The Mistake by Jim 1

Cathy stared at herself in the bathroom mirror. She couldn’t look beyond the dark chestnut hair falling to well past her shoulders. She was so incredibly sick of all of it. A long time ago, she had grown it out from her beloved short haircut, to please Tom, and then kept it long for several years at his insistence. Well, the need to deal with all of this hair had gone when he had, leaving her for a nineteen-year-old student at the college where he taught.

This is the day, she promised herself. “Today I get my hair back to the way I want it,” she said, whispering inwardly. She went to the kitchen, pulled the phone book out of the desk and looked up a salon that several friends of hers frequented. They were noted for being particularly skilled with short haircuts. She dialed the number and talked momentarily to the receptionist, asking if she might be able to speak to one of the stylists about a haircut she wanted.

A pleasant, soft voice then came on the line. “Hello, this is Wendy, can I help you?”

“Hello, I hope I’m not interrupting anything, but my name is Cathy, and I wanted to talk to you about getting my hair cut.”

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“Sure Cathy, I’m not busy at the moment, and I would be happy to talk about it. What were you thinking of doing with your hair?”

“Well Wendy, my hair is really long at the moment, and I want to go super short. My fianc√© has recently left me, and now I am free to do what I want with it.”

Listening to the words come out, Wendy thought, Oh no, not another one just wanting to do this to spite their ex! “Cathy, I have to say that although I really enjoy taking people from long to short makeovers, I think you might want to wait and really think this over. Cutting off all of your hair just to get back at him won’t make you happier, or accomplish anything else, it’s the wrong reason to do it, believe me!”

Cathy suddenly relaxed, having almost expected this. “Oh no, you don’t understand, its isn’t out of spite, or anything to do with that. My ex was one of those typical males that have this thing for long hair on women. I had always had it really short before that and loved it, I only grew it long and kept it because it was important to him. I am making this change to finally get back to having my hair the way I like it.”

Relieved, Wendy also relaxed, thankful this was something the customer was doing simply because they wanted to. “Well, Cathy, I cant tell you how happy I am to hear that, we have had some unfortunate experiences with clients in the past, in situations where they did it solely to get back at their boyfriend or husband. Afterwards they regretted it, and so did we, especially as the one who had cut it. Now that we have all of that out of the way, how were you thinking of getting yours cut?”

Cathy, having waited for this moment, then carefully described, “When I said really short, I meant it. I used to keep it about half an inch, or even a little less, all over, just long enough to barely lie flat. With my hair’s texture, that’s how I want it cut this time. The problem has been that I have already gone to my usual salon, and another one nearby, and they have spent so much time talking me out of cutting it so short, or wanting to do it in steps, over several visits. I know what I want, but anyone can find it hard to follow through with something when people make such an effort to convince you otherwise. I just loved my hair short, and I have missed it so much, I want to just come into the salon, plop myself down into the chair, and see it all start falling on the floor, as quickly as possible!”

“I won’t have any problem taking care of that for you Cathy. I love short hair too, and most women look infinitely better with it anyway. This will make my day a lot more fun too, as going from long to very short is one of my favorite things to do for a client, as long as they know exactly what they want, as you do.”

Great, Cathy thought to herself. I can’t wait. “Do you have an opening anytime soon? I would love to come right over and get it done.”

Realizing that she had nothing scheduled until later on, as she had come in early to do some supply ordering, Wendy replied, “No, my appointments aren’t until later, you could come over now if you want, that’s fine.”

“Great Wendy, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk about this, it will be so much easier to have this all out of the way. I can just sit down, you can start cutting, and soon, I will be back to the look I have wanted so much! I’m not far away, so I should be there in half an hour or less.”

“Perfect then, I will be here at the shop, and thanks for calling too, this will be fun for both of us!” Wendy set the phone down, and went back to ordering supplies.

Perhaps twenty minutes later, a college student wandered onto the street just down from the salon, stopping to look at her reflection in a store window. Her long red hair, reaching well past the middle of her back, dominated her appearance. “It is too much,” she slowly agreed, “it’s finally time for a change. It’s a lot of work, and its time I stopped looking like I was fifteen, especially when I graduate from college next month.” Going to shoulder length would be just fine, it was time to get over her fear of having it cut and just DO it, Cathy thought. She noted the salon at the end of the block, remembering it as one that her roommate went to for cuts. They always did a great job with her hair, why not mine? Taking a deep breath, she finally made up her mind, walked purposefully to the salon, and opened the door. There were no customers waiting, but, over the walls of the booths, she could see the stylists already working on other customers. She walked over to the entrance desk, to see a young girl – her nametag said ‘Tina’ – close to her age, likely a student with no morning classes.

