Debbie and Claire by Bigtone
Claire and Debbie co-owned a unisex salon near Manchester in Northern England. They had known each other since school but were both now 25, having opened the salon 18 months earlier. Debbie had previously worked for a large chain of salons, progressing as far as senior stylist. Claire had run her own barber shop further down the road from the new salon, but found there wasn’t a great deal of profit in quick men’s haircuts, even though she was deft with the clippers and so sold it on and joined Debbie in her new venture.
Things were going really well with the salon and it was getting a good reputation in the local area for high quality service at reasonable prices. The budget had even stretched to hiring a young assistant, Melissa, to make drinks, sweep up and shampoo. They had a lot of regular customers and business was pretty good. One Wednesday afternoon, they both had a spare hour and a half and were just talking about life in general and also the salon. They were the best of friends and spent a lot of time together outside of work, but Debbie always believed that she was a slightly better stylist than Claire and wasn’t afraid to hint at that regularly, almost belittling her skills as she’d only previously been a barber though she was just as fully qualified as Debbie. Claire wasn’t easily bothered and usually let it slide as she knew that Debbie didn’t mean anything by it, she was just generally very confident and wasn’t really arrogant.
That same afternoon, a pair of beautiful identical twins with gorgeous long brown hair gingerly walked through the door. Claire looked up and greeted the first one through the door.
“Hi there, can we help you?” she said.
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The girl replied nervously, “I’m, I’m not sure – we would like our hair cut but maybe you’re busy and we should come back later. What appointments do you have for the next few days?” almost trying to back out from the haircut – it had obviously taken some courage to get this far, and Debbie wasn’t going to let them off the hook that easily!
She jumped up and said, “No problem at all, we’d be very happy to fit you in – luckily, we both have over an hour each spare now. What are your names?”
“Rebecca and Lisa,” came the reply.
Before the twins had time to back out, their jackets had been taken from them and Melissa was leading Rebecca to the washbasins to have her hair washed. Melissa wasn’t very experienced, but she certainly knew how to spot a nervous client. She took extra time to make Rebecca feel relaxed and gave her a long scalp massage, which helped a lot. In the meantime, Lisa was sitting down waiting for her hair wash, looking incredibly nervous. Claire tried to put her at ease by sitting her in the cutting chair and brushing through her silky mid-back hair. Melissa signalled over to Lisa that she was nearly finished with Rebecca, and Lisa made her way over to the washbasins to get ready for her wash and scalp massage. Just before Rebecca came to Debbie’s chair, Debbie whispered over to Claire: “How about we have a little competition – whoever cuts most hair off their client wins and the other buys dinner tonight?” Not wishing to seem like she was intimidated by Debbie’s hairdressing skills, Claire agreed.
The way the salon was laid out, Debbie’s cutting chair was near the door, the washbasins were centrally located on the wall, and Claire’s cutting chair was toward the back of the salon. This meant that they couldn’t really see each other during the cuts, nor could they really hear what was being said at the other station.
Rebecca made her way to Debbie’s station and Debbie had decided not to start any of the cutting until Lisa was sitting down in Claire’s chair. Instead she gave her a very long consultation, complimenting her on her beautiful hair and combing through it. She ran her fingers through her hair to judge the texture and lie of it and was composing ideas in her mind. She asked Rebecca how she had envisaged having her hair. Rebecca wasn’t really sure, but she knew she didn’t want too much to be cut off. In the meantime, Melissa had finished and Lisa was just taking her seat at Claire’s station.
Debbie thought to herself “go for it!” and came straight out with a suggestion for Rebecca to have a big haircut. She said, “Aren’t you tired of looking exactly the same as your sister? Your features would look fantastic with a shorter style, and it would be a great surprise for your sister.” Rebecca wasn’t at all sure and said that she’d prefer just an inch or two off. Debbie wasn’t going to leave it there and started playing with her hair as if she hadn’t heard Rebecca. “Maybe up to chin level, how about a nice bob?” Rebecca was feeling under pressure and said that she really would need to think about it before chopping off all her hair. Debbie tried to reassure her and said, “a lot of clients with longer hair are reluctant to cut it all off at once, so how about we do it in stages, and you can stop whenever you feel it’s short enough?” Rebecca reluctantly agreed, and meanwhile Debbie had a smile on her face, planning what Claire was going to buy her in the restaurant that night!
