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Matt and Kate had been set up on a blind date for Friday evening. Neither one was excited about the prospect of the unknown, but their mutual friends had annoyed them enough that they finally agreeing to it. Fearing the worst, Matt decided the afternoon of the date to bail. Kate also had made the same decision earlier that morning. However, neither told the other, but Fate was not to be dissuaded. On the way home from work, Kate pulled into a gas station and hopped out to fill up her Jeep. As she stood there, she noticed the guy on the other side of the pump looking away in a shy manner. When she finally did make eye contact, she spoke first. ?Hi. Come here often??

Matt laughed. ?I thought only guys used bad pick up lines like that.? As they started talking, he admitted his aborted plans for the evening. She laughed as she confessed her similar plans for the evening. ?Wait, what did you say you name was??

?Kate. Kate Mitchell.?

?Oh no! I don?t believe this!!! I am Matt Todd. I can?t believe you were going to stand me up!?

?Excuse me, but I believe you were going to do the very same thing to me!?

And with that, they headed off to dinner and a few months later down the aisle. It was amazing how happy they were ? Kate even got along well with her mother-in-law! For their first anniversary, Matt surprised Kate with a life long dream fulfillment – traveling Route 66. Kate was beside herself with happiness! While they wished it could be for longer, they could each only pull two weeks of vacation. It took them almost 12 hours to get to Route 66, but they finally got there. After a night?s rest in Chicago, they started on their way. They took the trip slowly, stopping on a whim to see the sites and staying in odd shaped motels. Just before they left Illinois, they saw a sign for a town called Mitchell. Kate decided it was meant to be and pulled off.

They got out of the car and started walking around. It was mid afternoon and they wondered toward a group of shops that appeared to be frozen in time. Even the people sitting on the front stoop looked as if they had been there since the 1940s. It wasn?t long before Matt and Kate were being regaled with stories of days gone by. After a couple of hours, Kate stood up to take some pictures. One of the old men suggested that she go into the barbershop next door and get some shots. As Kate introduced herself, she discovered that the barber, Millie, was the old man?s wife and 70, if a day. She took some shots of the shop and of Millie in action. When she finished with her customers, the two women each took a seat in the two barber chairs and started chatting. Millie reached over and picked up the end of Kate?s hair and noted she needed a shape up. Kate could not deny that her hair had been a lower priority during the last year and had grown just past her waist. But it was still healthy, just long. Millie got up and turned Kate toward the mirror. ?Have you ever thought about short hair? Do you see when I pull it up like this how you neck really stands out? Now if I bend you hair like this, you can see how you would look like with bangs. What do you think??

?What are you two up to?? Matt paused at the door while his eyes adjusted to the darkness of the shop.

?I am about to give your wife a hair cut, pretty short one from the looks of it. Care to sit and watch? Bet you have never seen a woman get her haircut.?

Kate sat forward in the chair, ?Now wait, I did not agree to a hair cut, especially what you are talking about. I admit it is out of shape, and I have thought about cutting it short, but I don?t want ??

?Honey,? Matt interrupted, ?I didn?t know you wanted to cut your hair. I mean I love it, but if that is what you want, I will support you. You know that. How short were you thinking?? Matt had never thought about Kate with short hair. Millie moved in and gently pushed Kate back into the chair.

?Wait! I did not say I wanted a haircut!?

Millie pulled Kate back in the chair. ?Now relax. I would not do that to you with your okay. But you really do need a shape up. Look at these split ends and how uneven it is. I will just even it up for you and it will be on the house. Hubby okay with that??

Matt sat back with a smirk. ?Then I will take that look as an okay. Now just sit still. You will still have your beautiful hair when I am done. I am not even going to pin it up. I will just even it up down here.? Millie brushed her hair and then pulled up a chair, scissors and comb in hand.

Kate was not convinced and looked nervously at Matt, who was obviously amused at seeing his wife trying to squirm out of the situation. ?Just a trim, please. I like it long. I don?t want to change my hair. Just a trim, okay??

?A trim won?t do any good on these split ends. I need to take some length off to make it look healthy. Anyway, if I stop now, you will have a mess down here, I have already started and can?t put it back. I don?t think hubby over there would be happy, would he?? Kate looked at the reflection of her husband who was now sitting straight up, eyes wide open. She stared at him, trying to get him to look at her and tell her what was happening. Because all of her hair was pulled behind her, she could not see anything. The only thing that gave her comfort was that Millie had to use a chair to work on her hair and there was no cape on Kate, so it couldn?t be too bad. But Matt still had that look on his face. The only thing Kate knew was that she kept hearing scissors closing on her hair, over and over and over and over again. When Millie finally stood up, Kate tried to look around at the floor. What she saw alarmed her. She reached around and found her long locks and sighed with relief. ?I told you it would still be there. Now stand up and see your hair.?

