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(c) Copyright 2001 by J.C. Ramsey. All rights reserved.

I walked in to the coffee shop feeling really refreshed, but also just a little tired. It had been a long day at work, and then I had the appointment at 6:30. Now that everything was finished, I could relax with a cup of tea, review my schedule for the rest of the week, and think about what I had accomplished today.

I ordered my tea, and then scanned the display case for something sweet that would go well with my tea. As I was bending over, I heard the door open and a rustling of clothes. From the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a figure coming to the counter and haltingly ordered a large cappuccino. I paid no attention, focusing on the Snickers cheesecake. As I took one step to my right, I bumped into the person who had just entered, and I as I stood up to apologize, I saw a long length of hair tumble past me and a large clip, which hit the floor with a plastic sound.

"Oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to bump you," I said, looking into the eyes of a young lady, who stared back at me with an expression of "What’s your problem?"

Flustered, she said, "Oh, no problem, I think I’ve had a little too much to drink. I don’t know how I missed you, or, uh, didn’t see you there, oh, uh, now where did my clip go?" She had already dropped her eyes from mine and focused on the floor.

I spotted the clip, knelt to retrieve it, and turned back to her, holding it up.

"Oh, there it is, Thank you." She took it from me, looked at it, then mumbled to herself, "Now what do I do with it."

She jerked her head back, making a feeble attempt to get all of her hair behind her. Then she put the clip in her mouth, raising her hands to her neck, and gathered the loose hair into a ponytail, preparing, I assumed, to wind it up and clip the mass (from what I could see, it was waist length and thick, a dull red in color, with big curls at the end. I turned back to my search for dessert, and pointed out the chocolate mousse cheesecake as my selection. The cappuccino machine started up, preparing the lady’s brew. I stepped over to the register, getting ready to receive my order.

Suddenly, the young lady was beside me again, bumping into me.

"Um, I’m really sorry to bother you again, but I need some help."

I turned to look at her, and she was just standing there holding the clip in her right hand, tilting her head a little to the right.

"I’ve just had the hardest time with this hair tonight. I can’t get it to stay up. Would you mind, or maybe, uh, I should say, could you put my hair up with this thing?" offering me the clip.

"Certainly, I think I can do that," taking the clip from her and turning it in my hand so that I could squeeze it and determine if it was even working, and it was.

Doing a clumsy three-step, she turned her back to me and waited. I opened the clip and snapped it onto my belt, then I raised my hands to her neck and gathered her hair into both hands. I pulled her hair into a semblance of a ponytail, and then I began to twist it at her neck, letting the twists gather her hair into a manageable, although thick, strand. I pulled it away from her, and when I reached the end, I lifted it straight up and began to twist it tightly on the crown of her head, holding the finished mass with one hand as I reached for the large clip. One side of the teeth I caught under the tight hair on the right side of her head, and then I opened the clip to envelop the twisted locks and inserted the teeth into the other side of her taut hair. I closed the clip, checked to see if it was secure, and placing my hands gently on her shoulders, I said, "O.K., all finished, it looks pretty tight."

She raised a hand to her head, feeling what I had done, and she turned, with a look of relief in her face.

"Oh, thank you, that’s the best my hair has felt all day. It has been falling every half an hour, and I get so frustrated with it, I, I, just didn’t want it in my way right now."

"No problem, I’m always willing to help a lovely lady with beautiful hair."

She smiled at me, swayed a little to one side, and then she turned to the display case. The cappuccino machine went off, and I turned to see my order was ready.

As I paid the lady, she looked at me and said, "You really did a nice job with her hair. Are you a hair stylist?"

"It’s not my profession, but I know my way around long hair."

As she handed me my change, she said, "Well, I could sure tell that. I’ve seen you in here before, but I didn’t take you for a hair person."

I smiled broadly and said, "We all have hidden talents. I started playing with women’s hair when I was in middle school, and I just enjoy the chance to do what I can."

She smiled back. I couldn’t really tell much about her hair, other than it was blond and she had a thin fringe of bangs. It was pulled back rather tightly, so I suspected that it was not real long.

As I pocketed my change and put my billfold in my pocket, she gave me a searching look. I am not young by any means, but she could have hardly been twenty. As I picked up my tray, she had one last question.

"Um, what all do you do with women’s hair?"

Holding my tray of tea and cheesecake, I said, "Just about anything you would like me to do with it".

"Do you have a business card?" When I nodded my answer, she said, "Could you leave me one before you go? I am looking for someone who can suggest what I should do with my hair."

"I’ll see you before I leave," giving her a smile of assurance.

As I turned to find a seat, the red-haired lady lurched to take my place, still silently touching her hair, making sure that it was not going to tumble into her coffee when she picked up her tray. I headed for a booth at the back of the caf?, my favorite spot to look out over the caf? and see who was here and who was coming in. I had picked up one customer here before, a lady with mid-back length hair. I had trimmed it for her once, and had never seen her again, nor had she called. This had to be about nine months ago. I did not come here frequently, mainly because it was too public. I often saw friends from church here, and I was not ready to give away my "secret" business. I had avoided any mention of my interest in hairstyling at church, in spite of the fact that there were several very good prospects. I preferred to keep my interest in hair cutting among my business associates outside of town.

The red-haired lady managed to maneuver to one of the sofas in the center of the caf? without spilling her cappuccino. She gingerly placed her tray on a coffee table, and then she flopped onto the sofa with an audible sigh. The caf? was hardly in business tonight-just five other people were there. The two girls at the counter were now busy cleaning up, and preparing for that magical time of 10 PM when they could close and go home. I checked my watch-it was 8:35 PM. I had done my two regulars tonight very quickly-both just wanted trims.

