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The big barbecue takes place. They all greet Tess who was shaved smooth in Part 10. Steffie announces that she and Louis are getting married. On Monday Janet meets Beth and loves her chelsea cut and is determined to have one like it. Gail likes her cut but is frustrated by the fact that it is not nearly as short as she had expected. Jessie also wants a short cut. They all head to Kate’s after lunch, skipping their usual extra swimming practice.

Week Six Sunday – The Barbecue

Paula woke earlier than usual Sunday morning. She had been designated to bring table coverings, disposable spoons, knives and forks, iced tea and lemonade, and it was her turn to fix breakfast. She decided to keep it simple, and set out three tangerines, cereal and milk. They would have a feast later at the barbecue.

“Hi, Mom. You’re up pretty early for Sunday.” Melissa bounced into the kitchen.

“Morning, Melissa. I guess I am, but I wanted to read the newspaper before I got everything together for the barbecue.” She explained.

“It will be fun. We’ll get to see Tess and her Mom and everybody.” Melissa said excitedly.
?”Yes, we will, except that I don’t think Steffie will be here. Oh, hi Christine. I didn’t hear you come down.” Paula greeted Christine.

“I was trying to sneak up on you,” Christine said, laughing.

Breakfast was soon finished. Christine cleaned up the kitchen. “Do you need us to help with anything Mom? She asked.

“I don’t think so Christine. We can all grab stuff and take it to the car just before we go.”

“OK, we’ll be ready whenever you are.” Christine replied. She went back upstairs.

“Melissa, I’m not going to shave today. How about you?” Christine asked as she stuck her head in Melissa’s room.

Melissa was holding up a pair of tank tops trying to decide which one to wear with the shorts she was already wearing. “I’m not either. I can’t feel very much yet. Maybe by tomorrow it will be noticeable. Which of these is best?” she asked.

“I like the orange one, but either one will work with those shorts. I heard something about croquet. Is Beth bringing her croquet set?”

“Yeah. We going to play obstacle croquet. It’s not set up the regular way, but any way you like so that there are things in the way. It sounds like fun,” Melissa explained.

“I’d like to try it. I’ve never played regular croquet. There are going to be a lot of people there. I think we will need more than one set if a everybody wants to play.”

“Beth said we can have teams. That lets eight people play. How many people are coming. Do you know?”

“It’s a lot. Maybe twenty five. Tommy is coming too. Mom said she’s taking enough stuff for thirty. I’m surprised everyone is still here and not off somewhere for a vacation.”

“Me too, but we had all decided to do summer sports, so maybe they all decided to go on vacation afterwards.” Melissa suggested.

“Well put some cloths on and let’s go down and help Mom. She wants to get there about twelve.” Christine turned to leave.

Thirty minutes later they were bringing things from the car to the smallest of the shelters with its six picnic table and a pair of charcoal grills at one end. Beth and her family arrived a few minutes later.

“Leigh, you look fabulous. I love your buzz cut. And Beth, that is a wonderful haircut. I like the little fringe of bangs. Let me feel it. Oh, it’s so smooth and soft.” Paula gushed. “How do you like Leigh’s new look Ray.”

Ray reached out and ruffled Leigh’s short buzz. “She’s definitely a keeper, although I never imagined that I would have such a young wife.”

“I think we found the almost perfect compromise. The only thing better would be if I shaved it like Christine,” Leigh laughed.

“Well, Brian I haven’t seen you in quite a while” Paula said. “I’m glad you made it. What do you think of you Mom’s haircut?”

“She’s pretty cool. I thought Melissa was real weird at first, but now it looks good. Christine really looks good.” Brian responded.

They all pitched in setting things up. Ray and Brian brought over two large coolers filled them with ice and soft drinks.

“Here come a whole lot of people,” Melissa shouted. “It’s Audra and there’s Aunt Steffie. I didn’t think she was coming.”

“Yeah, and look – isn’t that Tess?” Beth exclaimed.

Christine saw Tess and immediately went over to greet her.

“Tess, you look super good,” she complimented her. Then to own surprise she stepped forward and gave Tess a hug. Tess was surprised also, but quickly recovered and hugged her back.

“I guess we’re two of a kind, Christine. We bald girls need to stick together don’t we,” she laughed. I think you look fabulous. I thought you were all a little crazy, but now that I’ve been shaved for almost two weeks I understand how it makes you feel. I like it. Mom said I could grow it out after two weeks, but I’m going to keep it shaved. Besides, Mom said that if I decided to keep it shaved after school starts she would shave hers too and take me to school the first day.”

“I heard about that. That would be cool. I bet being shaved made you swim a lot faster to,” Christine said joking.

“Of course!. Why else would I do something so crazy,” Tess responded.

“I hope I’m able to go to Forest this year. I want to be on the swim team with you If I can make it. Besides having two bald girls there will make it easier,” Christine said.

“You’re not going?” Tess said surprised. “I thought we were in the same grade. You’re fifteen aren’t you?”

“I turned fifteen in January. I’m going into ninth this year. I just missed the cut off date for entering first grade and so I would be a year behind most of the kids if nothing else had happened, but I got sick in third grade and had to take it over. I was the oldest girl in eighth grade. Anyway Mom, has asked the school if I can take ninth at Forest rather than at Elmwood. Come on, there’s Jill and Ginny talking to Brian.” Christine said as she headed toward the shelter.

“Hey, Christine. Is this Tess, the new member of the beautiful bald crew?” Ginny greeted them.

“You’re right. Tess, you already know Jill and Ginny. This is Brian. Brian, meet Tess, the best swimmer on any of the summer league swimming teams. And even better now that she has become a lot more streamlined and low friction.” Christine said in mock seriousness.

“Hi, Tess. I glad to meet someone with such a high degree of dedication to their sport. Actually I think your head style becomes you,” Brian continued the banter.

Tess laughed. “It’s definitely smooth, cool and low upkeep.”

Christine had been standing so that she could keep an eye out for Tommy’s arrival. He had walked toward the shelter and spoken to Paula before he made his way to where Christine was standing. She stepped away from the group as he came up.

“Hi. Tommy. These are some of my other friends,” she said as she introduced him. “You remember Tess. She’s number one on the Wasena swim team. This is Ginny. She’s Penny’s sister. You’ve met Jill already. And this is Brian. He’s Beth’s brother.”

While they continued their conversations Ginny’s boyfriend Simon arrived. Slipping up behind Ginny he announced his arrival by rubbing her head. She turned to see who it was, laughed and gave him a quick kiss.

The younger girls, Penny, Beth, Audra, Cindy and Melissa had taken in Sandy and formed their usual group. There was much oohing and aahing about Penny’s new piercing. Of the group only she and Melissa had double pierced ears. Hyperactive as usual they were hard at work setting up an obstacle croquet game.

The younger boys Timmy, Andy, Jeremy, Jason and Damian had already found entertainment with a football.

Victor, the group’s acknowledged barbecue expert, was engaged in overseeing the ribs. Louis, Steffie’s boyfriend, had fired up the other gr
ill to fix burgers and the salmon steaks. He said that he had been taking lessons from Victor.

The women were busily talking and getting acquainted with each other, while easily multitasking on anything that needed to be done. There was expressions of awe at the size of the bowl of potato salad that Hallie had prepared. At the end of one of the picnic tables Ray had set up a portable propane stove which was keeping pots of chili and baked beans hot.

Paula had finally had a chance to talk with Leigh. “Leigh, Kate told me that you were interested in her nose stud. Are you thinking of getting one?”

“I’m very tempted Paula. Her little diamond stud looked so neat. I’m sure Ray would like it. But I’m a little hesitant. I haven’t talked to him and Brian is going to college next year so…” Her voice trailed off.

“Heather wants one too. And I definitely want one. It would be fun if we could all go together to get them. It’s not very expensive. They have those simulated diamonds that look just like the real ones.”

“I would love to do that Paula. Maybe I can. I’ll talk to Ray. What did you think of Heather’s hair now that she’s gotten it buzzed even shorter?”

“I think it looks good on her. I like it a lot. And you look really great with your buzz cut. Sooner or later I’m going to get mine buzzed like that. Come on, let’s go talk to Heather.”

