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Cedric's Emancipation by Manny

"Well, this concludes our tour through historic Savannah," the charming driver of the horse-drawn carriage announced as he turned off the cobble-stoned street into the depot. "If you need any other information about the old city, anything at all -- from recommended restaurants to best shopping and personal service offerings -- please feel free to ask me as you leave the carriage. And do be careful as you step down!" the handsome driver announced.

As Cedric turned around to bid adieu, his thick mane of blond hair that hung in plush waves to the base of his collar danced in the afternoon sunlight. It was the kind of hair every woman envied. In fact, when I had first caught a glimpse of the driver, I thought he was a woman -- not just the hair, but the rosy cheeks and long lashes. It was only when I saw the big mutton-chop sideburns poking out from the silken tresses that I realized he was, in fact, a pretty boy.

I waited till the group subsided and Cedric was alone before moving towards him. I extended a $10 bill and thanked him for the extremely interesting tour. "You know so much about Savannah and it's history!"

He blushed and smiled widely, "That's what I'm paid for!"

"If you don't mind, I wanted to take you up on your offer and ask for a referral. I was noticing your hair and wondering where you get it cut. I was thinking about getting a bit of a trim myself," I said.

Cedric blushed again, further deepening the hue of his rosy cheeks -- this time, obviously a bit embarrassed by the question. "Oh, I, uh...." he pawed nervously at his long hair. "Truth is, my wife trims my hair. She likes it long like this...." he stammered. "And, even if you were game for an amateur trim in our kitchen, I'm afraid that wouldn't be possible, since she's out of town at her sister's for the week." He laughed a bit, nervously.

I eyed the glossy mane. "Well, if she specializes in long styles, she probably wouldn't know how to tidy up my ivy league," I noted. "Perhaps there's a barbershop near here that you could recommend instead."

"Sure," offered Cedric cheerfully. "If you give me a minute, I walk in that direction. It's a little hidden, down a side-street, hard to find -- or I'd just tell you how to get there," he explained.

"I'd much prefer a continuation of your guided tour! Maybe the shop holds some salacious mystery like the stories you told us on the tour, or a gruesome Sweeny Todd-type local story," I suggested.

Cedric laughed at the idea. "I just need to sign my time card and hang up this costume jacket. I'll be right back. It's a neat, historic shop with some amazing antique barber chairs. Very nice. Maybe I should ask the barbers if there are any stories I can work into my repertoire," he quipped.

"Barbers love to spin a good yarn, especially when they have you under the cape. Perhaps we can both get tidied up. Afterwards, I'll treat you to a beer," I offered.

Cedric paused, caught off by the unexpected invitation. "Sounds tempting," he said, without committing. "I'll be right back -- two seconds."

The sweater Cedric came back wearing took me off guard -- it was a bright tangerine color with fuchsia patterns. Not at all manly. It added to his girlish looks. His hair was a little disheveled from pulling on the sweater. He worked it a bit with his hands, trying to smooth it into place. "I think I need more than a trim...." he murmured.

"When was the last time you had your hair cut by a real barber?" I asked as we set out on foot.

"Heavens, it was even before I got engaged -- over ten years now. Jeanie took over my hair care while we were dating -- and my wardrobe too," he said, pointing to his sweater. "This isn't my idea of men's wear! But she likes a splashy, avant-guard look. Her trimming my hair and getting clothes for me at thrift stores did help with the finances. At least that aspect of my new situation was appreciated when we were first starting out."

"But turning over control of your looks to her was not. Is that what you're getting at?" I pressed, as we navigated through a particularly narrow sidewalk that made us squeeze close together. His soft locks brushed my cheek lightly.

"Ooops, sorry about that, my hair in your face. It's like all over the place," Cedric murmured apologetically. "We're getting near; the barber shop is on the next street to the left, then down a block."

We walked in silence for a few minutes.

