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The Hybrid by M DeMarlo
It was somewhere around 1973, maybe 72 early 70’s for sure. As most teenage boys of that time haircuts were avoided, and pretty good at not getting haircuts at all. It was all about length, and layers. The long shag
haircut was coveted by many and that’s exactly the way my hair was finally growing.. Six months ago I was told by my parents to get my hair cut. At the time it was covering my ears and over the collar in the back. I defied
my parent’s wishes for me to get a regular clean cut haircut and instead went to a men’s styling salon and got a shag. The guy cut my hair into shag as asked, but it was real short. It didn’t even come over the top of my
ears. I was mad as hell and it must have showed because my mom kept saying "honey it looks nice", your father may not approve. You know how he is, to him he won’t consider that a haircut. So just be prepared in case he wants it cut again.
When dad got home the first thing he said was how I had enough time that day to make it to the Maple Brothers Barber Shop and get a real haircut. My mom interjected saying dinner was almost ready, let’s eat and not argue
about another haircut. Then she really surprised me saying how nice she thinks it looks. That’s how the boys are wearing their hair now. Why spend 3.50 on another haircut? "How much did that haircut cost "my dad asked. I
replied 10.00, and he about had a stroke. We ate dinner while my dad growled a few times. Made a few comments and pointed at his fresh tightly tapered nape on his short flattop that is no longer than half an inch at the
longest and waxed. Dad had the appearance of an active duty Marine Officer. He was a vet of the Korean War, a former Marine and gung ho on the military and especially haircuts. I wasn’t saying much, and when asked "what
were you thinking"? I answered truthfully "that you and mom would like it, especially you because its so short" And it was short, above my ears (sort of) and collar (sort of) and above my eyebrows (layered). The top was all
but a few inches when before the shag haircut it was 6-8 inches. He said "not the haircut, what you paid for it, or what I paid for it. What were you thinking? That money was to buy chlorine for the pool. Sometimes you
show no sense. And that haircut, my god your as stupid as you look." My mom gave him a look like she was going to have him for dinner. Dad inspected the shag closer turning my head from side to side and shook his head saying "No, you were told to get a regular mans haircut in a barbershop". I was hoping to see you with a nice short side parted clean cut haircut that’s neatly groomed up and off your face. I’m disappointed, and far from being a proud father, but that can change. However it is an improvement (nervously looking at my mom.) and you can keep it for the time being. My better judgment tells me to take you after dinner to Maple Brothers and get
you a short military haircut. I smiled from ear to ear and said "Thanks Dad" and gobbled up my dinner. He came into my room a few hours later and said it didn’t look stupid, that he was just stressed and gave me money to buy chlorine again. "the pool cant go without it, you kids will end up with pink eye . Nobody goes in the pool until you put chlorine in the water.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, about eight months and my shag was looking great. My hair had never been so long, it was thick wavy dark raven hair with brownish highlights. Covered my ears almost reaching my shoulders. I kept it tied back and usually under a baseball or a straw cowboy hat. Summer was almost here again. My dad had planned a fishing camping outdoors father /son outing which would consist of he and I quality time. My Mom was staying home as her sisters my aunt Debbie & aunt Trudy will be over to spend a week of sister time between the three siblings. A perfect time for the men to have guy time. Dad was so cool when he was in
these kind of moods. He and I would laugh at him saying "to much estrogen when those three are together" It only took one time for the three of them to come into their monthly female cycle at the same time, and never again he would say. Always thought of how cool it was of him not to let his son be subjected to that. He would snap his fingers and say "they change into real bitches just like that, SNAP. Bad enough when its just your mom, but all three of them, hell no!
Dad had really turned into an awesome buddy. He of all people had skipped his usual biweekly haircut and had gone a month or so. However, the day we were leaving he went to the store to pick up a few last minute things. I was thinking that I must be out of my mind. I wanted to have my hair cut, but kept chickening out mentioning it to my dad. The first time I am allowed to have long hair and I want it cut. All the grief I gave my parents wanting to let my hair grow and now I secretly want it real short. For months I had this planned out to get it cut short on this trip. Nobody would see me and when we return I would say my dad made me cut it short. The need to do it was overwhelming. I took the rubber band out of my ponytail and let it hang down. Thinking when dad sees it he will make me get a haircut.
