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Its Not Dandruff! by Armando94

Its Not Dandruff!

It was another boring Monday morning in the beginning of February. Weather was cold and kids just wanted it to snow so they wouldn’t have to be in school. They’d rather be at home playing indoors or outdoors (depending the type of kid) and not sitting in their middle school classrooms learning about who knows what reading who knows who. Sometimes middle school was more like a toll rather than a bridge between elementary and high school. A long, irritating, horrible toll, where every day you felt like you were getting robbed another dime.

"Nice dandruff, Bryant," one of the kids over from Patrick’s locker snickered before homeroom. The shorter dirty-blonde boy had just put his puffy winter coat into his locker and was gathering his folders and notebooks from the floor he would need the first few periods of the day. He quickly took a look at his left shoulder and saw the evidence perched. Man, he shouldn’t wear such dark colors all the time. But he also didn’t like wearing bright colors because they really called attention to him!

"Its not dandruff!" Patrick spat back without even looking at the other kid. Of course, other guys started looking his way and taunted him with the same, saying that was definitely dandruff.

"Oh yeah? Then what is it?"

"Its…" did he really want to go into it? Before eight in the morning? That while it looked like dandruff it really wasn’t, he just really had sensitive skin which YES could be different from dandruff? Does he bother saying all the different kinds of shampoos he’d been using the last year or so? "Its just… the detergent."

"The detergent?!" One of the kids guffawed, and then the others laughed along.

"Don’t listen to them," the girl over from Patrick said.

"Thanks Bree," he responded with a grin.

"Yeah, just ignore them," the kid Jason on the other side said as he slammed his own locker. But he did eye up Patrick and said, "You really do need a better come back, Bryant. I know that isn’t detergent."

"But its not dandruff! I’ve been going to the dermatologist about it all year."

"Yeah I know, remember, I’m on basketball with you," Jason said as he walked off. The one positive for Patrick was that he wasn’t a total loser roaming the halls alone. Everyone knew he was a sweet kid even if a little bit shy. And he was decent enough in sports so that was helpful at times even if he wasn’t the tallest. Granted, he didn’t make any of the teams in sixth grade, but that was because they hardly ever picked any sixth graders like ever! Maybe 2, 3, 4, but no more than 5, for any of the sports you had to have an actual tryout for! Regardless of the gender. So far seventh grade hadn’t been so terrible then, he was surprised to have made the soccer team and then also for basketball for winter. Patrick figured he had been keeping himself in good shape so that helped.

But he was really hoping for the best with baseball this spring, because that was truly his sport, the one he cared about most. Keeping himself active all school year had been great, and then on weekends he was training here and there too with his stepdad Todd. It had always been an adjustment since the second grade when Todd came into his life, but over the years it had gotten better. And from last year with no luck in sports, Patrick’s stepdad took it upon himself to help train his stepson. It helped bond them, even if there was still this little bit of awkwardness between them. Patrick figured it would always be though, considering his relationship with his biological father wasn’t anything to brag about. He was there for him, sure, but also not really. And they never saw eye to eye and probably never would. So allowing another man to potentially take that spot was weird enough for Patrick. But his mom liked Todd so that was all that mattered, and he was always treating Patrick like he was his own son.

The day carried on fine, classes were boring as usual, Patrick couldn’t help but keep thinking about how he was picked on this morning. As much as he tried to put it on the back burner, he couldn’t. This was not the first time he had dealt with this, and he knew it was only going to continue. But what was he going to do, magically have his scalp problems go away with the touch of a hand? Thankfully basketball practice after school kept him occupied, and he was going really hard today. Perhaps even out of anger of how the day had started and carried out his mood. The sweat dripped across his whole face, his bangs flopped across his forehead and sticking where they did, glistening skin in the peaks of where hair wasn’t stuck. But at least no one was making comments about his sensitive skin. Maybe he should just be in constant motion all the time, sweating or perhaps come straight out of a pool so no one would notice. Although that might be even more gross…

Todd was there to pick him up from school when practice was over, he passed the school on his way home from his commute. Patrick hoped into the passenger seat as his stepfather said, "Hey sport," which he always did when Patrick was done with a practice or game.

