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Finally, the clippers stopped. She could only stare at the ponytail in her lap as she reached around to feel her hair. But Glen stopped her and told her that he was almost through. She then heard a snapping sound and the clippers came back on. Kathleen tried to cover her terror with humor. “Is there anymore left to cut back there?”

Oh, lots! Don’t worry, I am only using a #1 guard at the base.” That meant nothing to her, but she hoped that it meant she had two inches left. However, she knew better.

When the clippers stopped, Glen finally placed the clippers back on the hook. Kathleen lifted her head and really could not tell a difference. Maybe it was not as bad as she feared. He undid the clips and tossed them on the counter. He picked up a comb and scissors and said, “Let”s get rid of this extra length!” Her blood ran cold again. Glen combed her hair straight down and placed the scissors at her jaw and angled sharply upwards. He carefully started cutting. She could feel the metal of the scissors just below where the clippers had been moments before. “I am cutting the hair so it falls just over the top of the shorn hair. Gives more of a bounce.” Shorn hair?” A few more tears fell with those words. Kathleen just wanted to run away and hide.

After what seemed an eternity, Glen put the scissors down but grabbed the clippers. “I just need to shape the neck area and you are done. Do you want a blend from the neck or for the hair line to be obvious?” Not knowing the difference, and at this point, not caring, Kathleen told Glen to choose. He removed something from the clippers, turned them on and said, “I think the blend looks better. You can’t tell where the hair really ends. But you will need weekly touch ups to keep the look. Tell the person who does you hair not to use a guard.”

No guard ” what does that mean?”

He laughed over the sound of clippers removing hair. “That means there is nothing between the clippers and your hair!” Kathleen started looking around for a trash-can as she felt it was now a matter of WHEN she would throw up, not IF. But suddenly the shop was silent and Glen rubbed the back of her head. “All done! Here’s a mirror. See, I did not cut too high.” Kathleen stared at nothing but stubble past the top of her ears. When she touched it, she could not tell when her hair started on her neck ” it was that short! And she could see so much skin though her hair! There was some length that fell from her crown, but not much. The only saving grace was that from the front, it appeared to be chin length.

As she got up from the chair, her legs almost gave way, but she managed to pay, exchange some final pleasantries and get to her Jeep. She got back to I-64, but was forced to pull off at the next exit, as she could no longer hold back her tears. After several minutes, she finally collected herself enough to drive the rest of the way to Somerset. She arrived at the agent’s office and followed the agent to her new house where two middle-aged women were already in her driveway. As expected, one was the current owner and the other, her attorney. After a thorough inspection, they closed on the deal and Kathleen was left alone in her new home. She spent the rest of the day cleaning and arranging the few items she brought with her. Since she had pinned her front hair up, she really forgot about the events of the morning until she stepped into the shower. The water running across her freshly shorn neck sent a quiver throughout her body. She fussed at herself when she put the normal amount of shampoo in her hand and realized it was way more than she needed now. But she did find the novelty of the short hair enticing and only stopped washing her hair as the hot water began to run out. Kathleen had another new and unexpected sensation as she climbed into the sleeping bag and her head hit the pillow, tonight without the weight of two feet of hair. She fell asleep with a smile on her face.

As Kathleen woke the next morning, the aches of cleaning the previous day convinced her to take it easy. She dressed and decided to walk around town. Despite the new sensations of the previous evening, she still did not like her new look and avoided her reflection as much as possible. She stopped in at the agent’s office to get the name of someone to mow her grass. As she chatted with the agent, Betsy, she realized that she had made her first friend. An hour later, Betsy looked at her watch. “Kathleen, I don’t know what your plans are, but do you have just a few more minutes” I have an appointment down the street and wondered if you cold come with me” You don’t have to stay.” With that, she answered the phone. As she talked, she hand signaled to Kathleen, who gestured back that she could go with her.

A few minutes later, Betsy hung up, grabbed her purse and pulled Kathleen out the door. “I am late. I know I should be nicer, but that was Mrs. Ketterson. She keeps saying she wants to sell her house and buy a smaller one, and every time I line up a buyer, she changes her mind. Has been going on since Regan was in the White House! And here she is again, this time swearing she is ready to sell. But I can’t say no to her. Good, we are here.” She pulled Kathleen into a small salon. “Hello” Anne” Are you here?”

From out of the back came Anne, wiping her hands on a towel. “Good morning!”

Sorry I am late, but Mrs. Ketterson called.”

Say no more, I understand. Who do we have here?”

This is Kathleen from New York City. She bought the Davis house yesterday.” Anne and Kathleen exchanged greetings and the salon owner said she did not have an opening that day.

