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Small town horseshoe flats by Gator
Small Town Horseshoe Flats
This adventure started about 6 years ago. I was working as an educational consultant for the state department of education. This allowed me the opportunity to travel all over the state of Georgia. I had heard about this one shop from a friend of mine. He had gone there one Saturday for a cut. Fortunately, I was working with a school in the town. The great part of this shop was that the place was across the street from FLETC – the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. If you watch NCIS, you have heard of FLETC; yes, it really does exist. I had decided I needed to try out this place. The shop was in a strip mall; not your old-fashioned traditional type shop, but I knew they would give military cuts since FLETC was across the street.
One afternoon, I was cruising by the shop. I had been by often, but the place was always packed. This afternoon though I had left the school a little early. I drove by the shop. Sitting out front were two men, both with very short cuts. One even had a nice Marine style horseshoe flat. I got to the next entrance and turned in. That was my sign – the horseshoe flat.
I parked the car and got out. Both men got up. The one closest to the shop door opened it for me and said, "I’ve got the first chair waiting. Hop in." Who was I to disagree? It turns out that both guys were barbers in the shop. The horseshoe flat barber had the second chair.
"My name is Greg. I’m the owner of the shop," he said as he caped me up. I introduced myself to him. "I’m Chris. It’s good to meet you." Greg turned me to face the mirror and said, "A high and tight flat. Right?" I gave him a huge smile. "Yes, sir. Do you shave the sides and back?" "I certainly do. No extra charge. You want it shaved?" "Yes, sir," I replied but was thinking, ‘Hell yes!’
The chair was turned away from the mirror. He grabbed the clippers and started in the back. "One skinned high and tight flat. That’s my favorite cut to give!" I could picture a big smile on his face. He went on to say, "I noticed your Camaro. You like sports cars I take it?" "Yes, sir. I’ve had one most of my adult life. I love them." "I love muscle cars, too. That’s one of my hobbies. I also like to hunt and cut hair." "Cool," I replied. "As a kid, I used to hunt and fish with my dad, but as I got older and moved to Georgia, I just ran out of time." Where you from?" "Michigan, originally. I’ve been down here for almost 30 years." That was the start of our conversation. I walked out of the shop with an awesome flattop – not a horseshoe like I had wanted. Next trip, I thought.
The following week, I was back in town again. I went straight to the shop. No drive-by this time. Greg had told me which truck was his and to look for it in the shop. Cool. I parked the car and went in. Greg had a customer in his chair. Another barber asked, "Haircut, sir?" Greg immediately replied; "he’s waiting on me." And that was the end of any barber ever asking me again in this shop.
I sat in Greg’s chair. He caped me up; I waited for the question of how I wanted my hair cut. He didn’t ask; he just fired up the clippers and began cleaning up my flattop. We talked about cars, hunting, and every other thing except for how I wanted my hair cut. Greg finished, turned the chair around, and said, "All cleaned up for another 1,000 miles." "Yes, sir," was my reply. As I got uncaped and went to pay him, I asked how did he know what cut to give me. His reply was simple, "You’re my customer now. I know and remember what type of cut you want." "Very nice," I replied. I paid and left to head home.
Three weeks later, I stopped by the shop. I had been getting a weekly flattop. I had decided I wanted to get back to a horseshoe flat. After Greg had the cape securely around my neck, I asked, "What do you think of a horseshoe flat?" A big smile crossed his face. "My favorite flat! I was wondering how long you were going to wait! I will give you the same cut as Bob." Bob was the barber in the second chair who was sporting the horseshoe flat. With that said, the clippers started and my cut was now a horseshoe flat. Every so often, about once a month, Greg would shave the landing strip for me. I was in haircut heaven. Or is that flattop heaven? Either way, it was the best!
Fast forward to the present. Greg had sold his shop and moved to a smaller shop in the town north of the old place. It was a two-chair shop, but he was the only barber there. He was tired of "babysitting" the other barbers he had once said. Depending on my time schedule, I would either see Greg once a week or twice. By this time, I had taken another job teaching at a university. This particular week, I had already been in Greg’s chair that Tuesday before I left to drive to the university for the week. It was now Friday and I was home. I was again in Greg’s chair. He caped me up as usual and began to cut. Fridays are usually a little slower, but the customers are the same. There is one guy who owns a roofing company and another who is National Guard. Both of them receive a razor shaved high and tight. As normal, there are no questions asked by Greg. We all get caped up and he gives us our weekly cuts. We know if we want a slight change, we need to speak up and ask before the clippers start. It is fun to sit in the shop. You can tell who the "newbies" are because Greg will ask them what type of cut they want.
Just this past Saturday, I stopped in the shop. I hadn’t gotten back home until late Friday. Greg wasn’t busy, so I climbed into the chair. He took his black cape to put on me. Next, he took the neck strip, wrapped it on me and then snugged up the cape. I like this part as he always makes the cape quite snug. What is great, he doesn’t ask any questions. He fires up his Osters and begins cutting. The sides come off first – all the way to the crown. He switches to another set of clippers – an adjustable set that he runs through my landing strip taking it down to bare stubble. Another horseshoe! Once he is does with the clippers, he gets out a towel, runs it under the very warm water and then wraps the towel around my head. Just as the towel cools, off it comes and the hot lather is gently spread around the sides and back. A very small amount is then run down the landing strip. That is always a great feeling. You know that the razor is coming next. Greg always starts in the back and shaves against the grain. The back is cleared first then he moves to the left side then to the right side. Finally, he puts the razor on the landing strip and takes it forward. Sometimes, in the summer especially, he will take the razor against the grain. I love hearing the scratching sound of the razor on my head. Once the majority of the lather is gone, Greg will gets his hand wet and start to rub my head looking for missed spots. His hand is followed by the razor. He goes all over the shaved part of my head. All I can do is close my eyes so I can enjoy the experience of the haircut.
He also blends out the line between the shaved section and where the hair is. He puts Clubman Talc on his brush, dabs is on the line, harshly brushes the talc, and then takes his edgers, turns them backwards and begins to blend out the line. Finally, he takes a single blade razor which finishes the blending. The final step is Greg putting on the alcohol on your head – it contains some eucalyptus which smells so great. "Good to go for four more days," he says. My barber knows me too well!
With the summer shoe, Greg takes my shoe closer, higher, and tighter than he does in the winter. The summer shoe has my landing strip razor shaved half-way down towards the front. The rest of my flat is a little bit longer than ¼ inch in front. When I take my hand across my flat, I feel mostly stubble. As he shaves, Greg is constantly checking for missed spots. There is something about the skin to skin contact when he shaves your head.
The other great part of sitting in Greg’s chair is to have him give you a face shave. That is an experience for another story….