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Rob's Neighbor Phil by Manny
Sequel to "Rob's New Role Model"
"I hardly recognized you, Rob!" his neighbor Phil exclaimed as they ran into each other near the mailbox.
Rob grinned and ran his hand over his closely clipped pelt. "No wonder! I've heard that more than once since I got this crewcut. Love the feel of it...."
Rob sensed Phil wanted a bit more information about his makeover as he continued to eye his haircut.
"Ever had a crewcut, Phil?" Rob asked.
"No, the opposite, in fact. When I was in college, I was a sort of hippie. Hair grew down to my waist. Kept it braided for convenience most of the time, but not always," he replied. "Cut it for my wedding, and it's been a standard business length since then."
"Like father, like son," Rob chuckled as he nodded towards Phil's college-age son shooting some hoops in the driveway. A thick braid of ginger hair swung around his back as he practiced his moves with the ball.
"Ah, yes, Patrick's plait!" Phil commented. "It's massive, like having a baseball bat swinging around. Now it all seems foolish, long hair like that. After I had mine chopped off, I never wanted to grow it out again. It was a big relief to see it all falling to the floor of the barbershop and being swept up afterwards."
"That's how I felt when the barber took the clippers to my businesscut!" Rob remarked. "I was totally energized as I watched him strip it off and reduce it to this bit of stubble. Best decision I ever made. No more haircare in the morning or after tennis. It's out of the shower and ready to go."
"Maybe you should tell Patrick that. I'd love to see him with a tidy haircut," Phil mentioned. "He'll never get a decent job when he graduates if he doesn't get the big chop!"
"I'll take you both to my new barber for crewcuts if you want. Just let me know when you're ready for a big change," Rob replied as he eyed Phil's nicely groomed business cut. He had very lustrous blondish-brown hair that was full of body. Rob imagined what his mane must have look like in college -- thick and with a bit of wavy, flowing down his back.
Later that afternoon, Rob's doorbell rang. When he looked out, he saw Patrick on his front stoop. Had he come to schedule the trip to Chuck's Barber Shop?! Rob answered the door, very curious about the visitor.
"My father said you wanted to speak with me, Mr. Aldridge," Patrick said.
I was taken aback! What to say? Obviously, Phil wanted me to push the big chop with his son.
"Oh, yes. Come on in," I replied. Rob scrambled for a line of conversation. "You'll be graduating from college soon, I hear."
""Hopefully, in the spring," Patrick said.
"And you've started the job search?" Rob asked.
"A bit. But, I'm more focused on my studies. Let's not put the cart before the horse. Plus, I don't want that sort of pressure my senior year. I mean it's my last chance to party and have fun. That's what college is really about," Patrick said.
Rob wasn't impressed. "Working people have fun too, Patrick. And speaking about work, we have some entry level positions at TechAssure. I suppose your father thought that you might be interested in them. You're pursuing engineering, right?"
"Yep, following in my father's footsteps, I suppose," Patrick said.
"He told me the long hair you're sporting now is also a like-father, like-son thing. True?" Rob inquired.
"Guess so. He had one of these when he was single," Patrick laughed, as he grasped the massive plait from behind and pulled it in front to display. It did look like a baseball bat! "He's been bothering me about it of late, though. Thinks I need to chop it off."
"He told me the same thing earlier today when he was admiring my new crewcut at the mailbox," Rob replied.
Rob ran his hand up the back of his stubbled head. "Can't get enough of this," he commented. "Anyway, he told me that he'd get a crewcut too if I could persuade you to shed that tail of yours."
"My father? Get a crewcut?!" Patrick laughed. "I can't imagine it! He's still quite fussy about his hair, takes a lot of pride in how thick and glossy it is for a man his age. You should see him preen in the morning as he brushes it one last time in the foyer before he leaves the house."
"So, I imagine it might be a treat for you to watch the barber take a clippers to his fussy businesscut and witness his pretty boy look fall to the cape?" Rob laughed.
"My father with a crewcut, what a hoot! " Patrick pondered the idea for a bit. Then he continued, "But, I'm not ready to cut this off....at least, not yet." Patrick fondled his ginger plait protectively.
"So much like your father -- enamored with your pretty hair. Okay, Patrick, that's what I wanted to say. Here's my company's website. You can list me as a reference if you apply for the jobs. My word would carry a lot of weight with the hiring managers."
"Thanks, Mr. Jensen. I'll think about it," Patrick said as he rose to leave.
"But, only if my barber deals with your tail first!" Rob said as he grasped the long plait and tugged at it playfully. "One glimpse of this by the hiring managers would doom your application no matter who you listed as a reference. AssureTech is a serious company."
About a hour later, Rob heard an insistent rapping on his front door. Phil was pacing about the stoop, agitated.
As soon as Rob opened the door, Phil blurted out, "Very funny! Telling Patrick that I'd agreed to get a crewcut if he would!"
"And will he?" Rob asked.
"He's acting like he would -- especially when he saw my reaction! He thinks I'm vain about my hair, and now I'm in a pickle. He's really acting like he's going to go through with it and have you take us both to the barber shop for crewcuts," Phil fretted.
