Home » Location » Barbershop » Blond, Black And Pink (Part 20)

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The swim team’s exploits had gotten the attention of the Forest High Coach who alerted coaches from two nearby colleges whose swimming program included high school and others not in college. Christine had come very close to breaking the state record in the hundred meter backstroke during the meet with Wasena, but because it was not a sanctioned meet and all the requirements had not been met her time would not be certified. He didn’t want that to happen in the local regional meet.

Several of the Swim team Mothers had their eyes opened that something special was happening with the Bulldogs swim team when they attended the BGMC meeting. They saw how the soccer Mom’s had come together to support their kids and how Abby and Paula along with the soccer Mom’s had supported the swim team. They determined to start supporting their daughters and doing what they could to encourage them. The begin to realize what a key role Christine has played in welding the team into a fiercely dedicated and determined group.

Bridget had done very well in the Wasena meet and her belief in herself had grown. She discovered she wanted to be an integral part of the team and realized that she wanted to wear the badge of a short haircut symbolizing her dedication and determination to succeed.

Week Eight – Monday

Monday At the Rec Center

“You’ve got to get your Mom to come next time,” Janet told Gail. “It was a lot of fun and you wouldn’t believe how many bald women were there. All the soccer Mom’s had buzz cuts. Tess’s Mom has a really short buzz. My Mom told me she may get a buzz cut like Penny’s Mom. That would be really cool. The funniest part was when Jill and her Mom, April Douglas came in last. They were wearing really cool identical outfits. Mrs. Douglas is more than fifty years old and has white hair which was shaved off almost completely. She doesn’t look like she could be thirty five years old. Her daughter Jill is completely shaved smooth. They looked almost like sisters.”

“You’ve got to be kidding. She’s fifty and she shaved her head. That’s wild,” Gail said incredulously.

“It’s true. Christine said she is fifty three. She said she intends to keep it clipper shaved too. Where is Ellen? She got her haircut on Saturday she told me. It’s a chelsea like Janet’s only not shaved smooth the way Janet’s is. She looks really cute,” Jessie explained.

“Here come Christine and Melissa,” Janet announced.

In short order the entire swim team had arrived. Bridget was very impressed with Ellen’s chelsea. “That is so neat Ellen. Where did you get it done?”

“Kate did it. Everybody gets their short haircuts at Kate’s,” Ellen giggled. “She did it exactly the way I wanted. She didn’t try to make it too long or anything.”

Christine and Tommy had headed to the Gym. “Come on guys, lets get going,” Gail said, putting her words into action.

Two hours later they had showered, dressed and retrieved their lunches for a picnic outside.

“I wonder why they added those relay events. They’re fun but we haven’t practiced them at all. I’m sure I’ll have trouble getting off fast when I swim my leg,” Christine said.

“I wonder what order we’ll go in for the free. Christine you/re the fastest, so you should be either first or anchor,” Ellen volunteered.

“I’d like her to be first so I would have a big lead if I swim second,” Bridget laughed.

After they had finished their lunch Christine wandered off with Tommy The Amigas with some of the older soccer team members were talking with a few of the swim team members about the Wasena meet. Bridget and Ellen headed toward the locker room to change. They stopped at the water fountain briefly.

“Ellen, I really want to get my hair cut short. I’m sure my Mom will be OK with it. I think you Mom talked to her yesterday. I want to go to Kate’s to get it done,” Bridget told her.

“Well if it’s OK with your Mom, you should do it. You can go on Saturday. I’d like to go with you. I can show you how to get there,” Ellen said.

“I wish we had gone with them the first time they all went to Kate’s,” Bridget said.

“So do I but they’re older and can get it cut if they want to. If you Mom says it OK for you to get yours cut they would all go with you if you asked,” Ellen told her.

“You think so?” Bridget said questioningly.

“I’m sure. Christine wants us to be a real team. She acts like we’re her sisters now. She would come and the others would too. They want all of us to be really close to each other. Gail is going to get her head completely shaved when she makes the Forest team. Janet will too probably. When I make it next year I’m going to be bald too.

“OK, I’ll talk with my Mom tonight and see if it’s OK,” Bridget said.

“That’s great Bridget. I’m sure she’ll let you. Let’s get our suits on and get warmed up. We really need to work on the relay,” Ellen said.

Week Eight – Tuesday

“Hello, this is Doris Hardy. Is this Iris Norton?”

“Yes, I’m Iris. We met at that Club meeting at the Herb Garden on Sunday. You’re Ellen’s Mother aren’t you. She has the cutest little chelsea cut. Janet said that she is getting better very fast and that she’s going to be a great swimmer.”

“She’s very determined, that’s for sure. She told me she wanted to get her head shaved if she makes the Forest High team next year.”

“Janet is the same way although she has already gotten hers shaved.”

“Well, that’s sort of what I called about. I’ve decided to get my hair buzzed. I think Sammie Haskell, Jessie’s Mom, is thinking the same thing. What’s been going through my mind is the idea of several of us going together to Kate’s Barbershop for short haircuts like those soccer Moms are getting to show their support for their shaved kids.”

“You’re serious aren’t you? I absolutely want to do it. When do you want to go. I certainly want to get it done before the regional meet. Have you talked with any of the others?”

Not yet. I’m going to talk with Rhonda, Bridget’s Mother. I know her quite well. I’ll talk to Patty French too. She’s Gail’s Mother. I don’t think she’ll be interested. She wouldn’t take Gail to the Herb Garden meeting last Sunday. I’d like to go on Thursday morning. How would that be for you.

“That would be fine with me. I work only half-time and I can choose morning or afternoon, or take the whole day off if I work a whole day. I know Sammie a little bit. I’ll call her. I’ll call you back as soon as I know anything.” Iris agreed

That’s great Iris. I’ve always admired women with very short haircuts, but never had the courage to do it myself. The excuse was that I would look awful with it really short. Now I have an excuse to do it. I never really believed that I would look bad.” Doris responded

“I know how that is Doris. We’ve been brainwashed all our lives. Those women with their brush cuts and shaved heads were very confident. I would like to join them.”

