Midsummer’s Night Dream by Frank Rizzo
Late July, 1986
Tom McNamara, at the ripe old age of 32 was an accomplished member of society. While his nights were spent working for the County, days were spent tanning in the July sun, working out at the gym, or looking for extra money doing one of many second jobs.
He arrived at the Shop around 11:30 am. It had been left to him in inheritance 3 years before by a maiden Aunt; an Aunt who had allowed him the summer job of doing clean-up duties around the place, running errands, and generally allowing him to feast his eyes on women getting their hair done, cut, permed, and colored. He was impeccably dressed in a sport coat and tie, and, despite the late morning heat, felt reasonably cool. Not a bead of sweat sat upon his skin. He flicked on the air conditioner and set it at 70 degrees (just cool enough for comfort, but just warm enough to nudge those few indecisive ones into going “Just a little shorter, because of the heat….”)
He turned the radio to a soft rock station and began cleaning up the Shop. It was Monday, and the regular Stylist who rented a station was off, like most stylists, on Sundays and Mondays.
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He hung out the MONDAY IS LADIES DAY sign on the front door.
Tom had been close to his Aunt for many years. It was a sad day for him when she died…she was something of the Family’s Black Sheep, and thus Tom had been the object of some talk, being as close to her as he had been.
Tom had taken a second mortgage on his house to renovate the building left to him by his Aunt, and turned it into an apartment/office/salon, complete with retro-20’s barber shop chairs, black and white square floors, and antique lighting fixtures over the back bar and sinks. Its effect was upscale, much the same way Miami Vice and the music videos of the era had been. A certain feel, a certain genre, and definitely upscale.
Tom’s love of women’s haircutting began in his sophomore year of college when he had seen the movie Shampoo and was enthralled with Warren Beatty’s performance as a lecherous Beverly Hills Hairdresser, constantly in bed with the clients he’d served, and telling them all that they were “Great…” It would be many years before he was able to face the fact that he was a fetishist…but, for the time being, he would rationalize about how cutting hair was a “Great way to meet women.” Now that the mid-eighties had arrived and the “anything goes” attitude had replaced the shags and waves and butterflies of the seventies, Tom was in his glory. His Aunt’s teachings in the early seventies had helped him immensely, and he was able to pass the State Cosmetology Board in 1979. Although he almost never worked full time in the shop, it was something he did for the sheer enjoyment, the thrill, the FEEL of it.
He’d worked his way through college doing “Macho” stuff like working for his father’s plumbing company, while still working at the shop once in a while, much to his father’s chagrin. It was hardly proper for a young, good looking Irish stud to be doing that sort of thing. Despite Tom’s distinguished service as a Marine in Vietnam, it seemed to have little placating effect on his old man. So Tom kept it to himself.
He’d managed to form a rather sizeable clientele; his sister (a real Irish Beauty, complete with the red hair and green eyes) and his co-workers who were so disposed. His first wife and her family (even his ex-mother-in-law!) were clients, even following the divorce. On Mondays, when he was bored with nothing else to do, like now, he’d open the shop and hope for a few walk-ins. If any men came in, he’d tell them “the other stylist was out today and he was full, sorry” and that was that. Hair was hair, he’d been taught, but he disliked doing men’s hair and that was that. And besides, he was the boss here……
Shortly after 12 noon, he heard the bells chime on the front door as he had his back to the door, fixing a shelf bracket which had worked loose. Looking up into the mirror, he froze, dead in his tracks, looking at her as she stood in the doorway.
She was slender, tall (he guessed over 5-9), light complected, with shiny, raven black hair, wavy, loose, and falling a good 5 inches past her shoulders. She wore a summer dress skirt with a powder blue spaghetti strap top tucked into a waist that was as tight as a drum; obviously someone who did a lot of crunches at her aerobics sessions. Her eyes were shielded by blue framed plastic sunglasses. Her make-up was impeccably applied and her general appearance was that of absolute drop-dead beauty.
“Are you Tom?” came from her, in a smooth, assured, and almost casual manner, breaking his stare and causing him to focus on reality.
“That’s me,” he replied, turning, and offering a pleasant, but professional smile. “Do we know each other?”
