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True Haircut Story by MDCOP

It was June of 1990, about a week after school let out. I was 16 years old and like most kids at the time had the skater look with the onset of a slight mullet. It had been probably 8 or so months since my last haircut. That cut was just to tame the mullet I carried over from Jr. High. I hung out in the skater crowd and looked the part to a T. By now my bangs were almost chin length with the sides and back just slightly longer. I used to take an old T-shirt sleeve to use like a headband to keep my hair out of my eyes. I just turned 16 and was going through the process of getting my drivers license. My parents were always totally cool with whatever I did with my hair. They were hippies and had long hair in high school too. My grandfather had a different opinion of course. Every once in a while he would tease me about the headband I wore to keep my hair out of my eyes. He would often say things like why don't you just get a nice summer haircut? You'll be cooler, and sometimes even try to embarrass me by saying 'Why do you want to have hair like a girl?' in front of other people. I didn't care, I knew I was cool and all my friends had similar looks. One Saturday a few weeks later I was driving with my grandfather. I hadn't got my license yet; I only had a permit and had to drive with an adult. It was just a regular day with my grandfather. I drove him around in his Buick to run errands for my grandmother, pick up groceries etc etc. That was until we stopped at Nick's Barbershop. Now this was the last place I wanted to be. I wished I had a ball cap or something on, something to hide my hair from the comments I knew I would have to endure while I waited for my grandfather to get his haircut. Nick ran a traditional shop with himself as the sole proprietor. It was on the main street of town and had a big picture window to look in or out. There were probably about 8 or 10 seats inside with 3 guys ahead of my grandfather. The floor was black and gray linoleum and was kept very clean. There were mirrors on 2 sides of the shop and there were two barber chairs. I assume one would be used for waiting if Nick were busy. When we walked in Nick said hello to my grandfather and said is this the grandson you told me about? I was wondering why my grandfather 'told' the barber about me' I had my suspicions. In the 40+ minutes we waited before it was my grandfather's turn just about all of the patrons had one thing to say about the way 'these kids' are wearing there hair these days. As we waited a few more customers came in and a few more comments flew about my hair. I figured this was supposed to embarrass me to get a 'boy's haircut'. I didn't fold. The gentleman that got in the chair just before my grandfather was probably a cop or military because he already had short hair. To me then, it kind of looked spiked but now I realize it was a grown out flattop. He was a regular patron because the barber knew his name, commented on low long his hair got and said, the usual? The gentleman replied, 'Yes, but take it to the skin this time.' Nick immediately went to work. My grandfather caught me staring at the gentleman who was getting a High and Tight Flattop. He broke my concentration by saying 'You next.' and laughing. I have to admit, I was slightly intrigued but in no way shape or form would I be getting a haircut, especially one that short. Nick finished up the gentleman with the flattop and dusted off the chair. My grandfather stood up and motioned for me to get in the chart. I blew him off with a yeah right or some snotty teenage comment. He started towards the chair and said, 'I'll make it worth your while.' Whatever that meant. So my grandfather proceeded to get his haircut, got up from the chair, looked me in the eye and sat back down. I thought, 'He can't be serious,' 'I don't want a haircut, I don't need a haircut,' but in the back of my mind I couldn't stop thinking about that flattop. I then got up from the chair and headed towards the door and left. We got in the car; my grandfather drove, and headed home. My grandfather seemed a little disappointed when he dropped me off at home. I felt like I let him down in an odd way' but for just not getting a haircut? When I walked in the house my parents looked shocked, like they were expecting me to have had a haircut or something. My dad asked me what we did all day. In the bland teenage way of answering your parents I said 'stuff.' My dad asked 'so what took you so long?' I said, 'Grandpa needed to get a haircut.' My mom said, 'So you went too, right?' I said' Yep.' They both asked ' and you didn't get a haircut?' I answered 'no, why would I.' My dad said, 'Grandpa didn't make you an offer?' I said 'no, what offer' he did say something about making it worth my while though.' My dad said, 'Never mind,' and shrugged his shoulders. Now I wanted to know, so I wouldn't be tricked into getting a haircut in the future. Later that day my mom said, ' I thought you would have cut your hair. Your grandfather said he would buy you a car when you got your license only if you got a haircut, he asked us a few days ago if it would be alright for the car and haircut. Your dad and I agreed. Grandpa told us yesterday that you were going to the barbershop today and he was going to take you car shopping if you got a haircut. We figured that's where you were.' I couldn't believe it. I was beside myself. I had knots in my stomach because this changed everything. A car to a 16 year old is like nothing else but instead of getting teased by old men at a barbershop I'd be teased by my friends' It was about 3:00 pm and the pros weighed out the cons, I would do it. I called my grandfather on the phone and said 'mom said something about a car, it that what you meant at Nick's?' He said, 'Yes, and the offer is still good.' I took a deep breath and said, OK lets go. Grandpa said, 'No, not 'till Tuesday, Nick will be closed by the time we get there. This was awful. I knew I would chicken out or find 100 reasons not to do it. I had to keep motivated, keep busy to pass the time and not chicken out. At least now I could prepare my friends, so maybe I wouldn't have to endure as much ribbing when I finally got my haircut' I then thought, 'wait, grandpa never said how short, I could just get a trim or enough to make him happy and it will grow back in no time' and I really did need a trim.' Monday my dad and I went car shopping. I saw the car that would cost me my hair and it was worth it. It was a Red 1990 VW GTI 16V. It was a demo and it was being offered at a reduced price. We called my grandfather from the dealership and he agreed to the price, but only after I got a haircut. So we wouldn't lose it my dad put a small deposit on the car to hold it. The salesman commented on 'the price of insurance for a 16 year old on such a car' My dad smiled and said 'I'll guess he'll be getting a part time job' Yeah a job to insure the car I can't drive because I'll be working or at school all the time. It was the tiny dark spot at the end of a well-lit tunnel. I'd survive. I couldn't sleep that night. I knew it was coming I was anxious but I knew it wouldn't be short. Grandpa never said I had to get a short haircut, just a haircut. I'll be fine; besides, I'll have a new car!"

