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Copyright ? 2003 by JC Ramsey, all rights reserved.

We were having a fun summer. My four best friends split our time between swimming at the public pool, then heading out to our baseball games. We were all on different teams, so the competition was interesting. We would often practice on non-game days playing whiffle ball, or just meeting with other guys at the school yard for a pick-up game.

We were so active, and the summer was so hot, that one of the guys got a flattop, and when we saw him, the rest of us decided to go for the same style. Hey, we were all just eleven years old, it was a cool, low maintenance style, and we looked good. In fact, we liked the look so much that when my dad gave me permission to form a ?boys? club and to use our old shed (with the stipulation that we ?fix it up?) as our headquarters, we called our club ?The Flattops?, and we painted a sign to that effect and put it on the front of the shed.

Now, things went along well for a couple of weeks. We would spend a couple of hours every day doing things to the shed, painting, repairing, making our own furniture, cleaning, etc. It was a lot of fun for us, and it kept us out of trouble. Until, that is, the day that my next door neighbor wandered into the yard and saw our club house.

We were inside cleaning and building a table when we heard a knock on the door.

?Hey, who is it?? Doug asked.

?It?s Amanda,? said a loud voice.

We all looked at each other and rolled our eyes.

?What do you want?? asked Jim.

?I want to come in and see your club house.?

?This is a boys club,? I said. ?Girls are not welcome.?

?What? You can?t say that!? she hollered.

?Why not?? yelled back Stuart.

?Because that?s discrimination, and you are not allowed to do that.?

I could read Stuart?s lips as he silently said ?What?s dis-crim-i-nation??

I walked to the door and opened it.

?O.K., Amanda, here is our club house. We are building some furniture and having a good time. Is that O.K. with you??I watched as her eyes darted around, taking in the crude chairs, the tools, a large trash can full of junk, and the various personal effects of the guys that were now being stored here.

?Is this all there is to it??

?What did you expect? This is just a place for us to hang out, talk about sports, and, uh, well, do whatever we want to do. We might bring a TV in if my dad can help us with an antenna. See, we already have a radio.?

?Well, I don?t need to stay in a hot old shed to listen to the radio. I?ll go to my room.?

?So, you want to stay and help us finish our table?? I said with a twinkle in my eye, and I could hear the muffled snickers behind me.

?No, thank you, I just did my nails, so I?ll go back home.?

With that, she turned around and strode back to her patio and was inside.

We all agreed that was a close call. We never knew what Amanda was going to do next. But, we found out soon enough. The following week, she appeared again at the door.

After exchanging the usual pleasantries of what she wanted, she said, ?I want to become a member of your club.?

?Amanda, we told you, this is a boys club. Girls are not allowed to be members.?

?Doesn?t matter what you want, if you have a club, then you have to allow anyone who wants to be a member to join.?

?No we don?t? said Stuart.

?Yes you do, because you cannot discriminate due to gender.?

?Gender? What are you talking about??

?Gender means if you are a boy or a girl. If you have a club, then you cannot limit the membership to just boys or girls.?

?Oh yeah?? sneered Stan. ?What about the Girl Scouts? Should I go join the Girl Scouts??

?That?s different, because the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts exist for the same reason. They are separate but equal.?We began looking at each other helplessly. Now what?

?So, if you become a member, what are going to do??

?Nothing. I just want to be a member??

?So, if we said that you have to play ball, or swim or build furniture, you won?t do any of those things??

?Oh, I might go swimming, but not at your ugly old pool.?

?But Amanda, the whole idea of a club is to join so you can do stuff together.?

?I don?t care, I want to join, and you have to let me join.?

?O.K., then, we are going to take a vote. Give us a minute.? I turned and closed the door. We discussed it for about 30 seconds. I opened the door.

?We have voted not to allow you become a member, because you are not a boy, and this is a boys club only.?

Well, needless to say, Amanda was not happy. She strode back home again, and we, thankfully, did not see her again for another week.

Then there was that familiar knock on the door. After our usual greetings, she came right to her point.

?Randy, you must let me join your club, or I?m going to tell my father, and he will make you take me in. You do know what my father does.?

