A Coach Connor Special - part 4 by JB
A Coach Connor Special
Part 4: The Northridge Rangers (+2)
Derek Miller, the school photographer, is outside the Klipper-Kut
barbershop shortly after 9:00 AM Saturday. He's just learned from Jeff
Connor and Doug Nelson, before they left, that the guys are going to be in
for a shock when they come in for their team haircuts and leave with
squared-off flattops. "This is gonna be good", he muses to himself.
He takes a few establishing shots of the outside of the barbershop: a long
shot showing the entire exterior [click], a medium shot of the entrance with
the large window next to the door [click], some close ups of the door [click],
the lit barber pole spinning next to the door [click], and the window with its
clutter of hand-painted words [click]. The most prominent words read:
painted in red letters with white outlines. Above this, in slightly smaller
____-Hank & Arley's-____
Upon closer inspection, Derek notices that someone has taken a felt-tip pen
and scribbled 'Arley & Hank's' above 'Hank & Arley's'. "Wonder what that's
about", he asks himself. Under the word 'BARBERSHOP' is written:
.....-And all short haircuts-.....
"Wow. If that doesn't tell 'em what they're in for, nothing will.
Derek enters the shop. Arley is messing with the tuner on the old 1930s
console radio, "I swear, this thing ain't capable of pickin' up nuthin' but
moldy oldies. Just old country tunes with twingy-twangy gee-tars...Did you
put some kinda spell on it, Hank?" "Sure did. Knew how much it would
annoy you...Oh, mornin' to ya", Hank catches sight of Derek standing in the
doorway, "You here for yer team haircut?" Derek, "You mean a flattop? No
way. I'm not on the team. I'm the photographer for the yearbook and school
paper. Coach Connor asked me t'come here an' take pictures of the guys
gettin' their team haircuts...I'm Derek." "Nice t'meet ya, Derek. I'm Hank
an' this here's Arley." Arley, "Howdy. Sorry about the music, Hank put a
curse on this ol' prehistoric radio here...So yer gonna get before an' after
photos of the guys, huh?" "Yep. And some 'during' shots, too. I'm thinking
this is gonna be a big multi-page feature in the yearbook...Do you mind if
I take some shots of the inside of yer shop?" Hank, "Sure. Go ahead."
Arley, "Hell, if I'd known there was gonna be picture takin' I'da wore my
Sunday-Go-To-Meetin' suit, I'll tell ya what." Derek finds himself grinning as
the ol' Arley charm takes effect.
Derek takes a moment to study the ambience of the shop: One of the first
things he notices are the mounted deer antlers lining the walls near the
ceiling [click]; the old 'cursed' radio [click]; the mat of blond hair on the
floor, "must be Doug Nelson's", he thinks to himself [click]; the various
bottles, cans, combs, etc. on the countertop [click]; the jar of lollipops
sitting on the counter [click]; the many hair clippers hanging on hooks at
the edge of the counter [click]; Jeff's banner covering the mirrors, Derek
immediately catches the purpose of the banner, and grins [click]; the price
list on the wall below the banner, which reads:
[click] "What's the Hank & Arley show?" Arley, " Oh that's, I say, that's just
what folks call the banter between me an' Hank, the jokes an' stuff. It don't
really cost nothin'. That's part of the joke...The Arley & Hank show's better
though, that's why it costs more", he grins at Hank while Hank pretends not
to notice. Derek thinks for a sec, "Guess that explains the felt tip writing on
the window." "Oh, you noticed that, huh?" Arley says, a bit sheepishly.
Hank, "What writing are we talkin' about here?" Derek, "On the window
there. Above where it says 'Hank & Arley' someone took a felt pen and wrote
'Arley & Hank'." Hank, "Did they now?" He gives Arley an accusatory look.
Arley, "Well hell. Does a one-legged duck swim in circles? Of course I put it
there! Anyways, it's been there for over 2 years now..." Hank leans back and
sips his coffee as Arley flies off the handle, "...like grass through a goose, I'll
tell ya what. I may have been born at night, but it t'wernt LAST night. I'm
the new guy here. I got a reputation ta build." Arley grabs a towel and some
alcohol to remove the writing from the window. Hank, "What d'ya think yer
doin' now?" "What am I doin'? I'm fixin' ta remove the goldurn writin', that's
what I'm doin'." Hank, "I didn't tell ya to remove it. Anyway, I've known it
was there since the day ya wrote it." Arley sputters, "Whut the...You knew?
Man, an' here I thought I was pullin' somethin' over on ya." Hank, "Leave it
there. It's part of the Hank & Arley show." "(Arley & Hank)."
Derek is left standing there with a slack-jawed grin on his face. Whether
he realizes it or not, he's just been treated to one of the better episodes of
the Hank & Arley show.
Just as the Hank & Arley show is reaching its climax, Matt Cooper and his
dad pull up outside the shop. Matt's dad, Dick, sees the writing on the
window of the shop: Specializing in flattops...,"This must be the place." He
grabs his Kodak Instamatic as they both get out of the car. Matt tosses his
head to one side to get his long black hair out of his eyes, "What's with the
camera, anyway?" "Well, I've been tellin' ya t'get a decent haircut for at
least 2 years, right? Now that yer gettin' yer ears lowered good an' proper I
wanna get it on film." "It's just a haircut, Dad. I don't know why yer makin'
such a big deal out of it. It's not like I joined the Army or somethin'." His
dad grins as they enter the shop. Arley is standing nearby with the towel
and bottle of alcohol, the latest edition of the Hank & Arley show having just
completed. He beams at Matt and his dad, "How you folks doin' this
mornin'?" Dick, "Hi. My boy here's on the football team..." Arley, "One of the
Northridge Rangers, huh? Yer buddy Doug was just in here an' got his Coach
Connor Special. Looked real sharp on 'im, I'll tell ya what...Hank? Why don't
you take this one, I did the last one." Hank, "Sure. Get yerself seated here,
son, an' I'll get started on ya." Matt steps into the chair and sees the banner
stretched across the wall, "One of you guys make that?" He points at the
banner. Hank, "Naw. That's Jeff Connor's handiwork. He brought it in this
morning, just a bit ago. Livens up the place, don't it." As Hank fastens the
cape around Matt's neck, his dad snaps a picture [click], "The 'before' shot",
he says. [click] Derek Miller also gets a 'before' shot. Matt, "Geez, yer here
too, Miller?" "Yep. Coach Connor wants me t'get pictures of you guys gettin'
yer team haircuts." Matt, "Man, anybody else here with a camera?"
Hank picks up the clippers with the 1" guard. As they whir up to full
speed, he lifts the hair on the side of Matt's head with a flattopper comb and
pushes the clippers up to the crown. Large hunks of Matt's black hair plop
onto his shoulders and into his lap. [click][click] Dick and Derek snap
pictures as Hank continues up the sides and back of Matt's head. Dick, "Hey.
My son has ears! Never woulda guessed." Matt, "Dad, chill out." Hank
finishes the pre-cut by running the clippers across the top of Matt's head,
leaving a fluffy 1" brush cut. The whirring stops and the humming begins as
Hank uses the buzzer clippers to square up Matt's sides and back. [click]
[click] Dick, "Nothin' like a good ol' clipper cut, eh Matt? The feel of the
clippers goin' up the side of yer head." "Looks like a whole lot of hair on my
lap. Guess it was longer than I thought." "Well, I've been tellin' ya t'get it
cut for ages, right?" "Yeah, I guess so." Hank finishes the sides and back
and stands the top up using a blow dryer and brush. He decides to eyeball
flattening the top like Arley did with Doug's flattop a few minutes earlier.
After a few swipes with the clippers [click][click], Matt's flattop is complete.
