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Conversations, May 1980 Part 1 by Archon 2
Author's note. Probably due to not having a good imagination, this is another "Conversations" sequel that needs the reader to have read the whole series. Hopefully soon I can write some stand-alone stories. But for now, I'm writing about events that actually happened, though some parts have been fictionalized. Thanks for reading!
"Um, hey…can I join you guys?”
"Sure, John, have a seat,” replied Dave, who then had his best friend Steve Somers move over a bit so that his guest had enough room on the retaining wall that there were sitting on during lunch.
It was a beautiful day in May, warm and sunny, a big contrast from the storms that had recently come through. But now the air was fresh and clean, and the strong sun had ensured that all areas of the school ‘mall' were dry. Though there were many tables scattered throughout, most of the students used the short retaining walls that lined the mall, broken every now and then by the stairs that led up to the main building. Dave and Steve were still in their freshman year, 1980 to be exact. An exciting time for them, actually. They had been enjoying their lunches, purchased at the school cafeteria and supplemented by a few candy bars that they had brought, as well as waving to or chatting briefly with a few friends and fellow students that walked by. For a while last year they were celebrities, the only boys in school with shaved heads, which came after they had high and tights horseshoe flattops. They used to joke that they had finally become gentlemen, as they had perfected the head nod and sometime doffing of their headwear with a deep bow and flourish when female classmates would ask if they could rub their heads. But with the New Year came new haircuts. Steve was allowed to grow his hair out to his ‘Stevie Crew,' and Dave had decided to grow his hair out to a regular taper cut, complete with long bangs which he meticulously combed into a beautiful quiff. And uncharacteristically for Dave, he reminded Steve many times that he not only had a longer haircut than Steve, it was also one he chose. While they may not have started a huge wave of feathered-hair teens descending upon barbershops for crew cuts and other ‘short' haircuts, there was a noticeable trend towards wearing ‘ears,' and boys combing their hair with a side part and a quiff.
John, who had just sat with them, was one of these boys who had been wearing their hair noticeably shorter these last few months. John had thick medium brown hair, currently cut into a medium layered cut, over the ears and squared off in the back above the collar; and if one looked closely, there seemed to have been an attempt at tapering the back somewhat. A sharp part on the left with longish bangs completed his haircut. John didn't quite have his hair trained into a quiff just yet. John definitely had ‘good hair,' and got along with mostly everyone. He was popular with the girls as well, along with being a fairly good student that the teachers liked. Dave and Steve had met John this year, and they had become friends. John was one of the first students to compliment them on their bald heads, but aside from a rub or two, he never mentioned their ‘baldies' or looked at their heads all the time like the others. But when they had started to grow their hair back, well, he actually was one of the few who noticed.
Fame is fleeting, Dave and Steve had found out. In January, when they had come back from Christmas vacation, they had shaved their heads for the last time. And by the end of that week, they had ‘sprouted' a fuzzy covering of about an eighth of an inch. By the next Monday, everyone knew that they weren't shaving their heads anymore; but they didn't notice that Dave and Steve had been to the barbershop on Saturday so that the barber could taper their sides and back a bit, and give each an outline shave. By mid-February, their hair had ‘filled in' enough so that when the barber once again tapered their sides and back and up through the crown area so that they had the classic proportions of a short crew cut…but no one said anything, or seemed to notice. And in March, when Steve's father re-imposed the ‘Stevie Crew' as his haircut, no one said…anything. Forward to April, when Dave went for his bi-weekly haircut (as imposed by his father's rule of regular haircuts), his hair was almost long enough to do a quiff in the front. So to help with the illusion of his top and front looking longer than it was, he had the barber give him a skin taper on the back and sides…in essence, he had a modified ‘Stevie Crew,' albeit with a longer top. Actually quite a difference from when he went in to the barbershop. But, no one said much about his ‘new' haircut. Except for John, who had noticed how Dave had been letting his hair grow out. And he told Dave how much he liked his ‘new haircut;' in fact, he had read with great interest the school newspaper article about Dave, "One Kid's BALD Statement,” and had matter-of-factly asked Dave if he was close to having the ‘boot cut' that he described in the article. And if so, John would like Dave to help him get something ‘close' to it. As John had described what he wanted, "something like the boot cut, definitely tapered in the back, with the sides and back as short as they could be cut without showing any skin.” Then John asked Dave something he never thought he would have been asked, "Do you think I would look good with that kind of short haircut?”
