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Copyright ? 2002 by JC Ramsey, all rights reserved.

I watched as she turned to leave. For someone who had been driving so fast, she was certainly taking her time walking out of my office and into the entryway. I noticed her head turn as she saw the small sign. She stopped, and then began to step slowly to her left, as if trying to sneak up on the door. She passed out of my line of sight, but I knew what she was doing, giving the door a long stare, and trying to see inside the now closed shop. I finished up her paperwork and slid it into a file folder, writing her last name on the tab. I rose from my chair, and walked to the newest filing cabinet, opening the second drawer and sliding the folder behind one labeled ?Mayfield?. As I turned to step back to my desk, she was standing in the doorway with a look of absolute amazement on her face.

?Uh, pardon me, but do you know anything about the barber shop next, uh, next door?? she asked, sort of giving a little jerk of her left arm to indicate the direction.

?Oh, sure, I know lots about that shop.?

?Well, is it, uh, a real barber shop??

?It was my grandfather?s place. When they built this building in the 1880?s it was originally a hardware and feed store. As time passed the town got a little bigger, so he decided to put in a barber shop for the men. He just, sort of, partitioned off a little bit of the store and put everything in there he needed for barbering.?

?Hmmn. So, who owns the shop now??

?I do. It came with the building, which my father inherited from my grandfather. Over the years, the building has been lots of things, but the shop has always been there. My father remodeled and modernized it in the 1960?s when the state began mandating all the various sanitary things.?

?So, was your dad a barber??

?Among other things, yes. He learned from grandpa. It was common in those days that the youngsters would hang around the father and learn their trade. And it was legal, too, until the state began licensing barbers and hairstylists and lawyers, etc. You know, everyone who serves the public has to have a license.?

She was now leaning on the door frame, thinking through her list of questions. I was very hopeful that she was going to the place where I wanted her to go.

?Is your dad still working there?? ?No, my dad passed away ten years ago. His passing was too soon for all of us.?

?I?m very sorry. Was he also the constable??

?Yes, he was. That was common also, to pass that training on to the son. Sometimes they didn?t want the job and it would go to whoever the townspeople thought would be good for the job. I was lucky. I liked the various parts of the job, so I stayed with it. And since I had only sisters, I didn?t have much competition.?

?Wow, how many sisters do you have??

?Six. Only one of them lives in town, but the rest are scattered over a few counties. I still see them pretty regularly.?

She paused for a moment, and I watched the wheels turning.

?So, you own the shop. Are you a barber, too??

?Well, not exactly. I learned the trade from my dad, but then in order to help him with the shop, I had to get a license, so I did the school thing. But I was never much interested in being a barber. After dad retired, a young guy set up a shop down the street and that was fine with me. Gives me more time to serve the town in other ways.?

She suddenly looked disappointed. ?So, is this shop closed??

?Well, kinda. In honor of grandpa and dad, I?ve keep it pretty much like it was when he retired. I?ve added a few new things, but that?s it. So, it?s kind of like a place where I?m reminded of my past. But, I also still do some work at the shop.?

?Oh, what kind of work do you do there?? The trap was baited and the mouse was set to take the cheese.

?Well, I do all my sisters? hair. I learned to work with their hair as I was growing up, and I realized that I was pretty good with girls? hair. So, I started bringing girls to the shop, so we added another chair for them. Dad was happy with the outcome. We could do families for a while, until dad retired and the new guy came to town. So, I just gradually shut it down. I have about a dozen ladies who still come by and of course my sisters. Once in a while someone will come in who wants a cut and I?ll do it for them.?

As I had been speaking, her eyes got bigger and bigger, and she began fidgeting with her hands, wanting to feel her hair, but not wanting to appear too anxious to ask the final question.

?So, when is the shop open, if a woman wants to get a haircut??

?Oh, pretty much whenever my office is closed. Most of the time I do my sisters on Saturday, the other ladies on weeknights. I?m pretty flexible.?

Now she paused for several seconds, gathering her courage to say what was on her mind, and ask the question. I remained busy with my work, adding her money to the deposit bag for the bank and filling out the deposit slip.

?You may not believe this, but I have always wanted to have my hair cut in a real barber shop. I used to go with my brothers when they got their hair cut. Once or twice I had my bangs trimmed by a barber. But, I always wanted to get a real barbershop haircut by a man, a barber in a white coat.? She looked at me, expecting me to probably tell her she was crazy. ?Does that sound crazy??

?You know, Miss Menke, it?s not crazy at all. I have had occasion to have several ladies notice the shop, or learn about the shop from friends, and they have come here to do exactly that?have a barbershop haircut by a barber in a white coat.?

?And, are you the barber, I mean, do you do their haircuts??

?Sure, I enjoy doing the haircuts. I do whatever they want me to do.?

?How much do you charge for a haircut??

?Um, it really depends on the time. If you just want a quick haircut with scissors or clippers, it?s $10.00. But if you want some additional services, I charge a little more.? ?Additional services? Like, uh, what for instance??

?Well, some ladies have me video tape their haircut. I just charge you for the blank video. Some like to have a shampoo before their haircut, which is another $5.00. A few have decided to have a step by step long to very short makeover. I charge $30.00 for a complete haircut makeover and video.?

?You mean, they let you cut off their hair in stages??

?Well, yeah, I guess that?s a good word to use. Some have had me cut their hair off in braids for a donation. Some have had me cut their hair off with scissors first, then finish the cut with clippers. A couple of ladies have had me shave their head after going through a complete haircut makeover. I?m willing to do whatever they want to do, as long as it just involves cutting their hair.?

