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Mr. Carson's New Boss and New Look by Manny
Mr. Carson eyed the young trainee who was working on a special project in his office. He was so energetic and full of enthusiasm to be finally in the professional work force. Oh, to be like that again, Mr. Carson thought to himself. To be eager to learn and work....instead of weary and counting the years to retirement. Admittedly, Mr. Carson had a lot to show for his 20 years at the firm -- a nice corner office with a small conference table in one corner and a leather sofa set in the other. Many imposing framed certificates....it had been more than 15 years since he'd been plucked out of cubicle-land and put on the management track.
"Come over here, Ralph, let me show you an example of what we were talking about yesterday regarding the need for innovation in our marketing strategy," said Mr. Carson, clearly enjoying his role as mentor.
The young, nicely attired aide rushed over with characteristic vim to lap up Mr. Carson's pearls of wisdom.
Mr. Carson breathed in the aroma of Ralph's upper-end cologne as he surveyed his protege's meticulous flattop -- a thick, deep pile with every hair groomed and wonderfully sculpted with beveled edges and sides shorn to the skin. Ralph's hair, clothes and hygene exuded a picture of total confidence and self-control. For a moment, Mr. Carson felt himself thinking he should be picking up some tips from Ralph, instead of the other way around.
After they had gone over the innovation situation, with Ralph hovering about the boss solicitously and hanging onto his every word, Mr. Carson decided to pick-up on his earlier sentiments about learning a thing of two from Ralph.
"So, I've given you my perspective on the situation and where I think we need a revamp on the product image front.....now I want to hear from you," the executive said.
"From me?" gasped Ralph, with an air of surprise and more than a tinge of feeling honored by the question. "I don't even know where I could start...I'm so new in the organization."
"Well, let's start with something simple -- something you obviously have a knack for related to image. When I look at you, I see a very dynamic person who is going places. The way you dress, your grooming -- you're on your way up! What do you see when you look at me?" Mr. Carson asked.
Ralph was taken aback by the question. How could he respond? Was it a trap? He certainly needed to gain Mr. Carson's approval without seeming insincere or trite. To say he looked fine as he was would defeat the question, but to appear too critical of the executive's worn-out, aging look would also be a quagmire.
"How old are you, if I may ask a personal question?" Ralph inquired.
"Uh, just turned 47," Mr. Carson replied.
"And is that how old you want to look?" the trainee asked.
Now, it was Mr. Carson's turn to be caught off guard by the question. And, what was the lad getting at? Should he say he enjoyed a mature, dignified look or might he be better off with the common sentiment that worshiped youth.
"I suppose everyone wants to look younger," he finally replied. "If I asked you to give me a makeover, what would you suggest?"
"If that's what you want," the lad stammered, trying to compose his thoughts, "First off -- the pleated pants have to go. You need a skinny suit that's closely tailored. What you're wearing is non-descript and sort of sacky. The tie says nothing and drop the matchy-matchy shirt and hanky." The advise rolled off his tongue like machine gun fire. Ralph obviously had studied his mentor and compiled the list long before he was asked for an opinion!
Mr. Carson nodded, showing he was amenable to the line Ralph was taking, until his protege dropped a small bomblet, "But, your real problem is the hair."
The comment rattled Mr. Carson. His hair?! It was his source of pride -- still very thick and lush and glossy without a hint of gray....full of body and worn a bit puffy on top and liberally spilling over the ears and collars. It gave him a youthful, distinguish look, he thought. That's why he wore it longer than any of the members of the senior team.
"My hair?" Mr. Carson gasped. "Is it too long?"
"It looks like you never left the 1990s!" laughed Ralph. "If I may," he said as he approached Mr. Carson and gently grasped the silken hair that hung toward the base of his collar, "this would benefit from a set of electric hair clippers." The young man certainly was bold!
A shiver went down Mr. Carson's spine. "Really?" he gulped.
"I would start gently, nudging your head forward like this, and then applying the clippers to your nape for a sharp, low and tight taper," purred Ralph. "Clear all this back here and then move to a very short taper around the ears, peeling away this fluff."
