Cindy and I dated the last two years of high school. We were the “perfect couple,” or that’s what everyone said. She was the captain of the cheerleading squad and homecoming queen. I was a starter and lettered in football, basketball and baseball. We had talked some about getting married but hadn’t gotten officially engaged or set a date.
Three weeks after graduation I joined the marines and went off to boot camp. Cindy got a job as a receptionist in a dentist’s office. As soon as her paychecks started coming in she moved out of her parent’s home into an apartment in town.
Boot camp wasn’t too bad for me. I was in decent shape and I quickly learned that things are better if you don’t draw attention to yourself. I hate to admit it, but I actually enjoyed the experience. It sure was different than being a senior and a sports hero. But it taught me some things about myself. For one thing, I learned the difference between self-confidence and self-centeredness. All in all, when I got through with boot camp and took a fourteen day leave before showing up at my next assignment, I felt like a different man.
Things were shaky between Cindy and me. I hadn’t been gone all that long, but I could tell from her letters (for one they didn’t come every day like at the beginning) that our relationship wasn’t the same as before. After the induction routine (meaning the marine boot camp haircut) I sent Cindy a picture of the new me. In her next few letters all she could do was moan and groan about my hair being gone. It’s not like it wouldn’t grow back, for Pete’s sake. When we dated she loved to run her fingers through my hair – I didn’t think it was all that special, but she liked the soft natural waves I’d been born with. Whenever I went to get a haircut she would say a hundred times – “Make sure he (the barber) doesn’t cut too much off.”
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She really put a lot of stock in hair – especially her own. She was always late when I went to get her for a date. Her mom would say, “Oh, she’s up in her room fixing her hair. That girl!” I know that I wasn’t allowed to touch it. If I did, she would jerk like she had been shocked from an electric outlet. “Please!” she’d say, “Don’t mess it up.” She did have really pretty hair and it was long – usually she kept it around the middle of her back in length. Once it got within two inches of her waist but she had it trimmed up when the ends started looked uneven and scraggly. It was naturally honey-blond and she had added some interesting highlights. For part of one year she got into perms and big hair. I was glad when she let the perm grow out – I thought her thick, straight, smooth hair was much prettier. She could put it in rollers and curl it sometimes and that looked O.K. too, but most of the time she let it hang down showing off the shiny, richness of well-tended tresses.
Our senior year, we took a couple of ski trips together. Her parents were willing to let her go, but didn’t want to spend the money for all the clothes and equipment Cindy thought she needed to have. I loaned her the money. I typed out a loan agreement and she signed it without even reading it. One of the things I put in the agreement was that if we broke up the loan would come due immediately.
I arrived home on a Thursday for my leave and called Cindy to find out when we could get together. She told me eight-thirty on Friday night would be fine and she said she wanted to repay the money she owed me (that was a tip-off, she must have re-read the agreement and seen the break-up clause). She gave me the address and directions to her apartment.
That afternoon I saw Cindy’s mom at the grocery store. She was glad to see me and stopped to chat. She asked about boot camp and all. Then she said, “I’m really sorry, Ted, but I think Cindy is planning to break up with you.” I told her that I had picked up some clues that made me think the same thing. She told me that she and her husband had always liked me and thought I was good for Cindy. She shook her head and then said sadly, “Some day someone will come along who won’t put up with Cindy’s shenanigans. Somebody who will pull the rug out from under her. It may be hard on her, but she needs to grow up some.”
She started to walk away and then stopped. “Ted, Cindy told us that she had borrowed some money from you and needed to pay it back. We have given her the money to do that, because she didn’t have it. Make sure she gives it to you.” I said “O.K., sure.” and “Thanks.” She went on to say that Cindy had run up some big credit card bills and was showing that she didn’t know how to manage her money. When they gave her this money to pay me they had taken away her credit cards and told her she wouldn’t get them back until they were repaid.
Friday morning I stopped by the dentist’s office to say hi to Cindy. She looked lovely. She was wearing a nice (and expensive) looking dress that made her look very professional. Her pretty blond mane smoothly framed her face and was draped across her shoulders – the ends, which fell below her shoulder blades, were nicely curled. We chatted for a bit, I told her she looked real nice and then she said she had to get back to work. It looked to me like the most strenuous thing she had done all morning was paint her fingernails.