I pulled out my monthly schedule, opened it on the table, and prepared my tea. The tea was good, the cheesecake was excellent, and I had the opportunity this evening to do my favorite personal "hobby", cutting and playing with women’s long hair. I noticed that I had two appointments scheduled for Saturday morning, which would give me the opportunity to look for new customers in that same town. I tried to find ladies who lived at least an hour from my home, so that they would think twice about trying to come to my home for their hair styling needs. Next week, I had a lunchtime trim for a lady who was a secretary for one of my customers, and since they were a small company, they were delighted that I would do this for her. A week from Saturday, I had a "consultation" scheduled for a lady who was weighing the possibility of a major hairstyle change. She was expecting her first child, and a friend of hers was a customer, and she had been told that I would not pressure her into a major haircut, but would work with her to find a style that was best for her. I was hoping for an opportunity to do a long to short cut, but I suspected that she would be too fearful to go drastic. Hey, that’s O.K., she is the customer.

I finished my tea and my cheesecake, and so I just leaned back to think about my sales calls tomorrow. I closed my eyes, knowing that any newcomers to the caf? would be announced by the bell on the door. I kind of went through my mental inventory of hair customers that I would be working with during the next three months, trying to establish how many new ones I had room for, and thinking about the risk of giving the girl at the counter a business card. I had no intention of getting back to the redhead, thinking that she was local. I was worried about the blond that had served me. She looked vaguely familiar. I was curious about her hair, but was reluctant to let my secret out in the community. I expected that she would want to come to my place for a consultation. It was not good practice for me to go to the home of such a young woman without someone with me, or without knowing that her parents or friends would also be there. I had learned a long time ago that it was right and proper to do my private business in front of several people, just in case there was ever a problem. That’s why I tended to steer clear of chemical processing, like perms and two-process color. Leave that to the experts who had insurance. I would, on occasion, do some highlighting or painting with a kit that a lady purchased on her own. That way, I could not be blamed for any problems.

Well, it was 9:00, time to get home. I took my tray to the trash canister, off loaded the disposables, and walked to the counter to deliver the tray, silverware, and glass. The blond with bangs came over to see me. I reached into my shirt pocket and pulled out my business card folder, and took out one of my hairstyling cards. It had just my first name, a private, unlisted phone number, and a list of services that I could provide.

She was all smiles, "Oh, good, you have a card."

"Yes, there isn’t much on it since, as I said, I am not a professional. I suggest that you think about what you want to do, then we get together for a consultation. I’ll look at your hair, then we can look at some style books while we talk about what you do, then come up with a plan. How does that sound?"

"That sounds great. I can’t ever get my stylist to spend any time with me. She just wants to cut it and get the next one in the chair."

"I know, and that’s why I like to do what I do. I like to take the time to get to know you and your hair, then we agree on the cut and style."

"O.K., I’ll look at my schedule and give you a call next week."

"That will be fine," I said, smiling. I turned and began to walk to the door, thinking that she was going to tell her parents, show them the card, and their response was going to be very negative. I would probably not hear from her again until the next time I came here for another tea and dessert. I was almost to the door, when I heard someone saying, "Sir, wait/"

I turned to see if it was the blond, but I saw her pointing toward the caf?, and as I turned further, I saw the redhead, who was now standing in front of the sofa and motioning me to come to her. The thought quickly ran through my head, uh-oh, what does she want?, but I knew it was probably just going to be a quick thank you for helping her out and I would be gone.

I walked the few steps to where she was standing.

"Um, hi, hm, I, um, just wanted to, um, say, thanks for helping me with my hair. I don’t think I said anything…, uh, I wasn’t really feeling too good earlier, and, I umm, I’m feeling a little embarrassed about how I treated you, and so, I guess I just wanted to say thanks."

She looked at me with a pleading expression, to just acknowledge that she was grateful. I did so, as graciously as possible, without making her feel that I was trying to help a lady who was a little drunk.

She stuck out her hand, quickly saying, "My name is Karen."

I took her hand, saying, "Hi Karen, my name is John."

We dropped hands, and she said, very gracefully, "Thanks again, I appreciate your courtesy. I was able to get through my coffee without using my hair as a napkin."

I laughed at her small joke. "Well, you’re welcome. I hate to see red hair with coffee stains."

Laughing in return, she said, "Me, too." She began to speak, looked at me, saw that I would wait for her to speak, then said, "Um, I could not help but overhear what you said to the young lady behind the counter. I take it that you are not a hair stylist, but you do hair, uh, on the side?"

Uh-oh, I thought. Is she speaking for a friend who is a stylist? Guardedly, I said, "I made a decision a long time ago to get into sales, because I like people. I didn’t think that hair styling, that is, being in a salon, was what I wanted to do with my life. But I have a gift from God for cutting and styling women’s hair, and I try to help women who don’t seem to be able to get the assistance they need from salons."

"That’s an incredible story! You know, every time I walk to a salon, I cant’ go in, because I know that they are going to want to cut my hair off, and if I don’t let them, they really treat me badly. I am so disgusted with my hair right now. I haven’t had it trimmed in over a year, and I’m to the point where I have been thinking of walking into a barbershop and getting a crew cut.

"You’re not serious?! That’s the last thing you should do, get your hair cut out of frustration. Don’t you have any friends with long hair who have a good stylist?"

"All of my friends go with what their stylists tell them is "in". Usually, that means short. I wouldn’t mind short hair as long as I knew that it would look good on me."

I studied her face for a moment. Good cheekbones, terrific hairline, nice ears, great eyes.

"Karen, from what I see right now, you could wear just about any hair style, from a crop to a bob, with no problem."

She took in my statement. I saw the wheels turning. "How long is a crop?"

"About two inches at the crown, tapering to an inch or so on the sides and back. I usually clip around the ears, and shave the neck."

"Shave the neck? You mean, with a razor?"

"Well, you can do that, but I usually use electric clippers. A crop needs to be trimmed about every six weeks to keep the shape, so I shave the neck when I do the trim. Turn around and let me see your neck."

She turned, and I could see a couple tufts of hair that would have to be shaved to go along with a short cut.

"You wouldn’t have to have much shaved."

"So, you think I could wear a crop?"

