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My First True Flattop by Gator
My First True Flat
I was teaching in a high school in an Army community. Rather tough assignment considering I was in the Marine Reserves. My unit was housed at Parris Island.
Reserve weekend was coming up the next weekend. However, I needed a haircut today. It was a Sunday afternoon. The great aspect of living in a military community is that the barber shops are open on Sundays.
On one particular Sunday, I went to this one shop which I had been frequenting. The barber who happened to be there was a young Hispanic guy by the name of David. David had been giving me my haircuts for a couple of months. I was getting a high and tight with the top parted and combed from left to right. This particular day, no one else was in the shop. I entered, sat in David’s chair, and he asked, "The usual?" "Yes, sir," I replied. My thought was why should I change it?
David said, "Okay sport. Have you ever thought of changing your style? This one is getting old."
"What did you have in mind, David?"
"A high and tight flat. You’ve got enough length on the top for one. Your sides are already a high and tight. Want to do it?" He was way too eager to do this cut.
"You don’t know this, but I had tried a flat before. It looked like crap to be honest. Just give me my normal high and tight."
"You tried a flattop before? But it wasn’t me who cut that flattop." He started up the clippers and was giving me my usual cut. Not a lot of hair was coming off since my last cut was only last Sunday. "Think about the flat. I will leave the top alone for this cut. When is your reserve weekend?"
"This coming Friday for the weekend." David continued to give me the high and tight. As promised, he had left my top alone.
"If you want the top cut down before next Friday, come by and I will do it. Free of charge. But, think about letting me give you a flattop."
"I promise. I will think about it. No guarantee that I will get one."
"Deal." David had finished my cut. I got out of the chair, paid, and shook his hand. "See you soon."
Ha! I thought. Perhaps to trim up the top, but no flattop for me.
I drove home all the while thinking about getting a flattop. I had not lied to David; I had tried a flat before, but was not pleased with how it looked. The older barber had left the flat very boxy which made the edges poof out. The symmetry of a good flat was not there. Plus, the top was still long – no hint nor sign of a landing strip. It took me about 2 weeks to grow that out.
I got home, went into the bathroom, and looked at my cut. As usual, it was cut very well. This time though, I grabbed my comb and lifted up my bangs to see how much of the top would need to come off for a flat. Whoa! About half of the length would get taken off. If that happened, the flat would be a boxy one. I wondered if David would bevel the edges slightly. That would get rid of the puffiness of the edges which I did not like. I went to watch television. I played with the dog for a few minutes. I kept thinking about what David had said about updating my "style". Ha! What style is there for a high and tight?
After about 30 minutes, I went back to the bathroom mirror. Again, I lifted my bangs. What the hell was I thinking? I made myself a deal. I would drive back to the shop. If David had someone in the chair, I would keep going. No flattop. However, if his chair was empty, I would go in and "negotiate" my flattop.
As luck would have it, David was in the shop by himself. Darn! I had to go in. I parked the car and went in. "I knew you’d be back today, Sport!" I smiled. "Why do you say that?" "I know my customers. I knew you wanted something different. Besides, you’d look great with a flat. Sit down, man." I did and David put the cape on me.
"Here’s the deal, David. I will let you do the flat, but there are requirements. For one, I do not want the edges to be poufy. So, if you can bevel in the edges some, I’d appreciate that. As for the top, I want..."
"That’s enough, Sport. Shut up and let me do the cutting."
"So, I get to pay for a second cut today?"
"Nope, I’ve got this one. Trust me." Aw, s**t, I thought. I’m screwed. David fired up the clippers and took some of the length off my top. I could hear the clippers as he zipped them across the comb which was lifting the top hair. David turned off the clippers and grabbed a spritzer bottle to wet down my top. He turned the chair so that I was now facing the mirror. "I want you to watch this." I sighed. He then grabbed the jar of Krew Komb, got two fingers worth out, rub it in his hands and began working it into my top.
"I’m not sure I want to do this, David."
He laughed and replied, "Too late, buddy. You’re going flat." After massaging the Krew Komb into my top, he grabbed his brush and the blow-drier. He began brushing the top back to get my hair to stand up straight. "Your hair will take a flattop," he said. I just watched in the mirror and didn’t say anything. After several minutes, the blow-drier was turned off. My top looked awful with different hair lengths sticking up all over. In my mind, all I could think was, "Oh, s**t. This is going to be a disaster."
