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DAD! (Part 10 of 15) by JB

Steve Kramer jumps up from the couch, "Hold my beer," he says, handing her the can, "I'll be right back." He grabs his car keys, "Don't go anywhere." As he goes out the door he turns and grins, "Guess I'm gonna need a new jar of Butch Wax!"

Scott's dad, Steve, pulls up in front of Jack's Barbershop and hops out of his car, "Been a while since I had a flattop. Wonder if it'll look as good now as it did then?" He says to himself. He stops outside the shop and looks at his reflection in the window, running his hand up through the top of his brownish-black tapercut, "Still nice an' thick... and only a few flecks of gray." He glances down at the old advertising plaque, "Good ol' Butch Wax. Haven't seen ya in a while. Time for us to get re-acquainted." He presses the door latch down and enters the shop.

Jack, tending to another customer, looks up from his task as he hears the door clatter shut, "Well if it isn't Mr. Kramer. Have a seat, Steve. I'll be with you as soon as I finish up with Todd, here."

Todd McPherson is another high school student getting his feathered layer cut trimmed.

Steve glances at the barber chair as he takes a seat in the waiting area. He does a slight double-take when he sees Todd, "Whoa," he thinks, "That kid looks a lot like Scott, except his hair is darker like mine. And of course, Scott's flattop is just a tad shorter than this kid's long layer cut," he smirks.

As Jack uses the trimmer on Todd's neckline, he looks over at Steve, "So, what brings you in here so soon? You said over the phone awhile ago that it would be another couple of weeks before you needed a tune-up."

Steve grins and launches into another series of lies, "There's been a change of plans. Scott showed up a few minutes ago sporting his new flattop haircut, grinning and stroking his landing strip like there's no tomorrow."

Jack smiles, "That's good to hear. He seemed kinda shocked when he saw his flattop for the first time. I wasn't sure he liked it."

Oh, he likes it alright. He just wishes he'd gotten a flattop a lot sooner, is all. Anyway, seeing him enjoy his new haircut so much, I thought 'why should he have all the fun?' So I'm here to get my top taken down flat, as well."

Todd's ears perk up as he hears Scott's name, "Scott?... Scott Kramer? He got a flattop?... Geez!"

"Sure did," Steve replies. "You two know each other?"

"Yeah. We have P.E. together, and I sit behind him in math class. We sometimes help each other with our homework in study hall... Wow, a flattop!... Did he get in trouble or somethin'?"

Steve chuckles, "Nah. He's not in trouble. He just decided to go back to havin' a flattop like he had when he was a kid."

"Man!" Todd says in disbelief, "I always thought Scott had such cool looking hair... I even started getting mine cut the same as his."

"The same as Scott's, huh?" Steve's eyes twinkle, "Rev up your clippers, Jack. Todd wants ya to give him a flattop just like Scott's; extra tight around the ears and extra short down the center."

"What? No way, man!" Todd catches the grin on Steve's face, "Oh. You were just jokin'... I still can't believe Scott got butched."

"Flattopped," Steve corrects him.

"Whatever; it's all the same. I thought Scott liked his hair the way it was."

"Nope," Steve corrects him again, "He never really liked havin' long hair. He only wore it that way to 'fit in'," he lied.

Todd looks confused, "So he never liked his cool looking layer cut? That doesn't sound like Scott at all... But if he wants to look like a geek then I guess that's up to him."

Jack removes the cape from around Todd's neck and shakes out the loose hair.

Todd gets out of the chair to pay for his haircut, "I can't wait till Monday to see Scott's dorky flattop! I've gotta tell the other guys about this!"

For a moment, just a moment, Steve catches a glimmer of the ridicule and embarrassment he's created for his son. But then, as before, the moment lifts, like morning fog; never to be thought of again.

As Todd pays for his haircut, a sporty Camaro rumbles to a halt in front of the barbershop. Inside are two frat brothers from the local chapter of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Matt Cunningham, a third year student, is at the wheel of the car. Greg Henderson, a new pledge, is in the passenger seat. Their hair is immaculately styled in the latest fashion, from the most expensive salons. A baseball cap is perched atop Matt's head, worn toward the back of his crown so that his center-parted bangs are in full view.

