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Playboy cut free by Manny
The death of Joe’s father had not come as a big shock for the family, since the patriarch had been ailing for years. Joe had never thought much about how dynamics within the family would change until the day after the funeral.
While the family seemed quite Americanized, with Anglicized names and western clothes, traditional mid-Eastern structures and attitudes were deeply engrained. The head of the family was now the oldest son, Rob. This had been made clear during the reading of the will. All assets were placed in Rob’s hands. Everything! As family head, Rob was expected to ensure his two adult brothers were supplied for and that his two single sisters made suitable matches (aided by substantial dowries). Of course, if any of the siblings brought dishonor or disgrace on the family, they could be cut off without a cent. Mercilessly! Their financial support was all up to Rob’s discretion.
Joe got a slight feeling of uneasiness as he and his middle brother Mike were leaving the conference room where the attorney had read the will. They greeted the new head of the family, their older brother, with the respect he was due, bowing their heads ever so slightly.
Rob had a very determined smirk on his face. "Ah, here they are, my brothers, who are now in my care. We’re quite a handsome trio, I think. I’m the heir, and Mike is the spare....but, Joe, what’s to become of you now that father is gone? I'm certainly not going to treat you as my little pet and fawn all over you. And, get this straight, there will be no coddling the baby brother of the bunch.... I have my own son for that!"
Then, Rob purposely dropped the pen he was holding. "Pick that up for me, Joe," he instructed. "Be a good brother. Let’s see that you have some useful purpose in the family besides sucking up a lot of money on hare-brained schemes that never go anywhere."
Joe instinctively leaned over. As he did, his cascading brown hair shimmered like an exquisite veil. He picked the pen up off the floor and handed it to Joe, "Here you go, Rob."
"Come see me tomorrow, at 9 am. I want you there too, Mike. I’ve been reviewing the expense accounts and don’t like at all what I’ve found. Did you know there have been a series of secret disbursements to the little pet here? Thousands of dollars....for what, Joe, I would like to know? Regardless, your gravy train is coming to an abrupt end. There are going to be big changes....and it won’t surprise me if you find them hard to take." Rob certainly enjoyed his role as family head very much!
The next morning, as Joe was getting ready, he felt queasy as he dried his long, thick hair. He considered pulling his shoulder-length mane into a man bun, but opted to let his long hair cascade freely past his shoulders. Joe wished he hadn’t taunted his older brothers so mercilessly when they began balding prematurely. Their thinning wispy hair had looked so lame and limp. On various occasions Joe had flaunted his magnificent locks....asking them what it felt like to age so abruptly.
They had pushed back questioning Joe’s paternity in a joking manner. His hair was so different than theirs. Of course no one would have dared question their mother’s fidelity in any sort of serious manner.
Mike and Joe and were ushered into their father’s old office where Rob was comfortably ensconced behind the huge walnut desk. He indicated for them to take seats. "So, I’ve calculated that over the past three years, since you’ve become of age, Joe, father has disbursed to you a total of $75,000 in excess of your normal monthly stipend. What was that for? You don’t have a job, nothing to show for it other than a lot of fancy clothes, a nice sports car, and a penthouse apartment. The little brother is nothing more than a little playboy!"
Joe hemmed and hawed nervously. What could he say? It was true! He had sweet-talked his father into supporting a luxurious, idle lifestyle. "I’ll get a job," Joe said meekly.
"You certainly will!" Rob said, smacking the desk with his hand. "You will pay back every penny....within twelve months...all $75,000 of it. Understood?! If not, all further support to you will stop completely, including your monthly stipend. Is that understood?"
Joe’s mind began racing. He’d never held a job! He needed the monthly stipend that each of the siblings was allotted, as well as the extra disbursements to maintain his flashy life style.
"Maybe you could come work for me at my import/export business," Mike offered, feeling a tad sorry for his brother Joe.
"You wouldn’t want him looking like that, like a playboy, at your company, would you?" Rob asked Mike.
It wasn’t really a question, it was a statement.
Rob pulled the desk drawer open and took out a huge set of scissors. He eyed them closely and broke into a cunning grin.
"He needs his playboy wings clipped," Rob stated.
Then Rob primed the shears a few times, opening the blades wide and snapping them shut with a loud, menacing sound.