“Well,” she said, “I’m Corrine Fontenot. I went to school with Mary-Ellen. She recommended you…”
Tom was surprised. Happy, but surprised. His sister, Mary-Ellen, had never recommended a beauty like this to him before, just plain Jane types, which Tom had always preferred. He felt that the ones that made the most of their looks were the ones you put your money on in the long run; the really pretty ones never seemed to be happy.
She removed her sunglasses, revealing crystal clear china-blue eyes, and suddenly Tom was hit with the classic French features. Dark hair and light eyes, and high-chiselled features. It was all he could do to contain himself as he said, “Well, bless her heart. When did you see her last? I’m surprised she never mentioned you before….”
Corinne smiled, revelling perfect, straight, white teeth; not capped type white teeth, but the $2,000.00 orthodonture type white teeth. She was from a good family, this one.
“I just saw her last Friday, and told her I was looking to get my hair done because of this heatwave. She said you sometimes come in on Mondays. I work around the corner at the architectural firm and I’m taking a long lunch. Have you got anything available in the next couple of hours?”
Tom looked her in the eyes, and, with a slight inviting flourish of his right hand, told her “Have a seat,” while standing next to one of the two old Barber Chairs.
She removed her light cotton jacket from her arm, and, along with her purse, walked to the coat rack in the corner of the shop. “Can I put these here?” She asked.
“Absolutely,” Tom said.
She strode confidently to the Barber Chair, seating herself slowly and gracefully. She noticed immediately that it was comfortable, and embraced her svelte body with room to spare, unlike some beauty shop chairs she’d sat in before that always seemed just a little too small, even for a small framed person. She placed her bare arms on the porcelain arms of the chair, feeling their cool firmness. She crossed her right leg over her left at the knee, and eased her left foot onto the ornate footrest. Her body language did not escape Tom’s scrutiny, although he did his best to appear nonchalant.
Tom began pulling her hair back into a pony tail, feeling the weight of it, and looking for cowlicks and odd growth patterns. He began gently brushing it out while ever so slightly massaging her scalp as he did so. She closed her eyes and moved her head gently with his non-verbal directions of his hands. After a minute or so, he said: “How would you like to cut it today?” It was a one-way question; not designed to allow for an easy out. He knew what she was after, just looking at her body language and her submissiveness was proof of that.
She did not disappoint him. She looked at the picture collage on the wall, pointing at the wedge, and asked him: “How do you think something like that would look on me?”
The haircut she inquired about, made popular by Dorothy Hammel in the ’76 Olympics, would be a drastic change…even more so, because the wall’s photo showed a buzzed weightline, with a very close back section.
“Have you discussed it with your husband?” He asked, in more of a search question than anything else.
“I’m not married,” she said.
“Nope. Single and loving it. And my boss is my best friend. If she likes it, you may have another customer.” Her smile was disarming and friendly all at the same time.
“Well, if you don’t mind my saying so, you have wonderful features. I think you could handle that cut, or one even shorter with no problem at all.”
“Then let’s do it,” she said.
“Would you come to the bowl with me, please?” he asked. “I’d like to wash it with some cool water for you. It’s awfully hot out there. I imagine it would feel quite refreshing.”
She rose as confidently as she had seated herself, walked to the bowl, and sat in the small shampoo chair.
He draped her with a plastic apron and towel, and washed her hair, massaging it thoroughly, and, at one point, watched as she moaned almost imperceptibly
. Thoroughly washed and towel dried, he took her arm gently and lead her back to the chair.
He placed her hair up in clips, and placed a small, white and red-striped towel around her neck, then draped her with a blue velcro closure cape. He spun her around to face the mirror, and adjusted the height of the chair. He dropped the pile of thick, dark hair from the clips and combed it out thoroughly. “Ready?” he asked. She smiled and nodded.
Establishing a weight line around the side of her head, just shy of the prattle bone, he began by slicing off the length with 5″ scissors. The crunch was softened by the still wet hair. 8″ sections fell to her shoulders, sliding down the cape into her lap. Within 2 minutes the weightline had been cut, and a pile of hair lay in her lap.
He dropped the top sections and scissored them off rapidly, working in through the crown and front, blending bangs in.