Dick, "Are ya sure ya got the top short enough?" "Aw, Dad..." Hank, "Well,
it's as short as Coach Connor's, but I can take it down a bit more if ya like."
Dick, "Yeah, go ahead an' take off another 1/4" or so, right Matt?" "I guess."
Hank carefully runs the clippers across the top of Matt's head again, taking
the top down another quarter of an inch. The runway down the center is now
twice as wide, twice as long, and 4 times more visible. Dick, "Lookin' great,
Son." [click][click] Hank uses the clippers up and around Matt's ears and
neck again, shortening the sides to match the top. After using the duster on
Matt's face, neck, and ears, Hank rotates the chair around to face the
mirror, "There ya go. One Coach Connor Special. How's it look to ya?"
[click,click,click] Matt stares at the white stripe running down the top of his
head and the nearly white-walled sides [click][click] Matt, "What the...?"
[click] Dick, "And there's the 'after' picture. I think that one's going in the
family Christmas card this year. Looks great, Hank. Right, Son?" Matt just
stares some more. Dick, "Guess he's a little stunned." Matt, "I've got a
flattop!" Dick, "Just like the flattop you gave the coach yesterday, right
Hank?" "Yep. Well, I cut yer boy's flattop a little closer down the middle
there, an' shorter around the ears. Really makes that landing strip stand out
against the dark hair, huh?", Hank says as he removes the cape. Dick, "Sure
does. C'mon, Son. Let's head home. Thanks Hank." As they walk out the
door, Matt's dad runs his hand across the top of his son's head, "With that
squared-off top, yer about 2" shorter and 2 pounds lighter than you were
when we came in." Matt opens the car door, "You knew I was gonna get a
flattop, didn't you?" "Oh yeah. Coach Connor called last night. Said how you
guys had t'get yer haircut like his an' how he just came from here with a
brand new flattop. So when you guys come here for yer team haircuts..."
[hwreeet] He makes a whistling sound as he motions with his hand across
the top of his head, "Good-bye shaggy mop, hello clean-cut flattop...Look at
the bright side: I won't be tellin' ya t'get yer haircut anymore. Not for the
rest of the school year anyhow." "Geez." "Yep. The way I figure it, by the
time Christmas rolls around, yer hair will be just long enough t'lay down, in
front anyway. Probably not on top though, that's some landing strip Hank
gave ya." "Man", Matt looks at himself in the car's side mirror and brushes
his hand across the top of his head [click]. Dick, "By the time ya graduate in
June it oughta be coverin' yer ears. Then I'll be on yer case t'get it cut
again. Unless of course, you come back here an' get that flattop renewed
every now an' then." "Yeah, right. Like I'm gonna be comin' in here every
month t'get scalped all over again...I don't think so, Dad." "Stranger things
have happened, Son."
Randy Baker didn't hear Coach Connor's instructions to get a haircut.
Randy Baker isn't even on the football team. But he is a regular customer at
the Klipper-Kut barbershop and it's been 4 months since his last haircut. His
light brown hair is getting pretty shaggy, even by his own standards. That,
plus his dad has been hounding him for the last month and a half to get it
cut. So he decides to head on down to Hank's for a trim this fine Saturday
morning. Besides, he needs to spruce up a bit for the yearbook photos being
taken next week.
After showering, Randy gets into his jeans, slips on his Northridge Rangers
T-shirt, and blow dries his hair. As he wheels his ten-speed bike out of the
garage, he stops in the driveway where his dad is washing the car. Randy,
"Goin' t'get my haircut. Be back in a while." "You got money with ya?"
"Yeah. I took a 5 out of the cash jar." "Tell Hank t'cut it shorter this time. I
wanna be able to tell the difference when y'get back...I've still got the old
haircut set around here somewhere, y'know...I haven't forgotten how t'cut a
good old-fashioned butch haircut." Randy knows his dad is only half joking.
Four years earlier, in 1974 as he was starting the 8th grade, Randy came
home from the barbershop looking no different after the cut than he did
before. At least, that's what his dad claimed. So he sat his son down in the
driveway and buzzed him down to a 1/4" butch. Randy, "Yeah, I know. I still
remember the last time." He instinctively reaches up and feels the top of his
head. His dad smiles a little at his son's gesture, "Well, just so you know..."
Randy gives his bike a nudge and sets off down the street.
As he winds his way through side streets on his way to the Klipper-Kut, he
pulls up alongside a car at an intersection waiting for the light to change. he
glances over at the car and sees his friend Matt Cooper and his dad. Randy
does a double take when he sees Matt's flattop, "Whoa dude! What
happened to yer hair? You join the Marines?" Matt, "Yeah, right. Naw, we
have t'get our haircut for football. I was totally bummed out at first, but it
looks kinda cool." He reaches up and pats the top of his head, "Feels weird
though." The traffic light changes and the car starts to pull forward. Matt,
"See ya at school next week." As the car drives off, Randy is sort of stunned
at the sight of Matt's flattop. He's never seen any young guys with a haircut
like that except those at the military recruiting center in town, "Geez. Glad
I'm not on the football team", he thinks as he continues on his way to the
Nick Shackelford pulls up to the Klipper-Kut barbershop, jumps out of his
car and enters the shop. Hank is sweeping the piles of hair off the floor left
by Doug Nelson and Matt Cooper. Nick, "Looks like some of the guys got
here before me." Arley, "You one of Coach Connor's boys?" Nick steps into
Arley's barber chair, "Yep. Gotta get butched!" He motions with his hand up
the side of his head, "Bzzzz." Nick Shackelford's rusty brown hair has been
long his entire life, or at least for as long as he can remember. For someone
like him, growing up in the long-haired era, getting any above-the-ears
clipper cut is generically thought of as being 'butched'. He's about to learn a
lesson in choosing his words more wisely. [click] Derek Miller snaps a
'before' photo. Nick, "Hey, Miller. You're here too?" "Yeah. I'm takin' pictures
of all you guys gettin' yer team haircuts." "Cool."
Arley, "Butched, huh? You don't want a flattop?" "A flattop!? No way,
man!" Nick snickers. Arley, "Well alrighty then." He gets Nick caped up, "So
what length are we talkin' about here, short? Medium? Long?" Well, I'd like
ta leave it long but the coach would go ape, so better make it medium."
Arley, "Medium it is, then." He reaches over and grabs the clippers with a
#3 guard from the rack. As they rev up to full speed, Arley lifts Nick's bangs
up with a comb and slides the clippers through his hair, front to back,
leaving a uniform 3/8" high path down the center [click]. Of course, with the
banner covering the mirrors, Nick can't see that he's literally getting
Randy Baker arrives at the Klipper-Kut and locks his bike up outside the
shop. He enters just as Arley finishes butching the top of Nick's head and is
starting up the sides. Randy, "Wow. That you, Shackelford? I hardly
recognized you." Seeing Nick's butched hair reminds Randy of his own
recent experience with that haircut and of his dad's words of warning.
Nick, "Yeah. Gotta get butched." Randy, "You musta ticked yer dad off real
bad ta end up with a haircut like that." Nick chuckles, "Naw...It doesn't look
THAT bad, does it?" He moves his head around trying to see past the
banner, unsuccessfully, "Anyway, it's just a haircut. It'll grow back." Arley
finishes the side of Nick's head and starts up the back. [click] Derek
continues snapping photos throughout the day.
Hank sets the broom aside, "Hey Randy. Looks like yer next." Randy
climbs into the chair as Hank proceeds to cape him up. Randy Glances over
at Nick's butch cut, "It's gotta be shorter this time...a LOT shorter." Hank
chuckles, "You lookin' t'get butched like yer friend here?" Randy sees the
last of Nick's long hair hit the floor, "Uhh...No thanks. Just the regular cut."
