My Wife’s First Short Hairstyle by H. Jhon
Kathy looked at her reflection in the mirror. She had a promising career as an up and coming accountant until she was “downsized”. “I need this job!” she said to herself. She had been on several promising interviews but received no job offers. Her next interview was two days away, Monday. She gathered her hair and pulled it behind her shoulders. The long auburn hair touched her shoulder blades. She turned to the side and examined her profile. “I look just as I did in college. I need a new look if I am going to be taken seriously.” She reached into the jewelry box, picked up a pair of gold hoop earrings, about 2 inches in diameter, and a pair of small diamond studs and put them on. She glanced at the clock, 10:30 a.m. Her appointment at the salon is scheduled for 11:00.
Kathy parked her car outside the “Hair Perfect” salon and walked in. The owner, Gail, met Kathy at the door. Gail had styled Kathy’s hair exclusively for the past ten years. Their relationship had evolved to the point where Gail could almost read Kathy’s mind when it came to matters of hair. “Hi, Gail.”
“Hello stranger! You haven’t been to see me in a while? On the phone, you said you needed a major makeover. What can I do for you?”
“I’m not sure. I have a job interview Monday and want to make a good impression. My hair makes me look too young. I need something… exciting. Something modern, stylish, and easy to fix.”
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“You want to look more professional.”
“Your hair is so beautiful. Many women would die for hair as lovely as yours.”
“No, I need a new look. Something to give me an edge, added confidence.”
Gail walked over to a table, picked up some stylebooks, and handed them to Kathy. “Let’s look through these. Maybe you will see something you like.”
“There are so many. I want a new look but I just don’t know what. Gail, do you have any ideas?”
Gail pinned up Kathy’s hair and studied her features. “Humm… You have beautiful eyes, you should bring attention to them. Your hair should be up off your shoulders to show your neck.” Slowly, Gail worked her way around Kathy. “You have such a lovely silhouette.” Gail paused. “I have an idea. I think it is just what you’re looking for. How much of a statement do you want to make?”
“Gail, I must get this job. I haven’t worked in three months. We can’t get by on my husband’s salary forever.”
“How do you feel about short hair?”
“What do you have in mind?”
“Just a moment, I will be right back.” Gail walked into the back of the shop and returned with a style magazine. “I received this yesterday. I saw something I think would suit you. Let me find it… Here it is!” As Gail handed the magazine to Kathy a stylist called, “Gail, telephone.”
“Look at this and I will be right back,” Gail said as she went to the phone.
Kathy looked at the pictures. One page showed an extremely cropped style in a series of poses. The other page showed a long layered bob. The hair was cut about collar length with long bangs. One photo showed the model with her hair down over the ears. Another with hair placed behind the ears. Another with the sides slicked back with styling gel and the back with a flip, a very formal look. Kathy looked into the mirror, pulled her hair up, and turned from side to side. Her hair would be much shorter. She had some reservations but knew if she didn’t go ahead and do it now, she might not have the courage later.
Gail walked up and said, “Do you like it?”
“Well, it is definitely a big change. My hair has never been that short but it is cute. Maybe I will be taken more seriously with this cut.”
“You will knock them dead with this look, but are you sure? This is a major change. I recommend you gradually shorten your hair over the next few months to give yourself time to get used to it.”
“No. The more I think about it, the more I know this is what I want.”
“Good. I wanted to try this style on one of my customers when I saw it. It will look so cute on you. Are you ready to begin?”
Kathy smiled and said, “I am ready for a new me!”
“First, you need to take off your hoop earrings.”
Kathy moved her hair back and removed the two gold hoops and handed them to Gail.
Gail set the earrings on the counter, picked up a cape, and wrapped it around Kathy’s neck. She spun the chair around and lowered Kathy to the sink. She washed Kathy’s hair, slowly massaging the scalp. Gail blotted the excess moisture and raised the chair back then turned the chair so Kathy could watch in the mirror. She picked up hairpins and pulled Kathy’s hair up to her crown. Starting in the back, Gail released the hair section by section and trimmed it to one length. Kathy watched as her long locks were shorn. “Isn’t that a little short?” Kathy asked. Gail was cutting the sections about three inches long.
“I know it appears short, but after the perm you will have plenty of body and volume,” Gail replied.
“A perm? I didn’t realize this style was permed.”
