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I just moved here this summer to start a teaching job in the fall. My sister and I have always kept our hair about half way down our back. But when she came to visit I was really shocked. She had cut her hair short, into one of those little boy styles. I had to admit it really looked great. It was sort of all one length, about 5 or 6 inches all over. When I saw it was so easy to look after I became convinced I should get mine cut too.

Since I didn’t start teaching for 4 weeks I thought this would be a good time to make a change. I made an appointment at the one and only salon in town. I looked at a book of “little boy styles” but woman told me she wouldn’t cut my hair so short all at once, and suggested I do it in stages over three or four cuts. I immediately saw this as a strategy to have me pay four times to get the cut I wanted. I said I’d think about it and left.

I sat in the local coffee shop. I was angry at her attempt to rip me off and disappointed since I was all keyed up for the change. There was a unisex place nearby which really was a glorified barbershop, but since there wasn’t another salon for 30 miles I figured I’d stop in to see if I could get a cut.

A young mother was there with her son. The guy was combing out his hair as the mother stood beside the chair and told him to go short for the summer. Little was said as the guy reached for his clippers. The mother saw him adjusting them and asked, “Isn’t that going to cut too close?” He replied, “I’ll show you!” He pushed the kid’s head forward then beginning at his forehead swept straight back, shaving everything down to his skin. The mother gasped in shock as thick handfuls dropped into his lap. She looked upset! “That’s too short!” But it was obvious turning back was not an option. The young boy tried to turn to see the mirror but the guy held his head firmly, and grinned, “That’s what the style is like now days!” then chuckled “Can’t put it back!” The mother consoled her son saying it would be easy to look after. I could tell the mother was in shock but I actually thought it was amusing to watch, as she was helpless to stop the destruction of her little darling’s hair. She stood in silence when the guy finally swept it all into the trash.

The boy got down from the chair looking very scalped. She flicked a few stray strands of long hair from his shirt, ran her hand over his bare head and shuddered, “It’s never been short like this!”

The guy grinned, “You wouldn’t have anything to comb until Christmas.” The boy’s pale scalp contrasted against his summer tan as the two of them headed out the door. The guy tried to hide his own amusement as he turned to me. I smiled back, “I think she’ll like it once she gets use to it.” He nodded then said, “Your next!”

I told him I had seen the sign that said he cut women’s hair. He laughed and said he cut men’s hair, women’s, kids; long, short, whatever someone wants, then added he’d be out of business if he got choosey. I was a bit nervous but I confessed I had been to the salon and told the woman how my sister had long hair like mine. I explained she got it short all over in one of those little boy cuts. I said the woman refused to cut my hair so short except in stages and I wasn’t going to pay four times to get the cut I wanted. He nodded and laughed, “Just do it!” I nodded bravely.

As he wrapped the cape around me I told him how my sister had cut it without warning anyone. I said I really loved how easy it was to look after but it was a real shock. Not having been in a barbershop before I realized I was chatting away nervously and tried to shut up.

At this point two boys in their late teens came in and sat down. They stared at me sitting in the chair. I was facing straight at them and the mirror was behind me. I felt embarrassed and became very quiet as they sat staring. The guy quickly brushed my hair and asked. “Keep everything one length?” I took a deep breath. My sister’s hair was pretty much all the same length. I didn’t know what else to suggest and the last thing I wanted was a big discussion to show my ignorance in front of an audience. I nodded expecting the next question to be, what length I wanted. Instead he grinned, “People will think you’re a boy?” I felt insulted and replied sharply, “My sister’s hair looks great! She doesn’t look like a boy at all!”

He didn’t dampen my hair and I was still expecting more questions when he pressed my head forward. My long overgrown bangs swung forward over my face almost touching my chest and blocking my view of the two boys. I’m not sure if I had been distracted by their stares or if my hair just blocked my view. But suddenly without warning he switch on the electric clippers right at my forehead. In that same instant his hand firmly clamped onto the back of my head and the clippers pressed into my hair. I gasped in shock. Disbelief and terror caused me to sit there in frozen silence. He swept straight back over my head. I wanted to cry “Stop!” But I knew like the boy ahead of me the damage was done. Sensing my despair he chuckled, “Too late now!” My heart pounded as long handfuls fell forward into my lap! My mouth went dry. He continued sweeping back over my head. Then with amusement announced, “This is the same as the little boy that just left!” As my hair fell away I could see the two guys staring. They neither moved nor spoke. I was trapped. I’d been thrust into this and was helpless to escape.

My whole body was quivering in panic. Despair gripped me. He ran his hand over the top. “Nothing left there now!” he exclaimed. I could feel his touch against my bare scalp.

He worked the clippers up the side of my head and proceeded all the way around. The long sleek shine kept falling in sheets. Most of it dropped to the floor but sufficient gathered in my lap to weigh the cape down until in one great soft shiny ball of silk it rolled forward onto the floor at my feet. Sensing my tension he exclaimed, “I’ll bet a lot of boyfriends are going to cry when they see all that gorgeous hair is gone!”

I could feel the terror fill me. I was unable to imagine what I was going to do. I have to start teaching in just a month. The two teenagers kept staring in silence as the clippers were shut off and the chair rotated for me to stare into the mirror at a reflection that had no resemblance to the one that I had seen just 5 minutes earlier. My scalp was pale white. My hair was gone. I looked like something out of a bad movie. He used a brush to dust off my head. It felt so naked! I tried not to let my emotions show but I know they did. His smile broadened as I struggled to hold back tears. He ran his hand over my head and chuckled, “That’s a real change!. You won’t have to worry about combing anything until Christmas.” Then added “I think you’ll like it once you get use to it.”

I was so upset. As I left the shop I wanted to stop and gather my beautiful hair that was spread out over the floor, but the thought that perhaps he had made me object of some personal game he played pushed me towards the door.

All the way home I was afraid to be seen. I am new here so a lot of people don’t know me, but when I looked in the bathroom mirror I just cried. My hair was beautiful and I wouldn’t have cut it at all if my sister hadn’t given me the idea. It is going to take forever to grow enough to look normal.

I sat in my kitchen and cried. I can’t believe he really thought I wanted to shave my head when I asked for a little boy style. Maybe this was just a game to him and after he did the kid I was just the next victim in line.

I saw the way he cut the kid’s hair. His mother was so shocked! He never asked questions.

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