Oh no no no no!” interrupted Betsy. “Her hair is perfect! That is why I brought her in here. You know how Ben has been bugging me to update my hair” Well, I finally found a cut I like. When I saw the style yesterday at the closing, I fell in love with it and have really thought about nothing else since. I was afraid I was going to have to explain it to you, but darling Kathleen was in my office, so I thought why not bring in the original masterpiece. Won’t it look wonderful?” The two women studied Kathleen’s head. “I know it is short in the back, and I probably won’t keep it that short, but let’s do it once and do it right!” Without another word, Betsy sat down in the chair as Anne put a cape around her.

Kathleen, would you sit in the chair here so I can compare?” She made some mental notes. “Betsy, since you hair is not as long in the front, I can’t do such a sharp angle. And there will be shorter pieces around the top and sides until they grow out. Are you okay with that?” Betsy was fine with it and the cutting began. This time, Kathleen had a whole different view. Betsy’s hair was already short, so after pinning up the top, the clippers came off the wall. “Put your head down, dear. This may tickle.” Anne turned on the clippers and started at the neck and mowed a path up the middle of Betsy’s head. Kathleen gasped as locks of hair fell away. Path after path was made and Kathleen found herself mesmerized and actually enjoying it; a far different experience than the morning before.

Anne turned off the clippers and removed part of the unit. She looked at Kathleen’s cut, selected an attachment and started cutting again. Still more hair came off and Kathleen realized had she known what was coming at the barbershop, she might have really enjoyed the experience.

Clippers off, Anne quickly shaped the hair into a similar style as Kathleen sported. Betsy hoped out of her chair and hugged both women. “I love it! Even more than I thought I would!” She turned to Kathleen. “Was it like this for you when you first had it done?” She blushed as she lied and said it was. “Alright ladies, it is lunch time and I am going to treat my hair artist and hair model to lunch. I want everyone to see my new look!” With that, Betsy led the two women out the door.

Over the next few weeks, Kathleen grew to love her hair and especially the weekly shape-ups. She wished she could get away with daily clipper cuts,
but did not want her growing circle of friends to think she was odd. Although, she need not have worried. By the end of summer, nineteen other women in Somerset sported the same look.

As summer ended, the deadline approached for her new book and she skipped a week at the salon. The book still not ready, she skipped the next week, then the next and the next. Anne took a month vacation and Kathleen did not want to try someone new. So by the time she found a time to go to the salon, she started thinking about letting her hair grow back out. Fall was in the air, and Anne modified the cut a bit, but kept it longer. By spring, Kathleen’s hair was past her collar. The long chin-length pieces that surrounded her face last year were still long, but a bit shorter to compliment the rest of the style.

She had decided to keep the apartment and continue to rent it (the value had gone up eight percent and so financially, it was crazy to sell!). Olivia and her family were coming for a week in June. It was decided that since Kathleen had to be in New York anyway, Olivia would ride back with her to Somerset and Bill and the children would follow a few days later, giving the two friends extra days to catch up. It had also been a year since she had seen her New York friends and only Olivia new of Kathleen’s new look. So when she entered the restaurant, the group was shocked but loved the new look; Kathleen only said it had been time for a change.

A couple of days later, the two friends were in Kathleen’s new Jeep and headed toward Kentucky. They left around 4:00 am to make the trip in one day. But as they neared Barboursville, Olivia asked to see where it had happened. A few minutes later, they pulled into the parking lot and went in. As she stepped in, it was déjà vu, for nothing had changed. Ed and Ed were still there, and Glen was in his chair by the door. “Glen, you may not remember me, but I was here a year ago. Of course I remember you, Kathleen! I wondered how you have been because you did not look too good that day you left here.”

“I did not feel too good! But you were right and I did fall in love with the style.”

Glen looked puzzled. “But you are letting it grow back out?”

It just got harder and harder to find time each week to keep it up. But several other women in Somerset have the look this very day! Oh, let me introduce my New York friend, Olivia. And this is Ed and Ed back here.” The two Eds said hello and simply left. “Still don’t like women in the shop?”

How could you tell?” They all laughed. “So, did you bring Olivia in for a haircut?” Olivia looked nervous.

“Oh, no! She wanted to see where it happened.”

“Well, what about you” You know every time you have been to Barboursville, you have gotten your hair cut. Why change tradition?”

I don’t think one time makes a tradition.”

Glen put his arm around her and walked her to the chair. She took a seat and he finger combed her hair. “Lot of length here. Do you see my wife’s picture up there” That was July 4th at the lake. What do you think about her hair?”

Kathleen leaned up to get a better look. “I like it, but when did she cut it?”

