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A Heart Stopping Haircut Part III by Deke Cutter
Part III of A Heart Stopping Haircut
I think that Bill (formerly known as Billy) Wade was a bit surprised at how well folks took to his new butch haircut on Monday and to his explanation ‘see my butch, call me Bill.’ "It was kind of impulsive," he said, when asked about it as we gathered for some chatter before our Monday kickoff of the week. "I know some of you heard me mouthing off about Frank’s haircut last week and he and I got to talking about it. Did you guys know that the boss, I mean the other boss, (his face reddened), I mean Frank Senior, really hates long hair on guys? But, he never says anything to us about it." Some of the shaggiest guys subconsciously started fiddling with their hair. "Well Frank explained to me how he’s got this haircut to make his dad happy and he’s keeping it while he’s in charge here, even though his hair was longer than mine before he came back East!" So, I asked Frank for his barber’s name and figured, I needed a big change to get you all to take me seriously, and as a way to thank the Lucases for all they’ve done to help me. I’ll tell you I thought my girl was going to freak, but she really likes me with short hair. She said she thought it could be a little longer on top, so don’t be surprised if I come in with a nice brush cut like Frank’s in a month." And so, the Bill controversy ends. But not his role in this chronicle.
After a month in charge, things were going pretty smoothly at LHE. I had Skyped with mom and dad on Friday evening after my haircut that marked the one month I had been running things solo. "Hey Junior. Things running smoothly? I see Jonno’s keeping you looking sharp."
"Hi Dad, yes indeed all is well. Your team misses you, but they are a great bunch. I’ve managed to bring in some new work that I think you will like and I’m meeting with the Habitat folks next week. Bill Wade has got the team fired up to do some volunteer work with them."
"Billy Wade with that crazy hair falling in his face? Talented kid, and I knew there was good in him, if he could get past the tragedy that struck his family."
"He’s asked that we call him Bill, Dad. I had a chance to talk with him. I hope you don’t mind, I felt the same you did and I told him the whole story about you and mom’s role. He got pretty emotional, but I think it helped him turn a corner."
Mom, looking 10 years younger and more glamorous than I can remember spoke. "Frankie, in case this big lug won’t say it, I will. Darling thank you. We are so proud and grateful. By the way, Dad is doing great. He’s lost the weight, we are learning a new way to eat and cook, and we’re both exercising regularly"
"That is great news about Dad, Mom, I am really having a great experience here. I’m getting some ideas for that foundation I want to start. But before we finish Dad, what happened to you being the long hair. You look like your sporting some kind of bald fade."
"You got it in one, son! This nice young Latino barber down the street said ‘you like it short poppy, let me fade you tight.’ I love it."
"Do not encourage him," Mom said. He can keep it out here as long as he stays on plan, but, I’m having a word with Jonno when we get home. Its back to regular order on his hair then."
"OK, great talking with you. We’ll speak soon."
The next day was Saturday and Bill asked if I could meet with him and the local coordinator for Habitat for Humanity. Max Hallis was pretty much what you’d expect from a Non-profit exec. He’s a down-to-earth, quite earnest guy. I could see why my dad and Bill had taken to him. I chuckled to myself, though, as I thought of Dad looking at those brown curls, in their shaggy glory covering his head. "Max, I’m glad to meet you, my father loves the work you do here and I am quite involved with Habitat back in my home base of Los Angeles."
"Yes, its great to meet you too. Your parents are both great. Your mother can handle power tools with the best of them too." (That’s Mom, I thought, the quiet ones, always surprise you). "I am really excited to have Bill and a the LHE volunteers anxious to do this build."
"Frank," said Bill, running his hands up and down his freshly shorn back and sides, (that brush was going to look good on him in a few more weeks) we’d like to dedicate this house to your parents. We’d call it the Silver Anniversary Lewis House. It will mark 25 years of LHE cooperation with Habitat for Humanity."
"Bill, that is the nicest and most appropriate gift we could give them. Max, what else do you need?"
"Well Frank, this new tax law is hurting us. Donations are down this year because people don’t know how to react to it. Honestly, I’m pretty worried."
Remember those cartoons where the devil was on one shoulder and the angel was on the other one? Well, I suddenly felt like I had them in the form of Dad with horns and Mom with a halo. Dad won.
"Funding and materials for this project will not be a problem. If you have a family willing to put in the sweat equity, I will see that the funding is not an issue and Bill, here, will see to our volunteer team. There is one thing I would like to request of you and the funding is not contingent on the request. Am I understood?" Max nodded. "Bill would you get that picture of the team at the Christmas party and then that one of you and Sara from your desk, and the one of me out at Santa Monica Pier from my desk?
I think the light started to click on for Bill. I had brought that picture in on the Monday after his big chop to show him how long my hair used to be. Sure Frank, be happy to."
"My father is recovering well from his heart attack, I’m happy to say, but it gave us a real scare. Anyway, this whole two months rest thing away from the business has been my way of making sure he really did do all he had to do. Being back here has also let me be reminded of all the good he does for his employees and for the community. Ah, here’s Bill. So, Max, here are my parents surrounded by most of the team at the Christmas Party. That’s dad, beardless Santa with a crewcut. This is Bill, about two months ago with his partner Sara and this is me about a month before Dad’s heart attack. As you can see in the holiday photo, Dad loves these folks and they love him. Everybody just as they are. Now I’m sure you’re looking at me and Bill and wondering, what the heck happened to your hair and what’s it got to do with me anyway?"