Hank, "Okey doke. One Coach Connor Special, it is." Randy isn't sure what
Hank means by that. He's seen Coach Connor at school, of course. He's even
had him as his P.E. teacher from time to time. The last time Randy saw the
coach he was wearing his hair cut up above his ears. That's shorter than he
was planning on, but at least his dad would stop bugging him. Hank takes
the #8 clippers and begins buzzing Randy's hair down to the 1" pre-cut in
preparation for his flattop.
Meanwhile, Arley starts tapering Nick's hair to 1/8" around his ears and
neck, blending it in with the longer 3/8" hair. Nick, still thinking he's getting
a regular above-the-ears medium haircut, "I haven't had my hair this short
for 2 years." Arley, "You wore yer hair like this just 2 years ago? It's been,
I say, it's been years since I seen a guy yer age with a cut like this...Yer dad
in the military?" Finished with Nick's butch, Arley gives him the hand mirror
for inspection. Nick, glancing at himself in the mirror, "No, he's..." He does a
double take, "...Oh wow! What happened?" He turns around and gets a
better look in the countertop mirror, "You butched it!..Dang, I got scalped."
Arley, "Well now I'm, I say, I'm a tad confused here. You said ya wanted a
butch, right?" "Yeah...I mean no. I said I had t'get butched, you know, for
football, team haircuts an' all that." Arley, "Son, if you tell a barber ya
wanna get a butch then that's, I say, that's what yer gonna get, I'll tell ya
Hank has finished squaring-up Randy's sides and is using the blow dryer
to get his hair to stand up. He then proceeds to take the top down: 5/8" in
front, 1/4" down the middle. Just like Coach Connor's flattop.
Looking in the mirror, Nick reaches up and brushes his hand over the top
of his 3/8" butch, "Geez." Arley, "Look, I'm sorry for the misunderstandin',
but it's not all that much different than the flattops yer buddies are gettin',
right?" "The other guys got flattops?" Arley, "Well sure. The team haircut an'
all. That's why I was surprised when ya said you wanted a butch instead of a
flattop, yer Coach Connor Special, like yer buddy Randy here." It takes a
couple of seconds for Randy to think about what Arley just said, "...What?"
Nick, "Baker?...He's not on the football team." Hank, "...What? Yer not on
the team, Randy?" Randy turns around and sees the landing strip blazing
down the top of his head and his ears protruding like jug handles, "Oh
man!", he bobs his head up, down, and sideways, "NO! I'm not on the
football team. My dad's been threatening ta butch me if I didn't get it cut
shorter this time. That's why I said t'cut it a lot shorter...Geez!" He
cautiously touches the top of his head. Hank, "Look Randy, I'm really sorry.
I saw yer Northridge Rangers T-shirt an' the way you were talkin' to yer
friend here...I thought you were on the team." Nick grins, "Ya won't have'ta
worry about gettin' butched by yer dad now, huh Baker?" Randy, "Ya got
that right. He'll be totally stoked. Probably take a bunch of pictures...Oh
man! I just remembered, they're takin' the yearbook photos next week."
Nick looks at his butched haircut again, "So all the other guys, and Baker
(snicker), are gettin' flattops?" Arley, "Sure are. Flat enough t'land a 747 on.
Ain't that right, Randy?...Oh, sorry." Nick, "Well if they're all gettin'
flattopped then I guess a butch ain't so bad. But dang, I look I'm in
bootcamp or somethin'." He turns his head to get a better look, "Makes me
look like a real jock though, doesn't it? All macho like." Arley, "You bet.
Scare the hell outa the guys on the other teams." Randy, "Yeah, but what
about me? I'll scare the hell outa myself every time I look in the mirror."
Nick, "It doesn't look bad on ya, Baker, pretty good actually." Hank, "And I
won't be chargin' ya anything for the cut, all the guys on the team will be
gettin' their flattops free today. I know yer not on the team (now), but ya
look like it (now). In about 2 months it oughta be long enough t'lay down
again, (at least in front). Maybe 3 months for the top", he adds sheepishly.
Randy pats the top of his landing strip, "Geez. It DOES feel weird."
Nick and Randy climb out of the chairs and head for the door. Nick takes
another look at his reflection on the way out, "Mom's gonna kill me...Can't
wait t'show Dad though!" He calls over his shoulder, "See ya later, an'
thanks." He reaches up and runs his hand over his smooth bristles as they
leave the shop.
As Nick gets into his car he calls over to Randy, "Hey Baker. You should
try out for the team, you already got the haircut (snicker). Maybe you could
be the team mascot", he thinks for a second, "...Flattop Floyd", he laughs.
Randy walks over to his bike, "At least I look like I belong on the team.
You'll be the only one who got himself butched." The grin gets wiped off
Nick's face as he starts up his car and pulls away. Randy unlocks his bike
and wheels it over to the parking area. As he climbs on, another car pulls up
to the Klipper-Kut. Andy McPherson steps out of his car and looks over at
Randy, "Hey Baker. What's with the haircut? You join the Marines?"
Inside the shop, Arley looks over at Hank, "Is it just me, or does it seem
like somethin' fishy's goin' on here?" Hank, "If ya mean these guys don't
seem t'know their team haircut is a flattop, then yeah, I noticed that too."
"Someone, I say, someone's been peein' on our leg an' tellin' us it's rainin'.
Looks like Coach Connor lied to us." "Oh, I don't think he actually lied to us,
Arley. I've known Dan since he was in high school, he's too good of a man ta
outright lie to us. I think he just didn't tell us the whole story of what's goin'
on here." "So what d'ya think we should do?" Hank, "Dan must have his
reasons for keeping us out of the loop. Guess we should just keep pretendin'
we don't know what's goin' on, for now." "Well hell, I say we make the best
of the situation. If life gives ya lemons, make some orange juice instead.
This, I say, this is gonna be fun."
Randy arrives home and parks his bike in the garage. He enters the house
through the adjoining side door hoping to get upstairs to his bedroom
without being seen. He sticks the 5 dollars back into the cash jar and as an
afterthought, grabs his baseball cap from the rack in the hallway and puts it
on. Without his long hair to hold it up, it slips down loosely over his head,
almost to his (protruding) ears. As he starts up the stairs, his dad calls out
from the family room, "That you, Randy? Come in here. Let's take a look at
yer haircut." Randy sighs and walks into the family room thinking, "Might as
well get it over with." Right away, his dad notices Randy's ears sticking out
from under the cap and the white skin showing around his ears, neck, and
sideburns. Obviously there has been a major transformation here, "Take off
the hat, Randy. Let's see what ya look like." Randy sighs again and removes
the cap, exposing his flattop in all its squared-off glory. "Good lord, Son.
What prompted you t'get a flattop? Youd've been better off with the butch
cut I was threatening you with...I was just joking about that by the
way...You join the Marines?"
Andy McPherson isn't on the team either, although he was until recently.
He graduated from Northridge High 3 months ago, in June of '78. He's just
landed a job at Big Ed's Tire Center and starts his first day at work in an
hour. Big Ed has a strict dress code for his employees: "The freshly
laundered uniform shall consist of a pair of black slacks with black shoes; a
company supplied blue and white pin-striped short sleeve shirt with
embroidered name patch and company logo. The employee's hair shall be
neatly tapered above the ears and no longer than 2" on top." During his
hiring interview, Big Ed, who himself has a boxy steel-gray flattop, asked
Andy if he had any objection to the haircut requirement. Eager to make a
good first impression with the boss, Andy replied, "Not at all, Sir. Whatever
it takes." Big Ed, "Good. Good. I want all my guys here t'look clean-cut an'
rarin' t'go. Welcome aboard, McPherson... Oh, an' cut the 'Sir' crap.