?Fascinating that you still do this.?

?Oh, I can?t give it up. Too many friends who like the way I do their hair, and I really do enjoy cutting and styling women?s hair. Well, I?ve got to close the office and head for the bank to make the deposit. Hope I gave you enough information about the shop.? ?Oh, yes, it was terrific. But, one thing more. Um, would you be available to give me a haircut, like, tonight??

I saw the look in her eyes, the begging not to be turned down, the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream.

?Miss Menke, it would be my privilege to give you a haircut tonight. Why don?t you come back here, say, around 6:30? Would that be O.K.??

?Oh, Mr. Baxter, that would be terrific. Is there anything you want me to do with my hair before I come back??

?Actually, no, just leave it like it is so I can take it down and be surprised.?

With a big smile, she said, ?O.K., I?ll be here at 6:30.? She turned around quickly and with a new spring in her step, she was quickly out the door. I took a more careful look at the wad of hair being held by a very large clip against the back of her head. If the hair was long as it was thick, this was going to be a very fine evening, regardless of how much hair she was going to have me cut.

I got all of my business done, went home to eat a bite, and then was back at the office at 5:45. I opened the shop door, turned on the lights, and surveyed the place. Neat as a pin, the flowers gave the place a gentle aroma that the ladies liked. First thing was to put a fresh cassette in the video camera, turn it on, and make sure that it was properly set up to shoot. I tried to keep turning the ?customer? so that the action was always ?on camera? and so that they occasionally see themselves in the mirror. Camera ready. Next, I picked up my cutting and trimming clippers and made sure they were clean and oiled. I disinfected my combs, clips, and scissors and made sure the hot lather machine was turned on. You never knew how far these ladies wanted to go. Many of them were overjoyed to receive a hot lather neck shave. I had sufficient neck strips, towels, shampoo, conditioner and capes. I also pulled out my photo album in case she was unsure about what she wanted to do with her hair. By the time I put on my white barber?s jacket, it was nearly 6:20. I eased myself into the big red chair, picked up the newspaper, and began to scan the columns, anxiously waiting for her arrival. I had started doing this when possible to raise the anticipation of the ladies. It was especially good for single gals who had looked forward to this day for many years. Sometimes the electricity in the air was almost visible when they arrived and saw me sitting in the chair, waiting for them. One gal got so excited she started yelling for me to get out of the chair and start cutting off her hair. She didn?t let me put the cape on?all I had time to do was turn on the video, pick up my scissors, turn around, and she was in the chair, her head titled back, hair spread out over the back of the chair, panting out, ?Cut it now, cut it now!? When I picked up the first lock of hair at her forehead, she started hollering, ?Pull it tight and whack it off at the scalp.? I wrapped the end of the lock around my fist, pulled it up, then back a little bit to make sure I would have it on camera, then pulled it again, and she was almost in a swoon. When the scissors touched her skin, and I began a slow cutting, she began shaking all over, and when I had the first lock cut off and held it in front of her, she yelled, ?Drop it in my lap and keep on pulling and cutting!? By the fourth lock she had orgasmed and was a little calmer, but as she fingered the hair that I was dropping in her lap, and responded to my pulling her hair, she started up again. I almost quit doing late night haircuts on single women after that one.

I checked my watch and it was 6:29. I heard the main entrance door open and close, then the soft shuffle of a woman?s feet. I coolly continued reading the paper. I knew that she had stopped just outside the door, taking it all in, then another step in so that she could gaze around the shop?the two big barber chairs, the large counter with drawers, cabinets and full width mirror, two chairs to her right, a small magazine table, an old soda machine, and a wall full of drawings, photos and art work of women and their hair. Her gaze stopped at the ?coat rack? on the far side of the video camera and tripod. She could see the several different color and length braids and ponytails hanging from the hooks, all carefully wrapped in plastic to preserve the beautiful hair. I continued to read the paper.

She knocked on the door. ?Are you open??

I gave a ?start?, put down the paper, and looked at her. ?Ma?am, if the door is open, then I?m open.?

Slyly, she said, ?Do you cut women?s hair??

?Absolutely, women are my favorite customers,? I said, folding the paper neatly and getting up from the chair. ?I?ve got this chair warmed up for you, young lady. If you?re ready, just put your purse down on that chair and we?ll get to it.?

As she placed her purse on the chair, I turned to the counter and picked up a freshly laundered striped barber cape. I let it fall open, and with a flourish I snapped it and said loudly, ?Next!?

Now she was a little surprised, but with no hesitation she walked to the chair, ran her hand over the leather armrest, and quickly stepped up, turning gracefully to sit down, and snuggling up against the chair back. It was as if she had been sitting in this chair all her life.

I swirled the cape around her, making sure it covered her arms, and then drew it around her neck, getting my first feel of her hair on the back of my hands. I snapped it closed, then took a good look at the clip holding her hair.

?Well, young lady, what do you have in mind to do with your hair this evening? A bit of a trim, perhaps? A nice, warm shampoo? How about a hot shave of your neck to get those fine hairs off?? I asked, gently touching the back of her neck.

She responded like a cat desiring to be petted, turning her head toward my hand so I could continue to touch her neck. ?Well, sir, I?ve been looking forward to this evening for quite a long time. A nice, hot shampoo would be divine. Then you can dry my hair, and play with it for a while, and then I want you to cut off the bulk with your scissors, very slowly, one lock at a time. And the final hair cut is up to you. I?m not afraid of very short hair, and I would really like to see what those clippers can do to my hair.?

