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Me and Cal been married near thirty years now.  His real name is Calvin, but nobody but his mamma ever called him that.  Cal’s been pretty good to me.  We fight now and again like normal folks do, but then we make up and everything’s better.

My name is Sally, by the way.  Everybody calls me Sal.  “Cal and Sal”—that how folks been naming us ever since we started getting serious in high school.

I want to tell you a funny story about what happened with me and Cal, least I think it’s kinda funny.  It started ‘bout three years ago when Bunny, she’s our youngest, got hitched and moved away to Florida where Jake, that’s her husband, is stationed with the Air Force.

Right away Cal and me had more time together—just the two of us alone in our big old house with no younguns under foot, just one good-for-nothing hound dog and he was asleep most the time.  It was like when we was first married, before the kids started coming one after the other.  We’d go eat at Ponderosa on Saturday and sometimes go to the picture show if something good was on.

Well, I thought I ought to start paying more attention to my looks, you know, so I could look real pretty when I was on a date with my beau.  Now Cal, he would never say a word critical of me, he’s not that kinda guy, but I sorta let things go a bit when I was busy raising them kids. 

I’m not the skinny thing I used to be so the first thing I done was to stop eating a dish of ice cream after supper.  It wasn’t long before Cal took notice.  “You on a diet or something, Sal?” he asked one day.  I told him I was trying to lose a few pounds.  He didn’t say nothing, but I could tell he was pleased.

After three or four months you could see the difference.  My jeans hung loose around my middle.  Cal noticed too.  “You better get you some new jeans, gal.  That old pair is about to slide down around your ankles.” Well, there weren’t no danger of that, but I was tickled that he took notice.

Have you seen that show, “The Biggest Loser,” on TV?  Well, I wasn’t near as chubby as some of those big gals, but I said to myself, if they can lose forty-fifty pounds, so can you, Sal.  I started walking and that helped a lot—just down our lane at first, but a little farther each week.  Instead of watching my soap operas I’d go for a long walk.  Sometimes it was two hours before I got back home.

It wasn’t easy, but I done it!  It took a year and a half to get to where I wanted to be.  Had to buy a batch of new clothes too.  I worried that Cal might fuss when he saw the bill, but he weren’t mad at all.  “You go ahead, buy some more pretty things,” he said.  “Then you can give me a fashion show.” Well, you coulda knocked me over with a feather.  I never thought that old tightwad would tell me to go buy new clothes.  That was when I figured that he was paying attention all along; he was just too nice to say anything when I was big and fat.

My girlfriend Angie—she works at the Wal-mart—she’d always been telling me I should wear more makeup.  I never paid her no mind, but now I started thinking maybe Cal would like to see me all dolled up, like when we was going to a movie.  Angie helped me pick out lipstick, rouge, eye liner, and mascara—anything you’d need to make this old face of mine look younger—and she showed me how to put it on right so I don’t look like a painted circus clown.

Sal liked that too.  Said soon I’d be looking like a movie star.  Got real romantic that night; near swept me off my feet.  I felt like I was a teenager again; being courted by that handsome rascal, Calvin McNamara.

Then I got to thinking maybe there was some other things I could do; you know, fan that spark of romance ‘til it burst into flames.  Angie been saying I should do something with my hair, maybe fix it more stylish.  She knows this gal, Roxanne, who works down at the Beauty Barn; that’s where all the rich ladies go.  Angie says she can get me a big discount, like half price. 

So I sneak over there one afternoon when Cal’s hauling a load of cattle to Murfreesboro. Roxanne takes me into her little booth and she tells me, “Gal, we gonna get you looking real fine, just like them rich ladies.”  I never been one of them women what went in big for beauty parlors and such.  When I was growing up we never had money for that.  Mamma would just take her sewing shears and give us girls homemade haircuts when our hair got too long.  Same story after Cal and me got hitched; seemed there was always doctor bills to pay or one of the younguns needing new shoes.  Oh, once and a while I’d see a star singer on TV like Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton and wish my hair looked pretty like that.  But my Cal, bless his heart, he never did complain, not once.

I was kinda nervous, but Roxanne, she just took charge.  First she had her helper, a cute little girl named Debbie, give my hair a real nice shampoo.  I told them I just washed my hair that morning, but they washed it again anyhow; said that’s part of the treatment.  Made me feel kinda silly.  What did I know?