Dad drove up in the camper all packed up and ready to go. Honking the horn I messed my hair up unruly and ran out and got in the passenger side. Closing the door. I looked at my dad and he had already been to the barbershop, he had a fresh haircut. Wow, I said. "Don’t you look sharp. He said yes, at least one of us looks presentable. I um, stuttering I eye yai um I wanted to go with you . Then I just said it "make me get a short haircut, ok dad, I don’t know why but that’s what I want. "You got it buddy, no argument there. He started to drive a little faster and said. "There is a barbershop just up the road, the barber is a buddy of mine. Anyone come into his shop with long hair leaves with a crew cut. You are no exception, just letting you know. Its going to be short. The swirling lighted barber pole came into view. "you talk to the barber for me, ok dad.
Wasn’t much longer he pulled into a parking lot and I immediately recognized a swirling barber pole lit up with red white and blue ribbons. Now the whirling light was right in front of us. A sign in the window said "Run Hippy Run", and on the other side of the window a sign said "Expert military haircuts", "Look Your Best, Keep It Fresh". Dad said his Marine Buddy owns this shop. A kid my age came out of the barbershop with a blond crew cut, waxed up in the front. Dad said, "that’s Jerry’s kid right there with a sharp looking haircut. Sure enough it was. My dad looked at me and said that’s how I want your hair cut, come on son, lets get you in the chair
There was nobody in the barbershop, just a big guy about 6’6", With MPB his hair was clipped right tight to the skin on the sides." Pizono how the hell ya doin," dad said. Turned to me saying to his friend "Questo è mio figlio" His friend motioned for me to sit in the barber chair. Saying to my dad "Bel ragazzo, ti prende" His friend continued to speak Italian, until my dad told him I understand what he is saying. Because he continued in Italian I had to really focus because my dad was talking like we were in a barbershop in Naples. I understand it but only in pieces, and they were talking very fast. Telling the barber in Italian how he wanted my hair cut, allot of arm movement. Prince who? What prince are you referring to. No, im still in high school not college, what garden are you talking about. They both looked at me and his friend told me my Italian was terrible, he docent know what we were talking about. What was said is a very short Ivy league, tight, military. Princeton hybrid crewcut flatten the top.. What I had heard was some prince in college with a winding Mussolini fighting plant
Jerry the barber shook the cape and it floated over me . Securing a neck strip tightly and pumping the chair. You said a short Princeton, real tight you want it military. I cut it hybrid, tight Princeton crew cut with a flat bump. Kid will look real sharp, like he is ROTC. Yes, dad said, perfect.. Click and rotary clippers came to life. At my right sideburns the clipper pressed against my skin and began climbing up, with a flick 5 inches of dark brown hair fell into my lap. Holding my head with his left hand he continued the clippers onslaught flicking more hair in my lap. I could feel the hair being removed as he rounded my ear, clipping straight up to the ridge. Soon the back was open to the cool air blowing from an overhead ceiling fan. Repeating on the left side. Behind me the clippers changed pitch for a second then returned to that sound of clippers barbers use on short
haircuts. Repeating moving around my ear but this time I seen only about ¼ inch of hair flicked onto my lap and floor. It felt really close. My dad was standing right dead center in front of me. He said, "Looks real nice, your going to stick with this haircut for the foreseeable future. You don’t have a problem with that do you. "No Sir, I said. Thinking to myself " I like making dad proud of me. He was all smiles. The top was reduced to under 2 inches, crew comb rubbed into it, combed up off my forehead and snipped flat, and shaped square. Warm shave cream applied with the barbers thumb. Stretching my skin he outlined shaved around my ears. Leaving the nape tapered to the skin. Sideburns hardly visible were cut a little higher than mid ear. Talcum powder and I smelled like a fresh haircut. Couldn’t help but look at my reflection every chance possible. I looked beyond
clean cut. I looked like I was military for sure. I had one more year of high school. I talked with my dad about ROTC. I found out my dad was open to all my ideas , and generous beyond my belief when he is proud of me and my appearance we bonded the way a healthy father and son relationship should be. My attitude had changed, I didn’t even think about mischief or any kind of trouble. Sure, my dad was demanding, strict at times. Being Italian he was the first generation born in this country, broke stereotypes people had against Italian Americans. But he was a good decent honest man. Years later I realize how fortunate I was. He didn’t ask me for much, he just wanted me to be a man, with integrity And have good work ethics and values, just like him. END