Now I was taken aback just a little, although I had heard this from the majority of women who had come to me for their first barber shop experience. ?O.K., miss, just to make sure that we are on the same page, you are giving me the call on how to cut your hair, as long as I cut off the bulk with scissors first??

?Yes, sir, that?s what I want you to do.?

?Are you interested in buying a video tape of your haircut??

?Of course, I want to be able to see this when I get home. You might get a few more customers when my friends see the tape.?

?That?s wonderful, I?m always looking for new customers. By the way, the cost will be $30.00, including the video tape.?

?That is extremely reasonable.?

?How much time do you have, ma?am??

I had moved over to look at her by now, and she was grinning. ?I have all evening, so you can take your time. My hair at this point belongs to you, so do what you will and have fun.?

?Do you like anything in particular done with your hair while I work on it?? I asked.

?Hmmm, I?ll think about that. I?m not sensitive to pain, so you can pull it. As you will soon see, I have a great deal of hair. If I need you to do something, I?ll tell you.?

?Well, let?s start by taking down your hair and letting me see what I?ve gotten myself into.?

?Please, I?m anxious for you to start.?

?Do you want me to leave you facing the mirror??

?Yes, I want to see everything you do!?

I stepped over to the camera and turned it on, remembering to set the alarm button in the event that we used up three hours of film. Then I moved behind her once again, and with a slightly trembling hand, grasped the clip and opened it, holding her hair with my other hand. I pulled the clip away and placed it on the counter. Then, with both hands now holding her hair, I just slowly let the mass slip through my fingers. She had great natural highlights in this medium brown hair, and a touch of natural wave. As the locks fell, they first covered the top of the chair, and then continued to cascade down, coming to rest about half way down the chair. My quick estimate was thirty inches in length. I continued to arrange her hair across the chair back, raking my fingers through the length from scalp to ends, enjoying the feel of such thick hair. Looking at the top of her head, there was hardly a part visible. For about five minutes, I just played, and she was loving it, letting me take her head in any direction, purring when I would take a handful of hair and pull it back or up and run my fingers through it. Her ponytail had to be three inches in diameter! I even moved around in front of her and ran my fingers into her hairline, pulling up her hair as far as I could stretch, and then gently letting it fall back into place. She just kept her eyes closed and continued to let out soft moans.

After this initial play time, I took my wide tooth comb and began a slow combing of her hair, from ends to top. When I could get the comb through without a tangle, I then picked up a brush and spent about ten minutes brushing her hair in all directions. She seemed to especially like putting her head down and letting me brush her hair down onto the cape. It had been a long time since I had worked with a head of hair this long and thick at the same time. Lots of girls with thick hair had come in for cuts, but rarely had they let their hair grow this long. Too much weight and drying time, I suppose.

She told me that she had a very good friend her kept her hair trimmed. She said she had long ago given up on salons that did not want to take time with her hair. I asked why she wanted to cut it short now, because she seemed to like it so much. She said that it was just the right time, because she needed a change, and she had decided that it was going to be a drastic cut. She had been losing weight, and she wanted to show off a little bit and not have to deal with her hair so much, which really did take a lot of time.

The brushing was finished for now, so I pulled out a shampoo cape from a drawer in the counter and fitted it around her, lifting up the mass of hair that would soon be sopping wet and full of suds. She complimented me on the manner in which I had played with her hair and said she knew I was just as good with the shampoo. I turned on the water and adjusted the temperature, and then I tilted the chair back and got her neck placed on the bowl rim. I pulled her hair back and placed it in the bowl, and slowly sprayed it down. It took a while for the water to penetrate to her scalp.

I turned off the water, placed several ribbons of shampoo onto her hair, and began to massage the shampoo into the thick hair, working again from the ends to her scalp. When I got to her scalp, I really pulled out all the stops, making sure that my fingers were penetrating through her hair, lifting locks up to get the shampoo deep into her hair. I worked her head over from front to back and from side to side with my finger tips, and this whole process elicited a series of moans and groans from her. After a good fifteen minutes, I began to spray off the shampoo, then I applied a little conditioner and worked it through from scalp to ends. Ten minutes later, I was bringing the chair back up, her head wrapped in a fresh, sweet smelling towel. What an experience it was to finish rinsing her hair, then to slowly pull it back and wring the water from such a thick ponytail!

I checked the time; we had been at this for nearly an hour. No problem. I removed the towel that was now quite wet, and began the slow process of combing out her wet hair. I had to decide how much time to take now, whether to blow it dry or just it let air dry. It was so thick, I really didn?t know how long it would take to dry completely before it was ready to be cut. I also wanted to see how much natural wave she had. It was combing through pretty easily, so I got another towel and began to divide sections and used the towel to pick up as much wetness as possible. I worked my way around her head doing that for fifteen minutes or so, and I was surprised to find that her hair was getting dry. Good, I could finish the combing, then play with it again for awhile until it was dry, then the good part would start!

I asked her how many times she had had a man cut her hair, and she said only once. It was a good experience, but it was rare for her to find a man in her town. She knew that she wanted a barber shop cut, but it would have to be out of town, so that she could enjoy the whole experience. Currently she had no boy friend, so anyone?s opinion of the final haircut was just her business. She was a sales representative for a drug company, so her clients would be surprised by a new style, but they would get used to it. She had seen many other girls go through rather dramatic cuts recently, and that was another incentive to come here tonight. One girl?s boyfriend had clippered the back of her head, and when she ran her hand over the almost bare scalp she realized that was the right thing for her to do. She had always wanted that experience of ?almost no hair?, having fought the long, thick hair all of her life.

