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Brock plans season seven by Manny

"Cut!" the producer shouted.

Brock had heard Mr. Zellini bellow that single word many times, but usually on-site where the tourism-themed show was being recorded. But today he was sitting behind his desk, and the instruction was not in reference to the cameras but to the show’s star, Rich Stevenson, and his floppy bond hair.

"Cut! Cut short! End of discussion! I am so tired of seeing him prancing about with his pretty locks flouncing around. How many times did we need to re-film that segment at the Roman forum because his hair kept blowing in his face? Everything will have to be done over, the cameramen just informed me. Start filming over from the beginning tomorrow. So, I say, have it chopped short before we start a new season. He'll weep, no doubt, but as long as I'm paying his salary, my decision rules the day. Be that aggressive barber, Brock, who will give Rich’s mop an aggressive shearing. I'm determined that our self-absorbed star will make his debut with a tidy crop. And, in case he balks, remind him it’s within my contract rights," Mr. Zellini huffed with finality in his voice.

Brock knew better than to argue or try to dissuade his boss. Once Mr. Zellini's mind was made up the only resolution would be compliance.

"Not to worry, sir. I’ll take care of matters myself! I give a wicked bald fade!" Brock replied.

Mr. Zellini smiled in approval.

"Rich!" the determined Brock bellowed over the PA system. "Report to the hair and make-up trailer at once!" His voice crackled across the set.

Rich heard the summons and hustled toward the trailer. He could tell from the tone that the matter was urgent. As he crossed the open field toward Brock's trailer, a stiff breeze blew through his thick blond locks. Rich smoothed his disheveled mane into place as he entered the makeshift salon. Running his fingers through his richly highlighted locks was almost second nature to him.

As his eyes adjusted to the dim light he saw Brock standing there with cape, clippers and barber shears ready for action. Brock pointed to the chair. "Sit there and don't argue." He snapped the shears open and shut a few times just in case Rich had missed the point of the summons.

Rich stammered, "But you trimmed my hair on Monday, just before we started filming."

"Mr. Zellini told me it wasn’t short enough. I’m going to take the clippers to you today! You’ll be sporting a more streamlined look this season," Brock said, faintly concealing his excitement.

"Brock, you're not going to...." Rich protectively smoothed his pretty locks into place.

"Yes, I am!" Brock announced. "Mr. Zellini's order. He has had it with all the delays and retakes that precious mop of yours has caused. All of yesterday's work was worthless because of the wind and your mop. We're going to start afresh this season. A new Rich Stevenson with a very short and tidy haircut."

Rich was aghast at Brock's announcement. He protested, "Mop?! I get a lot of fan mail gushing over my hair. Why just today I had one fan begging to know if these highlights were natural or the result of a high-end beauty salon. Only my hairdresser knows for sure!"

"Well, there are going to be quite a number of very disappointed viewers when this new season debuts. Rich Stevenson, tour guide extraordinaire, back on the travel trail without his signature flowing locks." Brock cracked a mean grin. He looked forward to taking the self-absorbed TV personality down a few notches.

"Tell me you’re playing some sort of mean trick," stammered Rich, still not accepting the unwelcome news.

"The longer it takes you to sit your shapely ass on the seat here, the shorter I intend to cut it. Ah, there’s my set of fast feed electric hair clippers. You’ve never felt them climbing tightly up the back of your head, have you?" Brock asked as he picked up the cape from the mirrored vanity. "In case you’re wondering, it is in the contract. Mr. Zellini says you know that. Final decisions about grooming, including but not limited to hair, eyewear, piercings and tattoos, will be made by the producer."

Rich realized the haircut makeover was for real and forced himself to take a seat. He sat passively while Brock fastened the cape in place.

"Just trim it a bit," Rich pleaded as his thick forelock fell over his left eye.

Brock seized the forelock with one hand and immobilized his prey. "Trim, eh?" he scoffed. "We want your adoring fans to see your nice blue eyes!" Then he took the sharp shears and brought them right to the base of the forelock, threatening to take the mass of hair off with a single chop.

Brock felt a jolt of excitement as he threatened to reduce the pampered bangs to a hideously short length. "Mr. Zellini suggested a brush cut, but I'm toying around with an even shorter look for you -- a bald fade! Or, I could also go with a simple butch. How about a #2 all over, Rich?" Brock fondled the plush mane of glossy hair. "Buzz this down tight, real tight, all over!"

Rich squirmed in the chair. The truth of the matter was that he had long fantasized about an abrupt end to his pampered, pretty boy hair. The thought of clippers being driven across the top of his head made him almost swoon. "You mean, a baldy cut?" Rich asked, stalling for time.

"That's right! A sweet, innocent, schoolboy baldy buzzcut...." Brock murmured. "All this glossy hair, to the floor. Shall we?"

"I have a better idea," Rich interjected. "Let’s work the short haircut into this season’s travel show. The first episode of the new season will begin inside a traditional Roman barbershop. Classic vintage look and feel."

Brock picked up quickly on the idea. "The opening shot will be all (or almost all of this beautiful hair) on the floor!" The producer tussled the celebrity’s glossy locks. "The camera will pan up….cape laden with hair….your gleaming hair artistically arranged over the stark white cloth…..and then viewers will slowly be introduced to the new look as the camera continues to pan up."

"Hi, I’m Rich Stevenson, with a new fresh haircut for season 7 of my travel show. We’re in Rome, so I thought a throwback to the emperors that made this city famous was appropriate. I hope you like my new haircut. It’s call a Caesar cut. Throughout this season, I’ll be visiting barber shops at each of our destinations."

