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sunday afternoon tv by seamus


Back in the '70s when hair was longer and styles were changing faster all the time, fashions on the street and on the air were varied and constantly morphing . Just having entered college, my free time was a strange mix of varied times and durations. One short break occured between 2 and 3 on sunday afternoons. One cold and boring sunday in february, I started flipping tv channels and quickly ran to the end. Then I realized there were still about half a dozen of the new UHF channels which were very local in focus and with small audiences. I switched and slowly went through them. I stopped at the last channel which was a municapally owned mostly educational and city government info channel.
At first, it seemed to be a newscast but then as I listened, it was a guy in a suite with slicked back hair in newscaster pose behind a desk, introing a film. Turning out to be an army training film with lots of recruit haircuts, I stayed and watched to the end. It filled a half hour and the guy signed off. Next sunday rolled around and at 2:30pm I tuned in out of curiosity and he was back and introing another service film with a nice bit of recruit haircuts and good sargent and higher levels cuts walking around. The anouncer expressively would end before begining the film with phrases like, "and the haircut quickly separates him from the man on the street". or "shorn of his civilian identity, he quickly conforms to the high standard of his new look " or" the first step in changing from civilian novice to military fighting machine is the haircut." I was captivated in this man, who was perhaps 7 or 8 years older than I, with a very above average interest in haircutting, or so it seemed to me.
I soon was a regular, eagerly waiting to see this curiosity backwater program every week. This guy was conservative in dress and manner and the hair was retro to the mid sixties for the older than the Beatles generation. He was my type to be blunt, with kind eyes and relaxed but somehow pensive manner. He seemed slightly hunched in his chair, weather from reading script or posture, I could not tell. As the weeks rolled by, it was obvious that the films started at the start of the haircut scenes and anything before was elimninated. I was getting to the point of "need to know". I descided to write him a letter. " Dear Mr Miller, I am a regular watcher and fan...." I did not care if it seemed obvious, I wanted to know more of him. I needed to.
The next week, I tuned in and was amazed to hear Rob say thanks for the mail and interest. I was aroused and curious as to if it was me or others who had elicited this response. I wrote the studio again asking if I could meet him after broadcast sometime. The next broadcast was a show stopper. He appeared with his slicked long american type hair style gone and now combed straight foward and cut cloce to the forehead and temple hairlines but left a little longer in the temporal lobes, and finger brushed to one side. It looked a bit of a hack job and resembled a womans pixie cut of the sixties. I was moved, he seemed a bit embarrassedand, I was sure it was the hair. I could tell from the camera angle that the back was conbed up and over the crown in the manner some bald person might do. The space behind his ears and neck left little doubt he had been closely buzzed from the ears down to the collar. I was upset. My interest was more than I realized. I wanted to meet him. I did not have to wait long 2 days later I got a repy letter from him saying we could meet at the station after broadcast and he was honored a college broadcast student was interest in his little show.
The following sunday saw me at the station, looking for his dressing room. On finding it I knocked he said enter and we me, I could not take my eyes from his. He was taller than I and broader. Not muscular as much as bulky. A big gentle creature who was soft spoken and gentlemanly. I wanted to hug him as my initial response, but held back sensing he was in some turmoil.I immediately focused on him saying he seemed preoccupied and I could come back another time. He said no and to stay. It wass just he had gotten some letter saying the announce for the films should play the part. The studio boss agreed and had scheduled a barber friend to come to the studio. This after he had gone to a stylist and ended up getting a male pixie cut without realizing it. He just wanted it shortened with a neat but still long appearence. Now it had gone out of his hands and he was afraid of what would happen. I put my arm across his back and said it would be fine. He was a good looking guy who could carry off anything they would dish out.
THe dishing out knocked and walked in. It was barber friend. He took one look at Rob and said. "OK, training films, right? Only a few minutes till air, let's get that birds nest gone. Just sit there. He threw a stripped barber cape out of his case and wrapped it tight around Robs neck. Rob stayed quiet and reddened. I stood to the side and said it would be fine and relax. The barber quickly comnbed the back and sides of Robs straight chestnut brown crowning glory straight down making him a bit of a Prince Valient with very short bangs and a high undercut back. We heard a high pitch buzz and the barber was at Rob. Starting up the back and only half through it, he took off the attachment and continued up and over the top and then up left and right sides. Finishing the top just as quick, he left only a small patch above the forehead. he had clipper shaved the rest of Robs head to resemble the e o'clock shaddow on his face. He then slowly buzzed the remaing forehead patch from behind untill only a half inch wide strip remained directly above his face. No time for a shave, the barber yelled, you on in 30 seconds! Then he grabbed a tub of Butch Wax and coated his fingers then pulling the strip of inch and a half hair straight up and scissoring it once straight across. Now go, the barber yelled.
Rob walked out on the set not even looking in the mirror. He was a man in a suite with handkerchief in pocket and a dark tie with a little boys haircut. He finished the broadcast and came back to the room and looked in the mirror. A tear trickeled out of his eye next to me. I spun him toward me and looked him in the eye, " You are as good as handsome and viril get in my eyes. I will stand by you in your life as much as you will allow." I stopped red-faced. We locked eyes and it was fine and calm. The sun shot a beam across the floor as we walked out of the studio without looking back. Life was good now. We were too.



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