By this time, I was getting a little excited. I?m usually able to control myself through the early stages of the process. But playing with nearly dry, freshly shampooed, long and thick hair was a real turn on for me. I was now into the second play time, using my hands and wide-tooth comb to section off a portion of hair, comb it out, then do whatever I wanted?twist it, pull it up, let it cascade from my hands, braid it, whatever I wanted to do. I noted that she was inclined to like having her hair pulled pretty hard, so I focused on taking a handful of hair at the scalp and twisting it as I pulled up the length, then continuing to pull it harder as the hair moved through my hand. I loved taking a large section of her hair and using it as a ladder for my hands, changing my hands as I pulled her hair upwards. I was really working up a sweat as I went first from one side of her head to the other, then from back to front. There was not one hair on her head that I did not play with at least several times.

The drying and second play time lasted almost half an hour. She was enjoying it, but I knew she was getting anxious for the next part, the best part for me. I slipped off the shampoo cape, unsnapped the original cape, and laid them aside. I unfolded a fresh cutting cape and swirling it around again, fastened it securely around her neck. I then arranged her hair with my hands across the back of the chair, and did a slow combing with the wide tooth comb. I made a side part on the left, sweeping the thick locks to the right so that the edge of her hair hung just to the corner of her right eye. Her hair looked terrific?clean, dry, shiny, perfectly combed, every hair in place.

Taking a deep breath, I moved to stand in front of her and looked into her eyes.

?Well, I?ve done all I can do. Where do we go from here??

She didn?t answer right away, looking at me, then glancing down to see the ends of the hair that I had swept to her right. I knew she wanted to touch her hair, but the cape covered her hands. She looked back at me.

?I have really enjoyed what you have done so far. I want you to cut my hair in the way that?s best for you, so you can have some fun, too.?

I gave her a little smile. ?Miss Menke, you could leave right now, and I would have considered this evening a great joy and pleasure, having the chance to work with such a beautiful woman and her lovely hair. My pleasure in cutting hair is both the process and the result. I have never had a desire to just cut off a head of hair. Oh, I probably did the first couple of times after I got started. But once the thrill and the mystery of cutting off a woman?s hair completely was accomplished, then it became more a matter of mastering the various techniques and seeing how I could enhance a woman?s beauty with a new haircut. So, the next step is up to you. How do you want me to proceed, and what is the finished style that you would like to have, so I know what my options are in cutting your hair??

?Mr. Baxter, you are an amazing man. That was very well said. I agree. You could have just washed my hair and dried it and then plugged the clippers in and started cutting. But, you have taken a lot of your time to . . .? she held up her hands as I began to object, ?to wash and dry and play with my hair in a manner that has brought me pleasure also.? She paused again, thinking. ?I want a finished style that is about an inch long on the top and crown, tapering down the sides and back to a quarter inch. You can outline my neck in any fashion you choose, and I want my neck completely shaved with hot lather. You can give me a little reverse angle sideburn, but I want no hair touching my ears. Finally, I want the length cut off with scissors, then I want you to clipper off the rest of my hair to the inch length, then reduce it down with the clippers using guides. You can shave my neck with the clipper first, then use the razor.?

?O.K., I know what you want me to do. Do you wish to save your hair??

?No, it?s yours to have. I have no use for it. I saved a ponytail many years ago, and it?s still in the bottom of my hope chest.?

?Do you have a desire to see your hair in any particular place while I cut it, like, having it fall into your lap??

?No, I?ll see it on the video. When you do the first pass with the clippers, I do like to keep my head down and watch the hair fall on the cape.?

?I?ll keep that in mind. I assume you want to stay turned to the mirror as I cut off the length??

?Oh sure, the video can never capture the feeling of watching my hair being sheared off at the moment. I?ve been looking forward to this even for some time, and I?m very glad that I found you. All because of a speeding ticket in a little town in Ohio.?

I winked at her. ?The Lord does move in strange ways. I need to do one thing, and we?ll get started.?

I walked behind her, opened a cabinet, and took out a roll of white cotton cloth. I measured off about a yard, cut it with a pair of older barber shears that I kept in the roll for this purpose, and replaced the cloth and shears in the cabinet. I placed the cloth on the counter, making sure that it was flat and in plain sight of the chair.

I hit the remote control for the video and went to a slightly wider angle. I then slowly rotated the barber chair completely around, then again, holding with a shot of the back, showing her hair draped over the back of the chair, and then a front shot, with the hank of hair dangling just outside her right eye. She hammed it up for the camera. Finally, I turned the chair to face the mirror, making sure the video camera as focused on the left side of her head, and I went back to a closer focus. I stepped to the counter, picked up my favorite pair of small scissors, and stepped back again, looking at her in the mirror. She winked, and I knew that it was time.

I moved slightly to the left, and making sure I was not obscuring the camera?s view, I put the little finger of my left hand about an inch below the part I had made, moved slowly back about an inch, and lifted up, separating a lock of hair that was about a square inch as measured on her scalp. As I lifted up, I turned my hand to grasp the hair with all my fingers and continued to lift up. While doing so, I used my right hand to smooth the lock I was now holding and pull back any hair that was clinging to it. In a moment, I was holding the first long lock of hair loosely in my left hand, with about a foot dangling past my fingers. I looked at her again, she took a deep breath, I opened the scissors and I placed the blades about two inches from her scalp.



