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His Father's Not Having It/ by Deke Cutter


Hair! His father had a "thing" about hair. Freddy looked back over his high school years. His father had always made sure he kept Freddy on a regular barber schedule. Freddy had a basic side parted haircut after the barber stopped giving him "little boy" cuts. Once he got into high school, he had managed to convince his father to let him grow his bangs out further, let the sides, and back get fuller. Freddy’s hair was naturally pretty curly, and he had to use a blow dryer, a round brush and hairspray to keep his hair what his father called, "looking neat." Then there was a time when Maggy Wills, a really popular girl, returned his interest in her. They went to the beach on one of the first hot Saturdays of the year. When they got out of the water, Maggie saw his curls in their ‘natural state’ for the first time. "Oh Freddy, you have lovely curls! Why don’t you wear it like a curly ‘fro?"

"My dad is pretty conservative; I don’t think he’d let it get long enough to wear it that way."

"Silly, your hair is long enough. You wait here." Maggy ran up to the cafeteria and convenience store. She came back with something in a small paper sack. She pulled out an "Afro Pick" comb. "O.K., sit here she said and proceeded to "pick" his curls until she was satisfied. She got out a tiny mirror from her purse and showed Freddy. "See, it looks great." Freddy had to admit that it was a cool look. But he was glad he had his baseball cap to hide his curls until he got home and showered. He made sure his hair was back in its normal style before dinner that night.

On Monday, his dad, as usual, left very early to beat the crowds on the commuter train into the city. After his shower, Freddy used the afro pick and had his hair back in the curly style Maggie liked. When he went downstairs for breakfast, his mother looked at him and said, "what have you done to your hair?"

"I just styled it differently. A lot of the guys with curly hair wear it like this mom."

"Well, I don’t think your father will be too happy. But let’s see how it goes." It didn’t go well.

Freddy’s father took one look at the curls and yelled: I’M NOT STANDING FOR THIS! I AM NOT HAVING IT."

Freddy knew better than to further provoke his father when he was in a state of "high dudgeon." He went up to the bathroom, wet his hair down and did the whole blow dryer and hairspray thing. As he finished, his mother slipped into the bathroom and said, "I’ll bring you your dinner up here. Its better if you and daddy don’t see each other again tonight."

So, Freddy completed his Junior year of High School and looked forward to a pleasant summer. He had found a job at a local department store that claimed to be a ‘one-stop shopping experience.’ Freddy was scheduled to start work on Monday and he was planning a weekend at the beach with Maggy and their gang of friends. Saturday morning, his father got him up early and said, get showered and get dressed. Freddy got out of the shower and was drying his hair with the towel when his father knocked on the bathroom door and said, don’t mess around with that blow dryer and hairspray. Just run a comb through that mop and get downstairs. When Freddy appeared, his hair looking shaggy and somewhat overgrown, his father simply said, "get in the car."

Freddy got into his father’s car and asked, "where are we going dad?"

His father replied, "to your new employer’s." They soon arrived at the store but rather than heading into the department where Freddy would be working, his father took him to the 4 chair barber shop in the back of the huge store. Like many stand-alone businesses, it was a concession that rented space from the store’s corporate owners.

"Hello, again," said the barber sitting in the first chair. He rose and shook the proffered hand of Freddy’s father. So, this is my new customer", he said, as he ushered Freddy to his chair.

His father loomed over Freddy and said in a quiet voice, "this will assure no repeats of that ridiculous ‘Shirley Temple’ hairdo, but will let you show your curls in a more masculine way." [This was all happening around the time that the former child actor was starting her career as a diplomat, so her name and old films were suddenly popular again.]

The barber’s first words, after caping Freddy struck fear into his teen-aged ego, "head down please." Before Freddy could fully assess what was happening, he heard and felt the clippers, pressing hard, go up the back of his head, over and over again. He could hear the clumps of hair hit the ground. It wasn’t until the barber took the clippers up the side of his head, obliterating his still-sparse sideburns that Freddy got a sense of how short a haircut was being administered. There was nothing but stubble remaining, all the way up to where his part line was. Freddy was being scalped. After the clippers completed their destruction of both sides, the barber paused, adjusted the clippers to a slightly longer setting and went to work removing everything but a thin band of hair at the front hairline. The barber was meticulous, making sure that all the hair on top was taken down to about a half inch, as compared to the quarter inch on the sides and back. He then combed the remaining band of longer hair down. It still nearly reached Freddy’s nose and snip, snip, snip. He cut it to about mid-forehead. He looked over to Freddy’s father.

"Can we go shorter in the front and still show the curls?"

The barber manipulated Freddy’s hair, stopped, looked at it and cut half the remaining length. Then he said to them both, "let me show you a little trick. He turned to the counter and opened a jar of a blue gel-like substance called ‘Dipity Doo,’ and took a small amount and rubbed it through the reduced bangs. He said, "let’s just wait a minute or two." The short hair dried quickly, and the product seemed to enhance the curliness. So, Freddy was left with what might be called "a buzz with a bumper." Unfortunately, the short curls in the front gave him a slightly comical look at a time when nobody in school, except some hard-core jocks had extremely short hair. The barber worked with the short fringe to comb it so that curls were flipped up. Freddy looked at himself in the mirror and had to hold back the tears. Not only was this a weird-looking haircut, but it also made him look way younger than he was.

His father’s coup de grace was telling the barber, "he starts work in the record department on Monday, so he will get the employee discount. He’ll be coming in every other Friday to keep this haircut looking fresh until further notice from me or his mother.

When they got into the car, Freddy couldn’t hold the teats back. "Why, dad, why?"

"Freddy, I let you grow your hair out, even though you know how much I hate that hippy look. Its not what I fought for in the War. You then defied me with that ridiculous curly look. I got you the haircut I wore all through my Navy years and you will keep it and learn some discipline from it."

Freddy did learn discipline and he learned how much harder it was to get to even first base with any girls in his school when he looked like a ‘dork.’ While he was able to miss getting his bi-weekly scalping when he went away to college, a year later, he found a barber in his college town who could scalp him in the style of the old masters before going home for holidays. After Freddy made the Dean’s List for both semesters and earned a walk-on position on the college baseball team, his father relented and let him grow his hair out to an inch on top with a slight taper on the sides and back. Freddy was lucky that college girls were more understanding than his high school classmates had been about his eccentrically short hair. When he graduated in the mid-1970s, the first thing he did was get a job where there were no grooming codes. He then "let his freak flag fly," growing out his long curls until he had a truly amazing head of hair. He loved it and his father could say nothing about it, now that Freddy was making as much as his dad did. But something happened as Freddy reached his late 30s and work and family responsibilities left him looking for ways to save time. He started to look back fondly on the ease of care of his hair that he had "back in the day." He mentioned to his wife that he was thinking of "going shorter." She replied, "I fell for you when you had the shortest hair on campus, big guy. Do what you want." Freddy began looking in the phone book to see if there were any old fashioned barbers still around. He found one.





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