ‘haircut deal' there have to be conditions, such as you getting straight A's.” But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. But, as for you proposal, I accept it, though I reserve the right to choose for you to wear another haircut, or to even approve a suggestion from you.'”
So I said, "Deal!”

Then, as he finished, Dave said triumphantly, "so you see, Steve, I am going to win this battle, and I can wait…after all, it's been so many years that I've had to get whatever haircut my dad or mom wants me to get. And, to top it all off today, my dad was so cool about the graphic novels—He told me I don't have to pay him back from my next week's allowance.”
Steve, however, did not seem too impressed with Dave's assertion that he was winning the battle. As evidenced by his next statement: "So, let me see if I understand this correctly. You get to pay for your haircuts from now on—not the haircut that you want, but an induction cut; you also get to pay for one every two weeks, even though an induction cut is so short that even if you get it every week you're going to look ‘bald' again every time, which won't help you with all the teasing as you thought it would; all for the chance to negotiate another deal that may or may not allow you to choose between haircuts that your father approves of; provided, of course, that you work your ass of and get straight A's. Your dad, on the other hand, only gets a son who will no longer complain about his haircuts…hm…”
"What's your point, Steve,” asked Dave, annoyed.
"Simply this,” replied Steve, "I don't think you dad is losing. Not only did he throw you a curveball, he's made you head into a cue ball!”

End of Part I.

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