"From what I see right now, easily. Your hair is thick, glossy, and it might even be a curly crop, although not real curly. They would probably be loose curls or slight waves because your hair is heavy."

Her wheels were really turning. She turned to drain her coffee.

"So, John, where do you do this hair styling?"

"Normally, I go to my customers’ homes or places of business."

"A traveling hair stylist?"

"That’s me."

"Are you busy right now?"

"Well, no, I was just leaving to go home."

The last customers besides us just left. The caf? was now empty. Could I cut her hair in a little less than an hour, before the caf? closed? Would they let me do a haircut here?

"Give me a minute to check on something, Karen?"

"Sure, I’m not going anywhere."

I walked over to the counter, and the blond came over.

"What can I get for you, sir?"

"Um, actually, I have a question. The lady sitting on the sofa, she heard us talking earlier about hair styling, and she’s asked me to cut her hair."

"Really, wow, that’s great."

"It is great, but the problem is, she wants me to do it right now."

"Like, you mean, right now, in here?"

"Yes. So, my question is, would you mind if I cut her hair here, as long as we’re finished before you close?"

"Wow, I’ve never had anyone ask me this before." She paused to think. I looked at my watch, it was 9:10PM.

"Hey, Candice, how are we coming with the clean-up?"

"Everything is done, the dishes, the food is wrapped, the kitchen is clean, all the pans are greased and ready for baking in the morning."

She looked at me again. "Um, where do you want to do this?"

"Well, I really don’t need a special place. I’ll probably want to wet her hair, or shampoo it in a bathroom sink. Then I just need a chair and some good light. I can put newspapers down on the floor to catch the hair and keep everything clean."

"If I can ask, how short are you cutting her hair?"

"She’s thinking about a crop."

"You mean, like Winona Ryder’s haircut?"

"Exactly."

"Wow, that’s a lot of hair to cut off."

"It’s a big decision. I really don’t know if she is going to go through with it or not. I suspect we’ll end up cutting it to her shoulders or something."

"Look, I’m the caf? owner’s daughter, and Candace is my best friend. I know that she has to leave at 10:00. But I can stay later if you’re still not done." She paused for a moment and looked steadily at me.

"So, you can really cut off her long hair and give her a short cut that will look good on her?"

"Well, I’m going to try my best. I’ve done this many times before."

She continued looking at me, sizing me up, I assumed for my truthfulness. "O.K, this is the deal. I’ll let you cut her hair, if you promise to cut my hair when you are finished with her."

Now it was my turn to really be surprised. "You, mean, tonight, like, right after I’m done with Karen? Are you sure?"

"Yes, assuming you have the time."

Now I said it. "Wow, this is incredible."

"Yes, it is. I am so ready for a haircut." She gave me another big smile. "Look, we have a bathroom in back with a big sink, and we have like a little lounge area that we can sit in to do stuff, like read or homework, so the light in there is real good."

"Sounds perfect. Let me tell Karen the good news, and I’ll go out to my car and get my gear."

I gave Karen the thumbs up, asked if she was still ready for this, and she enthusiastically nodded yes. I stepped out into the warm Spring evening, walked the half block to my car, opened the trunk and grabbed by kit, and also picked up three fresh towels, of which I always had a good supply, since I was a salesman for a cotton products manufacturer. As I closed and locked the car, I began to feel the excitement welling up in me. I knew that I was going to have a wonderful evening doing what I really love to do best, cutting and styling women’s hair.

I hurried back to the store, and saw that Karen was standing at the counter talking to the blond and Candice. They all smiled as I bounced in, and the blond motioned me around to the side, where she opened the door that would lead us back to the bathroom and lounge. What an evening this was going to be!

She showed us the lounge area first, so I put all my gear on the table, along with the towels. I looked at Karen and said, "Well, how do you want to do this?"

She looked straight back and said, "Hey, you’re the stylist, you tell me."

"Are you certain that you want the crop cut?"

"As certain as I’m standing here. I’m giving up this red mop."

"How much time do you have?"

"As much as you need."

"Do you have any preference on how I cut off your hair?"

"No preference at all. You do it the way you want to do it."

"Shampoo?"

"I washed it this morning. It takes a long time for it to dry. You might just want to cut off the length first, then you can wash it short and finish the cut wet, if that’s what you’re thinking."

"O.K., that sounds like a winner. Find a chair you like, and I’ll get my stuff out."

As Karen eyed the chairs, I unzipped my bag, and began taking out the tools of my secret trade-small scissors, wide-tooth comb, rattail comb, brush, a few ponytail holders, a few clips, shampoo and conditioner, my separate case with my clippers and guides, and a disposable camera with flash. Karen scooted a low back chair over next to the table and without hesitation sat down. We were both ready.

I put my wide tooth comb in my pants pocket, and turned to see the large mass of hair held in place by the big clip. I grabbed the finger holds of the clip with my right hand, placed my left hand on top of her head with my fingers in the twisted hair, and squeezed the clip open. I put it on the table, and then used my other hand to hold the long hair that I placed on her head. Slowly, I let it just unfold, and then let it begin to untwist, holding it up and watching first the ends fall free, then all the rest of it, until I had a very loose ponytail in both hands.

"Karen, since you are not pressed for time, do you mind if I play with your hair for a little bit?" I inquired gently.

"Oh, sure, do whatever you want with it. I really like people to play with my hair. I could never get my boyfriends to do anything with it. They were always put off by the length and thickness. Only one guy would even try to brush it." While she was talking I was gently shaking the ponytail out, and also gliding my fingers through the long locks. The curls at the end were lovely, thick and fat, the kind that you enjoyed wrapping around your fingers. Her hair was so great, I really didn’t know where to start playing with it.

"My girlfriends always told me what great hair I have. My boyfriends also said they loved my hair, but then they wouldn’t help me with it. And the beauticians-always looking to cut it off, and being so impatient with me when I told them I just wanted a trim. If I asked for a shampoo, they charged me $15.00 extra. Hey, that reminds me, how much do you charge for a haircut? In all the excitement, I forgot to ask."

