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DAD! (Part 6 of 15) by JB

Jack picks up a bristle brush in one hand and the blow dryer in the other, "Now to get Scott's flattop lookin' its best for his first look in the mirror. He's sure gonna be surprised!"

The dryer starts its loud whirring and Jack begins brushing Scott's hair up all around the sides and back, bringing out its plush velvet sheen and bristly appearance even more. Then he begins working on the front, brushing it up till it stands at its full half-inch height. He gives the top a quick once-over, "No need to spend a lot of time up here," he thinks, "it's already standin' up as much as its gonna, not enough left to brush." The blow dryer winds down and gets hung on its hook. Jack spends the next few seconds examining Scott's flattop for any imperfections.

Scott's hair is standing completely erect. Whether sticking straight out on the sides or straight up on top, none of it is 'at ease'. With military precision, every soldier is standing at attention, awaiting inspection.

Kevin is dumbfounded. Seeing Scott's flattop in its full glory, he stares wide-eyed with his mouth half open.

Jack removes the cape and gives the chair a nudge to start it rotating toward the mirror, "Okay Scott. Let's see what ya think of yer new look." Jack can't help but grin a little in anticipation of the big reveal.

As the chair swings around, Scott catches a glimpse of his reflection out of the corner of his eye and does a quick double-take, "What the... " he mutters quietly.

Jack stops the rotation so Scott is facing the mirror straight on, "I guess yer kinda surprised, huh?"

A thousand words run galloping through Scott's mind, most of them four letters long. But after a long pause, in response to Jack's question, the only word that leaves his mouth is, "..... yeah?" He says the word calmly, expecting some kind of explanation. Outwardly he is quietly stoic, but inside, his head is erupting like Mount Vesuvius: "WHAT THE HELL! HOW DID I END UP WITH A FREAKIN' FLATTOP!? AND HOW COME IT'S SUCH A STUPID LOOKIN' ONE, AT THAT!" He tilts his head forward, getting a full view of his industrial-size landing strip, "Geez." he says aloud. His thoughts are engulfed in a flood of emotions. At the top of the list is confusion, followed closely by rage and humiliation.

Jack sees Scott admiring his white scalp, "Like it? I angled the top down towards the front so's you'd end up with an extra big landing strip, just the way you like it... folks'll be able to see it even if you don't tilt yer head down like yer doin' now... yer buddies'll be able to shoot a game of pool up there!" he smirks.

Kevin sits grinning in the waiting area, "Shorter than ya were expectin', huh Scott?... Or maybe not short enough. Here's an idea: tell Jack to take some more off the top. Oh wait... there's nothin' left to take off. Ha!"

Scott is in no mood to put up with his teasing, "Hey Kevin? Here's another idea... shut up," he says, still outwardly calm.

Kevin doesn't take the hint, "Yer not havin' second thoughts about gettin' yerself flattopped are ya? A little late for that, bro," he snickers, "Yer gonna be stuck in Nerdville for the rest of the school year, man!"

Scott chooses to ignore him, but then Kevin's remark sinks in and a thought suddenly hits him, "The school year...THE YEARBOOK PICTURES!" he yells inside his head, "Oh, man..." he thinks, "I'm screwed... A hundred years from now some guy with good-looking long hair will be flippin' through the 1978 yearbook and see my goofy-looking flattop glaring out at him and he'll think: 'Scott Kramer- Ha! What a dork.' Man, oh man. I'm doomed... and not just for the school year; with that yearbook photo I'm gonna be stuck in Nerdville forever!"

Jack is concerned that Scott doesn't seem to be thrilled with his flattop haircut, "I gotta say, this isn't the reaction I thought I was gonna get, Scott. Yer dad said you'd be grinnin' ear-to-ear when you saw yer flattop... I guess you still need a little time to get used to it, huh?"

Scott is about to rip into Jack for giving him this ridiculous flattop instead of the long tapercut he asked for. But then his ears prick up, "My dad?" he asks. He's learned the hard way to be wary anytime his dad is mentioned.

"Yeah, that was him on the phone a while ago, he told me how you always liked that flattop you had in yer... well here, let me get it and we can see how close I came."

Scott watches as Jack walks over to the waiting area, then frowns in puzzlement as Jack plucks something from the pocket of his down-filled vest, "What the heck is that?" he wonders to himself.

Jack hands the photo to Scott, "Looks like I came purty close to matching the flattop in yer picture there. I got the length about right... and the whitewalls above yer ears... y'know, it would've been a whole lot easier if ya had just shown the photo to me in the first place. I only had time for a quick peek a few minutes ago while you were waitin' in the chair."

Scott looks at the old photo that he's hated all his life, and thinks, "How the hell did this get in my vest pocket!?" Then it dawns on him, and the word explodes inside his head: "DAD!" Knowing that his dad is somehow behind this, pretty much explains everything. But he still doesn't know what role Jack played in his dad's scheme, "Why would he give me a flattop when I asked for a long tapercut?" he thinks, "It's not like he's an old geezer who only knows how to do crewcuts and stuff; Dave and Randy left here with really decent haircuts." He needs more pieces of the puzzle, "So... what did you and my dad talk about, anyway?" he asks.

"Well, let's see... He said how much you liked the flattop you had in that photo and how you wanted to get it cut like that again. Only you were afraid of gettin' teased at school."

"That last part is true, at least," he thinks.

Jack continues, "He told you not to worry what other people think and just get the haircut you really want; a flattop, like ya got now... which sounds like good advice to me."

