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It was my kids who talked me into placing the ad in the personal section of our local alternative newspaper. I always thought that the personals were for losers who couldn’t get dates through normal channels, but the kids were insistent. “Dad, it’s been two years since Mom died,” Billy said. “You need to get out. You know that’s what Mom would have wanted.”

Anna was a petite Italian beauty barely five feet tall. Her fiery personality offset my more phlegmatic disposition. She loved to dance and always sang while working in the kitchen; I enjoyed outdoor sports and puttering around the house on small fix-up projects. Everyone agreed that we were perfectly matched. Her death hit me hard. We had been together for thirty-five years and I couldn’t see myself with another woman. I still slept on my half of the double bed as if I expected her to return any day. Dating seemed like a betrayal of her memory.

But I had to admit that Billy was right. During the last months of her cancer Anna insisted that it was okay with her if I dated again after she was gone. “Carl, I don’t want you sitting home alone,” she would say. “You’ve been a good husband; never gave me cause for complaint. I know you can make another woman very happy and I want you to be happy too.”

Finally my daughter Joanie sat down and helped me write the ad. “Widower 63 seeks active woman who loves outdoors for friendship/companionship. Join me for hiking, biking, canoeing, and skiing.” This basic information was followed by my postal box number.

“That’s not very romantic, Dad,” she told me. “It sounds like you’re looking for a training partner, not a girlfriend.”

“That’s about right,” I answered. “Your mother was the love of my life; I know I won’t find another. I’m looking for a companion-someone who shares my interests, not someone to share my bed.”

“Okay, Dad. Have it your way,” she said, “just as long as you send it in.” I guess she felt like she had accomplished something by persuading me to write the ad. After she was gone I added one more line: “Short hair preferred.” If I was going to take this route I wanted the women reading my ad to know exactly what I was looking for. Anna always kept her hair cut quite short even when every other woman her age wore long hair. She knew it was a big turn on for me. I couldn’t imagine dating a woman with long hair. It wasn’t something that appealed to me.

Three days after the ad appeared the first replies arrived in my post office box. I couldn’t believe how many letters came-nearly fifty in all. Some women enclosed photographs; others wrote long letters describing their personal qualities. Several were divorcees with young kids who wanted me to be a father to their children. A couple said they were good in bed, apparently thinking that I was mainly interested in sex. Mostly they sounded kind of desperate, just like I expected. I never bothered to reply but did renew the ad for two more weeks.

In the third week a letter arrived that caught my eye. “I am fifty-five years old and never have answered a personal ad before,” she wrote. “My marriage ended in divorce ten years ago. I have three grown sons and now live alone except for my golden retriever. I am a lawyer in private practice. When not working I enjoy all of the outdoor activities mentioned in your ad.” She went on to explain that she was interested in “mature companionship,” not necessarily in romance.

She sounded like my kind of woman. I wrote back the next day telling her more about myself. I included my phone number and asked her to call if she was interested in getting together. I didn’t know what to expect, but two days later the phone rang and it was her.

“Hello Carl. This is Eleanor,” she began. Right away I liked the sound of her deep, confident voice. We chatted for nearly half an hour exchanging information about children and careers. I learned that she had traveled to Switzerland for hiking and each winter flew to Wyoming to ski at Jackson Hole. We agreed to meet the following Saturday at a park near her home. “There’s just one more thing you should know,” she said before ending our conversation. “I have long hair. I hope you don’t mind.” I assured her that the length of her hair was not a problem; short hair was my preference, not an absolute requirement. Everything else about Eleanor seemed perfect; I wasn’t going to let my fondness for short haircuts stand in the way of meeting this appealing woman.

I rose early on Saturday morning, nervous as a schoolboy preparing for his first date. I showered, shaved, and fretted over what to wear-the frayed jeans I usually wore hiking seemed too ratty. Because I wanted to make a good first impression, I decided on a freshly ironed pair of khakis and my favorite blue pullover. Onondaga Lake Park where we would meet was half an hour from my home. We had not exchanged photos, so I had no idea what she looked like. “Look for the lady with the golden retriever,” she told me.

