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I met Debbie at a carwash in Irvine. What prompted me to talk to her was her hair. No, this is not a story about me getting together with Debbie. It?s actually about a great haircut referral for my girlfriend Kathy.

Let me start at the beginning? I?ve had a haircut fetish since I was about 12 and decided to give myself a really entertaining buzzcut with a home haircut kit I?d found in the garage. Good experience, not so good result. Anyway, I?ve always been attracted to women with adventurous haircuts.

When I first saw Debbie, it was about noon on one of those great Spring afternoons in Southern California. The sun was out and the sky was a crystal clear blue from the light onshore breeze. Debbie was lounging in one of the chairs in the outside waiting area at the carwash. She was about 40, 5?10? with a great tan and toned body. She was wearing a silky red dress cut up the thigh (I could tell because her legs were crossed to strategically show her assets). On her feet were a pair of comfy looking sandals. She was just relaxing, taking a long languorous drag on a cigarette and just looking out into space. But here?s the best part; her hair was cut in a very precise asymmetrical style. It was buzzed very short off one ear and around the back. Her hair graduated to a ?slightly? longer length on the other side and was spiked up on top. It was cute and perky and stylish and sophisticated at the same time.

I had just paid for my carwash and stepped outside when I saw her. I sat down in a chair close by and worked up the nerve to speak to her. My opportunity came when I coughed lightly and she turned her head my direction. ?Is my cigarette bothering you?? she asked. ?No. Not at all. I just have a little touch of Spring allergies,? I said. That was the opening I was looking for. ?Great haircut!? I said. ?My girlfriend told me to be on the lookout for any really interesting styles and to find out who did the cut. She?s contemplating a change.? This approach is amazingly successful because you are not only complimenting someone but you also take away the thought that you are hitting on them in some new and annoying way. ?Isn?t it wild?? she said. ?I just love it! I found this great stylist in Laguna who really looks at your lifestyle and creates something unique. I spend a lot of time at the beach and on my husband?s boat and believe it or not this style always looks great under a ny circumstances. You?ve just got to take your girlfriend there. My husband treated me to this cut and he thinks its about the sexiest style I?ve ever had.? She was absolutely effusive about her hair and the stylist and I definitely agreed with her husband about the sexiness factor. By the time her car was ready, I had an enthusiastic recommendation, a card and a ?Tell him Debbie sent you.? I could hardly wait to tell Kathy about my encounter with Debbie.

Waiting for my car to be done, I was thinking of all the ways I could broach the subject of my conversation with Debbie to Kathy. You see, I was not quite out of the closet with her on my haircut fetish just yet. I wanted to portray just the right level of enthusiasm without going overboard. I think she had begun to suspect that I had more than a passing interest when I began to ask her if I could go to her hair appointments with her. I explained that I loved the creativity of hairstyling and maybe I was just a frustrated hairstylist in the guise of a mortgage banker and that seemed to explain it for her at the time.

At dinner that evening I opened the conversation by saying that I had met a woman at the carwash today with a very stylish haircut. I described the cut in as toned down a set of terms as I could manage. I went on to say that I had also managed to get the card of her stylist and a hearty recommendation to give him a try.

Kathy had put off a haircut for some time due to her longtime stylist?s relocation to Northern California and was looking quite shaggy. She ran her fingers through her normally well shaped hair and said; ?Well? I?ve got to do something about this mess. I?m so sick of trying to make this look good in the morning. I am just ready to cut it all off! Will you please make an appointment for me as soon as possible?? Those were definitely magic words and it was all I could do to restrain myself from running right to the phone. I told Kathy I would call tomorrow and then call her at work with the information.

I barely slept that night in sheer anticipation making Kathy?s appointment. I was trying to be very nonchalant and didn?t even mention the previous night?s conversation to Kathy as we were getting ready for work. Then, just after the customary goodbye, have a nice day kiss Kathy said; ?Don?t forget to call about that appointment today. I really want to get this mess cut off as soon as possible!? With that, she was out the door.

