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Arthur's Model Behavior by Manny

As Arthur stared at the pile of bills and meager bank statement, he finally admitted to himself that his exciting career as a free-lance model was simply not going anywhere. It had started out blazing with a contract to grace the cover of six romance novels. The steamy portrait of him draped over the car hood with his silken mane draped about the hood ornament allured countless female readers to buy the book. It also led to a shampoo commercial for a major brand. It was his moment of glory when an action clip of him lathering up his locks transitioned to him looking sulty and sexy in the mirror with his shimmering tresses in their full glory. Glossy, healthy and clean! The commercial ended with him winking directly into the camera and then a veil of hair falling over his piercing blue eye.

Money flowed in and Arthur went on a spending spree. Oh how he loved his convertible sports car and the feel of the wind whipping through his handsome honey-colored locks.

But, after a series of financial obligations had been incurred, Arthur's modeling career sputtered. No more contracts emerged. His only hope was to get an online catalogue to consider him for a swimwear photo-shoot. Amid the bills and bank statements was a letter from the catalogue thanking him for his interest, but, at this time they did not need...

Arthur would have to get a job. A regular paying job. That's all there was to it. An eight-hour-a-day grind. Well, it was inevitable at some point, he reasoned to himself. Young, handsome models have a very limited career spans. The problem was that he did not have the qualifications needed for the very few jobs advertized in the classified section of the Sunday paper. Total bummer.

Maybe he could get a temporary job to tide him over. Perhaps another modeling gig would come along. He needed something. His rent was already in arrears and the landlord was threatening eviction. Arthur remember seeing a help wanted sign in a shop window when he'd gone to buy some office supplies at a small place nearby. They needed a cashier/supply clerk. The sign had mentioned benefits!

After getting the shop's phone number on line, Arthur was pleased with the manager's response. "Sure, I can be there at 2 pm for an interview," he said gratefully as the call concluded.

Arthur hesitated a bit about what to wear -- not too dressy and not too casual. He recalled the employees wore matching polo shirts with the company logo and jeans....or were they dress pants? He settled on a fairly conservative short-sleeved dress shirt and dress pants. As he brushed his hair, Arthur felt very pleased with his selection. Even though he did not want the job, he reasoned he could build up a small cushion and after a few months, or even a year, call it quits. Shoot, if the benefits were good and he got health insurance, it might be just what he needed to work and continue free-lance modeling on the side.

"Hi, I'm Arthur Clancy. I have a 2 pm meeting with Mr. Sutherton," he told the young fellow who was at the counter.

The kid, who looked barely out of high school, gave him a skeptical look before saying, "I'll take you back to his office."

Arthur didn't like the fellow's attitude. And the kid looked goofy with a very retro-haircut and black plastic framed glasses. Like he'd stepped out of the 1950's -- hair tapered extremely short up the back, part on the side and slicked over. Was he trying to be hipster? If so, it didn't work!

Mr. Sutherton was not the warmest person either. There was virtually no chit-chat, and after a cursory glance at the resume he asked, "Why do you want this job?"

Arthur had to think quickly and felt fairly satisfied about the "enjoy working with people" line. He also mentioned the benefit package that was a motivator so that he could continue his free-lance modeling career.

Surprisingly, Mr. Sutherton did not continue the interview. He simply tossed the resume into a drawer and declared, "I can't imagine you being a happy camper on our team. This job would not be a good fit for you."

Arthur was taken about by the curt rejection. "Oh, but it would, sir. Actually, I really need the job as I'm on arrears with my rent...." The confession babbled out.

Mr. Sutherton's face soften and he smiled a bit. "Well, perhaps I could give you a try. But I'm strict on grooming. For the fellows, no visible tattoos, piercings or long hair. We service a very conservative clientele, and I strongly favor the wholesome, cleancut look. In fact, I require it."

Did he mean something like the kid who was working the counter?! No way, Arthur thought to himself! The twist the in the story caused him to stammer, "Uh, I am, eh, waiting to hear back from another job interview. Could I get back to you tomorrow?"

"OK, let me know by noon. Give me a call in the morning sometime, and we can go on from there. This card has my cell phone on it," Mr. Sutherton said.

Arthur left feeling totally deflated. There was no way he would cut his hair. Especially like that boy! The only other employees he spotted during his brief visit were females.

As he drove away, Arthur regretted not having asked if there was a specific hair code. He might settle for trimming away a few inches, but nothing like that hipster-wannabe! A clippers had never been taken to his plush mane before, and that's the way Arthur hoped to keep things.

The rest of the day Arthur spent driving around looking for other "help wanted" signs and surfing the internet. He only came up with a one fast-food joint that offered a part-time 20 hour per week job and no benefits. Minimum wage too. That was a non-starter. Plus, the idea of wearing a hairnet flipping burgers was apphauling. By the time he got home, Arthur felt exhausted and deflated.