?Yes Amanda, I know what your father does.? In fact, her father was the local city attorney, and that?s why she, as an only child, was so smart about these things. Now what? Do we send her off again, mad as a hornet, to report to her dad that his neighbor?s son would not let his daughter join the boys? club? We talked about rules, about stuff she needed to do to a member, or dues, or some type of test, like running an obstacle course. Then, inspiration hit me. Amanda was a year older than the rest of us. She?s a girl, she?s into looking good, and she?s starting junior high next year. The solution was all in our club name.

?O.K., Amanda, we have decided to let you become a member, but you have to do one thing that is required by the name of the club.?

?And that is?? she asked, innocently, confident that she could do whatever was required.

?You have to have a flattop!? I hollered, then all of us, grinning from ear to ear, began howling at the thought of Amanda Benson with a flattop.

Amanda was ready to cry. She knew we had her. She knew she would never have the guts to walk into a shop and get her hair cut into a flattop. It was all over for her. Yet?.

?O.K. If that?s what you want, then that?s what it will be. But I want to join right now, and I want you to do the flattop right now, or I?m automatically in because you failed to do what you said,? she said, looking sternly at me.

?Me? You want me to cut off your hair and give you a flattop? You want me to spend the rest of my life in jail? No way, Amanda!?

?All right, then this is what I?ll do. I?ll put it in writing. I agree to join the, the, The Flattop Club, on condition that the members of the club will give me a flattop, and that I am doing this freely as a condition of membership.?

Now, she had us. If we declined to do the flattop, then we had to take her in as a member anyway. She had won. She called our bluff. Was it better to have her as a member of our club as she was, or would it be better to continue to try to bluff her? What would happen if we actually cut off her hair? But as I pondered that thought, and as I looked at the long twin ponytails, I began to think, why not? Wouldn?t it be fun to cut off her hair? Hadn?t I thought about that a few times, if not for Amanda, a couple of other girls? What would it be like to see her hair on the floor of our clubhouse?

I turned to Stuart, who was our club secretary. ?Stu, could you get Amanda a pen and piece of paper? While she is writing her agreement to join our club, I?m going to get my dad?s barber kit.?

The guys were horrified.

?Randy, you can?t be serious? We will all be killed if we cut off her hair!?

?Ron, we are going to see this through. When she knows we are serious about this, she will chicken out. Trust me, she is not going to let a bunch of boys cut off her hair.?

?I hope you?re right,? said Doug, with doubt in his voice. ?I don?t think Amanda has ever chickened out on anything she said she would do.?

?O.K., Amanda, come in and sit down at the table, and you can write out your agreement.?

She hesitated for a moment, then she walked in to the shed and sat down at the first chair at our ?conference table.? Stu was already there with a yellow legal pad, and she took the pad and the offered pen and began to write out her ?membership agreement.? While she was doing that, I signaled to the guys, and I was off to my house. I quickly got to the back door, then I raced upstairs to my mom and dad?s bathroom, opened the cabinet beneath the double vanity sink, and there was the object of my search?a Wahl deluxe haircutting kit. It had colored guides for different lengths of hair. My mom used it on my dad to trim his neck and around his ears between haircuts, and my dad used it on my mom to shave her neck. Dad had also used it on my flattop a couple of times. I made sure that the scissors and instructions were in the kit, and then headed to my bathroom for my butch wax, and then back downstairs. By the time I got back, Amanda had finished her writing, had signed the agreement, left five lines for each of us to sign, and mine was the last signature. I put the kit down on the table for Amanda to see, watched her for a reaction, got none, then I picked up the pen and signed my name.

There was total silence in the shed. I waited for what seemed like an eternity. Amanda broke the silence.

?Well, Randy, everyone has signed the paper. I?m ready for my flattop.? She said it so matter-of-factly I couldn?t believe it. The guys all looked at me, eyes big, a couple of them ready to bolt for the door so they wouldn?t be a part of this activity.

I looked over at the radio to judge how far I would be from the electric socket for the clippers. I would have to have her move.

?O.K., Amanda, if you could move over to this side of the table, yes over to this chair, we?ll start.?

