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Rick has More Hurtful Haircuts by Deke Cutter

This is Part II of Rick and Mike 2 Haircuts
that Hurt.

Coach Peters, Rick’s basketball coach, had a bit of a problem. Two members of the School Board had been grumbling that his team was the shaggiest bunch of boy athletes in the school and there were rumblings of forcing a hair length requirement on the boys. Ed Peters had been asked to meet with the Board. He knew that the real reason was that those two male members had sons who played football and who instigated team head-shaves during their end of summer practices. The boys that participated all looked like Alley Oop, the cartoon cave man by the end of the season, Ed thought. And the football and baseball players wore helmets or hats. They were the sports that were the other big sports the Board was concerned about. Coach wanted to speak to Rick. Rick was the school’s poster boy for responsible longer hair grooming and the coach had hoped to use him as the example for the other guys on the team. He had his speech planned: "Nobody is asking you to cut off your long locks or curls, but can you get them trimmed up, so they look neater during the season. We have Fred at the Barber Shop who does know how to trim long hair and there’s that new unisex place opening so you’ll have choices." But now Rick’s crew cut threw him a curveball of sorts.

After the crew cut Rick had to get when his thick mop was transformed into a silly looking modern look by a hairdresser called Mike who formerly worked at the new unisex salon, Rick had taken some ribbing at school when he got the crew cut but nothing like the stuff the "hairdo" had caused him. He had physical education class on Monday and Mr. Heinlein, the baseball coach, told him that Coach Peters, the basketball coach, wanted to see him before he left school. So, when his classes ended, he hustled down to the gym and found Coach Peters. "Rick, I had to see it for myself," joked the coach, "the one kid whose long hair always looked neat and presentable got it all cut off. Please tell me you’re not going to go through the season now looking like a shaggy tennis ball and then a cave man growing it back out. I would never force a boy to have a haircut he didn’t want, but if I had a good player like you, a leader among your peers. Ah, Rick, I’m not being fair to you. Look pal, if you are on the team, just do me a favor and keep yourself classy like you always have."

"Me, classy? Aw heck Coach, I’m just me. You know I’ll do my best." Thanks, though, for not making fun of me. I was a dope. I got hoodwinked into getting a dumb hairdo that looked so awful that all I could do to fix it was get this crewcut. I didn’t want to show you or the guys up, if I made the team with that squirrelly looking haircut."

Coach Peters had served in the US Marine Corps after college and had come out of the conflict inViet Nam one piece. He came home and was able to return to civilian life successfully. He had eventually grown out his flat top haircut into a softer longer style that covered the top of his ears and parted naturally above his left eye. He kept his hair in an appropriate length and was all about the new "dry look." With his wife’s agreement, he went to the school board meeting with a new strategy to stop them from forcing a hair length rule on the school. Ed knew that if it only covered athletes, it would stop some boys from playing sports and learning the values of being on a team and perhaps getting healthy exercise habits established. If it was school-wide, all heck would break loose. There would be lawsuits, student protests and the high school experience would be ruined for these kids. So, he was going to give it his best shot.

The two Board members who had a problem with long hair on young men looked truculent at best when the board’s president called Coach Peters forward to speak. "Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to let us continue as we have at our schools. I am here because my young athletes on the basketball court have the unlucky distinction of being the only ones of the three main sports who play without helmets or caps. My players have been leaders and will continue to be. One of my returning Juniors who always kept his moderately long hair clean, neat and well-groomed is now sporting a crew cut, so you never know what a student will choose. I am making you a pledge, if you give us some breathing room on this issue, I will return to the tight flat top haircut I had in the Corps and maintained for several years after. I’ll wear all season with regular visits to Fred to keep it looking fresh."

Lucille Meadows, President of the Board and the voice of reason on most issues spoke up. "Well Coach Peters, I think your offer is a generous one and I think we should give you the ‘breathing room’ you request. Now unless someone wishes to make a formal motion, I suggest we move on to New Business."