With that, I began to slowly snip through her hair, watching the strands separate and come free in my hand, the remaining hair standing up for a moment, as if in shock, then falling softly on top of her head. The sound of the blades cutting her hair was very loud in the quiet shop. We both could hear the raspy ?rip, rip rip, rip, rip? as her hair was cut. With final ?rip, click? the first lock was severed. I held it up for her to see for a moment, panned for the camera, then stepped back to my right and laid the first long lock on the white cotton. What a contrast, the dark brown hair against the pure white cloth.

?Wow, that?s quite a sight,? she said, thinking the same thoughts as I.

?It?s always unusual for me to see the hair that?s been cut lying on the floor, or on the cloth, or a woman?s lap,? I said. ?Sometimes, I think it shouldn?t be that way. I really love long hair on a woman.?

I had moved back to her side and was separating another lock an inch behind the first one. ?So, how was it??

?It wasn?t too bad. Considering how much I have thought about doing this, it was quite pleasant in a way. My hair is so thick and heavy, when I have had it cut short, it?s been a relief.? She paused to watch me cut off the second lock. ?It?s kind of weird. I have thought of cutting it off myself a few times, like Demi Moore did in G.I. Jane. But, I wanted to share the experience with another person, I mean, I think it?s better to have someone else do the cutting, because I fear that I would really mess it up. I like to think that having it cut by a barber is a better way.?

?Why?? I asked. Before she answered, her eyes focused on the third lock as I slowly cut it off with my very sharp scissors.

?Personally, I?ve had problems with some women in cutting my hair. I think there is some jealousy with some hair stylists who see my hair and wish they had it, or want to degrade me a bit by giving me a cut that doesn?t really suit me.?

I now was back to the front of her hairline, moving down an inch to capture the next lock. I held this lock out a little more perpendicular, and cut it shorter, because her hair at this point would be less than inch long in the final haircut. The hair on the cotton cloth was beginning to grow as I placed the fourth lock there.

?So, my experience with men was much better. I used to have a boyfriend in college who just adored my hair. I would let him give me trims, and he would have never thought about cutting any more than I asked him to. He just loved playing with it, and for him cutting it just made it look better. A few years ago, when my hair was growing out from a bob, I went to a shop for trim, and I got a man to cut my hair. He was so encouraging, suggesting how great my hair would look long. And he was so gentle in how he handled my hair, not yanking it like so many of the women do. I decided then that I wanted to fulfill my dream and have my long hair cut off in real barber shop, in a real barber chair, by a real male barber. That would be the ultimate haircut experience for me.?

Two more locks were added to the cloth, and she watched as I snipped off the section in front of her left ear. She was quiet for a little while as I worked my around her ear, cutting off all the sections there until I reached the near vertical hairline that plunged to the nape of her neck. Now I was back up to the part, pulling my finger through her hair an inch to separate a lock that was just left of her crown. This lock I pulled straight up and held for a few moments, to let her see the length of her hair, and I also went wide angle on the camera for this part of the haircut. It was good for the client to see these longer shots also. I liked to really hold these top pieces up, high and taut, while I cut them off. I thought this was one of the most exciting part of any haircut, seeing the longest hair cut slowly, then the lock displayed to the client.

?So, how is this feeling to you right now?? I asked her.

?Oh, it feels great. You have great touch, but I like to have the pieces pulled a little before you cut it. I could close my eyes and know exactly where you are on my head for each cut. It?s sort of strange, I feel so helpless in a way. I mean, a strange man is cutting off all my hair! But, I asked him to! It?s not like I got tied down and I?m being forced to submit to a haircut. It?s a feeling of liberation in a way, because I know that I could have left before you started, or that I told you what to do, and I?m really in charge of what is happening to me, even though someone else is doing it. You know what I mean??

?I think so,? I answered, as I moved down the left rear quadrant of her head to extract another long lock. I had turned the chair a bit so the camera could still pick up all cutting action, and I was trying to hold the locks up as far as I could so she could see them, even though she couldn?t see me actually cutting her hair. ?I used to be nervous when my dad would cut my hair, because it was trusting someone else. But when I knew that he was really listening to me, and he would do what I wanted, then I wasn?t nervous any more.?

?Yeah, that?s how I?ve come to feel for the most part. With you, today, the way you handled my ticket and everything, I knew I could trust you. And then, when I discovered that you were also the barber, then that was it. I knew this was the time and place to fulfill my dream.?

My plan was to just move from left to right in cutting off her length. I pretty much liked to do this in vertical sections, starting at the top and moving down, an inch at a time. This way, it maximized the number of locks I got to cut off, and allowed me to spend a lot of time doing my scissor work, which was what I enjoyed the most.

?When you cut off the first piece, I have to admit that it was combination of fright and, uh, I guess exaltation. I wanted to do this so badly, but at the same time to see such a long length of hair being held out, and knowing that I can never have it back it again, that is a frightful thing. I have always liked the sound of the cutting. I enjoy the feeling of the clippers on my neck, but the scissors cutting my hair, I really like that, especially when someone is holding my hair with their fingers and cutting it.?

?Have you ever had your hair completely cut off with clippers like we?re going to do tonight?? ?No, this will be a new experience. I?ve had some short bobs with a clipped nape, but that?s all I could get the courage up to do. But I knew that if I went to a barber shop, I wanted to enjoy a real barber?s haircut, so it would have to be done with the clippers.?

