Mark Johnson
4 min readApr 4, 2024
Black man getting his hair cut.

It had been over a day and a half since Mario had heard from Zully, and he was beginning to think the most awful things. He said on one side of him, “Yeah, she needs her space.” On the other side, he was like, “Damn, why hasn’t she texted me back?” All of these views were battling in his head, yet the facts were that Zully hadn’t texted him back, but maybe there was a perfectly sane reason.

The two had only been dating for a matter of months now, and if anyone was falling for her, Mario was falling for her and was a bit more about this relationship than her. As that thought screamed out in his mind, a message from Zully popped up on his phone.

Her message apologized for not getting back to him sooner, talking about something that didn’t involve him. She invited Mario to join her and some friends for drinks. Mario saw this as another step in their relationship and felt he needed to show up and be his best. So he replied back to Zully, confirming the plan was to meet at Carson’s diner for happy-hour drinks.

Hours before the meeting, Mario called his barber to book a walk-in haircut, as his fade wasn’t as crispy as he’d like. He then looked into his closet and created the perfect outfit that commanded respect, showed he was “the cool guy,” and hopefully impressed Zully’s array of friends.

Mario was putting a lot of thought into this meeting, and as those thoughts became clearer, it rather confirmed to Mario that he was growing deep in affection for Zully. He had thought stranger things, but here, he was making himself up like a girl.

At the barbershop, Mario’s long-time barber greeted him with a handshake, and like always, he questioned Mario about how life was treating him. As it was on his mind, Mario spoke about his coming happy hour meeting with his girl Zully and her friends. After hearing the news, Mario’s barber spoke about this girl and their meet-up, giving his spin on the situation. Having heard his barber speak on women before, Mario knew he wasn’t much for relationships at his age or any age, and the whole dating scene was a real MGTOW speech.

Mario listened without a word, feeling for his barber, knowing he had been through a messy breakup at the start of the year and that only time would tell if he’d fully recover. As much as he gave a good cut, hearing about it from his barber every time he came in made him rethink his next visit. So as his barber dusted him off, Mario paid him with a generous tip and hopped out of the seat.,

In Mario’s car, he had his entire outfit in his gym bag, so when he was done with his cut, he grabbed his bag from his car and changed into the barbershop’s bathroom. Upon exiting the bathroom feeling like a million bucks, Mario’s barber and the other barbers commented on his going-out outfit. With jeers and cheers, the men sent Mario on his way, and Mario was now on his way to Carson’s with plenty of time to spare.

With his spirits high, Mario had his stereo turned up with the song from Big Sean, “Blessings,” playing loudly through the speakers. Pulling into Carson’s parking lot, Mario spotted Zully’s parked car and a girl he knew and dated walking into the diner.

Seeing this girl, Ryan shook Mario a little. Not knowing if he’d run into her inside, knowing they didn’t have the best relationship, and remembering how it ended gave Mario a moment of pause.

Sitting in his car stereo now off, he sat in silence, his thoughts looking to conjure up that “million dollar feeling” again. As he got out of the car and walked into the restaurant, he could see where Zully and the gang were, and to his dread, Ryan was one of the girls at the table.

Mario’s stomach dropped as he approached the table a buzz. As it was, Zully ran up to him. They embraced in the aisle and introduced Mario and everyone at the table. As much as Mario recognized Ryan, she didn’t recognize him or wouldn’t make that experience a big deal. Throughout the rest of the evening, Mario and Ryan’s eyes would meet a few times, with the last time a head nod of recognition between the two symbolizing a gesture to leaving the past in the past became a breath of fresh air knowing how Mario felt about Zully.



Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a University of Chico graduate, a lover of the creative arts, avid photographer, with an undying entrepreneurial spirit.