Brock beamed with delight at Rich’s plan. Together they had come up with a great idea for the new season. "That’s perfect. Let’s go run it by Mr. Zellini."

As the two hustled to Mr. Zellini’s office, Brock watched Rich’s mane shimmer in the sunlight. It flounced about wonderfully -- plush and long and full of health and vitality.

As the show’s hair and make-up man, Brock had spent countless hours carefully studying Rich’s amazing locks as he trimmed, brushed and fashioned them into place. The mane was an asset the show's star was quite proud and possessive of. Brock had never, ever imagined that Rich would have them cut short willingly.

To everyone’s satisfaction, Mr. Zellini enthusiastically embraced the idea. "Very creative. I like it! Ever since the young George Clooney popularized the Caesar look, I’ve been a big fan of that haircut. You will look very handsome with short, tussled bangs, Rich."

As they left Mr. Zellini’s officer trailer, Rich paused and ran his fingers through his hair. "To be honest, I’m hyped about ditching this!" He grasped his forelock and yanked it up. "Can’t wait for the big chop! Imagine, bangs snipped off right at the top of my forehead. I’ll feel naked." Then Rich took Brock by the arm. "I bet you’re a little sore that the task will be performed by a Roman barber instead of you. Someone else playing with my hair…. Let's find a handsome Italian barber, impeccably dressed in white -- looking like a swarthy angel."

"What?! I never, uh, I’m not, what…." Brock stammered.

"You’ve always been jealous of my hair, haven’t you?" Rich said, further needling Brock, as he stared at the very meager hair he sported. "I mean, look at your pathetic MPB. Not even 30 years old and looking like a grandpa with that shiny dome. Why do you cling on to that pathetic fringe around your head, anyway? I say we both make a change, Brock. My locks shorn into a short Caesar cut and you sporting a slick egg-head look!"

Brock trembled at the thought. CHROMEDOME! Could he do it? The wrap-around fringe had always been a bit of a meager security blanket. A remnant of his auburn hair to feel and play with -- that, and the large plush mustache he cultivated.

Rich stuck out his hand for a shake, like he was proposing a deal.

Instinctively, Brock reached for it and shook it, hesitatingly at first, but then vigorously.

"Barber in the chair!" Rich exclaimed. "I love it. And I’m going to do the honors. Back to your trailer, Brock. Can’t wait to fasten the cape around your neck for a change and snap on the balding clippers."

Brock’s legs felt like jelly as the duo walked back to the hair and make-up trailer.

"Okay, Brocky-boy! Chair time! Fringe is coming off," Rich said gleefully.

Rich almost pushed him into the chair and was quick with the cape. The clippers were already plugged in and ready to go. But first Rich toyed with the smooth head on top, caressing the exposed scalp with his fingertips. "When did this start happening?"

Brock’s face flushed with embarrassment. It was a source of embarrassment for him, like he was somehow responsible for going bald prematurely.

"By the time I graduated from college, I already had a very noticeable receding hairline. I was able to disguise it a bit longer. But really, before I turned 26 nothing was left on top," Brock mumbled.

"And now I’m going to take away the remnants," Rich said sweetly.

The machine came to life. The task was quite simple and fast. Buzz, buzz, buzz. Small tufts of Brock’s hair fell to the cape. They watched his transformation to "bone bald" in silence.

When the buzzing stopped, Rich fondled the clipped nape. Suddenly, without warning, Rich gave the top of Brock’s head a quick peck. "You really are quite handsome," he whispered in the caped man’s ear. "Now that I’m not distracted by that old man wrap-around fringe I see you totally different."

Brock blushed and smiled back at his barber. "Thanks for the haircut, and for the compliment! I never thought of myself as handsome with that aggressive male pattern baldness defining me."

Then Rich eyed the mustache. "Let's take that off too! I imagine it's a form of compensation, a security blanket."

"No," stammered Brock.

But Rich paid now attention. "Sit still, Baldy!" Buzzzzzzz. First the left side and then the right.

"Well, it’s gone now!" Rich said, admiring his handiwork.

"Let’s go into town and find the perfect barber shop for my haircut." He gazed at himself in the mirror. "I can’t believe most of this is going to be swept up and discarded tomorrow!" He ran his fingers through his hair with both hands and pulled the mass away, imagining what he would be like with a very streamlined look.

"Before we go, would you do me a favor?" Brock asked quietly. Rich nodded. "How about you lather me up and shave my head smooth."

"Love to!" replied Rich.

There was a moment of silence. Then Brock added, "In the shower…us, together."

Rich removed the cape to reveal Brock’s huge woody!

"Look, I have one too!" Rich laughed as he stepped out from behind the chair to show off his own bulge.

"You shave me clean, and I can lather up your gorgeous hair one last time before the big chop!" Brock said as he got up from the stool and took Rich by the arm.

Brock felt very manly and confident as he escorted his own private TV celebrity to the shower.

"I have an idea for the season finale," Brock said mischievously. "The crime museum! You’ll be strapped to ‘old sparky’. The camera will pan up from the last tufts of your beautiful hair on the floor. The straps of the electric chair will be constricting your legs and arms…..and finally to your head. Bald as a bond! The executioner is preparing to affix the single electrode to it the naked scalp."

Rich felt a jolt of excitement pulsate through his whole body. "I can’t wait!"

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