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Flash/Changes with Dennis by M DeMarlo
Dennis lived with his parents and it seemed he was very comfortable having no immediate plans on moving out of their basement. Most of his friends have left the nest of their parents but they had something Dennis did
not, a job. Twice a week Dennis would get up early and his mother would drive him to the Observer which was the local newspaper that came out on Mondays and Friday’s. Dennis did not own his own car, and his parents
refused to buy him one. They felt he needed to earn his own money for a car. So the job hunt was limited to the local area where Dennis could walk to work if he ever found a job.
Arguments with his parents were becoming more and more often. His father would tell Dennis "just get a job" and it would end with Dennis slamming the door to the basement closed, and stomping loudly down the stairs.
However this time his father came storming down after Dennis. This big argument was because there is a job available. The job is with his father’s good friend from when they were in the Marines together. The two had
been in Korea and remained the best of friends. Dennis did not want to work for Mr. Price even if Mr. Price was now a wealthy man offering a generous salary. However Mr. Price had made it clear no hippies, Dennis would have to cut his hair and wear a tie. Mr. Price has told Dennis every time he visits to get a haircut. Now Mr. Price and his wife are looking to hire a driver for their motor home offering a very good salary for a clean cut young man with a clean driving record.
Dennis now was told for the first time in years he has to get his hair cut. That Mr. Price wants to see him in his office in two days with his hair cut short and wearing a tie. No amount of pleading with his father helped, it only made things worse. To his horror Dennis’s father told him that the Vietnam War is coming to an end and he would have to enlist in the military, go to work for Mr. Price or get out of the house. His father wanted an answer right now right this minute. Dennis backed into a corner said "fine, I will get my hair cut and go to work for Mr. Price" His father smiled and immediately phoned his friend Mr. Price. They talked for quite a while. After the phone call Dennis was told to go over to talk with Mr. Price at his home, that the barbershop Mr. Price will be using will remain open late waiting for Dennis.
Mr. Price smiled as Dennis entered his home, as did Mrs. Price. Dennis has known them all his life; they were like God Parents to him. Dennis received expensive Birthday and Christmas gifts from Mr. and Mrs. Price, they had no children of their own and treated Dennis as if he was their own. Dennis started avoiding the price’s several years ago when every time he would see Mr. Price a haircut would become the topic. Overheard Mr. Price telling his father "more discipline, and a short military haircut is what the boy needs" Ever since hearing that Dennis kept his distance. Now here he is in this Mans front room bending to get his hair cut to comply with a strict dress code.
Mr. Price describes the dress code to Dennis; a light tan or khaki shirt with a collar, dark brown dress slacks, polished black shoes and a neck tie. Yes Sir, Dennis said in a shaky voice, and how short will my hair be? Mr. Price replied "a crew cut, with the top cut down flat, maintained barbershop fresh weekly? "Why so short Dennis asked almost in tears" Mr. Price sternly told him "because that is the sacrifice you will be making. A good paying job like I am offering you never is totally free. You do as your employer request without question; it’s as simple as that. The wife and I love you as if you were our own. I am doing what I have to do to make sure you are not one of these dirty disgusting long haired hippies, and my fear of that is as you stand in front of me with your hair touching your shoulders, those hip hugging bell bottom pants and not even a pair of shoes, you wear sandals or flip flops. Well young man not after today? The driver job gives me a chance to get you cleaned up. God knows that war in Vietnam has seen the death of far too many and I don’t want you enlisting, even if your father does. It could easily spark up again and if you were deployed over there and killed your father would never forgive himself. This is a wining situation, for all involved.
Although you may not see that right now but you will. You get to see the country driving my motor home, at night it will be yours alone to sleep in while the wife and I will check into a hotel. You will have no expenses; I will be paying for everything all the time ten dollars an hour will be adding giving you a nice savings for that car you want so desperately. Dennis was just about speechless and stuttered b-b-but w-w-why such a short haircut? I’m going to look like a fool" "nonsense, you’re going to look sharp, military sharp without the risk. The crew cut is not negotiable; now let’s get you to the barbershop." Dennis "you’re going with me"? Mr. Price gave the answer "Oh yes, to supervise the haircut. Something I am very serious about, and will be very strict with haircuts" Mrs. Price gave Dennis an "I’m sorry" sort of a look. Then she spoke up in defense for Dennis. To her husband she said to him "you are being a bit ridiculous dear, seems to me that a nice not so short haircut will look fine" Mr. Price quickly responded saying "No, he will be looking sharp with a crew cut, he will get used to the short hair. I will not negotiate or budge on his haircut. Now let’s get that mop of yours cut. Now Dennis, to the barbershop, and don’t give me a hard time while we are there.
