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Base Line Poker Face by M DeMarlo


Base Line Poker Face By M DeMarlo
I was working at a plastic’s company that made vertical window blinds. My boss was a man that was a former Captain in the Marines. He was a fair man that respected honor and integrity with the few employees’ he had. Yes, he demanded hard work and he paid well for not just hard work but quality. I had two duties at this job. Mainly I went out to people’s homes took measurements, and when the vertical blinds were finished I did the installation, usually my boss or his partner in the business would be supervising. I should say I accompanied them, I was their helper. In the warehouse I did most of the cutting and inserts to the many different styles of vertical window shades. One of the most popular styles was the mirrored black, dark blue, and silver mirrored. When closed a large picture window would transform into a mirror, with slats. That’s the way people decorated their homes in 1972. Most people had thick plush shag carpeting wall to wall. The last house we did an installation the shag rug was an inch or two, already installed. The plush thick shag carpeting was a deep orange; they had painted the walls a light sky blue with a dropped white ceiling. The vertical blinds we were installing were the mirrored deep blue. These people were having new furniture delivered at the same time. It was black Mediterranean leather sofa & love seat with a matching reclining rocking chair. The owners were taking the plastic wrapping off of the furniture as we were installing the vertical blinds. A large picture window it took us several hours o complete. Tonight is Friday, game night. My boss has a game of cards once a month at his place or in the warehouse.

Once a month Mr. Crawley would have a poker night and four or five guys, mostly buddies from when he was in the military would attend. I had gotten pretty good at playing poker and won the pot several times. This is usually close to a thousand dollars. My boss says I have a good non expression poker face. Sometimes these card games would last all night long and into the morning hours. Always the players would be drinking plenty of beer and alcohol, this plaid a big part in placing bets & wagers in the games, especially when the bets would up a notch or two.
I am always the youngest one at the card games, and having long hair would always receive comments of dislike over it. As each month arrived and at game night I would hear ‘still no haircut, thought for sure you would have been to a barber by now" Especially from Mr. Crawleys one friend who was a MP when he was in the military, he is in his late 40’s now or early 50’s but is always asking why Crawley allows his employee to have hair so long. Even points out that its long enough that the kid ties it in a pony tail? And Mr. Crawley has actually agreed with his buddy MacKaye, Jim MacKaye. My bosses answer has been "to the barbershop before work on Monday, clean-cut haircut", MacKaye would say "boy if it were up to me you would have a short haircut, consider yourself lucky"

One night playing cards I lost and ran out of money. MacKaye was winning and said he would spot me 200.00 to get back in the game. If I win and pay him back tonight, great. If not I have to get a haircut just as soon as the barbershop he goes to opens, which is right down the street. I had a few too many drinks, smiled and took the money. Sure, and we shook on it. He also wrote out an IOU saying "if I am unable to pay back 200.00 by 8:00 AM, the time the barber shop opens I have to go immediately and get my hair cut. No partial payments. Adding, following up with as many haircuts as 200.00 will buy. This is 40 haircuts because his barber charges 3.50 a haircut, with a 1.50 tip that’s five dollars a haircut. I sighed it, and started to lose. It was 7:30 AM and I had not paid him back, I was getting nervous. Then my luck changed I had a good hand and told him "double or nothing" I’ll get a haircut that passes your inspection I told him. "Not just passes, but continued to pass his inspection for 80 haircuts, a haircut every ten days and no later, Not 40, its double or nothing. Or, I win and pay him back 400.00, no haircut. He had four jacks, I had four queens. I won by just a hair (no pun intended). Boy oh boy was he pissed off, but we laughed about it. He did say, there will be a next time.

