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Conversations, Nov 1978, Part 2 by Archon 2

Author's Note: Please read Part 1 first! Also, there are some American (United States) cultural references that if are unclear, please Google them. Lastly, please leave me feedback so I can make these stories better.

That last exchange had introduced a lull into their conversation, as the two friends finished up the task at hand. Dave had busied himself with pushing in stray logs here and there to make sure the entire woodpile was flush, and Steve busied himself with sweeping up the accumulated sawdust and debris into the dustpan. When they had started to restack the woodpile an hour and a half ago, their initial assessment was that it would take much longer; even, perhaps, requiring them to work into the night. But as usual, they had a good time working together, and they didn't notice the time or the quick progress that they made because they were always busy talking about the events of the day. Every now and then there would be a point of contention between them, but those were always quickly settled. However, the silence that had descended seemed to last much longer than usual, and Steve was beginning to think he had stepped over the line when he pointed out to Dave that his father had made his head into a cue ball.

Then suddenly, breaking the silence, Dave turned around to Steve and asked, "My head is a cue ball? Is that what you said?”

Steve, usually quick with a retort or funny (usually smart-ass) response, actually took the time to think before he spoke. He usually—no, make that always—got away with saying the most outrageous things to Dave about Dave's haircuts; in fact, Dave actually liked Steve's teasing and jokes. But this time, after thinking what to say and judging the Dave was upset, Steve just remained silent.

"Come on Steve, is that all you got? I mean, really, I heard that one all week at school. If you're going to insult me, at least be original” Dave suddenly said, signaling that he had once again decided to let the last remark slide.

Relieved that he had not made Dave angry (after all, he wanted to read one of the Star Wars graphic novels that Dave's father had bought for him), Steve recovered himself—and his reputation—by remarking "What's not original about me noting that your dad made your head into a cue ball? After all, like everyone says, you are a cue-ball, and your dad is winning the battle because of all your missed shots. It's like: Dave aims for the 9th grade ball for a chance at a boot cut…OH! Tough luck, he scratches by falling into his father's side pocket and earns another induction cut and is also charged $2 for the haircut as well.” Then affecting a newscaster's voice, Steve intoned "This is Steve Somers, live from Dave ‘the cue ball' Loser's backyard signing out for now. Remember to tune back in for coverage of Dave's next shot, where he hopes to aim his cue ball squarely at the 3 ball next week—3, of course, for his third induction cut in a row. Let's hope for his sake that his cue ball picks up some of the table fuzz so that he at least looks like he has some hair! Good night all!”

By the end, both Dave and Steve were laughing, and Dave joined in the fun by stating "Oh yeah, you're clever, Steve. But you should have said that I'd probably misjudge the next shot so badly that my dad, trying to be fair, decided that I was at a disadvantage because of the stubble on my head, so he took me to the barbershop for a real baldie.”

"Yeah, I can hear it” replied Steve, then putting on his announcer's voice again, went on with "Steve Somers here, with a special report. Earlier today, Dave ‘the cue ball' Loser went to the barbershop for a tune up. We were there as the barber was commenting on what was about to happen, let's listen in to what the barber said at the press conference: ‘We can rebuild him…We have the technology…We can make him better than he was…Smoother, shinier, more able to blind his enemies with the reflection off his head…Gentlemen, I give you the boy with the 6-million dollar haircut'…You heard it folks, an exclusive brought to you by Steve Somers, your on-the-spot reporter, signing out once again so that I can prepare to laugh at Dave ‘the cue ball' Loser. Good Night!”

"Ok, that was funny,” said Dave, who then challenged Steve by daring him, "Why don't you go and compare some of our long-haired classmates with the Bionic Woman?”

"Because I can't run as fast as Steve Austin,” replied Steve. But then making another joke at Steve's expense, he suggested that "Perhaps your next haircut that your father decides on—since he can at any time, and you cannot complain about, according to your agreement—will be a Mohawk…you'll look just like a striped billiard ball.”

"Yeah, enough with the pool jokes and cue balls,” replied Steve. "Besides,” he continued, "My dad would never really shave me bald…but let's not give him any ideas about Mohawks. He once showed me this picture of a group of soldiers from his company that adopted something that was called a ‘Mohican,' which looked like a regular Mohawk, with the head shaved bald except that it had two rows of hair that stood up straight, about an inch apart which then ran down the top to the middle of back where they joined each other; at that time, I was scared that I would be getting a Mohican. So even though I have my induction cut now, I won't put it past my dad to let me grow my hair out for about 4 months so that he can take me for a Mohawk since it looked good on some soldiers in the past.”

