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Fourth Time's The Charm by Tim

All my life I've been fascinated with a flattop haircut. I always wanted to know what I would look like in one, and to feel the hair on top standing straight up and flat. Having the guts to ask for one is another thing altogether, and something I just never seemed to muster the courage to do

. I didn't think I wanted one for good, just one for an hour, or a day. THE FIRST TIME: The first time I tried having one really wasn't a very good try. It was about a year out of college. I was living on my own and ready for a haircut the next day anyway. I was bored that night, and took out the clippers I used to trim my beard.

My dark brown hair at the time covered about 1/2 of my ears and easily fell into my eyes when combed forward. I took a shower trying to get some courage, and then used my blow dryer while bending over to dry my hair so it stood straight up, or at least tried to. Then I plastered it with hairspray to stay that way, and looked in the mirror.

My hair was trying to stand up but it's length, about 5-6 inches long on top, wouldn't really let it. Plus the natural wave I had in my hair didn't make it look too straight. I don't know what possessed me but, shaking all the time, I took those clippers and proceeded to cut several inches off so it all looked flat across the top.

It was kind of fun I must admit, and when finished I plastered it with more hairspray so it wouldn't move and just enjoyed patting the top, feeling a level surface. In no way would you call it a flattop because it was still 4-5 inches long on top, but at the time it was a start. I went to sleep with this strange style, and the next day showered, brushed it all straight back and went to the local Supercuts to get my normal style, just a bit shorter than usual. Still the seed inside me was planted and growing.

THE SECOND TIME: My next try was about 1 1/2 years later. It was during Halloween and a group of us were going as a 50's singing group. I had let my monthly haircut go for several months in case I needed longer hair for the occasion, and had an appointment for the afternoon before the costume contest. Of course at the time my regular cut was getting a bit shorter, so now it was down to the top of my ears, the collar in back, and just long enough to cover my eyebrows in front.

Originally I had planned for a big Elvis type pompadour, but as I sat in the chair a notion came over me. The pretty stylist asked what I wanted as she towel dried my hair, still dripping from the shampoo. Her own blonde hair was dramatically done up like the Bride of Frankenstein, as everyone in the shop was in costume. "I was wondering, for a costume party tonight, if you could cut my hair so it gave the illusion of a flattop.

I still want it long enough to comb back and no scalp showing, but for one night standing up straight and flat." She ran her hand through my hair and nodded. "I think I could do that." "You won't have to cut too much off will you?" She lifted my hair up on the sides, back and top, showing how much she would be taking off. It was going to be a little shorter than usual but not as much as I feared. "OK, let's go for it." I had seen people get flattops before and was ready for the roar of clippers, but she did it all with scissors which actually made me feel much more at ease. Plus I could watch her all the time in the mirror. She cut the sides and back first. It didn't even look like she cut as much as she said she would. Then she stepped behind me and drew my bangs straight up, and cut them from left to right.

They were definitely shorter but not too bad. However since they were shorter now my natural wave started turning into a natural curl. I wondered how she would get them to stand up. She didn't seem concerned as she worked her way back across the top. When done she checked her work with a comb, drawing the hair straight up, clipping a few stray hairs from time to time. I was getting very excited about seeing this new look on me. It wouldn't be a real flattop but would be close enough for one night, and tomorrow no one would be the wiser.

Perfect! She used a super strong product called Ice Gel in my hair, and combined with her skill and the blowdryer she managed to get my hair to stand straight up. The sides she combed up and back tight to my head so they seemed shorter and made my head look boxier. A thick layer of hairspray ended the look, and while I didn't appear like I had been shorn I certainly looked different. I touched the top and thrilled at the spiky yet flat sensation of the hair.

The Halloween party was great and I freaked out my friends who thought I had been butchered. I began to get a bit worried the next morning in the shower as I washed my hair wondering if it would go back in the style I normally wore. It took a bit of gel to cooperate but it did and the new shorter length was hardly noticeable. In fact I liked the new length better.

On my way home from work that day I bought a tube of Ice Gel and learned to make my hair stand up straight. I didn't wear it that way in public, but did on occasion at home in private. I measured how long the hair was. It was 3 inches on the top and 1 1/2 on the sides. This was good to know in case I ever wanted this style cut again, and I felt pretty sure that I did. THE

THIRD TIME: About that time I got a new girlfriend who liked long hair on guys so I obliged her. That lasted for almost a year until we broke up. I sort of liked the long hair so I just let it go. Then I moved to another state for a job promotion. It was time for another haircut and the desire for the flattop returned. I went to a local barber shop recommended to me by my new boss. The lady barber asked me what I wanted and I told her I wanted the long illusion flattop 3 inches on top and 1 1/2 on the sides.

She ran her hands through my waves and shook her head, saying my hair was too curly for that and she would need to go down to the scalp for a flattop. Now that I didn't want but didn't want to argue with her either, so I just got my old normal trim done again, to the top of the ears and just above the collar in back with long bangs combed back. She did a fine job and I left.

THE FOURTH TIME: On occasion I would take out the tube of Ice Gel and make my hair go straight and stand up. It was no longer cut for a flattop and I missed that option. In fact it was now so long it hardly stood up at all. I decided the next day to visit another shop and get that long flattop illusion back. Before leaving the house I used the gel to make my hair perfectly straight all over.

That way the barber wouldn't be able to say it wasn't possible. After straightening it I combed it all back only to note how stupid and unnatural it looked. So I quickly parted it on the side and brushed it over from left to right. This didn't look like me either, but made my straight hair look much more natural.

