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Robin had first cut her hair short three years ago. She thought she needed a change as she had recently moved to New York to begin a new job as a personal trainer at a local gym, and as it was a hot New York summer she looked forward to a hairstyle that would help her stay cool. She walked into a local walk-ins-welcome salon and asked that her shoulder-length hair be taken much much shorter. “So exactly how short do you mean,” asked Stephanie the stylist. “I’m open to suggestions,” replied Robin. Stephanie offered up, “Well, with temperatures in the 90’s recently a lot of women have been opting for super-short boy cuts and crew cuts, and if you’re going short anyway I think that would suit you.” “OK let’s do that,” Robin answered, somewhat nervous but also looking forward to a change. Stephanie spent five minutes hacking off big chunks of hair using the scissors, until Robin’s hair was around 2 inches long all over. Once the initial shock of losing all that hair had passed, Robin thought to herself, “that’s really not so bad – I think I’m going to enjoy having short hair.” Stephanie picked up the clippers – “I’m going to use the buzzer to take it shorter, OK?” she said – attached a #3 guard, and proceeded to reduce all the hair on Robin’s head to 3/8 of an inch. This was not what Robin had expected, but still she was somewhat excited about her new look. Stephanie asked “do you want me to take the sides and back shorter or should we leave it all one length?” Robin replied, “I think that’s a big enough change for today.” Stephanie cleaned up her neck and sideburns, and Robin said thanks, paid, and left, eager to face the heat and her new job without much hair on her head.

Robin was an excellent personal trainer, and was constantly booked at the gym where she worked. Most of her clients were female, and a few were inspired to cut their hair short, though generally not as short as Robin’s. “What made you do it,” she was frequently asked. “Mostly because I needed a change, but I do like the way it looks and feels, and I’d definitely recommend it.” And so went back to Stephanie once a month and had her buzz her down to 3/8 of an inch for the next year or so. The following summer the mercury once again started to rise, and Robin came to the salon for her usual cut. After Stephanie had buzzed her with the #3 guard, she asked, “Want to go a little shorter maybe?” Robin thought about it and saw no reason to object: “Sure, if you think it’ll look good.” She swapped the #3 for a #1 and ran the clippers over her head, leaving just 1/8 inch of hair all over. Robin had fairly thick hair, and the 3/8 inch buzz she had sported for the past year showed no skin, but now she could see her scalp under the small bit of hair remaining on her head. “Wow, that’s really short,” was all she could say. “Yeah, doesn’t it look great,” Stephanie asked. Robin replied “maybe next time we can leave it a little longer.” 

But that was not to be. Robin sat down a month later at Stephanie’s station and asked, “how about we leave it longer this time?” Stephanie answered, “Really? I think the short buzz really suited you. Why don’t we keep it short for one more month and see if you get used to it,” and, without waiting for a response, attached the #1 guard to the clippers and began buzzing Robin. “See, doesn’t that feel great.” It did feel great, though Robin still did not like the idea of walking around with a nearly bald head. But the next few months Stephanie didn’t even ask Robin what she wanted – she would just wait for her to sit down, put the cape around her, and give her an 1/8 inch buzz. 

Robin began to notice certain clients seemed to be put off by her near-shaved head, and a few stopped using her as their trainer. Robin determined the best course of action was to let her hair grow out and hope that she could win back certain clients. On her next trip to the salon she began by telling Stephanie, “I think it’s time for me to start growing my hair out – I don’t’ want the usual buzz this time.” She replied, “OK, sure, but your hair is only about 1/2 or 3/4 inch all over, so the only style we could do would be to take the sides and back really short and leave the top longer. That’ll at least give it some shape, OK?” Robin agreed, and with that Stephanie took the clippers with no guard and began buzzing Robin’s nape and then sides down to mere stubble. She attached the #4 guard to the clippers and ran them over the top of Robin’s head a few times. “How do you like it,” Stephanie asked? Robin didn’t like it at all – the contrast between the sides and the top of her head looked awful – and she had never had it buzzed to the skin as the entire bottom half of her head currently was. “Maybe you could even it out a little so that the top and the sides are closer in length.” “Sure thing,” Stephanie replied, swapped the #4 for the #1 and took the top of Robin’s head to 1/8 of an inch. “I’m going to blend the top and the sides so there won’t be much contrast at all.” Stephanie removed the guard and buzzed higher along the sides and near top of Robin’s head. “You know, as long as you’ve gone this far how about we take everything off – I think you’d really like it.” At this point Robin felt she had lost control of her haircut anyway and was resigned to end up however Stephanie wanted her to look. So she nodded. Stephanie took the guard-less clipper and ran it over Robin’s head several times until there was nothing left. “Come with me please to the sink,” she instructed, and there she sat Robin back and ran warm water over hear head before sitting her up. She took out a can of shaving cream and applied a thick layer all over Robin’s head. She began shaving her bald with a Bic razor – first the nape, then the sides, and finally the top. She applied another layer of shaving cream, this time covering her head as well as her entire neck and sideburns, and again shaved her with the razor. Stephanie wiped away the excess cream with a towel and massaged in some moisturizer, which Robin actually quite enjoyed even though she had not expected to walk out of the salon bald. “So what do you think,” Stephanie asked. “I don’t know Stephanie, I told you I wanted to grow it out, and here I am with a shaved head, so what am I supposed to say,” replied Robin.” “Oh, I hope you’re not mad at me, I just thought maybe one last time before you grew it out you’d want to experience being totally shaved.” Robin pondered and said, “I’m a little mad, but next time I really do want to grow it out.”

The next time Stephanie shaved Robin’s head again.

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