"Hullo," Patrick sounded out. "Thanks for picking me up," he said as he stared up at his stepdad. Patrick didn’t know why he had to say that, but he always did. Every single time after a practice. Or after a game it would be "Thanks for coming". A bit of Todd’s home improvements and manners were rubbing off on Patrick. Otherwise, maybe Patrick would have been the kind of kid to be bullying others before homeroom. Or getting into fights with the ones who presently bothered him.

"Of course," he nodded his head. Todd could honestly have passed for being Patrick’s actual father by looks…or maybe… older brother. While Patrick’s mom may have been forty-two, her new husband was five years her junior even if it looked more like fifteen. But he had fair hair like Patrick, although at times it did seem a little more dark as he always kept it short all on the sides and on top. Not a buzzcut though, the sides were definitely buzzed but the top was just chopped down real short. And he had really strong facial features that always caught people’s attention and made them second guess he was in his late thirties and not a decade younger.

As they started driving home, Patrick said, "How was work?"

"The usual," Todd said, scrunching his face in the rearview mirror. "People in offices are always the same on a Monday. How about you, sport?"

"Same," Patrick sighed. "Kids are always the same on a Monday."

Todd laughed and then with a freehand rubbed the top of Patrick’s head, mussing it up a bit. Patrick almost swore he saw a few flakes float down from that action, but he tried to ignore it. "You have a doctor appointment tomorrow, by the way."

"Do I? Am I not going to practice?"

"No," Todd winked at him. "I made sure you have later appointments from now on, so you don’t miss any practices, for any sports. And I know you have a game on Wednesday."

"Is it another appointment with Dr. McCulback?"

Todd scrunched his face together, with tight lips, and nodded his head before saying ,"Yeah… sorry kiddo. We’re only trying to help ya."

"I know," Patrick slumped into his seat.

"Is something wrong?" Todd asked.

"I just wish something would work," Patrick sighed, scratching his head, knowing this would only irritate his scalp.

"Hey, hey," Todd swatted a hand in Patrick’s direction without actually touching him. "Don’t do that, alright? Remember what the doc said. And what did I say?"

"Don’t let others get in your head."

"Exactly, not only just in sports but life too. I know its bugging you, we’ve been through two different shampoos in the last six months and they work, and then they don’t," Todd sighed. "Believe me, I know what it is like. I had a similar issue when I was your age."

"What happened? You seem fine now?"

"Well," Todd began to explain, "I got older, so, sometimes that helps with things. My scalp matured, also along with how I was keeping myself healthy," and also by keeping a shorter haircut than what Patrick was sporting, but Todd wouldn’t dare say that. He never minded Patrick’s hair. It wasn’t a surfer or skater style, it was just a little overgrown in the bangs and when the sideburns weren’t attended to monthly. That was one thing Todd had worked towards in the last few years being part of the family, at least getting Patrick in the barber chair each month even if it was always just a trim and tidy-up job. It was better than nothing. "Just be patient, alright?"

"Alright, I’m trying."

"I know you are buddy," Todd nodded his head as they pulled into the driveway.


The next day after practice was the doctor appointment. Luckily, Patrick had had a better day at school. So he wasn’t so worked up on the way over. But Todd knew that the kid was not so thrilled about the appointment. Further examination of the scalp.

Patrick sat on the bed with a light above him so Dr. McCulback could investigate again, like he did just about every month. "Have you been using the T/Sal?"

"Yes," Patrick responded.


"It was fine," Patrick said, "but now it seems it doesn’t work."