She got up slowly and switched to the chair I had pointed to. As she was doing that I opened the box and pulled out the instructions. I turned to the section on ?Flattop? and began to read the instructions. If referred me back to the general haircutting section, and there I read that if giving someone a short haircut with clippers, it was recommended to cut off the long hair, or bulk, with scissors before using the clippers. It also said that the hair should be combed out first, in the style usually worn by the customer, then cutting could begin. Once the bulk was removed, then the clippers could be used for the flattop.

While I was reading the instructions, Jim had walked over behind Amanda and had pick up one of her ponytails. He pulled it behind her, then proceeded to lift it up so that everyone could see how long it was. He held it aloft with one hand and stroked through the thick brown hair with his other hand.

?Amanda, this is certainly very nice hair, much nicer than my sister?s hair. Are you sure you want to cut off your hair??

?Yes, I?m sure. Just hurry up,? she said, shaking her head a bit to see if Jim still was holding the ponytail.

Hmm, I thought, maybe if we play with her hair a bit she?ll think again.

?Hey Randy, what do you think about just cutting off the ponytails and then doing the flattop?? Jim asked. While saying this he reached forward and grabbed the other ponytail, pulling it behind her, and now holding both of them in his hands.

?The instructions say we should cut off as much of the bulk as possible before we do the flattop. I think I?d rather just cut her hair as short as possible before we start with the clippers.?

?Oh, I just thought it would be nice to hang these ponytails on the wall of the clubhouse.?

?Now, wait a minute,? Amanda said, turning to look back at Jim and pulling her hair out of his hands. ?This is my hair, and I?m keeping it. You can cut it off any way you want to, but it?s mine. I?m not going to have my hair hanging in your stupid clubhouse like some trophy.? She turned back after glaring at Jim, and began to stare outside again. Jim walked back to the other side of the table saying, ?O.K., O.K., Amanda, it was just an idea.?

I noticed that there was a cape in the box, so I removed the cape and said to Doug, ?Doug, can you lift up her ponytails while I put this cape on??

?Um, me, um, you want me to, uh, lift up her, uh, hair??

?Yeah, Doug, just take her ponytails and hold them up while I put this cape on.?

Reluctantly, poor Doug moved from in front of her and stepped to the other side of the table. Standing just off to her left and in front, he slowly reached out with each hand and took hold of each long ponytail. Acting as if they were snakes ready to bite, he lifted them up until they were clear of her neck line. Moving behind her, I shook out the cape, making it snap, and encircled her neck with it, then pulled it together at the back of neck and snapped it closed.

?O.K., here, I?ll take her hair,? I said to Doug. One at a time, I took a ponytail from Doug and pulled it back toward me, letting it drop behind her. Her hair was very long, almost to her hips. During this whole process, she still had not uttered a word. I began removing the elastic from her right ponytail, holding her hair right behind her ear with one hand while I moved the elastic down the length of hair. In a minute it was off and half of her hair was free. I did the same with the other elastic, and after raking her hair with my fingers a couple of times, all of her hair was loose, spread out behind her, covering the cape and the back of the chair as if it were a carpet.

I stepped back to the table, placed the elastics there, and then picked up the big comb from the kit. Stepping back behind her, I put the comb in her hair at the crown and began to draw it down. Just about at her neck, it caught on a tangle and she yelled ?Ouch?.

?All right, Randy, if you?re going to comb my hair, do it right. Start at the bottom and work your way up,? she said, firmly. ?I?m not going to be tortured to death before you cut off my hair.?

Even now, she was still barking orders! I couldn?t reach the bottom of her hair by just leaning over, so I knelt behind her, and began to slowly work the comb through her long hair, going from side to side until it was smooth, then going up a few inches and repeating the process. This was fun, her hair was very thick, yet it was soft. I enjoyed letting my fingers slide through her hair just behind the comb. Boy, if I had known playing with girls hair was this much fun, I would have started a long time ago!

After a few minutes of combing, I was at the top of her head, and with a few more strokes her hair was smoothly combed from top to bottom. It was a beautiful head of hair. I truly did not think that she would allow her hair to be cut off just to join our club.