"I don’t really charge. I just ask that you give me what you think it’s worth for me to cut and style your hair."

"Really? I figure a salon would have charged me about $40 with tip to do what you are going to do, with shampoo and everything."

I had started combing her hair with the wide tooth, letting it flow through the length of her hair, which ended about 4 inches past the belt she wore around her waist. As I was combing, Candace came in and remarked how beautiful her hair was, and what a shame that she was getting it cut off. But, Karen defended her decision, and it was great to have them chatting with each other while I focused on combing, then brushing her hair. Finally, with her hair bright, shiny, and without tangles, I lifted it up with both hands and just it fall slowly down, lock by lock, enjoying the way the light played off the reddish curls and waves. What a sight! I did this a few times, then I gathered it my hands again and pulled it up into a ponytail at the crown, and let the length just cascade down her back. I held the ponytail with one hand and let my free hand rake the length.

"You don’t know how great that feels," she said.

"I have had lots of ladies tell me that they enjoy having a man play with their hair."

"If I hadn’t already decided to cut it, I would keep it long just so I could have you play with for a while every week."

"Karen, I would not mind that at all. I am really not into cutting off long hair. If you want to keep it long for a while, that’s great by me," I said, letting her hair finally fall back into place, and starting to run the comb through it for the last time.

"John, it’s tempting, but I have been dwelling on this for quite some time. I have started to walk into a salon at least three times, and chickened out at the end. When a saw barber shop in the mall two weeks ago, I almost went in there, but they so busy, and I really didn’t want a bunch of people seeing my hair get chopped off."

I grabbed the camera, took a quick snapshot of her front and back, then put it down.

"O.K., Karen, if you’re ready, I’m ready."

"I’m ready. Go for it."

Candace told me that the blond whose hair I would be doing next wanted to watch when I started cutting. Candace told me her name was Helen, so I said, "Hey, Helen, we’re ready." It was good that she was going to watch, that way she could take some pictures.

In a few moments she was beside the table. I had already parted Karen’s hair on the left side, sweeping the long locks over her back and right shoulder, with a small section left dangling just over her right eye, in classic "peek-a-boo" style. I cleared the table in front of her. I walked around to face her, noted that everything look great, and then stepped over to her.

"Helen, would you mind taking a couple of snapshots as I cut her hair?"

"Oh, that would be great, I’d love to. Can you make a couple of extra copies for me?"

"Sure."

Candace had also joined us, but they both kept a watchful eye and listening ear on the front door bell in the event a late customer came in. It was about 9:40 PM. Helen had the camera and was standing at the table across from Karen. Candace was right beside me, waiting for me to begin.

"O.K., Karen, we’re all ready. Are you ready?"

"I’m ready when you are. I’m not changing my mind."

With that, I slid my pinky finger on my left hand through her hair, about 3/4 of an inch under the part, and about an inch back from her hairline. I lifted the hair up, and then grasped it with my left hand, pulling it up and away from the rest of her hair. I smoothed the lock as I held it aloft, making sure that I would be cutting only the hair that was a part of this section. I slid my left hand up to about five inches away from her scalp, pulled my scissors from my pocket with my right hand, opened the blades, placed them around the lock I was holding about three inches from her scalp, and slowly closed the sharp blades. RRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPP click. The lock was severed, and I lowered it slightly for Karen to see.

"Wow, that was sure easy. Didn’t hurt a bit," she said smiling. A tuft of hair was left in the place of the long lock. Helen had snapped a photo as I cut through the lock, and she snapped another as I held it up for Karen to see. I glanced at Candice, whose eyes were as big as saucers.

"Wow, I’ve never seen such long hair get cut so short before!"

Karen laughed, "Well, get used to it, because you’re going to see a lot of long hair be cut off tonight."

I placed the lock carefully on the table in front of Karen, and then I went back to business. I used my left pinky again to separate another lock just below the short piece of hair, and I followed the same procedure, pulling it out, grasping it with my hand, then using both hands to smooth the lock before I pulled it out. I placed the scissors a fraction closer that the first lock, expecting that with the crop the sides would be cut shorter, and I snipped through the dark red hair once again, laying the piece beside the first one on the table. I sectioned off the final lock that remained in front of her ear, and that one joined the others on the table.

"Well, Karen, how are doing so far?" I asked gently, running my pinky again through the next inch wide section of her hair, just under the part, lifting up the thick hair.

"Hey, this is great. What a relief to get this hair cut off, finally. My head already feels light."

RRRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPPPPPP click.

"Boy, that is really loud when you’re so close to my ear."

"Yeah, I’ve always been surprised how loud it sounds when I’m cutting thick hair with scissors, especially when there is no conversation. A lot of women I have worked with almost jumped out of their chairs when I made the first cut on their hair, regardless of what I was doing. Many have just not heard their hair being cut before because of the noise in the salon."

I watched carefully as I placed my scissors blades around the next lock and the blades sliced through the hair with that characteristic ripping sound that I enjoyed so much. I loved scissors cutting for that reason, among others. I enjoyed the sound of the cutting, as well as the holding of each of lock of hair to be cut, and the process that went into selecting and preparing each lock to be cut. Clippers were too noisy and made the process go far too fast for my taste.

Candice spoke up. "Boy, I don’t know if I could sit through a haircut like this. I think I might just want to get it all cut off at once, like in a ponytail. I don’t think I could stand the suspense."

RRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPPPPPP, click. Another fat lock joined the ten on the table, and I was working now behind her left ear.

"I always give my customers the option of how to cut off the length. Several have opted for a ponytail or a braid. That is quick and easy. But then, I have to go a lot of work to cut the remaining hair down for the final style, so unless I am going ultra short, I still have to do a lot of scissors cutting to get the bulk off before I start cutting the final style."

I glanced at Helen, who was watching every move I made with the haircut. I wanted to see more of her hair, to get a glimpse of what I was going to be in for later. I still had not gotten a view of the back of her head, to estimate the length of her hair. I just knew that it was bundled up with a big scrunchie, so it was really hard to tell. Her hair looked very thick.