Everything was ready except for the ribs, which needed a few more minutes. The women were in groups chatting.

“Jan, Timmy looks so cute with his bob cut and earrings. Do you plan to keep it that way.” Abby asked.

“I think so. He likes his hair long. And some of the other boys his age have their ears pierced too. He wanted them pierced. Are you thinking of getting Jason’s ears pierced?” Jan asked.

“Actually I was thinking he might look good with a short bob. He’s never said anything about earrings. I’ll have to ask him if any of the boys he plays with have earrings and if he wants them.” Abby responded.

“He looks good with his bowl cut, but he would look good with a buster brown cut too,” Jan observed.

They continued their small talk. Meanwhile the ever observant Heather had seen several of the men staring at Stephanie. Finally she decided what to do. She walked over to Louis who was grilling some salmon burgers. She knew he had not been introduced to many of the women in the group, although he had obviously connected easily with the men.

“Hi, Louis. I’m Heather. You’ve probably noticed my two girls, Ginny over there talking with those two bald girls, and Penny the one with the super short pixie cut. I want to introduce you to the rest of the gang,” Heather said as she introduced herself.

“Glad to meet you Heather. I’m pretty impressed with this group. Stephanie told me about the girls and their Moms. I like your haircut. Very good looking,” Louis said.

Michelle, Leigh, Abby and Jan were trying to gather up the kids and get them to get lined up for the feast. Finally most had loaded up plates with burgers, ribs, potato salad, chili and other assorted delicacies.

They had sorted themselves out in the classic manner. Melissa and her friends were at one table along with Sandy, the boys were at another. Christine and Tommy along with Ginny and Simon, Jill, Tess and Brian, who seemed to have taken a fancy to Tess, occupied a third. Paula shepherded April introducing her to everyone.

“April, you have the most beautiful silvery white hair that I have ever seen. How long has it been like that?” Michelle asked.

“It started to turn gray when I was only twenty five, but I covered it up for about five years. By the time I was thirty it was almost completely gray. My stylist told me that she thought I would look good with my silver gray hair and maybe I should let it be natural, but I wasn’t ready for that. A couple of years later when I got pregnant with Jill I decided to quit coloring it and just used a temporary rinse. Anyway, after Jill was born I cut it short to get rid of the colored part and used a silver rinse. Everyone seemed to like it. It’s actually gotten quite a bit lighter since then – sort of a silvery white. Like you said” April explained.

“It’s incredibly flattering. I would love it if I could have that color hair with this buzz cut.” Abby said.

“I have a secret to tell you.” April confessed. “I’ve always liked my hair short and this is the longest I’ve had it in years. When Jill told me she had shaved her head I was only a little surprised. We often got very short cuts during the summer. I think she looks almost as good as those two girls, Christine and Tess. Seeing her set my mind to thinking about getting my hair cut short again. I know just what I want and with this color I think it will look quite nice. So I am going to get it done if I can find somebody that will do what I want. Most stylists will have a fit if I tell them how short I want it.”

“We’ve got the answer for you.” Jan laughed. “We all go to the same barbershop for our cuts. Kate will do exactly what you want. She loves to give women and girls short haircuts, the shorter the better. And she’s the best I’ve ever had giving me a haircut.”

“Who is it,” April questioned.

“I thought you’d never ask.” Leigh interjected. “Her name is Kate and she owns a small barbershop on Melrose Street between 24th and 25th street. But be careful. Heather thinks that Kate’s barber chair puts rebellious thoughts in our heads.”

“Sounds like just the place I need to go to. Is she open on Mondays?” April asked.

“Yes she is. Ginny goes there every Monday morning to keep her cut as short as she likes it,” Heather responded.

“There is one more thing I’m curious about. What about your husbands? How did they respond to you all getting buzz cuts like that? My husband make a fuss about Jill and me keeping our hair short. He preferred it long and kept trying to get me to let it grow.” April was quite curious.

“My husband Chris has always liked short hair on women, so he was thrilled by my buzz cut” Leigh explained. “He likes Ginny’s and Penny’s a lot.”

Leigh responded similarly. Abby’s husband Dan was not as enthusiastic about short hair on women as Leigh’s husband Ray and took a little persuading to become a convert. Jan had a somewhat different story.

“Ben thought women and girls were supposed to have long hair, but he admitted that I looked good with my fairly short cuts and he didn’t object much when Sandra insisted that she get her hair cut short. He was shocked and upset when I let Sandra get her head shaved smooth, he tried to insist that she let it grow out. She cried and told him how much she liked it and finally he gave in. He has gotten used to it now although he still thinks it’s strange. I think today may have been a turning point though. He was intrigued with Steffie at the fourth of July outing. Today he has had enough time to really look at her. He can hardly take his eyes off you Steffie.” Jan laughed.

“It seems that I’m the only one here with long hair,” Michelle volunteered. “I had always thought that James wanted me to keep my hair long, but apparently I had misread him all these years. He told me again yesterday that he wouldn’t mind at all if I got it cut like Jan’s or even Abby’s. That really shook me. I’ve had it long like this for so long that I’m not sure what I really want even though I like all the short cuts the rest of you have.” Michelle was genuinely perplexed at James’ apparent change in attitude.

“You just have to be yourself Michelle. Do what you want. You know very well that we all like you and we’re not trying to get you to do anything that you don’t truly want to do. If long hair is your thing that’s absolutely fine with me.” Heather reassured her. The others all agreed enthusiastically.

“Hallie, you’ve been awfully quiet. What does Victor think of Audra’s and Steffie’s cuts?” Michelle asked.

“When we were young, he thought I shoul
d have long straight hair like some of those singers. I tried it for a while and it was such a hassle and cost so much that I rebelled and cut it off for a style a little longer than this. I told him that it just wasn’t me and besides I couldn’t take the time and hassle. Same thing happened to Steffie, right Steffie?”

“Absolutely. I once had long blond hair, if you can believe it. It was crazy!” Steffie responded.

“Anyway, after seeing how good I looked and how much happier I was, he went along. I kept pointing out women with very short cuts and he finally realized that black women really did look good with short cuts. He usually keeps quite, but he seems to like it when I get mine cut short. I think he was just about completely convinced when he saw Melissa and Christine. When Audra and Steffie came back completely bald or near enough he couldn’t resist, Now that he has seen Steffie bald, I think he would like it if I decided to shave my head like her. Maybe I will some day.” Hallie chuckled. “Steffie you told me you had an important announcement to make. Now is probably the best time you’re going to get.”

“You’re right Hallie. This has been a great outing for me and Louis. I really like this bunch of women and girls. I never imagined that I would find a group of mostly white women that I felt so comfortable with. And I do have an announcement to make. Louis come on over here with me.”

“What’s this all about Steffie?” Heather asked.

“You’ll see,” Steffie said as she grabbed Louis’s hand. “OK, everybody. I wanted to tell you that Louis and I are getting married in October.”

“That’s great!”

“Congratulations.”

“Way to go.”

“Hold on, there’s more.” Steffie yelled to get their attention. “We decided to get married several months ago, so last week we set the date. And of course you are all invited, but that not the main thing. Louise said he though we should have a bald wedding. I thought that was really funny, but the more I thought about it the more I liked the idea. It’s already going to be a bald bride and groom so why not. I talked to my best friend who will be my maid of honor and she said she absolutely wanted to shave her head. And naturally Audra and Hallie will be in it, but they don’t have to be be bald if they don’t want to. I haven’t talked to anyone else and I’m not pushing it, but of course I want Christine and Melissa to be in the wedding party. They were my inspiration. I’ll be talking to a lot of you later. It’s going to be here, because here is where my family and most of my friends are. We haven decided on a place yet or any details. Anyway that’s my announcement. Louis and I are very happy. We like you all. You will all be receiving invitations when we get things more organized.”

“What’s the date Steffie?” someone shouted.

“Oh, I forgot. It’s Saturday October the 13th. Put it on your calendars.”

The barbecue forgotten, the adults all continued to talk about Steffie’s wedding and the idea of a bald wedding. They wondered if all the attendants and ushers would be bald.

Michelle turned to Hallie. “Hallie, you’ll be the matron of honor for sure. Will you shave your head?” she asked.