The next two card games never got that high roller (to me it was high roller) The next Friday an extra player who seemed to know everyone, except me. I wasn’t doing very well, and MacKaye was on a winning streak. He offers the haircut bet and I accept. Again he writes out an IOU a haircut. I loose, and my boss breaks the news that we have a barber right here at the card table. Sure enough one of the guys who plays only on occasion is a barber, and the guy is his neighbor. The owner of the barbershop MacKaye goes to have his hair cut. I plead with MacKaye to go double or nothing. He agrees, but if I lose this next hand my hair gets cut tonight. I lost, and Mr. Plant the barber went home to get his equipment. The card game was over. MacKaye told me he now owns my hair and the way its cut. That’s forty 40 haircuts. The loan was only 100 dollars but double or nothing makes it 200.00. He tells me 200.00 worth of haircuts buys him 40 cuts, to be cut every ten days. He says I will have a short haircut that passes a military inspection. Mr. Plant returned with his barbering equipment. One last plead with MacKaye to give me till next week to pay him. No way, this is more than worth it to him. The barber Mr. Plant added that he will give the haircuts free of no charge, and told me to have a seat. "How short are we going "he asks MacKaye. ""Lets begin with a regular clean-cut haircut, and part it on the side. Get all that long hair out of the way and we will start going shorter. As Mr. Plant was snipping my near shoulder length hair and exposing my left ear, MacKaye says "Begin with an Ivy, which will be base line. Then start going shorter from there. Hair was all over me and the floor, Mr. Plant the barber dusted me off. It’s like MacKaye knew what I was going to say because he looked right at me and said. "That’s right, a base line haircut, where we start, and never to get longer than the base line. When you reach base line that means your way overdue for a fresh cut". My boss Mr. Crawley added his two cents into this base line haircut saying. "Setting a short baseline haircut like that sounds to me MacKaye is going to have you always, at all times looking like you just walked out of a barbershop with a fresh haircut" "That’s exactly how it’s going to be, so just relax. Ive had wanted this guy here to cut that long hair for since he started working for you. Now it’s on my terms" MacKaye proudly barked, and continued barking at how he hates that so many young men have long hair. Mr. Plant had scissor cut my hair exposing both my ears, with multiple crunch, crunch, snip it was off my collar as well.

Click and the whirling sound of his Oster 10 clippers fired up. Using a 1 ½ blade he removed all my hair on the sides and from the nape up over the crown. The hair on top was all combed foreword and covered my eyes reaching to my bottom lip. The whirling sound changed as he changed to a closer blade and started at my left sideburn removing it to the skin halfway up to my temple. The same starting at my nape he clipped it to the skin halfway up the back of my head, and repeating to the right side. Bending my ear down I could feel the vibration of the clipper going around my ear and removing the right sideburn. The clippers were shut off and he sprayed the hair on top making it good and wet/damp. Pulling from the front straight up he whacked off five inches of hair making that crunching sound when allot of hair is being cut with shears at one time. He pulled it up again and another crunch, crunch, crunch. He combed my hair on top again all foreword and the cut hair rained down in front of my eyes making my nose itch. That first passing of comb and scissor and when combed forward it was at my eyebrows. Again he pulled it straight up and snippety snip, again with a crunch. Wet clumps of hair about an inch in length fell clumped together onto my nose then dropping down in my lap. He continued cutting the top down this way over and over the clippings from the scissors went from five inches then another inch would fall down on my face. He continued as my hair began to get real short on top. He picked up those Oster 10 and put a blade that cut the hair down to ¼ " and clipped from the middle of the top of my head straight back to my crown. Clipping in all directions at the crown making it ¼ inch. All that as left was a thatch in the front about two inches long. He scissor cut that even shorter and brushed it straight up tapering it to the ¼ inch crown. Dam was he cutting my hair short, and MacKaye was loving it. When the barber was finally finished I had a tight crew cut with a bumper which was cut flat in the front. He used a straight razor and edged around my ears with an arch and cut the nape up even with the bottom of my ears. There were no sideburns left to speak of. He left just a faint shadow of a closely clipped sideburn that was edged neatly. My scalp was visible on the sides and back and crown to the middle of the top of my head, the long hair was no more. MacKaye offered me a ride home wanting to make sure we were on good terms. Of course I said, its only hair. "Well" and he said "you got 39 more haircuts to go" and all 39 cuts will happen, there is no getting out of this. He rubbed the back of my buzzed head and said"you look 100% better and he was going to do his best to see that this is for always. I didn’t realize how brutally short it was until I got home and got a good up close look in the mirror. WOW, that is short. By M DeMarlo




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