Hair History Part 2 by Mike V
As the 20th century wound down, I had been going to a barber near work pretty much every 3-4 weeks, my haircut a "regular", just above the ears and a slight taper in back-but my hair was seriously thinning at this point. When he would show me the back at the end of the cut, I would sometimes ask him to go a little shorter, but that was as extreme as I got. I would occasionally scope out other shops nearby and visit them once or twice. On one visit,a 5-6 year old was in the chair. His hair was over the ears and past his collar. The father said he keeps playing with his hair-give him a #1 all over. The boy said I don't want it short. I was hoping the barber would listen to the father, but he ended up doing a short spiky cut that pleased both dad and son.
So now it's 2000, and as I waited at my usual place, the customer in the chair was getting a flattop. When I got in the chair, I finally had worked up the nerve and asked the barber to give me a flattop. He paused for a minute and then said my hair wasn't really right for a flattop. Disappointed, I said "just a regular then", meaning my usual. For whatever reason, he misunderstood, and the next thing I knew, the clippers were on and he went right from my forehead back across the top of my head-I was numb! He ended up giving me a #2 all over - no explanation. I was secretly psyched - it was hard enough asking for a flattop, never mind a buzzcut! The weird thing is, none of my friends or co-workers said anything. Anyway, a few weeks later, I was back in his chair and asked him to go shorter-he seemed reluctant, saying that's a #1-are you sure? I said yes and I was shocked at how much shorter it actually was - this time I received several comments - "oh well-it will grow back" (event tho I hadn't said I was unhappy with it). When I went back to the shop, it was closed - for good - I never found out what happened.
Now I had a problem - finding a new shop. I finally settled on a place across town near one of the colleges. There were 3 barbers, and it was always busy-lots of students-mostly getting crewcuts of various lengths with bumpers in the front. By this time, I had discovered the haircut sites on the Internet (what a discovery!! finding out there were lots of other guys into short hair). I started asking for a 2 on top and 1 on the sides and eventually ended up asking for "1 on top - skin on the sides". What a rush. My only complaint was that after he used the edger on the sides for "skin", I wished he would brush off the sides and go over it again to make sure he got it all!
Since I was now on the Internet, I was hearing about some other shops in nearby towns where the barbers were experts at short cuts. I started going to one of the once in awhile-he was a really nice older barber. On my first visit, I asked for a #2 on top, #1 on the sides. I got the impression that he didn't like to be given #'s - just tell him short on top and shorter on the sides and you were good. He was also great with the straight edge and would shave really high up in the back at the end of the cut. I now knew that my cut was called a high&tight and one day when he was closed for vacation, I went to another shop in the area that I had read about. This time I asked for a h&t flattop, although I really didn't think I had enough on top to actually have a flattop. Well this barber took his time and I ended up with a flattop! (a very short one).
At this point, I was going every 2 weeks at $20 per cut. I figured out that was over $500 per year. As much as I enjoyed watching the cuts while I waited my turn in the chair, I was working more hours and really didn't have the time. So I decided to save the $ and start buzzing myself. I bought a pair of Wahl clippers, and started buzzing myself once a week. Started with a 2 on top, 1 on the sides and now just do no guard at all, over my whole head - occasionally razor shaving the back and sides. A few months back, I was driving around on the day I usually buzz myself and drove past a basement shop w/an old Italian barber and a parking space in front. On an impulse, I parked and went downstairs-no customers, just an old barber reading the newspaper. He stood as I came in and before I climbed into the chair, I asked if he could do a "razor-shaved high&tight". He nodded yes, and pointed to the chair. He caped me up and started buzzing - no other sound in the shop - just the sound of the clippers (I really don't like to chat when I'm in the chair-just ask me what I want & go to it). Then he did the shaving cream, but just around the ears and base of my neck - I explained I wanted the sides razor shaved and indicated how high I wanted it. He seemed shocked, said nothing and lathered up the sides and back & scraped it all off with the straight edge - great feeling - I just wish I hadn't had to explain it to him. I recently let it
grow for 3 whole weeks - I felt like I had a mop of hair! and planned to go to the place that did my short flattop and ask for a razor shaved horseshoe flat, but I didn't think there was enough up there for the cut, and too impatient to wait another week or so, buzzed it myself "down to the wood". Time will tell if I can make another attempt at the horseshoe.