Hallie laughed. “Now that’s a thought. Victor and Steffie don’t have much family. Maybe I’ll be honorary Mother of the Bride. I’ll have to think about shaving my head though. It will be quite a sight to see all those bald women and girls at a wedding.”

They all took a turn trying to play obstacle croquet to lots of shouting and exclamations over both good and bad shots. Brian had invited Tess to be on a team with him. Several hours later the activities began to wind down. Except for the younger boys and the amigas and Sandy, everyone had retired to the shelter to relax and chat. Finally Paula began to clean up. Soon she was joined by the other women and several of the men. Tommy and Christine joined in along with Ginny, Simon and Jill. They worked leisurely while talking among themselves. The picnic area was soon back to normal.

Brian and Tess had wandered off and were sitting on a bench some distance away. Their interest in each other was noted with approval.

Victor poured water on the grills to make sure they were completely out. Ice water was dumped from the coolers, and left overs carried back to various cars.

Abby went to retrieve Tess. “We’re ready to go Tess.”

“OK, Mom I’ll be there in a minute.” She turned back to Brian.

“I have to go. I had a lot of fun Brian,” she said.

“Yeah, so did I. I’ll call you tomorrow. OK.”

“OK. About seven. Bye.”

“See you.”

Tess hurried to the van and climbed in. Abby and Jan lived close enough that their families could ride share. Tess stuck her head out the window and yelled at Christine who was getting into Paula’s car. “See you Friday Christine.” Christine waved back in acknowledgment.

They all headed home with good memories.

Week 6 Monday – A Happening At Kate’s Barbershop

“Christine are you up. I have breakfast ready,” Melissa called through Christine’s closed door.

“I’m up. Come on in. I was just looking at my clothes,” Christine answered.

“What’s the occasion?”

“Nothing in particular. I was just thinking about what I would wear the next time Tommy and I go out.”

“Didn’t you say that there was something going on today with the swim team?”

“Well, the swim team is meeting this morning to go to the gym and work out together. Tommy is going to give the younger girls some instructions on how to get a good workout. Janet, Gail and Jessie have been doing it for weeks now, but the others haven’t been doing it much. They need to get in the habit if they’re going to make the junior team this fall” Christine explained.

“I need to do that too, but with volleyball and soccer practice there’s not much time.”

“Well, you don’t have regular practice every day, so you and the others could take one morning and one afternoon and go to the gym instead of having a free practice game,” Christine suggested.

“That’s a good idea Christine. I’ll tell them. Maybe Tommy could show us what exercises to do,” Melissa mentioned hesitantly.

“You’ll have to come on the same day that the swim team comes. I think he would show you, but he still has to do his own workout.”

“I hope he can Christine. Have you looked at your back in the mirror? You look really good. I’d like to have muscles like that,” Melissa laughed. Five plus weeks of twice a week workouts in the gym had made a noticeable difference. “I’m going to set up the bathroom so we can shave after you have breakfast.”

“OK, I be up in about 15 minutes, after I clean up the kitchen.”

Fifteen minutes later Christine returned.

“I’m here Melissa. I’ll do you first.”

“OK, I’m ready,” Melissa said as she sat down and wrapped a towel around her shoulders.

Christine immediately began to spread gel over her head and rubbing it in.

“You know Melissa, there’s hardly any roughness. It’s not silky like it is just after we shave, but I can barely feel anything,” Christine observed.

“I know. I felt it when I showered. Maybe we can go to only twice a week pretty soon,” Melissa suggested.

“Let’s wait a little while longer. But it would be neat if we only had to shave once a week. Did you hear Aunt Steffie talking to Tess’s Mom? She said that she had about decided that she was going to have laser treatments so she could be permanently bald. Isn’t that wild?”

“It is, but if she likes being bald as much as I do then she should do it. If I stay bald until I’m older maybe I’ll do something like that too. What about you? Tommy likes you being bald. Would you want a bald wedding like Aunt Steffie if you and Tommy got married?”

This twist in the conversation left Christine tongue tied. Those were possibilities she hadn’t considered. Getting married, being permanently bald – they were too much t
o think about, even though she had brought up the ideas in the first place.

“That’s way in the future Melissa. A lot of things could happen. But I do want to be part of Aunt Steffie’s bald wedding. That will be exciting. You’re done and I’m ready,” she said as she dried Melissa’s head.

“OK.” Melissa jumped up and unpinned the towel from around her shoulders. “Here pin this and I’ll clean the shaver.”

Melissa began applying gel to Christine head and rubbing it in. She quickly began the routine of shaving Christine. She had become confident and skilled at the process and could do it rapidly and still give Christine’s head a very smooth shave. Now that their hair grew so slowly the process was even quicker.

“OK, now you’re done,” she announced.

They applied the moisturizer. Knowing that it made shaving easier and less frequent they were even more diligent about putting it on. They had learned quite soon that they would be sweating almost immediately after arriving at the rec center so they didn’t bother with putting on the shiner.

A few minutes later they had cleaned up the bathroom and headed for the rec center on their bikes.

Christine saw Tommy standing with some of the other guys on his swim team. She thought she saw Jessie and Janet with some of the members of the swim team. She and Melissa locked their bikes in the rack and headed in their respective direction.

Tommy had seen her and was walking back toward her.

“Hi. You’re look good this morning.

“Well, so are you.” They laughed. “What’s going on?” Christine had heard excited voices and was curious.

“I think Gail got her haircut and they’re all talking about it.”

“Come on. Let’s go see. She’s been talking about doing something all summer. I guess she finally got up the courage to do it,” she laughed.

Jessie saw them first. “Hey, Christine, Gail finally got her hair cut. It’s short.”

Christine and Tommy were invited into the the little group.

“Hey, Gail, that’s different isn’t it. What’s it called?” Christine asked.

“Hi, Christine. It’s called a feather cut. I saw it in a book that had a lot of different styles. I think it pretty cool, but my Mom wasn’t too excited about it. Anyway, the woman at the shop wouldn’t cut it as short as the picture. It’s supposed to have just a little fringe all around with the rest cut really short. I thought it looked very cool. I’m going to get it cut again soon the way I wanted it,” Gail said with some heat.

“I like the way it looks now, Gail, but I’ll bet it will be awesome the way you described it. Have you seen Beth’s cut. She’s on the soccer team with Melissa. She has a chelsea. That has only a fringe in front and everything else is shaved. It’s very cute on her,” Christine explained.

“I think I saw it, but I wasn’t paying much attention. Is she here? I’d like to see it.”

“I think she’s over there with Melissa. Maybe I can get them to come over here. They stick together like glue. Wait a minute. I’ll be right back.”

Christine jogged over to where the five amigas were talking while waiting for some of the other kids to show up.

“Melissa, can you and Beth come over here for a minute. Gail got her hair cut, buts wants it shorter. She wants to see Beth’s chelsea. Bring everybody,” she added.

“Come on guys, the swim team wants to see our haircuts. I think we’re way ahead of them,” Melissa said laughing.

They trouped over to where the swim team had assembled. A couple of the other girls had shown up.

“Well, here we are. And here’s Beth. Cindi likes her haircut the best,” Melissa said gesturing toward Cindi.

“Wow, that is really cool Beth,” Janet exclaimed. “How did I miss seeing you? How long have you had it like that?”

“Kate cut it just a week ago last Sunday. I’m going to keep it cut like this. It feels good.” Beth ran her hand over her head which was shaved smoothly except for the fringe of bangs.

“I like it Beth, but I want to keep this style for a while if I can get it cut the way it is supposed to be. You said Kate did yours? Maybe she would cut mine the way I wanted it. Where does she work” Gail said.

“She has a barbershop and does a lot of kids and their Mom’s too. My Mom got a buzz cut. I’m don’t remember where it is. Penny got hers cut there too. She knows where it is.”

“It’s Kate’s barber shop on Melrose Street. She really likes to give short haircuts. She’ll do it just like you want it if she thinks it will look good. She shaved me the first time and she does Audra’s every week,” Melissa responded enthusiastically.

“I really like Beth’s haircut. Do you think she’ll remember how she did it Melissa?” Janet asked.