"And that's what you want, isn't it?" Rob asked innocently.
"I want Patrick to get one, not me!" he stammered.
"Because you are a vain man in love with your glossy hair. Your son told me how you preen each morning in the foyer, getting your pert pretty boy look just so before leaving the house," Rob taunted.
Phil's face flushed with embarrassment and anger. "No, that's not why I don't want a baldy cut!" Phil exclaimed.
"Then why?" Rob demanded.
"Because....because, well, just because....it wouldn't look good on me," Phil stammered, struggling to make up a reason.
Rob reached out and tussled the businesscut playfully. Immediately, Phil worked to smooth it all back into place.
"I want to see you seated in Chuck's barber chair.....watching your precious locks fall to the cape!" Rob laughed. "Click. Buzzzzzzzzzz. And, voila, a fantastic crewcut just like mine."
Phil continued to narrative. "And I want to see Chuck grasp that massive plait Patrick sports with one hand and take a clippers to the nape. A few second later, voila! He holds the severed tail up like a hunting trophy." Phil's eyes twinkled at the idea.
"Is that what happened to you, Phil? Your prized tail held up like a hunting trophy by the barber?" Rob asked.
"Bingo! At my stag party, the night before my wedding," he admitted. Phil told the whole story. "There were a bunch of guys there. Lots of booze. Music, good time. One fellow, I couldn't place. I chatted him up. He told me we'd gone to high school together. Could not remember him at all, much less how he'd ended up at my stag party. But, I was pretty boozy, so didn't think much of it. As things got fairly late, my best man grabbed the mic. Time for the big surprise of the evening. Instead of party girls jumping out of the middle of a big cake, the groomsmen pushed in a big barber chair on a wheeled platform. The 'high school friend' emerged dressed like a traditional barber from head to toe, clippers in hand. A big cheer went up. The groomsmen pounced on me, and I struggled with all my might. I had no intention of letting them cut my hair. It was my pride and joy. I even laughed, saying they were just trying to scare me. But, in a flash, the brawny groomsmen were strapping me into the chair with duct tape. My best man did the honors of caping me up. They said it was to make Anne the happiest bride in the world for an unforgettable wedding night. I knew she didn't like the long hair, and her father made no efforts curb his disdain for it. When I felt the clippers at my nape, I knew it was for real. This was not a prank to scare me. I was going to be shorn of my trademark tresses. The barber took grasped my tail with one hand as he forced the clippers through the base of it. It seemed like forever....but then he was standing in front of me, holding the tail up like a trophy, all the fellows cheering. Then he tossed it to the floor, like it was a piece of trash...."
"That's not exactly how you described things to me at the mailbox, Phil," Rob pointed out. "How did your earlier version of the story go? Like it was your decision and 'a big relief to see it all falling to the floor of the barbershop'..."
"Well, after the tail was taken, the barber they'd had posing as my friend did give me a very good haircut. The look on Anne's face when she saw me for the first time with short hair, as her father walked her down the aisle, was priceless."
"And her father's reaction?" Rob asked.
"Awesome. He beamed and called me 'son' as he handed her off to me. 'Take care of my little sweetheart, son. She's yours now.' Made up for losing the long hair I loved so much. Of course, with her reaction, I could never grow the length back. But I still....."
"...are quite attached to your precious hair?" Rob asked in a mocking tone.
"I guess you could say that," Phil admitted. "And, Patrick is right, I'm quite vain about it. I am not at all happy he shared that with you, though, that brat!"
"Would you sacrifice the rest of your precious hair for your son, even though he can be a brat?" Rob pressed. "Crewcut. Super tight, like mine? Get the boy to shed his tail so he ends up with a good salary and benefits after graduation? Of do you want a boomerang deadbeat back in your basement, playing video games?"
"Heaven forbid! I'll take the crewcut!" Phil blurted out. "Yes, I'll do it! For both him and me. I don't want an adult son mooching off me, or mocking me for being vain."
"Let's build on this momentum....drive over to the barber shop right now," Rob urged. "You get the car. I'll round up Patrick."
Phil wavered momentarily, pawing at his silken locks. Then he took out his car keys. "Meet you in front."
But Rob's plan quickly encountered an obstacle: Patrick. "I told you I would think about it. Not ready to cut this off yet," he snapped, clutching his precious tail. Like-father, like-son.
Rob sauntered over to the car that was idling in the driveway and got it. "Patrick coming?" Phil asked.
"Nope, just you and me. You know where Chuck's is -- near the freeway, by the Hillside Country Club," Rob replied.
"What? He's not coming?" Phil insisted.
"No, not today. He says you're first. You're not backing out of this, I hope," Rob said.
"Hey, I agreed to do it with Patrick. And I don't even want to cut it at all," Phil protested.
Rob let out a sigh of desperation, "I give up! You two and your hair." He threw the door open. "Go tell him it's a ponytail, not a penis, for Pete's sake!"
"Okay, okay. Get back in," Phil called out. "I guess it's my only chance to get that kid employable."
