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It had been about 8 weeks since my last trim. I had noticed the hair around my ears sticking out and Jenny had not cut it very short the last time anyway. She was like that. Sometimes she half scalped you and sometimes she hardly cut it. I think it depended on her mood rather than any fashion statement.

It was Monday and I decided to book an appointment for the Tuesday evening. I liked Tuesdays as it was model night and you usually had some pretty young thing getting something fairly drastic to watch and comment upon.

“Hello, Hair by New Wave, Amy speaking. Can I help you?”

“Yes, I’d like to make an appointment tomorrow evening with Jenny please”

“Erm. Jenny doesn’t work here anymore – she left on Saturday but I can book you in with someone else!”

“Oh. Is she working somewhere else?” Perhaps she’ll tell me and I can book in at her new place I thought.

“I’m not sure. She has moved in with her boyfriend and left the area.” Jenny was always talking about moving in with him. I guessed she must have finally taken the plunge. “I can book you in with Siobhan. She’s new but she’s very good” I thought for a second and then thought – it needs cutting anyway and so I said, “OK.”

“Right, 6:30 then with Siobhan for a cut and finish? What’s the name please?” said Amy

I put the phone down and it seemed strange. You never knew what you were going to get with Jenny. Sometimes you could hardly tell you had a haircut and other times she’d make you wish you hadn’t but that was the fun of it. It seemed disloyal somehow having someone else cut my hair after nearly 4 years.

I arranged my day so I could finish early and left the office at about 5:30. I liked to get to the salon early to catch the end of a cut if I could. You sometimes got to witness a lot of hair lying around. As I walked in I was looking around for a face I did not recognise who might be Siobhan. The receptionist took my details and asked me to take a seat and went off to find Siobhan.

I began to look at what was being done when I was aware of a lady walking toward me. “Hi, I’m Siobhan.” I looked up and saw a tall girl with a severe black bob haircut smiling at me. I smiled back and she said, “Come and sit in the chair and let’s have a talk about what we are going to be doing for you.”

She motioned to a nearby chair and I noticed she had very red lipstick on and quite a lot of makeup but she was very attractive. I sat down and she immediately began to pull my hair back off my face and look at me “What’s it to be then?” she said

“Erm… well it’s been a couple of months since my last cut,” I started “I can see that,” she said. “Did Jenny used to cut it?”

“Yes,” I replied

“I’m amazed you have anything left at all,” she grinned. “Shall I just tidy it up for you?”

“Erm, yes,” I said

Damn. She was so attractive and I just sat there in total awe. She must have thought I was a total dead loss.

“Lucy!” she shouted. “Shampoo!” and then she turned to me and said, “I’ll see you in few minutes.”

Lucy washed my hair and eventually led me back to the chair and asked if I would like a drink and left me to go and make a coffee. Siobhan finished a conversation with the receptionist and came over. She toweled my hair a little drier and then placed a black cutting collar over my shoulders. She combed my hair and gently tilted my head forwards.

I had sat in total silence. I knew what I wanted to say but I had made an awful start and I knew she must think I was stupid. I held my breath and started to say, “Did Jenny have a bit of a reputation for….” But the words sort of stuck in my throat and got all garbled.

She obviously heard my pathetic attempt at communicating as she sort of half moved to one side and said, “Sorry, you were saying?”

She was so attractive. I am never stuck for words but this time I was sitting and babbling. I took a deep breath and said, “I was just asking if Jenny had a bit of a reputation for scalping clients.”

She grinned. “Well I never met her but the stories some of the other staff have told me. Well… shall we just say she was a bit scissor-happy”

I leapt to Jenny’s defense. “Oh, I thought she was quite good”

Siobhan sort of cut me off. “Like I said, I hardly knew her. I’m just surprised you have this much hair as one of her clients.”

At least we were speaking but I was making a right hash of trying to impress her. I carried on. “Yes it’s been ages since it was cut and she left it quite long then. I quite like it short!”

She stopped and said, “Do you want me to send you short again then?”

I panicked a little and sort of hedged my bets. “I dunno, what do you think?”

She said, “It’s your hair and I wouldn’t ask me – I love short hair on men. I clipper shave my boyfriend, sorry ex-boyfriend.”

A chink, an opening. She said, “Ex.”

“Ex?” I queried.

“Yes. Ex,” she said. “I went out with him for about 8 months but he lived here and I lived about 150 miles away and he asked me to move in with him. Mum hated him and it caused a big family row and I eventually left home, my job and moved in with him about 6 weeks ago. I lived with him for 12 days and caught him in bed with someone else so I moved out and have spent the last 3 weeks sorting out a job, a place to live. Mum was right but I’m determined not to go back home so here I am.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “You must hate this town”

“I haven’t seen much of it,” she said. “At least I have a job now and hopefully I’ll be able to be able to afford to go out. Oh I’m sorry. You are supposed to come here to relax and here I am boring you with all my problems.”

