Face was walking the corridors of school heading for class when he heard, "young man...you wearing the leader jacket...stop!"
Face paused and looked around, wondering who was calling. He saw an older woman coming toward him, carrying a pen, notebook, and ruler. "Are you talking to me?" he asked politely.
The woman didn't answer as she abruptly grabbed and turned him, so his back was to her. Face turned around, "What do you want?"
"Turn around!" she ordered.
"No! Not until you tell me why?" replied Face angrily.
Finally, the lady replied. "I'm in charge of enforcing the dress code, and your hair is too long!" She replied hotly.
"The length of my hair? You're kidding...right?"
"Mrs. Evans, I must insist that you allow the school to handle this!" Mr. Davis said as he came up to the two.
"Mr. Davis, this boy's hair is too long...he needs a haircut! A short haircut!"
Mr. Davis glanced at Face before replying, "I admit that his hair is a bit longer, but not so much so that he needs the type of haircut you would recommend! Besides, his hair's length has done nothing to disrupt his classes or his grades! Face go on to your class," he added as he sent the boy on to class.
Mrs. Evans wasn't happy. She was used to having her way about everything. "Need I remind you that my husband is head of the school board, and we have voted on hair length in our school? I'm in my right to see that it is enforced!"
"And the board gave the school officials the authority to enforce it! This rule was just voted on last night, and I was waiting for the students to get to their homerooms before announcing it!" Mr. Davis replied.
"See that it is done, or next time I find a student with too long of hair, I will cut it myself!" she promised as she left.
Face was still mad when he returned home after baseball practice. He threw his backpack down, which was the first sign that registered to Hannibal that something was amiss with his son. He had just finished a cup of coffee in the kitchen when Face stormed in, heading straight to the coffee maker and pouring himself a cup of coffee. "Ahem," Hannibal cleared his throat loudly to get the kid's attention before shaking his head.
Face looked defiantly at his father as he took his first swallow. He could not take another before Mama B entered and took it from his hand. "Face, you know you aren't allowed," she scolded as she smacked him on the rear.
"I really need the coffee, Mama," he whined.
"Kid, I see that you are upset; come over here and tell me about it," suggested Hannibal.
After giving the coffee cup one last wistful look, he did just that. Mama B put a glass of cold milk in front of him with a plate of cookies, hoping it would appease him.
"Hannibal, the school board met last night and voted on a dress code. We must wear uniforms, and boys must get a haircut if they have long hair!"
Face handed a letter to Hannibal, who soon passed it on to Mrs. B. "Face; you wore a uniform when you were in 'Nam. It didn't seem to bother you then, and the rules for hair length were stricter than what the school board has ordered. I never did understand how you missed out on getting a crew cut when you first enlisted."
"That's different. Then I knew what I was going into, but now it has been thrust upon us," the kid argued. "This time, I was singled out on my way to class. This bit...," Face paused as he saw the expression on his mother's face before continuing with, "battle-ax of a woman comes after me with a notebook, pen, and ruler and physically turns me around. You know how I feel about rulers, so I resisted. She told me she would enforce the new ruling about hair length—fortunately, Mr. Davis arrived and stopped her. They talked after Mr. Davis sent me on, but I heard her last remark on personally cutting hair that was too long!"
"Well, we won't be able to get your clothes until the weekend, so you continue to wear these but come Saturday, we'll go to LA and buy you what is necessary," decided Hannibal.
"But Hannibal," whined Face.
"My hands are tied, kid. Just think about what you would be forced to wear at a public school in England...this is much nicer," Hannibal tried to soothe his kid.
"I still don't like it!"
"You don't have to like it, kid, but you do have to follow this dress code!"
Face only shrugged his shoulders. "I mean it, Face! You will obey this dress code, or you will be running my obstacle course until you do! This is an order, Lieutenant!"
"I want an answer, Face!"
"You will be running it with a sore bottom," Mama B added.
Face nodded and abruptly got up and left.
Mrs. B glanced at Hannibal. "Did he agree?"