"Recently we’ve noticed that Patrick’s scalp has been getting flaky again, and that its showing more in his hair when its dry," Todd stepped in from the chair he was seated in. "I know that sort of thing can happen, especially during the change of seasons too so maybe that’s why his scalp was acting up? I know it used to for me."

"Mhm," Dr. McCulback hummed. "Have you tried the Nizoral already?"

"We’ve done that for the kid," Todd said. "And I have combed out his hair on weekends to try and get as much out as I can. But it doesn’t mean it goes away for good."

"No it doesn’t," the doctor confirmed. "Patrick, how much product are you putting into your hair?"


"The shampoo, or anything else after."

Patrick made a half dollar size of how much shampoo he uses, and then said, "I don’t put anything else in my hair."

"Maybe if he didn’t use shampoo every day?" Todd offered. "Tried alternating with and without? I know he’s young so its not as important as when he gets older and doesn’t need to for the health and strength?"

"Could be," the doctor nodded his head. "What was your experience like with it as a kid, Todd?"

"Me? Well, pretty much the same, constant doctor appointments, no offense, trying different shampoos or products, see what worked and didn’t," Todd sucked in some air, not wanting to say he wore his hair short back then too. "He’ll grow out of it, eventually, I’m sure. It gets better with age. Isn’t there a way so that Patrick doesn’t have so much of it? You know, helps his scalp breathe?"

"Well, talk about breathing," Dr. McCulback started, "I am never one to put pressure on this, but I have eventually said it to all my male patients. Have you ever considered cutting Patrick’s hair shorter? Does he ever even in the summer."

"Not usually," Todd said, "No, not really at all."

"Well, that could be one solution," McCulback said, touching Patrick’s head, "even though I’m sure it’s the last thing he wants to do. He has nice hair, but there is no denying his scalp is irritated and could use a breather. Just a thought, and not mandatory. Sometimes it doesn’t always work as well. And I’m not asking us to shave a thirteen year old bald."

Patrick felt a huge lump in his throat and thought he was about to be sick, at the conversation that had just transpired and where it ended up. Bald?! Oh god, maybe he was going to pass out, this was worse than hallway humiliation.

"Hey, sport," Todd whistled. "Ya there, kid?"

"Yeah, sorry," Patrick shook his head. Even if there were no flakes coming down now he imagined them floating around him like a blizzard.

The doctor decided that they should review again next month. Whether or not there was improvements or not. In the car ride home, Todd asked Patrick if he wanted to pick up some pizza. "Your mom isn’t gonna be home till later. We could eat there too if ya want?"

"Sure," Patrick replied.

They ate in at the pizzeria, a whole pie for the two of them, even though they would bring two of the remaining slices home for Patrick’s mom. They didn’t exchange that much between them until Patrick finally said, "Did you used to have a short haircut when you were my age."

Todd didn’t want to respond right away, but the kid was staring back at him, eagerly awaiting. So he nodded his head and said, "Yeah, buddy, I did. Probably around fifth grade was when I started having it cut a lot shorter."

"Did you not want it that short?"

"It didn’t really bother me all that much," Todd shrugged. "But I had hair, shorter than yours now, before I had it cut shorter. It did help, with my scalp issues. And then I got used to having short hair, never outgrew it, no pun intended," Todd tried to lighten the mood. At least Patrick smiled a bit at that joke. "But, you don’t have to buzz your head kid, I’m not gonna force that on you. If you don’t want to change your cut, that’s fine."

Patrick sipped some more of his soda, "Don’t we have haircuts this weekend?"

It was the first full weekend of the month, so the kid was right. "Yeah, we do, you’re right. Why?"

"Just checking," Patrick said, as he scarfed down the last bits of his crust from his last slice.


