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John's New Trademark by A.J.

As John sat in the barber`s chair, his mind wandered as he pondered on how great his life was going. He had done well for a high school drop-out. After quitting high school, he had wanted to work ouside, and he found a job working for a landscaping business. He had started a minimum wage, but had worked hard and saved as much money he could, and after four years, he had started his own landscaping business. He was talented at designing landscapes and his business had grown quickly during the last five years. A recent landscaping project had brought John even more success. He had landscaped the yard of an executive at a cable TV home and garden network. The executive was so impressed with the work John had done for her that she had recommended him for a landscaping design series. It was a low-budget series doing garden makeovers, but John figured that if nothing else it would get his business some good publicity.

John had spent several hours attending auditions and being interviewed. The producers and network executives had been impressed by his ability to speak well, his easy-going personality, and his good looks. The discussions around money were easy. The amount John was offered more than made up for the time he would be spending away from his business. A pilot episode was commissioned, with a series of twelve episodes to follow if the pilot turned out well.

The pilot had been successful, although several changes to the format of the show were made, all within the show`s low budget. It had been a hot day when the pilot was taped, and on the screening John`s sweat-drenched hair kept falling in eyes. John had noticed it, and the producer had made a comment that John`s hair needed to be shorter. With a low-budget cable show, there were no hair stylists, so the day before taping John went to a local barber shop to get his hair trimmed, and while he was sitting getting his hair cut, his mind had wandered back over the past several weeks, and also thinking about everything he had to do on the series.

It was late afternoon when John had gone to the barber shop. He had done a day`s work on a landscape project and had gone home for a quick shower before going to the barber shop. He never really paid much attention to his hair. It was about three inches on top and a little shaggy around the sides. He usually went about six to eight weeks between trims. There were several barbershops in his neighborhood, and he just went to which ever one was closest when he had some time to get a haircut. Today was in one of the older shops in town, which happened to be closest to his house. There were no customers in the shop when he arrived, so he shown straight to a chair.

When the barber had asked him how he wanted his hair cut, John realized that he hadn`t thought about it.

`Um ... kinda short all over. I work outside as a landscaper and need something that stays cool.`

`OK,` the barber had said.

The barber put the cape over John, and then turned around to clean up his working area, and grab a bottle of soda from the old Pepsi machine in the corner of the shop. By the time he came back to his customer and started on the haircut, John was lost in thought. The barber started at John`s left temple with a #2 blade, buzzing from the bottom of John`s sideburn right up the side of John`s head. He worked towards the back of John`s head and then around the right side. With each pass of the clippers, a couple of inches of dark brown hair fell on to the cape, unnoticed by the customer. John really intended to have about an inch removed from his hair and was oblivious to the fact that much more than that was being removed. He was so deep in thought that he didn`t even notice when the barber began to shear the top of his head with a #3 blade. As the barber passed the clippers over John`s head from the forehead back to the crown, John sat there thinking through the various garden designs he was planning for the series. His nervousness was directed towards the TV series, and not at all to the transformation that was unknowingly happened on his head.

He came back to consciousness when the barber used a compress air hose to blow all the lose hairs off John`s head. The air felt strong and cold. As the chair was facing away from the mirror, he had no idea how little hair was left on his head. The barber began putting warm lather on John`s neck and around his ear. He always enjoyed the warm lather neck shave after a haircut and was disappointed when he went to a barber shop that didn`t do it. Usually, the barber didn`t put the lather all the way around his ear, and John hoped that the haircut wasn`t too short. He realized he should have mentioned to the barber that he was taping a TV series the next day. The barber finished the neck shave, and wiped off the remaining lather and shaved stubble using a wet towel. The barber turned the towel over the rubbed over John`s entire head. John was surprised at how refreshing it was. He was also surprised when the barber didn`t comb the hair after rubbing it the towel, or put any gel in it.

`All done,` the barber said as he swung the chair around to the mirror.

John was shocked by his appearance. He had never had his hair cut this short before. He`d worn his hair medium length in the same basic style since he was a young boy. He knew that there was nothing that could be done now, so he thanked the barber, got up out of the chair and paid.