Only a few other cars were in sight when I pulled into the parking lot. In the distance I spotted a tall slender woman tossing a stick to an enthusiastic retriever. That must be Eleanor, I thought. She was dressed in slacks and a sweater. Her hair was tucked under a New York Yankees cap; I couldn’t tell how long it was. When we spoke over the phone I had pictured a woman with gray hair, a few wrinkles, and a well padded figure like most of the middle aged women of my acquaintance. Eleanor was none of these things. She was the kind of woman best described as “handsome” in a sort of Katherine Hepburn way. She greeted me with a warm smile and a firm handshake. “Hello, Carl,” she said. “I’d like you to meet Lady.” Her friendly dog leaped up to welcome me.

“We had goldens while my kids were growing up,” I told her. “I always thought they were the best pets to have around children.” Our mutual love of dogs got us off to a good start.

“Lady’s eager to get started,” she said, as she fastened a long leash to the dog’s collar. It was a gorgeous afternoon in mid-October. Many of the leaves had dropped from the trees overhead, creating a carpet of crimson and yellow on the lakeside path we followed. I found it easy to talk with Eleanor. We shared interests in music, books, and sports. I learned that she was named after Eleanor Roosevelt. “Yes,” she laughed, “my folks were big fans of FDR. They hoped I would pursue a career in politics after law school. Instead, I married Ralph and started making babies-three in five years. I don’t think they ever got over that.” I quickly discovered she was a good listener. Although she had a flourishing legal practice specializing in family law, she was more interested in hearing about my publishing business.

She described her ex-husband with a note of bitterness. “Ralph always was the ambitious one. He had big plans. One day he decided that Syracuse was too small for him; he needed room to grow. I didn’t want to move. I had worked too hard to establish my practice and had dozens of clients who depended on me. He asked for a divorce and I gave it to him. It sounds like a cliché, but I guess you could say that the love had gone out of our marriage. The day after the decree became final he moved to California. Within a year he found a trophy wife fifteen years younger. While the boys were in school his support check arrived on the first of each month. Since Robby-he’s my youngest-graduated from Cornell I seldom hear from him-just a note at Christmas, that’s about it.”

It must have been difficult raising three boys without a man around, I observed. “It was hard at first, keeping my office open and riding herd on a trio of active sons. But they were good kids who took on a lot of responsibility for keeping the house in order. Then, one by one, they headed off to college and my life became much calmer. Now that I’m living by myself sometimes I miss the excitement. I guess that’s why I bought Lady.”

After an hour
and a half we returned to the parking lot. “I brought lunch,” she offered. “I hope you’re hungry.” I spread a blanket while Eleanor unpacked the picnic hamper. She had packed ham sandwiches, aged cheddar cheese, crisp apples, and a bottle of Yellow Tail shiraz. Lady frolicked around us as we ate, only too happy to consume the crusts of our sandwiches.

As we drank the last of the wine, she told me how her friends had urged her to begin dating. “‘You’re too young and too attractive to sit home alone every Saturday night,’ they told me. They arranged a few blind dates, but the men turned out to be colossal duds. I had almost given up until I read your ad. It was very straightforward. Most men brag about how handsome, charming, and talented they are. Yours didn’t boast and I liked that.”

“I’m so glad you responded. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you,” I said sincerely.

With that she grew serious. “Carl, I’ve really enjoyed being with you today. I hope we can spend more time together. But there’s something I need to ask.”

“Sure, fire away,” I answered, unsure where she was headed.

“Your ad said `short hair preferred.’ I found that rather curious. Most men, if they have a preference, like women with long hair. Can you tell me why you included that?” she asked.

I felt a little like a witness being cross-examined, but she had raised a valid question; she deserved an answer. “I’m sure that seemed a little strange,” I admitted. “Anna, my late wife, always wore her hair fairly short; my daughter too. I guess I just got used to being around women with short hair.”

“Are you sure there isn’t something else?” she pointedly inquired. It seemed she wasn’t satisfied with my explanation. Perhaps she sensed I wasn’t being completely honest.

“Well,” I hesitated, “this is a little awkward for me.”

“Carl, you don’t have to worry,” she assured me. “In my line of work I hear all kinds of stories. I’ve learned to be non-judgmental.”

