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So, You Want a Flattop? by Jonathan


It was the summer of 1986. My hair had grown a little long over the ears and I was in need of a haircut of some kind. I was 19 at the time and had just left high school and started college.
For some time now, starting in the the early 1980's flattops had made a comeback since the early 1960's. I had wanted one for sometime, but hadn't gotten the courage to go through with it yet. Several of my friends had one, and my brother also.
I decided I was going to get a haircut, and possibly a flattop one hot July afternoon. I pulled up and parked in front of a barbershop. The place had four barbers, all men. It hadn't changed much since the 70's. Simulated wood paneling on the walls, a waiting area sectioned off in the front of the shop and bright flouresant lights on the ceiling and barbershop wall mirrors.
I walked in with some trepidation and sat down noticing the shop was fairly crowded on this particular afternoon. I picked up a magazine and started thumbing through it as I surveyed what was going on in the barbershop that afternoon. It wasn't long before I heard the word "next" called out. Two others were waiting in the chairs near me. Both gave me a look, like go ahead man. I think one had already gotten a haircut, the other maybe waiting for a specific barber.
I got up and headed to the chair of the barber who had called out "next". He was a big guy, 6 foot tall and heavy set. I'd gotten haircuts from him years before when I was a kid. He didn't remember me or know my name. I sat in the chair and he applied the cape and clip. There was quite a long time before he asked me how I wanted my hair.
Finally the question came, "What are we doing here today," he asked. I want a flattop I said. The words came out fairly confident I thought. A flattop like the 50's he replied, short on the back and sides with a little left on top? Not really thinking it through I said yes.
It wasn't long before the clippers headed towards my head. First up the back at the base of the neck. I felt the clippers bare blade cut right to the skin. I suddenly realized it was going to be shorter than I'd thought. I played back in my head what he'd said. "A flattop like in the 50's, short on the back and sides with a little left on top.
Soon the clippers were exposing my right ear. I saw my light brown somewhat sun bleached hair falling in clumps to my lap. I realized it was going to be short! I soon saw white skin on my head exposed and both ears fully uncovered now. He continued to shave my head way up high on the back and sides now. The guy getting his haircut next to me cringed his nose at me as if to say, too short. I realized I'd made a mistake and it was too late. My hair was completely gone on the back and sides. I should have been more specific and said I wanted a flattop, but not so short.
After sometime the buzzing stopped. The barber took scissors and started cutting away at the hair left on top of my head. Soon there was about an inch left, but not for long. The clippers started up again and he proceeded with a large comb across the top of my head. Shaving and working away at what was left of my hair. I started to think about how my friends and family were going to react to my new haircut. It was the mid 1980's and shorter hair was in style, but I was looking like a Marine recruit at this point.
He had exposed a large patch of skin in the center of my head now. I didn't realize at the time this was a Horseshoe flattop. He preceded to work away, wetting down what little hair was left, then applying something sticky to it. He took his fingers and rubbed it in the half inch or so of hair on the front of my head near my forehead. The rest of the top of the head was nearly skinned, but slightly longer than the back and sides.
Several people in the barbershop were staring at my head by now out of curiosity. I had never had my hair this short before. I could see myself in the mirror, but didn't recognize myself any longer. Face, ears, and white scalped head. I wanted it over, but the buzzing continued. How had I been so dumb I kept telling myself. My hair was a perfect length and girls were complimenting me on it.
Next came the lathered warm shaving cream on the back and sides of the head. It was cut with the razor blade way up to the crown of my head. Skin, bare skin on my head I'd never seen. Finally the cape was loosened and he took the clippers to the base of my neck and finished things off. I was shown my new haircut in the mirror, my only response was,"Wow. that's short!" I proceeded to step out of the chair. As I did I could see him looking over my haircut approvingly. Come back in two weeks he said. In my head I thought are you joking?
In the days that followed I got many various reactions. Are you going to Pendleton? Are you going out for football or something. You really shaved the thing short. Nice haircut! What the heck happened to you. Your ears are sunburned! Everyone had a comment or two. After about a month it started to grow back somewhat. A few friends asked, aren't you going to get another flattop? Your hair is getting awfully long now. Did they really expect me to keep the shaved short flattop? After two months I did head back and got another one just like it. I enjoyed it much more this time, same barbershop, same barber, same flattop. A flattop just like in the 50's short on the back and sides with just a little left on top...



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