"Yes,” Dave had replied to John's question, as everyone looks good with "some kind of tapered haircut.” So they talked a little bit more that day, and Dave had suggested that in a couple of weeks he would have to get his hair cut again, and perhaps John could come with Dave to the barbershop and watch the barber give Dave his cut, and John could decide if the barbershop was the place for him. "Relax, John,” Dave told him as he confirmed that "barbers know how to cut all kinds of haircuts. They're not just there to use the clippers on everyone. Lots of haircuts are given with just a pair of scissors and a comb.” So they left it at that, and decided to talk about it again in May.
"What's up John?” Steve asked first as he offered John a Snickers candy bar.
"Tons of homework, and I can't stand Biology class, so the usual,” replied John, as he declined the Snicker's bar, and offered them some Oreo's.
"No thanks,” Steve and Dave both responded.
They proceeded to talk about the school year, how their teams were doing in their respective leagues, and what they were going to do for summer, the usual stuff that high school students talk about. Then Dave remembered about John wanting to go with him to the barbershop.
Now finished with his lunch, as Dave came back from throwing out their garbage, he asked John if "he still wanted to go with him to the barbershop this Saturday. It's the one on the strip mall,” which was within walking distance of Dave's and Steve's house. The barber there had actually also worked at the shop where Dave had first received the ‘boot cut,' so he was familiar with Dave, and they had a good rapport now. "You'll like him, and he won't mind if you come and watch; in fact, he'll probably be fine with you asking him questions…and if you don't get a haircut, no problem.”
"Barbershop…yikes,” started John, "I mean, I still want to get my hair cut into a short Ivy League…is that right, what you said I should ask for?
"That's it,” both Dave and Steve replied almost simultaneously.
Still very uncertain about going to a barbershop, John finished his thought with "Maybe just to watch you get your haircut, and maybe someone else, if someone else comes in.” Running his fingers through his hair, John told them that he would miss how the stylist washed his hair first, and then spent a lot of time combing his hair into the basic shape he wanted, and then carefully cut the length in the back first, using that as a guide to carefully layer his hair up and around the sides. It was fun for him to watch the stylist use the comb to pull up sections of his hair, and then snip them off every so carefully. He thought his last stylist did a good job trimming the hair around his ears and tapering his sideburns fairly short. "But,” he added, "I heard in the styling salon that I go to there's a stylist that studied as a barber for a while, that works in the back, away from the others…and that's I want go to for my first ‘Ivy League.' And, hey, if he doesn't cut it short enough, or you think that the barber would do a better job, then I'll go. What do you think?
Dave thought about it for a bit, trying to decide if there was enough time for him to get his haircut at his regular barbershop and be able to make it to the stylist with John. After all, this Saturday was a haircut day for him…”What time were you thinking of going, John?”
"Early. They open at 8 am, actually. I can call for an appointment, then let you know tonight. Steve, do you want to come?”
"Sure, and Dave will let me know the details.”
"OK,” said Dave, "but both Steve and I have to get our haircuts as well, at the barbershop, so your appointment has to be early. I guess Steve and I can get a ride there.”
"Awesome,” said John, "and if you need a ride home or to the barbershop, my mom can give us a ride.” Just then the lunch bell rang, so the boys said their goodbyes, and went on with their day.
It turned out that the styling salon they were to meet John at wasn't too far, so Dave and Jeff didn't have to leave that early, as John's appointment was at 9 am. Still enough time to ‘help' him get something like an Ivy League haircut, and get to the barbershop for their bi-weekly haircuts. Dave also had to promise his dad that he would do his Saturday chores as soon as he got home, along with all of his homework for the weekend. Neither Dave nor Steve told their parents they were going to a "Salon,” but rather just said they needed to go out early and meet some friends.
‘Coiffed in Style' was the name of the salon that John had them meet him at. Though they were barbershop veterans, Dave and Steve had actually been in a salon or two when they were younger, going with their father's to pick up their mothers; where, well, they really looked out of place. But today, with their fairly short haircut, they didn't look too out of place. And they were herded towards the back, so everyone assumed that they were there to see Frankie, who had recently given some fairly short haircuts to teens who suddenly discovered they looked pretty good wearing ‘ears.'
"Hey guys, thanks for coming” they heard John welcome them as they turned the corner into Frankie's secluded room in the back of the salon. It looked like a cross between a regular salon station, and a barbershop. In front of the chair was a sink with a countertop that swung up when needed, along with the large mirror above it. Large bulbs lit the mirrors and the assortment of hairsprays, gels and waxes to one side, while the other side housed tons of brushes and other salon implements. The ubiquitous blue jar with combs was present, along with a drawer that had lots of electric cords running out of it, clippers, perhaps. And the walls, well, the wall were covered with the ‘latest' hairstyles for men and women, a huge pastiche of blow-dried monstrous hairdo's. But, if one looked for it, on a small wall next to the door hung a familiar poster from the barbershop: "Standard Boys and Men's Haircuts.” Well, lots of new things among the familiar. Dave and Steve didn't feel too out of place.