“Me too. Let’s get this little party rolling. Bye Janet.

“Bye Doris. Talk to you later.”

“Did you talk to your Mom?” Ellen asked Bridget. They had arrived early at the Rec center and were waiting until the others arrived before heading inside. Tuesday and Friday were the only mornings they had off, although they often had a volunteer swim practice on Tuesday.

“She said Yes!” Bridget replied enthusiastically. “She had talked to your Mom. Did you know that your Mom wants to get a buzz cut like Penny’s Mom. Wasn’t she sitting with Christine’s Mom at the Wasena Meet,” Bridget asked.

“I think so. When I came out of the locker room there were two women with buzz cuts standing and talking. I think Beth’s Mom has a buzz cut,” Ellen told her. “So when are you going to get it cut?”

“Saturday just like you said. I haven’t decided what I want yet though,” Bridget said.

“We c
an go early and look at her books. She has thousands of pictures of short haircuts. She’ll want to call you Mom if you get something really short like mine. I brought a note and she still wanted to call,” Ellen warned her.

“I’ll tell her. Do you think we’ll have an extra practice this Thursday morning. I wouldn’t mind if we did. Coach sad we were improving fast in the relay,” Bridget said.

“I know, but I still hate being the slowest and having to take the second leg. If I mess up I’m going to be really upset.” Ellen complained.

“You’re practically the same as me. You won’t mess up. We’ll have to work even harder if we want to catch up with Janet and Christine. I’m not sure anyone is ever going to catch up to Christine until she’s fifty. She had her best time ever in the hundred free yesterday,” Bridget told her.

“She’s something else all right. And she still has time to help me with my turns and breathing. Anyway, I’m still going to try. I want to be on any team she’s on,” Ellen responded.

Thursday Morning at Kate’s Barbershop.

“Is Sammie going to meet us at Kate’s?” Doris asked.

“She’s coming here. She lives close to Rhonda, and is picking her up. By the way Sammie talked to her a little and told her some more about Christine that Jessie had told her. She had no idea how good these girls had become over the summer and just how dedicated they are. I think she’s convinced now, but she’s still undecided if she’s going to get hers cut short. She said her husband Tim was OK with it,” Iris told her.

“I’m glad she decided to come. I talked to her yesterday. She was very surprised at what I told her about Bridget and the others. She needed to hear it from somebody else too. I can understand her hesitation about getting her hair cut. She’s had it long all her life. If we all do it maybe she’ll get up the courage to do it too, although she has this strange anxiety complex. I think they’re here. I just saw a car slow down at your driveway,” Doris said.

Iris got up to look just as the bell rang.

“Hi Sammie and Rhonda. Come on in. I’m Iris by the way. I guess you figured that out without any help,” she laughed.

“Hi Iris and Doris. I guess we’re all here. What’s the plan,” Sammie said.

“I though we could all go in one car. I’m happy to be the chauffeur. Would anyone like something to drink before we set out on our adventure? I have coffee made and I can make tea in two minutes,” Iris offered.

“Nothing for me thanks,” Sammie replied.

“Well I guess we’re ready to go. I hope my butterflies find a place to perch,” Iris laughed.

“I feel like a kid about to do something just a little bit naughty,” Doris giggled.

“Same with me. There’s so much advertisement, and all those movie stars with long blond hair bombarding us all the time, that it makes me feel that it may be illegal for a woman to have really short hair, Sammie agreed.

The found a convenient parking space and were soon trooping into Kate’s shop.

“Well, hello ladies,” Kate greeted them a bit surprised to see four women in their thirties arrive at the same time.

“Hello. If you’re Kate then I think we’ve found the place we’re looking for to get our haircuts,” Sammie announced.

“My goodness. It looks like I have a job on my hands. Well I’m ready. Do you know what kind of haircuts you want or do you want some consultation?” Kate asked.

“I’m sure I want a buzz cut, but I’d still like a chance to look at a few examples.” Doris said.

“I have quite a few for you to choose from in my scrapbook back there. Let’s go take a look,” Kate offered.

“I’d like to see someone with an almost round face like mine with a buzz cut. I’ve always thought I had to have some style that make it look more oval.”

“I have several pictures of buzz cuts on women with round faces. You’ll be surprised at how good they look with buzz cuts. Here’s one, and here’s another. She looks good doesn’t she?” Kate said.

“My goodness, they do look good. Are you sure it isn’t just clever photography?” Doris asked skeptically.

“No, way,” Kate responded. “I’ve given a lot of buzz cuts on women, some a lot older than you, and with all kinds of face shapes. I like the ones on a round face the best. Some other shapes makes the buzz cut look a little too hard. Here’s the one I was looking for,” Kate said.

“Oh, that is very good looking. I like it!” Doris said enthusiastically.

“She actually looks a little like you,” Kate added.

“OK, I’m convinced. I’m ready to get it done, even if I do have the jitters,” Doris said.

“You’ll look super good Doris. I think it’s exactly right for you,” Iris encouraged her.

“She’s absolutely right Doris. You should go for it,” Sammie agreed.

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be Kate. I’m already feeling light headed. Someone stay close by just in case I faint,” Doris laughed. She stepped into the chair and took a deep breath trying to calm herself.

Kate had seen it happen before and knew just what to do to calm her nerves. She gently massaged her shoulders for a few moments waiting until some of the intense excitement and anxiety had drained away. Feeling her relax a little she snapped the cape around her and spread it out over the arms of the chair.

“How are you feeling. I won’t start until you’re sure you won’t faint on me,” Kate told her.

“That was a nice massage Kate. I’m still a little nervous, but it’s not nearly as bad as before. You can go ahead now,” Doris told her.

“OK. I’m going to cut your hair with scissors first, then we’ll see where we go from there,” Kate told her.

Doris’ hair was cut in a typical layered style that was about chin length with a light fringe which she had swept to the side. Kate simple started to comb it up, hold it between her fingers and cut it off to a length of one inch or less. It was a much slower process than using clippers, but Kate had found that it was also much less traumatic for most women getting their first very short cut. She continued her slow circuit around Doris’ head finally reaching the opposite side. Now she sectioned off a light fringe in the front and put several clips on it so that she would not accidentally cut it. Returning to the top she continued cutting in the same methodical fashion, eventually completing the first stage of the cut. She detected that Doris was now much more relaxed.