As he lathered up his hair in the shower the next morning, Arthur thought back to his modeling career. Never did it occur to him he would have to have his precious tresses cut off to get a low-paying job.

The morning's mail brought a notice from a debt-collection agency. Last chance to make a payment within a month or have the car repossessed.

Reluctantly, Arthur dialed Mr. Sutherton around 11 a.m. "Yes, Mr. Sutherton, it's Arthur Clancy. I know this is really imposing on your kindness, but could I have till the end of the day to let you know. Oh, thank you, that's very kind, sir. Yes, I will call you at 4 o'clock and let you know for sure. And, um, you mentioned no long hair, which would mean I'd need to get mine cut. Is there a specific length or should I just use my judgment?"

What Mr. Sutherton told Arthur left him feeling quite queasy. Per Mr. Sutherton's instructions, any of the haircuts on the chart in Bob's Barber Shop in the plaza across the street from the his shop would be acceptable. And if he planned to take the job, to swing by the barbershop before coming at 4 o'clock to sign the employment papers.

As soon as Arthur hung up he rushed into the bathroom. The large mirror clearly displayed his dilemma. To cut or not to cut! While he was handsome, what made Arthur stand out was his thick, gleaming mane that cascaded down to just above his shoulders. He'd never been inside a real barbershop in his life! He was a total salon junkie -- high-end salons, at that, where he'd lay out a pretty penny every several weeks. If his lush locks were to be cut off, there would go his best chance at modeling. And if he were to hold onto the honey-colored mane -- to keep pampering it and nurturing it -- then there would go his apartment, his car, his credit rating....

The phone rang. He recognized the number on his caller ID. Another collection agency.

Arthur clenched his mouth, gritted his teeth and made the hard decision. Next stop: Barber Bob's. He would surrender his hair to the barber. And he needed to go NOW! Get over there before he chickened out. As much as he wanted to use his remaining hours looking for a job, he decided that he could not be sidetracked from the haircut. He didn't trust himself....

Arthur almost ran for the door and jumped into his car. Like a maniac he drove to the plaza. The whirling red and white barber pole called him like a beacon. Or was it a warning to stay away from danger?! What would Bob be like? And what options would the chart on the wall give him?

As he turned off the key, he gave one final look in the rearview mirror. His stomach churned anxiously. He could not do it! The sun dancing off the natural highlights in his honey-colored hair....why it would almost be a crime to butcher his lovely locks!

Arthur glanced at the barbershop. It looked crowded. There were four barbers at work and all the chairs were taken. The waiting area was pretty full too. As he watched, another man headed to the door. He had a very full, longish business cut. Hair spilling liberally over the collar in back and covering half his ear. Well, if that's the cut he ended up with, it wouldn't be so terrible, Arthur told himself as he opened the car door and slowly climbed out.

A gust of wind momentarily whipped through his hair as he emerged from the car, sending it across his face. The silken texture almost screamed out, "Please don't cut me off!" But, Arthur was determined to go forward with his plan. He tucked his long hair behind his ear and walked towards the store.

The closer he got to his dreaded destination, the more his legs felt like jelly. Each step seemed to require more energy and effort than running a marathon. Once he was finally up on the sidewalk, he got a closer look at the shop. All the barbers were dressed in matching white tunics and all the clients were caped in coordinating white capes. The hair of every single man in the chairs, which strangely faced away from the mirror, was being cut with the clippers!

Arthur watched the one closest to the window for a bit. He appeared to be 35 and the barber was clipping him to the scalp virtually all the way up the back. His head was bowed to the chest. The site of being in that situation propelled Arthur right past the Bob's Barber Shop. He could not go in!

He felt dizzy and slightly dazed as he wondered aimlessly down the shopping plaza. He glanced across the street to the shop where Mr. Sutherton would be waiting for him at 4 p.m. That was over four hours away. He would use that time to try to find another job.

As he stepped into the parking lot to return to his car, Arthur spotted the same man with the floppy business cut leaving the shop. He was heading to a car very near Arthur's. In fact, it was the one right next to his. Arthur quickened his pace.

"Excuse me," he said to the man. "I just saw you leaving Bob's Barber Shop. I'm needing a haircut and was wondering if you'd recommend it?"

"Sure do, it's the best place in town for a good haircut. But it was just too crowded. Usually at this time of day at least one of the barbers is free. They said it would be about a half hour wait. Even though I'm way overdue, I told them I'd come back later or tomorrow," the man said. Then he added, "But, for whatever it's worth, they don't give haircuts like yours in there."

