Shave and a Haircut #amwriting @StoryADayMay #ThursdayDoors

Thursday Doors is overseen by the ever-elegant Norm Frampton. Ring the bell at his website, wipe your feet, and prepare to be served a delicious repast of photographs. If you click on the blue frog link at the bottom of Norm’s post, you’ll find a smorgasbord of other dooristas from which to choose.

This story doesn’t have a door actually in it, so I’ve included a photo of one that’s implied.

Shave and a Haircut

by Marian Allen

My employer, The Honorable Montgomery Penobscott, is old-fashioned, but he pays too well for me to object.

I’ve been with him now for twenty years, beginning as boot boy and working my way up to gentleman’s gentleman. Other staff come and go, some lost to the Great War (I, alas, have flat feet, so was spared and denied participation in that horror that surely ended all wars). Some were swept away by the winds of change that followed our 1918 victory over darkness, winds that Mr. Penobscott refused to allow in his household.

One of staff’s main objections was Mr. Penobscott’s refusal to allow any of his staff to marry. Before the war, one expected that a life in service was just that: a life in service. One’s life (except for a weekly half-day off and occasional holidays) would be utterly devoted to one’s post, and one was grateful for the security. After the war, though, with so many of the younger generations lost or damaged and, therefore, employable youth at a premium, the balance of power shifted a bit in favor of the worker.

Mr. Penobscott refused to countenance any “Bolshie” movement in his house. Consequently, we were often short-staffed. I, myself, also served as butler, head footman, and barber.

During our morning grooming sessions, we went over plans for the day, longer-range scheduling, wardrobe choices, staff considerations, menus, household finances, and so on. Mr. Penobscott also enjoyed quizzing me on my personal life, a form of verbal slumming, I fancy.

“How’s your sweetheart?” was always his first personal question.

He always asked it in that jocular fashion that’s a blatant attempt to disguise an important question. It was somewhat gratifying that he feared he would be forced to dismiss me because I wanted to marry. Less gratifying since I did, indeed, want to marry, but did not want to lose a very good position.

As always, I replied, “Quite well, sir, and thank you for asking.” Today, I added, “I fancy I’ll need to break things off with her, sir. She tells me her lady is moving to the Continent, now that the unpleasantness there is over, and my lady friend prefers to stay in England.”

Mr. Penobscott harrumphed. “Quite right, too.”

I wielded scissors and razor in silence for a while, then Mr. Penobscott said, “She’s a cook, isn’t she, your lady friend?”

“Oh, quite a good one,” I said. “A certain Royal Personage attended a dinner given by her lady, and sent his compliments to the cook. My lady friend was quite overcome.”

“I should think so!”

“Yes, sir. And, if I may say so, not at all puffed up about it. One might have expected her to become prideful, but she attributed the compliment to the Royal Personage’s graceful condescension and was only humbly pleased.”

“Right again,” said Mr. Penobscott.

In truth, Rosie had been, as the young people say, over the moon, and jokingly called herself The Prince’s Pie-maker, putting all our chums at the public house in stitches.

I was nearly finished with his trim when Mr. Penobscott said, “Basham’s two weeks’ notice is nearly up, is it not?” Basham being our current cook.

“Yes, sir. We’ve narrowed the candidates for her replacement to two. Shall I have them each prepare a crab soufflé for you, and see which you prefer?”

He drummed the fingers of his right hand on the counter of his dressing table.

I dusted his face and neck with powder and removed it and any stray hair clippings with a soft brush.

He said, “Your lady friend wouldn’t care to apply?”

I feigned shock as I handed him a mirror so he could inspect the back of his head.

“Oh, no, sir! It would be most improper for her to live under the same roof as a gentleman she’s walking out with. Neither of us would ever think of it.”

“Of course. Of course. Naturally. Quite right. Does you both credit.”

I took back the mirror and whipped away the cloth with which I had shielded Mr. Penobscott’s dressing gown.

“Shall I draw your bath, sir? And have we decided on the blue tie with grey chevrons?”

“Yes,” he said. “Yes.”

When I had turned on the taps and had come back to assist Mr. Penobscott in disrobing, he said,

“Er, Hawkins. I hope you’ll forgive the very personal nature of this question, but … have you ever given any thought to marrying?”

St. John’s Church
Louisville, Kentucky
photo copyright 2017
by Ginny Fleming

MY PROMPTS TODAY: Barbasol Thick and Rich shaving cream

If you liked this story, you might like my other stories and my novels. Support an author: buy a book and leave an Amazon review. I thank you, and my cat thanks you.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Shave and a Haircut #amwriting @StoryADayMay #ThursdayDoors

  1. joey

    May 25, 2017 at 9:02am

    That is indeed a gift, there in Hawkins. One finely tuned gift!
    Excellent door as well — quite fitting! 🙂

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 25, 2017 at 10:40am

      A friend of mine sent it to me so I wouldn’t get in trouble for not having a door photo on a Thursday. 🙂

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. janet

    May 25, 2017 at 1:43pm

    I love Barbasol for shaving…my legs. 🙂 Having read your title, “two bits” followed as the day the night or vice versa, but these days, “bits” would probably bit coins, changing the meaning quite a lot! 🙂


    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 26, 2017 at 10:01am

      My Uncle Elmore (Uncle Lawnmower, to me) used to sing, “Shave and a haircut, two bits. Who is the barber? Tom Mix!” He told me that two bits was a quarter. The high school cheerleaders must have known that, too, because one of their cheers was, “Two bits — four bits — six bits — a dollar! All for OUR team, stand up and holler!” Yeah, I have no idea of the monetary value of “two bitcoins.” lol

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. Shan Jeniah Burton

    May 26, 2017 at 2:55am

    I’m wondering if Mr. Penobscott is suggesting that he marry, or trying to assure that he won’t? Or giving him high praise, and knowing he might lose this very, very fine employee….enough so that he can let a bit of breeze in?

    Tantalizing, the possibilities here!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 26, 2017 at 10:04am

      In my mind, Mr. Penobscott wants the cook who was praised by the Royal Personage, and thinks he’s slick in suggesting a marriage for his own convenience. 😉 But that’s just my interpretation of his motives. I love it that you came up with viable alternatives!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  4. Norm 2.0

    May 26, 2017 at 10:24am

    Nicely done and you squeezed in a door photo at the end too 😉

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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