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Didn't You Hear What The Barber Said? by Jonathan

I was around 16 at the time. My name is Jonathan. This all happened in the early 80's. There was this English punk group named Madness. I loved their songs and bought all their music. I had several pictures of them, big and small. The lead singer had a flattop. It wasn't a very short flattop, kind of on the longer side. I wanted a flattop just like it. I showed a picture to my mom and she said I could cut my hair that way.

I had just started to drive at 16. I borrowed my mom or dad's cars. At this time I hadn't gotten a car of my own. They had an extra old beat up Cadillac I drove sometimes too. It didn't run too well though. Eventually it would sort of unofficially be my first car. I had gotten the nerve up to finally go get my first flattop. I got into the old beat up Cadillac to head over to the barber shop.

I had my hair long and very short before. I was still a bit nervous about this whole flattop thing. I drove by about three barber shops before I finally picked one. It was a regular barber shop, the name I don't recall now. This place was toward the end of a strip mall with a donut shop next to it. I parked and got out of the car. I planned to go in and say ,"I want a flattop, but not a real short one."

As I walked toward the door I couldn't get an idea who or what it was like inside. I picked this place because the other ones I could see in didn't look right. Here I was walking into a strange barber shop. You know that moment when your heart is beating and once you walk through that door, there's no turning back. No one ever walks in and says, oops I think I made a mistake. No once all eyes in there see you you have to sit down and get that haircut!

The place had about 10 people in it. Three barbers and about seven patrons including myself. "Can I help you young man?" asked one barber.

"I want a flattop," I told him.

"Ok, have a seat it won't be too long." said the barber.

I got a few looks from some of the kids in there when I said flattop. I had said flattop out loud! Now there was no turning back. I noticed there were two male barbers and one female. All three were busy cutting hair. There were three people waiting in the waiting seats along with me. It was too hard to predict which barber I'd get.

I looked around the shop. It had four barber chairs, some had sinks. Each area had a tangle of clipper cords that hung on hooks behind the barber chairs. Some clippers were all metal, others plastic. Then I noticed there were. A blue jars of some liquid stuff. The walls of this place were paneled in that thin fake wood paneling you'd see in the late 1960's. This gave the place a dark look, despite the abundance of flouresant lights in the place.

I sat there waiting and waiting. I realized I should have picked a less crowded shop. The anticipation was killing me. This was my first flattop. Then another man around 35 came in the shop as well to get a haircut. I waited for all three patrons before me to get a haircut. Finally my turn came. I wound up with the female barber. She welcomed me over and I sat down. "So you want a flattop?" she asks.

"Yes, but not a real short one," I tell her.

"So no skin showing, but still a flattop?" she asks.

"Can you do that?" I ask.

"Yeah, maybe a two on the sides and cropped flat on top," she says.

"Oh but you'll need some butch wax, we sell that," she said.

My hair had been over my ears, just about to the ear lobes. The bangs were long enough to come down over my eyes. There was a fair amount of hair to come off. I had just been combing it and not using any gel.
In a few seconds the buzzing begins. I am anxious to get this over with and see my new haircut. I am a little surprised to see how much hair is coming off and falling on the black barber cape. I notice big chunks of light brown hair on the cape.

The man who came in after me is now waiting for his haircut. He is very curious about my flattop. He tells me when he was a kid he'd gotten many flattops. He even gave me directions on how to spike it up just right with the butch wax. He even said, maybe I'll get a flattop today too. Also he told the barber he thought it was supposed to be shorter on the sides. "No he doesn't want a real short flattop," she tells the man.

Soon it is done and I an really happy. It's a flattop for sure, but not too drastic. The man shakes my hand and smiles at my flattop. I pay for the haircut and butch wax. The butch wax came in a small plastic jar with a lid that screwed on. The stuff was pale pink in color and felt gooey and waxy too. I tipped her and left.

At school and home my new flattop was a big hit. I loved putting the butch was in every morning. I would use a hair dryer at blow up the spikes on the front and sides. This would also melt in the wax a bit too.

After about a month or so my flattop was not the same anymore. It had gotten too long and even with more butch wax just would stay right. I had stopped styling it and just let it fall normal. It was kind of a spiky mess. The bangs had started to grow and half my ears were now covered. It was time for another flattop.

That next Saturday afternoon I headed to another barbershop real early in the morning. It opened around nine I think. I walked in and two barbers were there. An old guy was sitting I a waiting chair just chatting with the barber. A kid around my age was in one barber chair getting a regular haircut. "Can I help you, son?" asks the available barbet.

"I'd like a flattop," I say.

I sit in the chair as he motions me over with the cape. He applies the tissue and snaps it firmly. "So do you want a traditional 50's flattop? Short on the back and sides with just a little to play with on top?" he asks.

Well for some reason I was just thinking oh yeah I'm getting another flattop like the last one. I heard what he said. I know I did because all these years later I remember his exact words. For some reason I forgot to mention to leave it longer.

"Yeah, that's fine," I tell him.

He readies a few things behind me and soon there's that claack! The clippers head my way. He puts one hand on my head and says look down. I am spun around and can't see myself. I look down into my lap. Then I feel it. The sharp metal blades biting into the bump on the back of my skull. I realized I wasn't listening when he told me what he was going to do. Short on the back and sides ment, nothing left! I was not mad, maybe a little upset and worried. I could not see a thing since I was turned facing the wall without a mirror. All I could tell was I was being skinned! I knew it was zero all around. Then he made several swipes at the top. All the hair that was left up there was coming off too. Then I felt the clippers go again way up the back of my head. The kid getting his haircut next to me gave me a look and shook his head. I knew this wouldn't be good. Then he took some scissors and chopped around the tip of my forhead.

I could feel a cool breeze all on my head. I wondered what was left. Then the worst part was when he took the small little finishing mini clippers and buzzed them way up the back and sides of my head. That's when I knew I was basically bald. Then he blows me off and spins me around. The other kid is done with his haircut now. He is standing there looking at my flattop, well shave head. Then I see it in the mirror. It is like a little tiny half inch horseshoe on top and the rest of the head bald. The barber and the kid laugh. The kid rubs my head a bit and says "Woe, that feels weird, dude you have no hair!"

I look in the mirror and see my white head and ears. I think the little bit of hair left almost looks rediculous and out of place. I almost just say to the barber, "Why don't you just shave that little bit off too."

"Wow, it's short!" I say.

"Is that how you wanted it dude?" asks the kid.

I decide not to have the barber shave off what's left, that would leave me totally bald. I do know I'm not going to be able to style or do anything with this little bit of hair I've got left. The other kid and I both pay at the same time. I am mad, but realize this is what he said, I just didn't listen well enough when I sat down in that chair. "Come back in two weeks," the barber tells me. Yeah two weeks, more like two months I think. I walk to my car and say see ya to the other kid. Now I contimplate what will happen when my family and friends see this!

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