The next morning, before school started, Coach Peters was Fred’s first customer at the Barber Shop. "Morning Coach, I was at the School Board meeting last night and I figured you’d be in this morning. Hop up in the chair."

"Good morning, Fred. Yes, I thought my skintight flat top days were behind me. Don’t get me wrong, that was the best haircut over in those jungles. Man, it was hot and humid. I liked it well enough to keep it when I got out. My wife, Sherry, well, you know, she was a Navy nurse over there and she fell in love with me when I had that haircut, so she was fine with it. But, as the styles changed, we figured, no use getting stuck in the past, especially when you deal with kids, and you have a great barber. But, as my granny used to say, ‘needs must’, so fire up those clippers and make me look like a marine again."

Fred smiled and went to work, forcefully removing Ed’s sideburn that barely reached the middle of his ear and then moved the guardless clipper up the side of his head. He continued to strip away the hair around the sides and back of Ed’s head. "You know coach, those two idiots on the school board are the ones that ought to be in here getting skinned, not you, Fred stated, as he continued, he folded down Ed’s left ear and cleaned off the remaining hair on that side of his head. They only got on the Board so they could make sure they could head off their sons’ getting into any serious disciplinary problems that would keep them from being accepted as legacies at their alma maters. Neither of those boys have the grades to get into those schools on their own merit."

As Fred wet the hair on top of Coach Peter’s head and started blow drying it all back, Ed said, "well that blow dryer is new, you used to just put that Allum stuff in and force the hair to stand to attention. But, you know, of the many things I learned in the Marines, tactics sometimes win battles over force. For all their bluster about the boys’ hair, we both know, they’ve both grown their hair a lot longer than it was just five years ago. Plus, I never see them either of them at the VFW anymore. That’s why I knew playing the Marine card and getting the flatty would probably do the trick." By this point Fred had roughed out the top and was starting to perfect it, creating the landing strip, and very carefully insuring that the sides were even.

Once Fred was satisfied with the top, he warmed up the lather, covered the sides and back of Ed’s head and proceeded to shave the stubble off the sides, wiping the remainder off with a towel. Next, he applied a small amount of Butch Wax, ensuring that Ed’s remaining hair was all standing to attention. He turned Ed around to face the mirror. "There you go Coach, hope this is what you wanted."

"Perfect Fred, can’t wait to hear the razzing from the boys at tryouts."

Tryouts began that day after school ended. As the boys gathered in the locker room, Rick and his two best buddies Andy Ross, and Dom Alessio were getting into their practice clothes. Andy’s blonde hair was cut into a middle parted feathered style that covered his ears. His bangs were just at his eyebrows. Dom’s thick wavy dark hair was side parted and just seemed to get bulkier and bulkier. Andy came over to Rick and rubbed Rick’s stubbly head and said, "for luck." Then Dom did the same. Rick gave his two friends a look that can only pass between good friends that says, you know you will pay, but you are still my best pals."

Dom looked back at him and said, "What, have you seen some of those sophomores, we need all the luck we can and you’re the only dork who can go from best hair in school to hairdo to crewcut and still have girls saying (changing to a falsetto voice) ‘he is sooo cute."

Rick looked at his two friends, shook his head and laughed. "Hey man, when you have it, you have it." This earned him a head lock and a kick in the butt from his pals.

The boys trying out for the team arrived in the gym. Some of the Seniors who knew the Coach Peters immediately razzed him about his haircut: ‘Hey coach, did you re-up?’ ‘What happened coach, fall asleep in the chair?’ ‘Didn’t want hair longer than Rick’s coach?’

"OK boys let’s get started." The try outs lasted for almost 3 hours. "Great effort guys. We will post the Varsity and Junior Varsity rosters tomorrow afternoon. I will want to meet with both teams tomorrow for 30 minutes."

The next day after school, Rick, arrived at the bulletin board outside the gym, just moments after Andy and Dom and found his two friends beaming. "Luck head rub worked its magic for us. We’re all back on the Varsity," Dom said, once again rubbing Rick’s head.