The game Wednesday was neck-and-neck, but thankfully Patrick’s team pulled through in the end. The rest of the school week went by fast after that and before he knew it, it was Saturday morning. Patrick stretch his arms up his bed and rolled out from the comforters to go take a piss and wash his face. His hair was sticking up in all different directions. He didn’t know if he should take it as a sign or not. Was it time to get rid of this mess? He could see noticeable flakes in between strands, which always made him sigh and shake his head. He combed it down as best as he could and then put on some jeans and a hoodie. He knew his stepdad would be downstairs waiting.

As he was, Todd assuming his normal position every morning. At the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and the newspaper in front of him. Maybe because he read the newspaper like an old man made him seem a little bit older than he really was. "Morning," he poked his head up.

"Morning," Patrick nodded back.

"You ready to go soon?"

"Yeah, whenever you are," Patrick slid onto the couch and opened his phone.

Todd looked at his watch, "Give me fifteen, and we can head out."

They didn’t say anything about where they were going, not in the house and not in the car. Todd didn’t even dare broach the subject of Patrick getting a shorter than usual haircut. He just drove on, in the misty weather they were having that morning.

The barbershop they went to only ever had a few barbers working in it, men who were a little bit older than Todd himself. "Morning gentleman," Marty greeted them.

"Morning, Mart," Todd slapped him on the back as they entered the shop, and the barber was finishing up with a client.

Eventually it was their turn, and Patrick always went first without fail. Todd was anticipating him to say something, that Todd could go first. But he didn’t, like usual, he got up from the waiting bench and went up to Marty, shook his hand, and then had a seat. He really had helped shape this kid.

"So, Patrick," Marty started to fasten the cape around his next client. "How’s basketball?"

"Pretty good, we won our game the other day," he stated.

"That’s what we want to hear," Marty said. "So, just the usual for you, young man?"

Patrick turned around to look at Todd, who stared back. The young boy went to say something, then closed his mouth, then opened it, and then closed again.

"Yeah, sport?" Todd asked.

"I," he fumbled. "I think…I think…I don’t know."

Todd got up from his seat and came over, hand on one of Patrick’s shoulders, saying, "Hey, hey what’s the matter? Is this about Dr. McCulback?"

"Is something wrong?" Marty asked.

"Well Mart," Todd sighed. "If you didn’t already know, Patrick here has a bit of a sensitive scalp. We’ve been taking him to the dermatologist for a good while now, and have tried a bunch of solutions. This week though, the doc recommended, well, something different."

The barber was immediately in tune and nodded his head. "I see."

"But," Todd began again, "I know this would be a big step for Patrick…only if he wants to do it. And I told him he doesn’t have to."

"Of course, of course," Marty nodded his head. "Well, Patrick, is there anything you want to say? Get off your chest? Feel free to, we’re all men here."

Patrick paused for a moment as he stared back at the three of them in the mirror. Then finally he vocalized, "What’s…what’s a buzzcut?"

Todd felt like his jaw was about to hit the floor.

"A buzzcut," Marty put his hands on either side of Patrick’s head. "There are many different kinds of a buzzcut, but what I think you are referring to is when the head is clipped all around to one uniform length, or maybe the sides and back are just one grade shorter. That usually is anything from a #4 on down, but I highly doubt you are looking for a #0 today."

This made the kid’s eyes bug out a bit, the thought of being bald really did scare him.

"What do you think Mart? Think the kid could pull off the look? I know it might be helpful to the scalp but I also don’t want him to feel like he looks embarrassing."

"Oh no, Patrick here has a great head shape I must say. He could wear almost any cut, really."

Todd shrugged his shoulders in the mirror and said, "Up to you, kid. Its your hair."

Patrick stared back before saying anything, taking it all in, his eyes squinting a bit, head moving a little side to side. Making one last call for any takers to say no, until he finally said, looking serious in the mirror and ready for business "Okay. I want to."

"Alright then, any particular request then?" Marty asked.

Patrick looked up at Todd and said, "What would you get?"

"I usually have a #1 on my sides when I get it cut now," Todd said, as he felt the month-grown-out sides. "Three is your lucky number, right?"