“Hello, I am here to get my hair cut. Is there anyone who could do it right now, or fairly soon?”

“There might be,” said the receptionist, “let me check. Oh, and by the way, could I have your name for the list?”

“Sure, it’s Cathy. Thanks, and I didn’t mean to rush you, it’s just that I have finally gotten up the nerve to have a lot of this cut off, and I thought maybe I could get it done before I change my mind again.”

Tina looked at her, questioningly. “Wow, how short are you going to go?”

“Well, I want it just touching the shoulders, I am really tired of taking care of all of this, and I want something a bit more mature-looking for job interviews.”

Wendy was just walking behind the reception desk partition, and heard Tina, at the counter, say, “Sure Cathy.” She intercepted her as she came back to the styling area, and said, “Is that Cathy out there, Tina?”

“Yes, Wendy, she wants a lot of hair cut off today, and wants it done as soon as possible?”

“Oh, don’t worry, Tina, I know all about it, I’ve got it covered.”

She walked out to the entrance and saw the girl waiting. She was a bit younger than she had expected, and the hair was even longer than she would have thought, but yes, she could see that the face was perfect for really short hair, and why she had been so happy with that look previously.

“Hello, Cathy, I’m Wendy. I already know how you want it cut, so don’t worry about anything, we can get started right away.”

It was nice of the receptionist to tell Wendy how she wanted it, it saved her the trouble, thought Cathy. And made it easier for her not to back out. Soon, it would be over and she would be fine.

Wendy lead her to the chair in her booth, seated her and carefully put on the cape. She quickly brushed out the hair, marveling at how nice it was, the beautiful color and the body of it. But still, hair like this took a lot of effort to deal with, especially when you preferred it short, so she could understand.

“So, Cathy, we might as well get started, and since you’re about to make such a big change, let’s go. It looks like you’ve just washed it, so I won’t have to bother with that at least.

“Yes, its definitely time, I should have done it long before this,” Cathy said, less sure than her voice sounded, but resigned to the need to look more adult with the prospective job interviews coming up near graduation.

Wendy reached for the scissors, but at the last moment, began to change her mind. Cathy had told her on the phone that she had always had it cut to half an inch all over, or a little less. She did have the Oster clippers that they used for the really short buzz cuts that the trendy college students sometimes wanted. And she also had an attachment blade that took it to three-eighths of an inch, just about exactly what she wanted. And, given the customer’s desire to just get it all over with, that would be much faster. With a small shrug, she reached for the clippers, and the attachment.

Cathy sat in the chair, nervous, but still telling herself that shoulder-length wouldn’t really look that much different, just a lot less hair than she now had to deal with. She noticed that the salon had a surprisingly good music system, which had just gotten a bit louder, following a request by one of the patrons. She was listening to the great new U2 song that she had heard on the radio, and finally started to relax just a bit, closing her eyes, and letting her mind drift a little to the music.

She thought she heard a low hum somewhere nearby, but couldn’t identify it, it was hard to tell over the music. Then, before she could even twitch, she felt something moving against her forehead, something vibrating. At first she had thought it was Wendy brushing back her hair, but she suddenly realized that something was terribly wrong. The panic began to overwhelm her as she felt Wendy finish sweeping across the top of her head to the back, most of her bangs and more hair brushed her face as they fell away. As she tried to find a voice to cry out, the absolute shock and unexpected horror left her almost unable to even make a sound. How… what was she doing… why? She dimly heard the stylist saying, “Don’t worry, this will all be over in a minute,” as she saw a huge length of her hair fall downwards onto her lap, followed by more. She finally managed to force out the words, “Oh my god, please no!” as yet another pile of hair fell onto her shoulder and then onto the floor, tears rolling down her face uncontrollably.

Cathy entered the shop, a bit frustrated by having lost a bit of time to traffic, and walked up to the girl at the reception desk. Seeing that she was on the phone making an appointment, she waited a moment and looked around the shop. Her eyes were drawn to a young, college student at the booth closest to her, who surprisingly was having her very long, beautiful red hair buzzed off with the clippers. Just then, she heard her anguished cry of, “Oh my GOD, please no!” The girl then burst into nearly hysterical tears.

Quietly, Cathy turned and made her way out of the shop, no longer sure that she wanted hers cut quite as badly as before, at least not today.


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