It was the early 1980s and flattops were becoming cool. I admired those boy’s in my high school that had the guts to get one. Somehow inside I wanted a haircut like that but always chickened out at the barbershop. I wasn’t sure if I’d look ok with a flattop. My ears stuck out a little and my hair was usually slighty covering or completely covering them.
It was toward the end of my sophomore year in high school. I was in Spanish class and some boys started talking about haircuts.
“Hey Nathan, why don’t you cut your hair shorter up over your ears?” Ricky asked.
“I don’t don’t know,” I replied.
“It’s not the 70s anymore, you should cut your hair like us, short !” said Jason.
I was surprised to hear that my buddies in Spanish class even noticed my longer hair. I began to feel outta place and realized my longer feathered 70s haircut just wasn’t in any longer.
“I’m getting a flatttop next week!” Ricky exclaimed.
“Nathan you should get one too,” he said.
A flatttop! My heart raced. I did want one, but how? My mom would freak. She loved my straight black hair longer the way it now was. Soon the teacher started instruction and the haircut conversation was over.
All that day and into the night my thoughts were obsessed about cutting my hair. What would it feel like to have a flattop? How would it be to have nothing but stuble on the back and sides of my head? Would my ears stick out too much?
My hair was really too long at the moment and a haircut was definitely needed anyway. I keep toying with the idea of walking into a barbershop and saying, ” I want a flatttop.”
There would be that moment when there was no turning back. Those clippers shearing off my shinny, straight black hair. My ears and scalp exposed. All that hair falling around me!
It was Saturday morning and I asked my mom for some haircut money. She quickly agreed I did need a haircut. I got 15 dollars out of her and headed for a barbershop I’d never gone to. Of course I didn’t mention anything about a flatttop to her.
I was a nervous bundle of a boy as I road my bike to this one barbershop I’d seen at the edge of an old beat up strip mall. I could even feel my knees shaking. I was determined to go through with a flatttop this time. I was that conversation in Spanish class. I knew my long hair was outta place now. I’d tell my mom kids were teasing me that my hair was too long, that’s why I cut it!
I got there and looked in the window of the barbershop. It was early Saturday morning and no customers had arrived yet. This was perfect I thought. I bravely walked in and the eyes of a 40 something barber standing near his chair locked eyes with me. I panicked in fear! I was in and it was too late to leave. Another man, likely another barber sat drinking coffee in one of the waiting chairs.
“Haircut young man?” asked the barber.
“Yes,” I said.
“Well hop in,” he said.
He motioned me over to his chair. I sat down more scared then I remembered ever being. He fixed the cape tightly around my neck.
“What will it be?” he asked.
“A flattop,” I said.
His eyes widened with curiosity.
“Do you want a short traditional flattop, like in the 50s?” he asked.
Not knowing the difference I replied yes with a nod.
“Well, no problem a flatttop, you’re sure?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said.
Right as the clippers turned on fear struck me. Suddenly I panicked and realized what was about to happen. It would be worse than I thought!
It was that first cut into my right temple that told me. I felt the bare bladed clippers dig in. No one had flattops that were skin short yet. A number one or two one the sides were what kids at my high school were getting. I suddenly saw black pieces of hair falling all around me. He had said a traditional flattop. That must have ment really short. I could feel the cool morning air hit my head and ears. I sat helpless and knew I was being sheared like a sheep. The bare blades of the clippers cut way up to the crown of my head. My head was being shaved zero! I didn’t dream this would happen.
“You’re really taking that kid down to the bone, ” said the other barber.
“It will grow fast, he wanted a traditional horseshoe,” said my barber.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I could see my ears stick out and my shaved white scalp! I thought of how kids would react on Monday. What would my mom say?
I sat there helpless as the hair continued to fall off my head fast. I wanted to cry, but didn’t. This was not the longer flattop I had in mind. Suddenly the clippers stopped. The barber reached to the counter for something. I felt my head. I was bald! The sides and back were skinned way up to the brim of my head. I could feel a spraying of water on the top hair on my head. I should have said not so short, but sat obedient. Next snip, snip, snip. He was cutting nearly all that remained on top of my head fast. Next the clippers moved in and took off nearly all the remaining hair. I could tell part of the top of my head had been sheared down to the bone too. On went the blower and it wiped away all little bites of hair around me.
Next came the mirror!
“Take a look,” he said.
I didn’t even recognize myself. A tiny bit of fringe remained sticking up straight on my forehead. Some stubble remained toward the front of my head. I guess this was supposed to be “the flattop.” I was basically bald everywhere else on my head. It was basically me with a skinned head shaved bald I was looking at in the mirror. My ears seemed to stick out more than I remembered once when my hair was cut a little short when I was a kid. I didn’t know what to think. I stood up stunned at what had just happened. I paid and walked to my bike. I was in dread of what to tell people had happened to my hair! My head was shaved! No one had hair this short in 1984.