Patrick had the hint of a smile, and a bit of a laugh, "Yeah, it is."

"How about a #3 then, Marty, for the kid?" Todd asked the barber.

"A #3 sounds good to me," the barber picked up a pair of clippers and started to fuss with the different attachments.

Todd put his hand on Patrick’s shoulder and said, "You’ll be good, I promise. You might even like it."

"Let’s hope," Patrick said, the sense of regret slowly coming over his face.

"Incoming," Marty said, as he flicked the clippers on and put them at the right side of Patrick’s head, a great big shear and the hair was flying, as well as some of those flakes from his scalp. The barber was clearing off the one side like it was no issue, and for the moment Patrick was not too bothered. It did look short, but he wasn’t so startled, he said to himself, it was only hair anyways. And it was going to help him… hopefully.

That was until the barber then moved the clipper from the side and began to clear off the top of Patrick’s head. After two big swipes, Patrick was in shock at what was before him, or really, who was before him! He tried not to show it in his face, but his eyes were starstruck at the buzzed stripe that was now growing across the top of his head. Those loud and fast working clippers were doing what God put them on this earth for. And Patrick’s hair, no matter how long he had it this way, was no match for the fast-feeding receiving end. The barber clipped over again and again, the same areas. Patrick was almost sure he had already done them, how much more could the barber be taking off?? But he had to remain calm, this was all just part of it. Hopefully it would help.

After the top had been cleared and Patrick could see the stark contrasts, the barber moved onto the back first. Now THAT was a new sensation that Patrick had never felt before. He didn’t know how to put it but even though he was staring at the damage done on the top, he was kind of in love with the methodical work being done in the back. It just felt so…good. Something so different. He didn’t know how to explain the sensation he was feeling now…and he was hoping it wasn’t showing across his face as Todd was still standing there, watching the entire transformation.

"What do you think so far, sport?"

Patrick shrugged his shoulders a bit, but not too much that it would mess up the haircut.

"Can’t say until the other 30% of his head is taken down, I’m sure," Marty joked, which did make them all laugh. But honestly, Patrick wasn’t entirely opposed to it. He kinda had no choice at this point anyways! His hair was definitely looking a lot more blonde with the short bristles that now stood up on the top of his head. It was definitely going to be a huge adjustment. But he was feeling more and more sure of himself with each swipe of the clippers that it would help him finally be rid of the mess and then in a few months he’d be back to normal.

Marty finished the left side of Patrick’s head and then edged him up and cleaned up around the sideburns and the neckline. Finally, he was good as new, or at least that was what Marty said as he released the cape from his client. Patrick stood up from the chair and looked closer in the mirror, Todd following him. "Go on, touch it," he encouraged his stepson.

Patrick took his right hand and slowly grazed it across the top. Woah…that was different. Such a contrast from his floppy locks that he wore most his life. This was definitely going to be a transition, and he wouldn’t spend as much time in the shower probably, or getting ready in the morning. He smiled back up at Todd and said, "Not bad."

Todd rubbed Patrick’s head too and said, "Gotta love that feeling, kid."

Then Patrick took a seat on the back bench while it was Todd’s turn to get his usual haircut, the sides down to a #1 and the top cut really short with the clippers but still enough that there was a flip in the front. Probably could call it a crewcut. Patrick wondered if Todd ever even needed to use gel or something to keep it standing up, seemed like Marty took it down to a point where that wasn’t necessary.

Todd usually treated Patrick to breakfast at the diner around the corner from the barbershop every time after a haircut, and today was no different. They got their usual orders, Todd even allowing Patrick to get a hot chocolate considering how cold it was outside. "Should have warned me, kid, I would have told ya to bring along a hat or something."

"Wanted to surprise you," Patrick smiled and looked down at his cup. "And…I was unsure."

"I figured," Todd nodded his head. "But it does look good on you."