Kate jumped up and turned to the side. As she looked in the mirror, she drew in a sharp breath. Where it had been past her waist, it was now just past her bra strap. ?Uh, that is a bit more than a trim. How many inches did I loose??

?Oh, only about 12, maybe fourteen. Hard to say. I started with only 3, but with your tall build, the length was dragging you down. Anyway, someone had to start you on the road to short hair, why not me? What does hubby over there think??

?I agree, it does look better. Are you sure there is no charge? We do need to get on the road.? Kate could not believe it. She felt as if she were a doll that just had its hair cut and then tossed back into the toy box. She remained polite, and followed Matt to the car. They rode in silence for a short while until he pulled off into a small motel?s parking lot. Without saying a word, he got out and went into the office. A few minutes later, he got back in the car and pulled in front of a door with a number 9 on it. Matt got out, got the bags out of the trunk and looked at Kate, still sitting in the car. ?Are you coming?? Kate got out and followed her husband through the door. If there had been any friends or family members in the area, she would have called them to come and get her. He shut the door without looking at her. ?What did you think about your haircut??

She sat on the bed. ?Do you mean as you and the mad cutter went wild on my hair? I did not feel I had any choice; she just did what she wanted. I told her no and she cut anyway. And she cut and cut and cut. I mean, the sound of the scissors continually cutting was strange, since I never hear them in the salon.? She paused. ?I guess in a way, it was a bit exciting.?

?I was helpless, too. I wanted to protect you, but watching your hair fall away somehow paralyzed me. I only wanted to do this.? He walked over and pushed Kate back on the bed and kissed her with a passion she had never tasted from him, or for that, anyone. She responded in kind. When they woke the next morning, they realized something had awoken in them both. The next town was St. Louis, but a formal salon did not have an appeal. They drove for what seemed hours before they saw another barbershop off the road. They looked at each other; if they did not know better, they would have sworn that it was the same place they had been before.

This time, Kate and Matt walked straight to the barbershop. Making pleasant small talk with the men outside, Kate wondered inside. ?Good morning.? She called out to an empty room. ?I was wondering if I could get a haircut??

?Be with you in a moment.? A few minutes later, a plump lady in her late 50s emerged. ?Hello, dear. What can I do you for??

?I would like a haircut. I had it done yesterday, but I am not pleased with the results and I don?t want to go back. Can you give me a trim??

The lady looked at her hair. ?What beautiful hair you have! It is so rare that I get to work on such silky hair! I will be happy to. I am Jean. Have a seat. I see how uneven it is. Did someone cut your hair on his knees? It slopes downward just a bit. What were you going for??

?I was going for a shape up. Could you fix it? Just a dry cut will be fine.? Matt walked in. ?Don?t worry, he is with me.?

?Come on in out of the sun! I can fix it, but you may loose some length. I will do the best I can.?

?Don?t worry, I have plenty of hair. Cut what you need to.? With that, Jean shrugged her shoulders and brushed out her hair. Kate could feel the tugging of the comb and she crossed her leg as she heard the scissors open and close. However, before she got comfortable, Jean announced she was done. And sure enough, she was. ?I did not loose much length.? It was still about to her bra strap.

?Well, I tried to keep as much beautiful hair as I could. Please don?t look so sad, you did not loose more than about an inch. Look, it still falls beautifully down your back.?

?So it does. You did a wonderful job of fixing it.? With that, the couple paid and walked to the car. They drove away in silence, but this silence was not filled with sexual energy, but disappointment. After about an hour, Kate asked Matt to stop at an ice cream stand. As they ate a cone, Matt suddenly stood up and walked around the building. Moments later, he returned and kissed Kate. With one hand he took her cone and tossed it in the trash and with the other, jerked her to her feet. ?Where are we going? Matt? What is going on?? But then she saw it as they rounded the corner. A barber?s pole.