“Well, that part is done. You’re on your way to a beautiful buzz cut Doris. It’s a lot quicker at this point if I use my clipper, but if you prefer I can do it with scissors and comb,” she advised her.

“What does it look like now? Can I see it?” Doris asked.

“It’s pretty rough and shaggy – not at all like the picture. I’ll show it to you if you want, but you’ll be happier if you wait till I’ve gotten a lot closer to the final result,” Kate told her.

“I guess I’ll wait then. I think I’m settled down now, so you can use your clipper,” Doris said.

“That’s what I’ll do then,” Kate told her.

Kate picked up her battery operated clipper, which she had cleaned and oiled before Doris and the others had arrived, and snapped on a number four guide. The picture had the look of a half inch buzz on top and that is what she had done on one or two other women who had used that picture as their choice for how they wanted their buzz cuts to look. She pushed Doris’s head down gently and pushed the clipper up to the crown of her head, dropping the hair on the floor behind her. It took only a few minutes for her to reduce Doris’ hair to a soft uniform half inch brush. She ran the clipper over her head a few more times to ensure that it was even on top. Exchanging the number four guide for a number three she clippered the sides up to the curve making a nice taper from the sides and back to the top. Now she removed the guide entirely and adjusted the clipper to an eighth of an inch. She made the circuit again, clippering the sideburns, going up just a
little above the top of Doris’ ears and up only an inch and a half in the back. It was time for Kate to do the meticulous working that assured a seamless taper from hairline to the half inch long hair on top, but first she would trim the little fringe of bangs to an inch and a half. Still a little too long she thought. She would do the final trimming at the end.

“You can have a preview now,” Kate told her as she swiveled the chair to face the mirror.

Doris’ looked in the mirror at the attractive woman with buzzed hair. “Is that really me? I look so different, so lively. I definitely need to get rid of that double chin don’t I,” she laughed.

“It looks so good Doris. Your old style made you look older. That buzz really suits you,” Iris told her.

“Well, it will look even better when I’ve finished, so let me get back to it,” Kate said.

Using scissors and come she began the meticulous finishing that characterized all her cuts. The transition from one eighth of an inch to one quarter of an inch became undetectable as she combed up each section and snipped off tiny bits. Section by section she evened out the taper from each length to the next with a carefully calculated precision that had become automatic. She went over everything again, including the top, where she made some small adjustments to achieve the perfectly rounded oval that was always her goal for this style. The penultimate step was to edge the hairline around Doris’ head and define the hairline in back. A simple rounded line seemed best. She used her edger to outline it and then clean up her neck. Another time she would introduce her to the pleasure of a neck shave. Finally satisfied she used her razor taperer to thin and trim the few strands of bangs that she had left.

“Doris you have a very even hairline in front that is just perfect for this buzz cut style. You don’t really need a fringe, so I’m giving you a few strands just to provide a little extra interest,” Kate said as she did the final adjustments and used her blow dryer to get rid of any stray hairs.

Unbeknownst to the the other women, Kate had spent considerably more time on this haircut than she normally would have. It was already more than half an hour, but she didn’t regret it. Doris had obviously been nervous and needed some extra pampering. Now that it was done, Kate had the suspicion that she would have another returning client.

“All done Doris. It is a very good style for you. It’s very flattering to your face shape,” Kate told her as she swung her around to face the mirror.

Doris examined herself intently without any expression on her face. She reached up to feel the back, then turned her head from left to right looking at the sides. The other three women remained quiet as mice almost holding their breath, waiting for her verdict.

“I do have cute ears.” she observed.

After another moment of pregnant silence she smiled broadly. “I think I’m going to be an entirely new woman. I should always have looked like this. I like the way I look very much.”

The others applauded spontaneously.

“You look wonderful Doris. I’ve never seen you look so bright and youthful looking,” Rhonda told her

“She’s absolutely right. I think I’m beginning to have an idea of what has happened to our girls,” Sammie said.

“I agree. I’m eager to get started on my own transformation. But you should go next Sammie,” Iris said.

“OK, but I’m not quite ready to get a buzz cut. Jessie said I should get it shaved! I thought she was going to look terrible when she got that nearly shaved look the first time, but I was surprised at how nice she looked. Still she was determined to get it shaved completely. After a few days it didn’t seem awful and even Hal said it didn’t look too bad. That was really high praise from him. Anyway, can I get something short, but not quite buzzed like Doris?” Sammie asked.

“Sure. Let’s see what we can come up with. I have a few ideas that might appeal to you,” Kate told Sammie as she open her scrapbook.

“Here is one that I think you might like. A short pixie. That would look good on you. And this is a little boy cut. It’s not buzzed but it is quite short. You would look good in that one too. This is a nice style although I think it’s too conservative for you. You should go for something a little more sassy,” Kate told her.

“I like the pixie, and that’s what I though I would get, but now I’m beginning to have second thoughts. My hair is rather curly. Can I have a pixie like that?” Sammie asked.

“Absolutely. I would do a lot of thinning and use a little mousse. That would keep it under control. Of course I would cut the sides and back shorter than you see in that picture. I just remembered something. It a picture of a woman with hair a lot like yours. Yes. Here it is. This is a brush cut. It’s quite a bit longer on top than a buzz, but the sides and back are quite short. That would be very good for your hair and face shape. And when you get a little more adventurous you can go with this one,” Kate said as she showed Sammie another picture of a much shorter cut.

The other three women had been crowding around trying to get a glimpse of what Kate was showing her.

“Those are wonder cuts Sammie,” Doris said.

“The last one is my favorite. You would look supper with that cut,” Iris offered her opinion.

“I like the brush cut a lot Sammie,” Rhonda added her preference.

Now that the ice had been broken by Doris, they were all getting into the spirit of the idea of getting short or buzzed cuts.

“I do like that brush cut Kate. Her hair is a lot like mine. It’s even the same color almost. I think I’ll get it cut like that. We better hurry before I get cold feet and change my mind,” Sammie said.