Next Roxanne set me down and cut my hair just a little bit; not near as much as I expected.  Said my hair was real healthy so there weren’t no split ends or nothing. 

Then she got these tiny little rollers and started rolling up my hair real tight against my head.  I said, “Roxy, what you doing to my hair?” And she said, “You hush now Sal.  You’re gonna look like a Nashville star when you walk outta here.” I figured she knew what she was doing, so I just shut my trap and let her work.

Did I ever look silly with all them little rods all over my head, like some outer space monster.  But I didn’t say nothing, ‘cuz who was I to tell Roxy how to do her job? She been doing this since almost forever.  Besides, near as I could tell, all the other ladies was getting the same treatment.

Then she puts this bad smelling stuff on every one of them rods.  Pew, did it stink!  When Roxy seed me turning up my nose she said, “This is the setting lotion.  This is what makes the curls stay in, what makes the perm permanent.” Well, Angie made all the arrangements for me and she never said nothing about me getting a perm. 

Guess she figured that’s what I needed.  But it was too late to stop Roxy now.  I just set there while she finished putting that stinky stuff on my head.

Then she put me under this big old hair dryer and told me to sit there ‘til she come to get me.  I looked at magazines while my head baked.  I wondered how my hair would look when Roxy was done with me.

It was near ‘bout six o’clock before I got home.  I’d been at the beauty parlor for three hours.  I just had a couple minutes to fry up some beans and leftover macaroni before Cal’s truck come up the lane.  I tried to act normal when he come in, just pretended to be washing dishes at the sink.  He takes three steps into the kitchen and stops cold in his tracks.  “Sal, what you done to your hair?” he says, just like that.  I tell him how Angie made the appointment for me at the beauty parlor. “How much you pay them to make you look like that?” he says.  I tell him it was half price—only fifty bucks.  “Well, I guess you can’t get your money back,”
he says before he goes in the other room to watch TV.

Now I love Cal, you should know that, but right then I coulda hit him aside the head with my biggest skillet.  My feelings was going every which way.  I was mad at the big lug I married, sorry for poor old me, and really put out at Angie who talked me into this fool idea in the first place.

Cal didn’t say much at dinner, didn’t say he hated my perm or nothing like that, he just didn’t look at me, like it hurt his eyes to see me.  When we was getting ready for bed I ask him, “You don’t like my new hairdo much, do you?”

He was honest, never told a lie in his life that I know of. He said, “Sal, I wish you’d said something, told me what you was gonna do.  Coulda saved you fifty bucks.  I liked your hair just fine before.  There weren’t no need to make it all curly like that.” I had to go in the bathroom so he wouldn’t see me cry.  I know Cal didn’t mean to be cruel, but I was feeling pretty low then.  Just this once I wish he’d told a little white lie and said how nice I looked.  The worst part was knowing that those darn curls wouldn’t come out.  For better or worse, in this case mostly worse, I was stuck with them.

Cal never said nothing more about my perm, but I noticed right away how he stopped sleeping real close like he used to, just turned on his side so his back was next to me.  He never wanted to make love every night, not even when we was newlyweds, but now we didn’t even do it once a week.  It was like his pecker just went on vacation.  I knew that awful perm was why we stopped making love and I didn’t know what to do.

Angie said he’d get used to it, but I couldn’t wait that long.  I stayed on my diet and lost eight more pounds that summer.  When the weather got hot and sticky my hair got real frizzy and there weren’t much I could do about it.  Most days I pulled it back behind my head.  When I was doing housework I wore an old blue bandana.  I looked in books to see what I could do to make my hair grow faster.

By the time winter rolled around that perm growed out enough so I started thinking I could get my hair cut shorter so it wouldn’t be curly all over but kinda half and half.  I never had short hair in my life, none of the women in my family did.  I didn’t know what Cal would think.  One thing for sure, I didn’t plan to surprise him again.  This time I would get his permission before changing my hairstyle.

It was a Saturday in early December.  Cal had left real early to go turkey hunting.  I fixed ham, sweet potatoes, and cornbread for dinner, all his favorite dishes.  When he come home and smelled what was cooking he asked, “What’s the occasion?” I pretended it weren’t nothing special, but when I pulled out the pecan pie for dessert he knowed I was up to something.