Everybody calls me Big Ed."
Andy has never been to the Klipper-Kut before even though he's driven
past it hundreds of times on his way to school. He's familiar with the
wording on the shop's window: Specializing in flattops, crew-cuts, taper
cuts..., "If I gotta get a short haircut, this looks like the place t'go." He
enters the shop.
Andy's hair is almost as thick as Jeff's and even darker. For the last few
years he's kept the same hairstyle: a medium layer cut covering most of his
ears, parted in the center, feathered back on the sides. He's wearing the
black slacks and shoes required by Big Ed's dress code. He'll change into his
work shirt when he gets to the Tire Center.
Andy stops just inside the doorway to take in the surroundings: The
antlers near the ceiling, the pine paneling, the old radio, the kid with the
camera...Arley speaks up, "Howdy. What can I do for ya? No wait, don't tell
me...Yer here for a haircut, right? I'm psychic, y'know", he says with a grin.
Hank adds, "I think the word yer lookin for is 'psycho', Arley." "Well har-
dee-har-har. Don't listen to him. He's old and cranky (an' I don't think he's
playin' with a full deck no more)." "I heard that." Arley, "Anyways, hop in
the chair here an' we'll get started."
Andy gets seated as Arley fastens the cape and neck strip around him. On
the wall in front of him, Andy can't help but notice the 'Rangers Rock'
banner, "Nice poster. You guys Northridge fans?" Arley, "Sure are. Jeff
Connor brought that in a while ago." Andy, "Me an' Jeff were on the football
team before school let out this summer. Coach Connor's a pretty good guy.
He's tough on ya, but in a good way, y'know?...Oh, I gotta get my hair cut
up above my ears. Buzzed up the sides and back. Gotta take the top down
short, too." Arley, "Gotcha, a Coach Connor Special." "The Coach is wearin'
his hair that way, too?" "Oh yeah. Came in here yesterday an' got his ears
lowered." Arley switches on the #8 rotary clippers and begins boxing-in
Andy's hair, lifting it up with the comb and guiding the clippers up and over
his head. After a minute or so, the clippers are turned off leaving Andy with
his 1" brush cut. Andy looks down at the cape, "Man, I didn't know I had
that much hair. Guess it's a good thing I had t'get it cut, huh?" Arley starts
squaring up Andy's sides and back, "Yep. If ya waited any more, yer hair'd
be so long folks would start confusin' ya with a sheep dog. Put ya out
t'pasture ta watch over the flock, I'll tell ya what." Andy laughs as Arley
continues, "Won't be havin' that problem no more, though." Arley glances
over at Hank and gives him a knowing grin. He takes a dab of Butch Wax
and some water and rubs it up through Andy's hair. Using a blow dryer and
brush, he stands it up to its full height. Since Andy is the only customer in
the shop, Arley takes his time and opts to use the clipper-over-comb method
to flatten the top down, rather than just eyeballing it. After a few passes,
the top of Andy's head is as square and sharp as his sides and back. Arley
steps back to inspect his handiwork then starts fine tuning the edges of
Andy's flattop, "Ya gotta admit, you guys are lookin' pretty sharp with these
here haircuts." Andy, "Yeah, I guess. Big Ed wants all the guys lookin'
squeaky-clean for the customers." "Big Ed? The guy at the Tire Center?"
"Yeah. I start work there today, in about half an hour. His dress code says
we gotta get our hair tapered up the sides an' less than 2" on top. Sort of a
bummer, but I want the job so..." Arley, "Now wait just a sec. Aren't you on
the football team? The Northridge Rangers?" "Naw...I was, just a couple
months ago. I graduated in June, why?" "Dang! Not another one. Look, I'm
sorry. I thought you was on the team." "Sorry about what? I don't get it."
"Oh, you got it alright..." Arley reluctantly swivels the chair around to face
the mirror. Andy's eyes widen as he locks onto his squared-off flattop, "What
the...? A flattop!...Why'd you give me a flattop?" Arley, "Aw geez. I thought
you was one of the Northridge Rangers. All the guys on the team are comin'
in here today to get team haircuts, t'get flattopped. I thought you was one
of 'em. I'm really sorry...The cut won't cost ya nothin' though. All the guys
are gettin' their flattops for free." Andy, "Oh man." He moves his head
around looking at his reflection and reaches up to feel the top, "...Geez.
What's Big Ed gonna say?" Hank speaks up, "Big Ed is a regular customer
here. Been cuttin' his flattop for years. If I know Big Ed the way I think I do,
he's gonna be pleased as punch when you show up for work with that
- Half an hour later:
"McPherson, I'm pleased as punch that you took the initiative t'go the
extra mile with yer haircut." Big Ed spotted 'the new kid' out in the garage
at the Tire Center and, well, he just had to call him into his office to tell him
what he thought, "I like yer attitude. Yer gonna fit right in, Andy." Andy,
remembering what Hank said earlier, "Yeah, I just came from the Klipper-
Kut." Big Ed, "Klipper-Kut, huh? That's where I get my haircut, best place in
town for a good old-fashioned flattop," he studies Andy's flattop,"...Looks
like Arley's work...He cuts his flats a little shorter than Hank." Big Ed thinks
for a second, "Y'know, I love my 4 daughters like the dickens, but yer like
the son I never had." Andy, "Thank you, Si...err, Big Ed." Big Ed grins, "Now
get out there and do me proud, Son."
Back in the garage, Tom, one of Andy's co-workers that he knows from
high school, can't help but tease Andy about his flattop, "Nice haircut,
McPherson. You get run over by a lawn mower?" They both snicker. Andy,
"Yeah, I know. I look like a geek, right? I went in to the barbershop thinkin'
I was gonna get a taper cut like the rest of you guys here, only I end up
with this freakin' flattop instead. Somethin' about team haircuts...I don't
know. I'm gonna grow it out to a taper cut though, like you guys." Tom, "So
what went on in Big Ed's office?" Andy tells Tom all the details. Tom, "He
called you by yer first name? He NEVER does that." "Yeah. He talked about
his daughters an' how I'm like the son he never had." "Dude! He called you
his son? And you even go to the same freakin' barbershop an' get the same
freakin' haircut? Man, you can't grow yer hair out now. Yer like, Big Ed Jr.,
Junior Ed. Yer gonna have'ta keep that flattop for the rest of yer life! Or at
least for as long as yer workin' for Big Ed.
An audible 'click' is heard as the intercom is switched on, "Attention all
employees, Big Ed here. I'm makin' a change to the dress code: Startin'
next week, all employees must get flattop haircuts. I want ya lookin' real
sharp for the customers. Big Ed, out." The intercom and the garage both go
quiet. Tom turns to Andy, "Why you little..." Andy, "Hey! It's not MY fault."
Tom, "I have half a mind ta hold you down an' shave yer flattopped head,
McPherson. And I'd do it too, except Big Ed would probably like yer bald
head even more than the flattop an' make us all shave our heads. Dang!"
Scott McAllister pulls his Northridge Rangers football jersey down over his
head and tucks it into his Levi's. He laces up his Nike's and heads for the
garage, grabbing his car keys along the way. As he passes through the
kitchen, his dad Joe asks, "Goin' t'get yer team haircut? I'll drive ya down to
the SuperCut if ya want." Scott, "Naw, I feel like drivin' myself. And
anyways, I'm goin' to the shop down the road from here, the Klipper-Kut."
