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My Short Career As A Long Hair Part II by Deke Cutter
My reverie on the day I lost my long hair was interrupted when my wife Laura arrived home from work. "Jim, honey where are you, come help me with the groceries."
"Sorry my love, Jimmy and I were looking at old pictures of me from my brief high school hippy period. I got lost in the past after he and Pete left. You know, I am going to call Rocky tonight. We haven’t spoken in months."
"That is a great idea. I was really hoping we might be able to get to see them this winter, but since I agreed to put off my retirement until June, I just don’t think it will happen until next year."
"Sweetheart, even though, I have Of Counsel status at my firm now, I’m still too busy with legal work. I am afraid the Public Health Service will not let you go completely in June of 2019. Who knows what’s around the corner?" I said this as we discussed our day and our plans to travel and relax more in the coming years. After dinner ended, I got on the phone with my childhood friend Rocky who had expanded his father’s real estate business at the right time and done quite well developing and selling new communities all over Florida where he and his wife had settled with their now grown kids. When Rocky appeared on the screen of my computer, I was shocked. "Rocky, what did you do your hair?" Like me, Rocky had been blessed to keep most of his thick curls but he appeared to have been scalped down to a real old fashioned buzz cut."
Rocky started to laugh, that laugh that invariably got me laughing too. "How about this you hippy! Matthew (Rocky’s youngest son) signed up to get shaved for Saint Baldrick’s this year to support one of his colleague’s daughters who has childhood leukemia. I don’t know if you remember my little cousin Anna (I did). She died from it back in 1965 when there was almost nothing to be done. So, his brothers and I all signed up. I’ll send you the address of the Youtube video. Since we missed the draft and that stinking war in ‘Nam, I never got an induction cut, but I’ll tell you what, those barbers at the pub where we got shaved were pretty quick and efficient. They got the four of us up there together and raced to see who could get shaved the quickest! This is even shorter than our punishment cuts back in high school."
"How funny that you should mention that ‘Rock.’ I showed my grandson a picture of myself from before my haircut when I thought I looked like Peter Tork from the Monkeys." After his dad picked him up, I sat there thinking about that day when we got caught."
"Whoa buddy, that was a ‘bad day at black rock’. You know my dad never ever hit me, but that day, he took off his belt and gave me five whacks on my bare butt. I thought that was bad, but the haircut was worse. We must have just missed you at Mike’s that day. My beautiful ‘fro. Dad as so angry at me. He and mom were both working so hard and feeling guilty about her not being home. He practically threw me into the car and told me I was to ‘take the haircut I was getting like a man.’ I was sure I knew what he meant, and it wasn’t going to be good for me. I still remember Mike’s expression when we arrived. I realized the next day at school when I saw you why he reacted the way he did."
My dad said to Mike: "this young man is getting rid of these curls. He’s getting a nice tight razor cut and get rid of that fuzz on his cheeks!"
"I was already in the chair and Mike didn’t hesitate to cape me up and start hacking away at my curls with his clippers. He’d pull a hank of hair away from my head and shear off all but a couple inches. It was a painful experience. Once he had it down to a manageable length, he wet it down, parted it on the left side and combed it into a side part. Then he went to work on tapering up the sides and back and obliterating my mutton chops. I was so proud of them. Then came the worst part. He got out that razor thing and straight razor over comb, he started going over everything, taming all the curls and waves, taking all the bulk away. You remember what it looked like, my hair, little ridges of waves on top, pretty flat on the sides of my head. And he sprayed it with that men’s hairspray that dad made me use after that."
"I’ll tell you one thing, Rocky, it made that first day of school way less terrible for me after I saw you. But, remember how mad we were when we saw Danny and his ‘freak flag was still flying.’ And he was acting really strange too, he hardly spoke to us at school the rest of the week. But, Mr. Mac was bird-dogging me and I didn’t have much time to hang around those first couple days."
"And we were both grounded tight. Dad had grandma Helen (God rest her soul) pick me up and take me to her house to do my homework right after school. I got permission to go over to Danny’s house Saturday morning and was going to have it out with him about why he didn’t get any heat. That was the day we started Easter Break (can you believe they still called it that?). Do you remember it was an early Easter that year and my head was so cold with almost no hair, but I went over and said to myself, just let him flick those long bangs out of his eyes once and I’ll punch him. I got over there and the house was locked up."
"That’s right. You called me and dad granted me phone privileges to talk to you. You wanted to come over and our dads made us promise that if you came over we had to go to all the Holy Week services from Wednesday through Good Friday and morning mass on Monday and Tuesday, with your grandma who never missed. For us, that was almost as much torture as the haircuts. I remember my dad saying: ‘Keeping the Triduum will be good discipline for you boys.’ By the time we got to Good Friday and the reading of ‘The Passion,’ I was wiped out. But your grandma loved ‘being escorted by two clean cut young men.’ She would have been pretty surprised if she would have known your sister Angie had slipped us those Alice B. Toklas brownies when she picked us up at Grandma Helen’ house."
"Luckily, we were eating dinner early that night because I vacuumed the food off the table. Angie and I couldn’t look at each other through the whole meal. Dad never knew his ‘princess’ was more of a rebel than I ever was."
"Remember that Sunday, the week after Easter when we finally heard from Danny? I should say when my dad heard from Danny’s dad. ‘Jimmy, get in the car. You’ll see where we are going.’"
"And then your dad tooted the horn and my dad had me out and we were in the back seat."
"Danny’s house was the last place I thought they’d take us. Danny’s dad sent us to the ‘rec. room’ with your dad saying, ‘but don’t get comfortable, you won’t be staying.’
"I remember the look on your face when we walked into the ‘rec room’ to see Danny sitting there looking like a Marine!"
"That was before we knew where he’d been, Rocky. I still can’t believe his dad was able to find that one-week program halfway across the country ‘to straighten out troubled young men,’ run by retired Marines. Remember Danny said the haircuts were like that TV movie "Tribes" with Jan Michael Vincent. ‘I didn’t even get comfortable in the chair, guys, that barber pulled my head back and shaved me bald in 30 seconds.’ And I remember he said he felt so bad that first day after we got caught, when he saw us in school with our short haircuts and his dad, he thought, was leaving him off lightly. He had no idea their "Easter vacation" was going to be ‘boot camp’ for him. He said he wouldn’t have avoided us if he knew he’d be ending up with and induction cut one Saturday and the sides and back reshaved before he left the next Saturday."
"I’m not sure ‘scared straight’ was a term back then, but when our dads called the three of us into the living room at Danny’s and told us if we messed up again, we’d all be sent to the full summer ‘boot camp,’ I think it got through to us. That and the fact that dad kept me in the razor cut and yours made you get another crew cut just when your hair was starting to look good. And poor Danny stayed with that goofy looking high and tight through the summer. None of us really grew our hair until college and yours never got as long as it was before."
"Yeah, I guess dad got through to me."
And Laura never would have allowed it. She’s the best thing that ever happened to you. So, when are you two finally coming down to see us. Why don’t we make it next March and get Danny and Julia too. Maybe all three of us can participate in Saint Baldrick’s."
And the next year Covid-19 hit. So, our plans changed greatly, but that is another story.