“I just have the worst hair, Ellie. Sometimes I wish I had the guts to go for your hairdo.”
The woman with the long curly hair was speaking to a trim, sharp-featured woman in a chic black suit. She had an attentive, fox-like look about her, which was accentuated by her short, military-style crewcut. She was also on her third martini of that Friday afternoon.
“Well, Millie, to tell the truth, I really don’t have any choice in the matter. I’ve got really bad hair.”
Millie shook her long curls in disbelief. “It can’t possibly be worse than this mop. Some parts curly, some parts straight. It takes me….”
“No, Mil,” the crewcut woman interrupted. “I don’t mean I have hard to manage or ugly hair. I could live with that and do the curler thing or the perm thing. Whatever. I have bad hair – as in evil, malicious, homicidal hair.”
“Huh?” The martinis had hit Millie hard, but her interest was piqued.
“Long story. Wanna hear it?”
“OK. Once upon a time, a few months after I was born, my folks had this big christening party for me. It was a big deal. All the relatives were invited, from all over the place. All except a crazy old great-aunt from the “old country”. I forget where. Doesn’t matter. So everyone is bringing up presents and laying them by me in the bassinet when all of a sudden, crazy ole great-aunt Elspeth crashes the party. ‘So,’ she says, ‘am I not part of this family anymore? All this you do without me? A curse on you all. And here is my gift: a special curse on the baby girl – may she be the death of every man she ever loves.’ Or something like that. Then boom, she’s gone.”
“Leaves the party?”
“No. Dead. Massive coronary, right on the spot. The curses she spat out were her dying words.”
“So then, my great-grandma, who must have been around 150 years old at the time and hadn’t even spoken in 12 years or so, stands up from her wheelchair. “Hear me,” she croaked. “I have not given my gift yet. And while the curse just spoken cannot be lifted completely, my gift is that only that part of this girl that she least needs will pose a danger to the men in her life.” And with that, great-grandma sits back down and never speaks again in the six months or so of life left to her.”
“What did she mean?”
“Well, for years, no one knew. And actually, the whole ugly episode was pretty much forgotten. Nothing unusual happened to me. I had a normal childhood. Went to school. Went on dates. Went off to college. Nothing at all out of the ordinary. Until I got engaged for the first time.”
“That was Ken, right? You never really explained why you broke up.”
The crewcut woman took a sip of warm martini. Then she stared at the glass for a few moments before speaking.
“Everything was great with Ken. We were making the wedding plans. I had given up my apartment. I had moved all my stuff into his place. We had a special night planned for our first night together living there as a couple. Candlelight dinner. Champagne. It was perfect. Then off to bed together and absolutely amazing sex. It was colossal. I had never felt that way before. We were doing it a second time when he buried his hands in my hair and kissed me. I just melted inside. My hair was really really long and thick back then. In fact, I don’t think I had ever had a real haircut. Just split-end trimming. As the waves of pleasure were just rolling over me, I thought I felt Ken tugging at my hair. It didn’t hurt. But it felt like really strong pulling. And he had stopped moving on me and was making funny sounds. So I opened my eyes, and there’s Ken on top of me with my hair wrapped around his neck. He was all red in the face and gurgling and looked like he was choking himself with my hair. ‘Stop kidding around, Ken’, I said. I was a little pissed at his joking around in the middle of my orgasm, you know. But he kept getting redder and redder and looked like he was in real pain. Then a crazy thought occurred to me: he wasn’t choking himself with my hair. My hair was choking him. So I reach over to my sewing basket and grab a pair of scissors – which wasn’t easy with Ken attached to my head like that. And I start hacking away at my hair. Snip, snip, crunch, crunch. Bear in mind that I loved – absolutely loved – my long hair. But at the time, I just cut away cause I knew it was my hair or Ken.
“Finally, I’ve cut it all off to a little below my ears. Ken starts breathing again and wheezing. He gets up off the bed, throws my cut-off hair in my face, says ‘Crazy bitch’ and walks out the door. Next morning, he tells me the engagement is off and to get the fuck out of his house. So much for fiancé number one.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“About which part? Ken kicking me out or my hair trying to kill him?”
“Both I guess.”
“Well, both parts are true. And next day, I’m off to the salon to get a nice bob. I’d never had short hair of any kind before then. So I was a little scared as the stylist was snipping around my ears. I almost lost it when she cleaned up my nape with the electric clippers. But there was nothing else I could do with it then. And life went on.”
