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Coda: Conversations Dec 1979 Pt 1 by Archon 2


Author's Note: Thanks everyone who have read these "Conversations." Though the last story was supposed to end this series, I had some feedback and decided to tie up some loose ends. Hope you enjoy it.

December 1979 Dave's backyard

On an unseasonably warm Saturday, Dave and his best friend Steve Somers were sitting in their usual chairs on the patio in Dave's back yard. As usual, Dave had been busy doing his weekly chores; mowing the lawn, raking the leaves and eliminating any weeds that had the nerve to invade the gardens during the week. Steve had a knack for coming over just as Dave finished his chores, and today was no exception. They were planning on going out with Mike, Dave's older brother who was in the Marines now, but lived close by due to his assignment at the Monterey Defense Language Institute. Matt, Dave and Mike's younger brother would be picked up by them later, as he was at the movies with some of his friends. Normally a brat, Matt had actually grown up quite a bit due to Mike's influence. And truth be told, Dave actually liked having his two brothers with him as they went out…even Steve seemed to be just a little more mature. Well, all of them had grown up in different ways thanks to Mike.

"What do you think of the interview,” asked Steve as he finished reading the paper and folded it to give back to Dave.

Dave took the school newspaper back, and placed it gently on the table in front of them, so that it would be ready for Mike when he came. "Actually, I think it's good…and much longer than the other article in the city newspaper. The ‘reporter' sure asked a lot of questions.” Reflecting on their sudden notoriety, Dave chuckled and stated "Can you believe it, Steve? This all started when Mike took me to the barbershop to get my very first high and tight flattop a couple of weeks ago. And now, two articles about my—our—short ‘military haircuts.”

"Don't forget about the mention of my ‘Stevie Crew' in the school newspaper,” chimed in Steve, who was extremely proud that he got a mention.

"It's funny how the news cycle runs,” commented Dave, as he got up to bring out more sodas to the patio.

"What do you mean,” asked Steve?, as Dave came back with some Cokes and a Pepsi.
"I'll have the Pepsi,” said Steve as he put out his hand.

Reluctantly giving up the Pepsi, Dave reminded Steve that the ‘interview' with the school reporter happened over 3 months ago, when Mike had shaved Dave's head one week into Dave's freshman year, at home, about 15 minutes before he dropped him off at school. Dave then remembered that for his first ‘shave' his brother Mike used an electric shaver, usually used on beards. So Dave did not have what they considered a true ‘shaved' head done with a razor blade, but it generally passed the hand rub test. In fact, Mike advised Dave that if anyone asked him if he was bald, that he should let them rub his head to feel if there was any hair on his head. As his baldie or near baldie got a lot of attention from everyone, the school newspaper Editor contacted Dave to ask him if he could interview Dave for an exclusive piece for the newspaper. Though it was 1979 and long hair for boys still reigned supreme, there were a few interesting cultural trends that were making the rounds. And, a confident young man who used to wear a short crewcut (and before that a short butch with flat top) suddenly comes to school with a shaved head…given to him by his older brother who just happened to be in the Marines! Well, there's obviously a story there.

"Takes them that long to type up the article,” offered Steve, continuing with "those IBM Selectric typewriters are noisy, and hard to correct mistakes. No wonder why it took this long.”

His train of thought interrupted, Dave had to ask "What was that?”

"Takes a long time to type up an article,” repeated Steve.

"Yeah,” replied Dave, "but I was also referring to the City newspaper, where the reporter caught up to us as we were shopping down at the Wharf. That article came out in a couple of days.” ‘HIGH N TIGHTS GO CIVILIAN' was the supposed catchy title for a Local News article.

"Well, it was also good luck that school newspaper editor got to update his story after we were featured in the City Newspaper,” added Steve, who continued with, "which was the one with the best story about we civilian kids wearing military style haircuts. I'm so glad that we went that day to the barbershop.”

