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New Guy In School Part II by Deke Cutter
It was hard to say goodbye to my pal Tom, but luckily for us, we were both serious about keeping in touch with each other and I knew we were going to remain friends. The skinned haircut we all got as a kind of goofy farewell present for Tom ended up paying benefits for me that summer. I started a lawncare business in the neighborhood to earn some cash for spending money. It turned out to be a hot and humid Summer, so the short hair was great for keeping cool. Once the school year started, though, other than a shape up from Mike the barber, I let my hair grow, all the guys did, including Tom. I couldn’t believe it when he sent me a picture of himself at the beach in December with three of four inches of shaggy hair on his head. The message with the photo said, "the brass at this base are cool and dad says my reward for following the last guy’s ‘regs’ is that I can keep this mop".
At the end of the school year, Tom and I were hoping to get to see each other over the summer, but we both had our summer jobs. I was ramping up my lawn business and Tom had wrangled himself a dream gig at the San Diego Zoo. On the first day of vacation, I had two tasks. First, I kept the appointment I made with the photographer who would be taking our school Senior pictures and asked to have a set taken now. Then I went into Mike’s and asked him to give me a crew cut. Mike was starting to get used to my swings from long to short, but he still asked: "what’s up this time?" I explained about cutting lawns in the heat. Mike shook his head and went to work. My hair was longer than it had been back that first time Mike had given me the punishment cut and I have to say, it was pretty cool to watch the hair fall onto the cape. Short hair still wasn’t all that popular in my school, but Tom, Barry, Dave and I had made it more of a "thing" after our antics of the previous year. Having Tom as a friend also helped me develop a much better sense of self and purpose. (Grow some backbone Jack, how many times did Tom say that to me?). "Are we keeping the sideburns," Mike asked. In my mind, I could see Tom firmly shaking his head in the negative.
"Nope, let’s do this right, I said." Mike zipped off the remnants of my ‘burns and finished off my crewcut to his usual high standard. When he turned me around to the mirror, I had to admit, I liked the way I looked. I liked myself with long hair and my current girlfriend, Joan, loved my hair. She understood about my wanting short hair for the summer, but she wasn’t thrilled. I had Mike take a couple pictures of me before I left. I’d be able to compare myself with my long hair pictures and decide if I should get another set taken when school started for the yearbook. I sent one of the pictures Mike took out to Tom in California. I expected to get back a wisecracking e-mail saying his trademark "outstanding haircut Harrison." Instead, about a week later, I got a package in the mail. It was a poster from the movie "Trading Places" where the rich guy (Dan Ackroyd) gets disowned by his rich family who give his job and money to poor guy Eddie Murphy. It’s the poster with Ackroyd in a too small lady’s leather jacket, Murphy in a suit and Jamie Lee Curtis between them, but he had put his head with his now year’s-worth of long hair on Murphy and my crewcut head on Ackroyd. On a yellow ‘Post-It’ note he had written "Who is the Jarhead now?" I was laughing so hard my dad came upstairs to see what I was doing. He took one look at the poster and we ended up sitting on my bed laughing and holding on to each other because we were laughing so hard.
As the school year ended, I was surprised by how many requests I was getting for lawncare. I was going to have to turn people down or get help. I offered my two ‘cronies’ Barry and Dave a chance to join me in the venture. I told the guys that they had to be dependable, bring their own mowers and rakes, and we each could keep our tips. Barry, always the least self-assured of the group, piped up, "no forced buzzcuts like yours?"
"I’ll have you know, Cohan, that this outstanding haircut is a crewcut, much more hardcore than a buzzcut. And, the answer is no, only real men get crewcuts when they don’t have to." Then, knowing how sensitive Barry could be, I put him in a headlock and gave him some noogies.
Dave, always considering his image said, "dude, don’t you care about your Senior picture? Your hair was looking almost as good as mine." I was tempted to just bluff it out, but I explained to them about my early pictures. "You can do that?"
"Of course, don’t you remember when that girl Jenny shaved her head when her mom was going through chemo? She got her pictures done early and most of the guys on the football team did it the year they all got buzzed for the season. So, do we have a deal?" The guys agreed that we would work together for the summer.
The first week of our joint lawn mowing operations were as hot as I anticipated. Boy was I glad to have my crewcut. I didn’t know how the other guys were putting up with their hair. We had agreed we would meet up on Saturday to see how things were going. We were meeting at a local burger place. I got there and didn’t see the guys. I looked over at one of the old school pinball machines (boy I love those things), and thought I’d play while I waited for them, but there was some guy at the machine with hair as short as mine. The machine suddenly ‘tilted,’ the guy banged the flippers one last time and turned around. It was Dave. Putting on my best Tom voice, I said "outstanding flat top haircut Duval."
"And looking more ‘studly’ than your crew cut Harrison. Wait until you get a load of Barry. But go easy on him. He’s in the men’s room looking at himself."