“Oh, sure. Beth and her Mom went there and were models for her. She has a couple of big scrape books full of pictures of all different kinds of short cuts. She will do any kind you like.”

“Beth, you look like you just got it done. How do you do that,” Jessie asked.

“My Mom shaves it every morning just like Melissa and Christine do. I’m learning to do it myself. It’s pretty easy except that I have trouble doing it right here.” Beth indicated the area just behind where her bangs started.

“You mean that you use a razor and shaving cream?” Janet asked incredulously.

“No, no. Its a little battery shaver. I use some special gel. It works really well. You can feel how smooth it is.”

“Christine and Melissa do theirs the same way,” Jessie added. She had asked about it weeks earlier.

“We have to go.” Melissa interrupted. “The soccer team has already gone to practice. Let’s go guys.” They took off.

“OK, we’ll see you guys later.” Christine yelled at their retreating backs.

“Well I’m going to Kate’s barbershop as soon as I can. I think it would be very cool if we all had super short haircuts. I might get mine shaved like Christine.” Janet responded.

“Christine, you could show us where it is couldn’t you?” Jessie asked.

“Sure. I know exactly where it is. What are you thinking?”

“Well, we can take this afternoon off and go there together and get haircuts. I want to go, Janet wants to go. What about you Gail. You could get yours done the way you wanted it.” Jessie asked.

“Well, I’d like to, but I just spent forty dollars for this haircut and I don’t have much of my allowance left,” Gail responded.

“Kate isn’t like a regular shop. She only charges fifteen dollars for a haircut like yours. Even the little battery shaver didn’t cost too much.” Christine explained.

“Only fifteen dollars! You’re not kidding are you Christine? Janet was incredulous.

“I can afford that! I’ll go too,” Gail agreed enthusiastically.

“Let’s do it right after we have lunch. Any of you guys interested,” Janet addressed the four other girls from their swim team who had arrived while they were talking.

They all demurred.

“OK, we better get to the gym. We’re already a little late getting started. Where’s Tommy?” She looked around.

“He’s already gone to change. He wanted to get stated on his workout,” Christine explained.

They hurried to the locker room to change and were in the gym in record time.

Jessie was first in and caught up to Tommy. “We’re finally here Tommy. Sorry we’re so slow,” she apologized.

“Well, I guess you had some important matters to discuss,” he joked.

“Yeah, right, Tommy,” Jessie responded grinning. “We were deciding whether to get haircuts like Christine’s. Maybe then we can compete with her in the pool and find some nice guys to go out with.”

Jessie had just broken up with her boyfriend from the prior year and was suffering from a little envy of Christine even though she and Christine were very good friends.

Two hours later they emerged from the locker room having been through a rigorous workout that had them all sweating. The four younger girls had been given a workout sheet marked with what equipment they sh
ould use. Tommy had taken the time to help each one get started and record the weight they should use and number of repetitions they should do. They felt a little daunted when they saw what Christine and the other girls were doing, but Tommy encouraged them and promised that they could be doing something similar in a few weeks if they kept it up.

The main group sat down around a couple of picnic tables with Tommy and Christine sitting across from each other. Christine had taken on the responsibility of fixing a lunch for Tommy. After a few weeks she started to challenge herself by fixing pretty fancy sandwiches that required that she keep most of the ingredients separate until just before they ate. Tommy was a little amused at this display of domesticity and affection and told her that she didn’t need to go to so much trouble, but she punched him on the arm and said that she liked doing it. Tommy made sure he paid attention to what she had prepared, and gave her plenty of praise for her efforts.

They had spent half an hour chatting randomly except for a short period when Gail asked Tommy to evaluate their workout progress. He was a little reluctant, but finally acquiesced.

“I don’t know what is really normal or expected except for guys, and certainly I don’t know what is normal for girl swimmers, but you’re all doing good workouts. You just have to look at yourselves in a mirror to see that the workouts have had an effect. And you’re all a lot stronger. Your times have improved a lot in just five weeks. Janet and Christine got a head start, and I think they’ve worked a little bit harder than you and Jessie, Gail. But its not much. Some of the girls in my Tae Kwon Do class have been doing it for four or five years and they do pretty tough workouts, but that’s not a fair comparison. What you’re all doing now rates a B+ or A- in my book.”

They all laughed. They knew they didn’t come close to matching what he did, and probably not what the girls he mentioned did, but they also knew that he was honest. And would not say they were better than they were.

“I’m going to catch up with Christine. Just wait and see. I’m not letting some beautiful bald headed girl stay ahead of me,” Gail laughed. They all joined in.

Tommy turned back to Christine. “Time for me to go. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

She took his hand. “OK, see you tomorrow.”

“Let’s go guys. We’re ready aren’t we? Janet was eager to get to Kate’s shop. She was pretty sure she knew what she wanted.

“Oh heck, guys. I completely forgot that you all have bikes here. Can you wait for me so I can run back home and get mine? I should be back in ten or fifteen minutes,” Jessie asked.

“We could chase her all the way home on our bikes That ought to speed up thing considerably,” Gail offered.

“Way to much trouble. I guess we’ll just have to sit around here twiddling our thumbs ’til she get back,” Jessie suggested.

“Wait a minute everybody,” Christine interrupted. “Let’s not be too fast. If you guys get really short haircuts is that going to be OK with your folks. I don’t want anyone to get in trouble.”

“Well my Mom knows that you’re bald Christine, and I told her I was thinking of getting mine cut very short. She said if that’s what I want it’s all right with her,” Janet responded.

“I’m OK too Christine,” Gail said. “What about you Jessie?”

“I’ll be OK. I already told them that I wanted to keep it cut very short for swimming. They think that Christine is so good because she shaved her head. I’ll tell them that I got it cut so I could swim faster,” she laughed. “Anyway they told me that I was free to do what I wanted with it when I was fifteen if I used my own money. Besides I think Mother would like to get a really short cut herself.”

Janet and Jessie had turned fifteen in May and July respectively, and Gail would turn fifteen in August. Despite the fact that she was a year behind the others, Christine was the oldest and she had become the one they all looked to for leadership. She radiated a confidence and maturity that belied her age.

“Is it OK with you guys if we wait here until Jessie gets back?” I have to tell Melissa what I’m doing.”

“Sure. We’ll wait. Get going Jessie,” Gail ordered.

Jessie headed off at a fast walk, and Christine went back inside to catch up with Melissa.

True to her word, Jessie rode up in less than fifteen minutes and they all took off toward Elm Street and to Kate’s shop.

By one thirty they were trouping through the door of the shop to the tinkling of the little bell.

“Hi Kate. I brought you some customers,” Christine announced.

“Goodness. So you did,” Kate responded as she saw the girls. “Christine is that you? I can hardly believe it! You look sensational! Everyone kept telling me how great you looked, but I had a hard time believing them. Now I do.”

“Oh, Kate, you’ve seen Audra’s Aunt Steffie haven’t you. She’s the really beautiful one. I’m still just a kid,” Christine responded.

“Maybe so, but you still look great. Let me finish Leslie here then I want to have a closer look.”

Leslie had dark brunette hair cut into a bob that was a little short of chin length and angled slightly up toward the back where a little triangle of clippered nape was visible. Her moderately thin eyebrows rose sharply from a point well above the inner corner of her eyes and disappeared under her thick bangs. Christine wondered how they looked without the bangs covering what she assumed were brows that went up but remained much higher on the outer part than on the inner. There was a wide space from her eyelids to her bangs where muted rosy eye shadow had been applied. The result was that her eyes seemed to be very large. And very noticeable. Kate was finishing up the hairline in the back with Leslie facing away from the mirror, so Christine had an excellent view.

“OK, Leslie, you’re all done,” Kate said as she turned the chair to face the mirror. “What do you think?”

“It’s beautiful Kate. It’s even better than I expected. Let me see the back.”

“Sure thing.” Kate held up a large hand mirror so that Leslie could see the back. “I think it would be even better if the sides angled up a little more and allowed you to have a more defined wedge in back.”

“Maybe so Kate, but I like the way it is now. Maybe next time I’ll do it a little more.”

“That would be good. Let’s set up an appointment for you,” Kate encouraged her as she removed the cape careful not to get any hair on her clothes.

