Erin got out of her car and crossed the parking lot to the little strip mall salon she had been going to for more than three years now. It was a no frills salon and affordably priced. And for the most part, Erin was pleased with the cuts she had received over the years. That was until six months ago when one of the newer stylists gave Erin the shortest haircut she had gotten since she was about twelve. She had gone in wanting a bob of her chin length hair, and had left the salon with an ultra short bowl haircut, with shaved sides and back. All of her friends complimented her on the new look, but Erin was never thrilled with it and had been letting it grow out.
But her hair was now to the point where she just had to do something. Erin convinced herself she needed a trim just to tidy it up a bit. So here she was hoping she could get either Monica or Trudy who usually worked on Saturdays. But at this point anyone but Jean, who had cut her hair last time, would be fine.
As she opened the door to the salon she heard the jingle of little bells announce her arrival. And to her surprise, Erin saw that only Jean was sitting at the reception desk. If she wasn’t desperate for a haircut, Erin probably would have turned around and walked out, but decided she would be firm in her insistence that it be “just a trim" and nothing more.
Jean stood and smiled as she greeted Erin. “Why hello there stranger. We haven’t seen you in awhile."
“Hi…Yea it’s been a little while. I’ve been kind of letting my hair grow out since you cut it last."
“Yes I can see that. But no problem, I can get you straightened out in no time. Come with me."
Jean led Erin to her work station toward the back of the deserted shop. It was late Saturday afternoon and Erin guessed all the other stylists had probably left for the day. She knew she should have come in this morning. But she had gotten busy with projects at home and only finished a little bit ago.
Jean pointed to the chair and Erin eased herself into the seat. Then Jean stood in front of Erin, removed her glasses and looked directly into her eyes asked, “So…what are we doing here today?"
“Well, like I said, I want to let my hair grow out and I just want a trim to tidy it up a bit."
“How long has it been since your last haircut?"
“Ah…a couple of months I guess."
“Hmm-m-m. Did you not like the last haircut?"
Feeling guilty, Erin replied, “No. The haircut was fine. I just want to grow it out again."
“You know that original cut does suit you. It’s so easy to manage isn’t it?"
“Yea. It’s nice not having to fuss over it too much. Kind of wash and wear."
“And what did your friends think about it? Did everyone like it?"
“Yea, all my friends thought it was cute."
“So a good trimming to tidy things up then?"
“Right!" Erin happily agreed, thinking this would be the solution to her hair dilemma.
With that, Jean placed a large charcoal colored cape around Erin and then placed a small ring of tissue paper around her neck. Jean gathered the tissue and cape together and fastened them with a Velcro tab at the top of the cape in back. Then Jean gave the chair a quick couple of pumps to raise it up a bit. Erin squinted to see herself in the mirror, but without her glasses she couldn’t see much more than a blurry figure. Then she heard the pop of the clippers and Jean was standing behind her, pushing her head forward so her chin was buried in her chest. Though she wasn’t expecting Jean to use clippers, Erin was not surprised or alarmed. She knew stylists used clippers with varying attachments to shear off specific lengths. She suspected Jean was using an attachment that would cut off a half inch as they had discussed.
But Erin couldn’t see, because of her faulty vision, that Jean was not using any attachment on the clippers. She moved the clippers into Erin’s hair at the base of her neck, and smoothly moved them up to the occipital bone. At that point Jean flicked her wrist slightly and Erin’s hair fell away revealing smooth skin all the way up the back of her head. Jean repeated the procedure across the back of Erin’s head and neck so that the entire back was shaved smooth to the skin. Then Jean turned the chair so that she could begin cutting the right side of Erin’s head.
Jean eased Erin’s head slightly to the left and brought the clippers up the side of her head in front of the ear. The clippers made quick work in removing the hair in front of and two inches above the ear. Next Jean held the clippers inverted and gently trimmed an even line from just where Erin’s bangs started, to the back of her head. Then Jean again turned the chair so she could cut the left side of Erin’s hair. This was the first chance Erin had to see how the haircut looked so far. As Jean worked on the left side of Erin’s head, Erin tried to take a quick peak in the mirror at how the right side looked. Unfortunately, the view was still blurry and Erin had no idea how drastically short Jean was cutting her hair. But even if she saw, what could she have done at this point? They had passed the point of no return.