"I guess only time will tell, Mrs. B.
The next day some students showed up in the required uniform of khaki slacks with maroon polo shirts for the boys, with the girls in maroon plaid skirts with white blouses or maroon polo shirts, but the majority were dressed in the same clothes they had been wearing all year. There was a maroon blazer with the name of the school on the front that could be worn on cooler days.
Timmy and Neal were two of the few wearing the khaki slacks and maroon polos. Face looked questionable at his friends. "These are the clothes Mom has been buying for me for years...she is happy with the dress code," explained Timmy.
"That is the same for me," added Neal.
Face nodded as he thought back, remembering that his friends had been wearing khaki slacks and polos since he came to school. This would be easy for them, as well as the haircut. His friends' hair was never that long.
"Well, I don't like it!"
"Face, you have no choice; you have to!" Timmy told him.
"We just studied about petitions and how the majority wins. I bet I can get most of the student body to sign my petition for removing this dress code, " Face said excitedly.
"It won't do any good, Face," Neal said patiently.
"Because we are kids and not adults or parents, and they are the only ones the school board will listen to," Timmy explained.
Face asked, "then what about a protest? We could have a sit-in and refuse to move until our wishes are heard, and the dress code is gone!"
"I don't know, Face. I think all you will get is in trouble...and paddled!" Warned Timmy.
"Hey, guys," greeted Tony. "What's up?" He added as he took in his friend's expression.
"Face is trying to come up with ideas to eliminate the dress code!" explained Neal.
"They are only going to cause him to get into trouble! Neal and I have been trying to talk him out of doing them," replied Timmy.
"What were his ideas?"
"A petition and a sit-down protest!"
"A petition with our parents' names on it?"
"Well, that won't work. I know my Dad won't sign, and I bet neither will yours Face."
"I agree with Timmy; a sit-in will only cause you trouble, and don't forget what your mother said she would do if you got in trouble at school. Are you willing to accept her punishment for days?"
Face shook his head, "but I got to do something. I hate uniforms; the army broke me of this. Uniforms will take away our individuality!" Face continued to argue.
"What if we sabotage the uniforms? You know how bad we can be on clothes; what if we made a point of being harder than normal," Tony suggested. "You know the jeans we normally wear are made of sturdier cloth than the slacks that are part of the uniform. We destroy them enough, and our parents will tire of replacing them. Then maybe they will sign your petition to get the dress code recalled!"
Face began to smile. "I like it...let's do it then. You tell everyone you know who is against this dress code, and I'll do the same, and then at baseball practice, we'll tell the team."
When Face returned home today, he was smiling. He casually headed for the kitchen and his after-school snack. "Well, you must have had a good day today, kid," remarked Hannibal as he sat down next to his son.
Face just grinned at him as he reached for a cookie.
"You are okay with the dress code?" Mrs, B asked cautiously.
Face's grin became larger before nodding. "When is supper?"
"You got an hour; why?"
"I want to play with Charlie, that's all."
As soon as the boy and dog had left, Hannibal and Mrs. B exchanged a glance. "I can't believe he has changed his mind about the dress code; what do you think he is planning?"
"I don't know," replied Hannibal, "but he is up to something."
Each day more and more kids agreed to join the revolution to overthrow the dress code, and Face's grin got larger every time his family mentioned it. Then came the day to buy the uniform and all that went with it. Some last-minute business came up for Hannibal, and he entrusted BA and Murdock to take the kid shopping. He gave the list to BA and said, "he will need at least two pairs of slacks and shirts, and don't forget to get the blazer and be on the lookout for any stunts he may pull to prevent the purchases," Hannibal warned.
"Little brother is going to behave, aren't you, Face?" BA growled with a smile.
"You won't have any trouble out of me. I promise!"
"He's going to need a haircut, too," Hannibal added before they walked out of the door. "Don't let him talk you out of doing this!"
"Piece of cake, Colonel."
"I hope so, Captain, but he is up to something, so be aware."
On the way to LA, they talked about baseball and how well the Dodgers were doing that year. "I hope they make the playoffs this year."