“Hey girls I forgot to tell you to look at her collection. It back there at that little table with the big albums in the rack,” Christine said suddenly returning to what they were doing.

“I need to do a little browsing. I haven’t decided what I want to do yet,” Jessie said.

I’ll take a look too. I want to see some of the other chelsea cuts,” Janet chimed in.

“OK, I think I can explain what I want to Kate,” Gail told them.

“Well Christine, you brought all these girls in for haircuts just like yours I suppose,” Kate said said with a laugh. “You certainly look great. I really like the way you’ve done your eyebrows. It opens up you eyes and gives you a more gentle look. You lightened them didn’t you. I remember that you had dark hair. So you followed Paula’s example. Are you as smooth as Melissa was the last time I saw her?”

“I’m pretty sure I am. You can feel it. It’s gotten easier and easier. We only shave three times a week now. That special moisturizer really works,” Christine explained.

“It is certainly very smooth. And your tan makes it look even better. I keep having the urge to shave myself again. I don’t know if I can resist. So tell me who your friends are, Christine.”

“Oh, right. They are part of the Crown Point summer swim team. This is Gail. She just got her hair cut. She can tell you about it. That’s Jessie with the red hair and Janet. They’re really good swimmers. Anyway they all
want to get haircuts. They’ll tell you what they want.”

“Well Gail I guess you’re first. What do you have in mind?”

“I saw a picture of this style and showed it to the woman who cut my hair. She wouldn’t cut it as short as the picture. It should be a lot shorter than this. Can you do it the way it is supposed to be?” Gail inquired.

“It’s supposed to be a feather cut isn’t it. That’s a variation of the chelsea cut. You have a rather conservative variation. I think I have a picture of it that is more like what I expect you wanted. Let’s go look,” Kate invited her.

“It’s hard to find any good pictures of a feather cut. I’ve seen a few girls with it done like yours Gail, but I have only one picture of one which I think is the way it should be done. It’s in this section of miscellaneous cuts. Here it is. Take a look,” Kate pushed the the book toward her.

The picture was taken from slightly above and to the side so that the main features of the cut were shown in good detail. Gail saw that the “feathers,” the fringe that outlined the head of the girl in the picture, was about the same length as hers, but wispier than hers and perhaps even thinner. Inside the fringe the hair had been cut very close – almost shaved.

“Yes, that’s a lot like the other picture. And that’s the way I wanted it cut the first time. I like the way the fringe is thin and wispy and the part inside is very short. I wanted it shaved, but she wouldn’t do it,” Gail complained.

“Well there is shaved and there is really shaved. Do you mean you wanted it clippered like this picture, which is probably a number one – about an eighth of an inch or even shorter. I can go with a triple zero which would be almost smooth, or a razor shave to make it as smooth as Christine’s. What were you thinking?” Kate asked.

“I don’t know Kate. What do you think would look good. I just know that it should be very short,” Gail responded.

“OK, here’s what I think. A thin wispy fringe is a good choice. Then the rest should be cut with a number one or even a zero. With you strawberry blond hair that will still give some color to you head, but allow the fringe to have its dramatic effect. If you want it even more dramatic then I’ll do a clipper shave or even a smooth shave if you decide that you want it,” Kate offered.

“That sounds exciting. How short is a zero anyway,” Gail asked.

“Let me see if I can give you an example. If it’s cut with a number one it’s one eighth of an inch which is this long,” she illustrated with her fingers. “You can barely grab it with the tips of your fingers. With your fine hair it will not feel very bristly. With a zero, it is half as long, only a sixteenth of an inch and you can’t get hold of it. It will feel quite bristly and you skin shows though almost completely although the hair still gives a little color to your head.” Kate explained.

“What happens when you shave it like Christine’s,” Gail asked. “How would that work?” She was having a little feeling of excitement contemplating having her head shaved smooth.

“OK. That leaves it feeling smooth and silky feeling. At first it will look a little ghostly, sort of a grayish white. If you had to wear a bandage for a week or more and noticed how it looked when you took it off, that’s how it looks. I put on a little bronzer so that it looks better – more natural. In about a week it gains some color if you keep it shaved. I saw a moisturizer in the drug store that adds a little color and shine. I think that would work well. In two weeks it will be just like the rest of your skin. I think you would look quite striking and very good with it shaved smooth except for the feathers,” Kate said. She was not at all adverse to doing a bit of lobbying.

“If I got it shaved smooth, I would have to have a shaver like Christine’s if I wanted to keep it smooth, wouldn’t I?” Gail said. She felt a tingling sensation growing in her as she anticipated what it would be like to get most of her head shaved.

“Yes, you would. Here, sit down. Are you OK? You look a little shaky,” Kate said as she took Gail by the elbow and guided her into the barber chair.

“I’m OK Kate. I just had a weird reaction to thinking about getting my head shaved smooth. It was like the first time I was swimming in an important meet. I had a horrible case of nerves,” Gail said.

“Hey Gail, what are you going to do?” Jessie asked. The other three girls had returned from their examination of the scrapbooks of short hair styles and had heard Gail’s last comment.

“I’m not sure yet. I keep thinking about getting it shaved, but I get quivery when do. It’s strange.”

“Well, do you like the idea of getting it shaved, or is it just scary?” Janet asked.

“I would like to do it but it’s really scary too. I think that’s why I get the jitters when I think about it,” Gail answered.”

“Don’t do anything that you might not like. If it scares you maybe you shouldn’t think about it,” Christine said.

“Actually I do want to do it Christine, but maybe I’m not ready yet.”

“I think you would look absolutely terrific if you did. Maybe you would be able to swim faster too,” Jessie teased.

“I think I would too Jessie, but I can’t do it all at once. Kate I’m ready to go ahead with it just like in that picture. You said that it was a number one. If I want to get it done even shorter, is that OK? Gail asked.

“Absolutely! You should never do more than you are comfortable with even if you do have the itch. We’ll take it slow and easy,” Kate reassured Gail as she settled her into the big barber’s chair and caped her.

“I’m going to start by re-doing your fringe so it is a little lighter and more feathery,” Kate told her.

She started at the back where she she puts clips in the hair to separate the part that she would leave longer. The original cut had left a full inch of longer hair around Gail’s head. She would reduce it to only a half inch. She picked up her adjustable head clipper and set it to the number one setting.

“OK Gail, I have to adjust the fringe. I’ll be using my clippers. Did they use clippers for it the first time?, Kate asked?

“No, she used only scissors. I though she would be using clippers, but she said she never used them except for a little cleanup around the neck,” Gail answered.

“Well I expect you will like the feeling,” Kate told her.
Working carefully she she clipped off the excess hair. She repeated the process on both sides and then along the temple areas. Finally she did the front.

“There, that’s done. Now I can clipper all the rest to the same length. Here goes. Put you head down and hold on to you seat,” she joked.

She began at the back and carefully ran the clippers up the back of Gail’s head. This time Gail shivered visibly. Kate smiled. She was sure that she had just made yet another convert to the pleasure of feeling clippers on her head. She continued up the back then on to the sides. Finally she put the clippers at the top of Gail’s head just behind the front fringe and pushed them back to the crown. Five or more passes and Gail’s head was clipped to a uniform one eight of an inch except for the coppery red fringe that outlined her head. She made a number of additional passes to make sure it was completely uniform and to give Gail a little more experience of having clippers on her head. Kate thought it was going to be be very striking with the light coppery red of the fringe surrounding the buzzed red hair of the rest of her head.

She had checked Gail’s hairline and was pleased to see that it was quite even. She would not have to adjust it to make the feathery fringe outline her face nicely. Now she used her razor to lighten and shorten the fringe a little. She checked it several times finally deciding that she was satisfied. She added a bit of gel to the front fringe to give it a little lift. The haircut had not taken very long because the basic shape had already been established.

“It’s done Gail,” Kate said as she turned her toward the mirror. “Check it out and see if you want to go any shorter where the buzzed part is,” Kate said as she did her usual little bit of subtle lobbying for the shorter version.

“I like it Kate. Will it look good with it even shorter,” Gail asked clearly tempted.

“Of course it will. It would look great shaved smooth. That’s the classic way to do it,” Kate added.

