Home » Location » Barbershop » My Wife’s Worst Barber (Part 4 Her High-n-Tight Fl

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This story is not about my wife’s first flattop with the old barber. She had had several of his crudely done cuts in the past, but this one was no doubt the worst he ever gave her.

My wife’s hair was dyed in a shade of medium brown. It had been cut for the past few months in an SB&S by the old guy. We’d had the sides & back clipped rather severely short and let the top grow quite long for an interesting little boy look. But we discussed a radical change to which she had agreed for certain considerations. I wanted to return to a high-&-tight Flattop for a while.

My wife always hated this haircut. It meant wearing her wig over top of the bald sides & this often irritated her scalp. She admitted that having her head clipped bare was kind of stimulating, but she hated having the old guy razor-shave her clean. His equipment wasn’t the best & he nicked her once in the past. He was slow and if he didn’t use a fresh blade, she felt it rough being shaved.

Nevertheless, the agreement was reached and I visited her barber in advance of her haircut to make it clear what I wanted.

Despite what many haircutting sites claim (almost all of them), a flattop is not a flattop unless the top is flat. That’s not terribly profound. If the top is rounded on the sides, it’s a brushcut. If the center hair is the same length as the hair on the edges of her head, it’s a brushcut. If there is no straight line across the top of her head, it’s a brushcut. What does it take to get experienced hair people to recognize this simple concept?

A Flattop will have much shorter hair in the center of her head if it’s going to be flat. That’s the area referred to as a “landing strip”. A perfect landing strip will be the shortest hair on her head and will visibly show a white strip of her scalp showing through. In order to be flat on top, the hair towards the sides of the top will be longer giving it almost a boxy look. In short, a Flattop is flat and has a good landing strip. Almost every haircutting site on the internet pawns off brushcuts as “flattops”. They need to work on this.

Armed with some pictures, I approached her barber. The photos clearly demonstrated perfect Flattops complete with definite white landing strips down the center.

“I want you to cut my wife’s hair like this,” I said. “Be sure to cut it very short on top but extremely flat.” By putting an edge of another picture across the top of the model’s hair, I was able to show him that the hair on the model was perfectly flat. “I want to see the short strip on the center of her head.” I told him.

By now I was quite sure he had got it. He was nodding and with his finger drew the straight line across the top of the head in the picture.

“Straight like this,” he said.

“Yes, and I want you to clean-shave her back and sides all the way to the top with lather and straight razor.”

“She wants it completely shaved again?” he asked. He had clean-shaved her sides and back on several previous occasions so this wasn’t going to be new for him.

“Yes, and be sure to use a new razor blade. A good sharp one.”

Satisfied he was well informed about what I wanted, I left his shop. He knew I’d bring her in late in the afternoon just before closing time as I always did.

We entered the barbershop about 5:45. It was already dusk and the barber was just finishing hanging the security boards over the outside of his windows. In the shop he took his position behind the chair as my wife stepped up into it. I could tell she was feeling apprehensive about this next haircut. I knew she would enjoy the clippering, but would hate being shaved. She placed a hand on the end of each arm of the chair as the barber draped the cape around her and wrapped a tissue around her neck prior to snapping it in place with a clip. I was already videotaping the process.

This barber was never one to be shy about his haircutting. I’m still convinced he looked forward to each time he got to shear my wife. With only her head protruding from the large cape, he reached for a set of clippers. He rarely ever combed her hair in place first. If it was all being sheared off, why bother? I noticed he first removed the plastic attachment from the head, dipped the head in a small bowl to oil the teeth, then re-attached the plastic guide. I never let on that I had previously discovered that this oil was nothing more than 10W30 motor oil. It worked!

Not saying a word to either her or me, the barber set about his task. He stood in front of her and tilted her head down towards him so he could reach her. Then he clippered all the hair from the top of her head. This was done in long sweeping motions from her bangs to the crown. It took him several passes from the front to the back. Having done that, he began passing the clippers in the cross direction. Her top hair was now barely half an inch long.

Removing the plastic from his clipper head he again dipped the teeth into the oil bowl, wiped them slightly, and began cutting off all her hair from the back and sides. He started shearing the hair of her nape right to the top of her crown. I then realized that his clippers were shaving as close as possible. There was no guard and with each pass her white scalp was revealed.

His passes were always rapid and when he reached the end of each, he would drop her hair on the floor or onto the cape in front of her. As he worked around her head, he would turn her in the chair. He was turning her clockwise so that the right side of her head was being sheared first. I noticed her eyes were closed. She was probably enjoying the light vibrations of his clippers. Had she been looking in the mirror, her enjoyment would have been diminished. As the barber ran the shears up over her sideburns and temple, he placed his hand on top of her head to tilt her slightly to her left. He ran the vibrating teeth right over her temple to just above her eye. By now the right side looked completely stark in its baldness. He gave this same area two or three passes before releasing her head.