In the meantime, Claire’s consultation with Lisa wasn’t going too well, in that she was adamant that she only wanted an inch trimmed off the ends. Claire had a last throw of the dice and said that her hair was beautiful, but needed 2-3 inches cut off at least to remove the split ends, but was really thinking more like 4 inches would be cut off! She pointed out that this would make all the hair look more healthy and shiny. Lisa took a deep breath and agreed, but no more than about two and a half inches. Claire was now thinking that she might have got a free meal and wondered how Debbie was doing…
Debbie was just about to make the first snip. “Trust me, I know what I’m doing, and you’ll look even more beautiful” she said as she chopped off the first 6 inches of Rebecca’s pride and joy. Rebecca winced as the second snip was done, wondering how she’d been talked into such a haircut. Within 2-3 minutes, there was a growing pile of shiny, soft brown hair on the floor. “Congratulations! You’ve been so brave when I made the first snip, so now I just need to take it a little higher for you as it will really bring out those cheekbones,” said Debbie, not knowing how well Claire was doing with her “victim” and so making sure she cut off as much as possible of Rebecca’s hair. Rebecca really just wanted the haircut to end there and then, but couldn’t get the words out to tell Debbie to stop. SNIIIPPP! SNNNIPPPP! Another 5 inches of luxurious hair fell to the floor. Rebecca’s flowing mane was now just below her shoulders.
“What do you think so far?” said Debbie. “A great look now, but we can make it even better if you’re still feeling as brave as you have been so far…?”
Rebecca said, “Maybe just another inch or two, but not too short…please?”
Debbie couldn’t believe her luck – the client wanting only a trim earlier had lost nearly a foot of hair and had just given her permission to continue the shearing. She took another few inches off, and left the length just below the chin. The cut looked fabulous and really suited Rebecca. Debbie wanted to prove a point and get a free meal, but there’s no way she’d let a client leave her salon with a look that didn’t suit her. Still having no idea how Claire was doing, Debbie tried to push her luck just a little too far. She pointed to the wall and said, “That’s a pixie cut – I think you’d have no problem carrying it off – what do you think?”
Rebecca paused. Debbie couldn’t believe that she was even thinking about it! Rebecca said, “No, I think that’s enough hair to get cut off in one day considering I only wanted a trim! I do love what you’ve done, but I’ll be crying myself to sleep tonight when I realise what’s happened. Maybe sometime in the future though!”
Debbie decided to quit while she was ahead and did the finishing touches to Rebecca’s style, just trimming the last few bits and blow-drying it. The result was absolutely stunning, and Rebecca looked sensational. “I wonder what my sister will say?” she said.
Claire had been busily cutting away at Lisa’s hair. Lisa was adamant that she didn’t want more than two and a half inches cut off, but with hairdresser’s measurements being loose at best, Claire thought she could get away with about 4 inches so that’s what she cut. She was nearly finished with the haircut and suggested that Lisa go “just a little shorter”. Lisa had decided that was not what she wanted and politely declined her offer. “It’s great how it is, but no more cut off please – I love my long hair and would really miss it if it was all cut off.” Claire respected her client’s wishes and began to complete the style.
As the style was being completed, Debbie and the newly-chopped Rebecca walked over to Claire’s station. “Wow! That’s amazing, sis!” said Lisa, amazed at Rebecca’s haircut. “At least nobody will confuse us with each other again!” she said. Claire looked up and her heart sank – she knew the contest was lost and prepared herself for an expensive evening. Claire finished up with Lisa’s hair, which also looked beautiful, but not quite as striking as her sister’s new style. The twins paid for their hairstyles and left the salon very happy with their revised looks.
As they left the salon, Debbie said the inevitable to Claire: “Juliano’s tonight then?” That was their favourite restaurant, but they didn’t go there too often as it was quite expensive.