I looked him right in the eye and said, “Honey, I know you don’t like my perm, so I was thinking about getting it cut shorter.  What do you think?”  He didn’t think, not even for a second, he just said right out, “That’s a great idea, Sal.  You should do it soon as you can.” I never thought I would see this good old boy get so excited about a haircut.  That night he made love so strong it made me remember what I’d been missing ever since I come home with my hair all curled. 

Funny how you live with somebody for thirty years and you think you know him pretty good and then you find some big new surprise.  That’s how it was with Cal.  I never knowed how much he cared ‘bout my hair.  Thought he’d be mad at me for wanting a short haircut, but it was the exact opposite.  He couldn’t wait to see me get rid of that perm.

I set the appointment with Roxy on Monday.  She figured it was time for me to get another perm, what with Christmas coming up and all.  I told her this time I wanted a haircut only—no more perms for me.  Said how Cal hated my curly hairdo.  She sounded kinda disappointed, but what was she gonna do? 

Roxy cut my hair so it was up above my shoulders, nearly to my chin.  She called it a bob.  No way I could tie it back any more.  It was still curly on the ends, but at least I didn’t look like Little Orphan Annie any more.  Never had my hair so short in my entire life, but when I saw how I looked in the mirror I thought it looked real nice.  I wondered why I waited so long to get it cut.

I was real nervous waiting for Cal to come home that night.  Hoped he liked this haircut better than the last one.  I stopped him when he came through the door.  “Well, I got my hair cut like you wanted,” I said.  “What d’ya think?” I turned around so he could see how short it was in back.  I could see he was thinking real hard what to say.  “It looks real nice,” he finally said.  For the first time in my life I knowed my man was lying.  Bless him, he didn’t want to hurt my feeling again.

“What’s the matter, Cal?” I asked.  “Why don’t you like it?”

“’Cuz it’s still curly,” he said right out.  “I like your hair straight.  Those curls, they just don’t look natural.”

Now I was getting hot.  “Look, Cal,” I told him, “my hair only grows so fast.  It’s gonna be six months or more before these curls grow out completely.”

Cal seed I was mad at him.  I knowed it was a mistake getting the perm without checking with him.  But now I was doing everything I could to fix that.  He needed to be more understanding.

The next words out of his mouth really floored me.  “You could always cut it shorter,” he told me.  The way he said it, like this wasn’t just a friendly suggestion but almost an order, made me see there still was a lot I didn’t know about my man.

“Just a minute, Mister,” I said to him.  “Did I hear you right?  Did you say you want my hair cut shorter than this?”

“That’s right, Sal,” he said kinda like he was apologizing for insulting me. “I’m not gonna lie to you.  I can’t stand looking at those curls.  I love you, but I hate your hair like that.  This haircut is some better, but not enough to suit me.”

“So what you want me to do?” I demanded.  “You want me to march down to your barbershop and tell old Harry to shave me bald?  Is that what you want?”

Cal looked real shocked.  We had our little spats like most folks do, but I almost never lost my temper.  He could tell I wasn’t happy with his half way apology.

“Look, Sal,” he said, “whatever you want to do is okay with me.  You know how I feel so I’m not going to say no more ‘bout it.”

Most nights I sleep like a rock, but that night I tossed and turned ‘til sunrise, couldn’t get Cal’s words out of my mind.  I went in the bathroom and brushed my hair back, tried to think what I would look like with all my hair cut off.  Ladies in New York City might go around looking like that, but no one in our part of Tennessee did.  I didn’t know what to do.

All week long I thought on what Cal said—“You could always cut it shorter.” I knowed he weren’t gonna be happy ‘til all my perm was gone.  Meantime, our love life was dead again.  I never cared that much how I looked when I was younger, never was a beauty queen spending hours fixing my hair. 
More I thought ‘bout it, the easier it seemed.  I guessed a real short haircut weren’t the worst that could happen.  Cal could crash his truck.  Or I could get cancer like my cousin Betty.  Lots worse things could happen.

Finally I decided.  I’d do what Cal wanted.  Told him I was ready to get my hair cut again, real short like he wanted.  But he had to take me to Nashville.  I couldn’t go back to Roxy at the Beauty Barn.  She‘d think I lost my marbles.  Besides, she probably ain’t much good at real short haircuts.  Harry’s barbershop was out of the question and those are the only places to get your hair cut in our little town.  Nashville was only forty miles away.  I knowed there was some beauty parlor in that big city where I could get a haircut like my husband wanted.

