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DAD! (Part 13 of 15) by JB

Having paid for his unwanted haircut, Greg walks over to where Matt is studying the old price list, "Hey bro, c'mon. Let's get outa here," he grumbles, "The deed is done; I got myself scalped." He brushes his hand through the top of his flattop.

"Not so fast, cousin." Matt points at the price list, "It says here that if you get one of these haircuts, you get a second haircut for free," he looks at Greg's landing strip, "And I'm pretty sure that flattop of yours qualifies as one of the above haircuts." He directs his attention at Jack, "I've changed my mind, sir," he says to Jack, "I guess I'll be getting a trim today after all... This list on the wall says I'm entitled to a free haircut." He removes his baseball cap and hangs it on the hat rack. Matt walks over to the barber chair, climbs in and points to the chairs in the waiting area, "Have a seat, cousin," he says to Greg, "This little trim won't take very long. I can't pass up a free haircut now, can I? And with this two-for-one deal, it's like yer paying for mine as well. Thanks bro!" He gives a sly smirk, relishing the idea of making Greg pay for both haircuts.

Jack glances toward the waiting area, "Huh. Is that price list still on the wall? I forgot all about it... Look son, that old list isn't in effect anymore. It's been there since the shop opened in '57. It's just part of the decorations, like the old photos there... And besides, I didn't think a guy like you would be interested in that two for one special. Back then, in the fifties and early sixties, it was mostly dads bringing their young sons in for haircuts who would take advantage of that two-for-one deal; the dad would pay for the first cut, usually a butch, and the second kid would get the same cut for free."

"Whoa, wait a second," Matt says, "Are you saying that both haircuts have to be the same? That my free haircut would have to be a flattop like my cousin there?... Because there's no way I'm gettin' a freakin' flattop." He starts to climb out of the chair.

"No, no," Jack replies, "That's not how it works. The two haircuts don't have to be the same. You see, the second hai..."

Matt interrupts, "Well then." He gets back into the barber chair, "I'd like the two-for-one special please."

Rather than get into an argument, Jack decides to comply with his customer's demands, "[sigh] Well okay then. Does a half-inch sound about right to you?" He tosses the cape around him and starts prepping the neck strip.

Matt considers it, "Hmm, better make it a quarter-inch." He runs his hand through his perfect hair, thinking, "This guy can't do much damage just by taking a quarter-inch off the ends."

"Are you sure?" Jack asks, "I can take it off but I can't put it back on, y'know."

Matt chuckles, "Yeah, I think I can handle a quarter-inch."

Over in the waiting area, Greg has a puzzled frown, "This sure sounds familiar," he thinks, "Like deja vu or something." Then it comes to him, "Oh yeah, back when that last guy, Paul Bunyan, was talking with the barber about how much hair to take off, three-quarters of an inch... except, they were really talking about how much they were going to leave behind, not take off... And that's how I ended up with this bogus flattop." Still frowning, he turns around to look at the old price list on the wall.


. . . . . . . . - PRICES - . . . . .

REGULAR CUT.............. $1.00
FLATTOP........................ $1.25
CREWCUT.................. 75 cents
BUTCH........................ 50 cents
2-FOR-1 SPECIAL*....... FREE

*Get one of the above haircuts
at the regular price, get the
second haircut for FREE!*

(*free haircu

"Get one of the above haircuts at the regular price, get the second haircut for free," he reads to himself, "What's this last line at the bottom here?" He smooths out the curled-up corners of the list:


. . . . . . . . - PRICES - . . . . . . . .

REGULAR CUT.............. $1.00
FLATTOP........................ $1.25
CREWCUT.................. 75 cents
BUTCH........................ 50 cents
2-FOR-1 SPECIAL*....... FREE

*Get one of the above haircuts
at the regular price, get the
second haircut for FREE!*

(*free haircut = butch cut only.)

"Free haircut equals butch cut only," he reads, "...What the heck does THAT mean?"

A whirring sound fills the shop as Jack revs up his rotary clippers to 'full steam ahead'. All caped up and ready to go, Matt frowns, "What's with all the noise?" he thinks, "Doesn't this local yokel barber own a pair of scissors? I guess he uses his clippers for every haircut; even if he's only taking off a quarter of an inch." He smirks disdainfully, "They would never do that at my regular salon."