Mr. Carson could not believe the direction the conversation had gone or how authoritative and confident Ralph sounded as he detailed the makeover he would execute on his mentor.
"Then, I would continue clipping the sides up higher and higher to the crown....shorter and shorter as I went, ending with a very aggressive taper. Showing a fair amount of skin, even, if the circumstances were right."
Mr. Carson was taken aback by the liberties the young man took in handling his hair. The imposing trainee towering over the cowering executive just didn't seem right. Nevertheless, Mr. Carson sat submissively. He wondered how he was allowing this session to transpire with him on the receiving end of counsel -- and to think that his beloved hair would be stripped away by a set of clippers, if Ralph had his way!
Then the young man paused and made Mr. Carson look at him as he grasped the heavy forelock that tumbled across his boss's forehead. "The final phase would be to scissors this off very short." With his fingers, Ralph simulated as scissors chopping away quite close to the hair line. "Snip, snip, snip! Put an end to this floppy forelock quickly and then start taking the rest of the top down shorter and shorter....." his voice trailed.
"How short?" croaked Mr. Carson, studying the immaculate flattop out of the corner of his eye.
"Until I thought it was short enough....I'd play it by ear. But, you would come out looking at least 10 years younger with a more "together" look. This overgrown thatch makes you look dated and sloppy," Ralph said as he smoothed it into place as best he could. Then he quickly retreated to his submissive persona, "I hope my opinion didn't come across as overly critical. It's just that you asked and I told you what I thought."
Mr. Carson struggled to compose himself and was able to bluster, "Thank you for you honest opinion. Perhaps that's an example of 'speaking truth to power' that people buzz away about but hardly ever do. I admire your candor. Your main message to me was that I need to update and streamline my look."
"Precisely," said Ralph. "Now, the next step is to establish a plan. Shall I draft a strategy; perhaps submit a few mock-ups about how the new you would look? Then we can see you in various new suits and I'll run you by my barbershop. I've seen you eyeing my flattop more than once," Ralph said innocently.
Mr. Carson's heart beat quickly. He wanted to say yes, but felt very apprehensive about suddenly caving into the dictates of a young trainee. How could he?!
"The flattop looks fantastic on you, but would not suit me! Can you imagine me walking into the boardroom with my hair cut into a flattop?!" Mr. Carson said with a nervous laugh.
"Yes, I certainly can," replied Ralph with total composure. "Why not?!"
Mr. Carson was at a complete loss for words. "Because, I...uh, because....."
"Because changes are sometimes scary.....'what will everyone say?!'.....is that it?" asked Ralph, placing his finger uncomfortably on the precise reason.
"Yes," Mr. Carson eeked out and looked up shyly to expose a bit of a flush of embarrassment.
Ralph moved quickly to comfort and support his boss, "Then, we'll transition you slowly, Mr. Carson. Gradually take you down....but we definitely will start with a taper. A nice tidy taper at the nape and around the ears. Leave it fuller and long on top for a while. Agreed?"
Mr. Carson sat in stunned silence. Ralph gently stroked the silken hair that Mr. Carson was so proud of and tenderly caressed the nape beneath the pillow of hair.
"Agreed," Mr. Carson finally eeked out.
"We'll go straight from work to the barbershop and then run by the department store," stated Ralph with an air of finality.
"But...." Mr. Carson protested.
"No buts, Mr. Carson! There is no advantage in delaying or procrastinating! That's something I've heard you say more than once in your executive staff meetings!" the aide said.
"You're right again, Ralph," the boss admitted reluctantly. Then he stood and walked over to the mirror over the credenza where he usually admired his fussy hair style on his way out of the office. He loved the big, blow-dried look. Mr. Carson cast a pleading look at Ralph.
But Ralph was unmoved. He silently indicated Mr. Carson's need for a haircut but simulating his fingers as a set of barber shears. "Once you get used to the very streamlined look, you'll like it," he said to dismiss the issue.