Cal was rarin’ to go.  “You say the word, Sal, and we’ll hit the road,” he told me.

They got a Nashville phone book at the county library and I spent an hour or so looking at ads for beauty parlors.  I spied a place called the Eye Candy Salon.  Real odd name, not the sorta place you’d ever find in our town, but it looked up-to-date.  They might give the kinda haircut Cal wanted for me.  I called and made an appointment with someone named Cassie for the 23rd.  They was pretty busy with Christmas and all, but she found a place for me ‘round four o’clock.  I made sure to ask for good directions ‘cuz every time we go to Nashville seems like we get lost.

That night I told Cal and I could tell he was plenty eager.  “Couldn’t you make it sooner?” he pestered me.  “It’s gonna be your Christmas present,” I sassed him. 

“Don’t want you to see it ahead of time.” That night we made love again.  You didn’t have to be a genius to figure out Cal’s mind was fixed on my haircut coming up.  Funny about men.  You can never tell what’s gonna turn them on.

Morning of the 23rd Cal was up more early than usual busying around the house.  He went out and cleaned his truck real good; spent an hour or more with the vacuum and Windex.  He don’t do that very often so I figured it was special for our trip to the city.  Round one o’clock he said he was set to go.  I said my appointment weren’t ‘til four, but he said what with holiday traffic and all it might take longer.  Lord, I never seen that man so antsy.  I put on my coat, grabbed my bag, and went to the truck just to keep him from worrying me to death.

Didn’t take but an hour to get to Nashville like I expected.  Cal found the Eye Candy shop near the Vanderbilt University real easy.  Directions Cassie give me worked just fine.  Then we drove round the city looking at the holiday lights.  Cal didn’t say much, but then he don’t usually talk a whole lot.  I could tell he was special happy ‘cuz he was whistling with the Christmas songs on the radio.

‘Bout quarter to four Cal pulled up in the Eye Candy parking lot.  There was lotsa fancy cars and SUVs, but ours was the only pickup.  When we walked into the shop he held my hand just like he used to.  He don’t usually do that; guess that was his way of quieting me down ‘cuz I sure was nervous.  Didn’t know how the Eye Candy folks would treat us since we’re country hicks and anybody can tell that a mile away. 

We went to the front desk and told the girl I had an appointment with Cassie.  “She’ll be with you in a few minutes,” she said, real polite.  “Why don’t you take a seat in our waiting area?” She took our coats and brought a cup of coffee for Cal and some tea for me.  “Real nice folks,” Cal said as he looked around the shop.  Like me, he didn’t expect to be treated so good.  This must be how it feels to be rich, I thought.  People treat you right all the time, even if you’re a stranger.

It weren’t no more than ten minutes when a pretty little thing came walking up and set down next to us.  “Hello, Mrs. McNamara, I’m Cassie,” she said.  We shook hands real proper.  She was right perky and good looking with shiny blonde hair that hung just perfect ‘round her face.  Couldn’t a been no more than thirty, same age as Amanda, my oldest.  “And this must be Mr. McNamara,” she said sorta flirty to my husband.  He grabbed her tiny hand in his big paw.  “Just call me Cal,” he said.  Weren’t hard to see that she already had him wrapped round her little finger.

“Now tell me a little bit about yourself,” she said.  Told her I was a housewife, raised six kids and now was taking it sorta easy.  “Guess you could call me semi-retired,” I chuckled.  That was my own little joke I made whenever some snoopy person asked ‘bout my job.

“Your hair looks very nice,” she said to me.  “I can see you had it cut recently.  Why do you want it cut again?”  I looked over at Cal who shot me a look that said I better make up a story ‘cuz he didn’t want Cassie to know he was the one behind my haircut.  “Well, I decided I wanted to get rid of this perm.  I don’t much like this half and half look, if I know what I mean.”