“What happened with the bob?”
“Bob happened with the bob – my second fiancé. Bob and I were together for about 10 months before he proposed. We were out in the country having a picnic. It was a beautiful late spring afternoon. We did a little slap-and-tickle under our clothes on the picnic blanket. As we were unpacking the basket to have lunch, he said oops, he forgot the Special Ingredient. And he handed me a little tupperware container. Inside was an engagement ring. It was beautiful. The moment was beautiful. It was a great day. I was so in love with him. Later, I was driving us home down a fairly steep, winding mountain road. My hair blew into my eyes. I pushed it away. It blew in my eyes again. Then I realized the windows weren’t open and there was nothing to make it blow in my eyes. Just then my hair totally covered both my eyes. I tried to get it out, but the faster I pushed, the faster it sprung back, blinding me. I couldn’t see a thing, and I’m trying to drive down this road. Bob is yelling at this point, I’m trying to get my foot on the brakes and I’m totally blinded. Then a lock of hair wraps around the steering wheel and starts yanking left toward the guardrail and oncoming traffic. Bob is really hysterical at this point, but I finally get the car stopped – dead in the middle of the road, with huge trucks barreling around us every few minutes. Bob is out of the car before I can untangle my hair from the wheel and is practically pissing his pants. I try to explain, but he’s calling me a fucking psycho, a loony bitch, every name in the book. He grabbed back the engagement ring and stalked off. That was the last I ever saw of him.
“A few days later I’m explaining to my mother why Bob and I aren’t seeing each other any more. And she kinda stares at me for a few minutes and then proceeds to tell me the story of the christening party, complete with curse and counter-curse. I don’t get it, of course, but she runs her hand through my hair and says, “Your hair – it’s the part of your body that you need least.”
I pooh-poohed it of course. I was a reasonable person. And I sure liked my bob. But I began to notice that when I’d be talking to a cute guy, my hair would start shifting around on its own. It started to happen more and more, and I could see the guys beginning to notice it too. It became a real distraction. One day, I was talking to a guy from accounting on the way to the E train. We were near the top of the stairs to go down and I think he was just about to ask me out when my hair flops in my eyes again, I stumble a little and almost send the guy down two flights of concrete steps.
“That was enough for me. As I was walking home, I passed a guys’ barbershop. Fuck it, I said to myself, and went in. There was a pungent, hospital-like smell in the air there. I sat and waited my turn and read a magazine. After about 10 minutes, I got the nod from one of the barbers and sat in the leather-bound chair. It was hard and slippery but comfortable. He asked me if I wanted a trim, and I said no, I want a new style – something short and boyish. That seemed to be enough for him, cause he grabbed his scissors and started to cut my hair dry. It was as though I could feel the individual strands of hair being sheared by the blades. Chunks of hair were hitting my shoulders as he grabbed whole big sections of hair in his fingers. This wasn’t my usual precision cut. Then I felt the comb digging in at my nape and felt the scissors snipping away at the hair at the back of my neck. Snip, snip, up the back. I confess, I liked the feel. It was rough and gentle at the same time. I didn’t want it to stop. When it did, I was a little disappointed. But only for a second or so. Then there was this “Pop” sound and a low hum. And I felt electric clippers running up my neck and could feel a whole layer of hair being lifted off my head and heard it being tossed to the floor. Then another run of the clippers and not just on my neck. Up the back of my head they went, almost to the top. Cut-off hair plopped onto the cape around my shoulders. The clippers moved to the sides of my head, buzzing away around my ears. When the chair got turned toward the mirror, I was in shock. No hair around the sides of my head, and a shock of blond hair on top. But not for long. Next thing I knew, the comb was working through the hair on my crown and the clippers were skimming over the top of the comb. Hair poured in front of my eyes. Comb down, comb up, clippers over comb. It seemed to go on forever – and I wanted it to. But finally, the barber was done. He smeared his hands with some goo and shaped my hair into a schoolboy’s ‘do – longer pompadour in front, short hair barely stuck down on top and shorn close sides and back. Oh yeah, then I hear this motor sound and feel something hot and mushy on my neck and around my ears. Hot lather. And he picks up a straight razor and starts to shave my neck and around my ears with a big flourish. Scrape, scrape. Again, I was scared silly, but I loved the feel of the metal on my bare skin and the scraping sound and ever so gentle tug of the blade.
“Then I was done.