Smiling, Dave played along with Steve, saying that "Of course Steve, anything you're in is better, especially since you got to mug for the camera. Plus, if we didn't to go back to the barbershop after you chickened out the first time, we wouldn't have been at the wharf at the right time. Yep, you're the best, Steve.”

"I didn't chicken out the first time,” replied Steve in a huff. "Like I said, I was just going over in my mind the conversation I had with my dad earlier, to make sure he did really give me permission to get a haircut with you guys. You know he wasn't that keen to basically reward me by allowing me to decide on my own haircut.”

At hearing that, Dave reached over and slapped the back of Steve's head lightly, then adding "dummy, remember we were all there when he said yes, provided that your grades don't go down again.”

"Exactly,” said Steve as he perked up. "Which is what I was trying to decide what he meant. If my grades stay the same, does that mean I'm off punishment haircuts? If my grades go down, I get something worse? Shorter? And if my grades were good enough now to allow me to choose to go with you guys to get my haircut, does that mean I can finally have a haircut longer than my Stevie Crew? I had to think about all those questions!”

"HA, now you know how I felt, Steve.” Let's just relax and wait for Mike, then we'll have a nice day.”

Yes, they were waiting for Mike, Dave's older brother who was in the Marines and studying at the nearby Defense Language Institute. It had been a whirlwind 3 and a half months for both Dave and Steve, who had been helped by Mike's take-charge attitude, with respect to their parent's rules concerning haircuts for their boys. Barbershop haircuts for them in a time when most of their peers went to salons. And not just ‘regular boy's haircuts,' but other short haircuts from the past like crew cuts, flattops and butches. Then, in stark contrast to the prevalent long-hair styles, their fathers assigned them to wear extra short ‘military style' haircuts; a new bunch of haircuts for teens specially invented in the 70's to compete with ‘hippie hair.' Super-short versus long feathered hair; sadly, there weren't enough teens with super-short haircuts, so the long hairs were usually dominant, and therefore had the right to tease everyone else.

But that had changed, at least for Dave and Steve, when they entered High School recently, and were introduced to Mike's gung-ho attitude. It happened from the moment that he showed up in the backyard, of all places. Dave and Steve were there on a Sunday, talking about their first day of school tomorrow. Classes that they signed up for, where their lockers were, what they were going to do for lunch, who had ‘blossomed' over the summer, and of course, the current state of their haircuts. They called themselves "seasoned veterans of military haircuts,” which made them laugh, taking off the edge of their constant struggle to fit in to their peer group despite having to wear short military haircuts. The topic of the day was their belief that it probably would have been much better if their fathers had taken them to the barbershop on Saturday to get their haircuts, so that when they went to school on Monday—the first day of high school where a lot of kids didn't know them—there wouldn't be a lot of teasing. Then, when they got their next haircut, it would have been already established that they wore short haircuts. Now, however, they were probably due to get their haircuts next week: For Steve, a clean-up of what he called his ‘Stevie Crew,' a skin-tight extremely short tapered crew cut; and as for Dave, well he was sporting a short butch with the flattest top possible –the top sides not exactly beveled in, but not exactly boxy—so he just told people he had a crew cut, which seemed to work.

As they were discussing the possibility of going to get their haircuts on their own…if they had just thought about this Saturday they could have walked to their neighborhood barbershop—of course who knows what they would have ended up with—but now that it's Sunday they would have to get someone to take them to the base, someone walked in to the backyard and came up face Steve and to offer his hand, saying, "Hey dude, good to see you after all this time.”