Scott thinks, "Yeah, I s'pose it would be, except Dad never said that... not to me anyway."

"He said he was pretty sure he'd talked you into going ahead with it. He saw you stick that photo into yer vest so you could show it to me and ask for the same flattop."

"Man," Scott thinks, "how many lies did Dad tell?... So, if I didn't show Jack the photo, then how did I end up with this bogus looking flattop?"

"Yer dad was worried that you'd back out at the last minute- he was right about that- I guess you still lacked confidence in yerself. That's when he told me to give you yer flattop anyway, even if you didn't ask for it. He knew it was what you really wanted and it would be a good character builder... He also said I had to be sneaky and not let you know you were gettin' flattopped 'cuz you would probably put a stop to it."

"So," Scott thinks, "Jack doesn't know what's really goin' on here. He believed all the crap Dad told him and thought he was giving me what I wanted. He's just as much a victim of Dad's 'tall tales' as I am."

"That's about it, I guess." Jack studies his handiwork some more, "I gotta say, Scott, you really know how to pick yer haircuts; that flattop looks great on you. Only... if it was up to me, I would've left the top a little longer. That mile-wide landing strip really draws yer attention, don't it." He motions toward the waiting area wall, "Even the football players in those old photos there don't have landing strips as big as yours! Well, maybe one or two. But yer dad said that's the way ya like it so I took it down as close as I could, with just a little stubble left down the middle."

Scott makes a decision, and thinks: "No point in setting Jack straight about my haircut or bein' lied to. It would just make him feel bad, knowin' the role he played in Dad's scheme. Guess I'll just play along and pretend to like this dorky lookin' flattop."

He climbs out of the chair and stands in front of the mirror to get a closer look at himself. His 1958 flattop looks twenty years out of style with his 1978 ring-necked T-shirt and flare-legged jeans. He looks down at the large clumps of his hair on the floor, then back at his reflection, "My hair looks a lot darker now," he says, "sorta light reddish-brown; not really blond anymore."

Jack begins sweeping the mounds of hair off to the side, "That's partly because the short hair that you've got left has been hidden under all this longer hair and hasn't been bleached by the sun... and all yer hair is standing on-end now; like a bristle brush. That makes it swallow up a lot of the light that hits it, instead of reflecting it away. Less light bouncing off makes it look darker. Parts of yer hair will still reflect a lot of light though; in front where it's combed up, and around the top edge there... it puts on quite a lightshow... almost as much as yer white scalp showin' through that over-sized landing strip," he grins.

"Landing strip?" Kevin asks, "Is that the gnarly-lookin' white area on top where it's real flat and there's practically nothin' left?"

"You got it." Jack answers.

"Geez Kevin, didn't you know that?" Says Mr. Know-it-all Scott who, himself, just learned the term yesterday when his dad mentioned it.

Scott slowly runs a finger up the side of his head, and thinks: "Man, it feels real smooth just above my ears where Jack gave me these, what did he call 'em? whitewalls? Then kinda rough and stubbly above that. And soft and furry higher up where it's not as short." He can feel his hair spring back into place as his finger moves all the way up to the top. He does the same thing in back: running his hand from his neck up to the top, feeling the different textures; smooth, stubbly, furry, springy. Then he softly pats the top of his head with his open palm, "Wow," he says aloud, "It's sorta stiff and crunchy and soft all at the same time. I kinda like the way it feels." Then he thinks to himself, "But, man! I look like a dork and a nerd and a dweeb all rolled into one."

Jack smiles, "I'm relieved to see that you like yer flattop, Scott. Yer dad said you would, but I wasn't so sure. Takes a lotta guts for a teenaged guy like you to get his deck taken down good and flat, these days anyway." Jack rubs his chin, "... Don't think I've given a flattop to any other high school guy for about ten years... I think there was one in sixty-nine or seventy."

Kevin is unable to control his curiosity. He gets up from the waiting area and goes over to where Scott is standing in front of the mirror, "Dude, let me feel it, okay?"

"Huh?" Scott asks.

Kevin reaches up and pats the top of Scott's head, "Far out!"

Scott pushes Kevin's hand away, "Cut it out, man."

Kevin then runs his hand across the top of Scott's landing strip, front to back, "Cool!"

Scott shoves Kevin's hand away again, "Knock it off, will ya?" To Scott, it feels like every hair is now out of place after Kevin ran his hand 'against the grain'. Scott runs his hand, back to front, to get his hair facing the right direction again, even though it doesn't look any different either way, "If yer so stoked about my flattop then why don't you get one yerself?"

"What?" Kevin asks meekly. The idea catches him off guard.

Scott meant the remark simply as a putdown, to stop Kevin from pestering him. But now, as the words leave his mouth, he likes the sound of it, and runs with it, "Yeah, that's right. Hop in that chair and tell Jack to give you a good ol' fifties-style flattop just like mine! Just like ours dads wore when they were our age."

For a few seconds Kevin stares like a deer caught in headlights. Scott can see the wheels turning in his head, weighing the pros and cons. Then a big goofy grin spreads across Kevin's face. He hops in the barber chair and says, "Jack, give me a good ol' fifties-style flattop just like Scott's! Just like ours dads wore when they were our age."

Jack doesn't even bother to ask Kevin if he's sure this is what he really wants, he can see it on his face and by his gung-ho attitude, "Then let's get started!"

(To Be Continued)

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