“I kept my boyish cut fresh at the barbers every three weeks or so. Even bought an electric clipper set to shave down my hairline in back. It was a good system.”
“So why did you decide to go shorter?”
“Ron. Ron was the reason. We were one of those hot flash romances. Took to each other immediately. Couldn’t keep our hands off each other. Within 3 weeks we were talking marriage. So one night, we’re doing it hot and heavy. It was one of those great nights of sex and romance and starlight. The whole deal. I’m on top of him and he’s in me and we’re like glued together. As I tried to shift positions a little, it’s like we’re REALLY glued together. I couldn’t get my face apart from his and our hips were just locked completely together. My hair – at least the longer hair in front – had entangled itself with his hair and our pubic hair was just stuck together like velcro. We were stuck, face to face, loin to loin. He groaned when his hair was tugged and then started to complain as my head was pulled harder and harder into his face. ‘Ow, you’re hurting me,’ he said. But there was nothing I could do. My hair was wrapping onto his tighter and tighter and screwing my head into his face like a vice squeezing closed. ‘Stop, please.’ But I couldn’t. It hurt me too, but my skull was pressing into his nose and lips. Finally, he could only mutter ‘Hurts’ and tried to push me off him. I think I heard his nose break and I felt something warm on my face – his blood I think. I pulled, he pushed and finally in a panic, I heard this ripping sound and Ron screaming. I had a chunk of his hair hanging from the front of my head and a whole shock of his pubic hair tangled in mine. His nose was bleeding like crazy. All he could come up with was ‘Stay the fuck away from me’ as he gathered up his clothes.
“After he was gone, I just lay on the bed for a while, picking his hairs out of mine. Then I took a shower to get his blood off me. Then I saw the clippers. I was tired of it all. My hair was ruining my life. And great-grandma was right – it was the part of me that I could do without. So I picked up the clippers, slapped on a guard and popped the switch. I felt the vibration all the way down my arm. I leaned over to the mirror and pushed the blades into my (and still some of Ron’s) hair in front. BZZZ. The clippers just erased a chunk of pompadour to 1/4” stubble in half a second. The buzzed-off hair tumbled into the sink. I ran the blades up and through in a long sweep, then started again at the hairline. BZZZ. Another patch of hair disappeared and a fresh path of stubble ran onto my scalp. I loved the look of the even, sheared hair. Back and forth I went, hair falling everywhere. I reached behind and did my nape. At first, it felt clumsy and there was no grinding sound above the hum – my hair was too short there. But as I pushed up, the pleasant mowing sound kicked in and I felt a snowstorm of small hairs on my back. Once I had clear cut all the longer growth down, I went over my whole head again, running the clippers back and forth and back and forth, clipping every evil hair down. When I was done, I ran my hands over my shorn head and felt the fur left behind. I was hooked on crewcuts.
“Then I popped the clippers on again, pulled off the blade-guard and made short work of my cunny hair. A whole nest of dark blond hair just peeled off and floated to the floor. Then I went over myself back and forth and shaved down to the barest stubble. I loved the sandpapery feel of my skin there and how it rasped against my fingers. I jammed the clippers all around my delicate parts as gently and firmly as I could. Finally, I was clipper-shaved as close as I could be.
“Then, for good measure, I lathered up my underarms – one after the other – and shaved them clean. I was pretty smooth there to begin with, but I wanted every hair gone. I shaved my legs, I shaved my thighs, I shaved everything from the neck down. I was in a hair frenzy. I would have shaved my head too, but I realized I had to go to work the next day, and a boot-camp crewcut was going to be hard enough to explain.”
“What did you tell people?”
“Just that a hair coloring job had gone real bad and a butch haircut was the only option. No big deal. I got lots of compliments. And some guys really like it. I mean really like it.”
“Just like Jim.”
“Have you set a date yet?”
“No. But it’ll be soon. It’s a first marriage for both of us, and we’re not kids anymore.”
“And the hair problem is gone?”
“Practically. When we’re together, I feel the short hairs shifting around sometimes all over my head and up and down my nape. It kinda tickles and the hair is too short for anyone else to notice. And when we make love, my whole area down there is moving and grabbing and scratching against him. It makes for fantastic sex.”
“And how is he about your hair?”
“Well, every Friday night is haircut night. I get a very nice clipping and shaving. And Jim gets a little trim and a special shave himself. And then we celebrate another great haircut with really hot, sweaty sex.”
“So, I think we’ll live happily ever after. Waiter! Check please.”