Joe, "Hank's, huh? Used t'go there myself a few years ago. He's good with
short haircuts, so I'm sure he'll do ya up just fine." Joe spoke with Coach
Connor on the phone the night before, so he knows what's in store for his
son. He gives Scott a grin. "Later", Scott says as he heads out the door.
Arley's still a little angry and shaken up after giving Andy McPherson a
flattop by mistake, "That's 2 guys who got themselves flattopped who
weren't supposed to. First, you with Randy, then me with that last fella."
Hank, "What about that guy you butched? That makes three." "Oh, I'm not
countin' him. He got, I say, he got exactly what he asked for, I'll tell ya
what." Arley looks at the wall, "It's that danged banner there coverin' up the
mirrors that's causin' all the trouble...What's it doin' there anyways? If the
guys could see themselves gettin' their haircut we wouldn't be havin' this
problem." Hank, "I think you just answered yer own question, Arley. That's
exactly why it's there. To keep the guys from seeing that they're gettin'
flattopped. Otherwise, there wouldn't be any flattops." Arley, "Well that
tricky summabitch. Jeff knew exactly what he was doin' when he hung that
banner up, huh?" "Yep." "Well, part of me wants ta grin an' pat 'im on the
back for his sneaky cleverness. And t'other part wants ta wring his fool neck,
I'll tell ya what." Derek Miller is sitting in one of the waiting area chairs
loading a fresh roll of film into his camera, "I knew those 2 guys weren't on
the team." Arley sputters, "Well why in tarnation didn't ya say somethin'?"
Derek shrugs his shoulders, "I didn't wanna spoil it... Got some good shots."
"What...How could...Why..." Miraculously, Arley is left speechless. Hank,
"Simmer down, Arley. It's not the end of the world. We just gotta make sure
the guys are on the team from here on out, that's all."
Arley takes a deep breath, "O.K. then...The way I see it, I can go 1 of 2
different ways here: I can stew over it an' worry myself into an early grave,
or I can go with the flow an' have fun with it." Hank, "The Arley I know
would choose the second option." Arley, "Yeah...I think I like the fun-lovin'
Arley better, too...And YOU!.." he looks over at Derek, "Fun-lovin' Arley is
thinkin' you'd look mighty fine with a flattop right about now...or a
mohawk!" Derek doesn't show any sign of being worried, "You wouldn't do
that", he states matter-of-factly. "Oh, I wouldn't, huh? An' why not?" Derek,
as it turns out, is a gifted kid with a high I.Q. And on occasion, his intellect
presents itself front and center, "Cuz yer a professional...I notice things...I
saw how you got upset when you gave that guy a flattop by mistake. Your
sense of honor and professionalism wouldn't let you give me a haircut I
didn't want. And besides, it would probably be against the law." Hank, "This
kid's good. I'd be careful if I was you, Arley. Derek here can see into yer
soul." Arley, "Is that right, Derek? Can you see into me?" "Well...Even
though I've only been here an hour or so, I can tell that you want people ta
think yer just a clown who runs off at the mouth. But there's somethin' else,
something darker that you keep hidden inside...I don't know what." Arley is
taken aback, "Good lord, son. You psychic or somethin'?" Derek thinks for a
second, "...I don't think so...Like I said, I notice things." Arley, "Well,
whatever yer doin', Derek, just keep doin' it. It'll take ya far in life, I'll tell ya
what...We're a little bit alike, you an' me. You're kinda short, like me. You're
kinda goofy lookin'..." "Like you", Hank adds. Arley casts a withering look in
Hank's direction, "An' you keep yer smarts hidden away from folks like I
keep my dark spot hidden away." Derek, "And we both notice things." He
looks at Hank, "And so do you." Arley, "O.K, now yer startin' ta creep me
out. Go back to yer picture takin' stuff." He gives Derek a sly grin. Derek
smiles back. Hank, "Told ya not ta mess with him, Arley."
Scott McAllister enters the shop and sees Derek in one of the waiting area
chairs, "Hey Miller." "Hey", he answers back. Arley, sitting in his barber
chair, looks over at Hank, "Yer turn." Hank looks at Scott and sees his
football jersey, "Hi there. You on the football team?" Scott. "Yeah. We all
gotta get our hair cut, a team haircut." Hank gives the cape a couple of
shakes, "Well have a seat an' we'll get started." Scott steps into the chair
and Hank drapes the cape around him. He lifts Scott's hair up in back and
fastens the neck strip in place. Scott, "You gettin' yer haircut too, Miller?"
"Nope. The Coach asked me ta take pictures of you guys gettin' yer team
haircuts [click]. Arley, "I offered ta give 'im a mohawk, but he declined my
invitation." Derek attempts an Arley impersonation, "Well I can't, I say, I
can't imagine why, I'll tell you what." "Oh lord. That, I say, that was
pathetic, boy. Y'got the accent all wrong, I'll tell ya whut", Arley grins.
Scott, "The Coach said t'get it cut like his haircut. He said you'd know
what that meant." Hank revs up the clippers with the #8 guard and starts
pushing them up the side of Scott's head, "Yep. A Coach Connor Special:
One flattop comin' right up" "...Whoa! A flattop? No way, man. It's supposed
t'be like the Coach's, just above the ears an' stuff!" Hank switches the
clippers off and thinks, "Guess that confirms our suspicions about these guys
not knowin' they're gettin' flattopped." He's already taken 3 or 4 swipes up
the side of Scott's head, but only about halfway up, exposing Scott's ear.
Hank, "Well, that's the way yer coach used to wear his hair, but yesterday
he came in an' got himself a flattop. He said that was yer team haircut."
Hank swings the chair around to face the mirror. Scott surveys the damage
but doesn't see anything too alarming, just the ear sticking out, "Well, I'm
not gettin' a flattop, no way. Nobody has a flattop anymore." Hank, "Well,
yer coach does, all yer coaches in fact. An' yer teammates do too. The ones
that were just in here, they all got flattops. Well, all except that one kid, he
got himself butched." Hank looks over and sees Arley squirm a little. Scott,
"They did? Yer sure they were on the team?" "Sure, I'm sure...Well, most of
'em anyhow...Look, I haven't taken that much of yer hair off yet. I can still
make it a medium cut if ya want." Scott thinks for a few seconds, "Well, if all
the other guys are gettin' flattops then I guess I will too. But geez, a
flattop!?" Hank, "Pretty drastic change for ya, huh? Well, you've got a thick
head of hair, a flattop'll look good on ya. An' like Arley said to one of the
other guys, you'll scare the you-know-what outa the other teams when they
see this platoon of flattopped Marines chargin' at 'em." The clippers come on
again and Scott watches as Hank shoves them up and over the top of his
head repeatedly. In a few seconds he's left with his furry 1" pre-cut. Scott,
"Oh, wow!" Hank, "Weren't quite ready for that, were ya?" "Guess not."
Another pair of clippers start up and Hank guides them up through the hair
on the side of Scott's head. He watches as his hair gets shorter and more
squared-off with each pass of the clippers. His sideburns are raised and
trimmed to a short stubble which continues up around his ears, revealing
the whiteness of his skin. Hank continues around and begins squaring up the
back of Scott's head. Scott feels the clippers press against the base of his
neck and move upward, again and again. The back of his neck feels
pleasantly cool, being exposed to the air for the first time since he can
remember. Hank trims the other side of Scott's head and steps back to
compare them against each other, taking off a little more until they match
up. The shop goes silent again as the clippers are turned off. Well, not quite
silent: The twangy country music is still playing on the radio and Derek's
camera is still clicking away.