"Thanks," Patrick smirked. Eventually they had their usual orders, Patrick with pancakes and Todd with an omelet and a side of bacon and rye toast, with at least two cups of coffee had. Then they ran a few errands until returning home in the early afternoon, surprising Patrick’s mom with his new haircut. Patrick was nervous she’d be mad, but she said she loved it. She said it made him look more mature, and as long as he liked it then she liked it. At night, before showering, Todd offered to comb out Patrick’s hair and see what was up there. Luckily, his scalp had started to breathe. There was still a fair amount to get out, but not as bad as usual.

"Looks like we are already improving up here, sport."


"Really," Todd winked, "Now go wash up," he playfully patted Patrick on the head.


Eventually, Monday had to arrive. After a weekend full or surprises, the biggest one was once the weekend was over and Patrick was back at school. His head was definitely going to be cold, now that he had adjusted to the buzzcut the last couple days. And…he didn’t want immediate reactions from his fellow classmates. So on the bus he put in his airpods as usual but with a beanie on top for a sports team, looking very inconspicuous. No one would even think a thing.

Until he was at his locker, putting things away and pulling stuff out. His coat was in there along with his lunch, and he had already pulled out his morning classes materials. He was still wearing the beanie, and there were still a lot of kids around. Not like he was going to be able to get past homeroom in it or anything. So, very slowly, he slipped the beanie off and tucked it into the coat in one swift motion, burying his head in the locker briefly before pulling himself out.

"Woah," Jason said over from him. "You cut your hair bro."

"Thanks," Patrick said, not looking over to the right.

"No seriously, Bryant, you really cut your hair," Jason patted him on the back. "Looks good."

Now Patrick felt comfortable looking his teammates way, he offered a slight smile. "Thanks," as his hand traced on his buzzed top. "Its…different. But I’m getting used to it."

"Damn look everyone!" One of the kids a few lockers over pointed out. "Bryant got buzzed!"

And surprisingly, the kids didn’t laugh or taunt. They all just started in Patrick’s direction as he stared right back, perhaps looking a little afraid. Bree over from him said, "Its totally different, but not bad Patrick."

"Thanks," he smiled back. Other people complimented him too in the hall, or just nodded their head in his direction as he looked at them.

Homeroom wasn’t so bad either. Kevin in front of him was taken a back and then laughed a bit, but then couldn’t help himself and rubbed the top of Patrick’s head, "Yeahhh buddy, looks good on you. I can’t believe you did this! Lost bet?"

"No," Patrick shook his head, and for once he didn’t see flakes. Literally or figuratively.

"I’ve never seen you like this before, in all these years! Damn!"

"Relax, Kev," Dave from behind Patrick said. "He got a fresh cut, so what?" another fellow basketball player came to Patrick’s defense. "Hey, it does look good on you bro."

"Thanks," Patrick sheepishly replied.

"Thinking of keeping it?"

"Oh," now he felt embarrassed. "I don’t know…maybe not." Patrick was still hoping this would help him get rid of the scalp issue, not realizing that maintaining the short hair would in the long term be more beneficial to his head.


As much as everyone loved the buzzcut on Patrick, he still felt like it wasn’t totally him. So he was happy when finally a couple weeks into it he noticed his hair was starting to grow a bit. His only hope was that his scalp would stay as healthy as it had become. And it really had become healthy! He had less flakes, no irritation, didn’t feel like he had to hide something. Just a head that was a little more vulnerable to the climate outside.

Judgement day would come whether Patrick wanted it or not. Another visit to Dr. McCulback at the beginning of March. And as fate had already pre-determined, it wouldn’t be a major party for him. "Well, I must say Patrick, your scalp has tremendously improved with this shorter cut," the doctor rubbed his patient’s head. It didn’t have the same sensation as the first few days of the buzzcut did. But Patrick still enjoyed a few head rubs here and there. Todd had been giving them more and more actually.

