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It had been a good morning for Stephanie. She liked to cut hair. That is, to cut hair, not just trim it. She liked to give her customers a new look. Cutting hair was exactly what she had been doing this morning. She had four appointments during the morning and every one of them had wanted their hair cut into a new short style. Perhaps it had been the recent spell of hot weather, or maybe it was just the latest fashion. Whatever the reason, a lot of her customers had been shedding their tresses lately. Not only did she enjoy giving short haircuts, it was good for business. Her close cropped customers had to come in a lot more often for trims to keep their style looking good.

After saying good-bye to her last customer of the morning, she glanced down at her schedule. She had thirty minutes for lunch, then another cut; after that her schedule was packed, three frosts and a perm. She recognized the name of her next appointment. Joan had been a client of hers for about three years. Stephanie moaned to herself. That would be a boring appointment she thought. Joan had boring hair. (Stephanie didn’t know it but Joan thought so too.) It was mousy brown and usually had little or no curl. Usually Joan just tied it back with a rubber band. About the only good thing that there was to say about what Joan did with her hair was that she kept it trimmed. Every couple of months she would have Stephanie cut an inch or so. Once in a while, Joan would get reckless and get two inches taken off, but that was about it. It was always long enough that it could be tied back. Not only that, Stephanie thought that Joan seemed like a very dull person. Joan never seemed to do anything interesting or exciting.

Today when she came in, Joan was ready to talk. She was excited. She was leaving the next day to go on a week long cruise with her sister – a singles cruise. As Stephanie shampooed her hair, Joan started telling her about planning for the trip, the clothes they had bought, etc. Joan explained that it had been longer than usual since her last haircut because she wanted to wait so that she could get it cut right before she left on her trip so that it would look nice while she was on vacation. In fact, she explained, this time she wanted Stephanie to shorten it up a lot more than usual.

They walked over to Stephanie’s chair. Stephanie had just started to comb Joan’s wet hair when the receptionist called out that Stephanie had a phone call. Excusing herself and explaining that she was expecting an important call, Stephanie went over to the receptionist’s desk to take the call. Meanwhile, Joan started talking with the person in the chair next to her whom she knew.

When Stephanie was finished on the phone, she turned toward the shop, threw her arms out to the side and yelled, “Hey everyone! Guess what? I’m pregnant!!!” There were cheers and congratulations and a general hubbub following Stephanie’s not so subtle announcement.

It took a while before the shop and Stephanie settled down enough for her to finally think about cutting Joan’s hair. She explained to Joan that she and her husband had been trying to start a family for several months. The whole shop was excited for her and Stephanie was just bubbling. Donna, the hairdresser on Stephanie’s left, and her customer, chatted away about babies, pregnancy and also Joan’s upcoming cruise, which they had started discussing while Joan was waiting for Stephanie to return.

Stephanie knew that she had to work quickly now. She was going to be behind for the rest of the day. Joan kept turning her head to talk with the women on her left, as Stephanie tried to comb her hair. Finally Stephanie gave up and turned the chair so that Joan faced them. Joining in the conversation, all Stephanie really could think about was her wonderful news. She couldn’t wait to tell her husband that night. She ran a comb through Joan’s hair, first combing it straight back, gently working through the tangles. Then she combed to it one side and parted it. Then along the part she separated a section and lifted it with her comb. Taking the section between her fingers, with a practiced eye, she measured off 2 inches and cut. She tossed the chunk of hair which she had just cut into a corner on the floor. Joan was engaged in the banter with the stylist and customer next to Stephanie, about the way in which Stephanie announced her news that morning. Selecting another section of Joan’s hair, Stephanie lifted it and cut again. Just then the receptionist came over and told Stephanie that her next appointment had just called and canceled.

Relieved that she wasn’t going to be behind all afternoon, Stephanie continued cutting, and reached the center of the top of Joan’s head. She then parted the hair on the other side. By now Donna had finished working on her customer’s hair and the two of them walked to the front of the shop. Stephanie was glad.

Although she did not mind them talking, she did not like having to work with her chair turned sideways. Also, it was much harder to get Joan to hold her head still when she was talking so much. She turned Joan to face the mirror as she continued to work. Again she selected a section along the part Joan turned her attention to the mirror, just in time to see the scissors slice through the wet strands, leaving exactly two inches! Joan was shocked. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing! She tried to say something but she couldn’t get the words out of her mouth before Stephanie cut another section. Joan’s stomach went into a compulsive knot; her heart just about sank into her shoes; and her mouth fell open. Snip went the scissors,, and another section was tossed into a corner on the floor. Stephanie did not notice the look on Joan’s face. Finally Joan was able to struggle out a few words. “Stephanie! Wh-what are you…” Snip “…doing?”

Stephanie had often been teased about being a dumb blonde. She assumed that this was another of those occasions and she wasn’t going to have any of it. Without looking up from her work, she replied mater of factly, “Cutting your hair of course.” “Stop!” exclaimed Joan. “That isn’t what I wanted you to do!” Stephanie was dumbfounded and couldn’t understand what Joan was talking about. Didn’t she say that she wanted her hair cut really short?

After getting their signals straight, Stephanie apologized and then explained to Joan, “At this point about all I can do is finish cutting your hair this way. If I stop now, your going to have the strangest punk look you have ever seen.”

Reluctantly, Joan agreed. Stephanie went to work, determined to make the best of a mistake. She couldn’t put Joan’s hair back, but she could at least make sure that she gave her a good looking cut. Of course, at that time, in Stephanie’s book, a good looking cut meant VERY short. Joan watched intently as Stephanie worked. When Stephanie cut her hair on the sides above her ears, tears started to form in Joan’s eyes, but she blinked them away, telling herself that she was being silly.

Trying to make up to Joan for her mistake, since her next appointment had canceled, Stephanie offered to frost Joan’s hair for free. Joan was not sure about it at first but after considering it for a little while, and with some encouragement from Donna, Joan agreed.

When Stephanie was finished, Joan barely recognized herself. The hair on top was the longest, just about two inches. The hair on the sides were cut very close and thinned to make it lay flat to her head, The back was equally close.

However, as sort of a souvenir of the old style, Stephanie left a skinny braid at the bottom of the back, in the middle. She moussed and curled Joan’s hair on top (the only part that was even barely long enough to curl). Then the top was brushed back from Joan’s face, The rest had to just lay straight and flat. While Stephanie had been a little restrained when she frosted Joan’s hair, when she was finished Joan definitely looked like a blond.

After Stephanie was completely finished and handed Joan a mirror so that she could also see th
e back, Joan didn’t know what to say. She just kept shaking her head and saying “I can’t believe it.” Finally she nodded her head in agreement and said “It looks really nice.” Stephanie did feel bad about making the mistake. On the other hand, she told herself, Joan definitely looked a lot more stylish and attractive than before..

Epilogue: Joan had a great time on the cruise. Men seemed to be attracted to her (which was a first) and they kept complimenting her on her hair (another first).

Therefore it should be no surprise that she was back to see Stephanie in a few weeks for a trim. In fact, she kept that hairstyle for nearly three years. Only reluctantly did she finally change. It took a lot of encouragement from her sister and from Stephanie to get her to finally try something new.

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