Cassie picked up on that real quick.  “Yes, I know exactly what you mean.  You felt that perm didn’t suit you.”  She stopped for a minute, then got down to the serious business.  “You know, of course, that if I cut off the remainder of the perm your hair is going to be quite short?”  I said that I knowed it and that was okay with me.  “And what style did you have in mind?” she asked.  I had to say she had me stumped there.  Course, I talked with Angie, but she weren’t no help with short hairstyles.  “I figured you could help me pick a style,” I told her.  “Certainly,” she said like she done this all the time.  “We have some style books for just that purpose.  This one has lots of attractive shorter styles.” She opened a big book that looked like an old Sears and Roebuck catalog and started turning the pages.  “Tell me when you see something you like,” she said.  I could tell that Cal was trying real hard to see the pictures from where he set.  “Perhaps your husband would like to join us,” Cassie said, real sweet.  Cal didn’t need no second invite.  He jumped up and set right next to her; me on one side, him on the other, and the book in the middle.

Cassie started turning the pages, slow at first, then faster.  Time to time she would say, “That one looks nice” or “That would look good at you.” Mostly I just looked without saying nothing.  Truth be told, I didn’t see any that I liked much.  They all seemed terrible short.  Just couldn’t see me in any of those haircuts.  Cal didn’t say nothing, but he was watching like a hungry hawk.  Cassie was bout half way through the book when he called out, “There, that one!” There was three pictures on the page, so I couldn’t tell the one made him yell.  “Which one did you like, Mr. McNamara?” Cassie asked him, real polite.  “That one,” he said pointing to the picture of a girl with near ‘bout the shortest haircut we seen so far.  Her ears stood out and in back she was clipped short as a man.  But it was the hair on top of her head that was most unusual.  It weren’t brushed down like the othe
r haircuts, but stood straight up from her head like she stuck her finger in the ‘lectric socket.  “Sal, you’d look mighty fine with your hair like that,” he told me.  I could see why he picked that one.  The girl in the picture looked kinda like me in my younger days; same color medium brown hair, same brown eyes, sorta the same around the mouth.  She was a mighty good looking girl, but it was too much for me to handle.

“Why don’t we keep looking?” Cassie suggested real helpful.  I couldn’t wait for her to turn the page.  She musta seen how nervous I was ‘cuz she started flipping pages real fast after that.  She picked out a couple more styles, but there weren’t none that I liked that much.

After we got to the end of the book Cassie turned to me.  “Well, Mrs. McNamara, you’ve seen them all.  Which one did you like the best?”  I told her that some of them was okay, but none of them was my favorite ‘cuz that was the truth.  Then Cal spoke up.  “Turn back to the one I liked,” he said.  Cassie did like he told her and we all stared at the picture.  “What do you think, Cassie?” I asked.  “Could you picture me in that haircut?”

“You know, I could,” she said, sort of warming up to the idea.  “It would be a radical departure, but yes, you have the right facial features and coloring.  You could pull it off.” I sorta hoped she would say that haircut didn’t suit me at all.  Really didn’t expect her to take Cal’s side.  Now it was two against one.  I had to do something quick.  “Go to page seventy-six. I kinda liked one on that page,” I said.  Cassie flipped the pages ‘til she found the right one.  I pointed to a dark haired girl with a more normal haircut.  It was a good bit longer than the one we just was looking at.  This girl’s ears was mostly covered and she had bangs that reached her eyebrows.  “That is a nice haircut,” Cassie agreed,” but I don’t think it would look good on you; I can’t recommend it.”

Nobody said nothing for a long time.  Finally Cassie said, “Shall we look some more?” I nodded and she brought out another book, not as fat as the first one.  Turned the pages slow so we both could see.  I was looking real hard, hoping to find one I liked.  Cal looked too, but I think he already had his mind made up.  I pointed out a couple on the longer side and he found one or two shorter ones.

When we got to the end of the second book Cassie said, “What are we going to do?” She weren’t pushy or nothing but I could see she was fed up looking at pictures with us.  “Perhaps you need to talk it over and come back tomorrow. I could fit you in early, say around nine o’clock.”

She was being real kind.  We was taking up a lot of her time and she weren’t making any money from us.  Me and Cal both said no at the same time.  He didn’t say nothing else, just looked at me with big puppy dog eyes.  You know, just kinda begging for a favor.  I thought ‘bout all the times he done stuff for me, stuff he didn’t need to be doing.  Like helping Mamma in those last months when she got so sick she couldn’t hardly get outta bed; like after Bunny was born and he had to take care of the other five ‘til I was back on my feet.  There was so many times when he got nothing but my love in return.  Now he wanted one thing from me; one thing that would make him a happy little pup.  How could I say no?

