Last fall, the September heat forced me and my friends to opt for a table inside Andrews Bar and Grille on Adams Street, where I sat in the cool air conditioning and devoured their signature Haight Ashbury sandwich. The topic de jour: Donald Trump, and his recent string of debate victories and complete dominance on cable news.
“It’s over,” blurted Mike Grissom, the former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Florida, the kind of job where one is expected to know about these kinds of issues. “Trump is running away with this thing.”
This “thing” he spoke of, of course, was the Republican nomination.
Another friend, Josh Cooper, chimed in. He too, had vast experience as a political consultant and knew how to read the tea leaves. They’d both seen polling, they said, and Trump’s dominance showed no signs of letting up.
“Curtains,” Cooper echoed, his way of saying the other candidates were already toast. The other campaigns just didn’t want to accept reality.
Neither did I. As a conservative, my choice was Ted Cruz. And it was only September. Many twists and turns in the campaign narrative had yet to play themselves out. Favorite son Jeb Bush still had millions in the bank at that point. I refused to believe the race could already be over. And I refused to believe that Trump, with his shoot-from-the-hip style, could survive the rigors of a full campaign without a major screw-up.
“There’s no way he survives the next two months,” I declared, with complete confidence.
Exactly what I said next is the source of much controversy. But I cannot deny that I told the people at the table that if they were right about Donald Trump, I’d shave his name into my head.
My friends insisted months ago that I already owed them the haircut. Using every technicality in the book of gentlemen’s bets, I stalled them with a variety of arguments that would make even the sharpest Tallahassee lawyers pause and blink, including a promise to pay up if and when Trump becomes President and survives impeachment. But alas, my friends weren’t buying what I was selling. We ultimately reached the consensus that if Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for President of the United States, I would pay up and have his name shaved into my hair.
Donald Trump is now the Republican nominee for President of the United States.
“I look forward to my friend Brian Burgess following through with his bet and proving once again I’m smarter than he,” Grissom texted, moments ago, when told the barbershop location and time.
For months, I’ve been growing my hair out, with the idea of leaving enough of a margin of error that I don’t have to shave myself completely bald in order to erase the letters afterward. I currently look like a cross between Danny Rayburn on the Netflix series Bloodline, and Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.
Tomorrow, at Chop Railroad at 1029 Commercial Drive, at 6pm, I will pay up. After calling around town and visiting four different specialty barbershops, I finally found one that gave me confidence that the stylist will do the job right.
April, the manager of the Chop Railroad location, groans when I explain that it’s Trump’s name she has to carve into my head. She has a reputation for high-quality specialty work, but isn’t exactly a fan of The Donald. Still, she assures me, I will be in good hands.
“Yes,” she says, in a less-than-convincing tone. “I’m gonna say I can do it.”
We shook hands. I have an appointment. She will be well compensated.
So, bring your cameras, have your fun. Because the letters T-R-U-M-P will only remain long enough for those awful images to be transmitted around the world and back again on social media.