I checked the instructions again. Her hair was loose, combed, and ready to be cut off. I stepped back to the table, and making a bit of noise, rooted around in the kit to find the scissors. Pulling them out slowly, so Amanda could see them clearly, I slid the comb into my pocket and turned to look at her, holding the scissors in my right hand.

Her face was impassive. She refused to look at me. I had to give it one more try for the guys, just in case.

?I?m ready to start cutting off your hair, Amanda. All of your long hair,? I said, emphasizing the ?all?. ?If you want me to stop, just say so, and we?ll tear up the agreement.?

She looked up at me, then at the guys who were all either sitting or standing around the table, looking at her and at me.

?I signed the agreement, I want to be a member of this club, even if it costs me my hair. It will grow back. Just one thing.? She looked at me again. ?I don?t know how you are planning to cut my hair, but I want to save it. Can you just lay it on the table as you cut it? I don?t want it on the floor.?

?No problem, Amanda.? Wow! So brazen! So crazy! Well, if she wanted a haircut, she was going to get a haircut!

?Guys, we are all going to participate in this haircut. I?ll do the flattop, but all of you have to cut off some of this length. We all are members of this club, so we all have to welcome our new member. Everybody agreed??

Ron looked like he had seen a ghost; Doug took a step back from the table at the thought of cutting off some of the hair he had just been holding. Stuart seemed to be O.K., and Jim was smiling, obviously looking forward to his turn with the scissors. They all shook their heads, and so the die was cast.

Still standing in front of Amanda, I reached forward to her hairline and separated a section of hair on the left side of her part. I pulled it forward a little bit, then transferred it to my left hand while I used my right hand to keep it separate it from the rest of her hair. In a minute I had a long lock of hair in my left hand, the end resting in her lap. I pulled it up, and then turned to address the guys.

?O.K., guys, notice as you cut her hair, you have to leave at least two inches so we can do the flattop. Understand, cut off each piece about two inches from her head.?

As I said those words, I heard Amanda give a small gulp and watched a shiver go down her left arm, the side I was standing on. Too late for you now, I thought. I clicked the scissors a few times as I raised them to her head. I opened the blades, placed the shiny steel around the lock of hair I was holding, pulled it just a little, waited for a moment, then making sure I was two inches away from her scalp, slowly closed the blades. I head a sound like nothing I had ever heard before. I thought I could cut the lock off in one snip, but the scissors pulled away from the hair. I opened the blades again and cut again, this time using more leverage, and I was almost through. One more time, and the lock was severed. Wow! What an experience that was! Now, I was holding this first of many locks of her hair that we would shear off, and I watched as the two inches of hair remaining fell over as if dead. I turned from her and lifted the long piece of hair up and laid it gently on the table. It was too long for all of it to rest on the table, about six inches dangling off the side. It must have been about 30 inches long. All of the guys had goggle eyes as they watched the long tress of hair come to rest on the table.

As I turned back to Amanda, I heard a slight sniff as she too focused on that first lock of hair. I was not going to give her any rest, although if she stopped now we could have cut some decent bangs for her. I reached back up to her hairline, separated another lock just behind the first one, and repeated the process of pulling it up, then making sure it had no other hair attached to it, and then the scissors began cutting again. Another lock was placed quickly on the table. I cut off another three locks, and then turned to look at the guys, noting that Amanda had lost all the color in her face.

?Who?s next??

Jim was already on the move. He came over to stand at Amanda?s right side, took the offered the scissors, and immediately started working on the lock of hair opposite the first one I had cut off. In a minute or so, he was cutting through another lock, and the pile of her hair being placed on the table began to grow. Jim cut off about seven locks before I gave him a sign. He would have cut off all her hair if I had not stopped him. I have to give Amanda credit, she was taking this all without a peep and also staying perfectly still.

Next up was Stuart. He started cutting off the hair on the right side below where Jim had been working. After three cuts her right ear was exposed for all to see. Three more cuts and the entire right side of her head now had two inch long clumps of hair. Stuart gave up the scissors to a still unsure Doug. He came over to my side, and I helped him separate out the first lock of hair, making sure that it was a complete lock. I showed him how to hold the hair as he cut it, and helped him place the blades of the scissors to cut off the right length. After four cuts, he was doing well, and he completed the removal of the hair on the left side of her head.

