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At Manny's - Rod Reels in the Barber by Manny
I had seen him cross the lobby a few times -- a tall slender, 30something man, dressed in very expensive "business casual" attire. He was clearly a person who really valued grooming as he sported neatly pressed clothes, shoes with a high gloss shine and immaculate hair. Thick, brown hair, totally coiffed and seemingly kept in place by a generous application of hairspray. The helmet hair was obviously a necessity because the man wore it quite long on top, with an elegant wave brushed back and very full sides gently lapping the top of his ears. In back, it was perfectly trimmed to mid-collar. He would have been a perfect shoe-in for a Canali add in the Wall Street Journal fashion supplement.
Besides his hair, which I obviously took great interest in, the furtive glances toward my shop heightened my curiosity. Was he nibbling at the bait? Perhaps he was entertaining the prospect of an impromptu visit to the barber. I had an uncanny knack of knowing when a hotel guest was thinking about a haircut after spying my traditional shop off the lobby.
So, it did not totally surprise me that one morning, when the fellow approached my shop. It was clear he was determined to present a "ho hum" business-as-usual attitude as he opened the door and sauntered in. To me, it almost seemed a bit forced, the way he presented himself in the shop.
We smiled and greeted each other with a "good afternoon". Then he cleared his throat a bit nervously and said that he had a few spare minutes and thought he could use a bit of a "trim".
"Certainly! That's what I'm here for, sir. And, Manny's my name," I offered cheerfully, yet secretly thrilled with my good fortune to be of service to him.
"I'm Roderick -- Rod, my friends call me," he said as he took a seat in the barber chair.
I glanced into his lap and fancied I saw a little 'rod' action stirring in the Jos. A. Banks slacks while I reached for the cape. As I pulled it over him and fastened it snuggly around his slender but sturdy neck, my hand brushed against his soft brown hair. Obviously, there was no need to spray it at the nape, where it collected in full locks and hung to a liberal length.
Once he'd been caped and "pinned to the chair" with no exit option in mind, his face quavered with a bit of a worried look. I added to his discomfort by taking a comb and yanking it rather bruskly through the thick, overgrown top. Poor Rod squirmed a bit and said apologetically, "When it's long like this, I need to use an extra amount of spray to keep it in place."
"Apart from that, you have such thick hair! But, not to worry. I'm sure that's why you're here!" I replied with a pleasant voice. Once the spray had been combed out, I smoothed down his thick hair with my hands. It felt heavenly! "It's been a while since you're had this cut," I said, as my fingers lingered in the long forelock that dominated the pampered helmet of hair.
"Too much time, I'm afraid," Rod replied nervously.
"So, I say we take off a few inches on top. How about that? Any special instructions about the sides and back?" I asked, hinting that the "trim" was not an option.
The mention of 'a few inches' struck terrifying excitement into Rod's large green eyes. He shifted a bit in the chair. "Actually, uh, I've been thinking about going shorter...."
The confession surprised me! Usually, at this point, the client should push back vigorously and counter-propose something like "just an inch off the top"....but Rod tossed a log on my fire of desire to administer a harsh, devastating attack on his elegant coif.
I combed through the thick forelock. It was a good six to seven inches in length. I toyed with the idea of taking it all the way down to just an inch length. That would really send a jolt through dear Rod! The vision of his shocked eyes seeing the severed forelock on the cape made me commit to the course of action. My only question was if it would happen with one quick snip....or if it would come off in two or three stages.
"So, you want to go a lot shorter. Yes, I agree. A nice short taper around the ears. And here in back, how about tapered tightly up to the crown?" I suggested as I fondled the plush nape. Then, I added, "Tapered to zero -- to make it nice and cleancut."
Rod switched into a more cautious mode. "Oh, that sounds a bit too short."
"But a clipper cut is all right, you say?" I pressed, almost as a statement of assent.
"Yes, the clippers will be fine. Make your work easier for you, I assume," Rod replied nervously.
Then to pile onto his anxiety, I swiveled the chair away from the mirror. I brushed through the marvelous, soft mane. The forelock flopped forward, covering Rod's nervous green eyes. I gathered it up with a comb and imprisoned it between my fingers. Seeing it helpless, so close to the barber shears, finalized my plan. The first chop set the tone for Rod's drastic makeover. CRUNCH! Six inches fell to the cape! CRUNCH! Another lock followed.
Rod's eyes bugged out and locked onto the helpless locks of hair on the white cape. The cut clumps of soft brown hair shifted as Rod's rod stirred and grew beneath the cape. He sat silently.