"Maybe Hannibal will take you to a game," replied BA as he pulled into the store recommended in the letter. There were cars everywhere. Many of them sported bumper stickers for the Bradbury Bulldogs, and Face knew he would see friends there.
There were kids and their parents everywhere buying the new uniform the school board had voted on. When not locating clothes or trying them on, Face was talking to his friends and fingering the clothes, drawing Murdock's attention. He would watch as Face pulled out a polo shirt and then check the seams in the disguise of looking for size. He did it for every item they purchased that day. He noticed that he did return several of the polos that were in his size and pondered on why but by the end, they had bought two of everything except for the blazer. It was on their way out that Face stopped at the shoe department. "You know my shoes are getting worn and scuffed up...I think I need a new pair."
BA and Murdock exchanged glances before nodding their approval. "We will wait for you outside," Murdock said as he handed Hannibal's credit card to him. They were pleasantly surprised when Face appeared a few minutes later with a shoe box under his arm. "That was quick," Murdock remarked as Face handed back the credit card.
"They had just what I wanted and in my size, too," replied the boy with a grin.
"I guess we have only one more stop before we head home, and there it is," BA said as he pointed to a barber shop a block away.
By the time they made it to the barber shop, they saw that it was packed as well. Face looked around and saw a hair styling business and steered his brothers towards it. "They cut hair too, but they have more style than just the barber," and quickly talked them into going there instead.
Face was approached as soon as he walked in. "My name is Vickie. Can I help you?"
Face smiled and motioned to the barbershop next door. "They are full. Will you style my hair?"
"What do you want to be done?"
"He needs a haircut. It is part of the dress code just implemented at his school," replied Murdock.
"I think I can help you," she smiled as she directed Face to a chair and BA and Murdock to the waiting area.
About thirty minutes Face joined his brothers sporting his new haircut. It had been shaped, thinned, and trimmed. "What do you think?" asked Face.
"I think it looks nice, little bro. Do you like it?"
"Yes. What about you, HM?"
Murdock gave him a long look but felt that he was missing something. It looks good, Facey," he praised.
"I've already paid her, so we can leave when you want," Face said, and they headed home.
That nagging feeling plaguing Murdock since they left the beauty salon hit him when returning home. Hannibal said, "You were supposed to get a haircut, kid. Your hair hasn't shortened any!"
"Captain, didn't you take him to a barbershop?"
"They were all busy, Colonel. We took him to the hair salon next door. What's wrong?"
"Did you check out the length?"
Murdock looked at his little brother and didn't see what Hannibal was talking about until Hannibal added, "you didn't check the back," and forcefully turned Face around so BA and Murdock could see that his length was the same.
"Sorry, Colonel, he conned us," Murdock replied as he hung his head.
"Dagnabbit, Face, you don't ever con family!" BA growled.
"Look, the letter only said that boys with long hair needed to get it cut. There was nowhere in that letter that said how short the hair had to be, and I did get a haircut. It was thinned out and trimmed!" argued the kid smugly.
"You do know that you will be singled out Monday if Mrs. Evans shows up and sees you?"
"I have proof, Hannibal. I have the receipt and the name of the operator who cut my hair," Face replied as he handed out the receipt.
Hannibal's eyes opened, and he shouted, "you paid fifteen dollars for a thinning and a trim!"
"Well, did you get everything on the list?"
BA and Murdock nodded..."and a new pair of shoes. His were looking scuffed. We wanted him to look his best Monday!"
"Hand your clothes over to Mrs. B. She wants to wash and iron them," instructed Hannibal. "Hang your blazer up so the wrinkles will fall out!"
Face headed to his room carrying the blazer and shoe box, and life returned to normal...at least until Monday morning when Face came down for breakfast dressed in the "monkey suit," as he called the uniform.
"You look good, Kid," Hannibal told his son.
"I feel like a dork," Face said.
"You look handsome, son," praised Mrs. B.
"Are you ready, Facey?"
"As ready as I can be!"