Arthur gulped. The warning was polite, but ominous. "Oh, I'm aware of that," he replied. Then, just to put on a brave front, he added, "I'm ready to shed the long hair. It's become such a nuisance! I was wanting something more your length."

"Then I recommend you wait for Ben -- the young barber. The three old guys don't always listen to specific instructions. Especially the old man in the first chair. I think he must be deaf. I got him once and came out looking like I joined the military! I mean, it was a good haircut, but extremely short for me. Folks at the office really ribbed me about it."

"So what kind of haircut do you ask for?" Arthur asked.

"Well, on me, the barbers just get to work. But as you'd be a first-timer, you can ask for a 'short back and sides'," the man said, then bid farewell and got into his car. He sort of watched Arthur a bit before turning on the engine.

Arthur felt dumb standing there and it would look weird to get in this car and drive away after that upbeat recommendation. So, he turned and walked back to Bob's Barber Shop. No, this time he would put his hand to the door and walk in!

As Arthur walked to the shop, the friendly man drove by slowly. Rolling down his window, he commented, "Just so you know, they only take cash. It's a steal at $13. I usually throw in a $2 tip. You'll feel great once you've shed that mop!" he said driving away.

The last casual comment sort of hurt Arthur's feelings. If the friendly man thought that, what would the barber be feeling once he'd been caped up and ready for shearing?! Just then, the old man looked up and stared directly at Arthur. Oh, it was almost like a glare! For a second time, Arthur got cold feet and kept on walking.

He had to make one last attempt at finding a job. He'd run by the mall to see if any of the stores were hiring -- some of the trendy clothes shops would certainly welcome him with his glossy locks.

As he ambled aimlessly through the mall, nothing materialized. Only one sign advertized "help wanted" but when he inquired inside the manager said that the position had been filled that morning and he had yet to remove the sign. Arthur wandered past the salon where he got his hair trimmed. It increasingly looked that he'd become a stranger to the salon. It was now 2:30. He needed to get back to Bob's Barber Shop.

By the time he got back to the plaza, the scene at the barbershop was much different. There was no one in the waiting area, and just two old barbers had clients in their chairs. Arthur knew he had no choice. The only relief was that there wouldn't be a huge audience to watch him get shorn like a helpless lamb!

He walked straight to the door and pushed it open, quite glad that the old barber who had glared at him earlier in the day wasn't there. The two barbers looked up from their work and greeted him. "Someone will be with you in a minute," the one cutting hair at the back of the shop said.

Unsure of the protocol, Arthur hesitantly said, "Thanks, I'm waiting for Ben."

Just then the grumpy old barber from the first chair walked into the shop from the back room. "Ben's gone for the day. I'll take you in the chair over there," he said pointing to the front of the shop. He had a no-nonsense look that did not invite an alternative.

Arthur's stomach churned. He felt trapped. "Yes, sir," he mumbled as he stood to meet his fate. The old man virtually escorted Arthur to the chair and strategically place himself between the scared client and the door.

"Been a while since you've had a haircut?" the barber asked rhetorically as he cast the snowy white cape.

"Yes, sir," Arthur said hesitatingly. The barber fastened the cloth cape extremely tight around his throat. Then Arthur's eyes bulged out of his eye sockets as he saw the old man reach for the clippers. He hadn't said anything about how he wanted his hair cut, yet the old man was there clutching that dreadful machine!

"Someone recommend the shop?" the barber asked as we whirled the chair away from the mirror.

"Uh, yes, sir. Mr. Sutherton from across the street at the office supply shop," Arthur replied.

"New employee?" the barber asked.

Arthur nodded hesitantly.

"Then I know what the boss wants," the man snapped, snagging the thick locks that dangled over Arthur's left ear. He lifted it slightly away from the head to gain access to the scalp. In an instant the screaming clippers plowed right the side of Arthur's stunned head, mercilously chewing off his beautiful hair. It fell in torrents to the cape.

Instinctively, Arthur lurched away from the barber who shot him the evil eye. "Steady!" he instructed as he took the clippers to him a second time. "You keep jumping like that and you might end up bald!" the barber snapped, to the delight of all the other men in the shop.

"I thought the employees over there all got baldy cuts!" one of the old geezer quipped.

Arthur's barber clamped his hand down firmly on his hand and forced him to look him the eyes. "You want a baldy?"

"No, sir!" Arthur exclaimed. "I'd like a short back and sides."

"Cut it short, you said?" the barber repeated as he drove the clippers up through the long hair again, sending another wave of lovely hair to the cape. "Weren't you the fellow who came here earlier casing out the shop?" the old man asked.

"Yes," Arthur stammered, "But it was too crowded."

"That's because we're the best barbers around. No one leaves here looking mangy, do they fellows?" And, with that, Arthur's barber snagged his long forelock and ran the clippers over the teeth of the plastic comb sending all but an inch to the cape.