"Alternating using some of the shampoos and not to," Todd added. "And, less frequently having to comb out the kids scalp for any flakes."

"Well, then it seems like we’ve found a good solution, gentlemen," the doctor wrote down in his notes. "I see there is still a bit here and there, but that’s alright and possibly more preferred. Wasn’t like buzzing Patrick’s head here was going to solve the problem and make it go away."

It wasn’t?!?!

"I know its winter," McCulback continued, "so maybe not what you ideally want for a haircut right now. But think about it, baseball is right around the corner, right?"

"Try-outs are soon," Patrick nodded his head.

"Well, maybe you’ll have to start the buzzcut baseball trend, boy," the doctor stated.

Oh no…this wasn’t what Patrick wanted to hear…he thought it would all be solved…he thought…

He thought wrong.

Driving home from the appointment there was no pizza stop this time, but Todd did say to him, "Hey, I know you’re pretty bummed out. I know you aren’t that big a fan of the buzzcut, but it really does suit you, sport. Everyone has said they like it, right?"

"Right," Patrick pouted.

"But if you don’t like it, I get it," Todd sighed. "But, you’re still young. You can grow into it."

Patrick looked over at his stepfather, didn’t say anything. Maybe Patrick wasn’t so big on having his hair this short. But short hair had shown his scalp was much healthier. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, having short hair after all. Just…maybe something…not as short?


The next appointment at the barbershop, Patrick was eager to get into the chair, for he had another surprise up his sleeve.

"How’d you like the buzzcut, Patrick?" Marty asked.

"It was good," he said. "But, Marty, can I ask something?"

"Sure thing, what’s on your mind boy?"

Todd came over to stand by the barber and his stepson, "Everything okay, sport?"

Patrick turned and smiled at Todd, before turning back to the mirror, "Marty…is it possible you could cut my hair like my stepdad’s?"

Todd thought his jaw hit the floor so fast last time they were here. This time, he wasn’t sure he’d get it back up again.

"Really Pat?" Todd asked.

"Yeah," Patrick nodded his head. "I don’t mind the buzzcut, but, maybe I want something with a little more style…but still short, since that seems to be working best for me," he felt the top of his head. "What do you think, Marty?"

"Well," the barber began, "we will need the top of your hair to grow out just a little bit more so we can get it like your stepdad’s, but in the meantime, we can still take the sides down even shorter than they are now, so we can give the impression the top is longer. What do you say?"

Patrick nodded his head with no hesitation, "Let’s do it.

This time Todd took his seat back and watched from there the haircut unfold. Not much work this time, but Patrick’s sides were taken down a lot shorter than last time, and the barber faded between the top and them, preparing it for growth too. When Patrick was done, and Todd was done, they continued the Saturday tradition at the diner, where Todd asked, "What made you want to match my haircut?"

"I don’t know, I like it," Patrick said. "And if I’m gonna have to wear short hair, I might as well look good and enjoy it. Besides, you said, I would grow into my short hair. I’d much rather have your style, Todd."

This made the stepdad beam and feel like he had made a real impression on the young man. Which he really had! And thus, the bond between the two of them grew even stronger. They trained that weekend and the following one real hard ahead of Patrick’s baseball try-outs, which thankfully he made the team. Todd tried to make every game he could that spring when work allowed. April came around and Patrick’s hair was just about right, but it wasn’t until May that he was able to have a spitting image haircut to his stepdad. Who by this time, he would call him "dad" around the house now. And no one would doubt that they were only related by marriage if anyone heard him in the store call him the same thing. Of course, they still looked like brothers at times. Especially when Patrick made it to high school and by the time he was sixteen had had a growth spurt and really developed hollow cheeks and a chiseled jaw, along with all the workout regiments Todd had him practice with on weekends and at night.

And as guessed, he really did grow into the haircut, the same one as Todd. Patrick only wondered now if he would keep it short forever too. He had a feeling that he might just do exactly that.

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