"I'm thinking a very short crewcut would suit you nicely," I said, reaching for the clippers.
He looked at me with pleading eyes, "How short?"
"Sides and back clipped down close to a number one all the way up and a uniform number two on top," I suggested.
"But that's very short," he eeked out in a faint protest.
I snapped the clippers on. They were primed with #2 blades. "Ready?" I asked, raising the tuft where his magnificent forelock had once hung with the comb.
"Yes," Rob groaned.
The clippers took the thick locks of shiny brown hair off just above the scalp. Masses fell to the cape as Rod's divestiture began in earnest.
"How long have you waited for this to happen, Rod?" I asked, sensing a more openness on his part about the pleasure he was feeling.
"For too long..." he moaned.
I paused momentarily from the clipping and glanced up. There in the mirror was a startling view of my own beautiful long hair shimmering in the shop's neon lights. The thick chestnut-colored hair with fiery auburn highlights had grown out, longer than ever since the accidental bob, and now rested near my shoulders. One day.....
I returned to watching Rod take in his brutal shearing with unrestrained pleasure and wondered when a barber would take my own situation into his determined, stern hands. How I longed to swap places with Rob that very minute -- to be watching with helpless glee as my long, beautiful hair fell in torrents to my lap, imaging myself looking like a newly inducted convict at the state penitentiary!
I forced Rob's head forward so that he cowered under my tutelage. The clippers were unforgiving with the plush hair that dangled from his nape. In an instant, a strip of stubble emerged from the soft, salon coif.
Rob heaved with delight. "Can I see how it's coming?" he asked.
"Not yet!" I snapped, as I folded his ear down so that the clippers could clear away the overgrowth on the side of his head. He cooperated meekly and submissively.
I surveyed his closely clipped pelt that now resembled an amateur kitchen buzzcut with a #2 guard. My hand caressed the velvetine fuzz. Ahhhh! "This is feeling great -- and looking a whole lot better than that salon number you pranced in here with, Rod!"
I let him sit up. His green eyes now seemed huge in the absence of his helmet of puffy hair. He looked strangely handsome and vulnerable, clipped down tidy.
"Much better, much!" I pronounced, as I swiveled the chair around so that he could get a first glance of his new self.
"Oh, Manny!" he stammered. "My hair! My hair...."
"Where it belongs! On the cape and on the floor of the barbershop!" I announced.
"Juan said you would be the one...." Rod murmured, reaching out from under the cape and touching his tidy pelt for the first time. A smile cracked across his anxious face.
"Juan!" I gasped. "What does he have to do with this?"
"Juan -- the Hispanic bellhop with the hint of stubble on his head," Rod explained.
"Yes, I know who he is!" I exclaimed in exasperation.
"Well, when he was carrying up my luggage, I complimented him on his haircut and commented that I wished I had the nerve to go for a similar look. I explained that I was a bit shy about asking. If it ever happened, I would need a barber who would advance his own agenda and shear me brutally. I mean, I had no intention of walking in here with my $100 salon coif and say, clip it down to the wood," Rod explained.
"Why not?" I demanded.
"Because, all my life, I've longed for a severe, unsolicited scalping. I'm so vain and prissy about my hair. I spend hours admiring it -- catching glimpses of it when I can.... The salon is like a temple to me and the stylist my high priest. He admires my hair and praises it repeatedly. He sells me all sorts of expensive products."
I could not help myself. I glanced in the mirror and admired my own hair. I was pulling a Rod! I was captivated by vanity and enchained by my hair. I needed a liberator.
Rob observed me, glued to the mirror. "I see, you have a similar problem, Manny!"
My face flashed with anger and embarrassment. "Let me finish your story for you. For years you've longed to be given a punishingly short haircut. And Juan tipped you off that I was the type to do it," I said.
"Yep. He coached me. Act timid and shy, but give him enough bait with statements like, 'want to go shorter' and 'it's been long time since I've had a haircut'. You know, that sort of thing. 'Manny's the kind of barber that loves to take a puffed up, pretty boy like you and scalp him!' Yep, those were his exact words as he dropped my luggage off in my room."
Rod was supposed to be submissive in the chair, not cocky! "So, Juan's haircut was your inspiration?" I said, swapping the guard to the clippers. "Then, let's finish the job!"
"Oh, no! Manny, not stubble! I'm a banker! What will people in the office say when they see my scalp looking like medium grade sand paper?" Rod gasped.