Joe’s face became ashen. "I’ll get it cut...." he stammered.
"And waste more money, when I’m fairly sure I’d make a decent barber?" Rob quipped, suppressing laughter, as he stood, scissors still in hand....
Mike felt a bit bad, but those taunts when he’d started balding also hurt.
Rob strode over quickly to where Joe was sitting and towered over him in a menacing way. Joe remained seated, submissively averting his eyes from the impending massacre of his lovely locks.
Rob began to gently caress Joe’s shimmering mane. "How much do those visits to the salon cost? Those expensive hair products, the precision trims?"
Joe remained silent.
Then he felt the blades of the desk scissors slipping through his locks, near the nape.
"Please, Rob," Joe pleaded from a position of complete helplessness.
The air in the office hung heavy with a nervous tension. Would Rob deliver a chop or let his brother have a professional cut his hair?
Rob's hand began twitching, like his finger was on the trigger.
Suddenly, the decision was executed.
CRUNCH! The scissor blades clamped shut with a fury.
A shank of Joe's glorious hair fell with an almost audible thud to the floor.
The first chop established the brother's hierarchy in a definitive manner.
Rob wielded the scissors again.
More glossy hair fell as Rob continuing to bob his brother's hair around the side.
Joe's eyes widened as six-inch chunks fell to his lap.
"You’re sitting nice and still for your new barber. Good boy, Joey," Rob purred. He continued hacking away at the remaining length, inflicting an amateur chin-length bob on his brother.
Mike couldn’t help but enjoy the humiliating role reversal — from pampered pet, to laughing stock!
Joe sat submissively, looking at the cut hair strewn in his lap and the floor.
"Rob, you definitely have skill as a barber!" Mike chirped. "Too bad you don't have a clippers handy. I prefer my employees to sport crisp tapers around the ears and up the back."
"Mike, see that bag over there? Go get what's in it. We not only look alike with our MPBs, but we think alike!" replied Rob with a twinkle in his eye.
Mike pulled a box out of the bag. "Clippers!" he announced.
Joe cringed in horror. "Oh, no! Please....."
Mike had fun pulling out the clippers and plugging them in. "Guard or no guard?" he asked.
"I cut off that silly length, now it's your turn to wield the clippers, Mike. I think you also will make a fine, amateur barber," Rob instructed. "Joe's going to be your employee anyways. Where do you start newbies off?"
"On the loading dock. It's hot there. Most of the guys sport butch cuts," Mike replied with a smirk.
"Then, give Joe a butch! And, make it no guard. Take him down to the wood! Each morning when he sees his bald head in the mirror, he’ll be reminded that he needs to be very frugal!" Rob ordered.
Mike seized the forelock and pulled it back so that the clippers had access. He snapped on the machine and the metal teeth sprang to life.
"Ready, little brother?" Mike asked.
"I'm ready," Joe croaked back.
The clippers were efficient and quick. Mounds of glossy hair streamed down into Joe's lap.
Rob chortled with delight as he watched on.
"Being head of the family has its perks!" he gloated. "And, Mike, you'll be getting a handsome bonus on your stipend for the barbering services you're rendering Joey. Now shave him bald!"
Mike needed no encouragement to continue the divestiture of Joe's playboy persona.
"At work, you'll refer to me as Mr. Haddad. Not, Mike. Do you understand?" the amateur barber demanded.
"Yes, Mr. Haddad," Joe replied.
"And, I'm going to call you Baldy!" he laughed.
"Baldy is going to start his shift at 5 a.m. and end it at 5 p.m. Half hour for lunch to eat the PB&J sandwich and the apple in his lunch box," Mike pontificated.
"Yes, the little pet needs some toughening up, some proper discipline!" Rob said. "His attitude is already improving with his new haircut. There's a broom in the kitchen, Baldy. Go get it. Sweep this mess up. And, hustle!"
Joe could not help but feel the bristles as he scurried out of Rob's office.
As he left, he saw a photo of his beloved father on the credenza. He knew things would never be the same again.
It was then he realized that that he needed to make his own way in life and not depend on the family stipend. In a way, Joe's bald head was his first step to freedom from family strictures and becoming fully American.