Rob smiled as he watched Phil take a look at himself in the mirror, like he was admiring his pretty boy coif one last time.
"You'll look fine," Rob promised. "Here, feel this back here, it's amazing."
Phil reached over and touched Rob's clipped nape. "Nice! I do like that feeling. Maybe I'll end up liking the crewcut as much as you do, Rob."
There was no doubt that Phil was nervous about his upcoming date with the clippers throughout the drive over to Chuck's Barber Shop. Rob kept him focused on the end result. It would be good for both of them, actually. Patrick to shed the tail, and Phil to shed the vanity.
"I've got a new client for you, Chuck," Rob announced as he led Phil into the shop. "My neighbor Phil took one look at my crewcut and knew he needed one too."
"There you go, Phil. Take a seat. I'll have you caped up and clipped down pronto," Chuck replied eying the nice, plush businesscut.
Phil gave Rob one last jittery 'do I have to' look before plopping into the big chair.
Chuck continued admiring the plush mane as he fastened the cape into place with a sturdy metal clip. "Big change in store for you. Another salon job giving way to an old fashioned barbershop haircut!" he chirped.
"And make it tight!" Rob called out. "Phil wants his money's worth!"
"Is that right, a crewcut?" Chuck asked. "Going to shed almost all of this?" He fondled the silken locks momentarily and smoothed them down with both hands.
"That's right," Phil eked out in a scratchy voice that was low on oxygen.
"Should I ease him into with a two-phase approach and start him out with that longish ivy I first gave you?" Chuck asked Rob, who was a sort of a father-type figure in charge of the final decision.
"Nope, buzz him down all at once. A #3 on top -- max!" Rob said gleefully.
Chuck had fun brandishing the clippers right in front of Phil's saucer-wide eyes. "First time with the clippers down the top of your head, Phil?"
The nervous client gulped. "Yep, so go easy on me."
"We're going down short! From about 4-5 inches to just 3/8 of an inch! Ever heard that expression, 'ripping off the bandage'?" the barber smirked. "Want to get it over with quickly? No opportunity to back out? Perhaps I ought to turn you away from the mirror."
"No," Phil said quickly. "I want to watch. Oh, and Rob, could you video this? There's my phone up on the counter. Patrick's going to see the sacrifice I'm making for him."
"Oh, he'll see it plain as day when you get home and you appear clipped down tight and tidy right in front of him!" Rob assured him.
Chuck grasped Phil's thick, wavy forelock the one hand and pulled it up. Then he brought the clippers right into it near the hairline and began peeling off the prime lock. Back, back, back the clippers went until the barber pulled off the first mass of hair and held it up like a trophy, hamming it up for the camera, before dropping the clump of hair into Phil's lap.
"Timber," Rob roared as the hair fell with a flourish onto the white cape.
"OH MY!" gasped Phil, surveying the first huge chunk carved out of his helmet head hair style.
Phil zoomed in on the clump of cut hair resting in Phil's lap. "No more prissing and preening each morning with your pretty boy looks!" he taunted.
Chuck secured his head for a send drive with the clippers. Phil felt dizzy and energized all at once. "Whoa, that's coming off fast!" he remarked. "I can't believe how short it is."
Over and over the clippers went, taking off almost all of Phil's soft, precious hair.
Chuck took a quick break to swap clippers. Then he clamped his hand down on the stubbled top and thrust Phil's head forward into a bowed position. The clippers came up through the nape like a bulldozer.
Rob got some amazing footage of the transformation from salon coif to tight crewcut.
"How are things working out with your new boss, Rob?" the barber asked as the shearing of Phil continued.
"Splendid! In fact, he's been telling me after tennis on Saturdays that he sees me advancing quickly in the company," Rob crowed.
"He told me he's thinking about offering you the position of his personal aid. You'll be at the heart of all the decisions and the gatekeeper to the decisionmaker!" the barber said.
"I am in deep admiration of Bill Steinbrenner. I would do whatever he asked of me," stated Rob emphatically.
"Sounds like you have a crush on him," Phil piped up from his penitent position vis-a-vis the clippers.
"Very funny," Rob mouthed back. "I didn't realize how much your ears would stick out with no hair to distract from their dumbo like size, Phil."
"What?!" stammered Phil, anxious to look up to see what his neighbor was talking about.
"Oh, calm down. I was just teasing you," Rob said.
"But do they stick out? Really?" Phil continued.
"You are such a fussy little prissy thing!" Rob scoffed. "You don't have a paddle in that back room there, Chuck?"
"Nope! We take a positive approach with lads in the chair. The ones who behave get a lollipop at the end," the barber said, adding to the narrative. "It's time for him to sit up nice and straight now. Ready to see your new crewcut?"
Phil's face looked a bit stunned. He reached out from under the cape and felt the stubbled top. He cracked a weak smile. "Well, what does everyone think?" he asked.
Rob gave him a Dutch rub. "You look fine, Baldy!" he taunted. "Now it's time to get that long ginger tail in here so Chuck can work his magic with the clippers."