Hank picks up a water bottle and pumps it a few times to dampen the top
of Scott's hair, "Most guys with thick hair like yours, the hair wants t'stand
up all by itself. But yers is gonna need a little extra work t'get it standin'
up." He grabs a jar of Butch Wax and lifts a generous slug out with his
fingers. After massaging it through Scott's hair he grabs the blow dryer and
a stiff brush and gets Scott's hair standing straight up. The whir of the blow
dryer winds down and Hank picks up a pair of buzzer clippers and a flattop
comb, "No sudden movements now, this is the tricky part. Scott watches as
Hank slips the comb into his hair at the front. The clippers start to hum, and
then buzz as Hank moves them through the hair sticking up above the
comb. He repositions the comb and makes another pass. With an odd sense
of doom and exhilaration, Scott watches in the mirror as Hank levels his top
down square with the sides. Soon he can see his scalp exposed down the
middle, like a sidewalk surrounded by well-trimmed hedges. Finished with
the top, Hank touches up the upper ridges where the top meets the sides.
He then loosens the cape around Scott's neck and trims his neckline, ear
arch, and sideburns so that they are as sharp and accurate as the rest of the
cut. Hank uses the duster around Scott's face, neck, and ears, "All done.
How's it look to ya?" "Geez, I'm not sure...I think I kinda like it." The sharp
edges of Scott's flattop shine under the fluorescent lights. Hank used enough
Butch Wax to give Scott's flattop a nice sheen, but not so much that he
looks like he fell head first into an oil drum. Scott, "Makes me look older,
like a real tough dude." He reaches up and pats the top, "Weird. Feels all
sharp and spiky...Gnarly." Hank removes the cape, "Now ya look more like a
football player." Scott climbs out of the chair, "Way cool, man. Thanks." He
heads out the door with a big grin on his face.
Erik Forslund decides to get his haircut at Jack's barbershop, his regular
barber. He enters the shop and sees Jack finishing up on another customer
so he takes a seat and waits his turn. Jack, "Hey Erik. Be with ya in a
minute." "Cool. I'm not goin' anywhere." After a bit, Erik gets up, pulls his
comb out of his back pocket, and runs it through his thick blond haystack.
He takes his seat again as Jack is vacuuming off the loose hair on his
customer. Erik watches the ballgame on the TV up in the corner of the shop.
Jack, "In ya go, Erik." Erik steps into the barber chair and Jack fastens the
cape around him, "Back a little early, aren't ya Erik?" Erik gets his hair
trimmed every 2 months or so and it has been only a month since his last
cut. Erik, "Yeah. Gotta get it cut for football. The Coach says t'get it cut like
his: Above the ears, up the back, and shorter in front." Jack, "Ya mean a
short taper cut?" Erik's knowledge of haircut terminology is even more
limited than Nick Shackelford's, (and he ended up with a butch). In Erik's
world, haircut terms are limited to 'long layer cut', 'feathered on the sides',
'long bangs', and 'parted in the middle'. Oh, he knows a flattop and a butch
when he sees one, but he would probably just refer to them both as a butch
or a crew-cut. And any haircut that's above the ears is just a 'short cut'
whether it's a regular medium cut or a short taper cut, "Yeah. I guess so.
The Coach's hair is pretty short." Jack, "Well then, a short taper cut, it is."
He starts up the clippers and goes to work on the sides as Erik watches the
game on the TV. Jack, "Might have'ta sharpen the clipper blades t'get
through this thick Swedish hair you Forslunds have...Like tryin' t'cut dog
hair...Alaskan Husky maybe." Soon, the hair on Erik's sides and back is
standing up in a short and high taper: 1/8" long around the ears and neck
angling out to 1 and a quarter inches at the crown. Jack, seeing that Erik is
closely watching the game says, "Think they'll make it to the Series this
year?" Erik, "Looks like it. They haven't lost one yet." Jack lifts Erik's top
hair with a comb and slides the clippers through, taking it down shorter and
shorter till it just starts to stand up, about an inch and a half high. He combs
the front hair forward so that it's no longer parted in the center and trims
Erik's bangs to the same length as the top, sort of standing up and jutting
out over his forehead. He switches the clippers off. "There ya go. One short,
football taper cut. How's it look to ya?" Erik looks over at the mirror, "Whoa!
You cut it WAY short. It's standin' up!" He sweeps his hand up through the
sharply tapered sides and across the top. Jack, "Well, you said you wanted a
short taper cut like yer coach, Erik." "Yeah but, the Coach's hair doesn't
stand up like this." Jack, "Sounds like yer coach has a regular medium
haircut, not a short taper cut. Guess I shoulda felt ya out more on how you
wanted it before I started cuttin'...I used t'cut yer hair like this when you
were a kid, remember?" "Yeah. But that was at least 10 years ago. I look
like a first grader." "I'm sorry it's shorter than ya wanted, Erik. But hey, it
looks good on ya. More like a football player. Bet yer coach really likes it
too." "Fer sure. He'll be totally stoked. But I'll be the only dude in school
with an Army haircut."
"No ya won't." Scott McAllister is standing in the entrance of the shop
sporting his freshly cut flattop. Erik, "Hey Scott...Dude! Yer hair!" Scott,
"Dude! YER hair!" They both laugh. Jack dusts Erik off and removes the
cape. Erik gets out of the chair and pays Jack, "Thanks. Probably won't be
seein' ya for a while, though. Gonna take some time for my hair t'grow out
long enough for another haircut." Jack, "If you decide ta keep it short, I'll be
seein' ya real soon." "I don't think so, man." Erik joins Scott near the
entrance, "So what's with the gnarly crew-cut, dude?" Erik pats the top of
Scott's flattop, "Weird." Scott reaches over and brushes his finger up the
side of Erik's taper cut, "Feels like dog hair." They both laugh again and go
out the door.
Outside Jack's barbershop, the guys walk over to their cars. Erik, "So
why'd you show up here anyway? You sure don't need a haircut." Scott,
"After leavin' the Klipper-Kut I headed over to yer house. Yer dad said you
were down here So I came over ta warn ya not to tell yer barber t'cut it like
the Coach's or you'll end up like this." He points at his flattop, "I wasn't sure
if yer barber was in on it." "In on what?" Scott, "After tellin' us t'get our
haircut like his yesterday, the Coach headed over to the Klipper-Kut an' got
himself flattopped. So when we show up an' say t'cut it like Connor's,
well..." Erik, "Whoa. Harsh, man. So we all end up with flattops like him."
Scott, "Yeah...So how'd you end up with the little kids haircut?" "I dunno,
man. I told Jack I needed it cut for football. Told him it had t'be up over my
ears an' stuff. He said "Ya mean a short taper cut?" That sounded 'bout right
to me so I said "Yeah" an' this is how I ended up...back in first grade."
Scott, "Ya oughta get it shortened to a flattop, like mine." "Yeah right." "No
dude, seriously. Yer probably gonna be the only guy on the team without
one. Besides, I think it looks way cool. Better a Marine than a first grader...
In fact, now that I think about it, I'm gonna go back to the Klipper-Kut an'
get it cut shorter, like the Marines over at the recruiting center." Erik,
"Dude. Seriously?" "Yeah, c'mon. Follow me over there. Get yerself a flattop.
Won't cost ya anything, remember?" Scott gets into his car, "C'mon, man!"
He drives off. Erik stands there for a second and runs his hand through his
hair, "Dang." He jumps in his car and follows Scott.
When Erik pulls in to the Klipper-Kut, Scott is getting out of his car. Erik,
"Yer really gonna get it cut shorter? Like a Marine?" Scott, "Yeah. You gonna
get flattopped?" "I guess so." "Well then, c'mon."