Then Jean switched off the clippers and returned them to a hook just under the rear counter. As she turned the chair so Erin’s was looking directly into the mirror, she grabbed a pair of scissors and comb. Beginning on the right side of Erin’s hair, Jean began combing and thinning out the hair, just above the shaved section. The way it looked now there was a sharp blunt cut to the hair. Jean was sectioning and trimming the hair so the bluntness wasn’t quite so drastic. When she was satisfied with how the side looked, she moved to the back of Erin’s head and began trimming and shaping the hair. Finally she moved to Erin’s left side and continued the trimming and thinning process.
Next Jean turned her attention to the top of Erin’s head. As she began combing and trimming the top, Erin looked down at the hair that had gathered in her lap. Though the view was still a bit blurry, she could make out what she thought were significant clumps of hair. It was the first time Erin got the sense that her haircut was far shorter than she intended it to be. Then Jean was combing Erin’s bangs and preparing to trim them. She held the scissors about a half inch above Erin’s eyebrows and quickly cut straight across. Jean then combed through Erin’s hair, admiring her work as she went.
Jean then took a small hand brush and began to wipe any stray hairs off Erin’s forehead and face. Next she used the brush behind Erin’s right ear and along the neckline above the cape in back. When she finished brushing behind Erin’s left ear, she returned the brush to the counter. Then came a whirring sound that Erin had heard before. She knew it instantly as the sound of an electric shaving cream dispenser. As it finally sunk in that Jean had cut her hair in the same ultra short bowl cut style she had given her last time, Jean spread the warm foam along the side of Erin’s head and in back.
Jean took a towel from one of the counter drawers and laid it on Erin’s right shoulder. Then she took a straight razor from the back counter and sharpened it on a leather belt she had attached under the counter. Jean took the razor and gently moved it down the side of Erin’s head in front of her right ear. Erin sat scowling as Jean worked. This was NOT the haircut she wanted? Hadn’t Jean been listening when she said – just at trim. A good tidy up?
But as Jean moved to the back of Erin’s head and neck, Erin was starting to enjoy the experience. She remembered how much she had enjoyed this the last time Jean had cut her hair. The feel of the straight edge smoothly sliding down her head and neck was like heaven. And despite being angry, Erin closed her eyes and enjoyed the sensation the shave was giving her.
When Jean finished the left side of Erin’s head, she took the towel and gently wiped away and excess shaving cream that remained. Again Jean took a comb and gently moved it through Erin’s hair – smiling as she went.
“That is one outstanding haircut if I do say so myself. Ready for a look?"
Jean took Erin’s glasses from the back counter and placed them on her face. As she did this, Jean also grabbed a hand mirror and moved it behind Erin’s head so she could see the cut from all sides. Now that Erin could finally see Jean’s handy work, she was shocked to see Jean had cut it as short as the last time.
“You cut it so short!"
“It’s such a nice look on you. So cute – Just darling!"
Erin turned her head from side-to-side and brought her hands out from under the cape. She moved her fingers through her short hair and then rubbed the back of her head and neck.
“A good tidy up was just the thing for you."
Then Jean undid the cape at Erin’s neck and swept it away. As she did this, strands of Erin’s hair gently fell to the floor. And though Erin was shocked with how short the haircut was, she smiled as looked at her reflection and stood up.
Erin followed Jean to the front reception area and paid for the haircut. All the while she stood there, she kept rubbing her hand along the shaved areas and smiled. Jean noticed and commented, “Feels nice doesn’t it?"
Erin smiled and shook her head in agreement.
“So enjoy the rest of the weekend….And don’t wait so long between haircuts next time."
Erin turned and walked out to her car, now sitting all alone in the large, almost vacant lot. As she got in the car, any euphoria she had been enjoying was gone. Erin looked in the rearview mirror at the haircut and wondered to herself how this could have happened again. All she wanted was a trim, a good tidy up. Erin sat looking at herself in the mirror for several more minutes, than sighed. Not much she could do about it now. Oh well. It’s only hair. It’ll grow back.
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