Two Flattops That Evening! by Jonathan
It was 1987 and I'd finally gotten the nerve up to get my first flattop. At the time I was 19 and working as a lifeguard at a large apartment complex. My hair was not long, just barely over the ears and the bangs to my nose if I pulled them down. A flatttop would get me noticed for sure. I'd seen a few guys with flattops and was intrigued.
That evening after work I set out in search of a barbershop. I spotted this little shop on my way home. It must have been around 5 o'clock. It was tucked away behind a liquor store in the back of the parking lot. I pulled in and sat in the car nervous as could be. This was the moment I'd prepared for, I was about to get my first flattop.
I got out of the car and headed for the door of the little barbershop. I walked in sat in the chair and was approached by a nicely dressed middle aged barber.
"I'd like a flattop," I said.
"We're closed, you need to come back tomorrow," he says.
"Oh, I did realize!" I said.
Then it hit me that the lights were off and the sign said closed. I was so embarrassed as I sat in the barber chair of this closed shop. I had even said I wanted a flatttop before he even readied me for the haircut. What a fool I'd been! All I could think about was being so nervous about the flattop I didn't notice anything else.
I hopped up outta that chair and headed for my car. No way was I coming back here tomorrow. I thought now what? I didn't want to wait until tomorrow. I drove off determined to find an open barbershop. It was not dark yet and the evening was still young. I drove about six blocks towards the ocean. Suddenly I spotted a spinning barber pole and an open sign. It was a barbershop at the end of a small row of stores. An old beat up white building. Next to it was a bait and tackle store.
I parked once again and got the nerve to walk in to say I want a flatttop. The barber looked young. There were two older teens in the shop. One getting a haircut, the other waiting. All three of these guys looked intimidating. They didn't seem happy I was there. They looked cool, hip, and mean.
"You want a haircut?" asked the barber.
"I want a flattop," I said.
"Oh really, well have a seat you're after him," said the barber.
When I said I wanted a flattop all three of them chuckled. They seemed to think it was funny. I sat down feeling out of place. It was as though I didn't belong here at all. They had some prior friendship and I wasn't a part of it. I sat listening as the three talked about surfing and fishing. I was slightly into both, but no expert.
The older teen in the chair must have been around 19 like me. The other one 17 or 18. The kid getting the haircut was getting something that looked like a longer bowl cut. I watched from time to time trying not to stare. I grabbed a couple of magazines and tried to look occupied. The other kid was sitting two seats away from me. He had longer hair over the ears. All three of these guys were cool and good looking. The shop was small and was decorated with surfer pictures and beach decor. It was cheap and thrown together quick. It had a coolness to it however.
I sat wishing I'd picked some place else to get my first flattop. This was just not the ideal shop. I felt trapped and knew I couldn't get up and walk out now. To make it worse I'd opened my big mouth and announced I wanted a flatttop.
"Hey man, what's your name?" asked the barber.
"Jonathan," I said.
"Do you live near here Jonathan?" asked the barber.
"I live near Main Street," I said.
"I've never seen you in here, have I?" asked the barber.
"No my first time," I say.
"You getting a flattop bro?" asked the kid next to me.
"Yeah, that's what I was thinking," I said.
"You can go next I kinda want to watch that bro," he says.
"Oh are you sure?" I ask.
"Yeah I want to see your flattop get cut. I was thinking I might get one of those. You're brave dude," he says.
Now this whole thing was taking a different twist. I wasn't sure if I was more relaxed or not. This kid was gonna watch me get my first flattop! I hadn't expected an audience. I just assumed he was with the other kid getting the haircut.
The barber trimmed and clipped the guy in the chair for what seemed like forever. His hair was really still pretty long when it was all over. Finally the blower came on and the mirror was brought out. He looked and looked at himself and finally said it looked fine. He got up and paid, then walked out.
"Are you sure Tim if he's next?" asked the barber.
"Yeah let him go next, I want to watch this," Tim said.
My heart was pounding as a approached the barber chair. I'd played out a few scenarios of how my first flattop would happen, but none were like this! I sat there dry mouthed and in a strange daze. This other kid Tim watching my every move. I wandered if he really intended on getting a flattop himself.
"So man, you want a regular short flattop?" asked the barber.
"Yes," I managed to say.
"Alright, one traditional flattop coming up," he said.
He clipped on the cape and readied some clippers and equipment. I knew this was finally that moment I had been building up my courage for. I'd been thinking about this for months!
"Hey, Tim would you flip around that "open" sign. I'm closing after your flattop," the barber said.
"Ok, no problem. But I never said I was getting a flatttop for sure," Tim said.
"You might be now!" the barber laughed.
Then it came! The whirrr of the clippers. I heard them approach my right temple and I knew it would only be a second or two until they'd do away with my hair! Zzzitt I heard the first cut. Then I felt the tingle of the bare metal blade cutting into my right sideburn. Off fell that first chunk of my straight medium hair. Tim sat positioned ready to watch the whole thing. Just a while ago I felt unwelcome in this place, now I was the center of attention.
"We're gonna get you looking cool Jonathan!" the barber exclaimed.
The buzzing continued. Felt the clippers run over and over the right side of my head now. I could fell the cool breeze hit my exposed right ear. I couldn't ever remember having hair this short to the nub before. Next the barber put his hand on the back of my head and told me to look down. I looked into my lap and then felt the bare blades cut the hair on the back of my head to the nub.
"Wow, that is short!" Tim yelled.
The barber wizzed the clippers up and down the back of my head. I could tell he cut the hair short way up to the crown. Next he tilted my head to the right and clippered off the hair around my left ear next. I tried to look at myself in the mirror, I couldn't see much at this point.
The barber took a comb and made several violent swipes at the remaining hair on the top of my head. I was shocked to see how much hair was on the floor! I at that moment started to contemplate how my friends and family would react to my new flattop. Had I made some kind of huge mistake? Tim watched intently as the top of my first ever flattop took shape.
"Tim you're gonna walk out of here looking just like Jonathan!" the barber said.
I started to see it wasn't such a bad situation to fall upon for my first flattop. I might have just inspired someone else to take the brave move. I could tell the top of my head was much lighter now. I felt cool breezes over my nearly hairless head. The barber put some butch wax in and styled my very short flattop. When I saw it in the mirror I was taken a back. My hair was basically gone! All that remained was a flat landing strip on top. The barber finished it off with some shaving cream and a straight razor up the back and around the ears. I stood up and got ready to pay.
"Aren't you going to watch me get my flattop?" asked Tim.
I couldn't believe he was really going to go through with it. I sat back down and continued to watch Tim get a flattop just like mine. In around 30 minutes his haircut was done. He stood up and paid. The barber looked at both of us and laughed. I suddenly felt good about my flattop. Next we both walked out into the evening with identical flattops. I never dreamed this was going to happen when I walked into that barbershop!