When they enter the shop, another teammate, Greg Vollstedt is getting
the last swipes of Hank's clippers across the top of his Coach Connor
Special. Scott, "Hey Vollstedt." Greg, "Hey...Whoa! Bitchin' haircut dude, (he
snickers). Flattop city!" Scott, "Yeah, it's pretty cool. Have ya looked in the
mirror lately?" "What?.." Hank unfastens the cape from Greg's neck and
turns the chair around to face the mirror. Greg, "Oh man! What the hell
happened?" Arley, sitting in his barber chair, has been observing the
progress of Greg's flattop. He grins, "Ya got, I say, Ya got yerself a Coach
Connor Special. That's what happened." Greg, "Huh?" Scott, "Yeah. Connor
came in here an' got flattopped yesterday after practice. Ya told Hank t'cut it
like the Coach, didn't ya? So, like ya said...Flattop city. But hey, it's cool. All
of us got flattops...'cept Erik here." [click] "And Shackelford", Derek says as
he snaps an 'after' photo of Greg, "He got butched." Scott, "How'd that
happen?" Arley, looking a little red-faced, "He said he had t'get butched...So
I butched 'im, I'll tell ya what." Scott, "Yeah, that sounds like Shackelford.
O.K. Vollstedt, out of the chair, it's my turn again." Hank, "Back for more,
huh? What can I do for ya?" Greg steps out of Hank's chair as Scott climbs
in, "Make me look like a Marine." Hank snickers, "A Marine, huh?" Scott,
"Yeah. After thinkin' about what ya said, y'know, us guys lookin' like Marines
chargin' at the other teams, I figured it'd scare the crap out of 'em even
more if we REALLY looked like Marines. So I want ya t'cut it like those guys
at the recruiting center: All the way up the sides an' back and a bare stripe,
a runway or whatever it's called, big enough ta land a plane on." Hank and
the guys chuckle. Erik, "Yer crazy, man." Hank, "This sounds like a job for
you, Arley" "You bet. Git yer butt over here, son, an' I'll turn ya into a
Marine faster than grass through a goose, I'll tell ya what." The guys laugh.
Scott jumps out of Hank's chair and into Arley's. Erik looks over at Hank's
empty chair, "Looks like I'm next, huh." He climbs into the chair and
watches in the mirror as Hank capes him up. Hank, "So ya want yer top
taken down flat, huh?" Erik, "Yeah...but not like Scott's gettin', he's just
crazy. Cut it like ya just did with Greg's." "You got it." Greg takes a seat in
the waiting area to watch the show.
Arley fastens the cape around Scott's neck and swivels the chair around to
face the mirror so Scott can watch his transformation. Arley, "I know the
guys at the recruiting center, I'm a Marine too. They come in here regularly,
every 2 weeks t'get their high & tight flattops sharpened up. That's what
they call it in the Marine Corps, high & tight, when the clippers are pressed
up the sides an' the top is taken down to the skin in the middle. Sometimes
they call it a horseshoe flattop, 'cuz that's what it's shaped like." Arley picks
up the clippers, "Yer sure this is what ya want, now? Pretty severe haircut,
y'know. Next to a mohawk, it's probably the most drastic cut there is."
Scott, "Yeah. I'm ready for it. Let 'er rip." Arley starts up the clippers as
Greg and Erik laugh.
Hank's clippers rev up and he begins squaring up the sides of Erik's taper
cut even more than they already are. Hank, "Do you normally have a
flattop? 'Cuz when ya came in, yer hair looked like a flattop that had grown
out an' gone to seed." Erik, "Naw, I wear my hair long. I was just at my
regular barbershop and had it cut short. Then Scott shows up with a flattop
an' talks me into gettin' one too." Hank, "Flattop's a mighty fine haircut.
Makes a guy look tough, like he's ready for anything." He works his way
around to the back of Erik's head, guiding the clippers straight up to the
With all the hubbub happening at the time Greg's haircut was being
completed, he never got a good look at his own flattop. He stands up and
looks at himself in the mirror, "Geez. I look like my dad in his old yearbook
photo...Oh wow! I just remembered, they're takin' our yearbook pictures
next week. I'm gonna look like a dork." Scott, "Well, ya got company, bro.
And anyways, I think it looks way cool."
Arley positions the clippers horizontally at Scott's temple just below the
crown and pushes them from front to back, across the side of Scott's head
leaving a bare path of white skin at the hat line. He repeats the procedure
on the other side and connects the 2 stripes in the back, leaving a skinned
path all around Scott's head. Erik glances over at Scott from Hank's chair,
"Nice haircut, dude." Greg, "Ya oughta leave it that way." Having established
the line of demarcation, Arley positions the clippers at Scott's sideburns and
presses them up to the cleared timber line running around Scott's head.
After a few more passes, all the hair is removed from the sides and back.
Scott looks at his peeled white-walls, "Wow!" Arley, "Slicker'n hog snot, an'
whiter than a fish's belly, I'll tell ya what." Arley gets the laughter he was
aiming for, "Yer not a Marine yet though. Still gotta take yer top down."
Hank has finished squaring the sides and back of Erik's hair and is about
to level the top, "No need for any Butch Wax here t'get yer hair standin' up,
that's for sure. It's as thick as dog hair." Erik, "Yeah, that's what my regular
barber says too." Hank, "Thickest I've seen...except maybe for Jeff Connor's.
I think he's got ya beat." [click] Derek snaps a 'during' photo of Erik.
Hank mentioning the Connors gets Derek thinking, "Is it O.K. if I use your
phone?" Hank, "Sure, go ahead. As long as yer not callin' Timbuktu or
somewhere else halfway around the world." "Naw. I thought I'd call Coach
Connor and let him know how things are goin' here." "Good idea, Derek. You
DO notice things, don'tcha", Hank smiles. Derek walks over to the wall-
mounted phone and dials the number.
Dan, "Hello?" "Mr. Connor? This is Derek Miller over at the barbershop."
"Oh yeah. Hi Derek. So how's it goin' there? You still got lots of film left?"
"Yeah. Well, I think so. I just thought I'd let you know, I don't think the
secret is a secret anymore. Scott and Erik are watching themselves get their
second haircut..." "Second haircut? "Yeah. And Greg Vollstedt already got
his and he's standin' around watching the other guys get theirs." "O.K.
Derek. That's good to know. I appreciate you callin'. That's kinda important
info you just gave me." "Yeah, that's what I thought." "Me an' Jeff will be
there as soon as we can." "O.K., 'bye."
Dan hangs up the phone. Kathy has overheard her husband's half of the
conversation, "Everything O.K. at the barbershop?" Dan, "Looks like the cat
might be out of the bag, or at least clawing his way out. That was Derek, the
kid who's taking the pictures. He said the guys are standin' around watching
other guys get their second haircuts." "Second haircuts?" "Yeah, I don't
know either...Where's Jeff? We gotta get over there." He raises his voice,
"Jeff! Get yer furry head down here! Operation: Coach Connor Special is
approaching critical mass!"
Arley grabs a pair of buzzer clippers and holds them near the top of
Scott's head, opting to take the top down freestyle, without a comb, "Now,
take a look at it. I can stop right now an' leave what ya got left. Ya still want
yer top taken down tight?" Scott, "Yeah man. I'm totally stoked now. Go for
it." Arley, "Roger, that." As the clippers start to hum, Arley intensifies his
concentration and guides the blades through the hair at the front of Scott's
head, shortening it to 3/8". Moving the clippers from front to back, he
lowers the top down, a little at a time, constantly checking the flatness and
making corrections. He angles the top down slightly toward the front,
making the landing strip wider and more noticeable. To complete the
haircut, and give it the horseshoe shape, he presses the clippers up from
behind and down the center of Scott's head, clearing a path down to the
bare skin, stopping an inch and a half from the front. He takes a few more
passes up from behind making the strip wider toward the back. Arley
switches the clippers off, "There now. That's about as short as ya can take it
an' still call it a flattop." He reaches over and grabs a slug of Butch Wax and
starts working it into Scott's hair, "Yer top's so short now it's gonna need
some extra Butch Wax t'get it ta stand up straight." Using a fine toothed
comb, Arley gets Scott's shiny, stiff hair standing at attention, "So what d'ya
think? Did I make ya look like a Marine?" Scott, "Outa sight! Looks
awesome. Thanks, man." Erik, "That's one gnarly haircut, dude." Arley,
"Sharp enough t'cut paper, I'll tell ya what." The guys laugh.
