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Three of a Kind by Dhamby


It was one of those obligatory vacation stops.

We were on our way to the beach and stopped in to see my parents in the small Georgia town where I grew up. Fifteen years later, I came back—this time with my own boy, Adam. Thursday morning, dad suggested we three boys go up town to run some errands.

It is still a small town, with a square and all of that. We got his errands done, and turned the corner to walk back to the car. At the corner was Jack's Barbershop, where my dad had been getting his hair cut for years - where I went until I moved away.

"Lets stop in Jacks," Dad said, "I want to get a hair cut."

I hadn't been in there in years, but it hadn't changed. The same green and white linoleum tile on the floor, three ancient barber chairs, old black and chrome waiting chairs, and Field and Stream magazines that were well worn.

"Who's this?" Jack said when we came in. "Howya doin!"

Jack had always occupied the middle of the three chairs, on his right was his brother Tony, and to his left a new guy, youngish, dark hair, short cropped. Jack saw me look at him. "This is Fred, he's Lila's boy, been in the Navy and used to cut hair on a boat."

Fred smiled at us, and continued working on a high school kid, football player I'd guess. A short crew buzz. Turns out, Fred was on an aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf.

We sat down. I think it was the first time Adam had been in a real Barber's shop, his mother usually took care of getting his hair cut. He is nine years old, and he'd been hassling his mother for short hair, much shorter than the over the ear "do" she got for him at the mall back home.

Before I knew it, Jack's chair was empty. "You're up," he said to me.

Well, I hadn't really planned on getting my hair cut, but dad punched me with his elbow, "Go on, you need a trim, it'll make Jack happy." So, I got up and sat down in the chair. It had been years since I'd been in Jack's chair. But the drill was the same.

First thing, he put one of those tissue strips around my neck, and then he took his cape and shook it out, snapped it like a towel. He did it twice, and then gathered it around my neck, as usual, he nearly cut off my air supply when he pulled it tight and put a clip on the back. I remembered that.

It was like an old routine. He turned the chair around toward the mirror, and took out his big comb, combing my hair down all around. It was longer than Jack had ever seen it, I guess.

"So," he said, "How you been? Where you live now? what you do." Before I knew it, he'd turned the chair back around.

As I began to answer his questions, I waited for him to ask, "How do you want me to cut it." But Jack never asked. In fact, in the split second that I realized he wasn't going to ask, I heard the black Osters grind to life, and in the same instant he took his big left hand and pushed my head down into my chest. Before I could say a word, I felt the clippers plow into the hair on the back right side of my head, and he sent them straight up, and over the crown. My God, I thought, he's cutting my hair like he did when I was a kid. By then he'd made another pass, and another. Clumps of my hair were falling on the black and white cape. By then, it was too late to protest.

I became aware that my dad had maneuvered Adam into Fred's chair, to my right. "So, Adam, what'll it be." Fred asked him.

Adam's eyes were big, and he looked at me. "What do you think, Dad?"

"Yeah, Dad -- what do you think," my own dad asked me - a little sarcastically. And in the moment that followed I could hear the sound of my wife's voice -- but, hey, what the hell ... "Well, I guess Adam is old enough to get his hair cut however he wants."

"So, Adam, what do you want."

"Just like his," Adam said, pointing to the high school kid walking out the door with a crisp crew cut, short on the sides, rounded over the top.

Fred put the tissue and cape around Adam, "You've never been in a barber shop before, have you?"

"Nope" Adam said.

"Well you should enjoy this."

With that Fred pushed his head way down, took a new set of Osters with, probably a number three guard on it, and pushed them up Adam's head, again and again. Adam's eyes were big as saucers and mounds of hair were falling on the cape.

By now, Jack was working on the top of my head. Clippers over his big black comb. He was cutting it really short. When he finished, he took a red air hose, compressed air, and blew everything off, my head, my neck, the cape. He lifted off the cape around my neck, and put a small towel around the back, and turned on his lather machine. The lather was really hot, and felt really good. He pulled out his old razor and took the leather strop from the side of the chair and began honing the razor.

By now, Dad was sitting in Tony's chair, Tony always cut dad's hair. Two old men lost in their own conversation. But Adam was having the time of his life. Just as Jack began shaving my neck, Fred said to Adam "this is the best part." He had a red clipper guard on a set of Whal clippers. He steadied Adam's head, holding it with his left hand. And with his right, he put the clippers straight back, leaving about half an inch of hair on the top. Adam had a big grin on his face.

"Too late now, right dad?"

"Yep, too late now."

Fred shaved Adam's neck, he loved that, too.

"You're going to have to get this cut again in a couple of weeks," he told Adam. "And get your dad to take you to a real barber from now on."

"Yes sir," Adam said.

We waited for dad to get through, and then we were off. With the exact same haircuts!

When we walked in the back door at home, Dad looked at Mom and exclaimed "Don't you look good!"

At the same time, my wife walked into the kitchen. "My god, what have you done?" she said, and then as she looked at Adam.

"Well, it's about time, I guess," she commented. She told me, "this is your job now. Say, you got a hair cut too—and so did Adam!"

She ran her hand up over Adam's clipped head. "Not bad, not bad at all. All of you! You look like three of a kind!"

We smiled at each other. We were three of a kind—and not just because of our haircuts!



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