I was now working further behind Karen’s ear, having cut off the long locks from the left crown part. Now I was really getting into thick hair, and I had to make two or three slices on each piece in order to get the scissors through the hair. The pile of 25-inch long or so pieces was growing quickly, and Karen was bantering lightly with Candice and Helen as I continued to shear off the long strands. I was really in my element, enjoying each moment of the sectioning, separating, smoothing, holding, tightening, measuring, and finally the cutting of each heavy lock. I knew that I would also enjoy the shampooing and the cutting of her hair into the crop that she desired, and the final shaving of her neck and hairline. What a great gift the Lord had given me tonight!

"So, John, are you having a good time, or is this work for you?" Helen asked, still standing across the table, but now more to the side so she see me cutting the back of Karen’s hair.

"It’s kind of hard to say. I think you know that I am enjoying this, but I also have a very strong commitment to give Karen the haircut and the look that she wants. I’m most pleased when my customers like what I do for them. I enjoy cutting a quarter inch of hair if the final result is going to be a happy lady. Cutting off this much hair at one time is a rare occurrence for me."

RRRRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPP, RRRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPPP, RRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPP, click. Another lock was lifted free and laid on top of the others, forming a long red mass of hair.

"So, John, how drastic do you go with cutting women’s hair?" Candice asked.

"Well, I guess as much as they want to cut off. During the summer last year, I had a lady ask me to shave her head. She was playing a part in a movie, and the bald cap was too uncomfortable for her hair, so she wore a wig for her scenes with hair, and she was shaved fresh every day that she needed to be bald."

Candice gasped, "That is pretty drastic. Do a lot of women shave their heads?"

"None that I know of besides this lady. I’ve given some very short haircuts before, you know, buzz cuts, or buzzed on the back and sides and a little longer on top. I really deal mostly with ladies who have long hair."

I was now sectioning the first lock on her crown that was probably the longest piece of hair on her head. I was going to leave about three and a half inches of length, again not being totally sure how short I was going to have the crop at the crown.

"Helen, get a shot of this. I’ll tell you when."

I smoothed the thick lock, grasped it tightly with my left hand, and pulled it straight up. I let the length dangle past my fist and hang over the right side of her head. I placed the scissors around the lock about three and a half inches from her scalp, and told Karen, "Now".

As the flash went off, I made one cut on the lock, and by the time she had advanced the film and was ready to shoot again, the flash went off as I made the final cut and the long lock was free in my hand. What a sensation, watching my scissors cut through Karen’s long lock of hair, having it my hand as it was removed, holding its coarse texture, seeing the shimmering red highlights in the dark auburn color. As I laid it down on the table, apart from the other locks, I marveled at what I had just done.

"Well, I’ve got to go," announced Candice. "You know, homework and stuff. I don’t think there’s going to be anyone else in tonight."

Helen nodded her agreement. "Yeah, go ahead and take off if you want."

As I cut the next long lock of hair, I saw Candice watch the process with the same wide-eyed wonder. It appeared she wanted to ask me something. After I laid the lock down on the table, and turned back to Karen and looked at Candice.

"Candice, would you like to try cutting a lock of Karen’s hair?"

She took a step backward at the question, looked at me, then stepped forward again.

"Could I? Would you mind, Karen?"

"Hey, it’s all being cut off, doesn’t matter who is cutting it, does it?"

"You don’t mind, John?"

"No, as long as you do what I tell you."

"O.K., I will." She glanced over at Helen who just smiled.

She stepped right beside her, and I showed her how I was using my pinky to separate the next lock and lift it up for cutting, then where to make the cut. She was a little hesitant to start, then she got a little too big a section, so she started over again, got it right, lifted the lock of hair up, smoothed it out with both hands, then stood holding it in her left hand. I gave her the scissors.

"Ready to cut, Candice?"

"Can I?" I nodded my head. I showed her where to put the blades, she opened the scissors, placed them around the red tress at the point I showed her, and pressed them closed. One small "RIP" sounded.

"Wow, what happened?"

"You have to use the tips of the scissors, and you have to feel the hair between the blades when you actually start cutting."

"I’ll try again," she said, still holding the lock of hair out from Karen’s head. She opened the blades again, and with great concentration surrounded the hair, and then more carefully and slowly closed the blades. RRRRRRRRIIIIIIIIIIPPPPPPPPP, click. She severed half the lock, then she quickly opened the blades again and cut through the rest of the hair. In a moment she was holding it up, amazed that she had done it.

"You know, I have always wanted to cut off a long piece of someone’s hair, just to see what it felt like. It’s, so, amazing to know that you can it cut so quickly. And it feels heavy. Karen, how did you keep your hair so long when it’s so heavy?" she said, placing the lock beside the others on the table.

"I guess I built up my neck muscles. It was really only heavy to me when I washed it."

Candice turned back to me to watch me take the next lock and cut it. I was working on the vertical section just behind Karen’s right ear now. About four more sections and the bulk would be gone.

As I continued to separate and cut, Candice asked me a question.

"When you cut off long hair, do you always do it like this? I mean, like, piece by piece?"

"Um, not always. It really depends on several things, like how much time I have, what the customer wants, what the finished style is going to be like. Some ladies want to keep or sell their hair, so we often just off a braid or ponytail for that purpose. A few don’t like to wait long, I guess because they’re afraid they’ll change their minds about the cut, so they tell me to get it off fast. Personally, I like to go slow if possible, because it saves me time in doing the final cut."

"So, if I asked you to cut my hair short, how would you take off the length?"

"Whatever you want me to do."

"So, like, you could cut off a ponytail and then do the haircut?"

"Sure. I just have to be sure that I’m not cutting off too much length in a location that requires the length for the style you want."

"Can you use clippers to cut off the length?"

"Yes, but I just have to be careful. Long hair can be hard to cut off with clippers. You have to let the clippers go slow so you don’t nick the scalp or pull your hair out instead of cutting it."

