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Football, Mullets, and a Shaving by CountryBoy
Travis was one of the most popular kids in school. He was the star quarterback on the football team and usually was the prom king. One of his defining features was his hair. It was a thick mass of brown curls that he was very proud of. He loved how it stuck out under his football helmet while he was playing. He also loved how it curled under his baseball cap that he was allowed to wear to school on game-day with his jersey, faded jeans, and cowboy boots. Most of his teammates aspired to be as cool and as good-looking as Travis. Most of them even tried to grow out their hair like he had. But, Travis liked to be unique.
So, one night, he was combing out his brown locks and he decided he needed a trim. Typically, his older brother would help him out by grabbing the scissors and trimming around the edges. But unfortunately, his brother had just shipped off to Army boot camp. The two boys had made a night of going to the store and buying a pair of Wahl clippers to shave down his brothers’ hair before shipping out. They figured it was a good bonding moment since they knew the Army was going to scalp him down anyway. They went all-out and bought a case of beer (even though Travis was still in high-school) and drove their shared 1980’s F-150 out into the woods. Travis had been allowed to do the honors of cutting the hair. He watched in awe as his brothers hair peeled off of his scalp and fell to the ground around them. The boys were a lot alike. Both played football and had the lean build of strong athletes. They also both liked to wear fitted t-shirts, faded jeans, and cowboy boots. The big difference between the two was that Travis had brown hair while his brother was blonde. While he was shearing his brother down, Travis kept thinking how happy it was not him in that chair. He even remembered telling his brother that it was pointless that they bought the set of clippers because he would never use them after he left. His brother just laughed and said, "well, feel free to use them if you ever need!" Later, that next day, Travis gave his brother a hug, rubbed his bald head, and shed a couple of tears as they waved goodbye.
Now, that same set of clippers was sitting under the sink. Travis had largely forgotten that they were even there. But, he had ben missing his brother and had been thinking about that last night they spent together before he went off to boot camp. Travis pulled out the clippers and turned them over in his hand. The memory of his brother and that last night they spend together swirled up in his mind. He gave the clippers a good, long, hard look then figured he would try something new…kind of like his brother. No way in heck was he going to shave his head like he had! But, he had been thinking about getting a mullet. From one standpoint, he was tired of his hair around his ears and he knew a mullet would get rid of that. But, he also wanted to try something different. He had kept his long shag long enough. It was time to make a change. So, Travis plugged in the set of clippers, put on a #4 guard and set to work.
At first, Travis was very careful. He clipped a small strip of his sideburns, turned off the clippers, and inspected his work. This was a big change from the little trims his brother would give him. As he pulled the clippers away, he was shocked to see the tuft of 2 inch hair fall to the sink. His heart skipped a beat and he couldn’t tell if he was scared or excited. Then he inspected the patch of brown fuzz left behind and knew it was not short enough. If he was going to have a mullet, he was going to go all-out. So, he pulled out the #2 guard and snapped in in place…a sense of resolve settling over him. More assertive this time, he went over the same spot and went a little higher above his ear. The clippers roared hungrily as they pushed into his mane. This time the path that the clippers had passed over was just a short stubble. Travis could see his pale scalp in high contrast to his deeply-tanned neck. He ran his hand over the spot and almost stopped right there and then. This stubble was no longer than his patchy beard that he was trying to grow out. But then he realized there was no turning back now. He had sealed his fate. And with that knowledge, Travis got to work giving himself a mullet. My the time he was done, there was a 2-inch strip of nearly fully exposed scalp running all the way around both of his ears. He had grabbed the scissors and trimmed his bangs so that the long curls were a bit shorter than the ones in the back. He had also tapered the nearly shaven parts up to the longer hair on the top of his head. All said and done, he was very proud of his cut. Travis slipped the clippers and their guards into his gym bag just in case he missed a spot and needed to touch it up at school.
The next day was a game-day. Travis woke up bright and early, headed out to feed the cattle, and came back in to get ready for school. His dad was sitting at the kitchen table when he came back in. When he looked up at Travis, a big grin spread across his face and he came over to inspect his new do’. He proudly told his son that the haircut looked very good and was almost nearly the same cut he had when he was in high school and college. Travis beamed with pride and happiness as he went upstairs to get ready for school. He got dressed in his typical game-day outfit: baseball cap, football jersey, faded jeans, and square-toe cowboy boots. He smiled when he walked past the mirror and saw his reflection. The business-in-the-front, party-in-the-back look made him feel even more confident. He loved how his curls came out of his baseball cap and just touched the top of his jersey. He was the spitting-image of an all-American boy.