“Yeah, Gail, it would look super really short or smooth shaved,” Janet assured her.

“What do the rest of you guys think,” Gail asked.

“Go for it Gail,” Jessie encouraged her.

“You would look sharp with it buzzed shorter. That will give you a chance to see if you want it shaved or not,” Christine said. She didn’t want Gail to go further than she wanted because the others pushed.

“Thanks, guys. Kate, go ahead and buzz it shorter the way you said,'” she had finally made up her mind.

“Are you sure, Gail,? Kate asked. She wanted to sure it was Gail’s decision.

“Yes, I’m sure Kate,” she responded.

“All right. It will look terrific that way Gail,” Kate said enthusiastically.

Kate picked up her adjustable clipper and reset it to the number zero setting, then cleaned it with her brush.

“OK, head down Gail,” she requested as she clicked on the clipper’s switch.

Gail put her chin on her chest. Kate put her hand on Gail’s neck to hold the fringe down so she could see exactly where to put the clipper’s head. Once again she ran it up the back of Gail’s head almost to the crown. She made another pass and yet another, slowly and meticulously going from right to left, each time being careful to start exactly at the place where the fringe started and overlapping each pass so that it was perfectly even. She continued on the right side, now paralleling the fringe before she went up to the top. She repeated the process on the left side. With a path outlined she finished cleaning up the sides and back to the top of Gail’s head. Finally she started on the front.

“Hold very still Gail. I don’t want to make a mistake, but I want to get as close as possible to your fringe.” she told her.

Kate made several short cuts along the back of the fringe area to get the edge just right.

“There, the tricky part is done and you can relax while I finish it,” she said.

Now she went over the entire buzzed area several times to assure that it was exactly and perfectly even. She readjusted the front fringe which she had pressed done and declared it finished.

“Well Gail, it’s done. Now you have an excellent feather cut chelsea. So what do you think now,” she said as she rotated the big chair to face the mirror.

Gail examined herself critically, moving her head up and down and from side to side trying to see as much as possible.

“Here Gail, I’ll hold up this mirror so you can see the sides and back better,” Kate said.

“It looks terrific Gail. I like it a lot,” Jessie volunteered.

“I like it Kate.” She put her hand on her head and rubbed it. “That feels so awesome. From the front you can hardly tell that it’s radical at all. I like the way the fringe along the side looks too. It’s just what I wanted. Thanks.”

“Well, if you want it shaved I can still do that,” Kate offered.

“I think I’ll keep it like this for a while. I guess I’ll have to have it cut pretty regularly to keep it looking like this won’t I,” she asked Kate.

“Every two weeks should do nicely, but every three weeks will be OK too.” Kate told her. “It’s a style that looks good even when it grows out a little.”

“It looks great Gail, but I still think you should try it shaved smooth some day,” Janet told her.

“Maybe I will some day Janet, but I want to get used to it this way first.” Kate had brushed off the cape and removed it. She quickly tucked a towel under her tank top in the back so she could clipper her neck. She dusted it with a little power and used her blow dryer to get rid of any stray hairs. She removed the towel.

“There you go Gail,” she announced. “One down and two to go. Who’s next?”

“I’m ready Kate I know just what I want,” Janet spoke confidently.

“Why don’t you get in this old barber chair and tell me. Or do you need to show me something in one of the scrapbooks?” Kate asked.

“Actually I do want to show you something. I’m going to get a chelsea like you gave Beth. Do you remember that? But I want bangs that are a little bit thicker than hers. I found a picture that is just what I want,” she hurried to get the book that had the picture in it.

“Here it is. That’s the way I want my bangs done. The rest should be shaved smooth like Beth. There’s another picture of a woman who must be thirty something years old with the same style except that I think her bangs are just not as wide. But she is shaved smooth. Here it is,” Janet spoke excitedly.

“I can do it exactly the way you want it Janet. I’ll leave the bangs a little wider, thicker and longer than hers and you can tell me how much more you want them cut. The first part will be easy. I’ll just part off your bangs and then buzz off everything else. Unless, of course, you want me to do it in stages so you can tell me to stop,” she teased.

“Absolutely not Kate. I want to feel what it is like to have you clipper my head,” she giggled.

“It’s awesome Janet. You’ll love it,” Gail told her enthusiastically.

“Well, Janet give that scrapbook to someone and get in my chair so we can get started,” Kate ordered with a laugh.

Janet complied and Kate quickly caped her. In a few moments she had parted off the front section where Janet’s bangs would be. She picked up her adjustable clippers and set then to the minimum setting, which would cut to about a thirty second of an inch. Janet’s hair was not long. It had been cut to a fairly short layered style that probably look good when it was styled with mousse and blow dried. Janet had usually just ruffled it with her fingers and let it dry naturally.

“Here we go Janet. Head down.” Kate announce as she gently push Janet’s head forward and clicked on the clipper. Without hesitation she ran the clippers from Janet’s nape to the crown of her head. Four more passes up the back and the back of Janet’s head was reduced to bare stubble. She continued on the right side.

When Kate put the clippers on her temple Janet’s head jerked slightly at the vibration and the sound so close to her ear. She felt the clippers run up the side and over her ear. It was an exhilarating feeling. The clippers continued their steady work. First above her ear, then behind it and around as Kate bent her ear down to get close. Kate rotated the chair so that she could reach the left side, and Janet again felt a little tingling down her spine as the clippers touched her temple. A few more passes of the clippers left the left side of her head almost bare. Once again the chair rotated so Kate could stand just to Janet’s right and could easily reach the top of her head. Kate gently pushed Janet’s head forward a bit and placed the clippers just back of the part she had made for the Janet’s bangs. Janet felt the clippers run from front to back and shivered at the feeling. More runs followed and in short order Janet’s hair had been reduced to stubble except for the bangs and a little bit of longer hair behind the bangs that Kate couldn’t reach with the big clippers.
?”Janet, I’m going to do your bangs now. I won’t feather them much, just trim them to the approximate length. That way you can decide if you want them not so thick,” Kate explained to Janet as she combed her bangs down and trimmed them evenly across her forehead an inch and a half above her eyebrows.

“OK, but I only wanted my bangs to be a little bit thicker than Beth’s,” Janet said.

“Well, here it is now,” Kate said as she turned her to face the mirror. I’m sure they’re more than you wanted, but we’ll get them right pretty quickly, Kate advised her.

“You’re ri
ght Kate, they are too thick. They need to be a lot lighter I think.”

“Let’s try something. I can’t do all your bangs at once, but I can give you a pretty good idea of what they will look like if they’re thinner by taking this thin comb and parting off a little more so you can see the effect of making them thinner. Like this. Remember that I’ll use my razor to thin them some more to give it a more wispy effect. How is that?” Kate asked.

“Yes, that’s about what I had in mind.”

“OK. Lets go with that and see how it works. I’m going to use my little edger to go over you head to make it easier to shave and I’ll use it to reduce you bangs to the thickness I just showed you.”

She left Janet facing the mirror and picked up her small battery operated clippers. “I’ll do the bangs first, so you can see the result.”

She had put a clip in the section that she had combed back. Now she could use it as a guide. Starting on the left side she carefully ran the clipper slowly from back to front removing the hair at the front so that it was even with the line created by the hair that was held fast by the clip. Careful to make the bangs about the same thickness from left to right she clipped off the hair just behind the bangs. Removing the clip she clipped off the last section that had been her guide. A few tiny adjustments and she was satisfied. Now she began going over the rest of Janet’s head, reducing it to the shortest of bristles.

“That’s done Janet. I’m going to thin them a little to lighten them. Then you can see how they look and if the length is right. After that I’ll shave all the rest.”

She sprayed water on Janet’s bangs and thinned them just a little with her razor tool, careful not to make them too wispy.

“There. Let’s see if I’ve got it right now.” She turned Janet to face the mirror.

Janet inspected herself closely. “I think they should be just a little shorter Kate,” she said.

“I agree Janet. Hold still and I’ll do it. A tiny bit more thinning might be good too,” Kate replied.

“How’s does that look?” Kate had shortened the bangs by a quarter of an inch and then make them a little lighter.

“It’s perfect Kate. I love how it looks.”