"O.K., well, thanks for answering my questions, and letting me cut a piece of Karen’s hair. It was fun."

"You’re welcome. I’ll leave some photos when I get them developed of the final haircut so you can see how Karen looks."

"That’ll be great."

I was making steady progress. Karen’s hair was a rough, longish pixie right now, with chunks of hair standing out at odd angles. I was preparing myself for the cutting of the lock that was at the edge of her hairline and hanging over her right eye. That was the one that I really enjoyed cutting, kind of signaling the end of the process. I had Helen snap a picture as I clipped off that lock. I saw Karen watching the process and her eyes blink as I cut through her hair. The table had a huge pile of severed red tresses that I would tie together for her at the end of the process. Three more clicks of the scissors, and the bulk was now gone.

"Boy, does my head feel light," Karen exclaimed. "How does it look, Helen?"

"Considering, it looks good. I think you will look great with short hair."

"That’s just what John said. So, what’s next?"

"Time to shampoo your hair so that I can do a wet cut."

We went to the bathroom, quickly got everything ready, and I gave her a gentle, 10-minute shampoo and scalp massage. Her hair was extremely thick, and I made a decision to make sure that I thinned it a bit at key spots, or cut the ends vertically to remove a little weight. I used one of my towels to wrap around her head, and then we were back at the table. To my surprise, Helen had already gathered up her hair and placed a couple of elastics around it. She winked at me.

"Thought I would take care of this while I had the chance," she said.

"Well, thank you. That was very nice."

I pulled the towel from Karen’s head, and began to comb through her hair with the wide tooth comb. I paid attention to the shape of her head, then came around front to run my hands through it, and shape it in different directions, getting a feel for how much more I should cut.

"Would you prefer that I be conservative with the length, or do you want to go real short?"

"Hard to say until I get a chance to work with it."

"Well, I like to say that we can always cut more off. I think I’m going to take it down to three inches at the crown, then shorten as we work our way to the front and sides, and really taper the back. I’m going to clip your hairline around your ears, and shave your nape. How does that sound?"

"Sounds good to me."

By this time Helen had locked up the store and she was sitting across from us at the table, watching what I did with Karen’s hair. I used my rattail to pick up a section of hair from her forehead about two inches wide and an inch deep. I cut that section so the shortest part was at the forehead and the longer part would be moving toward the crown. I picked up a section behind this first one and did the same thing. Now, I was at the crown, where I left the last section the longest. I watched the cut hair cascade down onto the floor, little chunks of wet red hair.

Now, the process would go quickly, as I went section by section from the middle to one ear, then from the middle to the other ear, keeping the line basically the same and following the contour of her head. Then the top, sides and crown were done; I began at the right temple and pulled sections vertically from her head, cutting them at a steep angle towards her head. A lot more was coming off as I went all the way around her head section by section. When I got to the left temple, I stopped and combed all of hair back, then ran my hands through it to see what the effect would be, and it looked great, other than a little thinning around the perimeter. Starting at her right ear, I cut the next sections, then the section below those, and the haircut was 90% done.

During this time, Karen and Helen were chatting away. Karen was obviously pleased and comfortable with what I was doing, and Helen was giving her signs that the haircut was progressing well and the result was great. I finished the vertical cutting, then got out my cordless finishing clippers. I held up the hair at the nape and quickly shaved her neck. I combed down the hair, lifted it with the comb and did some clipper texturing, and the back was done. The ears looked good with random pieces of hair floating around, and enough length that she could push the pieces behind her ears. I decided to keep it that way. Using my wide tooth comb, I went all over her head, lifting random sections of hair and using the clippers to texture the ends. I finished the clipping, combed her hair in different directions to check the lines, and finally put my comb down. I picked up a bottle of spritz and gave her hair a couple of shots, then ran my hands through the mass, picking out a few pieces for emphasis, smoothing the back. That was it.

"All done?" Karen asked, excitement rising in her voice.

"It’s finished. Want to look?"

"You bet!"

Before I could get the cape off, she was up and rushing to the bathroom to look in the mirror. I heard the scream of exclamation, then the "Oohs" and "Aahs" as she turned her head from side to side.

"It’s fantastic! It’s never felt so good! I love it!"

I walked up behind her and unsnapped the cape, and handed her the large clip.

"Well, guess we won’t be needing this for a bit, anyway."

"Wow. You don’t know how much I appreciate this. This is going to lighten my load so much in so many different ways." She stared at me in the mirror. "You are really amazing."

I looked down and shuffled my feet. "It’s easy when you have beautiful women with nice hair to work with."

"Maybe so, but no one has every taken my hair this short and made it look so good. Thank you ever so much", she said, turning toward me. "How much do I owe you?"

"Whatever it’s worth to you. I really don’t have a standard charge."

"You’re kidding?"

"No, I just love to help you with your hair, so whatever is good for you."

She stood for a moment, then opened her purse, took out a billfold, and peeled out two twenty-dollar bills.

"What is it worth to me? Twenty for the cut and twenty for the tip. O.K.?"

"You bet. Thank you very much."

"And I will be calling you. This new cut is going to require regular trims, correct?"

I smiled. "Yup, about every six weeks."

"Then I’ll look forward to calling you next month for an appointment. Maybe we can meet here again?", she asked, looking at Helen.

"If I’m working, it will be fine with me."

I nodded my assent. With that, she turned to leave, and Helen walked out with her to unlock the door. I turned to the table and realized that the ponytail was still lying there. My initial inclination was to grab it and run after her, but I hesitated, drinking in the beauty of the rich red hair, and thinking that I could enjoy it for a little while until we met again for the next haircut and I would ask her if she wanted her hair. I reached out to quickly stroke it, then began to clean up the table and prepare for whatever Helen wanted me to do with her hair. I was looking forward not only to the challenge, but to also solving the mystery of just how much hair she had.

