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It had been two months since I had started my new life. I had moved across the country and started my new job at the movie studio in southern California. It was only the middle of June and it was already a record heat wave, and from what I had heard it was predicted to continue and even get worse for July and August. Since much of my job involved me being outside and very active I was always wearing my almost waist length hair in a ponytail, and I was getting headaches almost every afternoon. I knew I was going to have to do something with it, but I was having a hard time actually bringing myself to do it.

So one morning I was sitting in the commissary eating breakfast when I saw my friend Jonathan, one of the stylists at the studio, in the food line I motioned to him to join me. As he was walking over to my table I thought about a conversation we had a couple of weeks ago… We were sitting here in the commissary and the conversation went to hair styles and how sexy he thought short hair was. I had told him that I have had short hair in the past and didn’t like it. He said with a wry smile, “Well, I have never cut your hair before.” I was about to ask him what he was thinking when my cell phone rang. It was a work emergency that I had to go and attend to, and I hadn’t had a chance to get back to the subject with him, until now. As soon as he sat down I reminded him of our previous conversation and asked him what he would do to my hair if given the chance.

He said, “Are you thinking about taking the plunge?”

“Well, I have got to do something, because it is too hot out here and it is too hard and time consuming to deal with.”

“I am SO glad you asked because I have what I think would be the perfect style for you. In fact I just did this cut on a young woman a couple of weeks ago, and I still have the pictures with me that I took for my portfolio.”

He took the pictures out of his backpack and spread them out on the table in front of me. I took one look and thought I was going to pass out. The woman’s hair was cut to about ¼ inch in the back and the top and sides were maybe an inch to an inch and half long and a little spiky. It did look good on her and it definitely would be cooler, but that was too short for me.

I said with a little tremor in my voice, “You want to cut my hair that short?”

“I would probably leave the top and sides a little longer on you, but the shaved nape it what really makes the style.”

“I am going to have to think about that one for a while.”

“Well, you will have plenty of time to think about it, because I found out last night I am leaving this afternoon to go on location and I won’t be back for at least a month and a half.”

My heart sank! I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted to do something in the next few days. He was the only stylist that I knew and trusted. What was I going to do?

He must have seen the disappointment on my face because he said, “Obviously you are not ready to go this short, but it seems like you want to do something. I have some time this morning so if you want to come over to my trailer at around 9:30 we can find a style that works for you. And if you decide to go all the way while I am away, I will be happy to do it for you when I get back.”

I looked at my watch and it was now 8:45. I was just about to tell him that I didn’t think that I could make a decision that fast when his phone rang. While he was talking on the phone he motioned to his watch and said 9:30 to me and walked off. I had suddenly lost my appetite so I headed back to my office. I just sat there trying to figure out what I was going to do. I finally realized that Jonathan would not do anything that I didn’t want to do and that it was now or never, so I got up and started for his trailer.

The closer I the more nervous I got. When I got to the door, I knew when I walked in that when I walked out I would have a totally new hairstyle, and I had NO idea what that was going to be. When I got inside, Jonathan had several different styles picked out for me to look at of varying lengths and styles, but I just couldn’t decide on one.

He then made a suggestion. He said, “I have this trick that I have done with several of my clients that were unsure of what they wanted. I sat them in the chair, put on the cape and gave them the scissors. I then give them a section of hair that includes the side and some of the back and have them cut the first piece. I tell them to go slow and only take a few inches at a time and they stop when they feel comfortable. I then take over and create a style from there. Do you want to try it?”

I told him that I thought it sounded like a good idea and I sat down. He put the cape on me and took my hair out of the ponytail. I felt it flop down on my back and knew that it might be the last time I was going to feel that for a long time. Jonathan then brushed my hair and sectioned off the left side which included about an inch into the back. He then handed me the scissors and the section and told me to start when ready. He also reminded me to go slow.

Although I knew that a few inches was not really going to help me, I did as I was told and made the first cut of 3 inches. As I watched the hair slide down the cape and hit the floor, my stomach felt like it was doing summersaults. But I knew I had to keep going so I grabbed the section again and this time I cut off about 4 more inches. The thought then went through my mind, “Wow, I just cut off 7 inches of my hair, I should stop!” But my hair was still half way down my back and I would still have to put it in a ponytail every day so I knew I had to keep going. I must have been taking longer than I had thought, because I then hear Jonathan say, “So is that where you want to stop?” My mind was racing so all I could manage to do was shake my head no. All I could see in my mind was those pictures that Jonathan had shown me earlier that morning. I thought about how much time I have to spend on my hair every morning and how hot it was. I knew that I only had a few seconds before I would chicken out, so I wrapped my hand around the section of hair just below my left ear. I then hear myself saying, “Jonathan, if I cut it right here you would have no choice but to give me that short style from this morning, right?”

“Cindy,” he said, “you are not ready to go that short.”

“But that would be about the only style you could do, right?”