“I think I’ll go with the one Cal likes,” I told my new hair dresser.  There was this big old grin on Cal’s face, like he couldn’t hardly keep from yelling hooray.  But Cassie weren’t so happy.  “Are you sure Mrs. McNamara?” she asked me, real concerned.  “I got the feeling before that you weren’t comfortable with that style.  I don’t want to give you such a radical makeover unless you are absolutely convinced this is the right thing.”

“Yeah, I been thinking on it,” I told her, “thinking real hard.  I never had a haircut like that, not even close.  But that’s what my man wants.  He’s gotta look at me near every minute he’s awake.  I gotta look at me only couple times a day.  If likes me with a real short haircut, I’m gonna like it too.”

“Well, I guess that settles it,” Cassie said, final like.  “Why don’t we get started then?  Mrs. McNamara, I’m going to take you in the back where Sandra will give you a nice shampoo.  Mr. McNamara, you can wait here.  We’ll call you when I’m ready to begin the haircut.” I could see that Cal was real pleased to hear she was gonna let him watch.  He was grinning ear to ear just like our Billy years ago when he spied that shiny red two-wheel bike on Christmas morning.  Come to think of it, Cal was getting his Christmas present, just two days early.

Cassie took me by the hand and started leading me into the back.  “Honey,” I told her when we was away from Cal, “you gotta call me Sal.  All my friends calls me that.  When you say Mrs. McNamara I feel like somebody’s grandma.” Of course, I am a grandma, five time over, I just don’t like feeling like one, at least not yet.

“Of course, Sal,” she said, real friendly.  “I think it’s sweet how you and Mr. McNamara do things together.  I hope my boyfriend still cares about me as Cal does for you when we’re your age.” It was a kind thing for her to say, specially after we done took so much of her time.

The shampoo made me feel like a queen.  Sandra, the hair washing girl, treated me real good.  She wanted to know all ‘bout my kids and Cal.  Guess she saw him looking through the books with me; guess all of them working there was keeping an eye on us.

Sandra wrapped my head in a fluffy white towel and took me back to where Cassie was waiting.  Cal was there too, sitting in a chair near where I was supposed to sit.  Cassie took the towel off my head and dried my hair some more ‘til it was all messy looking and going ever which way.  “Well, why don’t we get started,” she said.  “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.” I thought she was going to comb or brush my hair first, but she just went to work cutting.  She grabbed a piece of my hair, pulled it out from my head, and cut it off so only ‘bout two inches was left.  Thought I was gonna start bawling when I seen how short Cassie was cutting my hair.  It’s one thing to look at a picture of some gal with real short hair; it’s a whole lot different when you’re the one getting your hair chopped off.

I figured I’d feel better if I watched Cal instead.  His eyes was glued to my head like he never, ever seen something so interesting.  Every time Cassie cut another hank of hair his smile got a little bigger.  Couple a times he shifted in his seat like his pants was getting too tight.  I knowed what he was thinking.  Had to smile too ‘cuz I figured what he wanted to do soon as we got home.  Started getting warm myself just thinking ‘bout making love with him.

“How you doing, Sal?”  It was Cassie asking ‘bout me.  “This part won’t take too much longer.” Guess she got worried when I went so quiet.  “I’m fine,” I told her.  “You go ahead and do what you gotta do.”

Well, Cassie kept cutting fast as she could.  She weren’t too careful ‘bout keeping everything the s
ame.  Figured that would come later.  I seen a big pile of my hair on the floor by her feet.  It was a kinda strange feeling, like I was setting there and at the same time I was standing next to Cal watching Cassie cutting my hair almost all off.  Like this haircut was happening to some other lady with brown hair who just kinda favored me.

After a few minutes every bit of long hair was gone from my head.  Not a trace of the perm was left ‘cept what was laying on the floor.  Cassie rubbed her hands over my head.  It sure felt strange with almost no hair left.  I looked pretty strange too with a mess of furry brown hair covering my head, kinda like a shaggy dog.

“Well, what do you think, Sal?  We could leave it like this if you like,” Cassie said.  I knowed she was kidding me so I went along with her joke.  “Better check with my husband, Cassie,” I told her.  “Let’s see what he thinks.”

Cal looked like someone hit him in the gut with a baseball bat.  “That’s not the haircut we picked,” he said.  His smile was gone; now he looked all concerned.  Even though I love the big lug, it’s fun to tease him sometimes.

