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I’d been bugging my boyfriend to get his hair cut shorter. It was over 6 inches long, but he never combed it and just let it blow around. I kept after him until he finally agreed but on one condition. He pointed out a picture of me taken years ago when I was about 10. He said he thought I looked cute with my hair shorter. It was an awful photo. My hair was cut about 3-4 inches long. I remember feeling I looked like a boy. He said if I wanted his hair short then I should be willing to cut mine too. This took a lot of thought. I’d spent years growing it to get away from the short look. It reached the middle of my back and looked wonderful. I was proud of it. I knew guys loved women with long hair, and felt sure that he was equally proud to be with a woman with beautiful hair. So I began to think that maybe this was just a way he figured he could get out of it and get me off his back. It took me several days, but realizing the point he made was fair and not wanting him to win by playing his game I reluctantly agreed, but felt sure that he wasn’t really serious and would do what I asked without any deal making.

Last Saturday just before lunch we went to a small unisex shop where he told me he sometimes went. It was operated by just one woman in her forties, who worked alone. I still believed this was just a game and he was trying to see when I would give in. As we opened the door I told him there was no way I wanted anything short like the photo because it made me look like a boy.

He had agreed to go first. He sat in the chair and told the woman whose name was Darlene, that I was giving the instructions. She turned to me and asked how I wanted it cut. I wasn’t ready for this! I was really embarrassed! I’d never imagined having to stand there and describe what to do. I didn’t know what to say. I stuttered about and finally told her I wanted it “a whole lot shorter”. She asked if I meant “Just the same length all over”. I agreed but didn’t know what else to say, then added, “It just gets in the way a lot and he needs something he doesn’t have to look after.” She chuckled, exclaiming he was a typical male, suggesting she keep everything nice and clean. I appreciated her help and felt she realized how much better he’d look with shorter hair.

She began with clippers at the back of his neck, and buzzed a small section behind his ear. The first chunk of hair dropped. It was really close to his skin. She paused and asked me if that was short enough! Well I couldn’t see how she could go any shorter, I mean it was really shaved; and there was no way I knew of to make it longer again. So what else could I say but “It’s fine!” Besides it was just around the back of his hairline. She flicked her clippers around the rest of his neckline and said, “If that’s what you want I’ll just keep going!” Not knowing what else to suggest I just nodded.

She began to work more rapidly, taking longer strokes. As she worked around his ear larger clumps fell into his lap. He was still facing out to the waiting area with the mirror behind him but I was sure he was going to get mad once he realized what was happening. Besides I was getting concerned, I mean she was using the clippers a lot more than I thought and it was shaving everything really close. When she came back to the base of his neck she made one sudden sweep right up the back of his head. I was horrified. It was all shaved right to the skin. I wasn’t sure what to do. She worked so fast. So much of his hair was already gone. I tried to gather my thoughts. She flicked her comb through the still long hair on top of his head. “Maybe you don’t have to do it as short!” I said. She continued working “You’ll like it all one length! It looks best that way!” As I stood there staring in disbelief she ran the clippers right over the top of his head. I gasped. There was nothing I could do. She was going to shave his entire head. I stood there helplessly and watched. When she rotated the chair for him to see I was totally embarrassed. He seemed a bit bewildered as he ran his hand over his head and exclaimed, “When you said you wanted it short… You weren’t kidding!” His scalp was so white compared to his summer tan. They both thought that this was how I wanted it, but it was nothing like that. He looked scalped, like something out of a concentration camp. I tried to be supportive and told him how easy it would be to look after.

Darlene flicked the cape clean, then I realized it was my turn. I was sure he would still tell me this was a joke but as I got in the chair I watched the reflection of my hair swinging behind me. It looked so full and sleek. I hated doing anything to it. Then instead of asking me what to do she turned and asked him how short to cut it. I was not just nervous. I was scared. I thought he was going to show her the picture with my hair short, but he had forgotten it at my apartment. He told her, my hair used to be really close, just an inch long. I shuddered and was about to say “No! It was 3-4 inches” But I looked at his bare scalp and felt if I got into an argument over my hair I would look like a real bitch. I really didn’t want to get my hair cut at all, but I already felt too embarrassed so I kept quiet.

Then when the tension became unbearable I nervously murmured, “Just make sure I don’t look like a boy.” They both laughed and said there was no way anyone would mistake me for a boy.

I felt her running her fingers through my hair and so much wanted to say “No! Stop!” but I was sure he’d stop her at any minute. The mirror had disappeared behind me as my chair was rotated and I was staring at a black pale green wall. When she slid her fingers into my hair at the back and I heard the scissors start to cut I knew my hair was ruined. She worked back and forth cutting off anything that came above her knuckles. I was trying not to cry. Suddenly behind me there was the buzz of the electric clippers. I began to shake. She tried without success to reassure me, saying she was not shaving my hair close. He stood there and exclaimed how it was looking really cute. In the next few seconds she mowed through the reams of stubble over sides and back of my head. I felt her hand brushing away the clippings from my neck. She asked him, “What about the top?” He nodded ” Sure!” I felt her hand holding the back of my head. Suddenly the clippers swept right over the top. She laughed, “Nothing left to worry about now!” As she kept going back and forth she smiled “This is really short! You had really wonderful hair. It was such a shame to cut it. Its going to take such a long time to grow back now.”

I couldn’t believe it. But believe it I had to; when the chair was rotated around for me to stare at the final result. Everything was buzzed to a quarter inch over my entire head. I was so upset. I didn’t know if I should get mad or just cry. As we paid at the cash Darlene looked at me and smiled, “Your boyfriend told me when he came in this morning how much you were both looking forward to this. He knew you’d be nervous but it’s very attractive on you! You just have to hope people don’t think you’re a boy!”

Now I was mad!

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