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Clarkson's new sponsor and mascot by Manny

The idea that my bank would "sponsor" the boys’ soccer team hit a snag from the moment the players first burst onto the field. Leading the parade of shaggy lads was the team captain whose shoulder length mane of blond locks was an instant turn off. Not just the length, but the way he constantly flicked his head about to send the tresses tumbling this way and that. As the players trotted out, my intense dislike mounted. Almost all of them were moptops, but the captain was the worst!

"Would do you think?" my host asked eagerly. "Fine team, great players! And they’ll look even better with the new uniforms we’ll be able to afford if your bank sponsors them team."

"They’ll look better if I pay for them all to get decent haircuts at the local barber shop!" I exclaimed. "Especially that blond lad! Who is in charge of him? It’s like the father has abdicated his role completely. He’s like Alice prancing around Wonderland with his pretty tresses bouncing about!"

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my host blush. He grew quite silent and fidgety.

Once the game started, the situation grew worse for the sales pitch my host, Mr. Peterson, was desperate to make. Within three minutes, the opposing side scored a goal! The moptops seemed to be glued to the pitch and were clearly rattled by the early setback.

"I cannot see my bank sponsoring this team. We want to be associated with excellence -- not sloppy, second rate players who are struggling to keep their eyes on the ball with all that hair in their face! I think I’ve seen enough," I commented after ten minutes of play.

I rose to leave the bleachers, but Mr. Peterson followed me out to the parking lot. "Look, it’s just a bad day for the team. I know they got off to a bad start, but…hey, in soccer things can change very quickly."

"Just like in a barber shop " things can change very quickly!" I quipped.

Just then, a huge cheer went up from the home team! We turned to look back and saw the moptops celebrating a goal. The captain was being hugged and congratulated by his teammates.

"My son scored!" Mr. Peterson exclaimed.

"Your son is the captain?" I asked with a clear tone of disapproval in my voice.

"Yes," Mr. Peterson admitted, quite embarrassed. He shuffled awkwardly, then finally looked me in the eye and implored, "Please, sponsor the team. Think of the boys! I promise you I’ll take Jerry to the barber shop. Tomorrow, if that will make you happy! I don’t like his long hair any more than you do."

A mean smile crept across my face. "Very well. But just to be clear, I want it cut short! No girly trim for him. Understood?" I stated firmly.

"Understood!" Mr. Peterson said grasping my hand to shake in a display of gratitude.

I stared at Mr. Peterson’s longish modern cut with hair creeping over his ears and collar. "Come to think of it, crewcuts for both of you," I ordered. "When I see the mange gone, the bank will become your team’s official sponsor. Two sets of nice, new jerseys and the gym locker room refurbished, first class. Just what you proposed."

"Oh, that’s swell…." Mr. Peterson took to shuffling on his feet nervously again. "But, I had no idea of crewcuts, or that I would somehow…"

I whirled away and began striding towards my car. He hustled to catch up with me. "Please!" he implored.

"What were you thinking then?" I asked tartly.

"Off his collar in back? A few inches off all around?" Mr. Peterson suggested.

"How about I drive you over to the barber shop right now? Once the boy sees how much better you look with a classic crewcut, he’ll be begging for one himself," I stated, enjoying my sense of power over Mr. Peterson.

"If I get a crewcut, let’s say Jerry only needs to get tidied up? Off the collar in back and a few inches off all over?" he asked.

"Fine. But no boy on the team with those long bangs that block the vision. In fact, I want to snip their bangs short myself. Every one of them, including Jerry, snipped to mid-forehead. Am I clear?" I asked firmly.

"You want to cut their bangs yourself?" Mr. Peterson asked.

I nodded, accentuating my intent by transforming my fingers into a set of barber shears. I brandished them in the air. Snip, snip.

"I’ll talk with the other parents. We have a fundraiser tonight that most will attend. I’ll explain it’s a condition of the bank sponsorship…." Mr. Peterson agreed reluctantly.