You were right, it’s way too hot for long hair. I convinced Barry that we were the three amigos and if I was cutting my gorgeous locks, he had to cut his too. Luckily, having Franny (Barry’s girlfriend) next door to me, I was able to get her onboard. She is plum crazy about our buddy and thought he looked ‘so hot’ the last time he had short hair, but that was before they were going out. And that Amy he took to the 10th grade dance did a real number on him about his haircut last time. I am so glad he didn’t stay with her."
I was about to reply when Barry came out of the restroom. He had an incredible Ivy League haircut, a little longer on top than mine, but just about as short on the sides. He looked great, but he also looked troubled. Rather than going for the joke, I said in my most sincere voice, "Dude, you look great, did Mike cut your hair?"
"Do you really think it looks ok?"
"Are you kidding me? I mean you always look good, but Mike gave you a fantastic Ivy." That made Barry smile.
Dave then added, "we went and got pictures taken beforehand. But we’re both looking so good, I’m thinking we should have waited. Heck, we three are so darned handsome, they should have a special section of the yearbook dedicated to us." That broke the ice and got Barry back into a good mood and it gave me an idea.
I explained to the guys and they loved it. A couple weeks later, Tom was opening a package from us. It was a poster we were able to dig up from the movie "The Three Amigos," where they weren’t wearing those big sombreros. We put each of our heads on one of the three stars (Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short). We put a yellow Post It Note on it that said: "The Three Amigos think you are a hippy." Tom was still laughing when he called me to tell me how much he liked it. That was pretty much the tone of that summer. The Three Amigos were successful with our lawn care venture. Franny (and a good short haircut) gave Barry a real confidence boost and Tom was the only one with long hair.
Our last year of high school flew by. We were all busy with college applications and all that jazz. There were some great laughs about our yearbook pictures because we three had hair that wasn’t quite back to the length it was in the pictures by the time the yearbook came out. Dave sweet-talked one of the girls on the yearbook staff into including a copy of our "3 Amigos" poster in the yearbook, so our freshly cropped heads would go down in posterity. The best part of the year was my Easter Break trip out to San Diego to see Tom and his family! I had a blast in the sunshine. I still couldn’t believe Tom had longer hair than me. He was looking good and was very popular with the girls out there. While I was there, the Albertsons got some big news on two fronts. They were being transferred back to our town for Captain (now Admiral) Albertson’s next assignment (which was going to be his last before retirement). The other bog news as that Tom had been accepted into the same university as me!
The Albertsons were arriving back in our town a week after our graduation. The day after graduation Dave, Barry and I met at Mike’s. Each of us were actually looking forward to our haircuts. I got my crewcut, Barry was back in his Ivy, and Dave couldn’t wait to be flat again. Within 90 minutes, the three amigos were all cropped down into our summer haircuts and waiting for Tom to arrive to give him the hardest time ever about his long locks. We had been so successful with the lawn business, that we had told Tom he could join us this summer. The Albertsons had kept their house when they moved to San Diego because they had decided that our town was where they wanted to settle. They had rented it out to another Navy family while they were gone. Tom’s mom had arranged for painters and carpet cleaners to be in before they returned, so by the time I got over there, once again, she had worked her magic and the house looked like they never left. Mrs. A. welcomed me in and sent me downstairs, just like that first time and once again, I found the rec. room empty. But this time, I heard the sound of a blow dryer coming from the bathroom. "Oh, this is too good," I thought, feeling my closely cropped head. When the dryer stopped, I called in "do you need some help removing your curlers and combing out you ‘do?" Silence.
The bathroom door opens and out steps Tom with that same high and tight crewcut he had when he first arrived three years ago. "Gotcha," he said, then "I see your standards are slipping Harrison, we need to get your butt back down to Mike’s and get those sides and back cleaned up."
"Yes sir, Mr. Albertson sir, it won’t happen again, sir, I said before breaking into the giggles that only Tom could reduce me to. Then, when I collected myself, "what the f*ck happened to your hair?"
"Couldn’t let dad down at the change of command ceremonies on either end."
"I thought you said the brass were cool out there?"
"Oh, they were, I wouldn’t have been able to keep my shaggy mop otherwise. But change of command is a big deal. Dad would have been fine with me just getting it trimmed up, but I figured, in for a penny and I didn’t want anybody looking down at my dad because of my haircut or lack of. Plus, I knew I’d have to whip you clowns into shape when I got here. I wish you could have been there for the transformation, buddy. I had some fun with it. Mom and dad took my sisters up to Anaheim to ‘Disneyland’ so I was home alone for a couple days. So, the first day, I went to one of those chain places and had a cute young girl give me a trim, taking my hair up to the bottom of my ears and changing my part to the side. Next day, I got up and went to one of those Sports Cutz places and asked for a blocked cut, just off the ears. That girl gave me exactly what I asked for and it looked awful. Now I was ready to go over to the base and get this" Tom said pointing to his head. "Those base barbers are great. They know how to do all kind of cuts, but I explained what I wanted and why I wanted it and that barber went to work with gusto. Come on, let’s go."
"Mike’s Barber Shop. I called to tell him I’d be bringing you in for some white walls this afternoon." The next day, we had Dave and Barry in Mike’s chair getting the same treatment I got. And so began a great summer for the four amigos before we headed off to college.