Matt turns to Greg, "Alright, Henderson; you've felt the paddle, you've done the 3 a.m. calisthenics, and you've guzzled beer till you passed out. Now it's time for your last initiation rite. After this, you'll be a full-fledged Alpha Tau Omega brother. Ready?"

Greg Henderson looks a little sick, "Yeah, I guess." He studies the front of the barbershop, "Man, what a dump. How'd you find this old place? I didn't think shops like this existed anymore."

"Now, now, Henderson," Matt talks down to him condescendingly, "Don't be harsh. Yes, it is a little old fashioned, and you won't find any potted plants inside. This is a blue-collar establishment for the workingman; for those that toil and sweat for a living. Now. Do you have your line memorized?"


"Well, let's hear it, just to make sure, shall we?"

Greg lets out an exaggerated sigh, "When the barber asks what kind of haircut I want, I say 'Sir, I want a haircut just like the last guy, sir.'"

"Very good, Henderson. Now, let's go. The sooner we get this over with, the sooner we can head back to civilization."

As the two of them climb out of the Camaro, Todd McPherson leaves the shop, hops on his bike and peddles away. Matt Cunningham looks over at Greg, "Looks like this is your lucky day, Henderson. If that kid is the last guy to get his haircut then you've got nothing to worry about," he says with a tinge of disappointment. He was hoping for a major transformation of some kind.

Henderson grins, "Yep. Looks like this is gonna turn out okay, after all. That kid's layer cut isn't much different than my own; not as well styled, of course."

Matt and Greg enter the shop just as Jack is throwing the cape around Steve Kramer. Henderson's eyes dart from the pictures of flattopped football players on the right-hand wall to the depressingly old chairs in the waiting area below the photos. He whispers so that only Matt can hear, "Everything in this place is old... it even smells old." He wrinkles his nose.

"Well look at that, Henderson," Matt says cheerfully in a quiet voice, "That kid we saw outside wasn't the last guy to get his haircut after all!"

Greg looks at the barber chair where Steve is waiting for his haircut. He immediately notices Steve's tapered sides, "Oh man," he whispers, "I'm gonna get butched! Look at that guy's hair; his sides are already standin' up and his haircut hasn't even started yet. This is bogus, man."

"Careful, Henderson. Too much complaining could cause us to reconsider your membership in Alpha Tau Omega," he says, grinning, "A good pledge is seen, not heard."

"Sorry." Greg takes the warning to heart and silently vows to keep his mouth shut. He studies Steve more carefully, looking for some hint as to what sort of haircut this guy might be getting. He notices the thick 5 o'clock shadow darkening his face and his big work boots placed heavily on the barber chair's footrest. His straight-legged jeans are sticking out below the cape and, as Steve reaches up to scratch his nose, Greg can see that he is wearing a plaid flannel shirt, "Geez," he thinks, "The guy looks like a real redneck... or a lumberjack... this isn't gonna go well."

Jack adjusts the strip around Steve's neck and looks up to welcome the new customers, "Have a seat, gents. I'll be with you, shortly," he says in a friendly manner.

As the two of them take seats in the waiting area, Matt quietly instructs his pledge, "Just stick to the memorized script, Henderson. If the barber gets chatty, let me do the talking. Okay?"

Greg nods his head in agreement.

"Now then," Jack says, "All caped up an' ready to go. Let's get yer sides squared up." He runs a comb up through the plush hair on Steve's tapercut, "So, what length are ya shootin' for here? Whitewalls, like Scott's?"

Henderson squirms a little at the mention of whitewalls.

"Nah," Steve replies, "Scott can have his whitewalls; I want something a little less extreme, a little fuller. Y'know, fifties-style; kinda boxy. Leave me a little bit of sideburns."