In the car Dennis tried to plead his case again, to no avail. They pulled up in front of a small traditional looking barbershop. Being that it was getting close to 8:00 PM it was dark outside and the spinning red white and blue barber’s pole was a beacon for men who got haircuts. There was a military base less than a mile away and it was obvious when the door opened and out came a man in uniform, hat in hand about to put it on his head. His haircut was clipped up high & tight. The man nodded to Dennis and Mr. Price. The man in uniform smiled saying to Dennis "wow, are you overdue." With a pleasant smile the Marine added "you come to the right place" Looking Dennis straight in his eyes the marine added "The barber said that he was waiting on a long haired guy coming in for a short cut" The Marine opened the door for Dennis who had wobbly knees and anxiety over this transformation he was about to go through. The Marine said "if you don’t mind I would like to stick around" talking directly to Dennis "you look like you could use some moral support, hell kid, its just a haicut. Mine was longer than yours when I was drafted. Its just hair kid, it grows"
The barber immediately smiled shaking hands with Mr. Price and then offering to shake Dennis’s hand, Dennis also was shaking hands with the barber. The shop was brightly lit and had smells of bay rum, cigarettes and after shave. The smell of a traditional barbershop. Pictures of men with very short haircuts were all over the walls, along with the head of a huge buck deer with antlers to make any hunter jealous. Large two shade green with chrome barbers chairs that had that 50’s barbershop look. Behind the chairs was a shelf that was with a light purple blue light inside where several clippers could be seen all plugged into a strip somewhere that could not be seen. A mirror behind the chair and one in front between both chairs situated where if sitting in either barber’s chair you could not see yourself, you had to get up out of the chair. This is why it was positioned in that way. A shelf behind the chair were several bottles of hair tonic, wax, brushes and a jar of blue fluid with different combs in black and white, hanging close by was a huge flattop comb Dennis thought at first site was an afro pick, he would find out what the big comb was for in about 30 minutes. Snapping the cape shaking little hairs from it the barber patted the seat saying to Dennis "have a seat right here young fell-a land for the second time Dennis heard "you came to the right place" Dennis nervously sat in the barber’s chair. The eyes of Mr. Price and the Marine were on him. Mr. Price began telling the barber in detail exactly how to cut Dennis’s hair. "Tight crew cut, leave a little up top cut flat, use a little butch wax make it look real sharp". Dennis felt weak but also a tingle down below as the barber combed out his shiny raven hair which reached just short of his shoulders, thick, shiny, a beautiful full head of the darkest of brown/black raven hair.
The barber pumped the chair a few times and asked Mr. Price if it would be all right if he snapped a few before and then after pictures. The Marine then added saying "you can assure on a A-1 quality haircut if he is going to put you up on the wall" Dennis answered "No way, no pictures of this" "Mr. Price thought differently and told Dennis to calm down, and yes, pictures are fine so long as there is no charge for the haircut. Mr. Price was a wealthy man, but cheap as they come always trying to cut corners and get something that’s high quality for low cost or nothing, and a free haircut exchanged for a few photo’s sounded like a great deal. As Dennis sat caped and fastened with a neck strip the two men discussed the photo’s to be taken. Striking a deal that there not be a charge today and half price for maintaining the haircut for up to a year. The barber wants customers to see the long hair to a short haircut transformation and bring their long haired boys and teens in for a similar clean-up.
The barber went in the back room and returned with a 35mm camera and a tripod, was fiddling with the flash for a second, and then the sound of the flash charging. Setting up the tripod he made a few adjustments. The barber explained that photography is his second love to cutting hair. He told Dennis "head up straight and not to look so angry" The Marine told some silly joke and even Dennis laughed, snap a photo was taken. Dennis in the barber chair with a big laughing smile on his face. Dennis said "oh man, that was so unfair" The barber now behind Dennis said "what a great picture though" and began scissor cutting the long length, in less than one minute his long hair was to the top of his ears and above his collar. The barber took another picture. "Come on son, work with me here. Your getting the crew cut as ordered either way, so give me a look like your ok with it and we will get other long haired guys to go short just like you" The Marine told another joke that was so silly Dennis laughed again. Snap, again the picture taken. The barber explained that he set the camera to take a picture every 30 seconds.