He hesitated and then said, “Yeah, but I don’t …”

Before he could finish his sentence I picked up the scissors, positioned them just above my hand and just below my ear and … crunch, crunch, snap! I was holding a severed piece of my hair in my hand that was well over a foot long. WHAT HAD I DONE?!?!?! After Jonathan picked his chin up off of the floor, he took the scissors and my hair out of my hands and put them on the counter. I just sat there looking at my odd refection in the mirror. One side of my head looked as it always had, my straight long silky hair going down past the bottom of the mirror, and on the other side, all that was left was maybe two inches that barely came to the bottom of my ear. I then heard Jonathan asking me if I was okay, but at that moment I couldn’t answer because I wasn’t even sure myself! After a minute or two I was finally able to nod my head. Jonathan said that he had already packed his clippers for the trip and that he would have to go and find them so he could finish my haircut. He said he wasn’t sure where they were and that it might take him a few minutes.

I then found my voice, though it was very shaky, and I asked him, “Could you please just take off the rest of the length first? It doesn’t have to be pretty, I just need you to chop it off.”

“Are you sure?”

“It is going to have to come off sooner or later and I would rather just get it over with.”

“Okay,” he said as he picked up the scissors off of the counter. He grabbed the hair on the right side of my head and he took a look at me in the mirror. He could see that th
ere were tears forming in my eyes. He had a look of concern on his face that seemed to be asking, are you ready? I just gave him a little nod and he lifted the scissors to about the same length as the other side and I heard the awful SCHINK. SNAP! I watched as he dropped my hair to the floor. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes as Jonathan continued around my head. SCHINK, SCHINK, SNAP.. SCHINK, SCHINK, SNAP.. SCHINK, SCHINK, SNAP.. With each SNAP I knew that more of my hair was hitting the floor and I could feel more and more of the air conditioning blowing on my bare neck. After what seemed like an eternity it finally stopped and he said, “The worst is over, sweetie. I will go and find my clippers and be back as soon as I can.”

I thought, no it isn’t you still have to USE those clippers. I opened my eyes to see for sure that all of my hair was gone! I took my trembling hands out from under the cape and slowly lifted them to what was left of my hair. At that moment I couldn’t help myself and I started to cry. I knew that I had to collect myself, because when Jonathan came back he was going to cut it even shorter than it is now. I also knew that Jonathan was already feeling bad and I didn’t want to make him feel worse. So by the time he came back with the clippers I had wiped away the tears and was ready to get this over with. I saw Jonathan looking down at his feet and I knew that he was kicking my hair out of his way. I was wondering what the floor looked like so I turned and looked down. You couldn’t even see the floor at all. All you could see was my hair, and this almost started me crying again, so I turned back and just tried to keep my composure.

He plugged in his clippers and stood behind me. He said that this may tickle, but I should to try not to move. He asked if I was ready and I nodded. He then placed his hand on the back of my head holding up the hair that would not be cut and gently pushed my head forward. I then heard the POP, WHIRRRR of the clippers as he turned them on.

He said, “I am going to place them on the back of your neck for a second so you will get used to the feeling, okay?”

I nodded and he placed them on my neck and I jumped slightly at the feeling. Then I felt them plowing up my head and taking off even more of my hair. He slowly pushed them up my head until he reached the desired point about half way up. He repeated this process until the entire back of my head was done. When he turned off the clippers and went to put them on the counter I reached up and felt the back of my head. I had ¼ inch of hair left where almost two feet of hair was just twenty minutes ago. I NEVER expected this when I woke up this morning.

Jonathan then explained to me, “I am going to cut the rest of it with a razor, so I am going to wet it down first.” He took the water bottle and sprayed what was left of my hair and picked up the razor. He worked swiftly and quietly as he grabbed small sections of my hair and attacked them with the razor. I watched with my heart in my throat as large chunks of my hair came flying off. The pieces he was leaving were maybe, at most 2 inches long. Just when I thought he was done and stood back and looked at my reflection, and said, “I think you would look best if the sides were cut so your whole ear is showing. Is that okay?” I thought at this point what difference would it make, so I just nodded my approval. He then picked up the scissors, folded down my right ear and cut my hair right around the top of my ear. As he did it on the other side I was wondering if I was going to have any hair left at all and how long it was going to take to grow it out. After several minutes he was finally done! He then put some product in my hair and was telling me how to style it, but I am not sure how much of what he was saying was getting through. I was just thinking about how this all started and if I was ever going to get used to it.

Jonathan then took the cape off and wiped the loose hair from my neck. I stood up and got a better look at all of my hair on the floor. I asked Jonathan if I could take some of it with me and he found me a zip lock bag. I picked up a couple of the long pieces placed them in the bag and closed it. I said goodbye to Jonathan and thanked him for doing this for me and I wished him luck on his trip. He said he would call me in a couple of days to check to see how I was doing. I walked outside and felt the warm breeze on my neck, I realized that I did accomplish one thing, this was going to be a lot cooler in the coming months. As I walked back to my office, I ran into a couple of people I knew who complimented me on my new do. I went into my office, closed the blinds, locked my door and with the severed pieces of my hair in my hands I had a good cry.

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