Matt pulled her in the open door where she saw a man that looked like a matched set of Jean. He was standing behind a chair and holding a cape. ?Come on in here young lady and have a seat. My name is Ned. Your feller here tells me you are nervous about getting your hair cut for the wedding.? Kate looked at Matt. ?Now, Miss, your husband told me that you agreed to the cut and now you are backing out. You made a promise to your cousin and you need to keep to it. She asked all of you bridesmaids about the style before everyone got her hair cut. I think that is silly to all have the same hairstyle, but I ain?t no bride. He also told me that the last barber was a woman and went soft when you lost your nerve. You won?t find that with me.? Ned half guided and half pushed her into the chair and put the cape on her. Matt just stood there with a look of excitement and guilt. Kate looked terrified. ?Now young lady, there is nothing to fear. You know the look and I won?t deviate from the style. While a woman may do a better job, I can get you mostly there. I don?t do shaping, just straight cutting. So if you need to have a touch up before you get to New Mexico, you can get one at a salon. But your husband says you need a cut and a cut you will get.?

Ned combed out Kate?s hair in a much rougher fashion that she had ever experienced at any salon. Ned was also faster. He had a job to do and it was to be done. He sprayed her hair down with water and combed it again. The hair split over her shoulders and she stared at how it almost covered her breasts. She could not believe Matt was doing this to her. But of course, she could speak up at any moment. It was not too late. But she was mesmerized by the tension. Ned picked up the scissors and placed them just at the top of her shoulders and closed them. Easily 11 inches of wet hair went sliding down the cape into her lap. Again, unlike in a salon, she could hear every sound. With her hair wet, there was a bit of tension as each snip occurred. She watched as Ned worked around to her other side and she saw more hair falling away. Suddenly, he stood upright and walked around in front of her. He combed wisps of hair over her face and with a slower pace, cut long bangs. Kate watched the hair fall from in front of her eyes. She cherished the slight vibration as the scissors met each small clump of wet hair. She treasured being able to hear the sound of metal meeting hair and the sound of hair sliding down the vinyl cape.

?Well, it is even. May not be shaped like a salon would do, but the hard part is over. Let me blow-dry it and you will be done. Now mind you, as your hair dries, it will look a little shorter, but that is what you agreed to, shoulder length with long bangs. I left it a bit longer than I think you are supposed to have, but that will give some length for a salon to play with.? When he was done, Matt paid Ned and offered a generous tip.

Back on the road, Kate started laughing. ?A wedding? All the bridesmaids are to have the same haircut? Where did you come up with that story??

?While we were eating our ice cream, I saw the pole in the reflection of a window across the street. When I asked if he would cut a woman?s hair, he first said no. I had to think of something fast. And you seemed to like the idea of not knowing what was going to happen. Please don?t be angry. Maybe I should not have said as short as I did, but it looks great! Can you forgive me?? He was met with silence, which was soon broken as they pulled into a shoe shaped motel barely 10 minutes down the road.

They made it through Oklahoma and Texas but as they crossed the New Mexico state line, they saw a barbershop with a big pair of scissors on top. Kate pulled into the parking lot and looked at Matt. ?Same scenario?

?Same scenario.?

Matt went inside for a few minutes and came back out with a man who looked to have truly lived life. He looked at Kate as she got out of the car and told Matt to bring her in. As they walked in, he nodded toward a chair. He put a cape around her and pulled up her hair to look at her hairline. Before he let it fall, he put tissue around the collar. As he sprayed her hair with water, Matt started to feel guilty because he knew what the tissue meant. But he thought maybe it was habit? hopefully. ?You know, maybe this was not such a good idea. If she doesn?t want to cut her hair, maybe we should let it go.?

The unnamed barber looked at Kate. ?Did you promise your cousin to cut your hair?? Kate nodded yes, too terrified to actually speak. The barber looked at Matt and said, ?She made a promise and you came to me to cut it and cut I will.? As soon as the words were out of his mouth, his right hand came up just above her jaw on the left side and shhhrriiinnnkkk?four inches of hair dropped into her lap. She gasped because this was the most dramatic cut. ?Now, no going back. A promise is a promise. My wife is always trying to get out of promises. This is one promise you will keep. Good thing you brought her here to make sure it gets done.?

By the time she made eye contact with Matt, the barber had worked his way to the other side and more hair fell away. It had taken him less than 7 snips and Kate went from shoulder length to something like a 20?s flapper would have worn. He came around front and combed her bangs, adding more hair to make them thicker. Before the first clippings had made it down the cape, Kate had lost an inch of her bangs. He placed the scissors on the counter and picked up the clippers. Kate?s heart raced, as well as Matt?s. With his big hands, the barber held up her hair off her neck. A loud pop and the clippers were run up the base of her neck. Five swipes and the clippers were shut off. The barber saw Kate?s expression. ?It was only to clean up below the cut. I didn?t have anything to hold up your hair but my hand. It may be a little shorter than you agreed to, but you shouldn?t have tried to get out of your promise.? He rubbed a towel over her head to dry it and they paid and went on their way.