“Ok, so much for the first part,” Tom said. “How short do you want it in back?”
“It’s up to you,” she replied.
This is just too good to be true, he thought.
Picking up a pair of Oster clippers his Aunt had used for years, he snapped on a #2 blade attachment, clicked them on, and gently pushed her head forward slightly. He began by straight up the back from the nape, to the weight line, as hair piled up on the top of the blades. With a slight flick, a clump of dark hair rained down on her right shoulder. He continued his smooth, neat, continuous strokes, across the back, and then around the right ear.
“They’re loud, aren’t they?” she asked.
“Would you like to me stop? Or use a different pair? I have one that’s quieter.”
“Oh, no,” she giggled, “It’s OK. They feel wonderful. Do cut it short in the back, won’t you?”
Tom finished the back and sides, blending in the weightline, and then showed her the back with a hand mirror.
She gasped, smiled, and, feeling the newly shorn nape with her right hand said, “Oh, it’s great!”
“I’m not finished yet,” Tom said. “I’ll outline your neckline and make it neater in through here.”, running his index fingers along the base of her neckline. She had an upgrowth pattern and a lot of fine, fuzzy, light down along her neck.
“Ok,” she smiled at him.
Picking up an Oster Finisher, he began slowly and gently edging the hairline, staring with the right sideburn, around the right ear, and then to the neckline itself. He switched the position around and began going against the growth pattern, at one point seeing her suddenly shiver.
“Oh, God, that tickles!” she squealed in delight.
“Just shows your nervous system is intact,” he replied, one of his Aunt’s favorite lines.
After a few moments, he was done shaving her hairline away. A pile of hair sat in her lap, and her cheeks, eyes, and chin were in sharp relief against the newly cropped sides and back. The top, all of 4″ long, was blown dry and moussed into a cap, almost a bowl.
“I look like one of the Three Stooges!” she said when looking at the finished product.
Tom was suddenly nervous…he certainly did NOT want to make this woman unhappy. “Which one? Certainly not Larry! Not the Porcupine!”
“No, Silly,” she laughed. “Moe…the one who was always beating the others up! I look like him!”
“Do you want me to change the style?” he asked, concerned.
She sensed his concern immediately, looked him in the eyes and said: “I was just kidding. I really like it. But since you ask, can you cut it shorter please? With the clippers?”
“What do you want shorter?” he asked.
“Cut this part” (Holding the weight line with her right index and middle fingers) “About 2″ shorter, and cut the sides and back up a little higher.”
“Coming up,” he said and the clippers, whirring to life in his hands, bit into the weight line shearing off another 2 inches. That done, he placed the #2 guide on the blade again, and went up to within an inch below the weightline.
Tom finished the haircut shortly afterwards, blow-dried the loose hair off, and looked at the clock. What had seemed like 3 hours was only 45 minutes by his clock. He used a soft bristle brush to clear off the loose hairs, and then undraped her.
He had not noticed that her breasts were as firm as they now appeared. Her bare shoulders, now visible without the mass that had sat atop her head only an hour ago were perfect and alabaster in complexion. She sat momentarily beaming, running her hands over and over the back and sides, and through the 2 1/2 inches on top. It fell perfectly back into place, and, when she swung her hair around, it was if it were a hoop skirt that followed every move her head made.
“It looks great, Tom!” She smiled. “Thanks so much. I didn’t think I could do it, but Mary-Ellen said I could trust you. Can I make an appointment with you for a month from now?”
“How about,” Tom said, “I put you on my preferred customer list?”
“What does that mean?” she asked.
“It means you just call me whenever you want and I take care of it right away…”
“Well,” she said, “That would be nice. I’ll give you my phone number if you’d like…”
“Here’s mine,” Tom said, writing it down on the back of a business card that had the shop number on it only.
“How much do I owe you?” she said, reaching her purse at the coat rack. With her back to Tom, he could see the perfect figure, and the short hair at her neck, under cut beneath the weightline was almost too much for him to withstand. It took all his self control to keep from grabbing this girl.
“Tell you what,” Tom said. “Why don’t we talk about that……………..”
After all, if it’s really a midsummer’s night dream, why not ask for the moon?
To be continued…………