David picked up his clippers again. I have no idea what blade he was using. He positioned my head and told me not to move my head. He grabbed his comb again, turned on the clippers and started to flatten my top. He started in the front and slowly worked his way to my crown. At least, I thought, he was fixing the hay nest on top of my head. He brought the comb and clippers forward again and repeated his process of leveling off my top. Then, a third pass with only a small fraction of hair coming off. The top was flat.
"What do you think so far?"
"So far?" I asked. "I think you need to do something with the poufy edges. That is why I didn’t keep the last disaster known as a flat."
"Okay. Damn, you’re impatient. And you teach?" We both laughed. David once again picked up his clippers and his comb. He began to bevel in the edges which was narrowing the top slightly. He repeated this on both sides. The clippers were turned off and put on the counter. He picked up his brush and ran it across the top to get rid of any loose hair and to show me how level the top was.
"What do you think?"
"Can you angle in the sides a little more?" "You mean ‘bevel’?" "Yeah, whatever," I said. "I will bevel a little more, but not much. I’m stopping after this." He worked a little more on beveling the edges. "Ok bud, I am done. I want you to go home and live with this for the rest of the day. If, and I do mean IF, you want it a little shorter tomorrow, come back. I will work on it a little more then."
"Deal," I said. David took off the cape, brushed off my neck and all the loose hair on my neck and shoulders. I got out of the chair.
"Do you like it?" I smiled and said, "I think I do. I’m still not sold on it yet. I will let you know tomorrow." We shock hands and I went home.
I immediately went into my bathroom and looked at my new flattop. I brushed it a couple of times and decided it wasn’t all that bad. It was going to take a while to get used to have this cut. I watched television – basketball – and kept seeing Eric Montross with his flattop. Damn, if he could sport a flat, then so could I.
The morning rolled around way too soon. I got up, made coffee, and showered. I was amazed that the flat almost stood up quite easily. I had also gotten a small jar of Krew Komb from David. I remember watching him when he applied it to my top. I tried to repeat his motions. Actually, I did an okay job. I went out the door and headed to work. I was nervous as hell walking into the school with this cut. What the hell would my students say? What about my fellow teachers?
At the end of the day, no other teacher made a comment about my flattop. I had a couple of students who did comment, "That looks cool!" These two guys also sported flats themselves. I drove to the barbershop – a whopping 3 blocks! I walked in and saw David. "Hey, man," I said. "I made it through the day with your flattop."
"And?" he asked.
"Well, no nasty or ugly comments. I did get a couple of ‘cool’ comments from students. This is what I want you to do. Can you bevel in the edges a little more and take the sides up a little higher for me?"
"Sure can, bud. Have a seat." I sat in David’s chair and he once again caped me up. This time, however, he kept me facing away from the mirror. I started to ask, "What about…"
"No mirror this time, buddy. Just sit back and enjoy the clippers." I chuckled some. I did sit back and enjoyed the feel of the cut this time. Not much hair came off which didn’t surprise me. I felt David using the clippers to take my sides higher. He once again grabbed a comb to bevel in a little more of my sides. He also took off another slight fraction of an inch on the top. "This will keep everything balanced looking for your flat."
The clippers were turned off and he turned me to face the mirror. A big smile crept across my face. "This is it! Thank you!" With just the slight fractions taken off, the flat looked like what I pictured it. Certainly, not as short as Eric Montross’s flat, but definitely shorter that Chris Mullins’s flattop. David released me from the cape and his chair. I started to pull out money to pay David. He stopped me and said, "I told you to come back if you weren’t happy and you did. We’re even." "But, I …." "Look bud, I talked you into this cut. I have had fun giving you a flat. I will see you in a week." "I have reserve duty this weekend. I won’t be back in town until late Sunday." "Stop by and I will clean you up." "Deal."
Needless to say, I was in David’s chair every week getting my flat cleaned up. I was enjoying a high and tight flattop. One visit, David asked me, "Have you ever thought of a horseshoe flat, buddy?"