“Goodness. I think I have a blanket in the back of my car. Maybe I should run and get it. We certainly don’t want you to get cold feet,” Iris joked.

They escorted her back to the Kate’s chair where she sat down.

“You’re going to look absolutely terrific Sammie,” Iris told her.

They continued to encourage and support her while Kate fastened the cape around her neck and combed through her hair She realized that Sammie had use a good bit of gel to hold the spiky style that she had.

“Sammie, I’m going to do a rough cut first, just like I did for Doris, then I’ll need to give you a shampoo before I can finished styling it,” Kate told her.

“OK, go ahead,” Sammie told her.

Kate quickly cut the sides and back to about one inch, then reduced the top to about two inches.

“There. Let’s get you shampooed, then I’ll make you a real knock-out,” Kate promised.

A thorough shampoo followed with the three women keeping up a constant commentary and expressions of how great she was going to look. Kate towel dried her hair and re-caped her, then used her blow dryer to get the side and back dry enough to use her clipper. She would use the clipper without a guide, but with her wide toothed comb. Because it was not a buzz cut that method would produce a more uniform taper from the very short hair at the hairline to the much longer hair on the upper sides and on top. She began on the right side leaving the hair at the hairline a little longer than she wanted it, but she would cut it later. That would require using her thin comb. Now she simply set the large comb almost vertically and clipped off all the protruding hair. The result was a taper that varied from a little more than an eighth of an inch to half an inch two inches above the top of Sammie’s ear. The taper in the back would be longer but would be much the same. At the hairline it was a little more than an eighth of an inch, becoming longer until it was half an inch long somewhat above the occipital bone. Kate noted that Sammie’s occipital bone was a little bump and there was a slight depression just above it. She
make a mental note to adjust the final cut so that these slight variations in an otherwise very well shaped head would be disguised. She completed the back and moved to the left side where she duplicated the right side.

“That is beginning to look so good Sammie,” Iris said enthusiastically.

“Sammie smiled. “I’ve never had anyone use clippers on me like that. I hope I’m not bald.”

“It’s longer than mine. It’s going to look great, but you’ll need to get it cut a lot shorter next time for sure,” Doris said teasingly.

“Maybe I will if those girls do something special at the next competition,” Sammie responded.

“That’s an idea, Sammie. You know that Abby is going to get her head shaved if Tess keeps hers shaved until after school starts. She told Tess she would keep it shaved as long as Tess is on the Forest team. And of course she will be on it. Even if Christine and Jessie can beat her now, no one else can, especially in the backstroke. So I’m sure she’ll make the team. And Paula is going to also. She was talking to Abby and she said that she is going to shave her head if Christine is on the team. So we can tell them that every time they do something really special, we’ll get shorter haircuts,” Iris said.

“What will you do after you reach the point that the only next step is to shave your head? Will you do that?” Rhonda asked skeptically.

“I don’t quite know where things would stop, and I don’t know where things could end up either. I probably shouldn’t even think about it, but if they made it to the US Nationals I think I would,” Iris answered.

“You would! I’ll definitely join you if Ellen made it that far, Doris said excitedly.

During this exchange Kate had been at work with scissors, comb and fingers carefully cutting Sammie’s hair on top to produce the neat brush that would define the cut. It was about an inch and a half long in the front middle and became shorter toward the back where it was only an inch long. Beyond the crown it tapered shorter quickly to blend into the half inch long hair in the back. Along each side Kate achieved an almost identical result. The top had a gentle curve from left to right, following the curve of Sammie’s head. The curve from the top to the sides was perfectly calculated. In the back Kate and cut the hair a little shorter over the bump and left it longer over the depression. Looking from the side, Sammie hair was almost flat from front to back where it curved to meet the back of her head. Now Kate took up her clipper and set it to the one eighth of an inch setting. She tipped Sammie’s head to the left and quickly cut the sideburn up about an inch above Sammie’s ear. Continuing around her ear she treated the nape area the same. Finally the left side was clipped. Now she readjusted the clipper to its closest setting and used it along with her thin comb to do the final blending on the sides and back. The last step was to use her edging clipper to trim Sammie’s sideburns into little points, and then to trim around her ears down the back, and to outline the nape line. The nape was even and rounded. Kate outlined it slightly, leaving it essentially natural. She loosened the cape and used the edger to tidy up down her nape. She refastened the cape and examined the entire haircut critically. With scissors and comb she made a few more microscopic adjustments before she decided that she was indeed done with the cutting. Now came the part that would make the style arresting. She spritzed Sammie’s hair, dampening it thoroughly. Picking up a tube of mousse, she ejected a generous amount, spread it on both hands and applied it to Sammie’s hair, working it in thoroughly. Using her blow dryer and a round brush she brushed it back and up vigorously so that that it stood at attention on the sides and back. A bit more work on the crown area and it was done. She put down the blow dryer and retrieved her scissors and trimmed off a few hairs that had been missed. A few more quick passed with her brush and she was finished.

“You are finis Madame Sammie,” she said in her best French accent as she turned her to fact the mirror.

“It’s beautiful Sammie. Jessie is going to be thrilled when she sees it,” Iris said.

“Wow. I can hardly believe it. I haven’t looked this good in ten years,” Sammie said ecstatically as she saw herself for the first time.

“I think you outdid yourself Kate. That is a really good looking hairstyle for her, although I’ll bet she will look better yet when she decides to get it cut even shorter,” Iris insisted.

“Now don’t go putting mischievous thoughts into my head like that Iris. Let me have a little fun with it this way before I have to come back and get it cut even shorter,” Sammie laughed.

“It is a very attractive style Sammie. I’m very impressed. I think I’m being brainwashed into getting my cut short also. I’ll have to look at those pictures more seriously,” Rhonda told them.

“Well, I know just what I want. I saw it in the section on buzz cuts. I’ll go get it,” Iris said.

“See, here it is. She has glasses just like mine. I’ve always liked my hair short, but after seeing you too I’m determined to go you one better. Andy will probably flip. He was a little perplexed at Janet’s shaved head; he thought it was a little weird, but after a week he seemed to accept it when Janet kept telling us how much she liked it shaved and was going to keep it shaved even after school started,” Iris told them

“Wow, that is really short Iris! I like the way she looks though,” Sammie said.

