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!  

Lisa’s Private Thoughts – March 15, 2015 “Never Forgotten…”

*A note from the author: Terry Pratchett has long been one of my all time favorite authors.  He’s made me laugh and think so often it never ceases to amaze me.  It’s  because of him there are so many moments of laughter in my own work, but never enough to distract from the main storyline.  However, I’ve never reached the levels of hilarity and pointedness he could.  With his passing this week, I knew I had to do some kind of entry to say how much he and his work influenced me.  I struggled with how to come up with something to say, when I remembered Nathaniel who has been around for so long and has known so many people.  So, through him I share some thoughts and feelings on the passing of a wondrous author, as well as provide more insight into my vampyre and what makes him so special sometimes.  I hope you enjoy.*

My last class of the day got cancelled over at New River Tech, which is also where my dad teaches.   Marisa still had some classes as well, but I didn’t feel like hanging around the campus.  So I decided to go and hang out over at Nathan’s place.  He was probably still resting down in the ground, but at least I’d be there when he got up.

 You can imagine my surprise when I got to his place and found he was up and about in the middle of the afternoon.  I found him sitting on the floor with his back me, with a bunch of books laid out in front of him. Surprisingly, none of them were the old worn hardback kind that lined the walls of the room.   Instead, these were all paperbacks, some going back as far as the 1980’s.

Naturally, this piqued my curiosity so I quietly went over to him and took a look at the covers.  They were colorful with amusing artwork.  All of them were by the same author… Terry Pratchett.

Immediately my heart sank.  “Did he…?”

Nathan nodded.  “It was all over the internet this morning,” he sighed and looked up at me.  “I’m surprised you didn’t already know.”

“Marisa and I have a dance class at 8:00 AM, so I didn’t have a chance to get online,” I replied and sat down next to him.  As soon as I settled in, I rested my head against his shoulder.  “I remember when you introduced us to him when we went to England with you.  He was really nice. I like him.”

“He was amazing,” Nathan smiled.  “Not that he thought it, but you, me and a lot of other people out there did.”

“At least we have his books and stories to remember him,” I pointed out.

“I have a lot more than that,” Nathan said with a smile that aroused my curiosity.

“Oh? What did you two have wild night together or something?” I asked innocently, while batting my eyes at him.

“We had a few nights where… HEY!” as cut himself off as the penny finally dropped.

I was still laughing at his reaction as he desperately tried to explain that nothing ‘unnatural’ as he put it, ever happened between the two of them.  “We just had a few good laughs together, that’s all,” he  finished with scowl that was not remotely intimidating.

Taking his hand I squeezed it and said more seriously, “I know it’s hard losing another friend.  It’s not something you ever get used to, is it?  No matter how long you’ve been around.”

“No, it isn’t,” he said quietly, as that curious smile suddenly reappeared on his face.  “But, I can take solace in the fact that for me they’re never really gone.  My memories are different than most people’s.”

“How so?” I asked curiously.

For a moment he didn’t answer.  Instead he seemed to be gathering his thoughts and then said, “T think Terry put it best when he said…”

“Now most people, can recall a number of things from their past.  But I can recall everything!”

I stared at him in wonder for a moment.  “Everything?” I repeated.

He nodded.  “Our brains are taking in all kinds of information all the time.  The feel of the breeze on our skin, someone’s smile, how it felt to kiss a person you’ve longed for the first time, the works.  But it’s so hard to remember every little detail.”

“I can remember a lot of things,” I pointed out.

“Of that I’m certain, but how hard is it to remember all the things that you saw and witnessed in 1999?”

I started to say something then stopped.  “You mean, in the entire year?  Everything I saw or did within that time?”

He nodded.

Blinking I shook my head.  “No, I don’t think I could.  I’ve probably forgotten most of it.”

At that point Nathan shook his head, “No you haven’t.  It’s all there, but it’s stashed away in different areas of the brain where you can’t always access them.  But it’s all there.”

           

Immediately my mind began picturing photos and letters all scattered about in a huge room inside my head.  Only it looked like total chaos.  “But you can keep track of it all, can’t you?” I asked.

“With effort, but yes,” he smiled.  “I can recall everything friends like Terry ever said or did in front of me.  Plus there are always the stories other people told me about him.”

“And you never forget any of it?”

“Not a single thing,” he replied.

“Then, you remember everyone you’ve ever met and all the things they did,” I whispered in awe.

This time his smile became even wider.  “Now you got it.”

“So you’re like a walking repository of other people’s lives.  The ones who only family and friends knew about, because they never became famous or well known,” I murmured in growing awe.

“That’s definitely one way of looking at it,” he nodded after thinking it over for a few seconds.  “And I share those memories with their descendants so they’re never forgotten.”

“So you make sure their memories stay alive,” I smiled.

“I can do better than that,” Nathan winked.  “If the person is in tune enough with me, I can share those memories so they can have them as well.”

This was news to me so I quickly begged him to share one with me, which he did.  It might not have been the one he’d intended but I saw Mr. Pratchett holding a broom, next to the actor who played “Death” in one of the Discworld movies.  Both were pointing at each other with amusement and camaraderie, then I felt something… calm and at peace.  I knew that last part came from Nathan.  It was how he was feeling about losing another friend.

Having read the Discworld books myself I knew that when Death collected someone there would be a desert for them to cross.  “Do you think Mr. Pratchett’s already crossed it?” I asked Nathan as we were still linked.

To my surprise Nathan shook his head and said, “No.  Somehow I think he’s in a cottage that is much bigger on the inside, and colored in different shades of black, and is filled with all kinds of cats.  Across from him Death is holding out a cup of tea saying, “ALBERT AND I WERE WONDERING IF YOU WOULDN’T MIND STAYING FOR A WHILE AND TELLING US A STORY…”  That’s where I think he is, anyway.”

“I think so too,” I smiled and gave Nathan a kiss, knowing the memory of it would never be lost.

**Special Note: The section where Death is talking to Mr. Pratchett was created by my wife Helen, who gave me permission to share it in this entry.  Thank you my love.**