Studying the list again and thinking about what he's just read, it finally occurs to Greg what the last line on the price list means. His eyes widen, "Geez," he thinks, "Matt must not have seen that last line where the corner was curled over." Still looking at the list, he tries to get Matt's attention, "Um... Hey Matt?... Bro?... Cousin?" Greg turns and faces the barber chair again just in time to see Jack quickly slide the clippers down the center of Matt's head, front to back [whrrrr], leaving a velvety swath of quarter-inch soft bristles behind. A large hank of his perfect hair falls heavily to the floor behind the chair.

"Yeah bro, what is it?" Matt asks impatiently; a good pledge should be seen and not heard, after all. He is focused on what Greg is trying to tell him and so, is totally unaware that he is getting butched.

Greg watches, mesmerized, as Jack takes another swipe across the top of Matt's head [whrrrr], "About the price list..."

"Yeah, what about it?" In rapid succession, Jack repeatedly plows the clippers up and over Matt's head [whrrr, whrrrrr]. The sharp teeth of the clippers seem to take great pleasure in chewing through his expensively styled hair.

"I don't think you wanna get the free haircut, bro." Greg says, a little too late.

"Sure I do. Why wouldn't I?... It's free!"

Jack clears another path with the clippers [whrrrrr], He steps back to check his progress so far. The entire top of Matt's head has been reduced to mere stubble, "Just like a farmer mowin' a field," he says.

Matt still thinks he's getting a slight trim, "Well be careful that you don't harvest too much of that crop, Mr. Farmer," he gently admonishes.

"Oh, don't worry," Jack replies, "A quarter-inch, just like you said; no more, no less."

"Good man," Matt says, then thinks, "At least this guy knows how to follow instructions."

Even though he's too late to prevent Matt from getting butched, Greg, being the dutiful pledge that he is, feels the need to clue him in on what's going on, or coming off, as the case may be, "Y'know that free haircut?"

"Yeah?" [whrrrrrr] Jack takes the clippers up the side of Matt's head.

"Well, it's only for one type of haircut..." [whrrrr, whrrrrr] Having completed one side of Matt's head, Jack moves to the back. [whrrrrrr]

"So? What's yer point, Henderson?" [whrr, whrr, whrrrr] Annoyed with Greg's interruptions, Matt drops the 'cousin' pretense.

"The free haircut is only for butch cuts!" He blurts out. Jack starts on the remaining side of Matt's glossy mane. [whrrrrr, whrrrr, whrr]

"Yer not making sense, Henderson. Whaddya mean, 'butch cuts'?" With one final swipe up the side of Matt's head [whrrrrr], Jack switches the rotary clippers off.

"You know... butches... a butch haircut, like little kids have... or cops... or military guys..." Finally, Greg points at Matt's buzzed head, "Like that!"

Matt thinks that Greg is pointing at something behind him. He scoots himself around to look where he is pointing, "Like what? All I see is the phone on the wall and a calendar and..." He sees his reflection in the mirror. For a brief moment he fails to make the connection between the butched guy in the mirror and himself. Then his eyes bulge, "What the hell?!"

"Too short, huh," Jack says in a I-told-you-so tone, "I tried to talk ya into makin' it a half an inch, but you seemed determined to go with the quarter-inch butch... Makes ya look like a bootcamp recruit, don't it... Oh well, no use cryin' over spilt milk. What's done is done. In a couple of weeks yer bootcamp butch will grow out to a half-inch anyway, so no big deal, right?"

"I tried to warn ya, bro," Greg says, "But it was already too late." He's trying to decide if he should be shocked or amused by this unfortunate turn of events.

"What're you talking about, Henderson?" Matt's face is red; partly from anger, but mostly from embarrassment.

Greg explains, "The old list on the wall... It says, way at the bottom there, that the free haircut is a butch... I guess you didn't see that part, huh?" A bit of a smirk creeps over his face.

Matt is close to erupting at anybody and everybody around him. But he realizes that he himself is mostly to blame for getting butched, "I should have paid more attention to that freakin' price list," he thinks. His anger suddenly shifts to himself rather than those around him. But that doesn't improve his mood any, "Okay. So get this cape off of me and we'll be on our way," he says rather tersely.

"Whoa. Not so fast," Jack says, "We're not done yet. I still gotta taper it around yer ears and neck."