“Before we do it, I’d like to make sure it’s suitable for you Iris,” Kate told her. “

“You mean if you thought it wouldn’t look good you wouldn’t do it?” Iris was incredulous.

“For a very short haircut like that, I want it to look really good. If for some reason the style is not a good one for someone, I try to find a style that would look good and still be very short. I never want someone to come back and ask me why I didn’t tell them that the haircut they got was not flattering,” Kate explained.

“See, she has a very even hairline in front and that’s important. Lot’s of women have an irregular hairline and I can give them a little fringe that disguises it and they can still have the rest buzzed very short. Let me have a look. Good, it’s perfect Iris. I’ll be happy to give you that haircut,” Kate told her.

“That’s a very unusual attitude Kate. My old stylist would do anything I wanted and I’ve had some really bad styles. They would look OK while I was in the shop, but when I got home they really fell apart in a day or two and looked awful,” Doris responded.

“It’s simple really. I like short haircuts on women – the shorter the better, but they should look good. I want women to feel happy and comfortable with their short cuts and to be ambassadors for the look. So I’m not going to do a cut that ends up making you unhappy and not wanting to come back for regular trims,” Kate told them.

“That makes a lot of sense Kate. I noticed that all the cuts that you’ve done look very good, especially the really short ones like April’s almost shaved cut. Did you know beforehand she would look so good practically bald like that?” Sammie asked.

“I could see her hairline because she didn’t have any bangs and I took a peek at her ears before I started to cut her hair the first time. In her case it was her ears that made the difference. If they had stuck out much I would have told her that and suggested a different style. I might still have cut it the way she wanted if she insisted,” Kate responded.

“Once in a while it works out quite differently, like Audra’s case for instance. You know her I guess?” Kate asked.

“Oh, sure. She’s that striking young black girl that was with Christine’s sister and those other bald girls isn’t she?” Iris replied.

“That’s right. She got her clipper shave in a barbers
hop across town. Her Aunt Steffie got her going. Anyway her front hairline is fairly low and grows out here on both sides,” Kate indicated the temple region at about eyebrow level.

“You wouldn’t have noticed it when she wore her hair in a bob with bangs, but it didn’t work very well with a clipper cut, so Steffie had the barber shave the front hairline to make it a nice oval shape. I’ve been doing it for her every week until last week when she had it waxed there as well as in the back to create a permanent oval in front and a high crescent in the back. Of course last Sunday you didn’t see that because she had shaved it smooth on Saturday,” Kate told them.

Iris had sat down in the barber chair and Kate had fastened a cape around her while this conversation took place. Now Kate was ready to begin

“Iris, if you want I’ll make it longer than that cut you showed me. If you still want it that short I can do it afterwards,” Kate advised her.

“No, Kate. Just go straight for it. If I do it in stages I’ll get cold feet and have to come back later to get it done right. It’s what I want and these ladies won’t let me get out out here with out getting it cut like that, will you?” Iris joked.

“Oh, certainly not Iris. Even if we have to tie you to that barber chair, we’re determined that you should get a proper buzz cut. Even the one you’re getting may be too long and we’ll have to insist that you get it cut shorter. Isn’t that right girls?” Doris said.

“Absolutely, Iris. Don’t even think about having it even a smidgen longer than the picture you showed us. If you can do that then I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to give up this long hair,” Rhonda laughed.

Kate examined the picture again and decided to start with a number two which she knew was a little more than six millimeters. Pictures were deceiving sometimes. The picture had been taken from a French magazine, so it was done with clippers calibrated in millimeters, but no numbers were given. It looked like a number one and a half buzz which would be five millimeters. Kate knew that some clippers had five millimeter cutting heads, so that was quite possibly the length shown. The side was shorter, probably three millimeters, which was close to an eighth of an inch.

“Well here goes, Iris,” Kate said as she started on the left side and ran the clipper up and back leaving a path of short hair.

The other three women watched in rapt fascination as Iris’s head was quickly and efficiently buzzed to a uniform quarter of an inch. As usual for a first cut it was quite rough, but Kate knew that when she had finished it would be perfectly uniform and precisely tapered down the sides and back. It was obvious that she would need to go over it with the number one and a half, and then use a number one on the sides and back.

“That was the easy part Iris. Here’s where I start the real cut which will take quite a bit longer,” Kate told her as she replaced the number two guide with the number one and a half guide. She went over Iris’s head slowly and carefully making certain that that there were no uneven spots. She had checked to be sure there were no bumps and hollows that she would have to take into account. Finally she was satisfied. The front hairline was going to be quite nice even though Iris’s face shape was not ideal for the style that she wanted. She had a rather narrow chin. Nevertheless she would look quite striking.

Kate removed the guide and set the adjustable clipper to its one eighth of an inch setting. As usual for this style she went up the sides to about an inch above the top of the ear. In the back it went up from the hairline about two inches which left it an inch lower than on the sides. She would taper it carefully so that the transition from side to back was barely noticeable. Now she readjusted her clipper to its closest setting and began to taper the sides and back using the clipper over comb technique. Later she would do the final finishing with comb and scissors.

Ten minutes later she inspected the result closely and also checked how it looked in her mirror. She was almost satisfied. With scissors and comb she went over it once again making absolutely sure that it was even everywhere and that the taper was exactly right. One more inspection followed. All that was needed was to edge around the hairline. Looking at the picture again she decided to fade the hairline rather than outlining it. Using her little trimmer she proceeded to go around Iris’s head from sideburn to sideburn creating a short fade. In the back she started low on Iris’s neck and went up to just above her natural hairline before beginning the short fade.

“There you are Iris, a neat little buzz cut that really shows off your head. Here put on your glasses so that you can see the result,” Kate said handing her the glasses that she had placed on the counter.

“You look really good Iris. You’re going to surprise a lot of people. Janet is going to love it. I love the way it seems to be almost smooth,” Sammie said enthusiastically.