“Would you like me to take you and show you some good places after work tonight?”

She picked up a lock of hair on the crown and held her scissors about a half-inch from the roots. “Do you want a short do?” She said it as though it were a sort of precondition of me taking her out.

“If I say yes, will you?”

She closed the scissors and about an inch and a half of hair dropped into my lap. “I don’t eat red meat!” She grinned and said, “I hope short hair suits you!” and sliced through another section she had just picked up.

“So do I,” I said

“We’ll find out soon.” And another clump of hair flew.

She grabbed the dryer from the shelf in front of me and quite roughly began to dry my hair. I wasn’t sure if she had finished or what but she soon explained, “You can’t clipper wet hair. It clogs the clippers,” and carried on drying.

I tried to sound unconcerned. “Oh, you are going to clipper it? What guard are you going to use – a number 4?”

She grinned again. “No. A number 4 is for girls. I’ll start with a 2. If you are taking me out I want you to look neat. Don’t worry – it’s only hair, it grows.” I didn’t know if I should be elated with my date with this gorgeous creature or petrified at the thought of her being in total control of my future hairstyle. In truth I was both.

She began to unwind the cord from around the clippers and plugged them in. One of the juniors had arrived with a set of black plastic comb attachments and Siobhan selected one and fitted it to the clippers. She switched them on and an angry yet purposeful hum emitted. She pushed her left hand up through the hair in front of my ear and followed with a sweep of the clipper. The tone changed slightly and a clump of twisted hair detached itself and fell. I looked at the section in the mirror. It wasn’t too short, I remember thinking. Siobhan had moved slightly and was doing the same on the other side. The small piece just in front of the ear had gone and at least I looked even again in the mirror.

She now moved to my side and very swiftly ploughed the clippers from the front to the crown. She did this 3 times, each time taking another strip of longer hair off. She was taking great swipes of hair away and I was realizing this was a bit shorter than I had ever imagined. The sides merged into the top and she was round the back. Soon she was running the cli
ppers over and nothing was coming off at all. I was amazed at how quickly all the hair had come off and I was aware of every draught as she moved round.

She was now standing in front of me and bending over whilst she ran the clippers over my head in different directions. I remember having a peek at her cleavage and thinking it was almost worth the haircut just for that.

“Short enough for you?” she smiled

“Short enough for you?” I asked back

“Don’t tempt me. Next time it’s a number 1 all over. It makes you look cute. I like it,” she said

She took off the cape and went to get a clothes brush. As she was returning I could see one of the others having a conversation with her. I rubbed my hand over my head. It felt strange, sort of smooth one way but quite spiky the other. It was obviously very short. I could see myself in the mirror and it was a drastic change. I wasn’t sure if I hated it or if it was OK. It was a style I had seen on 100s of others but this time it was me.

She arrived back and said, “Look I’m really sorry but I can’t make tonight. I’ve promised to model for Sue and I can’t let her down as it’s assessed by her college. I’m sorry, I just forgot but maybe we can do it another night?”

I thought of my sacrifice of hair and I thought I’m not letting this creature go without a struggle.

“How long will this model thing take?” I asked

“Well it’s colour, so an hour, maybe an hour and a half with the cut!” “I don’t mind waiting if you don’t mind me waiting. It’s only 6:45 now.” “No,” she smiled, “I don’t mind at all but I’ll need to ask Sue. I’m sure she’ll be OK with it. I’ll go and see.”

She soon came back followed by a smaller girl with spiky hair who was carrying a cape.

“Sue says it’s fine with her,” said Siobhan

Sue looked at me and said, “You are going to get a new girlfriend tonight,” and I thought she was referring to me taking Siobhan out and then she carried on as she sat Siobhan down and pulled her dark hair out from under the cape. “All this has got to go and she’s going blonde.”

Siobhan glanced across at me. “You don’t mind do you? I am actually a lot lighter than this.”

Sue picked up a section of hair and said, “That’s why it’s got to go.”

She had sat in the same chair as me and Sue was now brushing up the small pile of my hair that only moments before had been cut and she pushed it past me to the back of the shop. She came back and explained that she had to wait until her tutor appeared before beginning the haircut and began to brush her hair.

Siobhan asked, “You going to scissor over comb it?” and Sue said, “Dunno, this black has got to come off so I may just clipper it. It will give me more time to bleach and tone it if I do. Hang on,” and she went off and came back with a folder, which she passed to me.