"Looks like we’re gonna have to keep you in that lucky crew cut all season buddy", Andy added.

Before Rick could reply, the Assistant Coach, Mr. Oliver, one of the History teachers, was herding all the boys who had made the teams into the gym.

"Congratulations boys, for earning a position on either the Junior Varsity or Varsity Teams. JV players remember, if there are injuries or academic DQs during the season, one of you may be called up, so play hard and stay ready. Now before we go further, several of you have commented on my flat top. It’s the haircut I wore when I served in the Marine Corps. I’ll be wearing it with pride all basketball season. We had some complaints that some of you fellows and your teammates last season looked to shaggy out on the court. Some members of the School Board even wanted to impose hair length requirements. (Groaning and moaning started from the boys), but I offered to prove that was not necessary and promised to get my old ‘flatty’ back for the season. Now I have never required any student athlete to get a haircut and I am not going to start now. But you would be doing yourselves and all the students in the school a favor if you would consider getting your hair trimmed a bit or styled so it doesn’t appear to wild when your out on the court or during a hard practice." I was going to use Rick, here, (pointing to the now crew cut point guard) as an example of how a longer cut can be kept neat, but as most of you know, he has switched things up recently. But, guys, again, it is up to each of you. Now, you know the rules, but make sure you get the list from Coach Oliver on good nutrition, academic requirements, attendance at school and practice, hygiene, etc. And we’ll see you on Monday for our first practice. Remember those parental/guardian consent forms."

Before the boys could leave the gym, Toby Morrison. The probable starting Center, raised his voice and said, "Coach, is it OK if the Varsity players meet in the back of the gym for ten minutes?"

"Sure Toby, the coaches and I will be here for about 45 minutes so take your time."

Toby, at 6’5" was the tallest player on the team. His neat Afro haircut, while unusual in the school that only had a small percentage of Black students, was probably not one of the haircuts that drew the ire of the School Board members. He was, however, an astute young man and saw an opportunity for the team to reciprocate the coach’s support. "Listen guys, with the exception of Rick, we all got some deciding to do about our hair. My mom was at the School Board meeting when Coach spoke. Those to men thought they had it all sewn up until coach played the Marine card. He made a big sacrifice and I think him mentioning Rick’s recent scalping (no offense, Rick) helped too. So, what are we going to do?"
"I’m not getting no GI Joe haircut like Coach," one shaggy player called out.

"My old man will make me keep it short if I get it cut too short," said another.

Meanwhile, Rick, Andy and Dom had been holding a colloquy of their own on the subject. Rick had been adamant that he was not keeping the crewcut just so "you two idiots" can rub my head before every game." Then he had heard the coach speak and the wheels started turning and he had offered them an offer they couldn’t refuse, like that mafia guy in the book he’d read last summer. "OK, you guys want me to keep my crewcut all season, then you two have to get haircuts too.

"What kind of haircut," asked Andy who particularly loved his golden locks.

"I would want to see those ears uncovered and the hair off your collar, and a good inch of space clear above your eyebrows. And Dom, I’d say, you need to get Fred, or whoever, to get those thinning shears out and to take your hair off your ears and collar too. Do we have a deal?"

"Rick," Toby called, what do three have to say about this?"

"Well, Tobes, as everybody knows, my hair isn’t going to cause anybody to impose any bans, but these two are getting some significant trims tomorrow. If more guys who help Coach out by getting a trim, then, I will keep my crewcut all season."

"OK guys, you heard three of the probable starters. Now hear from me. Fred’s going to take two inches off my ‘Fro tomorrow. The rest of you decide for yourselves. See you Monday!"

As they were finally leaving the gym, the conversation among the three friends continued. "What’s the deal man, you committed us before we had a chance to decide!"

"Sorry about that Andy, it just sort of happened, like you making my head lucky."

"And what about the condition for you keeping the crewcut?"

"Don’t worry Dom, it was a calculated risk. I will keep the crewcut because I was pretty sure, Toby was going to bring a few more guys around. You wait and see."

