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Mr. B or Mr. Baldy by Manny

This story is a continuation to "Jack Opts for Change".


"You were the star of the match, Jack! It was like you alone defeated Benson High," Mr. B exclaimed.

Jack basked in the praise. "I felt so energized and focused, especially with no hair in my face to distract me from the ball!"

Mr. B could not resist giving Jack’s new crewcut a quick rub.

A few other fans rushed up to congratulate Jack on his performance and their school’s big victory over rival Benson High.

Mr. B tried to slip away, but Jack called out, "Don’t forget our appointment. Al will be waiting, Mr. B. I'll be ready to leave in a few minutes."

Mr. B cringed a bit and ran his fingers nervously through his overgrown business cut. He had hoped Jack would forget about the plan they made before the game.

On the one hand, Mr. B was excited about getting a crewcut, but on the other hand it made him feel nervous. Better to wait for summer vacation when there would be time to adjust to his new, shorn look.

The cluster around Jack grew and climaxed with the arrival of Coach. "You were a star out of the court, Jack! You’re going to give Jeremy a run for his money as captain of the tennis squad. I’m thinking about making you two co-captains. And I think that your new haircut was part of your improved playing today. No more hair in your face. Doesn’t it feel quite a bit better, short like that?"

"Sure does, Coach," Jack replied. "And I got out of the dressing room a lot faster than usual. I’m sure Jeremy is still in there fussing with his locks. Haven’t you urged him to cut his hair, or was that just me you kept nagging?"

"I want all the players on my team to have short tidy haircuts. I must admit, however, that I was surprised when you arrived today with your new crewcut. But who can argue with results?" Coach asked rhetorically.

"You can thank Mr. B for my big change. He’s the one who talked me into a shorter haircut," Jack said, suddenly turning the focus onto the art teacher.

"Me?" Mr. B stammered nervously.

"Yes, Mr. B, your recommendations about going short and your childhood experiences inspired me to take the plunge," Jack said.

"Well, I plan to be going a lot shorter myself. The crewcut you're sporting might inspire a few others to get the big chop," Mr. B confessed, suddenly advancing the idea that he might show up at school on Monday shorn of his tired business cut.

"I hope it inspires Jeremy!" Coach laughed. "All his girlish long hair needs to be cut off."

Finally, the little crowd broke up and Jack headed to the parking lot with Mr. B.

As they walked, Jack chatted amiably, full of excitement and energy. "Mr. B, I know I've already said it, but I want to say it again. Thanks for coming to the game to support me! It wasn't the haircut, really, that made me play so well, it was knowing you were in the bleachers cheering me on! And, I can't wait to see you with a crewcut too. We might be twins! But, we need to hurry. I hope Al's doesn't close early on Saturdays. I forgot to check when I was there this morning," Jack said.

Jack had fun playing the father figure, driving Mr. B to the barber shop. "And, there will be no pouting when we're in there, understood? You put your head down nice and still when the barber takes his clippers to your thatch!"

"Understood, Pops," Mr. B laughed.

"I'm going to have all this shag clipped off close," Jack said as he grasped the plush locks that covered Mr. B's head and tussled them. "I should have had the barber take his clippers to you long ago!"

But when they arrived at Al's Barber Shop, there was a sigh -- disappointment from Jack and relief from Mr. B. It had already closed!

"Well, I guess my business cut was spared, Jack," Mr. B said.

"At least for a few days!" Jack replied before turning the car around and heading back to the school so that Mr. B could retrieve his car.

"I hope I see you at church tomorrow," Mr. B said as he closed the door. "Tell you father to give the new minister another chance."


Mr. B was happy to see Jack and both his parents sitting in the sanctuary when he arrived at church. Obviously, Jack had talked his father into coming.

He slipped into the pew behind them so that he could get a very close look at the back of Jack's new crewcut.

"Nice to see the whole family here," Mr. B whispered as he took a seat behind them. "And, Jack looking so sharp with his new haircut!"

Both parents smiled broadly. "He loves being in your art class, Mr. B," Jack's mother said. "First time he's shown enthusiasm for something other than athletics."

"You should have seen him on the court yesterday!! He was a star," Mr. B said.

Jack's father nodded in approval. "I should make sure I go to the next match. I don't think I've seen a single one of Jack's tennis matches this year."

Then the music started and the congregation fell into silence.

After the service ended, Jack's parents rushed over to greet some friends, leaving Mr. B and Jack to chat.

They had barely spoken a few words when the new minister came up to them. "I heard all about your heroics on the tennis court yesterday, Jack," Rev. Battersea said. "My daughter Natalie is a cheerleader, and she came home raving about your tennis moves. I heard about your haircut, too!"

Jack blushed. "Good or bad about the haircut?"

"Well, let's just say Natalie was a fan of your floppy golden mane -- especially that swooping, sexy forelock!" Rev. Battersea admitted.