“Guess you better keep cutting, Cassie,” I told her.  “It’s not short enough to suit my husband.”

For the next part Cassie grabbed a ‘lectric clipper, like the kind you use to groom a poodle.  My second daughter, Becky, she used to work for a vet where she groomed dogs on the side and she showed me how it was done.  Cassie fired up the clippers and started running them ‘round my ears and down the back of my head.  She weren’t cutting my hair as short as Cal’s but it weren’t a whole lot longer either.  Sat real still while she buzzed me, didn’t want to mess up her clipping.  Cal was sitting real still too, kinda like he was watching a magic show.  Guess maybe that’s how it was for him.  Like Cassie was a magician and turning me into a different looking woman was the best magic trick he ever seen.  When Cassie switched off her clippers there was lots of short hairs on the sheet hanging ‘round my shoulders.  The sides of my head looked like the girl in the picture, but the top was still raggedy and rough looking.

Cassie sprayed some water on my head and started working on the top hair with her scissors.  Somebody learned that girl how to cut real good.  She used her comb to pick up my hair and then cut off a little bit at a time.  All I could hear was the clickety, click, click of her scissors while she moved across the top of my head.  She was studying my hair real hard and Cal was studying her like he could never get enough.  Cassie went back and forth, snipping here and there for the longest time.

Before long I could see how it was gonna look.  In the middle she left it longer so it stuck up maybe two and a half inches.  Toward the sides the hair got shorter, maybe an inch or so long, and then shorter still ‘round my ears.  In front there was almost nothing for bangs.  I was quite a sight.

Now Cassie grabbed a different scissors and started poking them into my hair.  “These are thinning shears,”  she said.  “Your hair is so thick I need to thin it out a bit.”  I just sat there while she cut my hair some more and brushed out more short pieces.

At last Cassie stopped with her scissors.  She put a big dab of goo in her palm, rubbed her hands together, then rubbed the stuff into my hair.  “This will help keep your hair standing up.  I’ll give you a tube to take home with you,” she said.  Cassie took her brush and blow dryer and fixed my short hair one last time.  She held up a mirror so I could look real close at my new hairdo. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I looked almost exactly like the girl in the picture.  Course, I was a few years older, but otherwise we matched.  The haircut made me look lots younger, my eyes stood out more, and my ears poked out from the sides of my head.  I looked real cute.  Nobody ever called me cute before, but that was how this haircut made me look.  At last I relaxed a bit.

“It’s a good look for you,” Cassie said.  “I hope you like it.”

“You done fine,” I told her.  “I look just like that girl in the picture.”  Cal didn’t need to say nothing.  He was ‘bout ready to burst with happiness.

Cassie took the sheet off me, but put a hand on my shoulder.  “Sal, I think you need some new makeup to go with your charming new hairdo.  I’m going to call on Beverly, our cosmetics specialist, who will show you how to enhance your features.  There’s no extra charge for this service.” 

Cal went with Cassie to the front desk where he paid for my haircut.  I joined him after Beverly was done making up my face.  “You look beautiful and very sexy,” he told me with a wicked wink.  I don’t think he ever called me beautiful in the thirty-two years we been together.

“How much did it cost?” I asked.

“Can you believe it was fifty bucks for your haircut?” he said.  “I could get four haircuts for that price, but it sure was worth it.”

I didn’t have the heart to tell Cal that usually a haircut in a place like this costs a hundred bucks or more.  I think Cassie give us a special Christmas gift.  “I hope you gave Cassie a nice tip,” I added.

“Yep, ten buck extra.  She sure was nice.”

We went back to the truck and started for home.  All the kids was coming tomorrow and I still had a ton of baking to do.  But we never got home that night.  Cal pulled off the Interstate soon after we crossed the Cumberland River and stopped at a Motel Six.  I didn’t have to ask what was on his mind; it was written all over his face.  Nothing I could say was gonna stop him.

Cal was a tiger in bed that night.  He kept petting my hair and saying how I looked good enough to eat.  Every time I thought he had enough, he’d start up again.  Finally I told him, “Whoa now, Cal.  You settle down and go to sleep.  Set the alarm for six.  We both got a lotta work to do tomorrow.  It’s gonna be Christmas Eve, you know.”

“Sure, I know that,” he said.  “I just got the best Christmas present ever from my sexy short-haired sweetheart.” 

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