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Role Model by Deke Cutter (recovered)
By Deke Cutter
The call from my ex-wife was surprising. We had divorced years ago and had a pretty good relationship. Our boys lived with her and her husband. I had grown to accept this. I knew that my older son had never really accepted that we were apart and he blamed his mother and step father for breaking up our home. There was a certain amount of truth in that, but it was water under the bridge. I had a busy professional life, the boys spent a day or two with me every week and on vacations, things seemed to be going well. So, when Janice called sounding so upset, I knew something was up. "Its Tommy (our oldest)" she said. "He is getting in with a bad crowd, getting more obstinate and letting his schoolwork fall off." I asked what I could do. "Well," she began, "I thought maybe he was turning a corner. He expressed interest in going out for soccer. He really loved the trip with you and his brother to see the World Cup and it seemed to reignite his interest. I think a team sport might help sort him out." "Come on Jan," what aren`t you telling me," I asked. "The school allows each coach to set his own rules of conduct and the soccer coach wants all the boys to have rather short haircuts. Tommy came home and said you have long hair and it hasn`t hurt your success in life and since you never had a short haircut, why should he." What was left unsaid was that his step father always kept his hair quite short. He never tried to impose that on the boys, he was respectful of my authority in that regard. Tommy was right, though, my last short haircut was in elementary school. I`m a management consultant that specializes in organizational development, my hair has never been an issue. Its long and thick and even though its greying, now, the ladies still seem to love it. But, lets face it, we all put our kids needs first. I told Janice to leave it with me and that I would try to sort it out this weekend.
As luck would have it, our younger son was on a scout trip, so it was just Tommy and me for the weekend. I figured I would take the bull by the horns and see what would happen. I picked Tommy up after school on Friday and instead of heading right home, I told him I had a stop to make and hoped he wouldn`t mind. We stopped at the fancy men`s barber shop that I usually went to for my trim every six weeks. Steve, my barber, had been alerted and was ready for us. I told Tommy, I needed to get my haircut because I had some new clients and I wanted to look my best. He didn`t seem to think this was unusual. I went directly to the barber chair instead of having my hair washed, as was the usual procedure. Steve, said to me, "so Tom, are you ready for this?" I said "yes, lets do it, change is good." Tommy ;looked up when he heard this and almost jumped out of his chair when Steve turned the clippers on and started to run them up the back of my head. "Dad," Tommy said,"what is going on?" I looked at the mirror and caught his eye. "Well Tommy, I haven`t had short hair in a real long time, but I decided that since I am looking to go into some new areas of consulting, I would try a new look, after all, its only hair and it will grow back." As we had this talk, Steve had continued stripping away my long hair. He had now removed my sideburns and most of the hair from the back and sides of my head. I looked kind of funny with my long locks still on top. Steve changed the guard for a slightly longer one and started to remove what was left of my crowning glory. In very short order, he was waxing up a small bumper in the front and I was looking at a guy that looked vaguely familiar. It was a huge change for me and luckily, I liked the way I looked. I thanked Steve and found myself fascinated by the feel of the bristly hair on the back and sides of my head. Tommy had grown very quiet during the haircut. I asked him if he wanted to feel it. He did and got sort of tongue tied. Steve took advantage of that and said, very non-chalantly, "hey Tommy, my next customer cancelled, so if you are up for a trim, I can do it right now. I really thought he would go for it, but he said no thanks and we left.
On the way home, Tommy blurted out the story of the soccer coach and the haircut. I pretended to be hearing it for the first time."Well, son, it is up to you. If you don`t want to cut your hair, nobody will make you do it. But, (and with this, I started rubbing my hand across my head), sometimes change can be good." Tommy said he would think about it. The next morning, I was surprised at how much time I saved showering and getting ready. I didn`t think I would keep this short haircut, but I was going to enjoy the convenience while I could.. Tommy came down and before we headed out for breakfast, he asked me if I thought Steve could fit him in "for a haircut like yours." Steve and I had made a contingency plan for this hapening and so I said I was sure he could. I made a call to Steve while Tommy was getting dressed and off we went. Tommy got into the chair and told Steve to cut his hair "just like my dad`s." It was pretty amazing to see my son`s shoulder length mane fall. Because his hair was blonde, he really looked skinned when Steve finished the sides and back. But when the haircut was finished, he looked pleased. He looked like a different kid...he looked like a jock. When he got out of the chair, I rubbed his head and told him I thought he looked great. Then he said to me: "well dad, the coach is pretty strict, I guess you and I will be coming back here to get cleaned up pretty regularly." So, that is how I ended up sporting a crew cut each soccer season until Tommy graduated high school. Lucky for me his brother chose basketball and his coach has a pony tail. I can`t wait to get my long hair back.