The folder was full of little fans of hair in every different colour you could imagine. She said, “Which one do you fancy for her then?” There was a bright blue colour which I jokingly said, “How about that?” but Sue said, “Maybe next time – how about this?” and pointed to a light grey fan.

“Isn’t that Grey?” I asked.

“No,” said Sue. “It’s ash. It looks very nice when it’s done.”

Siobhan said, “What’s he chosen?” and Sue said, “An Ash,” and Siobhan said, “Don’t make it too cool, I don’t want to look 40.”

The door opened and the examiner came in. She greeted Sue and looked at Siobhan. “Is this your model?”

“Yes,” said Sue

“You’re in for a bit of a change!” she said to Siobhan. She then looked at Sue and said, “Do you remember the instructions we discussed in class? This is part of your final assessment so it’s totally up to you how you dress this head. I only mark the final result. You have 90 minutes. Any questions?”

“No,” said Sue.

“Right. Your time starts now,” she said and sat down in reception.

Sue grabbed the clippers and attached a very large guard, switched them on and pressed them into the side of Siobhan’s bob. Lengths of black hair did come off but it still looked exactly the same. She carried on toward the rear with the clippers and more lengths came off and you could just begin to see a patch of hair that was a lot shorter beginning to appear. The hair from the crown overhung the section and obscured the shorter section. By now she was standing behind her and was running the clippers up the back of Siobhan’s head. It was a fairly slow and deliberate motion and the slightly sinister hum of the clippers changed to a harsh zing noise as it found more hair to clip.

By now Sue had Siobhan’s head pushed down and as she clipped with her right hand she would immediately comb with her left. The bob had gone totally at the back and she was going right up to the crown with the sweeps of the clippers. She went round the blind side from my view and I guessed she was cropping that side off. She soon moved to the back and with her left hand and fingers pulled the hair on the top of her head backwards and followed with the clippers. She did this several times and as huge swathes of hair came off you could really see a very different head shape emerging. It was short but nothing like as short as mine, it was still maybe an inch long. It did not stick out. Sue soon began running the clippers from front to back ever more quickly and only occasionally did the hum change, indicating it had found a clump of hair that had not been sheared to its uniform length. A couple more passes and she switched them off and walked off to the back of the shop.

Siobhan got her hand out from under the cape and ran them through her hair. She looked at me and said, “Shit this is so short. Does it suit me?”

“Well, it’s a big change but I think you look OK,” I said.

She was by now pulling bits of hair and said, “There is still quite a lot of black in the ends, I hope the bleach brings it up ok.”

The examiner was quite interested and commented, “Well I guess if it’s going to come off this is quite a rapid way of removing it!”

Sue arrived back with a small plastic bowl. She now had clear plastic gloves and a plastic apron on. She began to brush the contents of the bowl onto Siobhan’s head in quite a logical order ensuring no pieces were missed. The examiner watched this process quite intensely. She soon finished and combed all her hair upward to a sort of light blue swept-back look. She pulled a clear plastic bag over her and sat her under an old-fashioned looking hood dryer. “20 minutes in the steamer and I’ll check it,” she said.

Sue collected the bowl and looked at me. “No turning back now, you’ll have a bleached blonde girlfriend soon.” She took the bowl into the back and arrived back with a brush, with which she began to brush up the long black strands of hair that were all around the chair where Siobhan had sat. She selected a long strand of hair and passed it to me. “A souvenir?” she said. I took it and placed it in my wallet. She pushed the black pile of hair away toward the rear of the Salon with the brush.

When she arrived back she was carrying the same bowl as before and she lifted the hood off Siobhan.

Siobhan said, “Ugh. It’s hot in here.” Sue took the plastic cap off and began to poke at the hair. I strained to see the effect of the bleach but it still looked blue to me. Sue began to brush more contents of the bowl onto Siobhan’s head and massage it and then she placed the plastic cap over her head again and said, “Another 10 minutes of torture,” and lowered the hood back onto Siobhan.

After about 10 minutes a bleeper sounded from the hood and Sue lifted it off and went through the same procedure. She seemed to wipe a section of hair with a tissue and look at it and then pick another one and wipe that. She did this several times. Siobhan was looking quite pink and flushed in her face.

Sue took her away to the backwashes and washed off the light blue paste. When she came back to the seat she had a towel wrapped turban-like around her head. Sue began to dry her hair but not allowing the towel to slip so we could get a
glimpse of the hair and then said, “Get ready for a shock!” and pulled the towel away. Siobhan gasped, “Oh” and looked embarrassed and then began to look at herself in the mirror. It was very spiky and a yellow blonde.