Friday night, promptly at eight-thirty I rang Cindy’s apartment. She buzzed me in. In the hallway just outside her door was a stack of empty boxes. It looked like she had just gotten a complete set of expensive stereo components and an entertainment center to hold it. She opened the door before I could knock (surprise) and smiled at me when I handed her the bouquet of flowers I’d brought for her. She invited me in. This morning she was pretty, tonight she was stunning!
She was wearing a really skimpy and really tight and really short black dress. The shoulder straps were little strings, the front revealed lots of cleavage, there was hardly any back and the tiny skirt swirled around her hips as she walked. She saw my eyes nearly pop out of my head so she pranced back a few steps and twirled around, “Do you like it?” I nodded my head, not trusting my voice. “It cost a pile of money, but I think it shows off my figure. Do you agree?” Once again all I could do was nod my head.
She had put her hair up, somehow twisting it around smoothly and pinning it to the back of her head. Her long, slender neck made her look really sexy. I’d never seen her like this – she wasn’t a schoolgirl anymore. She looked gorgeous and sophisticated. I felt like I was out of her league. I had worn a casual shirt and slacks, not nearly as dressed up as she. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know this was a dress up night, where do you want us to go?” I said.
“I don’t want US to go anywhere, I’M going to check out some clubs on River Street.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Ted, don’t be dense. We have grown apart – it’s obvious. While you were off playing army games like some little boy, I’ve grown up. It’s time we went our separate ways.” She twirled around again, trying to look more sophisticated.
I was stunned, but something registered in my mind and I took a sniff of the air. It smelled like when the guys from my unit would sneak out somewhere and smoke a joint. “Cindy,” I said, “have you been smoking marijuana?”
“So, what if I have?” she said defensively.
I shrugged. It didn’t matter to me all that much. It was her life, but in school she had never been into the drug scene, or for that matter even alcohol. She said the alcohol would ruin her figure. I wondered what kind of friends she had been hanging around with while I was away. “How many joints have you smoked?” I looked at her closely and the signs were more obvious now. She was stoned. She didn’t answer my question, just smiled at me.
“O.K. Cindy, we still need to take care of this money you owe me. You told me on Thursday you wanted to pay me back.” She went to her kitchen, a little unsteady on her feet, and got an envelope out of the cupboard.
She threw the envelope toward me and then stood there looking worried when I opened it to count it out. It was two hundred and fifty dollars short of the full amount. “This isn’t the full amount!” I told her.
“I know!” she said petulantly. “On my way home from work on Thursday I saw this fantastic stereo system for sale at Bruno’s and I just had to have it. The sale ended today and I don’t get paid until next Tuesday. I had to use some of the money from the envelope to get it. I don’t have my credit cards anymore and I couldn’t wait – I just had to have this new stereo!”
I looked at her and shook my head in disgust. Her mother was right, she knew nothing about managing her money! “Our loan agreement states that if we break up the money is due right then. I want my money right now.”
She said, “Oh, Ted, can’t you wait for it a few days. As soon as I get paid on Tuesday I’ll give it to you.” I asked her how much she would get in her paycheck. Then I asked her about bills that were due – like rent and electric and phone. I figured that she would be lucky to have fifty dollars left out of this paycheck and she’d most likely spend it on something for herself before I’d ever see it.
I shook my head and said, “No way. I’m not waiting. I want the money tonight. Why don’t you call your parents and borrow it from them? (She didn’t know I had talked to her mom).”
“I can’t do that. They gave me the money to pay you and told me they won’t give me any more until I pay them back. They think I need to learn something about handling my money. Imagine that!”
“Well, we need to figure something else out, because you’ve got to give me that money tonight. How about if I call your parents, they’ve always liked me? I could ask them.” I was enjoying this – seeing this sophisticated, dressed-up woman so distraught and worried like a little girl.
“No, Ted, don’t do that. They are making the payments on my car and they said that if I ask them for any more money they will take my car away. I can’t get along without a car!” she wailed. “I’ll do anything you want, just don’t call them.”
“You’ll do anything?” I echoed back.
“That’s right, anything you say. Just tell me and I’ll do it.”
I walked up to her, put my hands on her bare shoulders and with my fingers tickled the little tiny hairs on her exposed neck. “Cindy, you owe me a lot of money,” I said sternly, “How much do you pay to get your hair trimmed?” She told me and I did some figuring. “Here’s the new arrangement. I will give you a haircut, but instead of paying me, I will deduct it from what you owe me – kind of like I’m paying you to do your hair. How about fifty dollars each time. That means you will get five free haircuts from me.” This idea had been growing in my mind, probably since we were still in high school and she wouldn’t let me touch her hair. I dreamed about having her sit in front of me and let me give her a haircut. I wondered if she might actually let me do this.