Rather than go to the same barber shop as before, I opted for another one closer to my apartment. There were three barbers working and only a short wait. None of the barbers seemed to rush and all did very nice work. In minutes it was my turn on the chair with the owner of the shop, Jerry, as my barber. "What would you like today? Just a trim?" "No, I used to have my hair in an extremely long flattop, that was 3 inches long on top, and 1 1/2 inches on the sides and back.

Do you think you can do that for me?" Jerry let out a bit of a chuckle and quickly ran his comb across my hair on top. "I don't see any problem with that. I don't know about it being that long but I'll see what I can do." That statement should have concerned me right there but for some reason it didn't. Jerry quickly draped the cape around me, and fastened it tight. He spun the chair so it faced a small mirror on the opposite wall. At least I'd get to watch the cut. My heart was beating a bit in eager anticipation of getting the look back again. The roar of his clippers came to life.

This didn't concern me at all, as I had been in many barber shops and they all used clippers rather than scissors. Jerry stepped behind me and pushed my head forward to start on the back. He quickly used his comb to lift my hair and ran the clippers over them, starting at the base and working his way up and up.

Although I couldn't see what he was doing, I felt assured by the feel of the comb lifting my hair first that he wasn't cutting it too short. Still, he made two complete passes from bottom to top, and each time it seemed like a fair amount of hair fell off. Then he stepped to my left side and started in working from the front to the back. I found it interesting that he didn't bother combing my top hair back, but just left it with the side part. I guess he would deal with the top soon enough.

Jerry still used the comb to lift the hair prior to cutting, but I could see now exactly how much he was taking off. It seemed like more being cut than the last time several Halloweens ago, but not so much as to alarm me. He worked very quickly and soon my left side was fairly short, but still long enough to brush if I wished. It looked fairly strange when compared to the long section parted off and combed over towards the right side.

Then Jerry was quickly starting in on my right side, again ignoring the fact it was parted. It was hard to tell how much he was cutting, because he made several short cuts on each section of hair rather than one severe cut. Soon it matched the left side and all that was left was the top. It was obvious already that my hair was a bit shorter than I had asked, though without touching it I couldn't tell how short. It didn't look bad though, so I didn't say anything.

Much to my surprise Jerry turned the chair 90 degrees prior to cutting the top. Now I couldn't see my reflection anywhere. I don't know why I was so trusting but again I said nothing. He walked behind me and lifted the bangs up with his comb and ran across them with the clippers.

A fairly long section fell in front past my eyes, but I couldn't look down to see how long. For the first time I was a little concerned that he wasn't following my directions to the letter. He worked his way steadily back, lifting and clipping.

Finally he got to the back of my head. I rested easier now. Then he brought his comb to the front again and made a second pass, even shorter. I didn't see any hairs falling this time, but could tell he had gone shorter than instructed. In no time at all he had worked his way to the back. Then he came forward for a third run! More hair fell, yet he seemed to take more time this pass, making sure all was very precise. "Do you like your flattop real flat?" This seemed a strange question.

Of course I wanted my flattop flat. "Yes, I do." With that he made another pass, a fourth pass. It happened so quickly I had no time to say anything and even if I did what good would it do? I knew it was too short this time, as I felt the comb laying directly against my scalp as the clippers ran over them.

After countless runs over the comb he began blending in the sides with the top. I could feel the comb flat against the sides of my head as the clippers did their work. "Do you mind if I use some hairspray?" "Not at all. I like it standing up real stiff." With that Jerry brushed off all the stray hairs and applied a liberal amount of spray to keep the finished look. "OK, let's see if that is short enough for you." He slowly turned the chair so it faced the big mirror by his tools. It was immediately obvious Jerry did not follow my directions. He hadn't given me a short, military flattop, but he had given me a definite one.

The sides were just long enough so that my scalp didn't show, but was maybe 1/2 inch long. The top was a very erect and stiff flattop. I figured it was about one inch long at most. I tilted my head down and could see that at it's shortest my scalp was just visible on top. He showed me the back, and it was also too short.

In fact at the neckline my scalp was just visible, and it got just a bit longer as it approached the crown. Inside I was at first stunned that I really had this cut now. Then I felt angry at him for not following directions. Then I was sort of relieved that at long last I had the cut I desired for so long. As I looked in the mirror I already loved the look on me.

Could he read my mind that I actually wanted this look, just lacked the courage to ask? After paying and leaving the shop my hands immediately went to my head. It didn't even feel like my hair. It was so short, yet so stiff on top and the flattop felt like heaven. My scalp was alive when I touched it, free from all the hair that had covered it.

As I drove home I almost crashed several times as I was always gazing at my reflection in the mirror. Once home I headed right for the bathroom and just looked and touched it from all sides. The magic question was, could I still comb it back and disguise to everyone that I had a flattop. I'd discover that answer in the morning.

The shower the next morning was very odd as I wasn't used to having so little hair. It was almost totally dry by the time I finished patting it with a towel. It went right back to the flattop style, standing straight up. Only today it looked even shorter since it hadn't been blown dry first. It looked only 1/2 inch long on top and even shorter on the sides.

I used some gel and my blow dryer trying to get it to lay down and back. It wouldn't. It was too short. I spent a fair amount of time trying but it wouldn't. I had a flattop and that was that. Finally, I had a flattop.

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