Tuesday morning came. My grandfather was at my house at about 7:45. I was just getting out of the shower and getting dressed. I remember putting on my Vans and Vision Street Wear T shirt. My grandfather called upstarts for me and said, “stop fussing with you hair”, I was, and hurry up. Nick opens at 8. I came down got in the car and we headed to Nick’s where I would be getting my haircut. On the ride over my grandfather talked me about my new car that we would go and buy it once we left Nick’s. I think it was to put me at ease because he could see I was nervous. He then started to talk about the car insurance and how my dad said it was going to be expensive. I nodded and said I was going to find a job to help pay for it. My grandfather just nodded. At Nicks. This is it. We went into Nick’s and I took the first seat I could get too. We were the first customers that day so there was it. No waiting or stalling or bluffing or any time to chicken out… I just kept telling myself “you’re getting a GTI.” Nick motioned me to get in the chair. I felt like I was out of my own body. I sat in the chair and felt like I was floating. Nick went into a back room to get a cape. My grandfather said “I got another offer for you.” I tell Nick how to cut your hair and I’ll pay your car insurance until you graduate high school.” This was awesome but not, because I knew it would be shorter than I wanted now. Nick came out with the cape and headed towards me. My grandfather said, “Well, do we have a deal?” I nodded yes as Nick placed a piece of tissue around my neck and buttoned on the cape. I sat looking at myself in the mirrors for what seemed like hours. Nick looked at me and said “what will it be kid?’ I looked at him and motioned to my grandfather sitting in the chair. Nick looked over at my grandfather and he just nodded. Nick took a comb out from a container filled with green fluid and preceded to glide it through my hair, combing my bangs forward, hiding my eyes and taking it out from behind my ears. He then stopped and I saw him reach for the clippers. I almost fainted. I took a deep breath and just sat and waited for it to start. He turned the clippers on, inspected them and turned them off. He then got some oil, put it on the clippers and turned them on again… “Well here it goes,” I thought. He then turned them off and put a #4 attachment on. I had no Idea what this meant. With comb in one hand and clippers in the other Nick approached my hair at the front of my head with the clippers and ran them straight over the top of my head from the forehead all the way back. Mounds of hair fell. I was in shock. I didn’t have time to assess the haircut and wam, another pass on the top of my head. More hair fell on to my lap and I could start to see what I was going to look like in the mirror. Nick kept up the shearing for what seemed like an eternity. He cut all of my hair off with the #4 attachment. I looked at myself in the mirror and thought GTI, GTI… at this point it didn’t matter. Nick was behind me now and put another attachment on the clippers. I thought I was done, wasn’t it short enough. I then noticed that the shop was starting to fill up. I was wondering what everything was thinking? Did they see me with long hair? Before I could conjure up another thought I felt the clippers on my right temple moving up the side of my head. Nick repeated this until he got to the other side of my head. I had even more hair on the cape. I couldn’t stop thinking of the gentleman that was here last Saturday. I now secretly wished that I would be getting THAT haircut. The High and Tight Flattop. Nick continued to cut the hair on the side and back of my head until it was nothing but stubble. He spun me around and faced me towards the shop. Was I done? He lowered the chair a little and got a handful of gel and smothered the top of my head with it. He then got a brush and started to brush it back. He spun me back around and I got a good view of myself. The hair on top of my head was sticking straight up. Nick grabbed my head and took the clippers with no guard and gently cut a path from the front to the back. He took a step back. Assessed his last motion and went to town, clippers over comb on the rest. He turned me around, looked back and forth from the right side to the left side and took one more pass right down the center of my head. He turned me around and there I was… new flattop, skin on the sides. I almost lost my breath I was so nervous. I didn’t look like me? Nick still wasn’t done. He got hot shaving crème and spread it along my hairline. He then took a straight razor and created a faint line around my ears and on my neck. Next he took some tonic and splashed my neck and the freshly shorn sides. He then took a towel and wiped off the excess tonic and lather, followed by a dusting with a powdered brush. Then one more pass with the brush before he removed the cape. My legs were numb. I couldn’t believe it. I liked it. It was so different. It was short. I touched the back of my head and chills went down my spine. I touched the top of my head and just stared at myself in the mirror. Nick said, “ It will, grow on ya,” and laughed. My grandfather said, “Now my grandson looks like my grandson.” He went to pay Nick and he said, “First one’s on the house… he’ll be back.” And I knew someday I would. Well to finish this up. I got the car, got the license. Funny thing is though when I got my license the state I lived in required you to do your road test with a State Trooper. It was the same guy that was in the barbershop getting the High and Tight flattop the first time I was at Nick’s . He got in the car and said “nice haircut, you passed, and chuckled. I did pass though; he went easy on me during the test. I wonder if it had anything to do with the haircut? I kept the haircut up until school started and grew back a shorter skater cut until next summer when I went with my grandfather and got another flattop. He was right, it was cooler.

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