Stepping back now to survey their work, the two friends decided that they had done a good job, and that it should pass any inspection from Dave's father. The wood was expertly piled—or at least they thought so, the entire area was swept clean, and lastly, the tools were all put back into place.

"When's your dad getting back?” asked Steve, with an grin on his face that signaled he was ready for he and Dave to head inside and break open the plastic seal around the graphic novels and start reading.

"Not sure,” replied Dave, who then met Steve's grin with a firm shake of his head, and "no way are we going to open that package until my dad says the job is ok. Yeah, I know he said we could, as long as we finished, and did a good job…but I want to wait till he gets back.” He then shuffled back to the patio area, near the French-style doors that led into the family room. Grabbing his football, Dave motioned to Steve to go out for a pass, and then they spent a little time passing the ball back and forth while they chatted about going to the movies, what happened on their favorite TV shows, and how their favorite teams were doing.

Just as Steve—who had grown tired of throwing around the football—began to sit down, he caught a glimpse through the door pane sheers of Dave's younger brother Matt. Being a keen observer generally (Steve was always commenting on everything)—and a keener observer of haircuts, he immediately noticed that Matt's former crewcut had been replaced by a flattop. With a big smile that just held back an outburst of laughter, Steve turned to Dave and pointed at Matt's silhouette and said "Hey, you didn't tell me your brother got a flattop…give me a piece of paper fast!”

"What do you need a piece of paper for... " Dave began, and then before Steve could remind him, a look of understanding came over Dave's face as he said to Steve, "OH NO, you are not making a paper airplane…If anyone's going to tease Matt over his flattop, it's me, NOT you.”

"AHH, why don't you let me…remember how much fun you had when I played around with you when you got your first flattop?” said Steve in his fake whining voice.

"First,” replied Dave, "unlike me, he doesn't care about his haircuts, so it would be no fun for you; and second, if my dad caught you he'd ban you from coming around AND come down on me hard for allowing it, and third, what the hell makes you think I had fun getting teased by you for having a flattop. You had a flattop as well, if I remember.”

"Yeah, we both did,” Steve replied "and I took it better than you did—I certainly looked better,” then laughed.

"You cried as well when we got teased…geez, we were Matt's age…but too bad we couldn't care less like Matt—maybe we wouldn't whine and talk so much about our haircuts.” Then breaking off and looking wistfully off into space, Dave reflected "I wonder if we'll still be talking about it in the future.”

With a look of indignation on his face, Steve responded "Well, yeah, you cried too, and our classmates were tougher and meaner back then. But, as always, your good buddy Steve found a way for us to have fun with our flattops—I don't know what you'd do without me!”

It was, as Dave had thought, flattops for both friends when they were Matt's age, 9 years old. Both of them had the same kind of short flattops, with slightly beveled sides that just knocked the corners of the top off ever so slightly, which was probably a compromise that allowed the very short top with wide landing strip to transition seamlessly to the short sides and back that were tapered at the ends. All in all, the flattops were flawlessly executed, which was a testament to the barber who actually gave both friends their flattops one after the other—yes, it was one of the rare times that Dave and Steve both found themselves in the barbershop at the same time.

Mike, Dave's older brother who was now wearing a very short taper cut, but used to wear a flattop, was put in charge of showing Dave how to take care of his new flattop. Of course, as always, Steve was there to watch and learn—quietly, as he knew not to be a smart-ass when Mike was around. However, it so happened that Dave's flattop didn't need much maintenance; as the very short and flat top, along with Dave's thick and somewhat coarse hair, negated any need for waxing or brushing. Additionally, the sides and back were clipped very close, so Mike just told Dave to put some wax into the top and then run the brush over his head from front to back. But one piece of information was not passed down from older to younger brother, and that was that their ‘landing strips,' what the two boys called their ‘bald spots,' would be the objects of attention from now on.