Over in the waiting area, Matt is taking great glee in mentally torturing his pledge, "Hear that, Henderson?" he says quietly, "No whitewalls. Looks like ya get to keep yer sideburns... a little."

Henderson keeps his eyes forward and his mouth shut lest he say something that would jeopardize his membership in the fraternity.

In the bathroom at Scott's house, Kevin is examining the label on the half-used jar of Butch Wax that Scott just handed to him, "Wonder what this stuff is made of, anyway?"

Scott shrugs, "I dunno... All I know is if you wanna get it completely outa yer hair, you have to shampoo it 3 or 4 times."

"Wow," Kevin replies, impressed by the durability of the Butch Wax. He unscrews the lid and sticks his nose close to the jar, "Whew!"

"Oh yeah, it makes yer eyes water too," Scott adds, "But you already knew that, after Jack smeared some of it into yer hair back at the barbershop."

Kevin holds the jar closer to his nose and deeply inhales the heady fragrance, "[Cough! Cough!] Whoa! I bet this stuff really does grow hair on yer chest!" he says, enthusiastically. He pulls the neckline of his shirt outward and looks down at his chest again, "Nothin' yet, though."

Once more, and not for the last time, Scott rolls his eyes; this time adding a long sigh for emphasis, "I already told you Kev, that was just one of my dad's tall tales... Why are you so gullible, anyway?"

Kevin shrugs, "I guess when people tell me things, I expect it to be true... Why would they lie?"

Scott looks at himself in the bathroom mirror and swipes his hand across the top of his head, "That's how I ended up with this frickin' flattop."

Kevin looks at Scott's reflection in the mirror, "Oh, that's right. You said you didn't even know you were gettin' a flattop. You said you'd tell me about it later... Well, this is later."

Scott sighs again and tells Kevin the whole story. "Geez!" Kevin exclaims afterward, "So Jack believed all the lies yer dad told him."

"Yep," Scott replies, "Like you said, he just assumed my dad was telling him the truth... Why would he lie to him?"

"Bummer... Well at least we got these awesome flattops!"

Scott looks worriedly at his friend, "Okay. Now you've gone way beyond weird, Kevin. Now you're deep into psycho territory."

Kevin takes that as a compliment, and grins.

Jack has finished squaring up Steve Kramer's sides and back. He switches the clippers off and rotates the chair toward the mirror, "Now then, I haven't done anything with the top yet, but how's it lookin' so far, Steve?"

Steve looks at himself in the mirror, turning his head slightly to the left and right, comparing the two sides, which are squared off and boxy in appearance, "Lookin' good, Jack, lookin' good."

"I used the eighth inch blade around yer ears and on yer sideburns, so ya still got some stubble there... I can take it shorter if ya like?"

Sitting in the waiting area, frat boy Greg Henderson shouts inside his head, "No! Say no, man! It's short enough!" Greg is getting increasingly nervous watching Steve's haircut. He knows he'll be getting the exact same haircut in a few minutes.

Steve runs a finger up his sideburn, hearing it scritch, "I think it looks good the way it is, Jack."

Greg Henderson breathes a sigh of relief. Sitting next to him, his frat brother Matt notices the audible sigh, and grins mischievously. He quietly asks, "Having a little anxiety attack, Henderson?"

"A little," he lies. He's never been more nervous about anything in his whole life.

Pulling his flannel-clad arm out from under the cape, Steve slowly moves his hand through the plush velvet at the back of his head a couple of times, "Ahh, that feels good... Love the way my hair springs back into place when I run my hand up through it!"

Jack smiles, "Yeah, doesn't that feel great?"

Henderson is nearly brought to his breaking point hearing Steve's description and seeing his white scalp alternately appear and disappear as he swipes his hand through the short hair in back.

Matt Cunningham sees Greg nervously tapping his foot at a rate of 80 miles per hour. He grins and whispers, "Just think Henderson, in a little while you're going to enjoy that feeling too!"

Henderson's foot tapping revs up to 100 miles per hour.

(To Be Continued)

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