Now it was Ron, who was really tempted to just leave, but after seeing Doug begin to cut off the long hair with some confidence, he was ready. We gave him a long lock at the crown to start with, and after some fumbling around, he had the lock in hand and swiftly cut it off, giving it to me to place on the pile. He removed all the hair from her crown, from ear to ear, so that now she just had long hair in back. When Ron had had enough, I offered the scissors to Jim once again, and he moved quickly to step behind her. After taking the scissors from me, in five minutes he had cut off the rest of her long hair, and now Amanda, her long, golden brown hair lying on the table, sat before us with a head full of chopped off brown hair. I had watched the guys wince every time that Jim cut through another lock of her hair, listening to the sound of the scissors slicing through the thick hair.

I consulted the instructions again. It was suggested that the hair now be cut off using the clippers and the largest guide in the kit. In this kit, that would be the #8 guide. These clippers had an adjustment that would allow a little less to be cut off. I noticed that the instructions said to use the comb to do the flattop. Not sure how long her hair should be for the flattop, I decided to go ahead and use the comb with the clippers set for maximum length without a guide. Jim had already pulled the clippers out of the box and plugged them in. I used the big comb in my pocket to run through Amanda?s hair from front to back a couple of times, trying to gauge how much I should cut off. I figured I could always cut off a little more if it came out too long.

I nodded my head at Jim, he handed me the clippers, and in a moment the shed was filled with a buzzing sound. I placed the comb on her forehead, pulled it back level until I could see her hairline on the other side of the comb, then I ran the clippers across the comb. Little balls of hair fell from the comb and onto her shoulder, rolling down into her lap. Holding the comb steady, I pulled back another inch, and ran the clippers over the comb again, taking off more hair. I continued the process until I was at her crown, then stopped to check my work. It looked like her hair was now a little over an inch long, but it was all uniform in length. Good job, just a nice flat strip down the middle. Now, I focused on picking up the hair on the right side of the first strip, and cutting it to the same length as the middle, repeating for the left side. Now the center was done, but I would need a little help for the sides. I got some water and combed it into her hair on top, particularly the sides, and made sure that I could comb up her damp hair. It worked like a charm, and in two minutes, I had the flattop portion basically done. It looked good, too, just like one of ours.

I shut off the clippers and got my butch wax, putting some in my hands and then running my hands through her hair. Wow, this was really fun, and I got the sensation that she was enjoying the process, too. Instead of the groans that I had heard while the other guys were cutting off her long hair, she was now giving out an occasional sigh, as if she liked having her hair played with. I was careful to separate the flattop portion from the rest of her hair that still had to be cut short. I gave Jim the eye, handed him the clippers, and suggested that he started with a #4 guide. I stepped back and he stepped right in, putting his left hand on the flattop, pushing her head forward, and starting the clippers at the nape of her neck. He wasted no time, running them up to her crown, then from center to right, then from center to left, all the while 2 inch chunks of brown hair were falling on the cape and slipping onto her lap or the floor of the shed. Once the back was done, he moved to the right side, pushed her ear forward, and began running the clippers around her ear, and over the right side of her head, repeating for the left side. For her part, Amanda was a real trooper, allowing her head to be positioned with just the least amount of effort. She willingly let her neck behave like it was made from rubber so Jim could have a clear path for the clippers.

When he was finished, we both looked at her hair, the flattop and the rest of it, and we thought that for a girl it looked pretty good. We took off the guide and I had him do some blending on the sides and around the back, and that portion was all finished. Then I took the clippers and outlined the nape, then shaved her neck. Shaving her neck was really fun, and for the first time in my life I got really excited doing something to a girl. What a sensation it was to run my fingertips over her smooth skin, then hit the velvety soft nape. Wow! Finally I used the scissors to cut a clean line around both ears, and we were done.