Although I had met Eleanor only a few hours earlier, I felt I could trust her with my secret, something I kept hidden from everyone else. “I don’t know why, but there’s something about short hair on a woman that I find very attractive, very sexy,” I confessed. “I`ve been this way for as long as I can remember. Anna understood and had her hair cut in a pixie style soon after we married. Her friends couldn’t understand why she chopped off her dark curly locks. She rationalized her extreme haircut by saying that long hair looked better on tall women, but the real reason she kept her hair short was to please me. When cancer was diagnosed in her cervix she teased me that if her hair fell out in chemotherapy she knew that I wouldn’t lose interest. In fact, she speculated that I probably would find her more appealing as a baldy. No matter how sick she was, she never lost her sense of humor. Unfortunately, her cancer had spread too far. The doctors said chemo wouldn’t help.”

“You must miss her very much,” she said.

“I do. It’s been two years but I still look for her when I come home from work each evening. I hope you don’t think I’m peculiar-about the hair thing, I mean.”

“No, Carl. What you describe is not so strange. Your condition is called a fetish-a strong sexual attachment to some object like shoes or leather-and lots of people have them. Occasionally they get out of control and cause problems, but it sounds like yours is in check. I thought it might be something like that. In case you wondered, I was a psychology major in college,” she explained. “I admire your honesty. I know it’s not easy sharing this with someone you hardly know.”

“Aside from Anna, you’re the only person who knows my little secret,” I confided.

“I’m flattered, Carl,” she said. “I’m glad we can speak frankly. At our age there’s no need for subterfuge.” Then she removed her cap and shook out the thick mane that had been hidden beneath. It tumbled down her shoulders and stopped at the middle of her back. I stared in amazement at the rich tawny brown color; lighter sun bleached streaks appeared completely natural, not the kind that came from a beauty parlor; only a few strands of gray betrayed her age. It was obvious that she lavished a lot of time and effort maintaining its appearance. Not many women of fifty-five could display such a magnificent head of hair. She looked me directly in the eye and asked, “Do you think I’m unattractive, Carl?”

I was unable to restrain my enthusiasm. “I think you’re incredibly beautiful, Eleanor,” I gushed.

“I’m glad to hear that, Carl,” she replied, “because I really like you and hope we can get to know each other better. But before things go any further I need you to promise me one thing.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“I know you like short haired women, but promise that you won’t ask me to cut my hair,” she said. “I hope you can get used to being around someone with long hair.”

“I can do that,” I answered truthfully. Although the prospect of Eleanor’s hair being cut gave me an instant hard on, I knew that I would have to hold my tongue. “I’d like very much to see you again.”

Before going our separate ways we made plans to get together for dinner and a movie the following Saturday. Several times during the week we exchanged late night phone calls. I thought I would never be interested in a woman other than Anna, but Eleanor was intelligent, witty, considerate, and darn good looking. I looked forward to spending time with her. Our relationship quickly deepened. We dated every weekend and in November she invited me to share Thanksgiving dinner with her sons. At Christmas I introduced her to my children. Billy and Joanie were delighted. “See, Dad,” my daughter teased, “that personal ad was a good idea.” I had to agree.

Eleanor’s hair was source of endless fascination. Anna had worn her hair in the same basic style throughout our marriage; with such a short haircut she didn’t have many options. Eleanor seemed to have an endless repertoire of styles. When we hiked she usually wore one thick braid hanging down the middle of her back. A couple of times she sported a pair of braids, one over each shoulder; I teased her saying they made her look like an Indian maiden. When going to a concert or charity benefit she gathered it in an elegant twist. Lounging around the house she often pulled it back into a high pony tail. But I liked it best when she let it flow loose around her shoulders.

On New Year’s Eve Eleanor invited me to spend the night at her house. After toasting the New Year she led me into her bedroom. As we made love I buried my face in her fragrant tresses. When we arose she invited me to brush the tangles from her hair. I made no effort to hide my arousal.

At breakfast she surprised me with a challenging question. “Carl, what would you say if I cut my hair?”

“Eleanor, I thought you said you would never cut your hair,” I exclaimed.