“Yes, I suppose you’ve earned it!” said Claire.
Later that evening, the stylists were enjoying their meal. “You know what?” said Debbie. Claire looked up, taking her eyes off her plate. “I really found that contest exciting and fun today – would you like to do it again?”
“Not likely,” said Claire, “I can’t afford this every night!”
“There is another way,” said Debbie, “do it over a week, and who cuts the most hair off all their clients wins. The loser has a haircut by the winner, and the winner chooses the style.”
Claire was stunned at this, but she wasn’t going to give up her silky mane without a fight. “I’ve been growing this hair for 5 years,” she said. Claire’s own hair was stunning, but when in the salon she usually wore it up to keep it out of the way. It was an amazing strawberry blonde colour, in shiny waves and nearly reaching her bottom.
“Well mine’s just as long too, but it would be really fun and it would show once and for all who’s the best stylist and settle all those arguments.”
Debbie had pushed Claire too far and Claire said, “You’re on!”
Simultaneously, the two stylists reached back and caressed their own gorgeous hair. Despite her suggesting it, Debbie was starting to get doubts about it too. Her hair was natural white blonde, poker straight and about 3 inches above her bottom. The dates and rules for the contest were decided upon. It would begin the next day (Thursday) and end at close of business next Wednesday. They would each have a black dustbin liner to sweep up all the hair they had chopped off and they would trust each other not to cheat. They would weigh the hair, and it would be decided on weight alone as length was harder to measure over so many cuts.
The next morning in the salon before opening time, they told Melissa of their plan. Melissa thought it was great fun and agreed to help judge the contest. Melissa had heard all the jibes Debbie had said to Claire over the months, and immediately decided to sympathise with Claire, but didn’t tell either stylist of her plan. Melissa was going to try to “suggest” to Claire’s clients that they should have a more drastic cut, and then also ask Debbie’s clients what they were having done but tell the ones planning on a chop that they should keep their lovely hair longer. It was now 10am and the salon was open and the contest had begun!
Claire looked at her list of appointments and realised one crucial thing – she had a lot of male customers from her days as a barber, that had just moved over with her to the new salon. How was she going to manage to crop enough hair from these clients, when demon barber Debbie was persuading ladies with longer hair to go for the big chop? She became very nervous, but realised there was no way out of the contest.
The first day went fairly well for both stylists. Claire had quite a lot of her male customers in, but she could get through them quicker than Debbie’s ladies, so it balanced out better than she’d feared. Claire managed to do a few more crew cuts than she might otherwise do, pointing out the short weather to her clients. Most of them went to her because she was so good-looking and would basically do anything she said anyway! One of her oldest clients, Steve, came in for his appointment at the end of the day. Steve had shoulder length wavy hair, but that didn’t exempt him from Claire’s crew cut offer. He really fancied her, and only really kept his hair long so that he could go to Claire regularly and have her cut and style his hair every 3 weeks. She got lucky! Just that day, his boss had been saying that his hair wasn’t very professional and that he should cut it if he wanted promotion. It has also been a very hot day and Steve didn’t take a lot of persuading.
“I’ve never had it short, how short do you think I can go?” he said.
“As short as you dare!” said Claire. “If you’re going to have it cut, do a serious job and really impress your boss, you’ll be promoted in no time!”
“OK, take it all off!” said Steve. “I’ll trust you to do a good job!”
Green light for Claire, and he’d hardly finished the sentence before the number 2 guard was snapped onto the clippers by Claire’s perfectly manicured hand. 5 minutes later and the floor was full of Steve’s hair, another good amount of hair for Claire’s black bag!
Going into the second day, Debbie took a slight lead. She had a daughter of one of her regular clients come in who had been bugging her mother to let her cut her long hair off. Her mother had always refused and just trimmed it off herself, but she finally gave in and Debbie was the lucky stylist who claimed 14 inches of red hair for her bag, despite Melissa’s subtle comments that she should wait for a big haircut. Never had so many people left the salon with such short hair!