Hank hasn't taken Erik's top down yet. It's the same taper-cut length left
by his regular barber, about an inch and a half, and is flopping over a bit,
especially in front. Hank decides to use the clippers with the #8 guard to get
Erik's top to stand up. The clippers start to whir and Erik turns his attention
from Scott, with his Marine-style flattop, back to the mirror as Hank pushes
the clippers up through his hair and across the top. The squared-off sides
are shorter than the 1" guard so they remain untouched. After a few
seconds his top looks like a fluffy, blond 1" brush. Erik's eyes widen as he
takes in this latest phase of his transformation, "Whoa..." Scott looks over,
"Ya look even more like a first grader now, Forslund", he laughs.
Three more teammates enter the shop. The first thing they see is Scott
with his high & tight horseshoe flattop, "What the hell?...What happened to
you, McAllister?...And you too, Vollstedt...What's goin' on here?!" Scott,
"Team haircuts. That's what's goin' on. You guys are gonna get flattopped."
"No way! It's supposed t'be just above the ears an' stuff, like the Coach's."
Greg, "Connor came in here after practice yesterday an' got himself
flattopped. So when we came in an' said t'cut it like his...Flattop city." Rusty
Sorenson looks at Scott's bare-skinned sides, "So how'd you end up with the
mohawk, McAllister?" Scott, "It's not a mohawk, it's a horseshoe flattop,
isn't that right, Arley?" "Yes-sir-ee, one gen-u-ine U.S.M.C. high & tight
horseshoe flat." Rusty, "Well I'm not gettin' scalped like that. No way, man."
Greg, "You don't have to. Just get a regular flattop, like mine." Scott, "Yeah.
I came in an' got flattopped like Vollstedt here. Then decided t'get it cut
really short like the Marines at the recruiting center." Rusty, "Yer crazy,
man." Erik, "That's what I said, too." Hank is halfway done leveling Erik's
deck, carefully guiding the clippers across the top of his head. Rusty, seeing
Erik getting his top flattened, is fascinated and dumbstruck at the sight of
one of his buddies in the process of getting a flattop, "Whoa. Get a load of
Forslund over there, geez." Hank makes a final few adjustments to Erik's
flattop and loosens the cape, "Now then, how's it look to ya?"
"Wow...Awesome!...I don't look like a little kid anymore." Erik moves his
head around to view his flattop from different angles, "Cool. Looks sorta
weird an' cool at the same time, y'know?" Rusty, "Man, so that's gonna be
me in a few minutes?...Geez."
Scott runs his hand up the back of his 'shoed head, "Whoa, feels like
sandpaper." A couple of the other guys test it out, "Dang, it does!...What's
the top feel like?" Several hands reach up and pat, stroke, feel the top of
Scott's well-lubed head, "Weird...Feels all stiff an' spiky...Gross, how d'ya
get this stuff off yer fingers?" Arley, "So. Who's next? We got 2 empty chairs
here an' the clippers are gettin' cold." Rusty, "I guess I'm next, unless one
of you guys wanna go first?" (Silence) "...O.K. then." He climbs into Arley's
chair and nervously exhales as the cape is fastened around his neck. Hank,
"Got one more chair here", he pats the top of the barber chair. One of the
guys steps forward, "What the hell...might as well get it over with...Might be
kinda fun." As he steps into the chair, another 2 Northridge Rangers enter
the shop, "What the...?"
It doesn't even occur to Scott, Erik, and Greg to leave the shop after
getting their haircuts. They sense that they're part of a once-in-a-lifetime
event here. This is where the action is. They're not going anywhere.
Jeff comes bounding down the stairs from his bedroom, his extra-long
furry flattop bouncing springily with each step, "What's the matter? Did
something go wrong with the plan?" Dan, "That was Derek Miller on the
phone. He thinks the secret is out. Some of the guys are standin' around
watching the show, while others are gettin' their second haircut." Jeff,
"Second haircut?" Dan, "Yeah. I don't know why they would be gettin'..." His
words trail off as it occurs to him that he and Jeff are going to be doing
exactly that, after having gone clipper crazy on each other just an hour
earlier. Jeff grins as the same thing occurs to him. They look at each others
goofy haircuts and burst out laughing. Jeff, "Gee. Why would anybody get a
second haircut? Only a moron would do that!" Dan, "Or an idiot!" They laugh
some more. Dan, "C'mon, idiot. Get in the car. We're goin' to the Klipper-
Kut." "Right behind ya, moron...Time for a haircut!" Dan gives Kathy a
smooch, "Not sure when we'll be back, Hon." As he and Jeff head out the
door, Kathy just grins and shakes her head.
Arley has just finished giving Rusty Sorenson his all-over 1" buzz-cut and
his red hair is standing up tall and fluffy. Rusty runs his hand through his
hair a few times, "Man!...I never dreamed I'd be gettin' a flattop. Not
today...Not EVER!" Arley begins running the clippers up the sides, leaving
them sharply squared off.
There are 9 or 10 Northridge Rangers in the shop now. Some are standing
around, some are sitting, some have flattops, some still have their long hair,
some are looking nervous, while some are clearly enjoying themselves.
Another Ranger enters the shop. At first he doesn't notice anything unusual,
just a bunch of his buddies waiting to get their haircut. Then he starts to
notice the flattops on some of the guys..."What happened to you?" "The
same thing that's gonna happen to you, now get yer butt over here."
Rusty's flattop is nearly complete. Arley has taken most of his top down
and the landing strip is clearly visible to all the guys in the shop. Hearing the
good natured teasing and comradery, Arley decides to kick it up a notch. He
holds the clippers in the air and adopts a no-nonsense tone of voice as he
lowers them closer to Rusty's head, "Pilot to tower: Requesting permission
to land on runway two, niner, zero, over...Tower to pilot: Affirmative. You
are cleared for landing. Be aware that runway two, niner, zero has a few
rough patches of overgrown weeds, over...Pilot to tower: Roger that..." He
makes an airplane sound as the clippers glide across the top of Rusty's
head, "Eeeroomm." The guys all laugh out loud, even Rusty. Interestingly,
Arley's good-ol-boy accent was nowhere to be heard during this pilot/tower
After waiting a couple of hours, like Jeff told him, Doug Nelson returns to
the shop with his (almost) inch high flattop. Scott McAllister notices him
come in, "Hey Nelson, looks like you already got yer Coach Connor Special."
Doug, "Yeah. I was in here earlier this morning." Arley, "Doug was the first
one of you guys who got himself flattopped...Came as quite the surprise to
'im too, I'll tell ya what." Two more Rangers enter the shop, "...Geez!"
Dan gets behind the wheel of the car, "I'm drivin' this time. I'm already a
nervous wreck. I don't think I'd survive the trip with you at the wheel." Jeff
teasingly dismisses his dad's concern with a "phfft" and climbs into the
passenger's side. As Dan backs out of the driveway, Jeff tries to ease his
dad's anxiety about 'Operation: Coach Connor Special' by making small talk,
"Gettin' pretty warm to