Actually, Mike and their father had referred to what Dave and Steve called ‘the bald spot' as a ‘landing strip,' many times, since Mike had worn his flattop for the last 4 years or so. So Dave knew the term, and how on some flattops it wasn't as ‘wide,' there was a lot of variation depending on length. And Dave eagerly awaited the re-emergence of his brother's landing strip each time Mike was in the chair and Dave could watch; the truth was that he was fascinated by Mike's landing strip; and when he got his flattop, he saw nothing but his landing strip. So maybe, just maybe, Dave and Matt had the same outlook about their haircuts at age 9. Dave and Matt were both aware of their short haircuts; what they were called, how they were cut, and how they looked with them, and that their classmates teased them for having them—but, most importantly, at their young ages both weren't affected as much by the teasing.

However, Dave and Steve would find out that a ‘landing strip' could attract too much attention. And that extra attention brought on by his first flattop and the ‘landing strip' that Dave actually thought at first was cool, was the reason that Dave became even more aware of his haircuts and how something different, like a simple ‘landing strip,' would affect how much teasing he would get—usually for the worse—and that impacted how Dave dreaded each new haircut. Not a good lesson to learn, and one that Dave could confirm was hard to leave behind.

The first ‘learning episode' happened just after Steve and Dave had gone out to creek which ran near their houses, which was accessible by jumping a few fences and trudging through an open field. They were there, at the edge of the creek, sporting their new flattops that they had just got earlier, absently walking around looking for snakes and other things to collect, when they were suddenly showered with small pebbles thrown at them from the other side of the creek which had a higher bank by some neighborhood boys. As the boys ran for cover, Steve let out a yelp as he was suddenly hit in his ‘bald spot' by a pebble. One of the boys shouted after them, "You better run for cover…next time we catch you we'll be using your landing strips for target practice with a wrist rocket.”

The next ‘learning episode' came the next day while Dave and Steve were at the public pool, As they were participating in the usual horseplay that went on in pools, the boys were enjoying their relatively anonymity as there were just a few of their classmates there, but who were quiet as some of their parents were looking-on. However, they had to endure the occasional pointing and staring from other kids and parents who commented on their flattops. Suddenly, a pool ball bounced off Dave's head…normally, a common occurrence at a public pool. But not this time, as many of the kids in the pool saw the ball bounce off the top of his head, prompting one of them to shout "hey, the ball just missed his landing strip and had to bounce off back into the air,” which led to the others making their own jokes, and which also led Dave and Steve to find out everything there was to know about a landing strip.

As mentioned earlier, while the ‘learning episodes' led Dave to know everything about short haircuts and the possible reactions from classmates that they may bring, it led Steve to suddenly take up paper airplane folding so that he could throw them endlessly towards Dave in the hopes of one actually coming to land on Dave's landing strip. And, as they found out how appropriate it was that someone would make a comment about something bouncing off Dave's landing strip while his head was partially submerged in the water, Steve would many times suggest that they go back to the pool so that he could try to land a paper airplane on Dave's landing strip as he swam through the water. Dave would just laugh and tell Steve that he didn't have an Aircraft Carrier for a head. Thankfully, Steve's fascination ended after only a couple of months; though it was revived a couple of years later when Steve, who had been allowed to grow his hair out a couple of months earlier, had shown up with a haircut that suggested a tight taper, betrayed only by some stray hairs on the top of his head that were just not ready—or long enough---to lay down when combed over. But that was enough for Steve to celebrate the end to his more than two years with a flattop by asking that Dave help him celebrate by not only allowing Steve to finally land a paper plane on Dave's head, but to actually ‘catch it' on his head by positioning his landing strip beneath the plane. Needless to say, that didn't last long—though Dave, always willing to let Steve have a little fun, obliged once and a while for the next couple of weeks. But that was then, and this was now. Dave didn't want Matt to go through what he did, and become as afraid of his haircuts as Dave was.

"C'mon, let me do it…In fact, I'll help you fold your plane” pleaded Steve, who continued "just call him to come out here. There's still probably enough light, and we'll make it real by throwing the planes into the air, aiming at him when he first comes out—so he'll be a moving target.”

"Not going to happen” said Dave, who was beginning to sound frustrated with his friend.

"Why not?” asked Steve, who continued with a sly look on his face "is his landing strip not visible? Doesn't matter, we can try, it will be fun!”

"Shut up Steve!” "Like I said, it's not going to happen. And just for your information; yes, the top is so short that there's a wide landing strip; in fact, it's a shorter than the ones that we used to wear. I feel sorry for him, the sides are beveled and the sides are clipped almost to the skin; and as you know, the boxy longer flattops look a lot better. My dad should have waited a couple more weeks before he had Matt get the flattop.”