Days 3 and 4 were just average days. The temperature had dropped a little, which made male and female clients alike reluctant to part with their tresses. On day 5, Debbie ramped up the pressure. She was aggressively pushing short haircuts on anybody that would listen. She was actually having an adverse effect on many customers though, especially with Melissa’s advice for them to keep their hair long as “long hair is in”. Claire was lagging behind a little, but was within range of Debbie.
Day 6 – getting near the end of the contest, the stylists were beginning to be very nervous, though Debbie was her usual confident self on the outside. When they had a quieter moment, Debbie walked over to Claire with her pair of scissors and said, “Tomorrow night, these will be slicing through your gorgeous waves.”
Claire was close to tears, but didn’t want to let it show. “Or maybe these clippers will be taking your beautiful hair off like a hot knife through butter!” she responded with the clippers in one hand and a section of Debbie’s hair in the other. Melissa calmed them down, saying that they were very close to each other in terms of weight, so it was wide open and neither of them should jump the gun like that. At the end of day 6, Melissa’s official weigh-in said that Claire was just behind Debbie, but not much at all. However, it didn’t matter how much the loser was behind, the winner would get to give them a crop regardless.
Day 7 – Wednesday. The stylists were both beginning to regret the fact they had made Wednesday the last day of the contest as it was usually their quietest day. However, Claire had much more to fear than Debbie, being slightly behind. The day went as usual, and they had 3 clients each in the morning. Debbie didn’t do more than a reasonable trim on any of them, with Claire having only slightly more success, earning 2 inches of thick black hair from a new client. Without having the bags weighed, it seemed like they were literally neck and neck, and neither was sure who was in the lead.
They re-opened after lunch and started off with a trim each. As Claire was finishing her trim, Debbie was free and rushed over to the new drop-in customer that had walked through the door. The customer had shoulder-length fine blonde hair and Debbie persuaded her to have it cut quite a bit shorter, taking a good 4 inches off. It was near to closing time now and neither of them had any more booked appointments and there would only be enough time for one more client each at the most, but Wednesdays were always quiet so there wasn’t too much hope of that. It was assumed that Debbie was just in the lead, but they weren’t sure and had agreed only to weigh the bags when they closed that day. Claire was beginning to get really nervous and was close to tears thinking of her impending chop, stroking her wavy hair for what she thought might be the last time. Debbie knew she wasn’t definitely in the lead, and had a few nervous thoughts herself and found herself caressing her own silky tresses.
Just then, the bell on the door went. They both looked up and there was Lisa and Rebecca standing there! Neither of the stylists knew what to expect, so Debbie asked what Rebecca (her client from last week) would like done. “You’ve managed to persuade me to have that pixie!” she said. “I love the shorter look and tried one of those ‘virtual makeover’ things on the computer and agree that a pixie would look good on me.”
Debbie thought “Yes!” and escorted Rebecca over to Melissa’s washbasin with a huge grin on her face, saying, “You’re doing the right thing, you’ll look amazing!”
While Claire was resigning herself to losing her locks at the hands of demon barber Debbie, Lisa unexpectedly said, “And I’d like the same style too! We’ve always had the same hairstyle, and it was really strange to have a different style than Rebecca. It will be a big change, and I can’t guarantee that I won’t cry like a baby when the hair’s falling in my lap, but I’m going for the chop!” The best thing for Claire was that Debbie had no idea that she was facing a crop and not Claire!
After Melissa’s wash, Rebecca’s haircut began. “Do you mind how I cut it?” said Debbie.
“Not at all,” said Rebecca. “I’m ready for this, and I think I might even enjoy watching the hair fall!” Debbie needed no further encouragement and rapidly started shearing Debbie’s shiny brown locks down to an inch on the top, more or less the width of her slender, perfect fingers. The cut was really starting to take shape and looked amazing. Rebecca had a big smile on her face and so did Debbie – this wasn’t the last shiny soft hair to be hitting the floor today! Debbie used the clippers on the sides and back, reducing them to half an inch using the clippers over the comb. More and more of Rebecca’s locks slid into her lap and onto the floor. Debbie just loved every moment of this, every snip, every clip. She started finishing the cut, tapering the back hair into the nape and running her long French-manicured nails through it to check the feel.