For the rest of the afternoon, Mr. Carson's stomach was in knots. While he tried to carry on a semblance of business, his thoughts went back to the only time he'd been in a barbershop and had a set of clippers used on his hair. The whole event had been a nightmare, a complete humiliation -- especially when he figured out that the 'botched' amateur haircut that led to his barbershop trip was no accident. He'd been set up to be brought low in front of his peers. Analine Singer -- that was her name! He had courted her and then treated her like a bit of a possession. 'Stay away from my girl' the big-man-on-campus with a mane of big, beautiful, fluffy, feathered hair had told the other guys. Also, he'd put limits on what guys Analine could talk to and told her how he wanted her to dress. He was bossy and arrogant. His lovely mane of chestnut hair, when blow-dried to perfection, was his crowning glory. Of course, Analine had been attracted to his sexy locks and she loved to fondle and run her fingers through them. She even begged to let her be his hair stylist and trim them when needed. Of course, Jack, cringed at the idea of an amateur cutting his lovely hair. It had taken months of Analine's pouting and cajoling Jack Carson to let her come anywhere near his locks with a pair of shears. But one night, when she was all teary and saying things weren't working out between them, he offered....'how about trimming my hair tonight like you've talked about'. His hair was extra long, so letting Analine tidy up the tips wouldn't be too big of a deal. He had no idea, though, what was in store for him when he heard the first snip of the blades crunching through his hair. Away from any mirrors or points of reference, Analine had decided to cut him down to size by giving his beloved locks a brutal shearing. Surreptitiously she cut away large chunks of his lovely hair as she cooed and distracted him with flirtatious behavior. A large pile of his shimmering hair had collected on the floor behind the chair without his having any knowledge of what was transpiring. Analine had pulled the wool over his eyes by combing his long honeyed bangs forward and completely obliterating his eye sight. It was only when she revealed her treachery by suddenly slicing his bangs off at the top of his forehead, that she cackled, 'oh, I'm not good at this!' and ran from the room. Jack remembered coming to the realization that he'd been duped. His lovely hair had been butchered. He flew to the mirror and gasped in horror. Uneven tufts and patches of hair stuck out between the bald spots! The final humiliation was at the barbershop where the two old barbers got a good laugh before the clippers stripped everything down to a nice tidy butch cut. Everyone on campus howled with laughter as the new recruit carried his tray into the dining room that evening. They stood around him laughing, flaunting their feathered coifs, rubbing his shorn head!
Jack looked at the young protege he admired. Ralph was no Analine! There was no attempt to dupe him into getting shorn. No, Ralph stated his agenda of giving Jack a radical makeover up front and Jack was corralled into accepting his plan. Jack was used to being the boss, but now he felt like the lowly lackey....and suddenly, like a light popping on, he liked the idea! He liked the idea of the trainee Ralph imposing a makeover on him, of driving him to the barbershop, of ordering his beloved floppy hairstyle stripped off.
"Have you ever cut anyone's hair, Ralph?" Mr. Carson suddenly asked.
"Me?!" The question caught Ralph off guard.
"Yes, you! You brandished your fingers in the way of scissors several times today, so I figured you must be an amateur barber," Mr. Carson said.
"A frustrated one, is more like it. I've always wanted to cut someone's hair, but I've never had the opportunity," he said.
"You seemed very confident when you forced my head forward and described the haircut you would give me," Mr. Carson purred softly. "Would you like to take a clippers to me yourself?"
"Oh, Mr. Carson!" the lad gasped. "What if I should..."
"....should butcher it? Leave me looking very pathetic with an uneven hack job?" Mr. Carson murmured. "Then your tidy, deep pile flattop would pay the price..... The two of us would show up to work tomorrow sporting total baldy cuts!"
"Oh, Mr. Carson! My flattop is my signature look! I couldn't...." stammered Ralph.
In a flash, Mr. Carson was towering over him, fingering the pristine, immaculate top. "Oh, yes you could! And you will. You will be my private barber!"
Ralph stood and faced his boss boldly, "Okay, I will! And you will do as I say! Understand?!"
