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Should Have Followed Instructions by Mike V


Bob was 17 and it was 1982. His hair was parted in the middle and layered, covering his ears and over his collar in the back. He hadn't been to a real barbershop in years.He had been going to a salon in the mall maybe once every 2 months or so. He had also been getting an attitude, missing curfew, talking back, thinking he was an adult now and didn't like being told what to do. His dad had been cutting him some slack, thinking that he should be making some decisions for himself. But that all changed one Friday night. There was a knock on the door at 1AM and when Bob's dad answered the door, there was Bob and 2 police officers! Bob had been out drinking with friends. Bob's dad had done some work with the police over the years, so when they realized Bob was Tom Martin's son, they brought him home, rather than arresting him. Tom thanked the officers and sent Bob to bed.
The next morning at 7am Bob was woken up by a very upset dad. "Geez dad, it's 7am on a Saturday! I'm kinda tired. What's going on?" "What's going on! I'll tell you what's going on - you were drunk last night and luckily you were brought home instead of being arrested for underage drinking"."Oh, come on Dad - it's no big deal - give me a break". With that, Tom yanked Bob out of bed, threw him into a cold shower and gave him 5 minutes to get dressed and get downstairs. Bob finally strolled into the kitchen 20 minutes later. His father said there were going to be some changes, and one of them was that Bob needed a haircut. Bob smirked at his father -"Well I can't do that for a few more weeks Dad - the salon is closed for vacation". It was the attitude that finally got to Tom. "Well then, you can get yourself down to Joe's today for a haircut". Joe's was where Bob had gotten his hair cut for the 1st 14 years of his life and where his father still went every other Friday to get his flattop tightend up.Bob just laughed - "Yeah right Dad, I'll get right down to Joe's". At this point, Tom dragged Bob to the car, threw him in the front seat and drove to Joe's. When they pulled up, Tom said to Bob "If you know what's good for you, get in that barbershop right now and when you get in the chair you are to tell him you want a boy's regular." Bob was starting to get nervous at this point, so he just said "sure Dad - no need to freak out". He got out of the car and walked into the shop.
It was like walking into a time warp. Instead of the cool music and comfortable chairs and attractive hair stylists that he had become used to at the mall, this place had a radio playing hits from the forties, a long wooden bench to wait on and Joe the barber, a 60 year old ex-marine smoking a cigar! He sat on the bench and realized he would be there awhile since there were 4 older guys ahead of him and one kid who looked around 10. He sat reading a 2 year old magazine while Joe did a few buzz cuts, and short businessman cuts.Djuring this time, the phone rang. Joe put down his cigar, answered the phone, had a short conversation, hung up and continued cutting hair. The 10 year old was now in the chair and his dad was telling Joe "the usual -boy's regular". As Bob watched Joe using the clippers on the sides and back and hacking away on the top he thought to himself-there is no way I'm asking for a regular. Joe was now finishing up on the 10 year old with a healthy dose of hair tonic, a sharp part and small pomp in front. Bob was next. He got in the chair and was quickly caped and neck stripped. "What'll it be" asked Joe. "Just a trim - a light trim" replied Bob. "Are you sure" asked Joe. "Yes I'm sure - a light trim" replied an annoyed Bob.
Joe turned the chair away from the mirror which Bob thought was strange. He heard a loud click and then before he knew it, Joe had peeled away all the hair on one side of his head! "What the hell" yelled Bob. Without stopping the clippers, Joe explained that the phone call he had received was from Bob's dad. He had told Joe that he told Bob to request a boy's regular and that if that wasn't what Bob requested, Joe was to use his judgement and Joe had decided on a high & tight horsehoe flat. Bob was in shock as all the hair on the other side of his head was peeled away. Joe then pushed Bob's neck down into his chest and told him not to move. Bob then felt the clippers going from the base of his neck, right up the back of his head and then actually right down the middle of the top of his head, stopping just before the front hairline. Joe then put a guard on the clippers and cut down the rest of what was left of Bob's hair to about 1/4 inch. He dusted Bob off and then rubbed warm shaving cream on the sides and back of his head, stropped the straight edge a few times and carefully shaved away the little bit of stubble on the sides and back. "Oh, I almost forgot the landing strip" said Joe. "The what?" muttered Bob. "That's the shaved strip down the middle of the top of your head" explained Joe as he rubbed shaving cream up there and shaved the strip to match the rest of the cut. He then took some scissors and very carefully did a few snips here and there of the 1/4" horseshoe on the top, and rubbed a stinging tonic all over Bob's head. One more dusting and Joe spun the chair around to the mirror. Bob couldn't beleive it. Nothing but shiny skin all the way to the little bit of perfectly flat bristles on the top of his head.Bob tilted his head down and as he did he saw the landing strip. Nothing on top but a little hair shaped like a horseshoe! As he staggered out of the chair, Joe said "I guess you should have followed instructions". He then informed Bob that his dad told Joe he would be coming in regularly for upkeep. As Bob left the shop he could have kicked himself - if only he had followed instructions.



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