Right before the picnic. It was over 100 degrees for a week and she wanted the hair out of her face. The picnic started at 3:00 and she had me do it after lunch that day. Shocked everyone, but within the week, several of her church circle had the same style.” He pulled her hair back. “See how it frames your face” You would look great.”

Kathleen was well aware of what he was doing and was determined not to give in. “What would you suggest for me?” She turned around and saw that Olivia had the clip out of her hair.

Same thing. Look at your face. You have the same shape as Kathleen. And since she is not sure, why don’t you sit in the chair for a minute. Kathleen, do you mind?” She got out of the chair and watched her friend sit down. Glen fingered her hair so that it fell free of the ponytail shape it held. Her hair reached just below her collar and was a perfect pageboy. “Are you familiar with the pixie style” Very famous in the 60s and has made a successful comeback the past few years.”

But what would Michelle say” You know she is very picky about anyone else touching her client’s hair.” Kathleen did not want Olivia to be tricked into something she did not want.

Olivia sighed. “I know, but since you told me about this place, I have been thinking about a new style. Michelle absolutely refuses to change my style! And when I saw how great you looked, even with it grown out, I decided I wanted a new style. That is why I asked you to stop by. I really don’t care what style, just something different. I know a pixie is a bit different

More than a bit!”

Kathleen, you have a two foot long ponytail in a drawer. How is that different than what I want?” Olivia fingered her hair. “And if it makes you feel better, I told Bill when he saw me on Saturday, I would have a new style. He admitted that he was really looking forward to it.” She knew Olivia was right and smiled at her. “Glen, as you can see, Kathleen approves of a pixie for me. One pixie, please!”

One pixie, coming up! Would that be a short or longer pixie?”

Does your wife like hers?” Glen said yes. “Then a duplicate of your wife’s. I shall be surprised by the length.” Glen started pinning Olivia’s hair up, leaving the back of her head unpinned. Kathleen realized that Glen’s wife had the same style as she did, shaved nape and all, as she sat down for her pixie. But Olivia had made it clear that she was determined to have this done, and her friends knew that once Olivia decided something, nothing would change her mind. So down came the clippers from the hook on the wall, on they popped and off came the hair from the back of her head. Olivia could not see the long locks hitting the floor and Kathleen wondered if she realized how short it was. Glen turned off the clippers, removed the guard, and more hair fell away. He pulled Olivia’s head upright, unpinned the mass and picked up the scissors.

From her view of the mirror, Olivia could not tell that anything was different. But then Glen took a lock of hair that fell in front of her ear, pulled it out to the side, and cut. As he reached for the next lock, she saw that there was less than an inch of hair left; seven inches hit the floor. Olivia went pale. “Are you okay?” She nodded to her friend that she was. Again, she would not let others know this is not what she wanted. How could she” She had asked for it, but this was way shorter than she imagined. She feared at this rate, she would have a crew cut! And she kept glancing at the clippers on the counter, a fear growing as she realized they had not been put back on the wall, but left out as if to cut more.

Lock after lock fell, until one side of her head had been snipped to at most two inches long. She reached up a hand to feel the new style. Glen worked quickly until both sides matched. Olivia looked down at the growing mound of hair in her lap as Glen snipped more from all around, evening things up. He then moved to the front and combed some hair over her forehead, snipping half-inch fringe. Using smaller clippers, he shaped around her ears. He then picked up the larger clippers then started trimming more from the sides, using the comb as a guide. Without warning, the shop became silent and Glen announced that he was through.

Kathleen wondered if she looked that pale a year ago. Olivia had trouble standing, as if she had received terrible news. They said their farewells to Glen and headed back to the interstate. “Are you okay?”

There was nothing but silence. Finally, Olivia spoke. “I knew what I wanted and what was going to happen, but it was so fast.” She started to cry. “It”s so short! You tried to stop me ” why didn’t I let you” What have I done?!”

This was the first time Kathleen had ever heard doubt in Olivia’s voice. “You look great! You actually look ten years younger. I will admit that I was surprised you agreed to so short. But if you don’t like it, it
will grow out very quickly.” Kathleen paused, trying to think of something. Then it hit her. “And remember, I think you said your next appointment with Michelle will be in three weeks” Just think about her reaction!” They both started laughing like schoolgirls.

“Oh, she is going to kill me! I better find a nice gift for her to calm her down.” Olivia wiped the tears from her eyes. “Does it look okay” Really. I have to face Bill in a few days. I am not sure this is what he had in mind.”

“I promise, you really do look ten years younger. And wait until he feels your neck he may not give you an option of letting it grow back out.”

Olivia turned down the sun visor and looked at herself in the mirror. “Yeah, ten years younger! Why didn’t I do this years ago?”

Just remember, you have to pass this way each time you come to see me. Should I expect more visits?”

“You bet!”

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