"Hey John, glad we could make it” replied Dave, as Steve just gave a two-finger salute and simply said "Dude.”
Just then a youngish man with a black upswept pompadour came up to greet them both, announcing that he was "Frankie, good to meet you both. John tells me he admires your haircuts, and wants me to give him an Ivy League haircut. He thinks you can help, as you have experience with shorter haircuts. And by the way, you both have great haircuts!”
With that introduction the boys felt both welcomed, and somewhat self-conscious; it was nice to be invited in so warmly, but off-putting in that they were here to ‘supervise' another person's haircut to ensure that the ‘stylist' did his job. However, they didn't feel ‘weird' about being around while another boy was getting his haircut…that was a barbershop thing, after all!
Dave was the first to recover, offering a "Good morning and thanks for the compliment, Frankie. We're just actually here to lend John some support since he's getting his first ‘short' haircut. You're the pro, so we're not here to tell you how to do your job.”
"Nice space you have here, Frankie. Thanks as well for the compliment. Like Dave said, we're just here to lend him support…you know, tell him he can almost look as good as we do with our short haircuts.”
"Ok, have seat over there guys,” Frankie said as he pointed to a few chairs on the side of the room. John had already been caped by this point, so Frankie spun his chair around, propped up the counter covering the sink, and hit the lever which tilted the chair down so that John's head could be positioned over the sink. As Frankie ran the water to adjust the temperature, John let him know that "Dave and Steve used to shave their own heads, bald. It was quite a sight, made lots of boys think about shaving their heads. Now that they've grown their hair out a little, I think you'll be getting a little more business, since you're getting to be known for your short haircuts.”
"Let's hope so,” replied Frankie. "I studied barbering for a while, and got pretty good with the scissor over comb method for tapering. A lot of people don't understand that a stylist with a good technique can give a person a pretty short crewcut with just scissors over comb. You wanted an Ivy League, which is really just a long crewcut with the top long enough to comb over, easily down with the scissors over comb technique. Maybe your friends can help with deciding how much tapering at the nape and around the ears, along with the crown area leading into the front. Because I'm using my scissors, I can shape your haircut, giving it a more aesthetically pleasing look than a barber just using clippers. No offense, boys.”
Dave had actually been nodding in agreement, then added "Your right, Frankie. And actually, Steve and I have had haircuts—mostly our ‘contour' haircuts done with mostly scissors. I've also seen pretty short haircuts given with just scissors.”
"Do you have any clippers?” asked Steve, who added, "just wondering, in case someone were to come in and ask for a clipper shave.
"Actually I do, a good pair that uses attachable blades. Barbershop quality,” replied Frankie. As he pointed to the drawer with cords sticking out of it, he finished washing and rinsing John's hair, and tilted his char up. He then patted John's hair and then combed it out. John's hair had a slight wave to it, so when Frankie comb his hair straight down in the back it looked a little longer.
"Ok guys, I just want to make sure that we all understand I want an Ivy League haircut. I want the sides and back as short as they can go without the scalp being exposed, with the back tapered to the skin at the nape. No blocking! And then the sides like I said, as short as they can be without skin showing. The top should be just like a long crewcut, with the longest hair at the front, gradually getting shorter towards the back, with the crown just being a little longer than the back and sides, but blended nicely into them. Did I say all that right, Dave?”
Surprised at how well John had described an Ivy League, Dave just said "Good job, don't you think Frankie?”
"That's a great description of an Ivy League,” agreed Frankie. I'll just need help with some of the lengths from Dave and Steve, as I have to admit you're one of the first to ask for an Ivy, John. But with everyone's help, this should be a fantastic haircut for you.
"Go for it,” said John.
With that, Frankie used his comb to bring out John's hair at the nape, combing it out several times before the placed the comb flush with John's neck, tilting it out just a little bit, and then snipping the hairs that protruded past the comb. As Dave and Steve watched him work his way up, they soon realized that Frankie was doing just as good a smooth taper as the barbers at their barbershop. In no time, Frankie had cut off about two to three inches of hair off of John's back, ending up with a nice skin taper just at the very bottom of his nape, going up nearly to the crown area which was a little more than an inch now.
"Looks great,” Steve said, with two-thumbs up.
