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First-time Flattop by Tate


The unimaginable had happened.

Actually, it was not unimagined. It had been imagined many times. Now, at 19 years of age, it was real.

On the last Wednesday of June, I had calmly asked my barber--the only barber who had ever cut my hair--for a flattop. He smiled and asked no further questions, other than to confirm that I wanted the sides short. I did.

My barbershop was traditional looking, but not military. Even my barber had relatively long hair, covering the tops of his ears and pulled straight back on top with some loft--a unique hairstyle, I thought, even for 1991. Kevin was known as the barber in the shop who wouldn't cut too much off, and he had left enough on a few occasions for me to have to ask for more.

I had only seen a couple of flattops ever cut in the shop--on an older gentleman, a high schooler and a boy of about 10. Only the latter was a first-time flat, chosen by his mom; the other two were regulars. All three, to my eye, were perfection. All were cut by Bob, the oldest barber and owner of the shop.

On this particular Wednesday, Kevin lifted the straight brown hair on the sides of my head with his white handled comb and ran his metal Andis clippers across it. The mirror nearest my chair was behind me, though I could still see a slight reflection of myself in the mirror behind Bob's chair across the shop. And I liked the way I looked as the hair on the sides of my head was tightened, more closely than ever before.

Kevin chose to clipper-over-comb my sides down to about a half inch, rather than use guide comb. Then he edged around my ears and tapered the neckline, not short enough to show any skin, but definitely tapered rather than my normal block.

When the back and sides were cut clean, he lifted the long hair on my crown with his comb, and I heard the clippers remove it. I knew then there was no turning back. I would leave with a flattop, or maybe less if the flat turned out looking too bold.

Kevin worked quickly from back to front, shortening my hair on top to a couple of inches, and ending when he removed most of my eyebrow-length bangs without fanfare.

He then sprayed my hair with water and rubbed in a dollop of mousse. He used a blow dryer to stand up the hair on top. Then he clippered the top and the top of the sides again, clipper over comb, over and over until he was satisfied.

No shears were ever used on this cut. He blew off the hair covering the black cape with his air hose and spun me around. "What do you think?" he asked. While it was shorter than ever, I thought it still looked too tall. "Can you take it down shorter on top?" "I don't recommend it," he said. "It's already about a quarter of an inch up there. I said Ok.

I restrained myself from touching it as I stepped out of the chair and paid the $6. The four-chair shop was full, and I had just been the show. Though no one said a word to me, I wondered if I may have been the subject of conversation when I left.

On the way home, I ran my hand back across the top hair and then up from the nape. It felt so good! I wondered why I had I not done this sooner.

My mom was shocked and not too complimentary. She asked why I hadn't prepared her. I told her that I was scared I would chicken out. But my dad, whose college yearbooks had first turned me on to flattops, loved it.

I was proud that I had done the deed. The top still looked to tall, but maybe I could correct this next time.

Next time! To be continued...




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