“That is so cool Janet,” Gail added enthusiastically.

“Yeah, Janet. And you’ll look even better after it’s shaved,” Jessie agreed.

“OK, time to make you nice and smooth except for your cute little bangs,” Kate announced.

“I’m going to give you a first class head shave Janet, so just be patient. Here comes the hot towel,” Kate warned her as she wrapped her head with the hot towel.

“You’re going to love it Janet. It feels so amazing,” Christine told her.

“Time for some hot lather, Janet,” Kate announced. She removed the towel and began spreading lather to Janet’s head and massaging it in. I’ll let that stay for a minute while I sharpen my razor.”

She stropped her razor and tested its sharpness. “Time to make you silky smooth Janet. Your hair is not so dark and thick that it will show much even after a day without shaving,” Kate told her.

She began at Janet’s nape shaving downward. Moving to the left side she shaved the temple and around her ear then down from the curve of Janet’s head to the area previously shaved. Moving to the back she shaved down from the crown to the previously shaved nape. She repeated the process on the right side, shaving steadily and confidently. Soon nothing was left except the top which she proceeded to shave beginning behind the bangs and shaving toward the front, stopping just short of Janet’s bangs. Now she could shave the rest of Janet’s head from the crown forward. In a few minutes she had finished.

Gail and Jessie watched mesmerized by the process. Even Christine, who had watched Kate shave Melissa for the first time, was unable to take her eyes off the show as Kate quickly rendered most of Janet’s head perfectly smooth as far as she could tell.

“I need to shave it again to get it perfectly smooth Janet.”

“OK. It felt so weird and tingly I almost forgot to breath Kate. It’s strange but I liked the feeling. Can I feel it, even if it isn’t smooth?”

“Sure. Go ahead. That’s what happens to a lot of people when they get their head shaved the first time. It feels so good that they want to keep getting it shaved. You may have already been infected by that bug,” Kate said laughing.

Janet reached up to her head with her right hand and slowly moved her fingers toward her shaved head as though she was afraid it might burn then. She touched it tentatively, then moved her finger tips over a small area. Her eyes got big in surprise as she experienced the softness of the skin of her head. Her fingers explored more vigorously until finally her whole hand was rubbing her head. She closed her eyes and a beatific smile spread across her face as she reveled in the sensations flooding through her body. Finally her whole body shook as a shudder passed through it.

Christine watched with a grin recalling the time that she had allowed herself to undergo the same revelatory experience even though it was not as intense as Janet’s. Gail and Jessie watched silently, fascinated by the intensity of feelings that Janet was so obviously experiencing.

“Oh my God, oh my God.” Janet was almost speechless. She opened her eyes and looked around. “That was crazy wild. What happened to me?”

“I had almost the same kind of experience Janet. I guess it’s kind of normal for a lot of people when they get their first shave and it feels so good. Don’t worry about it,” Christine reassured her. “But I do think you may really have caught the bug and won’t ever be satisfied unless you have it shaved smooth. At least that’s the way I feel.”

“It doesn’t happen every time you get it shaved does it?” she asked in disbelief.

“Oh no!” Christine answered laughing. “But it does feel good to get it shaved, and to put on a nice cool moisturizer. And it feels really nice to have someone massage it. I think you’re going to love having it shaved like that.”

“I think I already do. I never imagined anything like that,” Janet confessed.

“It must be the influence of this old barber’s chair. People seem to react quite strongly in it,” Kate interjected. “Are you ready for me to finish you? I do need to make it even more smooth for you and put on some moisturizer and a little bronzer. Do you suppose you can handle all that,” Kate said laughing.

“I guess I wouldn’t mind if you shaved me ten times in a row if my head could stand it,” Janet said jokingly.

“Well, here goes then,” Kate told her as she applied hot lather to her head and massaged it gently with her fingers. Janet shivered at the feel of Kate’s fingers. “It does feel good doesn’t it. Just like Christine said Janet.”

“I never imagined having my head shaved would feel so unbelievably good. I’m going to tell Mom about it. I think she might like to get a short cut too. I think she would be super good looking with her head shaved.” Janet had obviously become a true convert.

Gail was fascinated by Janet’s reaction. She knew she had been greatly tempted to have her head shaved and now that desire had resurfaced with more urgency. She wanted to know what Janet had felt. “Janet what was it like? I mean what was going through your mind?”

“I really can’t describe it. When I touched it with my fingers it sent a chill through my whole body. When I put my hand on it, I was almost hypnotized. Even now I want to reach up and touch it. And it felt really good when Kate massaged it.”

Jessie finally weighed in on the conversation. “Christine, I never see you put your hands on your head. Don’t you want to the way Janet does?”

“Oh, I want to, but it looks a little funny to see someone rubbing their own bald head. Melissa does it sometimes. At first I didn’t want to be bald so I wouldn’t touch it. When I finally figured out that I really did want to be bald, I could enjoy touching and rubbing
my head, but I think I had suppressed my normal desire to touch it and so I don’t reach up to feel it automatically like Melissa does. Anyway, I do love to feel it when I’m putting on the moisturizer and shiner. And taking a shower is heavenly. I even enjoy it when Mom rubs it.” Christine tried to explain her reactions.

Kate had continued Janet’s shave while this discussion took place. She had finished going over Janet’s head for the second time. “OK, Janet, I finished the shaving. I’ll put on the moisturizer and a little bronzer and you’ll be done,” Kate told her as she wiped the last of the shaving foam from Janet’s head. “I hope you don’t faint when you see and feel it this time,” she joked.

“You look great Janet,” Christine told her. “Are you going to keep it shaved? I hope you do.”

“I’m sure. I just need to get a shaver and stuff like you use, but I don’t know if I have enough to buy it all now.”

“Don’t worry Janet. I think we can work something out. I would hate to think that all the work I’ve done is going to go to waste, So here’s the new look for you Janet,” Kate teased her, as she turned the chair so that it faced the mirror.

“I sure hope so,” Janet said and then fell silent as she looked at the girl in the mirror. ‘Wow” she thought. ‘I look fabulous.’ She admired the shape of her head and how her ears were small and close to her head. The wispy bangs seemed to enhance her eyes.

“Can I see the back Kate.”

“You bet. Here’s the mirror. You know that you look terrific don’t you?” Kate added rhetorically.

Janet held the mirror in one hand and rubbed her satin smooth head with the other. She closed her eyes savoring the sensation. “It’s great Kate. I feel like this is what I’ve always wanted. It seems very strange – as though I had been in a dream and when I woke up it wasn’t a dream after all.”

“You look sensational Janet,” Gail said enthusiastically.

“Yeah, Janet. You look really good,” Jessie reinforced the judgment of the others.

Kate had taken off the cape, but Janet was still looking at herself and exploring her newly exposed scalp. Finally she realized that she was keeping other people from getting their hair cut. During her transformation two other people had arrived, a man in his forties and an elderly gray haired woman with a neat short pixie cut.

“I guess I holding up everybody,” Janet said as she slowly climbed out of the chair.

“Well maybe just a little,” Jessie laughed. “I need to have a turn in that chair. I’d like to know what kind of haircut I’m going to end up with.”

“Bill, It may be a little while. I have Jessie here and then Irene. So if you have something to do for the next hour you have time to do it.”

“OK. Thanks Kate. I guess I will walk over to Elm Street. I have a few things to pick up and It shouldn’t take more than an hour.” Bill headed out the door.

“Jessie, I’m ready for you now.” Kate told her.

Jessie quickly sat in the chair and Kate caped her.

“Well, what do you have it mind Jessie. Something like a shoulder length page boy maybe,” she offered.

“Hum, that would be interesting. I didn’t know you could get hair to grow in a flash like that. I guess I’ll pass on that. I think I would like to have a short buzz cut. I saw a picture in your album that is about what I want. She had very red hair too. It was very short. I should have brought it for you to look at,” Jessie responded.

“That’s OK Jessie. I’ll get the album and we can both look at it.” She hurried back and picked up a large album and opened it to the section on buzzed styles.

“It was near the back Kate. She was a lot older than me, but I liked the way it looked.”

Kate thumbed through the pages and pointed out several women with buzzed red hair.

“There. That’s it Kate. Like that or maybe even shorter.”

