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Kristi was my very first, true head over heels girlfriend in high school; my first real girlfriend ever, really, where we agreed we were together and felt mushy enough to talk about such things. She was from out of state and her clothes were different, often boyish. She had shaggy brown hair that had grown to her shoulders by the time we got mushy, but I remember when she first showed up at school.

She was smart and sarcastic, and didn’t have any friends as far as you could tell. She aways wore a big sweater like on Starsky and Hutch and one of those depression era caps like newspaper boys would wear. We started talking over coffee and cigarettes in the little diner across from the school. She practically had to beat me over the head that she was more than that, I’m so dense and skeptical in my own skull.

One Tuesday afternoon when we met for coffee, when we had been dating maybe a month and were so incredibly struck with each other it would have made you vomit, she came to our booth upset. It took a while before she’d tell me, but her mother was making her go to the salon for a haircut after school. She cried and said she didn’t want to, but her mother was going to make her to get a short Dorothy Hammil haircut.

I tried to comfort her as best I could but she was sobbing. We went and made out by the dumpster and I told her that I liked short hair. I’m sure she thought I was just still trying to comfort her, and it probably seemed that way. She took it as a joke when I said she should just get a crewcut to teach her mom a lesson, that I thought she’d look great.

Later, by her bus, she cried some more and we kissed and had trouble letting go of each other’s fingers as she got on board. When she got home she was going straight to her haircut.

The next morning at school I was a wreck, I was so excited to see her with short hair. When I walked into the main hall before bell there was a gaggle of girls outside the female bathroom. “He’s here, he’s here,” they all seemed to whisper, and a couple of her friends (she actually had some) ran in to get her.

It seemed like I had to wait forever, buy eventually the door opened and Kristi stepped out. Her shoulder length hair was gone. She had a short, bubble-like bowl cut that came down just to her earlobes and short bangs above her eyebrows where she hadn’t had any before.

“Do you like it?” She looked nervous and sad.

“I love it.” I kissed her full on the mouth and ran my fingers through her new short hair. Her friends clapped and cheered. When I ran my hands up the back of her head I was shocked to discover the hair was not much more than an inch long.

Over the next year and a half, I screwed everything up and we’re not together. That was 30 years ago.

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