Steve had actually seen him come in, and though he immediately recognized this tall young man who walked confidently towards him, he did a double take when he saw the infamous high and tight flattop haircut on his old friend Mike. Yep, though Mike was Dave's ‘older' brother, with all that entailed, Mike was one of his best friends as well. Mike had always been nice to Steve—well, to everyone—and Steve enjoyed all the times that Mike spent with them. In fact, many times Mike allowed the two younger boys to ‘hang out' with him and his older friends. So Steve looked up to Mike, and was glad to see his old friend. So he not only shook Steve's hand, but he also gave him a hug and said "glad to see you again as well, Mike!” Then he stepped back, and looked up at Mike's haircut. Steve never liked high and tights, he always thought they were just silly, much too severe—but on Mike, well, it still looked silly and severe, but Mike seemed to wear it well. Steve noticed that it must have just been done, as the sides were shaved smooth, as well as the back. Looking up at the top, he could see that the sides were shaved up to the very top, with the top sides beveled severely in, so that the top was not as wide as it could have been. Steve, wanting a better look at the top asked Mike to "Hey dude, have a seat or bend your head over so I can see how scalped you are on the top.”

Bot Mike and Dave laughed at that; and Mike, happy to oblige, dragged a chair over and sat down, and then with a flourish of his hands pointed to his head and invited them both for a look, ending with "just got it cut.”

"I've already seen it, yesterday,” said Dave, who then noticed that "It just seems like you had the sides shaved…the top doesn't look any different.”

"The barber beveled it in a little more, so the top is not as wide. But he lay the skinniest comb right to the scalp as he trimmed the top. And I saw some hair dust, so it's shorter—I think…what do you think Steve?”

Steve just looked at his haircut and said "wow.”

"Imagine that, Steve's nearly speechless,” said Dave, truly amazed.

Mike then reached over to rub their heads, saying "Hey, I like your haircuts too, but maybe you should get high and tights from now on, since it seems you can't tell when I get it cut, and if experts like you can't tell when I get a haircut, then your classmates won't be any the wiser from now on.”

Now slightly embarrassed, Dave and Steve realized that Mike must have overheard some of their conversation. But shaking it off, Steve took advantage of the situation by asking Mike if he could "take us to the barbershop today, help us out! Not for a high and tight of course…”

Dave then chimed in, saying "Hey Mike, you know how it is, we're just trying to start off the school year right. And we just thought it we got our haircuts today—in fact, maybe get something shorter than just a trim—we could just show everyone…”

"I know, I know…guys, you have to stop worrying about your haircuts and start being better students,” interrupted Mike, who then went on with "at least that's what dad tells me about you, Dave.” Then looking towards Steve, Mike said "However, I think your punishment cut looks good on you Steve…never give up the ‘Stevie Crew.'”

"Hey, it's not a punishment cut anymore,” retorted Steve, who continued with "I have been getting good grades since I first got it. Well, just not good enough to let it grow out, but at least I didn't get clipper shaved like your brother…at a fair! And he's got a punishment cut now!”

Now it was Dave's turn to get indignant, as he said "Shut up Steve…besides, I'm getting out of it soon. I intend to get straight A's!”

Mike then got up, and wanted to know if those two could help him with setting up his apartment, and then he would take them around the city afterwards. Turning to them he told Dave that "I already talked to Mom, and she said it was OK. We'll just have to call if we're having dinner at my place, but you have to be back by 10pm.” And then to Steve, "so dude, if you want to come you can call your parents, or we jump in my truck and we'll drive up to your house to find out.” "Oh,” he continued to both "I'm not taking you to the barbershop, definitely no high and tights for you today.” However, as Steve hurriedly went in to phone his parents, Mike turned to Dave, and in a hushed voice said that "I am going to talk to dad about your haircuts, maybe I can help.”

They had been sitting there, lost in thought when a sudden gust of warm air blew past them, making them both instinctively reach up to adjust their beanies, making sure that their ears were covered. "When is Mike coming?” asked Steve.

"Soon, Steve,” replied Dave as he opened another Pepsi and then began to unpack Mike's grooming kit. Dave spread out the hand towel on the table, then laid out the clippers, the various zero-sized blades, the electric shaver, and finishing with a can of shaving cream and some safety razors.

