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Ted's hedge clippers and hair clippers by Manny

When I saw Ted's garage door open with some activity inside I thought it would be a good time to pop in and ask to borrow the hedge clipper he'd offered. His was the most meticulously maintained yard on the street, and mine, by comparison, seemed rather overgrown. As a newcomer to the neighborhood, I felt a bit guilty about letting my yard go like it had. It was the first warm Saturday in spring, and I was determined to get it in shape!

As I approached the garage I heard Ted say, "No, it's the same length you get every year -- a quarter inch."

Then I saw what he was talking about. Bill, another neighbor on the street, was rubbing his freshly shorn head. The garage floor around a tall wooden stool was blanketed with ginger-colored curls. He'd just been given a butch and looked totally different from his usual "Raggedy Andy" appearance.

"Wow! I hardly recognize you, Bill!" I gasped.

"See, this is shorter than usual, Ted!" the clipped fellow exclaimed. "It's like a fine sand paper instead of a bristly pelt."

Then Ted's face turned a bit pale. "Oh, my. You're right. It's a #1 guard. My son must have switched it when he was giving haircuts to his baseball team's new recruits. Their coach loves to shear the fellows trying out for the team...see how serious they are about trying out and making some sacrifices."

"And now I look like one of them!" Bill pouted.

"I think you look great, Bill," I commented, hoping to diffuse the bit of tension in the garage.

Bill smiled. "Really? It feels so short." He continued exploring his clipped pate with his hands.

"Oh, stop moaning. How much difference can a quarter inch make?" laughed Ted. "Hey, it's a free service. But, sorry about the mishap."

Then I noticed Ted was eyeing my mane! Oh no....there would be no butch cut for me! I was rather fond of my thick, glossy brown hair. I wore it tidy around the ears and nape and quite long on top to showcase the wavy forelock that was swept back in an executive style. The thought of a butch sent a shiver down my spine. And, the truth was that I was overdue for a trim. Once the forelock got to a certain length, it had the tendency to slip down onto my forehead and even dangle past my hazel eyes. Rather sexy -- but not the best look for an office environment.

"Hey, Ted," I said to change the conversation and focus. "Can I borrow that hedge clippers?" Oooooops. More talk of clippers! I couldn't get away from it. I felt a bit of a bulge develop. Was I sub-consciously desiring a butch?!

"Sure," he replied, retrieving the machine from a closet. "Glad you're going to tidy up that shaggy yard of yours, Scott." Again he eyed my mane.

Just then, the forelock slipped down, and I quickly mopped it back.

I let out a nervous laugh. To my surprise, I heard myself quip, "Seems like my yard's not the only thing that's on the shaggy side." I ran my fingers back through my plush, silken locks. Ah, that magnificent feeling.....

"You liked the butch on me, Scott. You ought to get one yourself!" Bill urged, looking at me. "But make sure Ted's got the right guard on, or you'll end up looking like a marine in boot camp. I do like the way this feels, though......"

Ted fixed his gaze on me, waiting for me to sign on to Bill's suggestion. There was no way that was going to happen! I looked at the mass of ginger curls on the floor. I felt antsy and shuffled nervously on my feet. My six inch forelock would look magnificent atop them, I told myself....

"You don't do standard trims, do you, Ted?" I asked, again surprising myself that I wasn't running away from the amateur barbershop scene.

"Sure do. But, I have to get my car to the mechanic's now for servicing. I'll tidy you up when you return the hedge clippers. How about that?"

"Deal!" I stammered, regretting it as soon as the word left my lips.

Working in my yard in the heat of the day had me sweating plenty. The forelock was constantly batting about my eyes. When it got damp with sweat, there was a slight stinging sensation. The hair was a definite liability in the yard, outside the controlled office environment. The more I thought about a butch the harder my bulge felt. I had never had a clippers taken across the top of my head before. Just the thought made me shiver. And, a businessman with a butch cut?! It wasn't a standard thing....although the younger set in the office tended to have ultra short haircuts. After I finished whacking the hedge back to a decent shape I was a total mess -- a sweaty, dirty mess.

I took a long, relaxing shower. Lathering up my plush hair felt enjoyable. I repeated the task. Ah, wonderful. The water soaking my thick hair, making it feel even more copious and heavy. If I had a butch there would be none of that....no tedious work with the blow dryer either. After I dried off, I combed my wet hair straight down. Just how long was my forelock? Wow -- past the nose, right to the lip, once the natural waves were extended. My feelings about my hair had been fluctuating wildly ever since I saw Bill feeling his newly clipped pate and Ted eyeing my lush locks.

As I looked at the deliciously wet, dangling locks in the mirror, I had an idea. I would ask Ted to scissor off my copious forelock to a short, manageable length -- very short length, even -- when he gave me my trim! That was the next item on my agenda. Return the hedge clipper and slide up onto the stool in the garage. The butch was a non-starter, but the forelock was history! Maybe cropped short all over, like an Ivy League haircut. That feeling of going short intensified as I fondled my pampered locks with a brush slowly coaxing the prima dona forelock into place with the blow dryer. It was time to put an end to it. I practiced saying out loud, "Actually, Ted, the bangs need much more than a trim. Cut them short, quite short. It was hell fighting them away from my face doing yard work today. Oh, and on top, just long enough to lay down when brushed to the side." Then I would watch my lovely forelock fall to the floor and rest atop the carpet of ginger curls. Instead of the graceful wave that made me feel quite vain, I would be left with a truncated fringe barely long enough to grasp.