Then Frankie worked on the sides, deftly working his way up from each sideburn and around each ear, expertly tapering from about half an inch to an inch near the top. As he stepped back to look at his work he told John that to follow John's direction he had to go shorter on the sides. Dave suggested that he give John and even shorter taper from his sideburns to maybe a half inch into the sides, to which John agreed. So Frankie pulled out a thinner comb and used the narrow end to taper John's sideburns, and then used the middle section of the comb to taper around the ears before finally moving towards the wider side of the comb to cut down the sides even shorter. It looked magnificent, actually. John loved how the sides looked like they had been ‘clipped' with a razor, but still had a soft look to them that just covered his scalp—and the shorter sideburns and side area that blended perfectly into the sides, well, that was just fantastic. Dave and Steve confirmed that his back looked just as good, so John asked Frankie to continue the taper up through the crown area, cutting it as short as they thought it appropriate since it needed to transition seamlessly into the longer hair at the front. Frankie then worked his magic scissors up the back, then over the crown area, cutting it almost as short as the back and sides, but then masterfully allowing it to get longer as he went towards the front. Then he worked in the usual way with the rest of the top, pulling up sections of hair as he worked his way to the front, always lengthening along the way. Frankie then blended in the top with the sides, and did some finishing work with his clipper-over-comb technique. He then asked the boys what they thought about the ‘shape' of John's haircut as they looked head-on. They decided that Frankie needed to make the transition from the sides to the top a little more "square' or boxy, so he cut the top of the sides a little shorter, which seemed to do the trick. They also thought the top was still a bit too long, as it should be just long enough to comb over, and with the short sides there shouldn't be a part; everything should just fall forward and to the right, so Frankie took care of that as well. He also cut the crown area shorter, then once again blended it all together. Frankie then did some detail work around the ears, following John's "natural arches,” as he termed them—and when he was finished, John's arches gave a lot of clearance to his ears, but they were natural, no shaved little hairs that would grow in after a couple of days. Then finally, Frankie ‘styled' John's hair, something that had never happened before to Dave and Steve, so they just watched.
Frankie started by blow-drying John's hair; using a round bristle brush, Frankie dried John's sides and back straight down, which was really the only thing that he could do, as they were ‘cut' into place, no give at all! But with the top, he took a lot of care to ensure that the hair was ‘trained' properly by being brushed forward and to the side. The crown area was brushed following the natural hair growth pattern so that it lay beautifully, and the rest of the top was brushed forward and dried. Then Frankie worked some paste into his hands, and applied throughout the hair on his top. Following that, with his fingers Frankie pushed the hair on crown back into position, and then used his round brush to lift John's front hair up and back, giving the quiff lots of body and training it to stay to the side.
When Frankie was done, an excited and clearly pleased John was looking at his haircut from every angle, using a hand mirror in one hand as he pivoted his chair back and forth so that he could use the larger mirror in the back. Frankie was proud of his work; and Dave and Steve both enthusiastically agreed that Frankie should be proud.
"Dude, you have the haircut that I want,” said Steve as he marveled at how well-executed John's haircut was.
Just then Dave pulled Steve aside, and as Frankie gave John lessons on how to style his new haircut, Dave told Steve that he wanted to stay and have Frankie give him a haircut. "Would you mind if I stayed here to have Frankie give me a haircut, if he has time?
"What, I mean, yeah, Frankie gave John a great haircut. But what about your dad? What's he going to think?”
"A haircut is a haircut, Steve.” "And,” he added, "I'm sure Frankie can make it look like I got a haircut. I just want to see if he can shape it a little better; you know, like he make John's sides a little more square and boxier. And the side taper looks awesome! C'mon, I'll still go with you to the barbershop. Plus, I might have to anyway, if this salon haircut doesn't turn out well.”
"Ok, it's up to you dude. Just don't come crying to your old pal Steve if your dad throws a fit.”
Stepping back towards Frankie, Dave waited till Frankie was done with John, and asked him if he had time for one more customer.
"You?” asked Frankie.
"Yes, me, if you have the time,” replied Dave with some excitement in his voice.
"Actually, I have time, so the seat is yours!”
"Hey, John, do you have time to wait? I want to know what you think when Frankie's done with my haircut.”
"Sure can,” replied John, as he sat down with the hand mirror to admire his new haircut.
Dave gave his directions to Frankie as he was being prepped for his first-ever ‘salon' haircut. "I want you to taper the back really short, along with the sides and over the crown area, basically like the haircut you just gave John. I'm trying to get my quiff longer, so leave that part alone. And I want a super short taper at my nape and at the sideburns and temple area. Well, make sure it looks a lot shorter on the sides and back, as I'm supposed to go to the barbershop.”
Frankie paused for a moment, and then said that he "didn't want Dave to get in trouble…”
"Don't worry, it's my decision,” said Dave, "and I'll handle it.”
End of Part 1.