Looking the table over, Steve noticed the various blades and remarked "I forgot we were going to give each other haircuts first. We'll probably only need the five-zero blade. And we'll need a bowl of hot water to clean the razor with.”

"When Mike gets here I'll get one,” replied Dave, who continued with "this is only the second time we've done this back here…maybe we should use the bathroom?”

"It's fine, out here. Beautiful weather for this time of the year. I can't believe Christmas is next week already,” said Steve.

Upon hearing that, Dave had to laugh.

"What?!”

"Yes, Christmas is next week, and we're on vacation from school, which is the only reason why you decided to do this with us today,” replied Dave, who then continued to laugh at Steve.

"Well that hurts, Dave…after all, you and Mike are my best friends, so I'm showing some solidarity, besides, you only asked me yesterday. If you had asked me before, I probably would have said yes,” said Steve, defiantly.

"Ok, I believe you,” replied Dave, who then repeated his question, "Maybe we should use the bathroom…remember the first time you helped me shave my head, Steve?”

"That was out here, remember, right after school that Monday…are you losing brain cells along with your hair?” Steve was referring to that infamous Monday, when Mike—who had told Dave that he was going to speak to their father and ‘help' Dave with his haircut deal, decided that the best way to help Dave get over his haircut fears was to take him to the barbershop the Saturday before and have him get yet another induction cut, just like the one he had last year…and then, to shave Dave's head bald (or as bald as you could with an electric shaver, which was pretty bald!) just 15 minutes before he took him to school. Then to show Mike that he was OK with it, he let Steve ‘practice' shaving his head when he got home from school.

"No, I remember that…technically it was the first time with the electric shaver; I'm talking about the next day, when you came over and talked me into letting you lather up my head and shave me bald…really bald,” Dave then stopped for a bit before he concluded with, "you know, the 2 nicks baldie.”

Laughing, Steve replied, "Ah dude, it was actually 3 nicks, but since you didn't notice, I didn't tell.”

"Dammit Steve,” started Dave, "I hope you didn't let me go to school bleeding!”

"It was OK, no bleeding…I swear!”
Chuckling now, Dave told Steve to "Calm down, Steve. We'll give each other our haircuts out here. And now that I've brought up that first disastrous head shave, let me tell you…I don't want any nicks!