Meanwhile, the cut of poor Lisa’s life was taking place. It was a gut-wrenching decision to go for the chop and she hoped she wouldn’t regret it. Claire realised Lisa was devastated to lose her hair and tried to make it as easy for her as possible. Even though it could cost her all her own hair, she made sure three times that Lisa really did want the cut. Claire really was a true professional. To make it easier on Lisa, Claire decided to get rid of as much hair as she possibly could, as quickly as she possibly could and then even up the cut later. She gently pushed Lisa’s head forward and popped on the clippers with guide number 4 attached. Claire was superb with the clippers, and reduced Lisa’s hair at the sides and back to half an inch within about 2 minutes. Melissa quickly swept the hair away so that Lisa didn’t see the incredible amount of hair being cut off, but true to her word she cried through the whole haircut. The final job was to chop off all the still-long top hair. She did this with just as much skill as Debbie, cutting it to an almost identical length. Finally when the hairstyle started taking shape, Lisa’s tears turned to a smile. As Claire had used the clippers, her cut took slightly less time than Debbie’s, so the two stylists finished at almost the same time.
Debbie looked up to see Lisa’s freshly shorn head and couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Her jaw visibly dropped, realising that her own over-persuasion just a week earlier had prompted the two twins to have the pixie cuts which would ultimately cost her the long golden mane as well as the title “top stylist of the salon”. Claire just caught her eye and winked at her. However, nothing was certain until the final weigh-in. The stunning twins left the salon feeling their bare necks and Melissa locked the door and closed the blinds. Out came the scales, just as they had each night for the past week. Melissa insisted on them not watching her do it, though she said they could check later if they disagreed or wanted a re-check. Two minutes later, Melissa proudly announced that Debbie was for the big chop, and that the weight difference was so little that it was decided on the last cuts of the whole week – Lisa and Rebecca! Debbie of course insisted on a full re-weigh, but the evidence was clear.
Debbie slowly walked over to the washbasin, head bowed down. Melissa whispered into Claire’s ear that she would have cut off some of her own mid-back hair if it would have made a difference, but she was relieved to not have to do so! Claire realised what a true friend she had in Melissa. Claire said that Melissa could go home, but she asked if she could stay to watch – she wanted to see Debbie suffer! Claire said that was fine, but said that she would wash Debbie’s hair herself. Not being vindictive, Claire didn’t milk the opportunity to embarrass Debbie, though if Debbie had won she surely would have done so. Before too much longer, the washing was complete and Debbie was in Claire’s chair.
Claire gave Debbie a chance to back out: “Are you sure we’re going ahead with this?”
Debbie, choking back the tears, said, “A deal is a deal, so the hair is going to be cut off, just how you want it.”
Claire just said, “OK,” turned her away from the mirror and started chopping off the golden silky tresses. Over 20 inches of hair went sliding down onto Debbie’s lap, and tears were visible in Debbie’s eyes as she picked it up to inspect it. Claire really was sorry to have to do this to her best friend, but it was her own idea, and she definitely would have cropped her to within an inch of her scalp! Claire proceeded in giving Debbie almost the same style that she had given to Lisa just a few minutes earlier. She quickly rough-dried the now much shorter hair at the back of Debbie’s head and then picked up the still-warm clippers. The number 4 guard was flipped off by Claire’s long red nails, and a number 3 snapped on in its place with great efficiency, an efficiency matched only be the clippers themselves which mowed a large swathe of hair at the back of Debbie’s head. By now, Debbie was actually weeping loudly.
Claire didn’t prolong the agony, and using her extensive barbering experience, she sheared her workmate ruthlessly. Within 10 minutes, the hairdryer was being switched off and some texturising wax was being applied. She turned Debbie around. There was a silence for a few seconds while she took it all in and then she announced, “I love it! It’s fantastic, I’m free of my long hair and this pixie is a wonderful style for me – thank you SO much!”
Debbie offered to shear Claire and Melissa, but they both said, “Maybe sometime in the future!”