Private Journal of Doctor Jack Tyler December 29th, 2012 “The Haircut” – Part III

     I frowned at my grandfather saying, “Hey, my hair isn’t that long.”

     “No, but it looks like the last time it was cut someone took a weed-whacker to it,” he grunted and gestured at the seat. “So which of you mop-tops is going to be first?”

     “Mop-Top?” Darlene repeated, scrunching up her face in such a way it was clear she didn’t know whether to be amused or confused.

     Luckily Cheryl came to her rescue, “That was a popular way of describing men with long hair back in the 60’s. I think it started when the Beatles came here to the United States for the first time.” Here she paused and studied me for a moment and then added, “You just need to look at your father to get a good idea of how long their hair was back then.”

mop tops

     My offspring gave me an appraising stare and then shook her head. “They considered that long? Looks more he’s losing some…”

     “That’ll do,” I cut in giving her a look that once upon a time would strike terror into her heart. Now all it did was earn me a mischievous grin. Sigh… they grow up fast and much harder to intimidate these days.

     Meanwhile, Nathan had hopped into the barber’s chair, much to my grandfather’s satisfaction. Especially when Nathan started asking him about the NY Mets.

     “That bunch of bums!” granddad snarled, while tying the styling cape around Nathan’s neck, “Don’t get me started. And why are you bringing them up? This isn’t baseball season.”

     “My point exactly,” Nathan replied cheerfully, “If they play during the off season they might actually find someone they can beat. Maybe a girl’s softball team for instance.”

     Darlene immediately jumped in saying, “You’ve got to be kidding. We’d mop the floor with those losers, any day of the year.”

     “You tell ‘im,” granddad smiled and turned back to Nathan, “She gets that from my side of the family.”

     “And mine!” added my grandmother pointedly. Then she turned to Cheryl and said in a stage-whisper, “He’ll never admit it, but he always loved the fact that I wouldn’t put up with his nonsense.”

     “Like hell,” granddad shot back, “I married you because no one else was willing to try to straighten you out so you’d behave more like a lady.”

     “And how did that work out for you?” Nathan asked innocently.

     Granddad glared at him for a second then murmured something about, “Gimme time. I’m still working on it.”

     I was about to comment how he’d already been working on her for almost 70 years, when I noticed my son Joe picking up an old photo album off the table. “Be careful with that,” I told him, “That contains some priceless pictures in it.”

     Naturally he gave me a skeptical look. “Dad, you say that about all the albums at home and it’s just filled with pictures of us when we growing up.”

     Looking up into the mirror, granddad saw which book Joe was holding and said, “Memories of family will be more precious than you’ll ever know one day. But that’s not what’s in that book. Those are photos, most of them signed, by some of my favorite customers from over the years. Go ahead and take a peek, you might recognize one or two faces.”

     Obligingly, my son did as he was told and immediately his eyes widened at the first image he came across. “Cary Grant!” he cried.

Cary-Grant

      “You’re kidding?” his sister gasped and went over to see for herself.

     Meanwhile, Granddad got to work on Nathan and was saying, “Really nice fella. Great head of hair. Loved working on it and passing the time with him. How old was he when you first brought him to my shop?”

      Nathan had to think for a moment. “Let’s see, he was still pretty new in the vaudeville circuit when I met him. I’d say he was just eighteen at the time.”

     “That’s what I thought,” Granddad nodded, “Always stopped in for a shave or a haircut whenever he came to town too.”

     Meanwhile Darlene had turned the next page in the album and started frowning. “Who’s the funny-looking guy with the big nose? Was he famous too?”

      “Let me see,” Nana told her and went to take a peek. After a moment she smiled, “Oh, that’s Jimmy.”

     “Which one, Stewart or the other one?” asked Granddad looking up from his work.

      Nana shook her head at him, “Did Jimmy Stewart ever have a big nose?”

Jimmy_Durante2

    Suddenly, Nathan leapt out of the chair and swung around. His nose had grown considerably as he started talking fast in a raspy, jolly voice. “Who’s got a big nose? Madam I’ll have you know this schnozzola has given me the world’s most memorable profile. It even got me into Guiness just last year.”

     I quickly jumped in. “You’re in the Guiness Book of World Records?”
“Nah,” Nathan replied in the same voice, “Any chump can into that old waste of paper. Nah, it got me into the Guinness brewery and straight into one of their vats. And lemme tell ya, it weren’t full when I fell in, but it was plenty empty when I got out. Ha-cha-cha-cha.”

     My son Joe, who had been frowning as if in deep thought, suddenly spoke up. “I know that voice. That’s the guy who was the narrator from the ‘Frosty the Snowman’ cartoon.”

     “Hey, that’s right,” his sister agreed. “And the cartoon version of him did have a big nose just like that.”

    “Dat’s right kids, and lemme tell ya. They still didn’t do it justice,” Nathan continued in Mr. Durante’s voice. “Why just the other day I…”

     At that point, Granddad grabbed Nathan by the arm and made him sit back in the chair. Of course this didn’t stop the rush of jokes coming out of his client. In fact it wasn’t until he pulled out the hot towel and placed it over the comedian’s face that the dialogue became more muffled, but not completely silent.

