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Dennis Senior and Dave Go To Work by Deke Cutter

This Two Chapter Story Continues the Story of "Dennis Learns Discipline"

1. Dennis Senior Learns How Its Done

Dennis Gruber, Senior retired to his bedroom and en-suite bathroom after his son had administered an unexpected crewcut to him. While he had to admit that young Dennis had done an incredibly professional job, he still could not believe how naked and insecure he felt. What would work be like on Monday? He knew the management team meeting would involve a lot of teasing and even some of his staff would make remarks. But, the worst was that he loved his hair and now he was going to look like an Army NCO for the next year and a half, at least. He took some generally good-natured teasing from his colleagues at the management meeting. His Administrative Assistant Lucy, who had been with him for 10 years, went in to his office after lunch and told him most of the women thought he looked very handsome and some, even used the word ‘rugged.’ That made him feel a little better. Early that afternoon, though, Dennis and the Boss (the man who owned the company) were returning from a meeting and were about to stop to hear an advertising proposal for a new project. The company had taken on two freelance commercial artists to replace the in-house design team for advertising, in a cost-cutting move. The two were young and ambitious, but rather "artsy." One had long, dark curly hair and one had his brown hair died platinum blonde and worn in various styles that showed and inch or more of dark roots. As Dennis and the Boss approached the office, they heard, "I know, he was one of the only ones with a decent head of hair, now he looks like another corporate dink." And another voice saying: "and I hear he’s keeping that crew cut, I’d be embarrassed."

Dennis turned a bit red. The Boss, who had earlier simply said, "I like the haircut Dennis," now said, "leave this with me," and sent Dennis on his way. Charles Henry Donatello had started and grown his company with a belief in honesty, hard work and no messing about. He didn’t care how a person looked or dressed and certainly never worried about their race, their creed, or who they chose to marry. But he believed in respect and good behavior and consequences. But, he believed in giving people a chance. So, he went into the design office and sat down. "Boys, you have a problem, Dennis and I just heard you making some rather unkind remarks as we were coming down the hallway. Tut, tut, don’t interrupt me. Let me tell you that usually, Dennis’s haircut, like yours’ are your own business, unless you make it my business. Dennis had a reason for cutting his hair. He may or may not share it. But your unkind remarks have now resulted in you both having a reason for doing the same, if you wish to remain working for me. Now, get yourselves to the barbershop over in that mall on Elm. Steve Silverman gets his Reserves duty cuts there. Come back here and see me, with haircuts, at least as short as Dennis’s and then go apologize to him."

"Charlie, can’t we explain?"

"What’s to explain? Have I not given you a great opportunity? Has my staff not treated you with respect?

"Well yes, but, we were just joking around. I mean he had such great hair…."

"Enough, you boys decide. Its 2:30, you should be able to have those mops taken care of and be back here before Dennis leaves for the day."

Two very unhappy young men walked into the same strip mall barber shop where we have discussed Dennis Junior and his Uncle Dave’s haircuts taking place in other parts of this story. "Yes, gentlemen, are you looking for directions? I can get you back to the Interstate."

"Um, no, actually we are here for haircuts, short haircuts. Our boss recommended your shop. One of our colleagues is a client. His name is Steve Silverman." This was said by the curly haired Bernie, while Jamie stood quietly behind.

"Oh Stevie, nice fellow, Army Reserves. He likes to keep those curls of his in a nice tight regulation crew cut. I can fix you up in something like that. Maybe civilian style." All Bernie could think of was his mortgage and car payment and had no idea what the barber meant. He mumbled that that sounded fine, but he thought his friend would like to go first. In reality, Bernie was afraid that Jamie would either faint or bolt out the door as soon as the clippers touched his hair, if Bernie was first in the chair. He figured, once the deed was done, Jamie could start licking his wounds during Bernie’s shearing. Bernie had to practically carry Jamie to the chair. The barber combed through the bird’s nest on Jamie’s head and said, "well, the best thing to do will to get rid of all this damaged bleached hair. Now, I think I know just the right haircut for you, young fellow. Just sit back and relax. The barber went right to work with his clipper and comb taking the bleached top hair down until there was nothing, but Jamie’s natural mousey brown hair left on top of his head. Then he switched guards and began peeling the sides and back with a number one. When he had cleaned off the lower portions of Jamie’s head, Jamie’s shoulders started to heave, and big tears flowed down his cheeks. The barber stopped for a moment and said, "son, its only hair. Most of the people in this big old world won’t know or care what you looked like before or after this cut and you’ll still be you. Besides, you’re gonna have a ‘buzz buddy’ with you." This little speech, as trite as it might have sounded always seemed to work on these cry baby types, the barber thought to himself. Then he wet the short hair left on top, brushed it straight up and dried it with a blow drier. "OK, now you are going to have to hold your head very still. With that he began forming a very short, very precise flattop. Slowly, back and forth, over the top. Stopping, eyeing it, touching it up. Finally, butch wax was applied, some shaving cream around the ears and neck, and voila. Jamie now looked like working man Jim. "There you are sir."

Bernie, seeing the "dazed and confused" look on Jamie’s face, helped Jamie over to a waiting chair and said to the barber "we’ll pay for both haircuts after mine, if that’s ok." And, with that, Bernie climbed into the chair and took one last look at his luscious curls. In response to a question from the barber, Bernie says: "yes, actually we’re sort of subcontractors with the company and we sort of screwed up in the ‘us and or big mouths’ department. So, the company’s owner ‘suggested’ we show our remorse by getting our haircuts."