Flash, another picture and the barber turned the chair where his right side faced the camera. The clippers came to life with the sound of rotary clippers and started plowing up from his right side burn. Dark hair began falling raining down on Dennis’s lap. (Flash) The barber continued his relentless destruction clipping straight up to the crown turning the chair making sure Dennis’s hair was in site of the camera lens. Fast and professional the barber was now plowing up the left side. (Flash) Dennis was just sitting there with a mound of dark hair in his lap and clipped to his crown with a one and a half blade. The clippers made a high pitched sound, a snap and then the same as before, now with a 1A blade. (flash) Continuing on the left side burn the clipper again mowed relentlessly, this time clipping closer showing pale white skin through the new stubble. The barber continued moving slowly around Dennis’s head all the time every thirty seconds a bright flash followed by the sound of the flash recharging. Switching to a blade that cut ½ inch the barber turned Dennis facing the camera and began clipping from the top of Dennis’s head about two inches past his hairline the hair rained down leaving a thick long thatch of hair right in the front. The camera continued to flash as Dennis got a view of how short his hair was being cut as the barber swiveled his chair around for Dennis to face the camera. (flash) the barber had the thatch of hair in-between his fingers and (flash just as snip, snip, again between the fingers and more snipping. When the chair was being turned again as the barber was blending Dennis could see himself, and he had to admit he looked pretty good, handsome, he smiled (Flash) as the barber used what he thought was an afro pick to make the crew cut flat but very short. Mr. Price told the barber "tighter up the sides and back" The camera continued to snap pictures as a clipper with a humming sound clipped the stubble down to the skin, fading perfectly into the already freshly clipped stubble. Then a outline shave around his ears and neck. The barber rubbed Lucky Tiger butch wax between his hands warming the wax then applying it to groom the flat crew cut to perfection. "One more with a nice smile (Flash).
Dennis felt off key, like he wanted to hide, and was avoiding anyone and everyone he usually hung out with. He spent most of his time at the Price’s house, and they were glad to have him. Dennis didn’t want anyone he knew to see him with a crew cut. Soon he was spotted by one of his friends and word got out, so Dennis thought. What he found out is that his haircut although it was a shock to many, but then that was it, nothing else was said. In public people didn’t even look twice or laugh at him. Turns out Mr. Price and his dad were right, people had more important things to deal with than the way Dennis’s hair is cut. He thought to himself that if they were so much focusing on his haircut they needed to get a life.
Mr. Price was glad to have Dennis stay for as long as he wanted to hide out, as tomorrow he would learn how to drive the motor home. He had Dennis driving all over town, nobody paid any attention to Dennis with a crew cut. The following day Mr. Price made good on his promise and purchased clothing that was decent in the eyes of Mr. Price. This time sparing no expense, Dennis looked good. His monster bell bottom pants would look ridiculous with such a short haircut anyway. Dennis was wising up and demanded nothing but the best with his new wardrobe, and he got it. Mr. Price would have preffered to shop anywhere besides Neman Marcus, Macy’s, and other high end stores. He griped allot, growling every time the cash register totaled out the cost, but he paid it, calling the store Needless Markups, and was forced to spend ten times what he had planned. This gave Dennis a warm fuzzy good feeling. He would prefer to have long hair, disturbing to him that at age 19 he is told how to have his hair cut, and when it has to be cut. However, on the bright side he now gets to enjoy the finer things and bank every cent he earns. He wanted a brand new Corvette, or a Road Runner, maybe a Javelin or a Firebird. Knowing after returning from this cross country work/vacation he would be purchasing, paid in full, no payments a brand new car. This gave Dennis motivation, as he tied his tie in a perfect Windsor. He looked good, so good the girl living next door to the Price’s was flirting with him, and she is hot, way out of his league, so he thought. His confidence after getting to second base with the girl really upped the next level. All these major changes happening in such a short time, he was no longer the same 19 year old kid. Thinking to himself "the reason none of his buddies made fun of his haircut is because he really does look good".
By now a over a week had passed since his hair had been cut, and photographed. Before their cross country trip would begin Mr. Price took Dennis to get a fresh haircut. It hadn’t even been two weeks and Mr. Price again had him in the same barbershop. While driving up to the barbershop Dennis realized that this is not going to change, he is going to have to keep his hair so military looking. In the barbershop strategically placed were a set of pictures of Dennis’s transformation. A teenager was in the barbers chair getting a crew cut. Long hair was all over the floor and in the teenagers lap. The young man was with his father, a Marine captain in uniform. The Marine captain stood right up next to the teen getting a crew cut directing the kids haircut in process, and it was short. The kid getting a crew cut, all the long hair on the floor, the kids father, it seems the photo’s did what the barber had intended.