Saturdays at Fred’s Barber Shop were not as busy as they had been 10 years ago, but Fred still did a good trade. This particular Saturday brought in a constant stream of regulars and rather tall young men. Fred smiled to himself as he thought to himself, "Coach Ed must have done himself proud."

Fred’s first customer of the day was Toby Morrison. "Well Toby, it’s always good to see you, son. I take it you are here for a bit of a trim before the season starts."

"You got it Fred. With the coach willing to get his hair cut down to the bone that way, I figured we all need to do our part. I know it’s a pain in the neck, but can you take two inches off and keep the shape?"

"Oh, I think I can handle that."

"Fred, you are one great barber. This is just what I wanted."

For the next hour or so, Fred had some of his Saturday regulars. Then at around 9:30, Rick and the boys came in. "Rick, I certainly didn’t expect to see you back so soon. I’m guessing you are giving your two friends some moral support. I had Tobey in earlier and he let me know that some more of the team might be in for some trims and shape ups. OK fellows, who is first up?" Rick looked at his two friends and finally had to poke Andy in back to get him moving toward the chair.

"Geez, Rick, give a guy a chance," Andy whined.

"Come on man, you know what we talked about. We are leaders and we owe this to the coach."

With that encouragement from the guy that had got him out of plenty of scrapes and been by his side in numerous schoolyard battles over the years, Andy got up into the chair and Fred caped him up. "So what are we doing today Andy?"

"You always know what’s going on Fred. Coach asked us all to make sure our hair was a little neater this year, so Dom and I are here for our trims."

"And…, added Rick, "before tryouts these two rubbed my bristly head for good luck. When they both made the team, they wanted me to keep getting crewcuts all season, so they could ‘rub the lucky bristles’ before each game. Once we Coach spoke to us yesterday and we saw the sacrifice he made to appease the "hair gods" on the School Board, we three made a deal: I’ll wear a crew cut all season but these two will each get a significant trim that they will maintain all season. So, Andy needs the hair clear of his ears and collar and the bangs an inch and a half above his eyebrows. Trim the sideburns up to mid-ear. Sort of a shorter version of his feathered cut, but less feathers."

Fred smiled and said, "Rick, I’m going to hire you to give all my customers lessons on how to give clear instructions to their barber. Andy (and Dom), I know you boys don’t want to give up as much hair as you are losing today, but I also know, better than you, I think, what a big deal it was for Rick to have had to get that crewcut. And, while Coach is a tough Marine, he is going to face plenty of unwanted attention for that tight flat top for the next couple of months. So, boys, you just sit back and enjoy the ride." With those words spoken, He caped Andy up, sprayed his hair with water and combed his hair. He wet the bangs further. They covered Andy’s eyes. With three snips of his scissors, he had taken the bangs up to eyebrow level. "OK, you can see things now." He proceeded to cut the sides so that the ears were uncovered and then trimmed the hair off Andy’s collar and up to his natural hairline. He then continued to trim the hair, as needed to assure the integrity of the haircut. When he had completed that, he took a small pair of clippers to clean up Andy’s hairline and then removed the lower half of his sideburns and very carefully outlined around his ears. The barber then sprayed the bangs again and gently point cut them, and trimmed slightly more than an inch off the wet hair. He then got out his blow dryer and gently dried the damp hair.

Andy looked in the mirror and looked stunned. "I look like a varsity athlete! Thanks Fred, its short, but I like it."

"That is what I like to hear," said Fred as he removed the cape and accompanied Andy to the cash register. Meanwhile, Rick had started sweeping Andy’s hair and moving it into a pile in the far corner where he would scoop it into a large bin. "Alright, Dom, are you ready?"

Dom got into the chair and was caped up. He started to explain to Fred what he wanted done. Fred looked to Rick and asked if Rick could translate what Dom was saying into something understandable. "What I told Dom was, basically, he needed to end up with a cut as neat as Andy’s to be fair. I know its harder with his curly mop."