“No, that’s not what I said,” she corrected me. “I told you not to pester me about getting a haircut. But if it’s my idea, that’s another story.” She waited a moment for her words to sink in and then repeated her question. “Well, what would you say?”

“I’d say don’t do it,” I protested. “Your long hair is lovely; it makes you look glamorous and sets you apart from other women. It would be a mistake to cut it.” I thought I would never try to talk a woman out of a haircut, but I didn’t want Eleanor to sacrifice her looks on my account. I didn’t want to make the length of her hair a test of her love for me.

Though the thought of cutting her hair was never far from my mind, there were a couple of compelling reasons to oppose a haircut. First, I was thoroughly enjoying the novel sensation of making love with a long-haired woman. Eleanor was fully aware of the potent erotic stimulant she possessed. I discovered she was much more uninhibited than her conservative business suits and sensible shoes suggested. She was not shy about using her power
to goad me to explosive expressions of my passion. Her favorite position was sitting astride my hips, lowering her head, and slowly dragging her flowing locks across my face and chest. It was a provocation I could not long resist.

Then there was a negative reason. What if she cut her hair and then hated the result? I was confident she would look smashing with shortened locks, but I realized that my judgment was deeply skewed. She might well decide that short hair did not suit her. It would take three or four years to restore her hair to its previous length. I feared that her dismay at a botched haircut would sabotage our blossoming relationship.

“Is that what you really think, Carl?” she continued. “What happened to your fetish?”

“My fetish hasn’t gone away,” I admitted. “It’s still there, but you shouldn’t cut your hair to please me.”

“Carl, if I ever decide to cut my hair, it will be for my own reasons, believe me,” she admonished. “You don’t know what a hassle it can be. When I think of all the hours I’ve spent washing, drying, brushing, and styling my locks, it seems like such a waste. My life would be so much simpler if I had short hair. Besides, I’m sure you’ve noticed those gray hairs that are creeping in. I’d pluck them out if there weren’t so many. There’s nothing glamorous about long gray hair; it looks so witchy.” I was surprised at the vehemence of her complaints. Nothing she had said in the previous months hinted at any dissatisfaction with her hair.

Eleanor said no more about cutting her hair in the following weeks; I assumed that her outburst that morning had been little more than a fleeting expression of frustration. Despite my declaration favoring long hair, I must admit that the thought of her sporting a short haircut was terribly arousing. Nights when I had difficulty falling asleep I masturbated while fantasizing about Eleanor’s head being cropped and her luxuriant locks falling to a beauty salon’s floor.

Then, one Wednesday afternoon in mid-March she called my office. “Carl, can you stop by my house after work this evening?”

Her request was unusual. Normally we stayed in our own worlds during the week and only spent the weekends together. “What’s up?” I asked.

“I have little surprise for you,” she said flirtatiously.

“Sure, I’ll be there around seven,” I replied. I had no idea what this surprise could be. My birthday wasn’t for two months and Eleanor didn’t usually keep secrets.

When I pulled into her driveway I saw that the lights in her living room were turned down low. I rang the bell and heard her call from the back of the house, “Come in, Carl. I’ll be with you in a minute.”

I took a seat on the couch. Soft jazz was playing on the stereo and scented candles burned on the mantle above the fireplace. Whatever her surprise, it was clear that she wanted to create a romantic atmosphere. I could hear Eleanor fussing in her bedroom. After waiting a few minutes I heard her footsteps approaching. “Close your eyes,” she cooed seductively. I did as she said and waited until she stood in front of me. “Okay, you can open now.” I looked up at my lover. “Ta-da,” she said as she playfully tossed her head from side to side. I could hardly believe what I saw. The ends of her hair flew out across her face. The beautiful taffy colored hair that used to hang to the middle of her back now stopped just above her shoulders-more than eighteen inches recently had been removed. It was carefully styled with the ends curled under into a modified page boy look. Instead of being parted down the middle of her head, she now sported a side part with one thick strand draped dramatically across her brow. She looked fantastic.

“Eleanor, you’ve cut your hair,” I gasped. My shock was so great I couldn’t think of anything more intelligent to say.

“Well, what do you think, lover boy?” she teased.

“It looks great, when did you do it?” I asked.

“Just today,” she informed me. “I couldn’t wait to show you.”