In an instant the young man had grabbed Mr. Carson by his floppy forelock and dragged him over to his desk.
"What are you doing to me?" Mr. Carson pleaded, flailing his arms as he was strong-armed by the strapping lad.
Ralph forced the man to bend over his desk. "I think I saw you take a pair of scissors out of this drawer here," he said with a bit of a wicked tone as he forced his boss to remain prostrate over the desk. "Ah, here they are!"
Jack cowered in terror and excitement as he heard the shears snapped open and shut, as if Ralph meant to sharpen them up! Then he felt Ralph gather his heavy forelock and grasp it away from his forehead. "Ralph!" Mr. Carson shrieked as he heard the scissors crunching shut.
Ralph was energized by the power play and humiliation he was inflicting on the high and mighty Mr. Carson. He chopped away vigorously at the floppy moptop, tossing huge clumps of shorn hair onto the desk, where Mr. Carson could see it. "I can't wait to unleash the clippers on you!"
Jack squirmed and Ralph reacted authoritatively. His large hand swatted Mr. Carson across the buttocks.
"Ouch!" the man gasped.
"Not used to getting spanked?" Ralph laughed. "I want my boy to be cooperative, understand?"
"Yes, Ralph," he replied meekly.
"No, you call me Mr. Jones, Jack. Do you understand?" the trainee snarled.
"Yes, Mr. Jones!" the humbled boss whimpered.
"And one more thing. Only you will be showing up tomorrow with your head clipped down to a tight, tight butch cut. If we both came shorn, suddenly....well, like I said before....matchy-matchy is out. And you so much admire me with a precision flattop, don't you?"
"Yes, Mr. Jones," he murmured.
"Now, while I run over to the CVS on the corner to buy a set of clippers, you clean up this cut hair on your desk," Ralph instructed as he released his grip on Jack and allowed him to stand up. Then the trainee howled with laughter, "Oh my, don't you look different! Like you've been hit by a weed whacker!"
Mr. Carson ran over to the mirror. It was deja vu from college days. "Oh, Ralph..."
"That's Mr. Jones, when the conversation is just the two of us, in this private office, understand?" Ralph snapped and then he slipped out the door.
Jack began collecting the locks of shorn hair and tossing them in the trash bin. He felt revitalized. He began anticipating the brutal butch Ralph had in mind from him. Oh, and the spanking! Jack knew there would be more in store for him, perhaps even with a belt!
As he was just tidying up the last bits from his desk and setting up a chair on top of newspaper for the next round, the door creaked open, "Success!" announced Ralph holding up a CVS bag. "And I picked up a white beach town and some clothes pins to serve as a cape."
"I'm all ready for you, Mr. Jones!" Jack purred as he sat eagerly in the chair.
"You're such a great boss!" Ralph replied as he caped up the executive.
"And let me speak truth to power," Jack continued, "I needed this! I needed to be shaken up by the younger set and yanked out of my comfort zone!"
Ralph forced Jack's head down to his chest and snapped on the clippers, "I'm taking you down to zero -- all over! One induction cut, coming up!" the lad announced.
Then Jack felt the vibration on his nape and ripping up the back of his head. He savored the feeling of submitting to Ralph and his punishing clippers. "Oh, Mr. Jones....take me down all the way," he murmured with delight.
The haircut was brutal, and Ralph was triumphant as he brought the mirror from off the wall and held it up to reveal Jack's shorn head to him. "Say, Baldy," he said with a smile, as he rubbed Jack's fine stubble, "I was thinking that you need to create a position of Special Advisor to the Vice President for Marketing with a nice six-figure salary to relaunch the shake-up your going to announce at tomorrow's meeting when you unveil your new image. 'This is Mr. Ralph Jones, my special advisor. Please bring all matters to him for consideration, as I have full confidence in Mr. Jones.' Do you want to practice that now, Baldy?! Here say it in the mirror," the lad smirked.
Jack did as he was instructed. And as he did, he admired Ralph's immaculate flattop. That boy had a future, and Jack would be proud of him!