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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic

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The continuing adventures of Joey's determined search for a meaningful job!

Desperation finally wins out though, so I resignedly trudge into the shop. They’re all there - The Barbershop Quartet. Jack, Mr. Coogan, Gustav and Mr. Krokowski. Drinking Maxwell House coffee, smoking Pall Malls, and listening to Perry Como on the radio. As they read The Daily News, they pontificate on world and local events, the outcome of their debates surely deciding the fate of the free world. Nobody notices me.

“Hey, Jack.”

Finally, he looks up from the customer he’s working on, eyes me with a mixture of suspicion and disdain, and goes back to cutting. Silence.

  “You come for a haircut Joey?”

“ Um… not really… I came to ask if you had a job, like, y’know- um- sweeping up hair or something?”

Jack shakes his head slowly and sadly, as he continues his work.

“Joey… you know I know your father a while now, right?”

 I nod.

“He’s always been a good customer, a good man, and I would always tell him what a fine, respectful young man you were and all, but now… (his voice trails off, as he shakes his head slowly again.)

Look at ya - you look like some kind of beatnik or something”.

I knew it. I knew it. He’s mad that I haven’t been up for a haircut in a while. I bet he remembers the exact date of my last haircut, too.

  What happened to you - with that crazy hair and scraggly mustache, and all? You look like that goddamned Mooglie the Jungle Boy, for the love of Pete, like the riff-raff that’s been coming into town, lately.”

“Riff-raff”, grumbles Mr. Coogan, from behind his newspaper. 

Jack points over to one of the 1950s- style haircut posters he has plastered all over the barbershop.

“Now, that’s a haircut.”

I grimace.

“Well, Joey, if you don’t like that style why don’t you at least try this new stuff I got in – Vitalis. It’s the latest craze.”

New stuff? Vitalis has been around for, like, at least ten years. What is he talking about?

“I tell ya, Joey, it’s what all the hep cats are using these days. You use this, the girls’ll be chasing you all over the place! You’ll be the cat’s meow, the cat’s pajamas!”

The cat’s pajamas? Was Jack trying to be cool, or something? He must notice the look of horror on my face, because his demeanor suddenly changes.

“Hey, Joey, how many girls you given the old salami to?!”

He totally catches me off guard.


“You know, how many girls you slipped the old Ambassador, huh? He makes a pumping motion with his fist.

This is ridiculous. What is Jack asking me these questions for? I feel the heat turn up in my face.

“Um- I don’t know-two... three…

“Two or three, huh?” Jack smirks.

“C'mon, Joey, I bet you haven’t even got a peek at the ole’ weezer yet, huh? C’mon, I’m right. Right?”

No- no, I’ve been with - y’know- a couple- “

“Aw, Joey, you don’t gotta lie to me, how old are you now, what, fifteen?”

“Fifteen and a half.”

“Geez, when I was fifteen I had more homeruns than Hank Aaron, for godsakes.”

They all broke up, the old-timers. It was like a room full of laughs from one of those old Ronald Reagan films.

I just stand there - red and stupid. And boiling

Submitted: February 13, 2021

© Copyright 2022 Joe Montaperto. All rights reserved.

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