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This is a completely true story that happened to me this past weekend. I wrote the story about 2 hours after the second of the two haircuts it describes.

Today was my first haircut in a barbershop, something I have frequently fantasized about, but never quite had the guts to do. I have loved having my hair short for a long time now, 13 years actually, and I do get a sensual thrill out of getting it cut, especially with clippers and out of how it feels when it is short. I have never gone so short as to have a crew cut all over, but I have had the back and sides buzzed pretty short, with the top kept longer. Of course most people prefer longer hair on women, and I am sensitive to this. My hair is very thin, and does not look good when long – that is my excuse for keeping it short, but it is also true. Also, I am hooked on having it short; when it gets past a certain point, I get a craving to cut it. At the moment, I am out in the mideastern desert in 125 degree heat, deployed in the military and confined to my camp, which severely limits my choice of hairstylists. Short hair feels good out here.

Anyway, once a month a beauty shop comes here for the weekend and provides lots of services – haircuts, massages, facials, waxing, tweezing, manicures, etc. The ladies who provide the services are all from India. I had been there once before for a haircut and it had been ok. Not great, but not horrible. But yesterday’s haircut was a tonsorial disaster. I told the lady, “cut it short, like a boy’s.” All I wanted was a basic no-brainer haircut with the sides short and tapered up over the ears, the back tapered at the neck, right side part, bangs trimmed but not too short. A haircut you would think anyone in the hair care industry could do.

She just didn’t know what she was doing when it came to cutting short, straight, thin hair. The right side was longer than the left – not subtly different, but much longer. At the same time, the back and the left side were too short. The haircut was too short in some places, too long in others, and totally uneven. Even when she showed it to me, I pointed to the right and said, “isn’t this longer?” “No,” she said, “they are same.” She just didn’t have the skill to get the two sides even, and she obviously didn’t want to keep trying until there was nothing left. It was already too short according to my self-imposed hair length standard based on what I think other people will find acceptable. Anyway, it looked dumb. When I ran my fingers through it, I could feel it was uneven in other areas as well.

I went back to my room and tried to figure out what to do. This morning I took a shower, washed it for the first time and re-evaluated my situation. I could sort of conceal the unevenness if I put enough gel on it. I ate breakfast, did my laundry, stopped by my office, and went to visit a friend, all the time thinking about my uneven hair in the back of my mind. I analyzed the situation – and these were my options.

1. Try to even it up myself. 2. Ask my roommate (an amateur barber) to try to fix it. 3. Learn to live with it until I go home on R and R and can go to a nice salon in the US. 4. Go to the Army barber shop and have one of the barbers fix it. 5. Go back to the beauty shop and ask one of the beauty shop ladies to fix it. (This option was the first to be eliminated because I have never subscribed to the theory that if someone wrecks your hair, you should go back to them to get it fixed.)

Of course, being a female in the Army, and having a fondness for short hair, I have fantasized about walking into an Army barbershop, the ultimate bastion of extreme short haircuts, and getting a haircut, but I had never seriously considered it. I also would have feared the outcome would be too short, too outrageous, too radical. But today, I felt that going to the barbershop was the best course of action available to me. If my roommate or I tried to fix it, it might end up worse than ever, and then I would wind up going to the barbershop as a last resort anyway, in which case the barber would have even less to work with.

Around 5:30 in the afternoon, I headed over to the PX area where the barbershop is located. I got up my courage and walked in as if it were something I did on a regular basis. The other two customers were male soldiers with whom I work every day, but I decided to act like it was the most natural thing in the world for me to come to the barbershop for a haircut when my hair was already extremely short, shorter than it has been during this tour. No privacy over here – that’s for sure.

Now, I am in an Army camp in a remote desert location, and this barbershop is staffed by guys from India, who don’t always speak the greatest English. I focused my energy toward the youngest, cutest looking barber in the shop, a guy about 25 with a cool looking haircut of his own and highlights in his hair. Some of the other barbers looked a bit rough, but this fellow looked sweet and gentle. I tried to get him to understand what happened yesterday with the traveling beauty shop in the tent across the street, the bad haircut, the uneven sides. I asked him if he could fix the bad haircut and make the two sides even.

He led me over to the chair and put the cape around me and the tissue paper around my neck. He sprayed down my hair and combed it out. It was already very short. He started cutting with scissors, very patiently, back and forth between the two sides, gradually evening them up. Then he trimmed up the top so that it was even all over, but shorter at the crown and gradually getting longer at the bangs. The top was already spiky before he recut it – it is very spiky now. It is probably an inch at the shortest point and two inches at the bangs. Then he recut the whole back, going over it again and again, each time just cutting off a little bit. He switched to the clippers and cleaned it up, then tapered it a up bit more. It feels fuzzy, it is about ΒΌ inches long, almost all the way up to the top. He went over it again and again until everything was even, but it is very short. Too short even for this short hair lover to feel entirely comfortable. It feels great in the desert heat, though. I go home on leave in one month – it will be somewhat grown in by then. The price was $5, and I gave the guy $10. He did a great job. When my hair grows out, I will go back to that barber until it is time to go home permanently. No more traveling beauty shop for me.

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