I have my office at home and that day was a light schedule. I puttered around, took a shower and absently leafed through a magazine, while on another level, I savored the heart pounding anticipation of the wait for 9:00 AM (the hour most salons opened).

Finally at two minutes after 9:00 (can?t be too eager, eh?) I picked up the phone to dial the salon. After dialing, I glanced back at the card and noted some of the details on it. The salon was located in Laguna Beach and by the address it looked like it was just off the Coast Highway. The stylist?s name was Allen with no last name, just Allen. The name of the salon was ?Ohno?s?. Oh no?? Why hadn?t I noticed that little trick of language? And? was it like the fish Ohno, was it what a woman said about her hair before going there or was it what she said after? Hmmmm?

The phone answered on the 3rd ring and a very pleasant female voice came on the line and said; ?Good morning, Ohno Salon, where your hair is our priority, this is Rachel, how can we help you?? ?Good morning Rachel, I?m calling to make and appointment for my girlfriend with Allen;? I said. Rachel asked if Kathy was currently a client of Allen?s to which I replied ?no.? ?Please hold on for Allen;? Rachel said. After a short pause a deep male voice came on the phone, introduced himself as Allen and proceeded to say that he was not currently accepting new clients. My heart sank, but I quickly recovered and said; ?I met one of your clients; Debbie and she recommended you in glowing terms. Her full name is Debbie Mahoney.? His voice brightened and he said; ?Debbie recommended me? Then that?s a different story. Anybody Debbie sends my way gets special treatment. How is she? How?s her hair looking? She hasn?t been in for about six weeks and I?ll bet she?s getting shaggy.? I told him that I had seen her on the previous Saturday and her hair was the reason I was calling. I told him it was one of the best haircuts I?d ever seen. He made some comments about being flattered and then asked when Kathy could come in. I told him Saturday would be her next time available since she worked during the week. ?How about 9:00 AM on Saturday??; he asked. I booked it in the next breath. I called Kathy on her cell and she seemed genuinely excited and looking forward to the experience.

The days and hours passed slowly until Saturday finally arrived. I was up before the sun noodling around on the computer and out in the garage. Basically I was doing anything I could to stay busy until it was time for us to leave. Since we lived in Cucamonga and the salon was in Laguna, we had to leave by 8:00 AM to make sure we were there by 9:00.

Kathy volunteered to drive in case ?things didn?t go well and she had to leave me in Laguna.? Har-har. Little did I know that might become a real possibility.

We chatted about everything on the drive to the salon, everything that is except the impending haircut. I was still not quite out of the fetish closet with Kathy and tried to be cool about it. It was, however, about halfway into the drive when she said; ?I know a secret you?ve been keeping from me. You have a thing for haircuts, don?t you?? I gave my best efforts to delivering a convincing; ?I don?t know what you?re talking about.? She snapped back; ?Don?t give me that crap! As if I didn?t know from the way you give me so much special attention after a haircut and how glowing with compliments you are when its just a little shorter than usual. I found your picture file on your computer. Interesting stuff?; she said. I was speechless, but Kathy wouldn?t let me stay that way for long.

Kathy began to ask me questions about my interest. She softened and became quite loving in her posturing after I explained as much to her as I could. I told her about being a small boy and being distracted by my mother?s freshly cut nape when she picked me up after her visit to the beauty shop. I explained that I became fascinated with my own haircuts and dutifully sat in the barber chair every two weeks in my childhood to be clipped into a perfect flattop by Mike the barber. I explained to her that as the 70?s dawned and short hair was out for guys, my hair grew and attention and awakening sexuality turned to the transformation of girls I knew from long haired little girls to pixie cut sophisticates. I told how I had lusted over their necks and ears. I explained to her how I?d talked every girl/woman I?d ever been with intimately to part with their hair for any variety of reasons. I explained to her that one of the things I loved about her was the fact that she came to me wi th short hair and had no hang-ups at all about having it cut in a lot of different ways.