She gasped a little and her hand flew involuntarily to pat her nicely arranged hair. She started to shake her head but I continued, “It’s either that or call your parents and ask them for the money.”
“Oh no,” she wailed again. “I can’t do that. I suppose a little trim wouldn’t be too bad. You can only take off…” She started to list her requirements.
I lightly put a finger on her mouth to stop her. “No, Cindy, you owe me the money. I am the one forgiving the debt. You don’t tell me how to cut your hair, I will decide. It will be the haircut of my choosing.” I could see the indecision in her eyes as she thought about the money, her parents, her car, and her hair.
I’m still not sure she would have agreed if she hadn’t gotten high before I arrived. She was relaxed enough to finally say “Yes, you can give me five haircuts, whatever kind you want to give me.” She obviously had no idea what I had in mind.
I asked her if I could use her bathroom. She pointed the way. She had a wicker backet with soaps and things in it which I dumped out on the counter. I then filled the basket with what I would need. I opened drawers and cupboards. I found her shampoo, conditioner, comb, brush, scissors and then I almost turned to stone when I opened the bottom drawer and found a pair of electric hair cutting clippers. I remembered that I had gotten them just before I went off to the marines. I tried to convince her to cut my hair before I went, but she wouldn’t touch it. I thought she’d probably thrown them out, but there they were. Shiny metal teeth, waiting to be used on someone’s unsuspecting head. I put them in the bottom of the basket and covered them with a hand towel. I was ready.
When I came back into the living room Cindy had collapsed on the sofa. She looked worried, but had evidently resigned herself to the haircut. “O.K. Ted, let’s get this over with.”
I went to the kitchen, stood by the sink and said, “Cindy, get your head over here.” She reluctantly shuffled out to the kitchen. “We’re going to start by washing your hair, just like in a fancy salon.” She sat in a kitchen chair while I unpinned her elegant twist and then combed and brushed out her soft, shiny tresses. She stood up when I told her to and faced the sink. I looked at her expensive party dress and suggested that she probably wouldn’t want to let it get ruined. She reached down with numbed fingers and then lifted it up over her head. She draped it carefully across a chair. She looked even more vulnerable with her dress off. I got a bath towel and after instructing her to remove her bra I wrapped the towel around her. It only covered from the top of her breasts to the middle of her hips, but she seemed glad to be covered that much.
I lifted her mass of hair and then forced her head under the faucet, none-too-gently, and turned on the water which alternated between being too cold and too hot. I plowed my fingers through her hair, getting it all wet and then lathering it up. She cried out, “Ouch. Don’t get it all tangled.” and “Please be careful,” a lot. But I was getting my money’s worth, thinking of all those times in high school she wouldn’t let me touch her hair. She was so fussy about her hair that she often would refuse to go swimming because she didn’t want people to see her with wet hair. Here I was with my arms up to my elbows in her sodden hair. I looked at the front of my pants and saw a bulge. I was excited.
Finally the shampoo was done and I had her blow dry and comb out her hair. “Make it look like it did at the office today,” I told her. She did that, making it look just as pretty as when I saw her earlier. She even used the electric curlers to curl the ends.
“Now for the haircut,” I announced.
“Do you really have to do this?” she asked. I walked to the phone, picked it up and said, “What’s your parent’s phone number? I’ll just call them and they’ll bring the money over and pick up your car. Is that what you want?”
“No,” she hung her head in defeat. “Go ahead and cut my hair.”
While she was drying and curling it I had written out a new agreement. It stated that she owed me $250.00 but that I would forgive it if she committed herself to getting five haircuts from me. The haircut and style would be my choice and the time would be my choice. She could not get it cut by anyone other than me until all five were done. There was a clause that she could not change her mind and try to pay off the rest of the money – it was a package deal, five haircuts in exchange for forgiving the balance of the loan. It also stated that I would supply a camera and every Monday morning she would take a picture of herself (it would have a time/date stamp) which she would then mail to me so I could see how her hair looked and could then decide when she needed another haircut. I read the agreement out loud to her, making sure she understood every part of it. She agreed without questioning it and signed her name.
She sat on a tall stool in the middle of the kitchen floor while I combed and brushed her hair. I kept combing and combing and then brushing and brushing. She liked the feel of it because I was very gentle. It was soothing and relaxing for her. Finally I put down the brush, picked up the scissors and said, “Are you ready?”