“But why?” I stammered, trying to recover my composure.

“I told you, long hair was such a hassle. This style is going to be so much easier to care for. After twenty years I decided it was time for a new look,” she announced proudly. I could tell she was pleased with herself for making such a major change. She obviously expected me to share her happiness.

My response caught her unawares. “I wish you hadn’t,” I said.

“Carl, I don’t understand. I thought you would be thrilled. Isn’t it short enough to satisfy your fetish?” she asked accusatorily.

“No, that’s not it,” I told her. “I love your haircut, I think it looks fantastic. I just wish I had been there to see it happen.”

“What did you say?” she demanded.

“You see, a big part of my fetish is seeing hair being cut,” I explained. “Of course, I love the result, but it would have been far more exciting if I had been there to witness your makeover.”

“Oh honey, if only I had known, I would have been happy to invite you along,” she assured me. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because I didn’t think you really were serious about cutting your hair,” I confided.

“I’m so sorry. If I cut my hair again I’ll be sure to bring you along,” she promised.

I nursed my disappointment for a few days, but it was impossible to stay mad at Eleanor. Besides, she looked so amazing in her new hairstyle. Although she no longer could lash my bare chest with her dangling locks as we made love, she invented new ways to activate my fetish. The most effective technique involved placing her head between my outspread legs and gently stimulating my eager shaft with the blunt cut ends of her silky tresses.

Over the summer our relationship continued to ripen. We saw each other nearly every day and by September we were talking of marriage. “What will our kids think?” she asked.

“I don’t know about your boys, but my kids will be delighted,” I told her. “When Anna realized that her cancer was terminal she told everyone that she wanted me to marry again. She teased me saying that I never would be able to survive eating my own cooking, but I think she was concerned about my happiness. My kids both say I’m much more fun to be around since we started dating. They think you’re really cool. I can’t imagine that they would object.”

Eleanor’s sons also were happy to hear that we were planning to be married. We designed a simple ceremony with only our closest friends and immediate family in attendance. Eleanor made a beautiful January bride with a crown of delicate white flowers decorating her hair and a short dress that showed off her shapely legs.

We headed for Breckenridge, Colorado for a skiing honeymoon. The mountains were buried in a deep blanket of snow and several inches of fresh powder fell each night. For four days we skied from early morning till the lifts closed late in the afternoon. On the fifth day of our stay we decided to sleep in. Both of us were bushed; we needed a break. After breakfast we enjoyed soothing hot stone massages at the spa across the street from our condo. We hadn’t made plans for the afternoon. “What shall we do?” I asked over lunch.

“I noticed some interesting shops in the town,” Eleanor suggested. “Why don’t we go shopping?”

Soon we were headed toward the center of the small resort village. Eleanor found a ski sweater on sale she couldn’t resist and persuaded me to purchase a pair of western boots. She was happily singing a show tune as we walked back to our condo arm in arm. Suddenly she tugged me toward the entrance of a mini-mall. “Let’s look in here,” she suggested; I obediently followed. The shops were full of the usual tourist junk-t-shirts and souvenir coffee mugs, nothing particularly interesting. We quickly reached the back of the mall. The last storefront appeared to be a beauty salon. My bride continued walking toward the entrance.

“Where are you going?” I asked.

“I’d like to check in here for a minute,” she exp

I followed, not really understanding why she was going inside. Her hair looked lovely. It had been trimmed and styled the day before the wedding. Eleanor definitely didn’t need the services of a beautician.

The shop didn’t appear very busy. My bride approached the young blonde receptionist and inquired, “Do you take walk-ins?”

“Yes, we do,” she answered. “Would you like me to see if one of our stylists can take you?”

“Yes, that would be great,” my wife replied eagerly. The receptionist rose and disappeared into the back of the shop.

I turned to my wife. “Eleanor, what are you doing?” I asked.

“Just be quiet, lover boy,” she cooed, pressing her finger on my lips to stifle any further questions.

The receptionist soon returned. “Ashley is finishing up. She’ll be with you in a minute.”

“Wonderful,” Eleanor exclaimed, taking a seat in the small waiting area and pulling me into the chair next to her. She doffed the knit ski cap she was wearing, shook her head, and ran her fingers through her lustrous hair.