After a few seconds of silence she said; ?I don?t understand your attraction, obsession, fetish, whatever you want to call it, but I really love you and if it makes you happy to see me get my hair cut, then so be it. And by the way, since you like it so much, you?re in charge of today?s haircut.? Gulp. Now what?

We arrived at the salon a few minute later and I was surprised to see that it was not what I expected. It was up a small access way from the main street and was done up like a 1960?s era barber shop. It didn?t have closed off booths. It had a row of Aqua colored barber chairs and a floor to match of 1960?s linoleum tiles. There was a really pretty young woman at the front counter and in 3 seconds she confirmed the following; ?Hi I?m Rachel. You must be Mark and Kathy! I?m so happy to meet you both. Allen will be out in just a minute. Can I get you some water, juice, coffee, anything?? Rachel was tall and was balancing on 3 inch heels that made her seem even taller. She was curvy and sexy in a sleek blue dress, but she didn?t seem at all aware of how attractive she really was. She had a face like a sort of punked out angel. But the best part was her hair. Her hair was a severely inverted bob with the front reaching about the length of her lower lip and dyed a deep ebony. Her hair graduated sharply from its length in the front to a spiky crop in the back that was bleached a contrasting ivory. Definitely a striking look. And she seemed like a genuinely nice person, not like some of the snooty receptionists in some salons.

Kathy and I asked for some decaf coffee and sat down in the waiting area. The waiting chairs were a dark brown vinyl were designed like short versions of booth seating like the seating at a Denny?s. We looked around the room and noted some of the d?cor; vintage hair clippers hung on hooks, posters of haircuts from the 50?s, 60?s and 70?s and other such retro memorabilia. As we took a second sip of our coffees; a man came out and introduced himself as Allen. He was not at all what I expected. He was about 50, with a small potbelly poured into a polyester Hawaiian shirt (nobody had apparently told him the Hawaiian style instruction, ?Hang Loose?. He had thinning blonde hair styled a la 1970?s Beachboys, big Buddy Holly glasses, tight polyester ?Sansabelts?, a pack of cigarettes in his sleeve and a belt so laden with different hair tools as to make Batman?s utility belt look poorly equipped. ?Hi, I?m Allen. Let?s get you shampooed?; he said. ?And if you want to follow along?; he said to me, ?that?s my chair right over there and you can pull one of the other chairs up close so we can all chat while I make her beautiful.?

So while Allen and Kathy disappeared into the shampoo area at the back of the salon, I slid one of the waiting chairs over near Allen?s chair and tried to make sure I was close enough for a good view and far enough to be out of Allen?s way. When I finally got settled, Allen and Kathy came back from the shampoo area with her hair in a towel and a black nylon cape draping her shapely body. Kathy sat in Allen?s chair and he pulled the towel from her wet hair and blotted just a bit more. ?Your girlfriend has great hair! Very thick, with some wave in it and a great hairline for short cuts?, Allen exclaimed. He began to comb out Kathy?s dark auburn hair, gently combing through the ends and working up to the top. He worked quickly and Kathy?s hair was soon hanging damply to its full length from her usual side part. I could see that her bangs were long enough to reach the tip of her nose and her hair at the sides covered her ears fully and extended about one inch more below her earlobes. She had taken out her dangly earrings and reached over to hand them to me. The back of her hair hug down to the base of her neck and curled up slightly right where her nape met her upper back. ?We?ve got some work to do here?; said Allen. ?Shaggy, shaggy , shaggy. Well? what are we doing today?? Kathy glanced my way and said; ?Ask him. He?s in charge today.? ?Oh really?? said Allen, ?This should be fun!?

The first question he asked was; ?How wild can you go?? Uh-oh. I responded that Kathy worked in a fairly conservative office so her appearance needed to fit in. He responded with the words; ?We?ll just have to shake them up a bit then, won?t we?? As I started to protest, Kathy began to look a little nervous and Allen said; ?Don?t worry. She?ll be fabulous!? With that he reached into his utility belt bag of tricks and drew out a pair shears with approximately 9 inch blades. He grabbed a clippie off the counter and began to separate Kathy?s hair from top to bottom. He combed each section of her hair from the top upwards and fastening it in place with a clip and then combing down the bottom so it hung limply toward the floor. After sectioning all around her head, he said; ?First, let?s get rid of this bulk!?