"How about I try something a little different Dom? We can lose the side part and cut all the hair to a uniform length and let it dry naturally instead of trying to blow all the curls out and then use hairspray to try to hold your hair in place. I have some pick combs. I’ll show you how you can style it so it has a nice shape to it and it will look a lot neater."

"Let’s try it. My sister is always telling me I should try taking advantage of my curls. This sounds like a safe way to start."

Fred went to work proving that he really knew how to work with all kinds of hair and styles. When he finished with Dom, he surprised the three boys by bringing out a heat lamp that he plugged in to help dry Dom’s hair. Then, he gently used a pick comb, like the one he had used on Toby earlier in the day and soon had Dom’s hair looking much less bulky and natural. His hair no longer was pulled to one side with thick ridges of curls and waves trying to escape the side part and looking squashed down. Instead, everything had a softer more natural look and was more naturally close to his head, neater and cleaner. The three boys told Fred they would all be back to maintain their cuts during the season.

By the time the first practice rolled around on Monday afternoon, Coach Peters could not believe his eyes. With only a few exceptions, the team had all had their hair trimmed up, shaped up and shortened. His assistant coach surprised him with a crew cut just like Rick’s and a pledge that he, too, would keep it all season. Surprisingly, the boys all kept their hair neat and tidy. The rubbing of the bristles ritual became something everyone wanted to do. So, much to Rick chagrin, he had to get his sides and back touched up every ten days. Luckily Coach had been something of a Barracks Barber back in the day so he took care of the in-between haircuts trims for Rick. Whether it was Rick’s lucky bristles or just the team’s talent and hard work, they were headed to an undefeated season. Nobody was sure where the idea came from, but the locker room was suddenly filled with chatter about the team all getting flattops like Coach Peters’ if they ‘went all the way,’ winning the Division championship and going on to the State Tournament. Coach told the boys that they didn’t need to put that extra pressure on themselves, especially if some of the guys didn’t want to do it. "Leave this discussion tabled for now. You can decide how you want to celebrate this team when we are done playing for this season."

Teams being teams, the talk continued ‘sub-rosa’ away from school. Rick, who had been looking forward to finally growing his hair back was none-too pleased with this idea of an even shorter haircut. Andy and Dom were likely to go along with the rest of the guys if they did it. "If we do this in April, our hair is going to look like crap for Senior pictures, you know," Rick said. "What if propose to all get flattops for the start of next season, if we win the Division this year. We’re only losing two seniors and Dave is the only starter. I mean, my hair won’t be back to its old length by the time they take the yearbook picture, but it won’t be at caveman stage like some of the football guys have looked. What do you think. I’ll talk to Toby if you guys agree."

Andy agreed. "Yeah, I’d like to get a chance to "let my freak flag fly" this summer, like ‘Crosby
Stills, Nash and Young’. Plus, I don’t want the ‘old man’ thinking I like short hair too much."

"Same here," Dom said, "I’ll go along with the team, but you know my dad has never been convinced that long hair is here to stay. He has admitted that his style is better, but I came home with a flat top after the season was over, he’d probably have me in one all summer!"

"Toby, its Rick, hey can we meet at the diner before school tomorrow?"

Rick’s discussion with Toby convinced Toby, who was the team captain, of the wisdom of Rick’s proposal. Toby added that this should very definitely be voluntary, and Rick quickly agreed, thinking of the angst his own unexpected pair of haircuts had caused him. And so, after the team won their division and made it to the State Finals, they came back home triumphantly. The coaches and their team all happily grew their hair out. Rick’s senior picture shows him with a decent looking thatch of hair, not up to his pre-crewcut standards, but looking good. Turn about twenty more pages in the yearbook, though, and you will see a most unusual picture for an early 1970s high school athletic team. The entire basketball team have tight flat top haircuts, as do their coaches. Who would have thought it possible? So, poor Rick, never really did get to let his freak flag fly and grow his hair out long until after he graduated high school and went off to college.

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