“OK, I can do that. Did you look through the rest. There’s a girl in here that looks a bit like you, but with almost black hair. I think it was dyed to make it more noticeable. Here she is. I think they’re about the same length,” Kate said.

“That girl is really pretty isn’t she. Almost angelic. You think I look like her?” Jessie was surprised at this idea.

“Well, just in general features. Here’s another one that I like a lot. It’s very short. What do you think of it. It’s what I call a clipper shaved style. It would suit you very well, especially with your red hair,” Kate told her.

“I like it. It just leaves a little hint of hair doesn’t it.” Jessie responded.

“It’s about the same length as Audra’s cut, and that’s enough for it to show off how red it is,” Kate answered.

“Audra? Is that that really pretty bald black girl that I see with Melissa, Christine?”

“Yes it is. Audra and her Aunt Steffie are practically part of our family. She’s really nice and a terrific soccer and volleyball player too. Her Aunt Steffie is completely bald just like me. She said we were her inspiration.”

“You mean she got her head shaved after seeing you?” Jessie asked.

“That’s right. And she also got Audra to cut hers like that. Audra really likes the way it’s cut, even though she has to have Kate cut it every week to keep it looking right,” Christine answered.

“Well Kate, I guess Audra is going to be my inspiration. Cut it just like Audra’s,” Jessie said without hesitation.

“You will look good, but I want you to be sure,” Kate answered her.

“I’m absolutely sure Kate. I was going to do it sooner, but we were so busy working out and swimming that I never seemed to have time. It’s exactly what I want.”

“You’ve got it then,” Kate responded as she picked up her adjustable clipper and set it to the one sixteenth of an inch that she had used on Audra. There was no hesitation as she began on one side at the temple area and ran the clipper up the side of Jessie’s head. She continued quickly and efficiently around Jessie’s head finally finishing at the temple on the opposite side. She knew that Jessie would look good with this short clipper shave. Her ears did not stick out at all, and her head had a nice shape. When Jessie came back for a touch up, she would encourage her to try a smooth shave. She suspected that Jessie would be easily persuaded and would become a convert. While she was musing about that possibility she had started at the front and quickly reduced the hair on the top of Jessie’s head to the same uniform sixteenth of an inch.

Jessie had been facing the mirror the entire time that this process was taking place. Now she had a big grin on her face as she saw her head take shape as her hair was removed.

“OK, Jessie. I’m not quite done yet, but what do you like it so far. It’s short all right, but you are going to look very elegant. I think that making the sides and back shorter would make it even sharper looking. What do you think?” Kate asked.

“I like the way it looks Kate. If you think it could be shorter, go ahead. I’m about ready to have it shaved smooth like Christine and Janet anyway,” Jessie said.

“Are you really?” Gail said excitedly. “If you do then I’m going to get mine shaved too. Christine and Janet look so good!”

“I think I’ll wait for a week or two before I get it shaved smooth, but I’m sure I’m going to do it. We can come together Gail.”

Meanwhile Kate had taken Jessie at her word. She went over Jessie’s head several times to make sure it was perfectly even. Then she readjusted her clipper to its closest seating – one sixty fourth of an inch. Once again she started on the right side in the temple area. She went up about an inch before she lifted it off. After looking at the result she ran it up again, but an inch higher. This time she was satisfied. She continued around Jessie’s head, going up almost to the crown in the back. There was only a shadow remaining on the sides, and only a little more of a shadow on the top of Jessie’s head – just enough to tell that she had copper colored hair. Ka
te continue to run the clipper up to the transition area to create a very even taper line around her head. After several circuits she was satisfied.

“Well Jessie it’s almost finished. I need to clean up around your ears and in the back,” Kate told her. “And when you’re ready to get it shaved clean and smooth, come on back and I’ll do it for you.”

Kate picked up her little edger and outlined around her ear, then decided to add one more little touch. Instead of edging it she simply used the extremely fine blades of the edger to taper the hairline so that the transition was essentially invisible. ‘That looks better’ she thought. There were no detectable sideburns and no line of demarcation for the hairline around her ears. In the back she had clippered it close up to above the top of Jessie’s ears where the taper to the previous closely clipped area began. Kate inspected it critically. She liked the result. The back and sides were now shaved for all practical purposes, but it seemed to be the perfect complement to the closely clippered top.

“OK. I’m done unless you would like me to give you a white sidewalls look. Feel the back. You’ll like it. Then I’ll show it to you.”

Jessie was busy feeling the back of her head which now was almost smooth. It seemed to be just a little sandpapery to her.

“Oh! That looks so cool Kate. It’s practically shaved isn’t it. It feels so wild in the back. I like it, but I like the way Christine’s head feels even better. What is a white sidewalls look anyway?” she asked.

“It’s an old term. It means cutting the sides and back so close that the white skin shows. I would shave it smooth, but put on the bronzer so that the white look isn’t there. You would only do it if you expected to keep it shaved every day. You’ll need to come back every week to keep this cut looking good.” Kate told her.

“Every week?” Jessie was aghast.

“It’s OK Jessie. Now that the original cut is done, maintenance is easy and I only charge $7.50 for this kind of cut if you come in every week”

“Whew! That’s better. But if I get it shaved I guess I can do it myself and it doesn’t cost much at all.”

“That’s right Jessie. Melissa and I haven’t spent any money since we first shaved, and it takes even less time that blow drying used to take,” Christine interjected.

“Gail, will you be able to buy the shaver next week? I think I’m going to come back next Monday to get mine shaved and buy the shaver and whatever else I need.”

“I’ll come with you. I pretty sure I can handle it then.” Gail answered

“You look fabulous Jessie and you’ll look even more fabulous when you get it shaved smooth and you get a little tan. This is so cool. Melissa said that it would be great to have a bald girls swimming team. And now we just about have one. You guys are amazing. I’m so glad that we’re all on the same team, and that you’re my friends.” Christine said.

“I think we need to pay Kate and I need to get that shaver and whatever else I need to keep my head decent,” Janet laughed.

Kate laughed in turn. “Yes, you do need to keep your head decent looking. I’ll make out a requisition form for you. Your haircut was fifteen dollars. Can you afford twenty or twenty-five dollars this week?” Kate asked.

“I only have twenty right now. I can do another ten next week and the week after.”

“That will be fine Janet. You’ll have it paid off in three weeks. I definitely don’t want you to relapse any time soon and start letting hair grow on your head, so pay what you can now and take care of the rest over the next few weeks. I expect to see a beautiful girl with a perfectly smooth head show up regularly. Here’s the requisition form. Just take it over to the store on Colfax and pick up what you need.” Kate was going to make it as easy as possible for any girl who had chosen to be bald to keep her head shaved.

“I know how to get to Colfax. We can go back to Elm and use the bike lane. It should take us only about fifteen minutes.,” Christine explained. Let’s go.”

“Wait a minute. I just remembered something I wanted to ask Kate,” Christine said suddenly. “Kate, the woman whose hair you were cutting when we came in – I think you called her Leslie had – interesting eyebrows. They went up under her bangs, but that’s all you can see. How do they look under her bangs?”

“Oh my, you’re very observant Christine. The part that you can see is her natural eyebrow. She keeps the rest of her eyebrows removed completely. I think they may be permanently removed. But she has high curved brows that look very natural even though they are done using permanent makeup. She told me that she loves the way her eyebrows look. It’s sort of a surprised expression, but it makes her eyes look big. The permanent make up is really just a kind of cosmetic tattooing. All of her eye makeup is permanent. She says that it saves a lot of time not having to clean it off and put it on every morning. She can make it more dramatic if she wants, but usually she just goes with it the way you saw it.

“That’s very interesting Kate. So it’s possible to have any kind of eyebrows you want and any color you want I suppose.” Christine was intrigued.

“That’s right. It might be nice, but I think there might be a temptation to overdo it. Fortunately it does fade and has to be redone every couple of years, and apparently it can be removed fairly easily,” Kate explained.

“I’m going to tell Mom about it. I did think that her eyes seemed to look big.”

The three girls paid for their haircuts and took off toward Colfax. The bald bulldogs swimming team was ready to make it’s big splash.

To be continued in Part 15

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