I got the table prepared and as ready as I could, not knowing exactly what Helen had in mind other that she had said a haircut. She had turned off the lights in the caf? and now was walking quickly back to the room where I had just given Karen her short haircut. I was hopeful that Helen would also opt for a short cut, which would really put closure on an excellent evening.

She looked at me and smiled as she came up to the chair I was standing in front of and sat down.

"Whew, what a night. It’s really good to sit down."

"Wish I could say that," I grinned in reply.

"Hey, you hairstylists are used to standing on your feet all day."

"Well, don’t you stand on your feet all day, too?"

"Yeah, but I had to pull a double shift today, so I am a little more tired than usual."

"I hope that I can help to relax you a little."

"Don’t worry, I know what I want you to do," she said. And she just looked at me and winked.

"Well, don’t keep me in suspense, I’m ready to start."

"From what I just saw you do with Karen’s hair, I know that you can cut most any style. However, I’m still trying to decide what I’m going to do. So, for tonight, I just want you to cut off one inch of length, and the next time we get together, I’ll know more about what I want."

"O.K., that’s great, I’ll be glad to cut an inch." I moved toward the table, reaching for my haircutting cape.

"Wait, not so fast. That’s not all I want you to do." She gave me a look of challenge. "First, I want you to just play with my hair. Do whatever you want to do with it, I don’t care. You can be rough, or you can be gentle, or you can be a little of both. Position is no problem. I’ll do whatever you want me to do. You have half an hour to play. Then, I want a good shampoo, then a wet trim, and finally you can French braid it so that I have waves in the morning."

"Wow, is that it?" I exclaimed. "Are you sure there isn’t anything else you’ve missed?"

"I don’t think so. Now come on, get started, I don’t have all night."

She winked again, and I wasted no time moving behind her. She settled back against the chair, waiting for me to touch her hair. I looked at the large wad of hair bound within the thick scrunchie. So, gentle or rough, eh? I grasped a piece of the scrunchie and begin to pull it off. Strands of yellow hair began to pop out, and the hair was slick and soft. I pulled again, more scrunchie came loose, and more hair unwound from the wad. Another turn from the scrunchie, then another, and I used my left hand to hold the hair up as I pulled the scrunchie free. Long blond hair began to fall everywhere and spill over my hands and wrists, and as I removed my left hand, all of her hair was released to cover her neck, shoulders and a good portion of the chair back. I tossed the scrunchie on the table, not wanting to delay my chance to play with this mound of 20 inch long or so hair. I grasped it all in my hands and started by making a rough, loose ponytail, feeling the thickness, weight, and silkiness of hair. She had a ton! I let it fall again, and watched as it parted more or less in the center. Then, I gathered it all up again in both hands.

"I must say, you do have an abundance of hair."

"That I do. Sometimes, I feel like just cutting it like you did Karen’s. It is so heavy when I wash it." As she was speaking, I was entwining my fingers in the ponytail I was holding, enjoying the great sensation of holding all of her hair in my hands, and knowing that she was allowing me to do so. She had no idea what this was doing to me physically. I was getting aroused, as I always did, but it was a controlled arousal, giving me a sense of pleasure that was not related to her directly, or any desire to take advantage of her. I had first experienced this as a pre-puberty kid when a girl would allow me to play with her hair in the movie theater or at the pool.

On a sudden whim, I let the mass fall behind the chair. I took the pinkies on both hands, started them at her hairline on her forehead, ran them back vertically to her crown, then horizontally toward each other until they met under her hair, then lifted and separated the front and crown of her hair. I pulled the large section up, grabbing it with both hands, packing it all into my right hand, and using my left to smooth away the hairs that did not belong to this section.

Holding this large section up, I carefully smoothed it into a ponytail with both hands. I gently pulled on it so that the hair was taught, and began to pull her head back. I could hear the sigh of pleasure escape from her lips.

Just to be sure, I said to her, "Not too tight?"

"You go for it!"

I added tension, pulling harder with my right hand while my left stoked the soft hair, and she responded evenly more audibly. I released the tension, and then using both hands pulled the section straight up from her head and began to slowly twist it, tightening it from scalp to ends. Again, I could hear the sigh from her, and I was marveling at how little of all her hair that I was holding, yet how thick and luxurious this part was. When I had it twisted tight, I moved it back and forth, taking her head with it, and the sighing became deeper and louder. After a series of side to side and back to front movements, I grabbed the twisted hair with my right hand as close and as tight to her head as possible and released my left hand, allowing her hair to cascade down around my hand and arm. Holding it tight, I pulled her head back, and at the same time began to run the fingers of my left hand through the rest of her hair, section by section, starting at her scalp, and letting my fingers flow through the soft locks until I got to the end, then shifting to another portion of her head and repeating the process.

"Oh, that feels so good. I love to have someone pulling on my hair. When I was in grade school, I used to let two people play with my hair, one on each side."

"I don’t think I’ve ever had a customer say that before. I know that when I learned to braid, a girl friend taught me by showing me how on her friend’s head. We made braids together."

"That’s pretty much what I would let people do. Except the boys. I let them do anything as long as they promised not to cut it or put gum in my hair."

"Yeah, I imagine the boys didn’t know how to do much except just play with it."

I kept the tension on the hair I was holding in my right hand, and I was monitoring her reaction to what I was doing. She began to seem to be sighing more to the stroking of her hair, so I released my grasp on the top of her hair and let it fall. Quickly, I pulled all of hair together into a ponytail, and while I was holding it, I moved in front of her and picked up my hairbrush with my free hand.

"O.K., bend down," I said, and immediately her body bent forward and her head was now horizontal. I released her hair to fall around her head, and it covered her legs. I put my fingers on the nape of her neck and drew them through her hair, from nape to crown, and now she was really sighing loudly. I did many hand strokes that way, moving completely around her hairline, and then I started the process over again using the brush, carefully using my free hand to detangle the hair that was in the brush. I quickly, but carefully, brushed her hair while she was in this position.

I knew my time was running out.

"O.K., back up again, back against the chair."