"Ah, dude” Steve said as he lowered his voice as if to tell Dave a big secret and bent over to whisper into Dave's ear "You can finally have fun teasing someone about their haircut…you just have to teach Matt how ugly a beveled flattop looks; go for it…I know you got some satisfaction that Matt finally has what you consider a short haircut. Don't lie to me, after all, I'm your best friend.”

Turning towards Steve, Dave admitted that after his father had instructed the barber to give Matt a flattop, he had expected, with how short Matt's hair at that time was, that Matt would end up with a short beveled flattop—and he was right.

"Remember” started Dave, that Matt got a crewcut when I got my last boot cut, two weeks ago. Then I got my first induction cut last week, and then another one today. So we both had short haircuts when we got to the barbershop!” This brought a chuckle from both as Dave broke off his narrative to turn on the porchlight.

Settling back into his chair, Dave continued "After I got my haircut, I was walking back to the chair. Matt had just been draped in the chair closest to the waiting area, right next to mine actually; and since I wanted to show my dad even more how ok I was with the induction cut—remember, I thanked the barber when I got out of the chair— so I stopped by Matt's chair and rubbed my head as I stooped over and told him to go ahead and feel it, saying ‘pretty cool, you should get one as well,' and as I also offered my dad a rub, I told him ‘short again dad, just like last time.' Well, I also knew that my dad being up at Matt's chair meant a different—probably shorter—haircut for Matt, so I planned to go back to the waiting area slowly so I can hear what my dad has was going to have the barber give to Matt…but it turns out I didn't need to, since my dad just simply told the barber to give Matt a short flattop, then came back to the waiting area with me, and off-handedly told me that Matt need ‘something different for his base ID photo.' So I sat in the waiting area, making sure I got a good seat. I lucked out, as the views were pretty good, as long as the barber was out of the way. So I'm watching, and like I said, I think Matt's hair on the top was really too short to cut into a boxy flattop, though I'm not sure that's what the barber had in mind. But watching the barber as he combed up Matt's hair on top, I could see that he was checking the length to judge how short it would have to be in the front. The barber actually had one of those large, square flattop combs which he pushed through Matt's hair from the front…but just as I had guessed, his hair was too short—I couldn't see the top of Matt's head, but I believe that there was very little hair sticking up over the flattop comb, so the barber just used a regular comb and actually made the first horizontal cut at the highest point of Matt's head; just clipped whatever hair off right across the top with the comb flush on Matt's head. Then the barber, using a little bit of the first horizontal cut as a guide, he started working his way slowly towards the front, always using a little bit of the previous horizontal cut as a guide. The barber then worked his way towards the crown area, re-cutting the front as he worked towards the back. He actually did this twice…and though I couldn't get a good glimpse of the top, I just knew that Matt had a very wide landing strip. I couldn't wait till the barber was done, and I didn't think I'd have long to wait…but then when the barber put the clippers down, and started cutting the sides with his scissors…I was kind of disappointed that it would be a bit longer. Well, and that Matt would get off easy. But I had forgotten about the time when a barber had cleaned up a crew cut that I had with mainly just scissors…I was skinned, just as though the barber had used his clippers. Turns out that was what happened as the barber moved up Matt's sides and back, really cutting them short. In the end, though, he also used the clippers to taper Matt's back and the sides, around his ears. By this time I had also guessed that because Matt's hair on each side of the landing strip was too short to create a boxy flattop, the barber would have to connect the sides into the flat top by beveling the sides into the top…and I was right! So then I really couldn't wait to see how wide Matt's landing strip was, I had to see Matt's haircut, so I just walked over to his chair for a look, something I would never have done before.”

"Well then,” said Steve, "did you finally point your finger at his haircut and laugh?”

"I wouldn't dare,” replied Dave, who continued "with my dad there. And as I have told you many times, I wanted to show my dad that I was ok with my induction cut, and not at all jealous of Matt, with his longer haircut. So as I reached Matt's chair I said ‘great haircut Matt,' and then I also complimented his landing strip.” Pausing for a moment, Dave reflected for a while and then continued "But you know what, Steve? Matt really looked good with his flattop, even though it's beveled! And it got me to thinking of what haircut I was going to suggest to my dad when he finally allows me to start choosing my own haircuts.”

End of Part 2

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