I sectioned off the crown lock, the longest piece of hair on her head. I pulled it up with both hands, then twisted it a little to hold it together. I did both a close-up and a wide-angle shot with the camera. I told her to drop her head a little and she would be able to watch me cut off this fine piece of hair. I pulled I small elastic from my pocket and placed it on the lock about four inches from her scalp. Then I went to wide angle on the camera, gently pushed her head down just a little, and when she said she could see, I very slowly snipped off this lock, which was just a little thicker that the others. I held it up for her to see, and then I placed it on her lap.

?I know you don?t want your hair, but you have to take this with you. It?s a really special lock of hair for you to keep as a remembrance of your barber shop cut.?

?Thank you, that?s sweet. I will keep it,? her eyes darting to the long strands coiled in her lap. As I sectioned off the next lock, she said, ?You know, I?ve been thinking, could I keep the hair you cut off with the clippers, too??

?Sure, be glad to collect it all for you. I have a plastic bag and envelop system that I use.?

?What do you mean??

As I placed another lock on the cloth that was now almost invisible under the pile of brown hair, I answered her question.

?I read a book on long hairstyling by George Michael, the hairstylist that was famous for his work with long hair. He said that when he cut off the long hair of a customer, he would place the hair in a plastic bag to protect it, then put it in a manila envelope, and put her name, the date of the haircut, and his name on the envelope. That was his gift to each woman. He avoided these cuts as much as possible, but even he had to admit that women could change their minds and decide to give up their long hair.?

?Was reading his book how you got interested in long hair??

?Oh, no. As I said, my sisters helped me there, because as I learned from my father, I watched him cut their hair, and then he didn?t have the patience to deal with their length, so he just turned them over to me. I got used to working with real long hair, and like I said, I discovered I really liked it a lot.?

As I finished snipping off another long lock of her hair, she kind of moved her head from side to side a little. ?Funny how it feels now, so light on one side and so heavy on the other side. I can?t believe I?ve carried all this hair around so long. I have really wanted to be fee of its weight for a while.? ?Well, you are certainly going to leave here a lot lighter.? I pulled the last section out from the nape of her neck and snipped it off very close to her skin. In looking at what I had done so far, it didn?t look too bad. I had cut her hair gradually shorter from top to bottom and in fairly consistent lengths.

She had the same thought. ?You know, it doesn?t look too bad just like it is.?

?It will look a lot better after I do the final haircut. I have cut a rough crop like this before, but I personally didn?t like it. The girl just wanted it to look like she had chopped it off herself.?

?Kind of like me trying to decide to cut my own hair. Now I know how it would have turned out?even worse than I thought.?

I was coming into the home stretch. I was finishing the vertical section behind her right ear, then I would have the ear section to do, the section in front of her ear, and the final front section that I had parted off. The haircut was progressing well, she seemed happy and calm, not fidgeting like a few girls had done. This was a mature woman who knew what she wanted and was not going to ?get off? on having her hair cut. Unless, the clippers might do that for her.

?So, when was your first real woman customer besides your sisters??

?You know, you asked how I got into liking long hair. I do love my sisters? hair?four out of the six still have waist length hair. When I was sixteen, I had received my barber?s license through the apprentice program. I was one of the last barbers to do that before they changed the laws requiring everyone to go to barber school. So I was just watching the shop one afternoon while my dad ran an errand, kind of admiring my certificate letting the world know that I was a qualified barber. I was cleaning up the shop, and I head a faint knock at the door. I turned and a woman was standing there. All I could see was a center part in her hair.

?Is the barber in??

I had to think quickly. ?I?m a barber.?

She paused for just a split second. ?I was expecting someone older.?

?Oh, that?s my dad. He went out for a little while getting some errands done.? ?You say you?re a barber??

?Yes ma?am, I trained under my dad, and I just got my certificate last month.? ?Hmmm. Have you ever cut a women?s hair before??

Now I was really curious as to where this line of questioning was going. I began to expect that she would call for her daughter to come in if I got her approval.

?Actually, I have, by way of my six sisters. I pretty much do all their haircuts now.?

She looked me over, glanced around the shop, looked me over again, then her gaze fell on the closest barber chair.

?O.K., you?ll do for this, I think.? She now looked right at me. ?So, are ready to do a haircut??

?Why, yes ma?am, I?m ready.?

?Where should I sit, then??

I was a little surprised, but I moved a step to the side and politely motioned for her to sit in the chair she had just look at. She quickly entered the shop and glided over to the chair, stepping up and turning to sit down, very straight, in the chair. As I passed by the chair to go to the cabinet for a cape, I noticed the long braids that hung down her back, the ends of which were now lying on the seat of the chair. I knelt down to get a cape, stood back up, turned around, and now could see her back. The braids began just behind each ear and were very tight and thick. There wasn?t much of a part in her hair because of the volume of hair.

?Uh, ma?am, before I cape you, may I ask what kind of haircut you want, so I?ll know how to proceed??

?Just cut off the braids as you wish to, then give me a quarter inch long crew cut. I really don?t want a neck shave, I?m in a bit of a hurry.?

Two more sections to go, and I just snipped off the first part of the next to last section. What a glorious lock of hair, I thought, as it came loose in my hand and I held it up, admiring the color and weight, holding it so that a foot dangled beyond my hand. I stepped across the front to place the lock on the huge pile that now decorated my counter. I had regularly turned the chair to keep the camera focused on the point where I was cutting. Now, she was almost facing the camera. I could tell that my story was entertaining her while allowing her to relax during the removal of the last of her long hair.