To this day I have never understood his next move. With her right side and back clipper-shaved bald, he turned her to face him. Reaching up he placed the shears about an inch behind her bangs and ran a swath down the top of her head. I can only think that he suddenly remembered he was to give her a landing strip and decided to do it now before he forgot. But the barber was short. He couldn’t reach over her all the way so the “strip” was not down the center. It was off to one side. And it was bald. The strip left no hair at all. It was clipper-shaved the same length as the back of her head.
Needless to say, this opened my wife’s eyes wide. Not facing the mirror, she couldn’t see exactly what had happened, but she knew something was very wrong. She fired me a sharp look right away. I went on videotaping and did not let on that I noticed what the barber had done. Secretly, I loved the top shaved off that way. If only it had been straight!

He turned the chair so her left side was presented to him. He tilted her head to her right and ran the clippers up over her left sideburn and temple. Every hair was clippered off and rolled over the shears to land on her lap. Her eyes were closed again. They remained closed as he buzzed off the entire left side of her head until it was as bald as the other.

Picking up his scissors and comb, the barber began to flatten the rest of her top hair. Being short, he had difficulty reaching the top of her head. He tilted her head down until her chin was as low as it could go. Even as he faced her this way, he still had difficulty cutting her hair. I could tell he wasn’t getting it level on top. It wasn’t even close, but he kept cutting anyway. The hair on the right side of her landing strip was much shorter than the left. At this point I told him that some of her hair towards the back was still too long. He put the guard on the clippers and went over it again. Still he missed the long part.

While he was gro
ping for a new attachment I had a quick conference with my wife.

“It’s a mess,” I said. “Why not just shave it all off & I’ll up the reward for you with what we’d talked about earlier.” By now she’d seen herself in the mirror. “Well?”

“OK, but it’s going to cost you,” she replied. I knew it would! She wasn’t hiding the fact that she was very angry.

“I’ll double it if you’ll let him clean-shave all of it,” I offered.

“No!” That ended that conversation.

By now the old guy was standing beside her holding his clippers with another plastic attachment. I turned towards him.

“We’ve changed our plans. Shave it all off.” I ordered.

“Shave everything off.” he repeated.

“Yes, shave her bald,” I told him. “Take it all off with your clippers.”

Not another word was said. He removed the plastic, dipped the teeth in the oil bowl, wiped them on a cloth and finished clippering the top of my wife’s head. With her head tilted down towards him, her hair rolled over the clippers and dropped into her lap. When he thought he was finished the barber ran his fingers over the top of her head. As he looked at me, I also ran my hand over her head. Then I stroked upwards on the back of her neck and her left side. Her entire head was sheared to the same tiny stubble. I nodded to the barber.

“Shave around her ears,” I told him. I knew my wife was fuming, but this was part of our original deal. It always was. Having her shaved was the best part of her haircuts.

The barber turned the hot water tap in his sink and soaked his small shaving brush. It was an odd brush because it seemed to have almost no handle. The brush part was longer. In his hand it seemed to be part of his fingers. Swishing it round and round in the lather mug, he worked up a soapy foam that he brushed around my wife’s ears. He began at her right sideburn then soaped all the way around her hairline, swirling the brush several times in his mug to keep the soap thick. When she was completely lathered, he used a towel to wipe it off and then he soaped her again. This time the lather he produced was even thicker.

Many haircuts ago I had told him I wanted her shaved well into her hairline. With her hair cut so short, he took this occasion to outdo himself. He shaved off her sideburns level with the top of her ears. I always liked the way he spread extra lather down her cheek and shaved her to below her earlobe. This he did again. I was close enough to her that I could hear the razor’s rasping sound as it sliced through the nibs of hair. The path left by the razor was completely smooth, completely devoid of hair. He made slow strokes at first to get the feel of the razor against her skin. As his touch became confident, his razor strokes lengthened. The last pass in front of her ear started above her ear and finished on her cheek just below her ear lobe.

As he turned her chair around, he razor-shaved her hairline behind her ears to her nape. The line he shaved was straight and shaved a good quarter inch into her hair to create a new hairline. He repeated this on her other side. Again he shaved a quarter inch into her hairline. With a damp towel he washed off the remaining traces of the lather from around her ears. Putting some talcum into a soft brush, he created a small cloud as he dusted her neck & nape.

He reached for a whisk and brushed her head and around her neck. He loosened the cape and with a small vacuum he sucked up any stray nibs. He poured a bit of green lotion in the palm of one hand, then rubbed it over her head with both palms. He concentrated getting some of the after-shave around her ears and across her freshly shaved nape. She winced a tiny bit as the lotion stung the sensitive skin there. The cape was removed and some of her loose hair shook out onto the floor.

While I was paying the barber, my wife stomped out of the shop to the car. There was no doubt she was very angry. The barber began to say something to me about her haircut. I told him it was OK because I liked her shaved. He smiled his knowing smile.

Before this particular barbershop visit, the barber had given my wife high-&-tight flattops with the sides & back clean-shaved. I don’t think he ever got the landing strips straight, but this time was the worst. In fact, it was the last time, I believe, that I was ever able to get my wife to go back to him. There was another occasion I’d had him clipper-shave her, but that’s another story.

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