?I am so sorry, I had no idea it would be that short.? Matt pulled back onto the road knowing this time, he had gone too far. ?I told him it needed to be about 2-3 inches shorter, but I had no idea he would use clippers, or that it would be short enough to even need them.? Kate ran her hand over her short hair and rubbed the newly shorn ends between her fingers. ?I mean, it looks great, but I had no idea about the clippers. I am really sorry.?

?Pull over.?

?I am sorry. I mean it. I feel badly because it is so short. But it does look great, if that helps.?

?Pull over.?

?There is nothing around here, just open land.?

She put his hand on the base of her neck and he felt the newly shorn stubble. ?I know.? He almost wrecked pulling off the road.

A couple of hours later, they were back on the road. As they approached Arizona, they knew they would have to pay attention because the road stopped often and would pick up a few miles down the road. Suddenly, Kate told Matt to pull off. On the left was a building covered in huge pink curlers. ?Wait here!? and Kate ran in the door. She came out a few minutes later. ?She can cut my hair if we hurry.? As they walked in, Kate introduced Matt to Sarah, a thin woman about 60. ?You can sit over there and watch a real salon at work!?

Sarah put a bright pink cape over Kate. Matt looked around and saw that everything was pink. He felt he would be pink as well if he did not get out of there soon. Then he focused on his wife and thought about what she looked like a few days ago. Sarah led Kate to a sink where she washed her hair, something the barbershops had skipped. Back in the chair, Sarah combed her hair and studied the way it laid. ?I am so glad these are back! I used to do the all of the time in the last 60s! Lots of work in the cutting, but it allows for creativity and so easy for the client to care for!? With that, she combed a section of hair straight up. She placed the scissors about a half an inch from Kate?s head and cut. Matt?s eyes followed the lock of hair as it fell to the floor. By the time he refocused, Sarah noticed his shocked look. ?I know men aren?t used to seeing so much hair coming off. But it is for the wedding and she said you have been protesting the whole way. This way, you can?t say no. So now you can only tell you wife how much you love it!? As she talked, she snipped away. Lock after lock fell to the floor. ?I have never been brave enough myself to get a pixie cut, but I am told by my clients that bedroom activity is improved after the cut. Oh, am I embarrassing you two?? Matt had already placed a magazine over his lap. The phone rang and Sarah excused herself to answer it. He mouthed, ?I love you? and she winked at him. Sarah returned and picked up the clippers. ?As we discussed??

?Yes, my cousin is a pit punkish and wants us to match.? Sarah sighed and turned on the clippers. Path after path was shorn away. The clippers went just to be level with top of her ears so from the front, you could not tell there had been any clippered.

When she finished with Kate, Matt was amazed that he could find his wife even more beautiful. They both rose and kissed. ?Now there will be time for that later. My next client just called and is running about 5 minutes late, so I have time to take care of you. Sit down.?

?Me??

?Don?t play innocent with me. You are not giving up as much as she did and you agreed to your cousin-in-law as well. I think the whole thing is a bit odd, to change your appearance for one weekend for people all the way across the country, but I am not young anymore. Sit down!? Matt sat and was covered in pink. While his hair was not long, it was 2-3 inches. ?I will have to do this quickly, but this is an easy style. I used to help my husband out in his shop when others were on vacation.? She turned around and held a pair of clippers in her hand. ?Why do you look so frightened? Your wife did not have any guard, at least you have a number 2 guard.? With that, she put the clippers to his forehead and moved quickly, removing all but a little stubble. In less than a minute, Matt was shorn. Sarah winked at Kate, ?My husband cut hair for the army and he showed me how to get it done very quickly!?

As they pulled back onto the highway, Matt looked at Kate in the driver?s seat. ?That was a dirty trick to play on me in there.?

?Excuse me, and what did you do to me with the barbers??

?Yeah, but you still had hair. Look at me, I have nothing!? Matt rubbed his head. ?Maybe we pushed this too far. I mean, what will people say about us? I am bald, well, virtually, and you, your hair! What will people say??

?Who cares? Do you like your hair??

Matt kept rubbing his head. ?You mean lack of hair??

?Do you like your hair??

?I guess it is okay. I actually do like the feel of it.?

?Look in the back behind my seat. In the plastic bag.? Matt pulled it to the front. ?While you were in the restroom, I made a purchase.? A grin came over Matt?s face as he realized what he held in his lap. ?What do you think??

?My darling Kate, I think when we find the next motel, I will show you how it feels to have clippers run all over your head.?

With that, Kate hit the accelerator.

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