“It’s really a cool look. You look quite sharp Iris,” Doris added.

Iris had been examining herself carefully in the big mirror.

“Can I see the back Kate?” she asked.

Kate turned the chair away from the mirror and held up the hand mirror so she could see the back of her head.

“I can hardly recognize myself. I had no idea how different I would look with almost all my hair cut off. I think I’m going to like it when I’ve had a chance to get used to it,” she said.

“Right now it’s a bit of a shock, but the more I look at it the more I like it. I don’t think I ever actually knew what I really looked like or the shape of my head. Am I really kidding myself or do I look younger?” Iris asked with growing enthusiasm.

“You’re right Iris, you do look younger, almost like a college kid again. I was surprised at the difference it made in how you looked too, but I think it’s quite striking. It’s shorter than any of the other buzzed styles that we saw at Sunday’s meeting. I like it a lot even if one part of my brain keeps screaming at me that women aren’t supposed have their hair cut like that,” Rhonda giggled. “In fact I’m feeling quite rebellious myself, thanks to you Iris.”

Kate had used her hairdryer to blow off any stray hairs and had removed the cape. Iris was now feeling her head.

“Umm, that feels good. I guess I had better let you have a chance to enjoy this barber chair Rhonda. It’s all yours,” Iris said as she finally relinquished it.

“Yeah, Rhonda, it does seem to be your turn. You need to take a seat before your shot of rebellion wears off. Otherwise we may have to tie you into that chair,” Doris laughed joking.

“Well, come on and help me get in it. It’s starting to look too big for me to reach,” Rhonda answered.

“Well, goodness, what are friends for?” Doris said as she stepped forward and grabbed her by the elbow.

Sammie had immediately picked up on Doris’ cue and took her by the other elbow. The two of them escorted her to the chair. She moved lethargically and acted reluctant, a reluctance which was not entirely pretended, but which was mixed with a fascination that urged her forward. Finally she stepped up onto the foot of the chair where she slowly turned around. Doris and Sammie gently guided her to sit down on the comfortable reddish brown seat of the old barber chair with it cast iron frame and porcelain base. She sat down almost fearfully, as though it might be hot or would shock her somehow. Finally she was seated and leaned back into the back cushion. She began to relax, having made the first major decision – to get into the barber chair. Finally she smiled.

“I guess I’m here aren’t I,” Rhonda said.

“Sure looks like it Rhonda. So what are you going to do now?” Iris asked with a grin.

“I think I can’t get up until I get my haircut,” Rhonda
said dreamily.

“Why don’t you cape her Kate. Then she can decide what kind of hair cut she wants,” Doris suggested.

“Good idea, Doris. I’ll bring over the books,” Sammie said.

Kate had watched this little drama unfold with amazement. She wasn’t sure that Rhonda wanted her hair cut, but she could not discern any evidence of pressure or coercion. It was more like watching someone in a mild trance being escorted so they wouldn’t stumble and fall.

“Are you OK Rhonda? You’re sure you want to get a haircut?” Kate asked.

“Oh, I’m getting a haircut. Yes, I want to get a haircut. A nice short haircut. I’ve never had a short haircut before. Isn’t that strange. I like this chair. It’s very comfortable. Maybe I’ll go to sleep while you cut my hair. You could wake me up after it’s cut all nice and short,” Rhonda said still sounding as though she was in a trance.

“OK, but you have to decide on what style you want. So don’t go to sleep just yet. Here’s the book,” Kate told her.

The book was open to the section on pixie styles. “If you see something you like just point it out,” Iris said as she slowly turned the pages. She stopped at a selection of cuts done on a single model. Rhonda put her finger on a picture.

“I like that one, but it’s kind of long. I want it nice and short,” Rhonda said speaking slowly and dreamily.

They looked through the pixie cuts, and found several more that looked like good choices, but Rhonda was not satisfied. She continued to act as though she had been sedated, although Kate was certain she had not taken anything. They had almost reached the end when Rhonda found one that she seemed to like.

“That’s a good one. It’s almost what I want. I remember a boy that I played with when I was about ten years old. He had a cute little buzz cut with a little flip in the front. That’s what I want – a little boy’s cut,” she said with sudden conviction and alertness.

“Now I get it. I think I have just the style you’re looking for. It’s actually in the section called ‘boy cuts’. Let me get it. There are several examples of women with blond hair and cute boy cuts,” Kate said excitedly.

Kate hurriedly thumbed through the section of boy cuts and placed markers at several places.

“OK, here are several for you to look at and choose from,” she informed Rhonda.

The other three women crowded around trying to see what kind of cuts Kate had found. They oohed and aahed as each style was shown.

Rhonda had looked at the first two, slowly flipping back and forth. Finally she went to the next choice and stopped. There were four views of the style; front, back, left and right. She examined them briefly, started to go to the next marker then stopped and looked at the pictures more slowly.

“I think this is the style I’ve been dreaming of. See, she looks a little bit like me and her hair is almost the same color as mine although I have to give nature a little help,” she laughed. “See how the front has a little bit of hair to flip up and to the side. That’s the way I want it cut. Now I can go back to sleep. I’m too scared to stay awake while it’s cut.”

“You are going to look sensational with that cut Rhonda!” Doris exclaimed.

“Are you sure you want a short cut like that Rhonda?” Kate asked. “If you’re scared maybe you should just get a mid length, shoulder length or something.” Kate was still perplexed by Rhonda’s, to her, bizarre behavior.

“No Kate. I want it cut. Don’t pay any attention to me. It’s just the way I am,” Rhonda told her in the same slow dreamy voice.

Doris looked at Kate who was still hesitating, almost on the verge of refusing to cut Rhonda hair. She motioned to Kate to came over to her. They walked a little way toward the back of the shop.

“Kate, I’ve known Rhonda for five or six years. This is not the first time she has had one of these “spells.” It’s how she copes with stressful situations. When we first met she wanted me to go with her to the orthodontist where she was going to get braces to straighten her teeth and she did the same thing. Last year she and I went in together to get a bikini wax and she did it again. She told me it had happened to her on several other occasions as well. It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want to do whatever it is, she just has a low anxiety threshold and it’s her way of staying calm when she’s doing something she’s never done before. She really wants her haircut just like that picture, but it’s such a big change that she would go all to pieces if she didn’t have this strange way of handling it,” Doris explained.