"What? Yer gonna make it even shorter?!" Matt can't believe what he's hearing.

"Well sure," Jack explains, "Right now yer hair is all the same length; it looks amateurish, like one of yer frat buddies took the clippers and buzzed yer head. You guys can play yer hazing games all you want. But I'm not gonna let you leave here with an unfinished haircut; it looks unprofessional."

Matt freezes like a kid with his hand caught in the cookie jar, "Wait... You know about that? The initiation thing?"

"Sure I know. I was pretty sure the moment you drove up in that fancy car of yours. And then there's the fancy clothes and the fancy haircuts; you're not the sort of guys I usually see in here... Just about every year a couple of you college boys show up here with one of yer hazing rituals, some sort of made-up story. Usually it's the 'Just like the last guy' line... And I could hear you whispering over there, too; well some of it anyway. Enough to know what was going on."

"Oh." Matt states, as an admission. His anger subsides somewhat, but only a little, "Well what about this?" He rubs his hand through the soft bristles on his head, "You must have known I didn't want to get butched! That I just misunderstood what that two-for-one special was?"

Jack shrugs. He can't hide a bit of a guilty smile, "I had my suspicions. You don't seem like the kind of guy who would be all gung-ho about gettin' butched. But after hearin' you taunt yer buddy there about getting a flattop, well..." He lets the rest of the sentence dangle, "Besides, you insisted on getting a free haircut even after I told you that the old list wasn't used anymore. And you refused to listen when I tried to explain what the two-for-one special was."

Greg smirks, "And that's how you ended up with a bootcamp special, bro."

"Shut up, Henderson," Matt suggests.

Greg continues to smirk. He has made the calculation that his place in the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity is secure, "After all," he thinks, "I did my part. I kept my mouth shut, even when I got my hair buzzed down to a flattop. And I had nothing to do with Matt getting butched [heh,heh]. I even tried to warn him. And the barber is already on to us about this being part of the initiation... Yep. I can pretty much say anything I want now."

Jack switches to a different pair of clippers [hummmm], "Now then. Let's get yer ears and neck tapered up." He guides the clippers through the quarter-inch hair around Matt's ears, up through his sideburns, and at the base of his neck, leaving a two-inch wide border, a mere one-sixteenth of an inch long.

Henderson grins, "Looks like a tornado set down and cleared a path around yer head." Matt ignores him.

Jack spends the next couple of minutes blending the two lengths of hair into a seamless taper, "There. That looks much better. That's what a butch is supposed to look like!"

"Makes ya look like a six year old kid," Henderson snickers.

Laying the clippers aside, Jack picks up a pair of shears. Matt then suffers the indignation of having the top of his head rubbed vigorously as Jack checks for any stray hairs sticking up higher than the rest. After a quick snip or two, he gives Matt a good dusting of talc and releases him from the cape, "There ya go, young man," Jack says, picking up on Greg's comment about Matt looking like a kid. He is clearly enjoying the situation, "Care for a lollipop?" he asks, straight faced. Henderson chuckles.

"Very funny," Matt says, not amused. He climbs out of the chair and tries to avoid his reflection in the mirror, but catches a glimpse of himself anyway, "Geez," he utters.

He grabs his baseball cap from the hat rack and slaps it onto his head. Without his thick pad of hair to hold it up, the cap slips down and rests on his ears. The visor covers his eyes.

Henderson grins again, "Oh wow. Looks like yer gonna have'ta make it a couple notches smaller, huh?" Matt can't see him grinning with the hat covering his eyes, but he can hear it in his voice.

Embarrassed and angry, Matt stuffs the hat into his back pocket, "Shut up, Henderson."

As the two of them head for the shop door, Greg continues his observations, "Whoa. Your sideburns are even shorter than mine! There's practically nothin' there at all."

"Shut up, Henderson."

Greg runs his hand across the top of his own head, "I think this gnarly landing strip is the most bogus part of this flattop... But man! Yer whole head is like one big landing strip! I can see yer scalp showin' through that butch everywhere I look!"

"Shut up, Henderson."

Greg can be heard as they go out the door, "I figure it'll be at least two months before I can get my hair to lay down... But your butch is a lot shorter; I bet it'll be more like three months for you!"

"Shut up, Henderson."

(To Be Continued)

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