“Eleanor, what are you doing?” I repeated.

“I think my hairdo needs a little attention,” she informed me.

“Your hair looks just fine,” I protested.

“You let me be the judge of that,” she retorted.

Before I could say anything else a freshly coifed middle aged woman emerged from the back room accompanied by a beautician in a blue smock.

“Thank you, Ashley,” the matron said, pressing a folded twenty dollar tip into the younger woman’s hand.

Ashley looked to be around thirty. Her medium length brown hair was fashionably streaked with dramatic platinum highlights. She seemed cheerful and pleasant. “See you next month, Mrs. Beardsley,” she called as her client exited the shop. Then she turned to my wife. “Hi, I’m Ashley,” she announced. “You’re next.”

Eleanor rose from her seat. “Is it okay if my husband comes with us?” she inquired.

“Are we doing his and hers haircuts today?” Ashley asked, apparently amused at the prospect.

“No, he’d just like to watch,” Eleanor matter-of-factly informed her.

“I guess that’s okay,” the stylist answered. I could tell this was an unusual request, but the stylist didn’t want to discourage a new customer.

We entered the back room where four stations stood vacant. Eleanor was the only customer. The hair dresser showed us where we could hang our jackets and directed me to a seat in the corner. She led my wife to chair in front of a sink where she proceeded to shampoo Eleanor’s hair. With a white towel wrapped around her head my wife took a seat in front of a large mirror. Ashley began running a comb through Eleanor’s damp locks until her hair hung perfectly straight down to her shoulders. “What are we doing today? A bit of a trim?” they stylist asked.

“No, I’d like to try something different,” my bride announced. This was news to me. She hadn’t given any hint that she was unhappy with her current style.

“So, what did you have in mind?” Ashley inquired.

“Something shorter,” Eleanor said firmly. Was my wife going to get the short haircut I had been dreaming about? My fetish was instantly engaged.

“Any particular style?” the beautician continued.

“I’m not sure,” Eleanor responded. “What would you suggest?”

“Why don’t we look at the style book?” Ashley said, reaching for a thick binder resting on a shelf behind her.

“That sounds like a good idea. Carl, come over here,” she called. “I’d like your opinion.” I rose from my seat and stood looking over her shoulder, hoping that the bulge in my pants was not too conspicuous.

The beautician opened to a picture of a dark haired model wearing a classic chin length bob that would require removing at least four inches from Eleanor’s current hairdo. “This style would look good on you,” she suggested. I grew more excited at the prospect.

“I don’t know,” Eleanor pondered. “I was thinking of something shorter.” Was I hearing her correctly? Was she contemplating a seriously short haircut?

“What about this one?” she asked, pointing to a shaggy style that left the model’s ears half uncovered and an ragged fringe hanging down her neck.

“That’s nice,” she said noncommittally. Ashley saw this wasn’t Eleanor’s choice and continued flipping the pages. Each one showed a woman with a deliciously short style. Any one of them would have satisfied my longing to see her with a very brief hairdo. “Wait. Go back,” my wife commanded.

The page now open showed a striking green eyed model sporting a radically short haircut. Her feathery helmet of red hair was no more than two inches long. Her delicate ears were fully exposed and her neck was bare. A brief fringe framed her face. But the most intriguing part was the crown where a thicket of brief tufts stood up from her scalp, not straight up, but leaning towards one side like they were blown by a strong wind. It was a bold look, one that only a woman with fine features and well shaped ears could pull off. Eleanor peered intently at the photo. “Hmmm. Now that’s what I call a nice haircut,” she exclaimed approvingly. She turned to look at me. “What do you think, Carl? Do you like it?”

I couldn’t believe what she was saying. This wasn’t a tease. My wife had selected the shortest, most daring hairstyle in the entire collection. It was a look that would turn heads and stop traffic. Although my heart pounded at the thought of her submitting to such a radical shearing, I felt it was my duty to object. I didn’t want her blaming me if she was disappointed with the finished cut. “Eleanor, what are you doing? Have you lost your mind? This style is just too short,” I protested. My mind raced. Was this the same woman whose hair reached the middle of her back only ten months before? What had come over her? Why was she doing this?