"All the cheerleaders were disappointed, I think," Mr. B chuckled.

Jack interjected, "Hey, but this crewcut has its fans. Coach, mainly. But even Mr. B here likes it so much he was going to get one himself. He went to the barbershop after the match yesterday, but it was already closed."

"Really? A crewcut for you, Mr. B?" Rev. Battersea asked.

Mr. B shrugged. "Yep, that's right. This thatch needs to be dispatched, I'm told! Call it a mid-life crisis." The art teacher winked at Jack.

"Well, I cut hair," Rev. Battersea said. "Love amateur barbering. And am quite good at it. I could give you a crewcut. This afternoon, if you want! Why don't you pop over to the parsonage -- and you come too, Jack. That way I'd have a model to work with. What is that length on top, a #3?"

"Precisely!" exclaimed Jack.

"And a #1 on the sides?" Rev. Battersea continued.

"Bingo! You really do know a lot about barbering, Reverend," Jack said.

"I cut head after head of hair throughout seminary. It's where I got my extra spending money," Rev. Battersea explained.

Mr. B was on the spot to reply about the minister's offer for an amateur haircut. "Well, uh, yes! If you'd do the honors, Reverend. A crewcut can't be too hard. Although, I've been thinking about something even shorter....a butch!" Just saying the word 'butch' sent a shiver down Mr. B's spine. If he was going to get a drastically short haircut, he might as well shed it all.

"Shoot, I could give you a butch with my eyes closed and my hands tied behind my back," Rev. Battersea laughed. "Come by the parsonage at 2 pm!"

And, with that, the minister moved on to greet other parishioners.

Jack's eyes got wide. "A butch? Really?!"

"Why not?" asked Mr. B. "I'm feeling brave. Imagine me showing up on Monday with all this mowed down to a #1 all over. Nothing left up here but stubble."

Two hours later Rev. Battersea was fastening the cape around Mr. B's neck in the parsonage kitchen with Jack looking on. "You sure? A #1 all over?" the minister asked.

"Do it!" the art teacher replied. "Quick, before I chicken out!"

The clippers roared to life and came up through the floppy forelock, tackling Mr. B's chestnut color hair that still was quite thick and glossy for a man his age. Rev. Battersea continued pushing the clippers straight down the top of his head. Torrents of hair fell in all directions and accumulated on the kitchen floor.

"Look at all that hair coming off!" Jack exclaimed gleefully. "Can I try?"

"Sure!" Rev. Battersea handed him the clippers. "Keep a steady hand, press it firmly to the scull and you'll have him down to the wood in minutes!"

Jack playfully hissed at Mr. B, "Sit very still!" Then, he cleared another swath of dense chestnut-colored hair from the top, where the locks were over four inches in length. He loved the feeling of power and control over Mr. B's disappearing mane.

Meanwhile, under the cape, Mr. B was swelling with his own form of private excitement.

"Put your head down," Jack ordered as he turned his focus to Mr. B's nape.

The youthful barber received Rev. Battersea's approval. "You're quite a barber, Jack!"

"You'll be next in the chair, Reverend!" Jack joked.

"Oh!" Rev. Battersea squealed, imagining his nicely stylized executive coif succumbing to the clippers. "I haven't had a baldy cut since I was six years old! Father clipped my brothers and me down regularly, all the way through elementary school. We weren't a wealthy family, and the kitchen haircuts sure saved on expenses. You are doing a very good job, Jack! I think we'll have to start calling Mr. B a new name -- Mr. Baldy!"

Mr. B laughed at the joke. Rev. Battersea was really turning out to be everything we wanted in a minister.

Finally Jack snapped off the clippers. He took his time rubbing the clipped stubble over and over. "This feels fantastic!"

"Let me see how I look," Mr. B exclaimed.

Rev. Battersea held up a hand mirror. "Very handsome, I'd say!"

Mr. B smiled broadly. "I like it!" Then he reached out from under the cape and felt his own clipped pate. "Good job, Jack!"

Jack unfastened the cape and shook all the shorn locks to the floor. Mr. B stood up and looked at the clumps of his hair in the kitchen. "Now, it your turn, Rev!"

Reverend Battersea's face turned crimson. "Oh, no! I couldn't possibly....what would people say?" he stammered.

"Nonsense!" Mr. B joked, as he playfully put his arm around the minister, pretending to lead him to the amateur barber chair. "You'll be glad once this mane has been mowed off!" And, then he tussled the clergyman's thick, lustrous brown hair.

"I invited you here to receive a haircut, not to give one!" Rev. Battersea said to deflect the drive to shear him.

"Doesn't the Good Book say, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive'?" Jack piped up.

"It does. And, now, let me give you a broom to sweep up all of Mr. B's shorn hair, Jack!" Rev. Battersea said putting an end to the attempt at inflicting him with a baldy cut.

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