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Jack Takes Down the Top by Manny

Jack Thornton felt the excitement building as he signed the papers making him the proud owner of his dream car and very first convertible, a canary yellow muscle Mustang GT. As he crossed the "t" on Thornton, he tossed his head back, sending his luxurious mane of chestnut hair dancing in a frenzy of motion. He imagined what it would be like to have the wind whipping through his shoulder-length locks as he sped down the freeway. Oh, to be free and carefree! To look and feel like a high rolling, high flying playboy in the fast lane!

The agent at the dealer handling the sale was most solicitous of Jack as he escorted him to the waiting car and handed him the keys. "Enjoy your new big toy!" He exclaimed. "You remember how to take the top down? It's the button to the left of the steering wheel"

"Yes, of course, this is the moment I've waited for since I was a boy!" Jack said.

As he sat in the driver seat, adjusting to his new surroundings, Jack glanced in the rear view mirror and admired his glistening mane. The thick locks shimmered in the sunlight and the slight waves that gave his hair so much body add to the voluminous look. Ever since college, Jack had worn his hair long. He got a lot of praise...and some derision for his cultivated pretty boy look. He didn't mind though, chalking up the derogatory cracks to jealousy.

As Jack pulled out of the dealership and turned to look for oncoming traffic he got the first hint that the convertible and his hair might not be a good mix. A gust quickly plastered one of his flowing tresses firmly across his face, blocking his vision. Jack struggled to get it under control and finally tucked it behind his ear.

When he pulled out onto the avenue, another problem materialized. His hair flew in all directions, like he'd stuck his finger in an electrical socket. Jack struggled to keep the wheel steady with one hand while trying to tame the disheveled mane with the other. The havoc the wind created with his long hair was a far cry from the gentle breeze caressing his flowing mane that he'd imagined.

In the midst of the unexpected distraction, the gas indicator lit up on the dashboard. The dealer had said there was very little gas in the car, and he was right. Jack hadn't been on the road for 5 minutes. Fortunately, a gas station was in sight.

When Jack pulled in he was surprised to find another Mustang GT at the pump ahead of the one he selected. It was a bright red one. The fellow pumping gas into it wore clothes quite similar to Jack's and he noted they had exactly the same watch. Jack reckoned the two were very close in age. The only big distinction was the hair. The other Mustang owner had his clipped quite close to the scalp -- a simple butch cut!

"Good taste in cars!" The fellow called out as Jack switched off the engine.

"Thanks, it's brand new!" Jack noted.

"I thought I smelled that 'new car' scent," the fellow with the butch replied.

"Been the owner for under 15 minutes!" Jack answered.

"Ah, yes. Well, you have some things to learn," he replied a bit mysteriously as he ran his hand quickly across the stubbled pelt.

Jack instinctively smoothed his locks down -- still struggling to get them looking less than wild.

"It's no use. You'll get out on the road again, and the long hair will be a mess. Let me save you a lot of bother. If not, you'll go through a few weeks of futile struggle. It's what happened to me. I was quite vain about my hair too and had no intention of cutting it off. First I tried hats. I lost several, including my favorite cap. Then you'll think perhaps if you cut it just a bit -- not a whole lot. Forget it. You'll look like a scarecrow no matter how much gets trimmed off. This is the only real solution -- and an unexpected pleasure at that. Finally took the bull by the horns. Signed up for a charity head shave and the pretty boy look was a thing of the past. Lost a beautiful handle bar stache in that sitting too. Don't know what felt better -- the clippers sailing through my pampered hair and vibrating against the scalp, watching it fall to the cape, or the feel of the wind across my butch for the first time. Both fantastic!" The fellow rubbed his head again. Then, the pump cut off. He jumped in and called out, "Enjoy your new car! There's a barber shop less than a mile down the same road here, on the right! Chet's. He does a fine job." As the car pulled out, Jack noticed his license plate for the first time -- "BALDY"! It had all transpired so quickly.

Jack felt a bit confused. He went into the service station to use the bathroom. His hair was relatively under control, but it wasn't smooth and glossy like normal -- instead it was a bit matted and looked fairly awful. He pulled out a brush and got it looking much better. That wind was going to be his constant enemy. It was like Baldy said, he admitted to himself. But, would the only real solution would be....a butch?!