“No, I don’t think so, Carl,” she said sweetly. “I think it’s just about the right length.” Then she spoke to the stylist. “Ashley, darling, can you give me this yummy haircut? I would be so grateful.” Not only had Eleanor declared her intention to undergo a major transformation, she seemed to be relishing the prospect.

“Um, sure. I guess so,” the young woman answered tentatively. “I mean, if you’re sure this is what you want.” She obviously was reluctant to administer such a radical makeover. I’m sure she never expected Eleanor to select such a short style.

“Yes, my dear. That’s exactly what I want,” she assured her stylist. “What’s more, I believe my husband would love to see me with my hair that length. Isn’t that right, Carl?”

Both women fixed their gaze on me. Eleanor was calling my bluff. She knew that my protest was only for show. My fetish wouldn’t allow me to stop her. She was going to force me to acknowledge that the short haircut she had selected was my choice as well.

“Honey, if that’s what you want, it’s fine with me,” I told her. Ashley looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face. She shrugged as if to say “it’s your funeral” and closed the style book. Against her better judgment she would do as instructed.

“So, Ashley, let’s get to work,” my wife prodded her. “You’ve got a big job ahead of you.”

I took my seat as the young stylist used her comb to select a long strand of damp hair from the top of Eleanor’s head. She held her scissors about two inches above my wife’s scalp. “Go ahead, darling,” Eleanor encouraged her. “It’s okay.” I saw that she was watching my reaction in the mirror. She smiled wickedly and winked as Ashley solemnly closed the blades around the first doomed lock. Now there could be no going back. Eleanor’s bravery was astounding; I only hoped that she would not regret this impulsive action when she came to her senses. I sat back and watched in amazement as the cool beautician systematically cropped my wife’s dangling tresses. In less than five minutes all hair on Eleanor’s crown had been reduced to the same short length. Ashley then turned her attention to the ba
ck and sides of sides of her head, clipping them even shorter than the top. The floor beneath her chair was littered with honey brown clippings just as I had imagined on so many restless nights.

About half way through the shearing Eleanor’s grin faded. Staring straight ahead, she grimly inspected the unfamiliar image that was emerging. The magnitude of the change she had requested now registered on her face. What started out as a lark was turning deadly serious. I thought I saw her blink back a tear. At this point her head was not a pretty sight. The hair that had been silky smooth a few minutes before now was spiky and uneven; tufts of short hair sprouted in all directions; the part down the side of her head was still evident. It looked nothing like the sassy polished style in the book. Ashley stood back to let her customer assess the damage. Still, Eleanor managed a brave front. “Wow, that’s quite a change,” she quipped, but her voice was tentative, no longer cheerful and confident.

“We’re not done yet. Your hair is so thick I’ve got to thin it so it lies properly,” Ashley informed her. The stylist exchanged her scissors for a pair of serrated thinning shears and began attacking Eleanor’s hair again, repeatedly plunging the blades into what remained on top of her head. When she finished the hair was not much shorter, but large clumps clung to the comb she ran across the top of my wife’s head. I could see that she had reduced its thickness nearly by half. Next, she systematically selected short lengths from the crown, measured them between her fingers, and trimmed them to a uniform length. Although this was a big improvement, her image still was a far cry from the sophisticated short haired model whose picture had inspired this haircut. Ashley sensed her customer’s distress. “We’re not done yet,” she assured Eleanor. “I’ll come back to fix the top after I’ve finished the rest.”

Ashley selected a pair of battery powered clippers. Eleanor blanched when she first heard their menacing buzz and began to object. “I just need to neaten up the sides and back,” the stylist assured her. “This won’t take long.” Eleanor sat rigid as Ashley carefully clipped around her ears and down her neck. She had no choice but to see this haircut through to its conclusion. Ashley tapered the back by lifting Eleanor’s hair with her comb and repeatedly running her clippers across its teeth. This was the same technique I had seen my own barber use many times, only now it was my wife’s hair that was being shorn. The stylist worked deliberately, trimming Eleanor’s hair as short as a schoolboy’s-less than an inch at the longest point. My penis throbbed as I observed a fine shower of Eleanor’s hair falling from the blades and coating the white cape covering her shoulders.