The long sharp scissor blades slid into the hair that had been sectioned down about an inch above Kathy?s right ear. The blades slid in from back to front allowing the hair from just behind her ear to the beginnings of her bangs to be caught between them. The scissors were obviously sharp as they made almost no sound closing on 4 inches of silky, wavy locks. The hair was severed cleanly an inch above the top of her ear and fell silently to her shoulder. Some caught at the curve of her shoulder but most went right to the floor and lay like feathered plumes from some beautiful bird. Her ear was uncovered instantly and completely, its delicate shell once again exposed to view. Allen moved slightly to the rear of where he had just been to a place that was halfway around the back of Kathy?s head. Here the scissors found even more work as 5 ? inches of hair were freed from their former home and fell lightly to the floor. Because of the angle of the barber chair, none of this hair found a resting place on the cape, it all went right to the floor. Allen spun the chair around as if he were actually trying to give me the best view as he sunk the scissors into the other side of Kathy?s and sliced the rest of the bottom section off cleanly with both speed and precision. He was really getting into his work. Kathy seemed to relax into the impression that the worst was over for the bottom layer, but that was when Allen said; ?Wow, you have a lot of hair! Now that the bottom bulk is gone, I can really get to work.? Kathy had a ?what are you talking about? expression and I started to ask how short he was intending to go when a good old Oster 76 seemed to appear from nowhere, come to life and touch down at the center, bottom of Kathy?s nape. The heavy duty clippers moved up through her hair quickly and took almost everything in their path. I guessed that they had maybe a 2 ? taper blade and Allen was wielding them with great skill as he pressed them close at the bottom and released the pressure as he moved up and away, flipping the shorn hair to the side with a flourish. At the base, I could see the whiteness of Kathy?s scalp peeking through the stubble that was left. The whiteness faded a bit as my eyes moved up from her bottom hairline but it was still shorter than I had ever seen her wear before.

Kathy?s expression was saying; ?Tell him to stop, tell him to stop!?; but she obviously didn?t want to risk more damage by moving her head. I, on the other hand, was frozen in place; speechless AND transfixed. You know the feeling? It was a little like driving past an accident and trying not to look in that direction. You just can?t stop. While I was somewhat horrified at the cropping my girlfriend?s hair was receiving, I was also delighted at the result; the beautiful curve of her neck, the delicate shape of her ears and her facial features were beginning to come into a lovely focus once again.

Allen put down the Osters and pulled out a small set of battery powered edgers. He went to work on any stray hairs near Kathy?s hairline and using a clippers over comb action reduced them to nothing or barely there. I thought I saw a shiver run through Kathy when he ran his hand up against the grain of her hair brushing away the tiniest of cut hair. He picked up a dusting brush from the counter and used it to dust over the clippered nape and sides of Kathy?s hair and also the little bits of hair that had nestled on her face. He held up a mirror so Kathy could look at the progress and asked both of us; ?What do you think so far?? The rest of Kathy?s hair was gathered up with clips on the top of her head but the lower part was effectively gone. Knowing that it was too late to change the course of this haircut, Kathy merely said; ?Wow, it?s really short?? She gave a sideways glance at me while she held the mirror at an angle that let her see the back, her other hand coming up to the back of her hair and feeling the shocking absence of length. I couldn?t really tell by her expression if she was OK; with either the haircut or me. I think she was a bit in a state of shock as things had happened so quickly.

Allen grabbed the mirror, reset the cape, began pulling the clips out of Kathy?s hair and said; ?Now for this stuff. Say goodbye to this mess!? He seemed oblivious to our presence and was just enthusiastically going about his work.