So, she again surprised me with a request for a crewcut. I quickly looked at the large and long braids, then swirled the cape around her and brought it up close behind her head. I held the cape with one hand while I grabbed the left braid and lifted up and out from the cape, carefully dropping it over the back of the chair. I did the same with the other braid, and with that I cinched up the cape and pulled it over the chair back. Then I told her to sit back and relax. She seemed perfectly calm as I turned away for a moment to get two elastics. As I turned back, she seemed to have gotten a little stiffer, and she seemed to start as I placed my left hand on the right braid and lifted it up. Wow, just guessing, it was at least a yard long, and very heavy, tapering nicely to the end. I wrapped the elastic around the braid about two inches or so from her scalp. I did the same for the left braid, and now I was ready to cut. How to proceed? Scissors or clippers? Just cut off the braid above the elastic, or cut off more hair closer to her scalp? Since she had stated that it was my call, and since she was going to get a crew cut, I decided to try to maximize the hair. I thought about putting a half inch guide on the clippers and running them through her hair to take off the braids, but I was afraid that I would get them caught in such thick hair. So, I opted for the scissors. With that, I picked up my normal cutting shears, a small pair, and I was ready.

?O.K., ma?am, I?m ready. Are you sure that you want me to cut off these beautiful braids.?

?Young man, they may be beautiful to you, but not to me, at least, not anymore. Please proceed ahead as quickly as you can.?

?Would like me to turn you toward the mirror so that you can watch??

?Please, no, just go on and do your work.?

I needed no further encouragement. I wrapped my left hand around the left braid, just below the elastic I had placed behind her ear, and lifted up on it slightly, while at the same time pulling it a little. I placed my scissors near the nape of her neck and began slowly cutting upward, making sure that I was leaving at least an inch of length. It was interesting seeing the hair suddenly release and fly upward, then fall back down. I followed the vertical part from nape to crown and then to the front. I then started at her neck again, pulling the braid tauter so that I could better see the hair that remained to be cut. I again began cutting upward, slowly working through the dense mass of hair, cutting as much as I dared to insure that I would not cut it too short for the finished crewcut. I proceeded like this for another two minutes, and was finally able to snip off the last piece of hair just in front of her left ear that released the long braid into my hand. I hefted it for moment, to enjoy the sensation of weight, thinking it would be the only time I would get to see it. I turned to place it on the counter, then turned back to the right braid. Since I am right handed, I moved to the side of her chair and cut this braid off from front to back, using the same process in reverse.

When I picked up the clippers and turned them on, after putting on the quarter inch guide, I could tell that she was beginning to sob a little, because her shoulders were shaking. She said nothing, complacently putting her head down upon my gentle touch. I started the clippers at her neck and moved them slowly up the back of her head to her crown, and then went to the right, shearing everything off till I reached the front of her ear, then back to the neck and did the left side in the same way. I then stepped to right side and, pushing her head gently sideways, began cutting off the hair from front to crown, using small paths. When I did the center of her head, I moved back to her left side and did the final bulk cutting. Then, I carefully went over her head again from side to side and back to front, twice each, with the clippers. She seemed quite relaxed with the clippering, as if she had experienced it before. I did a final stroking of her head with my hands, turned off the clippers, and turned her toward the mirror.

?Is that what you had in mind, ma?am??

She looked at her reflection for a long time, then slowly nodded.

?Yes, that?s perfect. I must go now.?

I unsnapped the cape, gathered it toward the front, spilling the hair off to the side on the tile floor. She got up, stepped down, and turned to look at me.

?Young man, you are indeed a fine barber. How much do I owe you??

?Oh, um, well, thank you. That will be $10.00.?

?My, my, a very small price for such a good job.? She opened a small purse, pulled out two $20 bills, and gave them to me. At my sign of reluctance for such a large amount, she forced them into my hands, insisting that I take the money.

As I put the bills in my pocket, she said another ?Thank you? and turned, walking toward the door. I called out after her to wait, that she had forgotten her braids. She called out over her shoulder that she did not need them anymore and I was welcome to keep them. And that?s the last time I ever saw her.

?So, what did you do with her braids??

?Well, one of them is hanging up over there,? I said, pointing to the ?coat rack? at the far end of the counter. ?The other is in an envelope in my filing cabinet of hair souvenirs.?

?You keep souvenirs? Is that typical of barbers??

?Oh, I think so. Most everyone has those special occasions in haircutting when either a photo or the hair is a reminder of what occurred.?

All that was now left was the combed over section. I always tried to do something special for the camera with this piece of hair, a kind of end of the process. I turned her fully toward the camera, and standing on her left, I carefully placed the scissors two inches from the part, and began slowly cutting toward the front. As if on cue, the long pieces being cut began to relax but would not fall. On the last cut, just over her eye, the entire section slowly released and fell in her lap. She gave a squeal of delight.

?Wow, that was cool.? ?I thought you might like that,? as I started cutting the next inch thick section. In another minute, the last section was carefully cut off, dropping in front of her face to land in a pile. I retrieved the long locks and added them to the heap on the counter. I put the scissors down and turned the chair so that her back was now to the camera. I stepped back to the counter, picked up the standard Wahl?s, put on the inch guard, adjusted the guide to the closest cut, and said, ?Are you ready for the clippers??

She nodded, and I said, ?Head down, please.?

