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Mary and Alan moved to rural Mississippi from Minnesota to take care of Mary’s father who did not have much longer to live. They bought an older home that, together, they would fix up and sell to make money while they were away from their real jobs. Alan worked as a carpenter, and Mary worked as a manager of a hair salon. They moved down in early May and as Mary’s father was only given at most six months to live planned on moving back by the New Year. Alan was enjoying himself remodeling the farm house; it was something he had always wanted to do. And Mary was happy to get away from the hustle and bustle of the Twin Cities and managing her salon, and do something she’d never done before.

In the middle of June a heat wave struck Mississippi. Temperatures reached into the low 100s during the day and never dropped below 80 at night. While Minnesota does get really warm in the summer time, it had nothing on this. The humidity was oppressive. Alan was working on the roof when the heat came. He thought about working indoors but there was no air-conditioning, making it almost as how inside as it was out, so he opted to finish the roof. Mary noticed the extreme heat while working inside as well. It was hard to find ways to beat the heat. Alan took to working without his shirt. And Mary would put her long hair up in a ponytail. Lots of water helped too.

Mary was painting on of the bedrooms when Alan came in for lunch on afternoon. “This heat is ridiculous,” he said refilling his water bottles. “I don’t know how much more I can handle.” His hair was soaked and the sweat dripped onto the countertop. “Maybe if I got rid of some of this hair, it would help. Could you cut my hair for me, babe?”

“Sure. No problem. Let me get my supplies.” Said Mary and she went into the bathroom to get her scissors and clippers. Mary had cut Alan’s hair for years. One of his friends had recommended her and they hit it off from there.

When Mary came back from the other room Alan had placed a kitchen chair in the middle of the room and was looking at himself in a mirror in the living room, playing with his hair. Alan had cut his hair the same since high school: short on the sides and the back, and a little longer on top.

“Alright, I’m ready for you,” Mary said plugging in her clippers.

“Would you mind if I cut all my hair off?” Alan asked walking over and sitting down in the chair.

“What do you mean?” Mary said unsure, “Shave your head?”

“Well, yeah I guess. It’s so hot out there I don’t know if anything else will do.”

Mary thought for a second and said, “Yeah, sure I don’t mind doing it, just so long as you don’t get mad at me when it’s not there.” So, she took off the guard she had placed on the clippers and turned them on.

They buzzed loudly for a second then calmed down. Mary moved toward Alan’s chair and tilted his head down. She slowly pushed the clippers up into his brown hair shaving it off completely. The clippers left a path of pale scalp in their wake. She stopped at the crown of his head and went back down to the nape and made another path upward. Each swipe up the back of Alan’s head removed a good 3 inches of hair, as he had not had his hair cut in some time.

When she had completed half of the back of his head Alan asked, “How does it look?”

“It looks bald.” Mary replied. When she finished the back of his head, she turned her attention to the top. She pushed the clippers back through his hair removing a good 5 inches of length. She finished the top of his head quickly then shaved the sides of his head and around his ears.

“Wow that was a lot of hair!” Alan said getting up.

“Yeah it was. The most I’ve ever cut off you.” Mary said smiling.

Alan thanked her and went back to work outside, while Mary cleaned up the hair.

At dinner she asked him how he felt. Alan said much better without all that hair. The next morning after Alan got out of the shower he told Mary the water felt strange on his head, but that he was sure it would be a lot cooler outside today.

For Alan it was, but for Mary it wasn’t. She didn’t think she could last another day in this heat. Three days later it was still extremely hot out and Mary was reaching her breaking point. At supper that day, Alan came in and Mary looked at his bald head intently. She knew he was cool and she wanted to be too.

“Hey, Alan, can I ask you something?”

“Yeah, anything.”

Mary launched into it, “Would you mind if I were to shave my head too. I mean, it looks like it would be so much cooler in this heat. And besides, I don’t know anyone down here except you and dad, so no one would care what I look like. I’m just going crazy in this heat.”

“Sure, if you really want to. It is a lot cooler without all my hair, you’d be cooler too.”

“Okay. I will do it then.” Mary went back into the bathroom to get the clippers and she came back to the kitchen.” Alan was watching the news when she returned to the living room. She set up the chair in the kitchen and plugged in the clippers. “Alan, I am ready.”

“What?” he asked confused.

“I’m ready for you to cut my hair.”

“Me? He asked, “I thought you would do it yourself.”

“No, I can’t see it well enough to do a good job. I need you to do it for me.”

Alan stood up reluctantly. “I don’t know how. I’ve never done this before. What if I screw it up?”

“There’s not much to mess up Alan.” She took off her shirt and sat down in the chair.

Alan took up the clippers and looked them over and turned them on. The clippers roared to life and made Mary jump a little bit. She’d never been in the chair when the clippers turned on before; she had always been the one using them. “So, how do I do this?” Alan asked.

“Just start at the top and work your way down.” Mary told him. “Make sure you get everything.”

So, Alan brought the clippers to the front of Mary’s head and slowly pulled the clippers back through Mary’s hair. 20 inches of strawberry blonde hair slide into Mary’s lap and onto the floor. She now had a completely bald path from the front to the back. Alan started at the front again, and another 20 inches of hair slid down and onto the floor.

“I can feel the breeze.” Mary joked.

When he finished the top he started shaving on the side, going up from the sideburn to where he had ended on the top, and then over the ear and to the rest of the left side. When Alan started the back some of the hair fell down Mary’s back, tickling her. But she thought it felt good. And she was happy when it happened again. When Alan finished her haircut, Mary stood up in the mountain of hair that was on the floor.

“Wow that was a lot of hair.” She said. Mary went into the bathroom to look at her completely bald head. And she couldn’t stop rubbing it.

The extreme heat was much easier to survive now that they both were totally bald.

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