“So that’s it. She gives herself a mental sedative when she’s about to do something different or unusual. I’ve had women almost fainting or having to sit down to calm themselves when they come in for a short haircut for the first time. So you’re certain Rhonda wants me to cut off all her long hair and give her a haircut like the one she pointed out? ” Kate asked.

“I’m certain. She has talked to me for years about getting it cut. You saw how much she admired what Iris did and how much she liked my buzz. She’s sitting in your barber chair waiting for you to do it,” Doris told her.

“OK, I guess I have to trust you. She has told me how she wants it cut. So I guess I’d better get to it,” Kate said.

Sammie and Iris had been standing beside the barber chair talking with Rhonda and admiring each other’s new haircut.

“I think your haircuts are very good looking. What is Kate talking about with Doris? When is she going to cut mine?” Rhonda said in her dreamy voice looking to where Kate and Doris were standing.

“I’m sure they’ll be back soon.” Sammie reassured her. Sammie was almost as perplexed as Kate at Rhonda’s unusual behavior.

“Well Rhonda, I guess I should get started,” Kate told her.

“Good to get started. This is a comfy chair. I think I’ll just close my eyes and take a little nap while you do whatever it was. Oh yes, you’re giving me a cute short haircut. Isn’t that nice?” Rhonda replied dreamily closing her eyes.

Kate though it was the strangest experience she had ever had, but she was now convinced that Rhonda actually wanted the haircut and she had a very unusual way of dealing with the idea of having all her near waist length blond hair cut off.

Kate took her time and plaited Rhonda hair. She thought about donating it, but now that she knew it had been color treated she dismissed that idea. She had a pair of heavy shears in her drawer. She rarely used them, but this is the time she thought. She snapped a clamp around the braid close to Rhonda’s head and in a few hard squeezes of the shears had severed the braid. The remaining hair fell forward around Rhoda’s head. She did not react at all. Her breathing was slow and regular. She actually could be asleep Kate thought with some astonishment.

“I’m going to buzz it now Rhonda,” Kate said softly. She was surprised to hear Rhonda’s murmured “OK.” She had not moved at all.

Kate snapped on a number six guide. She looked at the four pictures and saw there was a notation that said that the top had been cut to ten millimeters and that the sides were cut to only six millimeters. The women in the picture also had that little whiff in the front which was perhaps a bit more than an inch – certainly less than an inch and a half. The sides had only a small taper near the hairline – probably an eighth of an inch long for half an inch above the hairline. The three quarters of an inch guide would allow her to judge how much shorter to go to reproduce the picture. Ten millimeters was close to three eighths of an inch and six millimeters was a little more than three sixteenths of an inch. Rhonda would not be able to tell the difference. ‘I’ve got to get a clipper that is calibrated in millimeters. I wonder if they have them in Canada?’ Kate thought as she oiled her clipper.

Starting at the left front Kate pushed her clipper up and to the back, leaving the long strand of hair
that would become the front whiff. It was about two inches wide in the middle of her forehead and was about an inch thick. She made a second pass beside the first removing the length of long hair coming from the top, leaving it a few inches long. She continued the process going around Rhonda ear, then up to the middle of her head. She repeated the process on the right side. Rhonda’s head was completely relaxed. She could move it as though it had no resistance at all. In the back she pushed her head forward gently and it seemed to fall onto her chest without resistance. She buzzed up the back. In another moment or so Rhonda’s head was a uniform three quarters of an inch long all over except for the long section at the front that she had avoided cutting. Now she took up her scissors. Holding the section of hair between her fingers she scissored it to a length of about two inches. She put a couple of clips on the part that would become the whiff that make the cut into a little boy’s style. Comparing the picture with Rhonda buzzed head she confirmed that the woman in the picture had been clippered to a length of three eighths of an inch or thereabouts. She snapped on a number four guide and proceeded to go over Rhonda head again, this time making sure it was very uniform. She inspected the result closely and was not satisfied that it was right. It did need to be shorter. She replaced the number four with a number three guide and repeated the process. Another inspection and now she was satisfied that she had gotten it right. Looking at Rhonda from all sides she came to the conclusion that Rhonda had made a remarkably astute choice even in her seeming dazed state. She was, as Doris had predicted, going to be gorgeous.

Kate turned to the three women who had been sitting quietly and watching intently almost as entranced as Rhonda. She smiled at them and received a double thumbs up from Doris and strong affirmative nods from Iris and Sammie. She switched the guide to a number two and proceeded to taper the sides up to the curve completely around Rhonda’s head. Changing the guide once again, this time to a number one and a half, she repeated the process, but going up only an inch on the sides and two inches in the back. Now she could trim the longish front section to give it the cute little whiff that was visible in the pictures. She trimmed it to a little more than an inch in the middle and made it shorter toward the left, which was the direction that Rhonda’s hair tended to go. With great care she tapered it from front to back so that it blended with the short buzzed hair behind it. Once again she checked how it was going to work and was satisfied. The next to last step was to use comb and scissors to do the final tapering and blending of the three different lengths that she had produced with her clippers. With the skill that resulted for long practice she achieved the desired result in a surprisingly short time. Now it was time to trim around Rhonda ears and clean up her sideburns and nape.

As one last detail to make the style utterly perfect, Kate rubbed a little styling gel into the whiff and made it stand up with a little bend toward the left. She looked at the result from every angle. She thought it looked absolutely wonderful. Rhonda’s blond hair gave the very short cut a look that was simply stunning and amazingly youthful.

“I’ve finished Rhonda. You can wake up now,” Kate told her in a quiet voice. Kate was amazed at Rhonda’s reaction to the process. Kate thought that her eyes had remained closed the entire time. She had not reacted to the feel of the clippers on her head, but yet her head remained erect when needed and moved easily when Kate gently tilted it one way or another. She turned the chair so that it faced the mirror.

“Can I see it now?” Rhonda asked, her voice quiet but alert.