With that, she lowered her head, and I placed my left hand on her crown, while standing on the left side, and turned on the clippers. I could feel the tremors in her scalp as she waited for the clippers to make contact with her skin. I brought them to her neck, placed the guard at the nape, right in the middle, and pushed them slowly upward. Chunks of thick brown hair began to fall off, landing on the cape, some sliding backward, some to the side. I went all the way to the crown, and then made multiple passes to clip her hair to one inch in back. I turned the chair to cover the left side, working the clippers around her ear as I held her ear down, then pulled the chair around to capture the right side shearing. Finally, the big moment, I felt, for her. Again, turning the chair to face the camera, I stood on the right side, holding the cord up and out of the way, and placing the clippers on her forehead, I pushed them slowly back, watching the hair accumulate, then get pushed to the side, where it fell off in large clumps, tumbling to hit her shoulders, sliding into her lap. In five passes, the rest of her hair was done, and now it was an inch long all over, and looking pretty good.

She turned to look into the mirror. ?Wow, it?s been a long time since I?ve seen my hair that long.?

?You look good with very short hair.? She nodded in agreement.

I slipped off the inch guard and replaced it with the half inch size. I adjusted the guard on the clippers backward so I would be cutting between half and three quarters of an inch. Again, my hand went to her crown, and she bowed her head as the clippers did their work. I carefully worked the neck and back of her head, letting the clippers slide away from her hair as they passed the mid-point of her head. I then worked both sides of her head, blending the new length in with the top. I turned off the clippers, placed them on the counter, and picked up my scissors again. I combed out her sideburn on the right side and snipped it off at a steep angle from low to high, then I snipped off the hair around her right ear, making sure no hair was touching. I made sure that her hairline was straight all the way down to her nape. I repeated the process on the left side after moving the chair back for the camera to see. Three hours was almost up, so I had to work quickly to get all this on one tape. I changed to a quarter inch guard on the clippers and ran them over her nape and part way up the back, again blending the shorter hair in with the longer. I snapped off the guard and pushed the adjustment lever forward, and laid the clippers down for a little while. I finished the neck with the scissors, outlining the shape, making sure that all was straight. ?Almost finished,? I said. I went to the hot lather machine and pressed the button, watching it expel a small amount of foamy cream into my palm. With my fingertips, I dabbed the hot cream onto her neck, below the just cut hair line. I picked up a new disposable razor, and first working from the hairline down, I shaved her neck as far as the first visible back bone, working carefully from side to side. I rinsed the razor, dampened a washcloth, and wiped away the lather from her neck, then ran my hands over her now very smooth skin. I located a couple of areas that needed attention, so I applied some new shaving cream and this time worked the razor from side to side in short strokes, using her hairline as a guide. In two minutes, her neck was perfectly smooth.

?O.K., head up, and I?ll finish everything. I turned the chair to head on with the camera, sprayed a little water on her hair, and combed through it quickly. Picking up the clippers again, I used the comb to pick up sections of her hair and checked them for any stray hairs or irregular lines. I used the clippers to snip off these imperfections, did one last comb through, and my work was done. I used my hands to put a little light sculpting lotion throughout her damp hair, combed it back from a left hand part, and she looked terrific.

I turned the chair back to the mirror and said, ?O.K., what do you think??

She just stared, as I clicked off the camera, and then removed the cape that seemed to have become a part of her clothing. Chunks of dark brown hair hit the floor. I tossed the cape into a small wicker basket, and reached for an after shave lotion bottle, which I applied gently to her neck. She was moving her head around, back and forth, still not saying a word.

?It?s incredible. I never thought I could look this good at my age. You have not only given me the gift of a great barber shop haircut, but also a wonderful new style that really makes me look so different.? Catching my eye in the mirror as I stood to her side, she said, ?I just can?t thank you enough.?

?No thanks necessary, it was truly a privilege for me to be the one to cut your hair.?

?Am I finished??

?There?s nothing else I can do, except perhaps ask you out for dinner.?

?Hmm, that doesn?t seem very economical for you. I mean, you just worked real hard for three hours, and now you?re going to spend the money on me??

?Well, it was just a thought.?

?Mr. Baxter, it was a good thought. Tell you, what, here is $50.00,? she said, handing me a single bill, ?which is your fee and tip for an excellent job, and I will go out to dinner with you, but it?s on me.? I pulled the video cassette from the camera and placed it in the rewinder.

?Are you parked out front??

?Yes, I am.?

?You have a deal. Let me put a couple of things away, turn everything off, and get the video in the copy machine. When we finish dinner, we?ll swing back by here and your video will be ready to take with you.?

?I don?t think you can miss my car. Don?t be too long, because I?m hungry.?

?I?ve sort of worked up an appetite, too.?

She winked, turned around and was quickly out the shop door. I turned off the lather machine, the video camera, and put the now rewound cassette into the copier, along with a fresh cassette, and hit the ?start? button. The beautiful long brown locks that had been hanging from her head three hours ago now rested on the counter behind the barber chair. I opened a drawer and removed too plastic bags. I placed the crown lock that I had saved in one bag and sealed it. Then I swept up the hair that I had clippered from her head and piled it into the other bag. I placed both bags in a brown envelope, then I wrote her name, the date, and my name on the bag. Finally, I put a return address label on the envelope that included the shop address and phone number.

Now, it was time to enjoy dinner with a lovely, short-haired woman, who I hoped would become a regular customer. After all, she was going to have to get that new haircut trimmed up every few weeks or so. I walked to the door, flipped off the light switch, and closed the door softly behind me.

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