"Well here’s the thing. Dad hates long hair. I hate short hair. It was our battle of the ages, when most families had fought it generations ago. Long story short (no pun intended), I’m wearing this brush cut to honor dad while I’m running this company in his absence. Bill was looking for a way to show his gratitude to Dad for his help in kick starting his career, and he wanted to change his image. We talked abut my big chop and he decided to go for it too. I can’t tell you how much it would tickle my dad if you would consider getting a clipper cut, my treat, from our barber and keep it until the house is finished and presented to its new owners with mom and dad presenting the keys."
"What are we waiting for man, lets go!" Max’s reply startled us both. "Guys, I make less money than a first-year teacher in this job. You gonna offer me to get rid of this mop and look halfway professional for a while, heck yeah." Ten minutes later Max was laying back in Jonno’s barber chair getting a complementary facial shave. Jonno was like a proud poppa looking a me and Bill. When he sat Max up, he looked at his face, felt his head to understand the shape and said "flat top."
Max said "lets do it." Stripping away the sides was pretty routine stuff, but watching Jonno form the top was like watch a sculptor at work. He started by taking off some bulk. Max had a lot of curls. Then he created a definite, but not overly dramatic, landing strip. Then came the seemingly endless precision trimming, clipping, leveling, carving, checking, going back over that changed this fluffy head into a handsome confident looking executive. Max looked at himself in the mirror and couldn’t believe his eyes. "I look so much more credible. My good suit will even look better. Jonno, you are a master."
I liked this guy and what he stood for so I told him. This one and all the rest for the next year are on me, as long as you’re coming to Jonno. I don’t know why you guys like short hair, but, its worth it to give dad another "buzz buddy." I could see good angel Mom smiling on my shoulder now.
The work on the Habitat House got started and the LHE team really did their part. The family who were going to live in the house were putting in their time and they were getting support from their church and their extended family. Things were going really well, but it looked like the house would need about 17 more days and our two-month deal was coming to an end. I surprised my parents with a cross-Canada train trip home. It was something Mom had always wanted to do and I knew dad would go for it. From the Maritimes, they would take a Ferry down to Portland ME and fly home from there. That would get them home on Friday, give them Saturday to rest and Sunday would be the grand house warming for the Lucas House. All worked to plan and on Friday morning I went in to get my last brush cut from Jonno. "Well, Buddy, this is it," I said.
"Until you come home next time maybe."
Or maybe if I get a crazy girl like Bill’s Sara."
"Hey, listen man," Jonno said, I meant to tell you, I’m not working tonight or tomorrow, in case your dad wants to come in."
"What’s up Jonno, that’s not like you."
"Just things to do man."
So, the folks came home, happy and healthy. They arrived pretty late on Friday so they basically just went to bed. We mooched around the house on Saturday. I told them we had a big surprise for them on Sunday so make it an early night and get ready. On Sunday, we all went to Mass and Dad noted that he didn’t see any of the folks there from work. I thought that was odd too, but I figured they might have rearranged their schedules for the big event.
As the time grew near, I checked to make sue my brush cut looked neat (boy, I am getting out of here just in time), got Mom and Dad in the car and said. "Today, Habitat for Humanity is dedicating the house our staff built while you were away."
"Your mother and I like that Max kid with the curls. He could go places someday."
As we parked, two young men approached the car that neither of my parent immediately recognized. "Welcome home Frank," said Bob.
"Habitat for Humanity is glad to have you both back with us said Max."
Dad looked at the young men and looked at me, and said "Well, I’ll be."
Max then brought us on a tour of the house so Mom and Dad got to meet the homeowners. Then we were taken outside where we were the first to be seated before the little podium. The home owners were sat across the aisle. Various volunteers and do-gooders filled in the back. Max introduced the Mayor but said he wanted to hold his remarks. Then he said that before he introduced us, there was a special presentation that some of the volunteers wanted to make. With that, the 10 male volunteers from LHE came up and stood before my dad in tee shirts that read ‘Forgive Us Our Past Tresses.’ They then in one motion removed their hats to show the very best examples of Jonno’s work, every clipper cut you could imagine. They then handed Dad a box with a card. The box contained all of the hair Jonno had clipped Friday evening and yesterday, apparently). The card said "we aren’t promising to stay this way, but we thought this was great way to say welcome home Boss. We missed you!"
Next, the Mayor went up to the podium to praise Mom and Dad and all the good work they and LHE had done for the community and announced that this house would be known as ‘the Habitat For Humanity Silver Anniversary Lucas House’ in recognition of 25 years of cooperation between the Lucas family, LHE, and Habitat for Humanity. Now, Mr. and Mrs. Lucas, and the homeowners, Mr. and Mrs. Grayson and their children please step forward so that the Lucases may formally turn over the keys to this house to the new owners. It was pretty touching. After the ceremony there was a good bit of glad-handing and goodwill. Max stopped me and said, "I can’t believe it, they mayor told me the County needs a new Director of Low-Income Housing and he knows that they’ kill for a guy with my experience. He even mentioned, you even look the part."
On our way to the car, Jonno caught up with us. He hugged Mom and Dad and he and mom consulted and agreed on Dad’s hair. Then, he pulled me aside and said, "you tell your father, I so can keep a secret. Bill and I had those haircuts planned and scheduled for a week." Tomorrow, I go back to LA to start growing my hair!