Then, spontaneously, he picked the conversation up where we'd left off. "If I knew she'd be cool about it, not make some huge fuss, I'd have the barber take a clippers to this. Take most of it off, down to something like your length -- the way it was before I got married."

"Hell, if I were in your situation, you know how I'd let her know who was wearing the pants?! By getting a recon or horseshoe flattop and watch her freak out!" I laughed.

"LOL. And, pile on by wearing ragged jeans and a sloppy tee-shirt instead of some matchy-matchy, sissified, trendy outfit that she coordinated and said would look 'adorable' on me," Cedric added, spelling out his fantasy.

As we talked, the barber pole came into sight. "When we get in there, let me give the instructions. That way, you can tell your little lady, you're not to blame for your new haircut! Someone you met got you drunk and the next thing you knew....."

"....all my hair was scattered on the floor of the barbershop!" he chirped.

The excitement was written all over his pace, which picked up to a fast clip for the last half block. As we reached the old barber shop, he paused before reaching for the handle and asked, "But, you won't go as far as a recon or that other military cut you mentioned, will you?"

I smiled but kept my lip buttoned.

A cloud of worry closed down over his face.

"Come on, in you go," I said, as I pulled open the door and playfully moved him in by corralling him with my body.

Once inside the shop, panic was more firmly etched on Cedric's face. I felt a bit bad and whispered in his ear, "I promise you'll be very happy with your haircut. Your little lady might not, but you will."

He smiled shyly and pawed at his thick locks. We both took seats in the waiting area. I could see Cedric out of the corner of my eye trying to get a good look at himself in a mirror. I just hoped he wasn't getting cold feet.

The three barbers were busy and there were several men waiting in front of us. I enjoyed looking at the antique furniture -- especially the ornate barber chairs.

The fellow in the chair closes to the front window was getting a very short brush cut. Much of his hair was clipped close on the sides, with the top getting gradually longer until there was enough length with the short bangs to lay a bit down and to the side. It was a very clean, crisp look.

I leaned over to Cedric. "How do you like that fellow's haircut?" I asked.

"For me?" he asked with an air of incredulity. "I was just thinking the same thing! But, Jeanie would flip out for sure. What about something more like the young barber? Maybe a bit longer."

I looked at the fellow who sported a fairly standard 'short back and sides'. No, Cedric was going to be on the receiving end of significant clipper action.... It was just a matter of easing him into it so that he didn't bolt from the scene.

"Listen to you. 'What will Jeanie think?' It's getting a bit obnoxious!" I scoffed playfully. "But you were considering the nice brush cut. Just a bit more off than that and were looking at a flattop for you, Cedric. That would be an fantastic change."

"OMG!" he gasped. "Yesterday on the carriage there was this most awesome flattop on this college student. Totally awesome. I really high, dense top and the sides down to the scalp. I chatted him up. Said he went to a military academy in Charleston called The Citadel."

"So you've been thinking about short haircuts for a while?" I probed.

"Yes, especially on days when it's so hot out that the sweat is pouring down my face or so windy out that my hair looks like a flipping bird's nest!" he remarked.

"Truth is, when I first saw you this morning, I thought you were a girl...until I saw your sideburns," I noted.

"You can't believe how many times someone calls me 'miss' or 'ma'am' by mistake and we go through this awkward interaction as they figure it out. It's so embarrassing," Cedric said.

"You do have very pretty hair," I purred.

"I hear that a lot too.... And that gets wearisome too, I might add. I don't want 'great' hair. I want 'normal' hair, that nobody notices!"

We were so engaged in chit-chat, the booming "Next!" took us by surprise. The old barber on the right was staring right at us, "Which one of you is it?"

Cedric was quick to point to me while replying, "He is!"

I was caught off guard. That development was not what I wanted. But, I felt awkward arguing about it, so I stood and slowly walked to the chair. I glanced back and Cedric was grinning. Then, to my surprise, the barber nearest the window summoned Cedric to his chair. There would be no way I could give the instructions or influence the decision. What a bummer! Those gorgeous blond tresses had escaped from my control.