"Okay, deal. And now, hop in my car here and I’ll drive you over to Pete’s barber shop!" I exclaimed gleefully. "Think how sharp you’ll look with a classic crewcut at the fundraiser."

"But the rest of the game?" Mr. Peterson stammered. "Shouldn’t we watch the boys?"

"Pete’s Barber Shop closes at 2 pm on Saturday. That gives us just twenty minutes before Pete closes the door. We can have you back here before the game ends if he hurry. Now jump in! Stop dawdling."

Like an obedient child, Mr. Peterson got into the car. He sat quietly and submissively as I ran him over to Pete’s. It felt wonderful to march him into the shop.

"I’ve got a special project for you, Pete. Mr. Peterson here wants to come clean. Go ahead, sit in the chair there. We want to get you back to the game so that you can show off your new short crewcut," I instructed.

"I see, he’ll be getting a real man’s cut," the barber smirked. "Nice and short instead of this sassy, pretty boy he’s cultivated."

Mr. Peterson endured the humiliation bravely. There was no telling how he felt inwardly. I fantasized that he quite enjoyed his circumstances…

Barber Pete cast the cape and fastened it tightly. Now there was no turning back for Mr. Peterson. He grasped a shank of the shag and asked, "Crewcut you said? Leave a bit of length or give him his money’s worth?"

"His money’s worth!" I announced. "Zero him up the back and sides….a bit of a patch on top and the only length you can grab between your fingers right here." I took his forelock and tugged at it to make my point.

As I held him captive by the forelock, I spotted the barber shears on the counter.

"Here, let me establish the length for you," I said, reaching for them.

I brought the shears right up to the base of the prime lock. Mr. Peterson’s eyes were wide as saucers. He squirmed beneath the cape. The fear on his face goaded me into administering the most punishingly short chop imaginable.

With determination I clamped the shears closed and pulled off the forelock leaving nothing but a clump of truncated bristled.

Barber Pete whistled, "You didn’t leave me anything to work with there. Even a crewcut requires some length in front." The barber reached for the clippers. "His only option now is a baldy cut!"

"A baldy…" Mr. Peterson stammered. "You don’t mean…."

The barber snapped on the machine. "Yes, I do! I think we can take you down to a #2 " or to the wood, if you prefer!"

I looked at the sleek, powerful machine in the barber’s hand with its ferocious, menacing metal teeth conjuring up dread in poor Mr. Peterson.

"Give him a butch!" I instructed. "The #2 will be a good length for him. It would be a good length for his son, too. And the rest of the shaggy players."

I watched the way the clippers effortlessly separated Mr. Peterson from his moptop. Mounds of his glimmering hair tumbled down to his shoulders and then slid down the cape in a dramatic display straight from the opening scene of Tribes.

Mr. Peterson stifled a grin, "Oh, I’m going to look so different." There was a strange tinge of eager anticipation interspersed in the dread.

"Speaking of different," I said, "I’m quite uncomfortable with the team mascot, the Red Braves. Don’t want any protests at the bank on account of that. Watching Barber Pete with that power machine there gave me an idea " the Clippers! The Clarkson Clippers sounds much better than the Clarkson Red Braves! And we’ll establish a new tradition. The night the season opens we’ll have a huge rally, complete with some big barber chairs. The boys will all get clipped before the big game " good fun and solidarity. And no long hair in their eyes to interfere."

"Then the fathers will take their turn in the chair!" Mr. Peterson exclaimed, admiring his new clipped look.

"And Pete’s Barber Shop will sponsor the events " supply the chairs and clippers!" the barber added.

"Oh, I’m so excited about all these changes," babbled Mr. Peterson. "All I wanted was a few new jerseys…"

"….but you’ve gotten so much more!" I stroking his tidy pelt, admiring Mr. Peterson’s boyish good looks.

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