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I Found Out What "Basic" Means! by SoCalButch


A few winters back I spent several months in a small town in Oregon. Until the Beatles came along, I had a tight buzz (most boys did then) and really liked it, but then I grew it out some, wore long hair in college and kept it fairly long until I went to Oregon. So it was more than 30 years since I had been buzzed, and the truth is, I was ready to get in the chair. I wanted it short and kind of brushy, not skinned, and didn`t know anything about clipper blade numbers, etc. So I went downtown to the only real barber shop in town. It was a one-man shop, and the chair was empty, so I sat right down. There were deer antlers on a couple of walls, and a lot of Marine Corps memorabilia on another wall. I commented on that right off and the barber, who told me he was 84 (there was no reason to dispute this claim, he looked it!) said he had been a Marine in World War II. Then he asked what I wanted, and I said, `I want a crewcut, please.` Now that I know about clipper blades, I guess what I probably wanted was a #4, and by crewcut, I just meant nice and short. Anyway, the barber looked shocked and said, `Oh, my!` then he started arguing with me. He told me I shouldn`t get it so short. I was surprised, I thought barbers always gave you the cut you asked for, so I said, `Please, I`d just like a basic crewcut.` He got a sort of grim look on his face - I thought he was annoyed at me for insisting, to tell the truth - put the cape on me and clicked on the clippers. I liked the sound and I really looked forward to getting a good haircut. Some barbers face you towards the mirror, some away from it so that they can work, and then whirl you around when they`re done so you can see the results. This barber belonged to the away-from-the-mirror school, so I didn`t see what was going on. The clippers sure felt good on my head and he worked for a while, taking his time and talking a lot about his wife`s cooking. I remember him remarking especially on her ham with raisin sauce, which didn`t sound all that appealing to me. Finally, when he was done he handed me my glasses and turned me to the mirror. Too bad there wasn`t somebody with a camera to take a photo, because the look on my face was memorable. The guy had given me an induction cut, and because he had taken his time, it was so tight that I couldn`t feel stubble when I ran my hand over it. The point is that when he was a Marine, his generation called boot camp `basic training,` or `basic` for short, and when I said a `basic` crewcut, he honestly thought I meant a super-tight buzz like you got the first day in the Marine Corps. I paid him the $9 he charged (my big-city barber at home only charged $8 at the time!), jammed on my ballcap and went out to the car, wondering if my dog would recognize me. I was so embarrassed the first two days I didn`t go anywhere in public without my ballcap, even to a restaurant, although you can get away with that in small-town Oregon these days (and a lot of other places, I guess.) By the third day the stubble started to show, and I came to decide my new cut was just great. I liked the look, it felt great, and drying off after a shower took one swipe with the towel. Pretty cool! So after about 10 days, I was driving through another town when I saw a barber shop named Butch`s and said, `You better check it out.` I was ready for a re-scalping, and Butch obliged without arguing. In fact at the end, he said, `This wasn`t much work,` and charged me just $5. I kept it tight for a while, then let it grow out some before returning home - I didn`t want a lot of stares and comments in my home town. But now I wear a good butch, #2 on top and shorter on the sides and back, and almost every time I get in the chair I feel grateful for having had the guts (and the dumb luck)to get a cut in Oregon that inspired me to live up to the phrase `Keep it short!



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