The remains of Kathy?s hair fell over the clippered areas and totally covered them. For just a moment it was like the shearing we had just witnessed hadn?t even happened. That moment was short lived as Allen once again picked up his giant shears and began to systematically remove all the hair that covered the clippered areas. Kathy?s hair had begun to dry and it floated to the floor like leaves from a tree in Fall. Allen picked up a spray bottle and dampened Kathy?s hair. He continued to eliminate her hair dangling hair and finally arrived at the crown. Here, he proceeded to reduce the five inch hair by about 3 inches leaving the hair remaining to stick up in a random spiky way. He ruffled the hair as he went and was obviously pleased with his progress. Kathy on the other hand had no real expression at all. A sort of blankness had passed over her face.

After Allen finished reducing the length, he began to check the precision of his work. The tiniest pieces or hair flew from the tips of a smaller pair of shears as he worked his way around and over Kathy?s head. Ruffling, combing, snipping, ruffling, combing, snipping, ruffling, combing, snipping. The rhythm of this part of the haircut was hypnotic and intoxicating as the shape of the cut continued to change subtly and beautifully.

After completing the rhythmic finish of the cut, Allen pulled from his utility belt a pair of texturizing/thinning shears and began to work again over the whole area of Kathy?s remaining hair. ?This will help give it lift?; he said. ?Give what lift??; I thought. Larger pieces of hair than I would have thought possible were falling from Allen?s comb as he combed through the hair after cutting with the special shears. Soon he was finished with this near final part of Kathy?s dramatic shearing. He dusted her off again after lightly drying her hair and, leaving the cape on, instructed her to go to the restroom at the back of the salon. He told her that in the restroom she would find a hair-vac. He told her to run it all over her hair to help get all the little pokey hairs off before he did the final styling.

Kathy looked a little puzzled and said; ?You want me to vacuum my head?? ?He replied; ?Trust me. It works.? Kathy was gone for more time than I thought was probably necessary to vacuum her hair and when she returned I knew why she had been gone so long. Kathy had a small scar on her right cheek that was a remnant of a childhood accident with a china plate. The scar was like a little litmus indicator and turned a light red when Kathy was about to cry or had been crying. It was red now. I could imagine her in the restroom running the vacuum over her newly cropped hair, tugging at it and lamenting the severity of the clipping she?d just experienced.

While she was gone I had noticed a letter proudly displayed at Allen?s ?station.? The letter was addressed directly to Allen and was a highly insulting letter of complaint from a client whose sedate Bob had been brutalized into a punky semi crew cut. The client went on to say she would complain to the cosmetology board about Allen?s lack of response to her instructions at the time of the haircut. Then the letter presented a bill for a trip to the wig shop because the writer was so ashamed to be seen in public. I asked him why he would display a letter like this and Allen replied; ?If I don?t shake up the status quo, I don?t feel like I did my job. Besides that yuppy bitch had it coming. She obviously thought she was better than everyone when she breezed in here looking for a quick trim! Maybe she?ll think twice about treating anyone like dirt again!? Yikes!

Kathy sat down in the chair again just as Allen was finishing his rant. He concluded; ?She wasn?t cool. Not like you guys. You two are an absolute pleasure.? Since we hadn?t talked that much during the shearing, I could only think that he meant we were cool because we hadn?t protested Kathy?s shearing at any point.

He ruffled Kathy?s hair again and worked in small amount of pomade. He moved his hands through her hair and brought into more shape with each finger flick. It was extremely short, but it looked great. As he finished he picked up the mirror and let Kathy have a good look at her hair. She put her earrings back on and noted how huge they looked now. He removed the cape and asked; ?Well??

Then came the words that tinkled like beautiful little golden bells in my ears; ?I like it! I REALLY like it!? Relief passed through my body in a big wave and I smiled. So did Kathy. What night we had?

Epilogue: Kathy continued to go to Allen for about a year after that first clipping. Her association with Allen ended with his departure to a life of early retirement in Mexico. ?Stop in and see me if you ever get to Rosarita.? That was the last time we saw Allen and Kathy began to grow her hair out while searching for a new stylist.

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