The ‘three nicks' head shave had happened early Tuesday morning. Mike had spent the night, and had dragged Dave yet again out of bed for an early run through the neighborhood, picking up Steve on their way home. As Steve excitedly waited for Dave to finish his shower (with Steve reminding him to make a lot of steam and soak his head thoroughly since Dave had been ‘talked' into allowing him to use shaving cream and a razor…to give him a real baldie), Mike had gone over the details with Steve: First, the electric shaver to take off whatever stubble remained on Dave's head, then rub some baby oil followed by a towel moistened by some hot water, then apply the gel shaving cream and rub it into a lather, then use the safety razor following the ‘grain,' then repeat and rinse. "Repeat and rinse?” Steve had asked, which amused him, but showing his dedication, he said "Oh yeah, don't worry, that boy's head is going to be as smooth as a cue ball.” And when Dave opened the door to the bathroom, Steve sprang into action. Mike took up a position in the back, as Steve excitedly plugged in the electric shaver. Dave was also busy, toweling off the shaving foam from the mirror, which actually worked fairly well at keeping the foam off of it. "Ok, use the electric razor first,” counselled Mike, and Steve had gone to work. As the two boys were roughly the same height, Dave obliged when Steve asked him to bend his head down or over. The image in the mirror at that time showed Steve standing very close to Dave, looking intently at what he was doing, carefully wielding the electric razor in one hand, with the other hand carefully positioned on various areas of Dave's head, serving both as a guide to how Dave should position his head, and as a ‘firm grip' that allowed Steve to confidently use the razor to maximum effect. After several passes all over Dave's head, Steve dusted off Dave's head with his hands, and then proclaimed that it was time for the baby oil. Dave handed him the baby oil from the cabinet, and to "not spill it all over,” whereupon Steve squirted a bunch on the top of Dave's head and massaged it in, asking Dave to bend his head this way and that till he was satisfied that he was done. "Towel time,” said Mike as he offered Steve a towel that he had wrung out after soaking it in some hot water. Steve, not knowing the best way to do this, gave the towel to Dave and suggested that he "wrap his head like the girls with long hair, you know, put the towel over their hair as they bend over and wrap it all together, then they tuck the tail into the back.” "I'll manage,” said Dave. Then Mike suggested that Dave start shaving every morning now, instead of every week, since "he needs to look sharp all the time now, especially if he gets a high and tight, and part of that is shaving every day.” So Dave shaved his face, and then when he was done, took off the towel from his head. Taking a deep breath, he told Steve to "do it.” Springing into action, Steve took a big dollop of shaving gel, and rubbed it into Dave's head; and once again, he asked Dave to bend his head down, and then stand up straight as Steve moved from side to side, rubbing the gel into Dave's head and ensuring that there was a lot of foam all over Dave's head. Stepping back for a bit, Steve, with safety razor in hand, asked "ready?” Then Dave suddenly asked for the razor, "I want to do the first swipe,” he said, as Mike nodded approvingly, and Steve reluctantly gave up the razor. Dave took the razor, put it up to his front hairline, and boldly took the first swipe, exposing his bare white scalp. Satisfied, he handed the razor to Steve, who enthusiastically shaved his friend, finishing the top, then working down the sides and back. The nicks came on the second shaving, one on the top, and one on the side near his left ear. The third came in the back. Then came another baby oil application, and a ‘buffing' from Mike who had pulled out a clean polishing cloth and using the same motions for buffing his dress shoes, really gave Dave's head a shine, which gave them all a laugh. But the reflection in the mirror didn't lie. While the first baldie was done with an electric shaver that left him fairly bald, today's baldie was…well, it was a shiny chrome dome. If a Polaroid had been taken of their reflection in the mirror, it would have shown perhaps a reflection off of Dave's shiny bald head from the flash, along with Mike who had an approving smile on his face, and of course Steve who was grinning more than Dave. If the camera kept snapping, subsequent pictures would have shown Dave rubbing his head enthusiastically, while keeping Steve and Mike from doing the same. Mike had another surprise as he drove them to school. When they got there, Mike had pulled out a new oversized beanie which he gave to Dave. "I thought you had a no beanie or hat rule for me,” said Dave as he took it from Mike. "That was yesterday…and it's cold. Just don't use it to hide your shiny head,” said Mike. "Or keep it covered till I pull it off when I tell people ‘look what I gave Dave'” said Steve…well, that was an interesting day. And, it was the day that the School Newspaper Editor took notice and asked for an interview.

"Remember that Mike wanted to read the school newspaper article, so don't let him forget, Steve.”

"I know,” replied Steve. "He can read it while I shave him, you know, like you see in the old photos of patrons reading the newspaper while they get their hair cut.”

"Just make sure he reads it.” Looking towards the newspaper that he had carefully folded and laid on the table, Dave continued with "I'm glad that the reporter wrote everything; you know, that I told everything, how my dad was strict about his sons, with short and then military style haircuts; and how Mike shaved my head. It's important that Mike knows I'm over it now. I mean, the city newspaper article on us with Mike and our high and tight haircuts was OK, but it's only focus was that even though we were Army brats, we were still civilians with high and tight haircuts, which might be a trend soon. This school article tells the whole history.”

And with that, the boys heard Mike come into the backyard. Both of them got up, and almost simultaneously took off their beanies as a kind of salute to Mike. And there they were, all three of them wearing their now ‘signature' haircut, a high and tight flattop with the widest landing strip possible. Who would have thought they needed haircuts?

End of part 1




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