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Dad, I'll Always Need You by Deke Cutter

We'd been arguing about my hair for weeks. My dad wanted me to cut it and, frankly, I was sick of the length, but being a smart-as* 17 year old boy, I was not about to give him the satisfaction. All he wanted was me to trim it up before my grandparents came back from Florida. Gramps used to take me and my bothers to the barber at Easter and get us buzzed down to crewcuts when we were kids, but when we turned 13, dad let each of have a lot more leeway. This year, I had decided to let mine grow longer than ever. My parents are pretty cool about most things, in fact, all my friends envy how decent they are. I don't know why this hair thing became such a big deal, but it did. Suddenly, dad stopped talking about it. He and my two younger brothers got haircuts and nothing was said. In fact, nothing was said to me about anything much, all of the sudden. This started freaking me out. So, I asked my mom what was up. She said, "well Sam, you dad believes that he has always ben very reasonable and that you and he have been able to discuss issues in a mature way. He believes that he made a simple request to you about trimming your hair but you have elevated it and he let himself get caught up in the issue and responded with anger too. He feels that if you are not mature enough to appreciate all of the ways we have allowed you to make decisions and take risks, then he feels that he has failed you. He believes that you must now find your on way without offering his obviously unwanted and unaccepted input."

I was stunned. The only thing I could think to say was, "mom, do you agree?"

She replied, "Frankly Sam, I as so disappointed in you for acting like such a little sh*t, that I hoped he would drag your sorry butt to the barbers and get you skinned like Gramps used to, since you were acting like such a child. But you really disappointed your dad, and I've come to see that he is right. This is your issue to deal with now."

Wow, I really had messed up. That night after dinner, my brothers were watching something on TV and mom and dad were just sitting in the living room. I asked dad if I could speak to him. Mom took the hint and made an excuse to leave the room. "What is it Sam?"

"Dad I want to apologize about this whole haircut thing and most importantly the way I treated you. Dad, I am so sorry. You are the best father anybody could have asked for and I was out of my mind to have been so mean-spirited over this. I'm going to get my hair trimmed up tomorrow before we see Nanny and Gramps. Dad, I still need your help and guidance in my life. I was trying so hard to be a man and seem strong, but the tears really started to flow."

Dad got this really strange look on his face, sort of melancholy, if you know what I mean. "Sam," he said, "that means a great deal to me and I hope you are serious about what you've just said. I want us to fix what went wrong in our relationship. Thank you for showing me what a good heart you really have." He stood up from his chair and gave me a hug.

The next day, I got up early and went down to Jeff's Barber and Shave Shop before school. Jeff had been cutting our hair forever. I as the only customer when Jeff opened the door. "Well Sammy" (Jeff had been calling me that sine my first haircut), the prodigal returns! Hop right up, son, I'm guessing you need to get this done and not be late for school. What ill it be today?"

My hair as nearly down to my shoulders. "I need a good trim Jeff. Can you take off about inches so its about covering my ears and just touch the collar, you know, still kind of long but neat."

"If that's what you want. Your grandad should be coming back from Florida around now. Shorter is always better with him, right? With that Jeff went to work, spraying my hair and carefully trimming it, just as I asked. It was amazing how much hair fell into my lap and onto the floor around me. When Jeff had finished and turned me toward the mirror, I looked at myself and thought, I could have done this two weeks ago and saved all the hassle. Plus, as always, Jeff let me looking good. I paid Jeff and headed to school.

I got a lot of compliments on my haircut. Evie, my girlfriend loved it. But all day, it didn't feel right. I kept thinking of hat my mom had said. I didn't deserve to let myself off this easy. What was I to do? After lunch I had a free period and so did Evie, I told her the whole story and what I as thinking. She said she thought that I had really messed up, but this was something that I had to figure out, but promised she would stick with me. She then loaned me ten dollars and we went our separate ways.

When school ended, I started what felt like the longest walk of my life. When I got back to Jeff's, I was relieved to see he was just finishing up with the only customer he had. "Hey Sammy, you forget something."

"Not exactly Jeff. I know this going to sound crazy to you since its been so long since I'd been for a haircut before this morning, but, I need another haircut. Don't worry, I'll pay for it."

"We'll talk about that later, hop up in the chair. You want to tell me what's going on?"

As he caped me up for the second time, I told him that I had been a real jerk when dad said I should get my hair trimmed up before gramps got home. I had finally cleared things up and voluntarily got my haircut this morning, but I just feel like this needs to be a statement to myself so I want you to cut my hair short, brutally short, so that when I look in the mirror for the next few months, I'll remind myself what my petulance and immaturity cost me."

"Well, if you're sure..." Jeff picked up the clippers with a very small attachment and started running them up the back of my head. He was pressing hard and going up high. What the heck have I unleashed? He cam around to the right side, folded down my ear and went to work clearing away most of the hair on each side, leaving just a little below the part line. Then he got another pair of clippers with no guard and went over the lower part of my neck and sides, stripping them bare! He the squirted the remaining long hair on top of my head and went to work back to front, reducing its length, except for the bangs. Next, he took out the thinning shears and went to town. Finally he combed my bangs down and cut them vertically from above my left eye to near the hairline on the right. "Might as well go whole hog," Jeff said, as he applied shaving cream to the lower parts of my head and proceeded to shave them. He then, poured some kind of smelly hair tonic into his hands and massaged it into what as left of my hair and imbed it neatly into place. "One brutally short boy's cut."

He turned me to face the mirror, and it as exactly what I asked for. I looked scalped. My hair was plastered to my head. There was nothing I could do with it but comb it over that way and wait for slow months of growth. It was just the hideous haircut I needed. "I've only got $20.00. I had to borrow ten from my girlfriend to pay for this second haircut, I said."

"Put your money away Sam. You'll be paying for this haircut for months," said Jeff smiling. I decided to call mom and tell her that I was going to stop by dad's office before I came home. When dad came down to the lobby, I thought he was going to burst out laughing, but instead, he said "son, you get it. You know what, I am so proud of you. Oh and gramps is going to want you to be his haircut buddy until he goes back to Florida, but don't worry, I'm here to help you run interference, if you need me."

I replied, "dad, I'll always need you.

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