When Travis got to school, all of his friends were dying to see his new cut. All of his teammates were jealous and were talking about how the school they were playing didn’t stand a chance with Travis on their team. As they were dressing out for the game, all they could talk about was how they were going to cut their hair into a mullet so they would all match as a team. But Travis noticed that one person on the team was particularly quiet: his best friend: Caden. Unlike the rest of the boys on the team, Cayden had not been allowed to grow out his hair like Travis. Cayden’s dad had been a Marine and therefore required that Caden keep his hair short and presentable. Caden was also already in JROTC and was destined for life as a soldier. His parents were not going to be able to put him though college and he was planning on enlisting after their senior year of high school. Travis could tell that Cayden was trying to put on a good face. He laughed when everyone was joking about cutting their hair to match Travis and even joked that Travis should consider life as a redneck. But it was obvious that Caden was sad that he could not grow out his hair like the other boys.
The team won their game that night. Most of the boys attributed this to Travis’s new haircut and vowed that they would get theirs cut just like it to keep the good-luck streak going. Sure enough, after about a week, most of the boys on the team were sporting mullets. Some had even gone the extra mile to perm theirs to achieve the curl that Travis got naturally. But, in that week, Travis could not stop thinking about how his best friend could not be a part of this camaraderie. So, he put a plan into action.
Two weeks later, the team was celebrating yet another win. It seemed like they may be undefeated and would be going on to state. They were all celebrating in the locker room at the end of the game as they brushed out their good-luck mullets and changed out of their uniform. Then, Travis did a funny thing. He pulled out a chair, went over to his gym bag, and grabbed out the set of clippers. Travis then called Caden over, turned on the clippers, pulled off the #2 guard, and, with a big grin on his face, handed them over to his best friend. The locker room exploded as everyone realized that something was up. Travis explained that he had been talking to local businesses and had convinced them to donate $500 to the childhood Leukemia Foundation for every football team member that shaved their head. The room went crazy as everyone realized what this meant: their mullets were as good as gone. Travis turned to Caden and gave him a wink. He was so nervous he thought he might throw up but the excitement that lit up Caden’s face and the knowledge that they would be doing something to help childhood cancer told Travis that he was doing the right thing. The team went wild as Travis’s mullet was lifted up and sliced off in big chunks that fell onto his jersey and jeans. He could feel the cold metal slicing off his curls and the weight of them hitting his shoulders made him excited. Travis could tell that Caden was having the time of his life shaving his best friend down to nothing. Travis watched as his curls fell onto his lap and could’t help but think of his brother. He had vowed to himself that he would not ever cut his hair like this but here he was…watching his pale head be bared of its shiny locks.
As soon as he was bald, Travis reached up and felt his stubble head. All of the nerves were gone and he realized that he loved being bald. He announced that it was Caden’s turn next and he happily took the chair. He knew his dad would have no objections to getting peeled down. As Travis sheared down his best friend, he gave him a smile and for a minute, Travis felt the same way that he felt the night he and his brother spent together. Caden’s shorter but darker hair joined the growing pile at their boots and the whole team lined up to get their mullets shaved off.
In the end, the team raised over $12,000 for shaving off all of their hair. Not a single boy opted out of the shearing. Travis FaceTimed his brother after the team was all shaved and was surprised to see the change in him. He had put on more muscle from all of the training and was even more bald than he had been when he left home. The Army had really shaved him clean. But, for all the shock that Travis had seeing the change in his brother, it was nothing compared to the shock his brother felt when he saw Travis shaved down to nothing. He was so shocked to see his brother with no hair at all on his head. He laughed until he cried. Then, he actually cried when Travis told him all that had led up to this moment. He was so proud of his brother and all of the bravery, sacrifice, and selflessness that he had shown to make his friend feel welcome and raise money for a good cause. He ended the call by challenging Travis to a wrestling match when he got home and said that the looser would have to get a mohawk.
The team ended up winning the rest of their games and went on to the state championships. They kept their shaved domes because they seemed to be just as much of a good-luck charm as the mullets. Travis decided that he looked even more menacing with his sheared stubble under his football helmet and he sure as heck didn’t have to deal with helmet hair any more. He enjoyed the feeling of his scalp when he slid on his helmet and strapped it on. He also liked the look and feel of his bald head under his baseball cap on game-day. He gained even more popularity at school and barely a day went by when someone didn’t want to rub his sandpaper head.
Caden and Travis eventually went to college together. To make ends meet, they both joined the ROTC. To stay in regs, would shave each others heads every other week. They went on to join the military to serve their country together and continued to be the best of friends. Even after the military, when they had both settled down and gotten married, they would be sure to meet at the beginning of every football season and take the clippers to each others heads. Their wives would roll their eyes every time the two got together for their annual shaving. When their sons were just getting into high school and playing football, they decided to buy them a pair of clippers and put them into their gym bag…letting them decide their own fate.