Then Arthur felt the barber push his head forward. The barber lost no time in tackling the mass of shiny, thick hair. With unabated determination, he drove the clippers tightly up the back, all the way to the crown.

Arthur, decided there was no point in resisting any longer. In fact, he began to feel that the brutally short haircut was a well deserved consequence for his lack-luster ability to get a decent job. The long, metro-sexual look had kept him devoted far too long to his fantasy of being a high-payed model. The old many was stripping off the girly hair and he would begin an 8 - 5 daily grind.

When the barber had finished clipping off the back, he allowed Arthur to sit up again. The sides and back were all shorn down close, but a patch of thick unruly hair remained on top. Arthur felt emboldened by his decision to embrace the makeover. "Mr. Sutherton said there was a chart of haircuts in here that would be acceptable to him. I'm thinking I might want to consider my options."

The barber looked surprised. "Joe, can you bring that chart over here so that our new client can see what he might prefer."

The barber at the last chair sauntered over with a chart labeled "official haircuts".

Arthur's eyes bulged open. His heart pounded and his mouth felt dry as the Sahara Desert. Oh, yes, his punishment would be severe! Everyone who knew him as a vain, preening metrosexual would laugh and mock him to his face. "Give me a flattop!" Arthur said firmly.

"You bet!" replied the barber....and an instant later the clippers were grazing the top of Arthur's scalp, pulling off a huge wad of the remnants of his steamy romance book cover persona. "One military style flattop coming up. And as a measure of my esteem for you decision, this one is on the house! Bob's my name, young man!" the barber said with an approving smile.

Arthur sat transfixed by the barber's concentrated look and careful sculpting of his new, minimalist look. It seemed like flattening out the top took ten times longer then the rest of the haircut where most of the bulk was sent to the cape.

Finally, the huge dramatic moment came, when Barber Bob announced, "Ready to see the new you?"

Arthur gulped and nodded his head. His body felt numb, as well as on pins and needles, as the chair slowly was swivelled toward the mirror. Arthur's mouth dropped open as he saw himself shorn to a very short flattop. The top was as flat as a table top and contrasted dramatically with the piles of shorn hair that covered 90% of the white cape.

"What do you think, Buddy?" the barber asked eagerly. "You look like a real man's man now!" he said playfully running his hand up the shorn back.

Arthur struggled to find something to say.

Just then, the door to the barbershop opened and in walked the friendly man who had interacted with Arthur in the parking lot. "Holy moly! When you told me you were ready to shed the long hair, I never imagined this would be the outcome. What an unbelievable transformation! Totally dramatic with all the hair on the cape. How would you like to earn some bucks....I'm a professional photographer and I know we could sell some snaps of your makeover to those on-line stock photograph companies. What do you say? We'll split it evenly - three ways....you, me and Barber Bob! We'll have a few weepy poses, like you feel absolutely sick about shedding this pampered mane and then a few confident poses, like you absolutely love the new look!"

"Well, that's exactly how I feel! Both extremes....." Arthur replied. "I'm game. Are you Bob?"

"You bet, Matt! But, with one condition," he said eying the shaggy mane of the professional photographer. "I want a second photoshoot that documents a whole transformation.....from a bland, tired, floppy business cut to a super sharp, sporty marine-type flattop just like his!"

Matt gulped momentarily and looked at himself in the mirror. Then his eyes shifted to Arthur's newly carved flattop. He touched the bristles that stuck up ramrod straight from the scalp, "I'm wondering if you'd recommend this?"

"By all means!" exclaimed Arthur.

"Then, you mean to keep it like this?" Matt persisted.

"I wouldn't have it any other way!" the flattop convert confirmed.

The fellow ran his fingers through the floppy forelock, "Then, neither will I! Bob, after years of pestering me, you're finally going to get your chance to flatten me out! Practice your weepy poses, friend, I'll be right back with my camera!"

As Arthur sat in the chair, the enormity of his loss sunk in. He was no handsome male model that women would swoon over. He looked like a drill sergeant. His beloved hair had been decimated by a 76-year old geezer! He didn't even want to guess how long it would take for him to grow it back. And then, he had Mr. Sutherton and a miserable job to look forward too. Arthur felt totally deflated and humiliated by the forced crop. He stuck his hand out from under the cape, grasped one of the shorn locks and fingered it sentimentally.

Just then Matt came into the shop with his camera, "That's a perfect pose! Keep it! You look totally devastated by the makeover.... Like you'd been forced to shed your pampered mane that you were so proud of and have been overcome with remorse!"

As the camera clicked and that barbered hammed it up with a huge set of clippers, glumly Arthur acknowledged to himself that's exactly how he felt....it was no pose on his sad, sullen face.

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