Finally Ashley silenced her clippers. Without asking permission, she squirted a large dollop of gel into the palm of her hand and vigorously worked it into Eleanor’s abbreviated locks. My wife never used any styling products on her hair and seemed slightly bewildered by the unexpected massage. “This will make it stand up properly,” the stylist explained. Eleanor’s hair now poked out in all directions-a disheveled look that I found intriguing, but, judging from her scowl, not one that Eleanor approved of.

The stylist then began arranging the shortened hair on top my wife’s head with a round styling brush and blow dryer. She pulled a short fringe around her face to create a soft feathery effect. As Ashley skillfully coaxed each strand into place the promised style began to emerge. My wife’s smile returned when she saw herself beginning to resemble the red headed model in the style book. Her golden brown hair now glistened and bent like a wheat field in a stiff summer breeze. Despite its reduced length this was a very feminine hairstyle. She turned her head to inspect the sides and rubbed her hand over the shortest hairs on the back of her head. Ashley stood with hands on hips, anxiously awaiting the final verdict.

“I never thought I’d see my hair this short,” she proclaimed “but I love it. You’ve done a marvelous job, Ashley.”

“I’m glad you like it,” her stylist replied, greatly relieved to hear her customer’s approval.

“You’ll have to show me how to keep it looking nice,” Eleanor requested. The young beautician eagerly demonstrated styling techniques and suggested alternative looks that Eleanor might try. “Of course, you’ll need to return in four or five weeks for a trim to keep it looking fresh,” she volunteered.

“I won’t be back here any time soon,” Eleanor laughed, “but I think we can find someone in Syracuse to do the job.” The promise of monthly haircuts for my wife was a tantalizing possibility.

Now that the haircut was complete Ashley removed the cape from around Eleanor’s shoulders and dumped a pile of her severed hair to the floor. I tried to be inconspicuous as I reached down and selected one long lock as a souvenir. Eleanor stood up from the chair and said, “Pay her, Carl. And be sure to include a good tip.”

I gladly did as I was told. I complimented Ashley on her excellent scissor work as I placed a fifty dollar bill in her hand. She beamed at us as we left the shop, sensing that her haircut had strengthened the bond between Eleanor and me.

Despite the cold mountain air, Eleanor didn’t don her ski cap as we walked through the gently falling snow toward the condo; she didn’t want to spoil her new hairdo. My bride clung to my arm and snuggled close to my side. “Do you like my new haircut, lover?” she asked like an innocent young schoolgirl. Of course, she knew it was driving me wild.

“I think it’s simply amazing,” I gushed. “And I’m so glad I was there to see the whole thing from beginning to end.”

“Well, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice,” she confided.

“There’s one thing I need to know,” I asked. “Was this a spur of the moment decision or something you had been planning for a while?”

“A little of both,” she confessed. “I’d been thinking about it for several months. When I saw how much you liked that first haircut I knew that eventually I would go shorter. It took a while to decide how short it should be. When we went to a concert or a movie I watched your eyes follow those women with really brief haircuts. I could tell the styles that you found most attractive. I decided that I could be happy with short hair. I wanted it longer for the wedding, but resolved to do it sometime when we were alone together. Originally, I planned to delay until summer, but when I saw that nearly empty beauty shop I decided there was no good reason to wait. Consider it my wedding gift to you.”

I reached out and playfully dusted the snowflakes accumulating on the cropped top of her head. “Won’t you miss your long hair?” I queried.

“Oh, I suppose so,” she said with a sigh. “But we’re starting a new life together and this haircut is a sign of our new beginning.”

At that moment I realized how lucky I was to meet this terrific woman. Eleanor would never replace my dear Anna, but I marveled at my good fortune to find such an understanding and beautiful partner. “You’ll have to get used to me staring at you,” I told her. “I’ll be doing a lot of that.”

“What would you like to do next, lover boy?” she asked provocatively.

“Let’s go back to the condo,” I said. “I need to check out your haircut from a closer angle.”

Eleanor grinned. She knew some passionate lovemaking was ahead. “What are you waiting for, slowpoke?” she called over her shoulder as she skipped ahead of me down the snow covered street.

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