I had a nervous spring of energy in my step as I hustled over to Ted's house. I felt impatient as I waited for him to answer the door....already there was a tinge of cold feet developing.

Suddenly, the garage door began opening. "I saw you out the window with the hedge clippers," Bill called out.

I was a disappointed to see the makeshift barbershop had been disassembled and put away. The only trace that it had once been in operation was the collection of ginger curls at the top of the trash can.

I had sort of expected to be pressured into the haircut by Ted, but he didn't mention it, speaking only about what I'd done to my yard.

"That hedge was a nightmare, Ted. I chopped it back to a very manageable size. Poor thing looks as bare and bald as Bill's head does without all the leafy overgrowth." I hoped the mention of Bill's butch would elicit a renewed offer to cut my hair, but....the chit chat about yard work continued.

I was about to explode with excitement as we chatted with my mind wandering and imaging my molly-coddled forelock getting whacked off at the top of my forehead. Finally, I blurted out, "The other thing I came here for, remember, is that haircut you promised me this morning. After enduring all that discomfort working in the yard with this hair flailing about, I'm through with this!" I lifted my thick, wavy forelock up off my head.

"The stool's over there, friend. The clippers here," he said, reaching into a drawer. Clippers?! I stumbled in a daze and retrieved the stool. "Now, take off your shirt and have a seat. So, should we keep the clipper guard at a #1 like Bill's length or perhaps the traditional #2 length? I mean the difference is just a quarter inch...."

He was intending to give me a butch!!!!! I was jumping into the frying pan. Why just shed the forelock, I told myself....why not throw away all caution and go for the butch?! Ever since I'd seen Bill exploring his stubbled pate, it's what I'd subconsciously wanted. "What do you think?" I asked as I slipped onto the stool.

"Well, you told Bill you thought the stubble look was great, so it'll be a #1 all over," Ted replied.

I heard him snap on the machine. Then he grasped my forelock and pulled it back. I instinctively tried to dodge the coming attack of the clippers, but Ted obviously had experience in subduing unwilling kids on his barber stool.

Then I felt the metal teeth of the clipper plunging into the forelock right at the scalp. He was going to peel the massive lock off with one thrust! "Steady, Scotty! It's coming off!!" the amateur barber exclaimed.

"OH!!!" I gasped. "This feels phenomenal!"

The clatter of the machine was deafening and I felt a mixture of numbness and tingling excitement pulsating throughout my body. There was no turning back. I had to take in the moment and worry about the future later.

I felt the machine moving back across the top of my head. I thought I would explode! Finally Ted pulled off the massive forelock and held it out in front of me. "Ta-da! This is history! Bye-bye pretty boy!" He tossed my lock to the floor and returned his attention to the clippers. There was more hair to come off -- a lot more!

Ted was fully in control as he adroitly drove the clippers through my plush mane, sending sheaves of hair sliding down my bare chest and back. "I've watched coach give many such haircuts to the baseball recruits, Scott. I was even one of them, once upon a time. Best show is getting a little girly boy to sit still and shave the prissy look off him." Just then another massive clump of dropped onto my lap and I jolted in contained euphoria. "I think you're going to be a regular in my garage, Scotty!"

"How am I looking?" I asked.

"Very excited," he remarked cryptically. "Oh, and the head, well, it's nice and round. Well shaped. No odd lumps. I think the butch gives you a very masculine, determined look. You'll like it....after you get over the shock," Ted replied.

"Has Bill gotten over his irritation about the length?" I asked.

"Yep, once you said it looked good, that was all he needed. When he sees that you copied the new length, he'll be very glad, I know. I wish he'd let me keep him clipped all year," Ted remarked.

"Maybe both of us could become regulars," I said, hopefully.

"You need to see what you look like with a butch before you make that decision," Ted said with a laugh. "I mean don't you work in a bank or some such stuffy place. I see you prancing out each morning with a nice conservative suit on and brief case."

"I'm an attorney, actually," I said. But his comments took the wind out of my sails almost instantly. I would walk into the office feeling naked, come Monday. The partners would surely snicker and make fun of my new baldy look.

"A very boyish looking attorney, I'd say," remarked Ted. Unexpectedly, Ted inflicted a Dutch rub on my bristles. "Love to do that! Especially when I guy first gets clipped!"

I looked down at the forelock on the floor....the glistening wave of hair reminded me of the glory that was no more.

"Haircut's over! Time to get the broom and help me sweep up," announced Ted.

"You wouldn't have a mirror, would you?" I said, sheepishly feeling the coarse texture of my new stubble.

"Brace yourself....there's one over there by the work bench," he laughed. "Remember, you'll get used to it....eventually."

I wasn't so sure.....

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