“Of course, as soon as you open your eyes,” Kate replied.

Rhonda seemed to straighten herself and lifted her head. She opened her eyes and slowly lifted them up to look at the mirror and her reflection. The other three women seemed to be holding their breath.

Rhonda brought her hand out from under the cape and felt the short, blond and soft pelt that now covered her head. She turned her head from side to side seeming to examine it critically.

“It’s quite lovely isn’t it? I like how it feels too,” she said as a big smile finally appeared.

The shop erupted in sound as the three women jumped up and started to talk all at once while rushing over to surround her.

“It’s makes you look really beautiful Rhonda,” Sammie finally made herself heard over the hubbub.

You look fantastic,” Iris offered.

Kate had blown off any stray hairs and cleaned up her neck with her edger while Rhonda continued to admire the woman she saw in the mirror. Finally Kate removed the cape.

The three women were standing a few steps away from the chair while they continued to chatter telling each other and Rhonda how great she looked. Doris realized that Rhonda still needed support.

“Come on, I’ll help you,” Doris told her as she took her hand.

Rhonda stood up on the foot rest platform and stepped off onto the floor, a little shakily.

“Rhonda, that was the bravest thing I’ve ever seen – getting this terrific super short haircut after all those years of having it practically waist length. You deserve a big hug.” Doris said putting her words into action. Rhonda hugged her back.

“I was so scared, Doris. I wanted to do it so badly, but I could hardly move or say anything. Thanks for helping me get through it. I really like how I look. It’s funny, but it doesn’t look that much different than it did when I pulled it back into a tight pony tail except for this little part in front. I think I’ll be able to shampoo and dry it a little quicker with it like this,” Rhonda giggled.

“Bridget is going to be speechless when she sees you Rhonda,” Sammie told her.

“Oh my. I forgot all about her. She’s going to get her hair cut on Saturday. Kate, she’s coming here,” Rhonda said excitedly. “You don’t need to call me. She can get it cut any way she wants. In fact I think she would be an adorable cherub if she got it shaved perfectly smooth.”

“I’ll remember that Rhonda. Is she thinking of getting it shaved?” Kate asked.

“Not that I’m aware of, but I’m going to suggest it to her when I see her after their practice today,” Rhonda said.

“Goodness, you have really gotten into this haven’t you Rhonda. You weren’t at the club meeting Sunday. Have you seen the bald girls somewhere?” Doris asked.

“Only Jessie. She lives fairly close and sometimes she rides with Bridget on their way home. Last night Bridget invited her in to show me how cute a bald girl could look. I was really surprised at how she good she looks,” Rhonda told them.

“I like the way Janet looks, but I think Christine and Jessie look the best. Tess looks super too. And of course Melissa is just adorable. Good grief. If I keep talking like this I’ll talk myself into getting my head shaved,” Iris said laughing.

“I think we’re all on the verge of becoming baldies along with Steffie, Jill and April. I expect that both Abby and Paula will join them pretty soon,” Doris suggested.

“Kate, what are you going to do if you lose all your customers because they’ve become baldies and don’t need to get haircuts,” Sammie said jokingly.

“Not to worry. I would still have plenty of new customers coming in for haircuts like the ones you ladies have gotten. Please don’t wear a hat. You’re my best advertisements for new customers. Remember to come back for trims in two or three weeks. You’ll need it if you want to keep sharp looking,” Kate told them.

“Two weeks sounds just right to me. I couldn’t properly enjoy the experience this time. I’ll be able to experience it to the hilt next time, Rhonda responded with a laugh.

“I’d like a two week trim too,” Iris agreed.

“Why don’t we all come back in two weeks. It can be our own little special get together outing,” Doris suggested enthusiastically.

“I like that idea. That will keep us all in touch between the club meetings and up on everything we should know about the kids,” Sammie agreed.

“I think we had better pay Kate and let her get to work on these other customers, Iris said suddenly aware that there were three or maybe four customers waiting. A young Mother with short brown hair tapered around her ears, a few wisps of bangs and a neatly shingled nape was sitting with her daughter, a little girl of about six years with a short pixie cut.

At the end of the row of six chairs, another Mother with a short blond A-line bob sat with her young son who wore an American Indian outfit of sorts and sported a mohawk style haircut. The four friends were at the little counter with the cash drawer getting out their cash or credit cards.

“Be with you in a moment ladies,” Kate said to them as she turned to the blond and her son.

“Hi Angie. Glad to see you and Billy,” Kate spoke to her.

“Well, he’s going by the name of Strong Wolf at the moment. He insisted that he get his mohawk redone. I need a trim myself and his hair will grow out before school starts so I gave in and here we are,” Angie explained.

“Let me take care of these ladies and I’ll get right to it,” Kate told her.

“Tell the blond one that I think her hair cut looks absolutely sensational on her. The others are terrific also,” Angie said.

“Oh, I will. I’ll be right back,” Kate said.

“Here you go Kate. Keep the change. This has been the most amazing experience of my life. I know we all love our new haircuts. I for one am certainly going to keep it short as long as Ellen does. Some day I may be back to have you give me a smooth head shave,” Doris laughed.

“That’s right Kate. We’ll be back in two weeks for sure,” Rhonda echoed her sentiments.

“Thanks for the wonderful experience and a great job,” Sammie told her.

“You’re very welcome. It was a great experience for me too. By the way, Angie, back there, said to tell you your haircuts are terrific, and she thinks yours, Rhonda, is sensational,” Kate told them.

“Rhonda does look sensational. And I never dreamed that doing something to show solidarity with out kids would be such an experience. Now that I’ve done it, it’s going to take something to make me go back to a long hairstyle, say anything over half an inch, ever again,” Iris said in mock seriousness.

They left the shop in high spirits, chatting non-stop about their new haircuts. Neither Iris nor Rhonda seemed to be able to keep their hands off their heads during the drive back to Iris’s house, somewhat to the dismay to the three passengers when she took both hands off the steering wheel. They were exhilarated by the experience and the anticipation of the reactions of their kids and husbands. They would be supporting their emerging swimming stars for all they were worth.

To be continued in Part 21.

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