Was he playing me or was he truly dreading the loss of his remaining soft pelt?
Just then, Juan entered the shop. "Oh, I see Mr. Roderick found you....
"....and got what I was wanting! You knew just what Manny was like, Juan!" Rod added.
Juan pointed to the spare chair. "And, now it's time for Manny to get what he's been wanting! Come on, Manny! Sit!!" the muscular bellhop commanded.
I looked into the mirror for a brief moment. "But, I'm not finished with Rod yet; he's admired your 5 o'clock shadow and now that's what he's going to get."
Juan suddenly grabbed me by my hair and yanked me towards the spare barber chair. "Oh, he won't mind a pause in his transformation. Will you, Rodster?"
I sank into the barber chair and looked up at Juan. He was handsome and virile. I was technically old enough to be his father, but....he was treating me like a stubborn, sulky boy! Juan reached for a spare cape! My heart pounded. My time had come..... Suddenly, I longed to be caped and forcefully shorn.
But, it was not to be. Action was halted by a bellow coming from the lobby, "Juan! Where are you?! We need you outside -- now! Tour bus arriving!" It was that wretched colleague of his, Jason.
Juan reached down and fondled my hair. Then he gave me a peck on the head. "This pretty boy look is safe for now, my sweet barber-man-Manny!"
That close encounter left me weak and wobbly. I staggered to my feet, but didn't have any more enthusiasm to take Rod down to stubble. The fact that he'd played me did not sit right with me. An amateur-looking kitchen buzzcut was what he deserved!
Unceremoniously, I yanked off his cape.
"What, is that it? My visit to Manny's over?" Rod pouted. "What about my stubble?"
"No, it's not over, Mr. Banker. Up! Now, into the back room there. I have some unfinished business with you!" I snapped, reviving my verve.
I marched him into the privacy of the back room. Then, I picked up the paddle with "Manny" engraved on the handle. "You know what this is for?"
Rod shook his head in confusion.
"It's for bad boys and for bad executive bankers! Now, drop your pants. Down to your undies. And then I'm going to lean you over this table here. Expect 3-4 stiff swats. No protests, no tears or sobs, please. Take it like a man!" I ordered.
Now there was total panic on Rod's face. "What are you thinking? Spanking me?!" The fear looked real, not contrived.
"Oh, I'm sure you and Juan had a nice chat about how to get me to really make it hurt! And it's going to really hurt if you don't drop those drawers now!" And with that, I quickly took the paddle to him. One swift, loud 'THWACK'!
The look of surprise and fear and excitement on his face was priceless. He quickly unfastened his belt and dropped his nice, expensive slacks to the floor.
I manhandled him to the table and leaned him over it. Then I pulled down his trendy Calvin Klein briefs and the paddle smacked him without mercy.
He let out a yelp! THWACK! And another yelp!!
"Okay, that's it, Rod!" I announced.
He flashed me a grateful look and pulled his pants back up.
"If you're not too sore, go back out into the shop and take a seat. You're going to leave here looking like a newly booked convict!"
"This is a dream come true, Manny!" Instinctively, he pulled me to him and kissed me on the forehead. His hand fondled my long hair. "Are you sure you don't want it the other way around -- you go out there and take a seat?! You'll look sweet as a new convict -- with nothing but a 5 o'clock shadow when I'm done with you."
"I wouldn't want to disappoint Juan, you know. He's been itching to take the clippers to me himself, as you clearly observed," I said gingerly. "But will you text me a picture of you in your business suit, at work next week, with your stubble head?" I asked.
"Sure, Manny -- you're my dream barber!" Rod said, and then slipped back into the shop where he waited for me to complete his metamorphosis from salon sychophant to stubble stud.
Epilogue: Precisely one week later, I received a message from Rod. "Hey, Manny! After the thrill of your haircut wore off, reality set in. I was scared to heck about returning to the office sans hair. And with good reason! There was a non-stop parade of people dropping by my office to gawk and tease me. My boss even rubbed my stubble and declared the makeover to be a 'haircut disaster' in our weekly staff meeting. The laughing didn't subside for five blazing minutes! Now I feel like I need to keep the stubble for a while just to prove this wasn't a huge mistake. I'm beginning to like it when someone whines, 'But, why? You had just nice hair!' Should I tell them about your little shop of horrors and the paddle that awaits the vain and cocky lads? Enjoy the attached photo -- and send me one of the new you when that hunk of a bellhop finishes off your longhaired look!"