Baldy had been rather handsome. And the butch made him look quite manly. Certainly a baldy haircut would solve his own problem, but Jack had always been quite fond of his long locks, quite protective of them. He brushed his hair a bit more and got some of the sheen back. Such lovely, thick long locks. Could he really plop down into a barber's chair and instruct the barber to take it off to a single clipped length all over? Perhaps a cap.... For sure, he couldn't and wouldn't return his dream convertible!

Once back on the road, all Jack's work from the bathroom was quickly undone. Hair was flying everywhere. Baldy had said there was a barbershop on the same road....less than a mile away....He struggled with his hair a bit more and then saw the whirling pole from a distance. Chet's Barber Shop. It had a convenient small parking lot to one side that was totally full. Jack slowed way down but didn't stop. Glancing in the window, the place was packed. He could see three old barbers working and the waiting area full, even a man standing, waiting his turn.

Suddenly, Jack felt a longing to be sitting inside Chet's Barber Shop. To be watching one of the old geezer fasten the cape around his neck. To be hearing himself instruct the barber to administer a tight butch. To feel the clippers being driven through his thick, beautiful hair.

What would it be like to leave Chet's with a baldy cut? Jack imagined himself running his hand over the bristled pelt like Baldy had down repeated. He also wanted a vanity plate of his own, 'BALDY2'

He quickly turned at the next light and circled back to Chet's. Like an omen, a car was pulling out of the small lot just as he came up to Chet's, opening up a single space. A space for him to park his brand new Mustang GT and get a brand new look from Chet or one of the other barbers.

Jack brushed his hair over and over, smoothing it out and getting it looking fairly descent. The beautiful waves cascaded toward his shoulders. Jack closed the car door. The next time he touched the same handle, he would be sporting a butch! The thought excited him.

All eyes were on Jack as he pushed the door to the crowded shop open. The barber nearest the door greeted him and said apologetically, "It'll be a bit of a wait if you're here for a haircut."

"That's all right," Jack replied. "I can wait. I really need one." He eyed himself in the mirror. He looked so out of place in the shop! His pulse quickened. Jack was quite excited about his decision to have the whole lot of it taken off at once. He was anxious to see his treasured hair falling to the cape and feeling the new tidy butch for the first time.

Once settled into the waiting area, Jack had a few minutes to get a better idea of what was happening in the shop. The first thing he noticed was that the three barbers weren't all geezers -- just the two nearest the window. The third one in the back was actually a very young man with a severely short haircut -- the sides skinned and the top clipped down to a very short, tidy patch of hair on top. Jack must have been staring at him subconsciously because the barber addressed him.

"I haven't seen in you here before," he noted as he clipped an older gentleman.

"No, sir, an acquaintance just recommended it to me today," Jack said.

"We don't do fancy salon styles, you know," the young barber said with a laugh. He held up the clippers. "This is our instrument of choice!"

"And that's exactly what this long hair of mine needs!" Jack replied.

The young barber uncaped the older gentleman and then pointed to Jack. "You're next here!"

"Oh, but all these other fellows are in front of me," he said with a bit of a protest.

"You're in greater need than all the rest of them combined!" The barber laughed. "Besides, this is my shop and I decide who's next here. I'm Chet, by the way," he said while he tapped the chair, indicating the longhair should take a seat without delay. The young barber seemed quite eager to get Jack in his chair!

Jack's legs felt like led as he stood to approach the chair. Suddenly, all his eager anticipation and bravado vanished. He eyed his treasured hair in the mirror. Then he glanced at the young barber with his impatient look. Jack forced himself to take a seat in the chair.

"So, you're here for a big change," the barber said as he snapped opened the cape.

"Yes, siree," Jack replied nervously.

The barber fastened the cape around Jack's sturdy neck. "Did you just get tired of all this or is someone making you get a more decent look?" the barber asked bemused as he smooth down Jack's locks with his hand.

"Got a new car, a convertible, and it's just too much to deal with," Jack replied.

The barber reached for the clippers. "So, what'll it be?"

Jack was momentarily tongue tied. He looked intently at his caped image in the mirror and then pronounced the sentence. "Give me a butch. A #2 too all over!" As soon as the words left his mouth, Jack felt a sense of liberation.