As he walked out of the barber shop, the gusty wind blew on his scalp. It felt strange. John got into his pickup truck and looked at himself in the rear view mirror. He couldn`t believe this had happened. He was having trouble even recognizing himself in the mirror. He hoped his hair would grow back quickly, especially as he was going to be on TV. He suddenly remembered that taping of the series was due to start the next day. He hoped that this was not going to cause a problem with the producer of his show.

The next morning he went to the studio where they were going to do some of the inside recording. He wore a baseball cap so that he could explain what had happened before shocking anyone. The baseball cap was also there for his own comfort, as John still felt very self-conscious about his buzzed head.
John saw the producer as he walked into the studio. She came up to him.

`Hi John,` she said happily. `Feeling nervous?`

`Uh ... yeah, kind of,` John replied.

`Don`t worry about it, John,` the producer said, `It will be fine. I don`t expect any problems.`

John looked at her and sheepishly said, `I think we might already have one problem.`

`What problem?`

John continued, `I got a haircut yesterday, like you said at the pilot screening ... but the barber kinda went crazy and gave me a buzzcut.`

The producer looked up at John`s head. `Take off the cap and let`s see the damage.`

John removed the cap, revealing a well cut, tapered crewcut.

`Ugh. When I said that you should get a haircut, I didn`t mean to have your head shaved,` she said.

`I know. I`m real sorry about this. It`s not the haircut I wanted. I`ll grow it out as quickly as possible.`

The producer looked at John`s head and thought for a moment. `You know it`s really not bad. It actually suits you quite well. Makes you look more rugged ... more of an outdoor man.` She paused thoughtfully, still looking at John`s head. `It`s really not shaved ... you do have some hair, so hopefully you won`t look completely bald under the camera lights.`

`I`m going to grow it out as soon as I can,` John repeated, `I just wish I could make it grow faster.`

`John, you won`t be able to grow it out. It will need to stay the same length for the whole series for continuity,` the producer said.

`Huh?` John didn`t understand.

`We`re taping all of the inside studio footage today. That footage will be used in each of the episodes in the series, even though we`re taping the outdoor footage over the next 24 weeks. I`ve got news for you, John. You`re stuck with that haircut for six months.`

`You`re kidding,` John said.

`You will need to get the exact same haircut every couple of weeks. You need to make sure that your stylist doesn`t go any shorter than this. It`s essential to the continuity of the show. With your hair being this short, it will be very noticable if you are bald in one scene, have this buzzcut in another scene, and have longer hair in yet another scene.`

The producer thought some more. `Also, we have already had some cartoon-type sketches of you done for the opening titles of the show. They didn`t turn out the way I wanted, so we were going to get those done again. We will need to make sure they change your hair. Maybe we can make this your trademark ... the buzzcut gardener.`

`My trademark? But I don`t want to have a buzzcut,` John said.

`Look in the mirror,` the producer said turning John to face a make-up mirror on the set. `You already have one. Looks like you`re going to have a buzzcut for at least the next six months, and if the show rates well and the trademark idea works out, this might be the new you for a long time.`

The producer`s cell phone rang and she walked away to answer the call, leaving John looking at his reflection in the mirror. `The buzzcut gardener,` he thought. How could this be happening?

Taping of the show started, and two weeks later (after a reminder from the producer), John was back at the same barber shop, carefully explaining that he needed the same crewcut as he had received two weeks earlier. This time he was paying full attention to the haircut, and although he was turned facing away from the mirror, he questioned the barber several times and even asked to see the cut as it progressed. This time instead of being zoned out during the cut, he watched the clipppers as the barber moved them towards his head, and he felt them vibrate as they ran across his head. He wondered how he hadn`t noticed all this last time. After the warm lather shave, the barber turned the chair around, and John dubiously approved his `trademark` crewcut. He got out of the chair, paid the barber, and without thinking said to the barber `See you in two weeks.` He heard himself say that and sighed as he walked out into the fresh air. At least the cool morning breeze on his head felt good.

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