I strained to hear what was going on with Cedric -- but my own barber turned out to be quite chatty. Then he did me the greater disfavor of swiveling my chair to face away from Cedric's. Once the clippers had been fired up and were buzzing about my ears, I was in a complete news blackout. I had no idea what was going on with Cedric's lush locks. All I could do was fantasize about Cedric asking for that sharp flattop on the cadet from The Citadel or some other miliary look.

Imagine my total dismay when I finally was finished with my haircut (which turned out to be a rather quick trim) and able to get a good look at Cedric. There he was, nearing the end of his haircut! The back was considerably shorter -- like to the top of the collar -- and the hair at the sides left the bottom of the ears and the lobes uncovered. The huge sideburns were more visible. The biggest difference was at the top, which had been significantly shortened. The barber was vigorously running a set of thinning shears through the top and bangs, reducing the bulk. Cedric was looking something vintage 1982.

"How do you like it?" Cedric asked with a hopeful tone, as I ambled over.

"I thought you wanted a brush cut," I said curtly.

He squirmed a bit under the cape. "Well...." he began to whine.

I decided to appeal the situation directly to the barber. "Cedric here wants a brush cut but is afraid his wife will disapprove. It's like he's a little boy asking Mommy for permission to get the haircut he wants."

The barber grinned, "Is that so?"

The blush of embarrassment on Cedric's face told the truth. He tried to give another plausible excuse, "It's really that I'm a carriage driver and they like us to dress in period costume. That's why I wear the hair long and these big mutton chop sideburns."

"Lots of carriage drivers come here for haircuts -- and most wear their hair quite short. I can't imagine sporting a mop like this when it's 110 and the humidity is nearing 100 as well," the barber replied. Then, he reached for the clippers.

Cedric's eyes grew wide as saucers! The barber cocked his head to the side and snapped on the machine.

Cedric stammered and blubbered a bit incoherently.

"Don't worry, I'm only going to take down these bushy sideburns down a bit in bulk," he said as he brought the clippers to the base.

The barber paused dramatically, "Unless, of course, you in fact want a brush cut. A nice, short, crisp haircut will look very nice on you."

"Tell him the truth, Cedric," I urged.

After a few pregnant moments of silence, the truth erupted like a volcano. "Yes, I want a brush cut, just like the fellow who was in the chair before me," he blurted out.

Instantly, the clippers climbed straight up the side of Cedric's head, and the barber flicked off a huge mass of his beautiful hair right towards me!

Panic and fright was etched all over Cedric's stunned face. His transformation in earnest was beginning. The barber moved like a rapid, well oiled machine, stripping away the girlish locks. The transfer of hair from head to cape went amazingly fast. And, the best part was that the barber was taking it down even shorter than either of us imagined. In fact, the clippers quickly reduced the length on top to that of a very, very tight crewcut. Almost nothing was left in terms of length except the short strands that passed for "bangs" right at the forehead.

"Why not take the sides and back down all the way to zero," I suggested.

The barber was only too happy to comply.

By the time Cedric had been thoroughly shorn, less than 3% of his original amount of hair was left. The floor around the chair was covered with a veritable carpeting of beautiful cut locks of golden brown hair. Lovely, soft, shiny girlish hair.

The barber finished him off with lather and straight edge razor shave and a huge dab of witch hazel. He looked like a student at a military academy!

I paid for both haircuts and led the thoroughly shaken Cedric from the barbershop. Silently he explored the very, very short haircut he had received.

Finally, he looked in my eyes and whispered, "Thanks, I needed that. Screw what Jeanie thinks."

I gave him a quick hug. "You sure did. And now you need a beer, buddy!" We turned into a pub and found a nice secluded corner.

"I thought we were supposed to get drunk first and then I'd end up with the short haircut," he said as we took a seat.

Then it was my turn to explore his new aggressive crewcut. The familiar blush....but not of embarrassment, this time....turned his cheeks rosy red.

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