So, the barber went to work, rather quickly shearing off the curls with a Number 4 guard, leaving a half inch pelt everywhere except the very front which was left for scissor work to create a bumper. The hair was them tapered and faded into a very tight crewcut, with very short tabs where lush sideburns once grew. A bumper of about an inch that could lay down at the very front was fashioned from the curls. "There you are sir, a nice tight crew cut. And may I say how well these haircuts suit you gentlemen. And speaking of suits, may I suggest that you consider changing into something a bit more businesslike to show off your haircuts for the first time at work. It might show sincerity."

And, so two unrecognizable young men sat in Charlie’s office when Dennis walked in at the end of the day. They stood and awkwardly, Jamie began: "I, err, we want to apologize for the unkind things we said earlier today." Bernie added "We got these haircuts to demonstrate our remorse and if your new haircut is good enough for you, these haircuts are good enough for us. We’ll be keeping these as long as you keep yours."

Dennis, having been through so much with his son, saw the wisdom in Charlie’s approach. These two bright young men had learned a valuable lesson. "Guys, I accept your apology, and I think the three of us may set a new fashion standard for male grooming for the next year and a half or so. I expect that we’ll all be getting biweekly trims to stay looking sharp."

2. Dave’s World Becomes a Hairy Place to Negotiate

Dave LaSalle got into the car with his nephew Dennis, rubbing his newly shorn head. He looked over at his nephew and said, "I can’t believe I just did that." Dennis, remembering his traumatic three haircut-day that had started in the same barber shop, asked if he had any regrets. "I had to keep my word to the boys. Seeing your dad keeping his crewcut all this time gave me courage to do it, but I know I’ll miss my hair." Surprisingly, while everybody who saw Dave with his flattop expressed surprise, almost everybody said it looked good on him, except his soon-to-be former wife. His son’s soccer team went wild when they saw him and Dr. Evans, the school’s disciplinarian had thanked him for being a great role model for the team. Dave even gave some thought to maybe getting one more flattop to surprise everybody at Christmas, but he would be letting his son Roger grow his hair out to a less severe short haircut for school now and he didn’t want to put additional pressure on him. After about seven weeks, he could no longer brush his hair back into the flat shape and he kind of felt sad that day. But, life went on and as the year moved forward, his floppy hair returned in its former glory. Roger continued to make progress at school. Like his dad, his hair grew pretty fast and he soon adopted what the school considered a "regular young men’s cut," preferring to keep it trimmed monthly with no urging needed. When baseball season came around, Dennis made the team and decided to opt for a no nonsense buzzcut which he asked his Uncle Dennis to administer for him. "A number 2 all over, please, Uncle Dennis. No use messing with hair during the season." Senior and Dave were both amazed at the change in the boy.

Dave, seemed to start seeing flat tops more often and began to feel nostalgic for his one experience with the classic haircut. Over a year had passed since he had walked into the barbershop that November day when a colleague came into his office one December afternoon. "Hey Davey, my son came across this video and remembered me mentioning your ‘big chop’ last year. The video was titled "Flattop February" about an Air Force Squadron who all got Flattops in February to honor the warrior pilots who preferred the haircut in bygone days." Seeing all those men in flattops, stirred something inside Dave. He thanked his colleague and after they chatted a bit, the colleague left. Dave was then on the phone to the company’s Human Resource Office and then headed off to the Executive Suite. And so, Dave’s management consulting firm began its Flattop February Campaign to raise funds for wounded warriors. Dave would raise funds during January and wear a Flattop during February. Within days of the announcement, Dave was flabbergasted to have 11 colleagues ask to join him and a good-natured contest ensued over who would raise the most.

January 31st was a Sunday, so Dave was up early on Saturday, excited to get to the barber. The barber remembered him, "Well hello sir, I wondered when you’d be back." Dave got into the chair and savored every moment of his flattop. As the barber stripped away his long floppy sides, the barber mentioned that he had had several young fellows in for flattops yesterday talking about Flattop February. Dave explained about the charity challenge. The barber who had a regular military clientele was very impressed. After he finished Dave’s flattop, Dave slowly ran his hands slowly up and down his head and audibly sighed.

"You know what, I think you have yourself another regular flattop customer this time, Dave told the barber."

On Monday at Dave’s office, the Flattop Dozen were a sight to behold. Four of the 8 partners (3 others were women and one was bald) were included along with staff from all levels. An astonishing amount of money was raised. The partners promised to add $50.00 to the pot for any additional flattop during the month. As the month went on four more men and two women joined the flattop club. Finally, on February 27th, Max Danforth came into Dave’s office. Max was an extremely good-looking man in his mid-thirties who was extremely successful in pitching and securing new work for the firm. He was very vain, particularly about his hair which he pampered and primped. "Dave, I was over at MegaMil yesterday, we were joint-pitching that big Security and Management streamlining deal with the Department of Veterans Affairs. I’ve never had a problem with them before. Jake took one look at me and asked where my Flattop was! He told me the VA folks have been thrilled with this fund raiser you did and that they will not look kindly if our lead is a ‘long-haired pretty boy’."

"Well Max, Defense really isn’t my area, I’m sure Gina (lead Partner for Defense work) could assign Jack to take the meeting. He’s got the flattop and you can "horse him up" on the details."

"Gina sent me to you. The meeting is this afternoon. I’m the only one who can take the meeting. She said, you might be able to help"

Dave smiled. He took out four pictures. Before and after pictures of his son and his nephew. Then he told the stories of Dennis Junior and Roger. When he was done, he stood and said, come on, I’ll take you to the barber. Max survived his flattop and secured the contract. But, found that his government contact at the VA had a flattop and ‘encouraged’ Max to keep his flattop. And so the circle of discipline continues.

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