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Tyler: Cowboy to Soldier Boy by CountryBoy

Tyler was a cowboy to the core. He loved working on his mom and dads ranch and even tried his hand in rodeo in his younger and wilder years. He loved hanging out with his buddies and even having a couple of beers on occasion. He even chewed and all of his jeans had a Copenhagen ring in them to prove it.

Tyler loved to wake up in the mornings before the sun rose, drink a cup of coffee, and head outside to get done what needed to get done. Usually, this meant working with the cattle on horseback and any other tasks necessary on a 500 cow ranch. To do this kind of work, Tyler found it best to wear Ariat square steel toed boots, worn jeans (and usually chaps), a button up denim shirt, a denim jacket, and a cowboy hat. This gear kept him protected from the elements and the nasty cattle he sometimes would find himself working with.

But, the thing that Tyler thought made him look tough, kept the sun off his neck, and attracted the ladies was his hair. Tyler had a thick pelt of chestnut brown hair that he kept cut into a damn good mullet. He thought that the business in the front and party in the back style was the best look a cowboy could get. By keeping the front short, he didn’t have to deal with the scraggly hair on his forehead and over his ears which was a huge bonus for him in the Texas heat in which he worked. But, the party in back gave him that look of a tough dude that was willing to take life by the horns and do what needed to be done no matter what people thought. It also showed that he was willing to have a little fun and let loose from time to time. His mullet in the back also had some functionality: it served to keep the sun off of his neck and kept him a bit cooler in the hot summer sun. He loved how his brown curly hair flared out when he pushed his cowboy hat onto his head. The look went well with his healthy beard and lean, strong body. And when the summer heat got too hot to bear, Tyler would run his head under some water to wet his long locks and that would keep him cool for a couple hours.

Yes, Tyler loved his lifestyle, buddies, friends, messing around, chewing, drinking occasionally, and his hair. But, there was one thing that Tyler loved more than any of these things: his country. He had a deep rooted appreciation and respect for the men and women that serve the U.S. and protect his ability to do the things he loved. It was because of this appreciation and respect that he decided to join the military himself. His parents and buddies obviously did not want him to leave home but respected and admired his willingness to serve others. He was a willing and very able-bodied man and he wanted to use those assets to serve others.

So, one day, Tyler drove his truck in to town to enlist with the Army. The recruiter that Tyler met with was excited that Tyler had chosen to enlist and was quick to get him signed up to join. His ship-out date was set for the following week and the two shook hands as the recruiter congratulated Tyler on his decision. With a proud heart, and a bit of nervousness, Tyler headed home knowing he would be shipping out to basic training in just 7 short days.

That weekend, Tyler called his group of buddies out to the ranch. He had spent the week finishing up as much ranch work as he could get done and training a new young kid that his parents had hired to do his work while he was gone. But, it was the weekend and it was time to party a bit before he headed out on Monday. And, there was one thing that Tyler was going to need the support of his friends (and a couple of shots) to part with: his hair. Tyler was okay with trading his cowboy boots in for combat boots, his jeans and denim shirt and jacket for an army issued camo uniform, and his cowboy hat in for what the Army dudes call a cover. But, Tyler knew that part of basic training is bringing the recruits all down to the same level so they can train them up to be soldiers. Tyler also knew that meant they would be shaving his head. He could not stand the thought of an army barber unceremoniously clipping his thick mullet down to an induction cut. Hence, the party with his buddies. The way he figured, it would be easier to have his buddies shave his head after a couple of beers and just get it done and over with.

As people began to show up, Tyler was overwhelmed by the support and appreciation he felt by everyone that had come to send him off. They were so excited for him to take this next step in life but were of course sad for him to leave. But, before things could get too sappy, Tyler pulled out the cases of beer he had bought for the occasion and the good times got rolling. This was a time for he and his buddies to have one last hoo-ra before he headed out.

At about midnight, Tyler new what had to be done. He pulled out the clippers and sat down on a saddle that had been set on a barrel to imitate a bucking bronc. (Who knows why. Drunk people do some crazy stuff.) He called his best friend over and handed the clippers and said, "let ‘er rip!" His buddy looked down at the clippers in shock and everyone sobered up real quick. Tyler was gritting his teeth and waiting for the clippers to flick on and tear through his thick curls.

He heard the clippers click on and heard them bog down like they had just ripped out a large chunk of hair. He was about to start crying because he knew he would look so stupid around his buddies with his hair gone and a pale scalp in its place and them still in their cowboy mullets. But, all of a sudden, he realized the clippers weren’t touching his head at all. He whipped around and saw his buddy; beer in one hand, his cowboy hat in the dust by his feet, and the clippers plowing a huge strip of his blonde mullet off. His friend yelled, "not before me! Do you really think I would let myself have a full head of hair while you walk around bald?"

Then, Tyler really did begin to cry because he knew he had friends that really cared about him and respected his decisions. With that, he eagerly changed places with his buddy and proceeded to shave his blonde mullet off down to the skin. Of course, this prompted a slew of bets among the rest of his buddies of who would go next. At first, nobody was willing to part with their luscious locks but eventually, one by one, they psyched each other into going next.

By the end of it all, Tyler was the only one with a full head of hair. It was his turn. With a bunch of yelling and jeering, he hopped back in the saddle and his friend asked, "ready?" He said, "hell ya’! Let ‘er rip!" The clippers plunged through the top of his head and he watched his first clump of shorn hair slide off his shoulders and onto the toe of his boot. He flicked it off and it joined his buddies hair that was already being stomped into the dust. Seeing this first chunk made him nervous all over again but he took a deep breath and another swig of beer and let out a holler. This was echoed over and over by his buddies. Then, the clippers tore at his locks again, this time lightening the load on his head considerably. He found himself liking the new hairdo already. It was definitely lighter. Then, his buddy finished up with the top of his head and started in the party in the back. Wow. Tyler had not realized how long his hair had been until he picked up one of the shaved pieces and looked at it. It was at least 5 inches long if you pulled the curl out of it! Tyler smiled, put in a dip, and closed his eyes and just enjoyed the feeling of being peeled down.

Before long, Tyler was sitting in the saddle completely bald. He reached up and felt his sandpaper scalp and wondered why he had waited until joining the Army to try this haircut! This was awesome! He no longer had his sun protection for his neck but he was so much cooler and needed absolutely no shampoo anymore. He looked around at his bald buddies and thanked them again for their support and for making this easier. That was one heck of a night.

The following Monday, his bald buddies were all there to see him off. There were tears when he said bye to his parents and wrestling scuffles when he tried to say goodbye to his buddies. The Army still had Tyler go in for a haircut at basic training. But, this time around, it was a breeze. Within minutes, the barber had shaved his stubble off and sent him on his way. As Tyler got out of the chair, he reached up and felt his head and remembered his buddies back home and all the love and support they had shown him.

Now, Tyler has been honorably discharged from the Army and is back to work at his parents ranch. He is back in his scuffed up boots, worn jeans, denim shirt and jacket, and cowboy hat. But, under that hat of his is a nice high and tight. This was the haircut Tyler had settled on once he had been in the Army for a while. This cut made him look tougher than his mullet ever had and was easier to keep up to boot. It also set him apart from the newbies coming into the Army with their pale bald heads. But don’t worry, every once and a while, his buddies will get together, have a couple of beers, and shave each other down bald. Sometimes, the razors make their way out and everyone walks away with a shiny smooth dome under their cowboy hats. But, these times together are a chance for the guys to be guys and pay some respect to the people that protect and serve our country.

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