Sue wasted no time and began to dry it. This took only a few minutes and she went off to bring back yet another bowl. This time she covered the head with the same procedure of taking small sections of hair and covering them with the paste from the bowl. She finished and placed another clear plastic bag on her head and said, “Only a few minutes for this and you don’t need the steamer.” At this stage the examiner asked to go to the toilet and after she had been shown where it was Sue hissed at Siobhan.

“The bleach has reacted differently on the roots to the ends. There’s a definite line. Will the toner cover it?”

Siobhan said, “It might but I doubt it.”

Sue said, “Shit, what do I do now?”

Siobhan said, “Well you can either get the thinning shears and whack away so the line doesn’t look so bad or cut it off below the line.”

Sue said, “Which do I do?”

Siobhan replied “Depends on how much time you have left. If you have time then use the thinning shears. If you don’t… Whatever you do don’t leave a line. You’ll fail. I’m not bothered honestly, it’s only hair.”

Sue looked at her and said, “Thanks, you really are a mate.”

She waltzed her off to the backwashes again and when she came back she looked exactly the same. The big change came as she dried her hair and it went lighter and lighter and when she finished it was the most amazing white blonde I had ever seen.

Sue look at the examiner “How long do I have?”

The examiner looked at her watch and said, “You have finished with about 10 minutes to spare.”

Sue answered, “I haven’t finished yet,” and then at Siobhan, “Sorry but it’s got to go.”

She grabbed the clippers and swapped the plastic guard. She placed her left hand on top of Siobhan’s new blonde hair and pushed her head forward and eased the clippers from the nape to the crown. A shower of tiny white hairs eased off her head and paused briefly on the cape before slithering and sliding onto the salon floor. She did the same thing in a section next door to the first and again I scrutinized the area to see the result of this. At first glance it looked like little had happened but as she made more and more passes with the clippers a very sleek round head shape began to appear.

Sue stood directly behind Siobhan and lifted up her head and placed the clippers on the crown just behind the front and pulled back past the crown and down onto the nape. The same shower of released blonde clippings flew from the top and rained down, covering the shoulders of the cape.

Sue carried on taking long pulls from the crown to the nape or sides and a very short head shape with a slightly longer piece at the front was evident. The hair was white blonde but you could clearly see scalp showing under the sparse covering of hair. By now Sue had finished with the clippers and had grabbed some scissors and she was busy chopping at the longer front area. She finished this off by applying some gel or mousse and combing it back and into a small quiff. She undid the gown and removed it with a flourish and announced, “Finished!” Siobhan sat and looked at herself in the mirror from every angle. “Shit,” she said. “This is SHORT!”

The examiner went over to look and said, “Well, it’s certainly a blonde crop.” And she peered at Siobhan’s head and began to examine the roots. After a few seconds she stopped. “I think it’s good enough,” she declared and then said to Siobhan, “I hope someone is not going to get into trouble for this,” and looked pointedly at Sue. She then said, “Right, I’ll see you in class next week. Well done!” and she left.

Siobhan looked at Sue and ran her hand over her head. “Could you have cut it any shorter?” she asked sarcastically.

Sue looked a bit ashamed and said, “I’m sorry but you had a noticeable line where the black used to be and I just had to even it out. I had no time to thin it out so I had no option but to clipper it. It suits you short. It makes you look like a model”

Siobhan looked back at her and said, “Yeah? A model for what?”

Sue sort of flushed up and said, “Well, I think it makes you look younger and at least it’s got rid of that awful black hair that was dragging your face down.” Siobhan was looking at herself in the mirror from every angle and said, “Yip, you couldn’t wish for much more a drastic change!” and she looked at me and said, “Well?”

I was unsure what to say so I said something about it being a big change but still suiting her. Siobhan simply asked, “So do you still want to go out with a girl looking like this?”

I took every bit of courage I had, looked her straight in the eyes and said, “I think you look simply stunning. I would be the luckiest man in the world to go out with you.”

She blushed and went all coy and then composed herself. “Well you’ll need to take me home to get changed. I need to change this makeup.”

“At least your hair shouldn’t take long,” I interrupted.

“No that’s one thing about it. Come on,” she said.

She went to get her jacket. Sue was brushing up and generally tidying up the mess when Siobhan came back. Siobhan called out to Sue, “Am I busy in the morning?” Sue looked in the appointment book and said, “You’re not too bad. You have one at 9-30,10-30, 11-00 and….”

“Nothing at 10?” interrupted Siobhan.

“Err, no. Nothing in the book,” said Sue.

“Great,” said Siobhan, “Book yourself in.”

“Erm… What for?” said Sue.

“Payback Time!”

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