It wasn?t a barbershop flattop, but it was pretty good for a few guys who had never done something like this in their lives. Amanda was silent as I took off the cape, watching the rest of her hair tumble to the floor, and then she raised her hands to her head to feel her new haircut for the first time. The seconds became a minute, then another minute.

?Wow, this feels so great! I am so glad to get rid of that nasty long hair, it has been so hot, and I have been sweating so much. Thank you, all of you, for my new haircut!?

?Well, you?re welcome, and I guess we can all say, welcome to The Flattop Club!?

She got up, shook hands with all of us, gathered up her hair and her membership agreement from the table and skipped lightly over to her home. We all had ball games that evening, so we expected to be in deep trouble as soon as we hit our homes. We agreed to enjoy the remaining few hours of freedom that we expected to have. I cleaned up the Wahl kit, got a plastic bag and put all of the remaining hair that had been clippered off into it, and Jim took it home with him. As Jim left, he wondered, since we both had had so much fun cutting off her hair, if maybe we should pass the word around to other girls in the neighborhood. With Amanda as our first model, we could get somewhere with this.

After the game, I rode home on my bicycle. My parents were at the game, but I saw no sign that they thought anything was wrong. I parked my bike in the garage, shut the door, and after taking off my shoes, walked into the family room. My mom saw me and immediately spoke to me.

?Randy, I just got the strangest call from Mrs. Benson.?

?Um, you mean, Amanda?s mom??

?Yes, that?s right. She said that she wants to know if you would be willing to come over to her house tomorrow and talk about Amanda?s new haircut.?

?What? Amanda?s new haircut??

?Yes, she said that Amanda had joined a new club today and had come home with a great new haircut, and Amanda said that you had something to do with it.?

?Oh, yeah, I guess we did know about her haircut. I just didn?t think she would go through with it.?

?Really? What kind of haircut did Amanda get??

?Well, uh, hmm, I think she got a flattop.?

?What? A flattop? Amanda cut off all that beautiful hair? Why? What?s wrong with that girl?

?She said something about it being so hot this summer, and she was thinking about cutting it short.?

?It has been hot. But, my, my all that lovely hair. And a flattop.?

I turned to sit down, and as I did Mom sat across from me.

?You know, Randy, Mrs. Benson said a little more about this than I shared with you.?

?Oh?? Oh, no, here it comes. I?m going to jail for sure.

?Yes, in fact, she said that she would be very grateful if you could come to her house tomorrow and give her a haircut.?

That comment went right by me. I didn?t say a word.

?Randy, did you hear what I said??

?Well, yeah, I mean yes, Mom. But me? I mean, me give Mrs. Benson a haircut??

?That?s what she said. You want to tell me what happened today?? I looked at my Mom and I saw laughing eyes in the stern face.

?O.K. Mom, Amanda started bugging us about joining our club. She said that if we didn?t let her join, she would tell her dad, and he would make us take her into the club. So I suggested, after talking with the guys, that we could scare her off by saying that we would accept her as a member if she got a flattop.?

?And??

?And it didn?t scare her at all. I mean, she insisted that we cut off her hair and give her a flattop right then and there. She didn?t want to wait to go to a barber shop. So, we cut off her hair gave her a flattop in the shed today.?

?Randy! I don?t believe it!?

?We did Mom, and she said it was O.K., she signed an agreement, and I gave her every opportunity to get out of it, but she insisted, and so we did what she asked, but I really didn?t think she would let us cut off her hair.?

There was silence for a minute or so.

?So, how did the flattop look on her??

?Well, actually, I think it looked pretty good, and she said she liked it, but I haven?t talked to her since we did it.?

?That?s what Mrs. Benson said, that Amanda likes the haircut. You guys must have done a really good job.?

?Well, we all took turns cutting off her long hair, then Jim and I did the flattop.?

?Do you know what Mrs. Benson wants??

?No, what??

?She wants a flattop just like Amanda?s.? Are you up to doing this??

?Can I get Jim to help me??

?Sure, and she?s expecting you at 10 AM tomorrow.?

I immediately called Jim.

?Jim, guess what? We have another lady who wants to join our club tomorrow. You want to help me do another flattop??

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