The young barber smiled, "One butch coming up! Another longhair put out of his misery at Chet's Barber Shop!" he said with a bit of theatrical flair as he snapped on the clippers he was holding.

Jack sat there sort of numb as he watched the young barber bring the clippers up past his face with the naked metal teeth chattering hungrily. He gripped the arms of the chair under the cape to steady himself. In a few split seconds the shearing would begin. He would transition from his age old longhaired playboy look to a tidy schoolboy butch cut.

'Oh, my! A butch! Is that what I really want?' The panicked thought raced through Jack's mind.

But, Chet was too quick for any cold feet. The clippers hit the thick locks like a heat seeking missile. Jack instinctively tried to pull away and dodge the divestiture, but Chet immobilized him by grasping a copious shank of hair at the nape and holding him firmly in place.

The torrents of hair cascading from Jack's head to the cape was an awe-inspiring, fear-inspiring vision. Mounds of the glossy chestnut colored locks tumbled down in rapid succession. The first swipe of the clippers cut through the filet mignon of Jack's once-proud mane.

Jack's eyes lit up with horrified glee as he watched the beginning of his transformation. There was no turning back! Chet would see him through to the baldy.

"What made you decide on the butch?" Chet asked, pausing to admire the tidy clip job on top.

"I thought if I was going to cut it short, I might as well have it all taken off! Be totally free from hair care for a while," Jack replied.

Chet clipped away another mass of the soft, shiny hair. Already the cape was virtually covered with chunks of severed long locks. Now a more military induction look was beginning to emerge, and Jack's excitement was morphing into a sort of queasiness.

The barber continued his line of questioning, "If that's the case, why stop at a #2. That's a good quarter of an inch in length. Let's take you down to ZERO all over. Nothing but a dense covering of stubble, like a 5 o'clock shadow."

By this time, Chet had stripped Jack down to a close clip on half the top and one side of his head. His beautiful locks still hung on one side, but on the other he was sporting a crude butch. He looked like two distinct people!

"Oh, I'm not sure, let's see what the #2 looks like first, if you don't mind, Chet," Jack answered.

As he watched more of his hair fall, Jack warmed to the idea of a ZERO head shave. As long as he was going for a dramatic makeover, why not go all out?

Chet forced Jack's head down and began clipping the back. He whistled a cheerful tuned as he worked to reduce the last bit of length to virtually nothing. The clippers at the nape felt divine!

"You seem to be enjoying giving me this haircut, Chet," Jack said.

"Nothing I love more than to cape up a pretty boy and put an end to his fussy hairstyle," Chet admitted. "That's why I took you out of turn. Beginning of summer is my favorite time of year. The school boys are brought in here with their moptops and leave with their nice tight butch cuts! But my favorite makeovers involve putting an end to fussy business cuts on the office executive set."

"When does that happen? I can't imagine a banker or corporate executive sporting a baldy!" Jack remarked.

"There's a big tech company headquarters, not one mile from here. Last year they had a fund raiser for cancer research. I volunteered my services and arrived with clippers in hand. Their number one money maker was this handsome VP with very nice, thick wavy blond hair, perfectly styled....long on the top, very full sides and back....who sported an ostentatious handle bar mustache. The crowd went wild when I caped him up. He was so uncomfortable. Just clipping off the handle bar on one side sent the employees into overdrive, hooting and hollering. A quick snip and the other side was history too! Then I toyed around with his handsome mane before mowing it down to the quick. ZERO length. Down to the wood! I'll never forget the look on his face when he saw himself bald, sans mustache, for the first time. He shrieked and tried to cover his bare head with his hands," Chet laughed, thinking about the situation. Then he continued with his story, "Funny, but I heard from one of the employees at the company there that he never returned to his pretty boy look....that he's kept the butch. Imagine that! I heard even got a vanity plate that spells BALDY on his flashy red Mustang GT convertible!"

As Chet finished the story, he finished Jack's #2 butch. He took a duster to Jack's head and ears which made him chuckle a bit. "Well, what do you think? A lot shorter and a lot better, right?"

Jack felt his level of excitement rise as he cleared his throat. "It's still a bit on the long side, don't you think?" He reached out from under the cape and stoked the soft pelt. "That ZERO length you were talking about, Chet...."

Chet swapped out the blades of his clippers. "Ready?" he asked.

"Ready!" Jack replied. "Take my top all the way off!"

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