    From then on, the rest of us continued going through the album marveling at the number of famous folks who Granddad had had the pleasure of working on over the years. Nathan helped supply some visuals to the proceedings, much to everyone’s amusement and delight.

    When Granddad finished with Nathan, Joe was more than willing to sit in the chair next and get his hair cut. Not that he really needed it, but by this time he was eager to hear more of namesake’s stories. In the meantime I sat back and waited my turn in the chair. It was great seeing my kids really connecting with their great-grandparents. Like Granddad said earlier, memories about family were priceless and at that moment, I was wishing I had my phone out taking pictures. But I didn’t, because Nathan had already grabbed it and was shooting away.

   I later found out, both he and Cheryl had videotaped some of the exchanges and nonsense that followed. It was a great visit, but what made me the happiest was on the way home both Darlene and Joe asked when we were going to visit again.

     We made a lot of memories tonight and all because of a simple haircut.

    – The End

*Stay tuned for an all new story next time. Until then… Happy Reading everybody!  

Private Journal of Doctor Jack Tyler December 29th, 2012 “The Haircut” – Part II

            Darlene rolled her eyes at her brother and sighed, “I don’t know why he’d need a haircut. Does it really matter?” Then before he could answer, I saw her expression change. “Actually, that is a pretty good question. Dad…?”

            Holding up my hands I said, “Don’t ask me, I’m just here for Nana’s cookies and hot chocolate.” I wasn’t about to admit that I’d never really thought about it myself.

            Just then Nathan, who was not three feet away, turned to my grandmother saying, “You know I could’ve sworn I’d walked in with a bunch of people, was I just imagining things? Or did I suddenly turn invisible?”

            I watched her pat his arm and say, “No, you’re just getting to that age when everyone thinks you’ve gone deaf or your mind has gone wandering and you aren’t paying attention. I get that a lot.”

            “Not from me!” I called out loudly.

            Nathan looked around, “Did you hear something?”

            “Aw it’s just this old house creaking, or my joints, one or the other,” Nana told him.

            “Must be the house,” he assured her. “I told your dad when he was building it to use hickory but as he pointed out it was more expensive and harder to get here in Connecticut.”

            Nana laughed as she led us down the hallway.

barberspole

            There was an old barber pole on the wall, next to the door that led downstairs.

            My grandfather had been the town’s barber for over sixty-five years, before he finally ‘retired’. The shop was still in business but being run by one of my cousins who specialized in not only classic haircutting, but the more modern ‘faded’ style as well. I myself spent a lot of time in grand-dad’s shop when I was a boy and people often thought I’d follow in his footsteps. In reality, I was studying how he interacted with his customers since he always had a way with them. I learned an awful lot about putting people at ease and drawing them out from watching him, which has been a great asset to my medical practice.

            I slipped past Nathan as we reached the door to offered Nana my arm which she accepted, then we all headed downstairs.

            “Here we go through ‘Dr Who’s Tardis’ again,” I heard my son Joe murmuring behind me, only to be shushed by his sister saying, “Oh, shut up, I like that show.”

            “That’s just because you think the current one is cute,” he shot back.

            Glancing over my shoulder I saw Darlene make a face, “Ew… I’ll take David Tennant over him any day of the week. I mostly like the companions, especially Amy…”

            At that point Nana chimed in with, “I still prefer Tom Baker myself.”

            That earned several groans from the rest of us, although deep down I had to admit she had a point. He was a master of comic timing and seriousness when it came to the role of the Doctor. I would’ve said more but we’d just reached the bottom of the stairs and my grandfather’s ‘shop’.

            Even though my dad, Nathan, and I helped set the place up for him, I always found myself transported back to my childhood every time I came down here.

the-bookcase-and-barber

           One wall of the room was dominated by a large mirror, with shelving covered by numerous barber implements, stood before two chairs that had come from the shop itself. There was also a small flatscreen television staring down from above the mirror. In short, there were also other chairs and tables around the room, but to all intent and purposes, the place was a mini-barber shop. This had been my grandmother’s idea after a number of former clients kept pestering her husband for haircuts because he was the only one who knew how they liked their hair done. Plus, they missed having their regular bull sessions with him.

            But most of all, she knew my grandad missed keeping busy.

          My grandfather was lounging in the older of the two chairs, when we came down. Getting out of one of the chair, where he’d been reading the paper, he stood up. “About time you got here Nathan, I was about to…” he began then spotted me and my family. “Oh good, lord you brought the entire crew with you. Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me tonight.”

          TO BE CONTINUED…

        *Author’s Note: Sorry for the short entry. I was working on it this past weekend and had to go to get some routine lab work done (which took a couple of hours… groan). Plus family and a bad cold took more out of me.  Didn’t want to leave you all with nothing, so I figured a short entry was better than nothing, especially when I’m trying to do at least at two entries a month. To be concluded in two weeks… unless the story decides it wants to be longer.