“Yes,” she said faintly. “Please don’t take too much off” I didn’t respond. I just picked up a strand of hair right at the crown of her head and quickly snipped off all but three inches of it. As soon as she heard the snip her hands flew up to the top of her head to feel what I had done. I anticipated that and grabbed her hands before they touched her head.
“No, no,” I said. “We can’t have this. I will have to restrain you so you don’t get in the way of my masterpiece.” I took a pair of her pantyhose out of the wicker basket and tied her arms behind her back. She didn’t like that – it made her feel helpless. As she wiggled around the top of her towel came open exposing her pretty breasts and making a natural receptacle for hair. I then took up the scissors again and starting level with the top of her ears I cut a line straight across. All of her beautiful silky long hair slipped over her shoulders and down inside the towel. She tried to look down to see what was coming off, but I jerked her chin back up saying, “Hold still! If I make it crooked I’ll have to take more off.” At that, she held still. She could tell I was cutting up around her head, though, not just trimming the ends of her long mane. I could see the tears start trickling down her face.
“Ted, do you have to take so much off,” she whimpered. I had forgotten what a whiny voice she had. “Please, Ted. I’ve never had hair that short before. Please don’t take so much off.”
Finally I could stand it no longer and said, “I need to shave your neck.” I pushed her head down so her chin was against her chest and flicked on the electric clippers. She jumped when she heard that buzzing sound. With no length guard on at all, I placed the clippers against her lower neck and slowly moved them up her nape. I was so excited with all this my loins hurt. I practised some of my newly-learned marine self-control, though and kept going.
The buzzing clippers moved up the nape of her neck to the hairline. I didn’t stop there, in fact I picked up speed and moved the clippers up through her still thick hair right to the crown of her head.
“Ted,” she shrieked. “What are you doing?” She thrashed around almost falling off the stool.
I grabbed the hair on the side of her head and pulled it taut. She winced. I said, “Be quiet, let me finish the haircut. I have the right to choose and I have decided that for this first haircut you need to be humbled a little. You have gotten far too big for your britches, little girl. This will cut you down to size. I’m going to shave your head!” She got absolutely still when I said that. After a moment it sank in – because I kept up the buzzing, the back of her head was now free of hair and she could feel the air currents from the overhead fan where she’d never felt it before.
She let out a sob. “Oooohhhh, nooooooooo!” Then wept uncontrollably.
I finished buzzing the sides, right down to an eighth of an inch, and then the top – making sure that most of the hair ended up inside her towel or in her lap. She just kept on sobbing. I shook the can of shaving cream and then filled my hand with foam. I lathered it all over her head and proceeded to shave it with a safety razor. When I was done I lathered it up again and shaved it going against the grain. When I washed off the top of her head and dried it, it was literally as shiny as a light bulb.
I untied her hands and she slowly stood up from the stool. She was so exhausted from the emotional ordeal and her weeping that she nearly collapsed. I took off the towel, then using the ends whisked off the little prickly hairs that had covered her. She stood there in the middle of her kitchen floor, weeping still and unprotesting to whatever I did to her. I got her cleaned up as best I could then brought out a thick terry-cloth robe from her bathroom and put it around her.
I carried her into the living room and laid her down on the sofa. She was shivering. There was a gas fireplace on the wall which I lit and then I went over to the sofa, sat down and gathered her up in my arms. She was sobbing, “Oh, Ted. What am I going to do? People always said my hair was so pretty, and now it’s all gone. They are going to think I’m ugly.”
She really wasn’t. Amazingly having no hair emphasized her beauty rather than diminishing it. I told her that and she said softly, “Do you really think so?”
I let her feel my own head where the boot camp haircut was growing out. “It does grow back, Cindy.” I reassured her. I took some moisturizing lotion and gently rubbed it onto her head because the skin had gotten irritated from the shaving. Finally her tears quieted. She slept for a bit in my arms. Finally I said, “Cindy, I need to go. Tomorrow, I’m going to bring you a camera. You will take a picture of yourself every Monday morning when you are dressed to go to work. Send me the picture every week and when I think you need another haircut I’ll come home and give you one. You aren’t to let anyone else touch your hair until I’ve given you all five of your haircuts. Do you understand?”
She said yes and then tenderly touched my cheek, “Do you really still think I’m pretty, Ted?”
I kissed her gently and said, “Yes, Cindy, you are.”