She complied slowly this time, indicating that she did not want the brushing to stop. I took this as a sign. I took a handful of hair and pulled it back, helping her come vertical again, and she gave a squeal of delight.

"Oh, that feels good. Pull it some more."

As she came up, I started again at her forehead, grasping handfuls of her hair and pulling them tight, then running my hand from scalp to ends while holding it as tight as possible. I was totally wrecking the brushing I had just completed, but she seemed to love the pulling. After a few minutes of "manhandling" her hair, I picked up the brush again to comb out the tangles and get her hair ready for the shampoo.

With the last stroke, she sighed loudly and said, "O.K., play time is up, let’s shampoo."

"I’m ready. How do you want the shampoo?"

"Let’s take the chair over to the sink and I’ll stick my head in the bowl."

In a few moments I had a shampoo cape around her shoulders, and we moved the chair over to the sink. I got the water to a good temperature, and she told me she was looking forward to a really good shampoo.

When I said "O.K.", she lowered her head forward into the sink, and I ran my hands through her hair from nape to crown, allowing her hair to spill into the sink and literally "fill" it up. I sprayed the back of her head with water, then moved the spay head to the sides and then the crown, making sure each hair was soaked. I turned the water off, then filled the palm of my hand with shampoo, set the bottle down and transferring the shampoo to both hands, began to apply the shampoo to her hair. Quickly I rubbed the shampoo in to her hair, and was satisfied to see the lather forming. I pulled her hair into a forward ponytail to make sure that the entire length was full of shampoo, then I began again at the nape of her neck massaging her scalp with the tips of my fingers. Now I was really getting the sighs of pleasure, as her head seemed to be moving in concert with my fingers. It was tough massaging and not pulling her hair because it was so thick.

It took me almost ten minutes to massage her head, and then I did a final ponytail and worked my fingers from scalp to ends. With one final sigh from her, I turned the water back on, adjusted the temperature, and began to rinse the beautiful long hair. When it was free of suds and squeaky clean, I put a dollop of condition in my palm and ran it through the length of hair, using my fingers as rakes. With a final squeezing of her hair to remove excess liquid, she sat back and I wrapped her hair in a towel, and we moved the chair back over to the table.

I let her sit for a few moments while I gathered my tools-scissors, rattail comb, wide-tooth comb, and a half-dozen alligator clips. I was ready to move in a new direction of personal satisfaction in working with her hair.

Everything was in place, so I took off the towel, placed it on the table, and then turned my attention to the thick, fragrant golden hair. I used my hands to first pull it back from her face, then used my fingers as a rake, to get the tangles out. Then I switched to the wide-toothed comb, and in a few minutes her hair was slick and wet, with a natural slightly off center part on the right side. I used the rattail to section her hair horizontally from ear to ear, and pulled the huge mass of hair up, twisting it tight and securing it on top of her head with two big clips. Then I clipped up two more sections, leaving the nape section long. I ran the comb through it quickly, then picked up the scissors.

"One inch, right?"

"One inch is perfect. Next time it might be twelve inches."

"You’re the boss", I said with joy in my voice.

I snipped off an inch from the ends of this section, then released the next section, and repeated the process. The next section was a bit thick, so I divided it in half and did two cuttings on it, leaving this section a little longer than the previous sections. I wanted to cut all of her hair, but I also wanted to resist the temptation to cut more so that she would have confidence in me for a future cut. By the time I blunt cut her hair, I would be taking just a smidge off the top. That was O.K., because the thrill for her tonight was finding a person who would play with hair.

I unclipped the top, and holding it with my left hand, I ran the rattail around the perimeter of her head, extracting another thin section to cut. I re-clipped the top, combed out the section, and went to work, carefully keeping the line that I had established, which was straight from side to side. I felt that this cut would allow her hair to really look even thicker on the ends. Two more sections were cut, and finally I had the crown and to keepthe front combed down, and as I thought, I was trimming just a quarter inch from this part. With the final snip, I placed the scissors on the table, put my hands under her hair at the neck, and lifted her hair as high as I could, letting it drop freely. I did this about half a dozen times, then using my hands again I smoothed her hair out, raking out the few tangles I had created.

"Wow, it really feels lighter," she exclaimed.

"I don’t know how, since I hardly cut any, but it does free your hair to move a lot more. It’s almost dry, so I’m just going to do a light brushing and we’ll be finished."

And that was the close of the evening for Helen. Starting at the front hairline, I slowly and carefully drew the brush through her hair, beginning first with my free hand, which was ready to catch any tangles. In five minutes, her hair looked so full, thick, and was cut perfectly straight, with just a hint of a turn under at the ends. I took off the cape, and she jumped up and ran to the bathroom to look. Squeals of laughter came from her as she tossed her hair from side to side and it fell right back into place.

"O.K., French braid, although I’m a little reluctant because it looks so good right now."

"It’s your call, I have a few more minutes."

"I like the waves, so go ahead. Loose is good for now."

I quickly French braided her hair, enjoying working with the damp sections, taking a bit more time than I thought to just glory in the sensation of her silky, thick locks. In ten minutes I was finished, and the braid looked sensational. She quickly got up and sped to the bathroom.

She came out beaming, and expressed her sincere appreciation not only for the time I took to work with her hair, but also that I had listened to her instructions. She gave me a check with a very large tip, and we exchanged business cards. She said that she would be calling me soon for a shampoo and massage, and perhaps for an updo or another French braid. I told her that I would be ready for anything. She gave me a plastic bag for Karen’s hair, and I put the thick red hair in the bag, then into my case.

"You know, one of these days, when I get the courage, you’ll be putting my hair in a plastic bag like that," she said, very seriously.

"I hope not too soon-it’s very enjoyable for me to work with your hair as it is now."

"I appreciate that, but I keep thinking I need a change, so keep your scissors sharp."

With that, she let me out the door, and I walked her to her car, where we said good-bye until the next time that she would call me.

I thought to myself, I might have to spend a little more time here, after all. The risk was worth it if I continued to meet more ladies like these three.

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