“Oh yes. The curls give the style that feminine look. They will accentuate your best features and give your hair body,” Gail replied. Kathy thought about the pictures. She was positive the model had straight hair but let it pass. She trusted Gail’s judgement.
Kathy kept watching. Slowly, the long locks disappeared. Gail took the comb and brushed Kathy’s bangs over her eyes. Starting over the right eyebrow, Gail worked her way across Kathy’s forehead and the hair over the eyes was gone. Gail moved to the right ear.
Kathy watched with horror as Gail combed her hair down straight over the ear and with a few snips, the hair fell to the floor.
“My hair has never been cut over my ears. I am not so sure about this.”
“Are you having second thoughts?”
Kathy thought she was going crazy. She was positive a picture in the magazine showed the model with hair covering the ears. “Maybe I am. It looks a lot shorter than I expected.”
“Kathy, I wish you had allowed me to cut your hair shorter over time. Now, I am past the point of no return. You don’t want to go to your interview looking like this.”
The remainder of Kathy’s hair was a mess. Her right ear stuck out while the left ear was covered with hair. The top was short. Gail was right. It was too late to turn back. She would have to endure the shearing until the very end… she had no choice. She had to look good for the interview. “No, I am all right. Keep going.”
Gail repeated the process on the left side.
“OK. That is enough cutting for now. After the perm is finished, I will clean up any loose ends.
Kathy reached up and ran her fingers through the cropped hair. “I don’t know if I will get used to it.”
“Kathy, in a couple of weeks you will ask yourself why you didn’t do this long ago. With your new look, you will walk into your interview and project an image of self-confidence.”
“I hope you are right but it is so short. I told my husband I was getting my hair cut but I doubt he is expecting this.”
“When he sees you, he won’t be able to keep his eyes off you.”
Gail pulled out a basket of perming rods. Section by section, Gail rolled the hair on Kathy’s crown alternating between pink and blue perming rods. She continued with the sides and down the back but stopped at the nape. Gail took a long piece of gauze, wrapped it around Kathy’s head, and tied it above the forehead.
Kathy watched the entire process. “What about the rest of the back?” Kathy asked.
“I will blend it into the curls after the perm,” Gail answered. “Be patient. I won’t let you down.”
Gail went around the head and applied the perming solution to each roller. When finished she took a plastic cap and covered Kathy’s head. “It will take about 30 minutes for the perm to set. If you want, you can get up and move around while you wait.
Kathy got up, walked over to a rack, picked up a magazine and sat down. She started glancing through the magazine.
Time passed quickly. Gail walked over. “Time’s up! Come back to the sink.”
Gail removed the plastic cap, applied neutralizer to the rolled hair, and began removing the curlers from Kathy’s head. Once all the curlers were removed, Gail applied more neutralizer. She lowered Kathy back to the sink and rinsed the neutralizer out of Kathy’s hair… curly hair. Gail used a towel to absorb the excess moisture and put Kathy back under a dryer.
Gail worked so fast Kathy didn’t catch a glimpse of herself in the mirror. She picked up the style magazine Gail set on the table earlier and began thumbing through it. Gail walked over several minutes later, reached under the dryer hood, and checked the hair to see if it was dry.
“Just a few more minutes,” Gail said as she walked away.
Kathy kept looking through the magazine. She reached the page with the style she selected. The model definitely had straight hair covering the ears. “What is Gail doing?” Kathy thought. Suddenly, Kathy’s eyes were drawn to the page on the right, facing her style. The model’s hair was extremely short and full of curls. Short and straight hair covered the nape and sides. The curls came to the top of the ears. Slowly, Kathy reached her hand under the dryer and felt her hair. Her fingers dug into a mass of thick curls. She ran her fingers through the curls and felt the back. No curls, just straight hair. She was shocked.
Suddenly, Gail raised the hood. “Your patience is about to pay off, we are almost through.”
Kathy sat and looked into the mirror. The curls were tight, very tight, and hugged her scalp. Her hair was much shorter than when it was cut. The forehead was bare. The edge of this cloud of hair was about even with the top of her ears.
“Just wait. In a few minutes, you will look in the mirror and ask why you didn’t do this a long time ago,” Gail said. She began running a pick through the curls. The cloud began to grow and expand. Soon Kathy’s head was full of thick dark curls. Gail took a pair of scissors and began trimming stray hairs. The cloud of hair formed into a lovely shape but the edge and sides were still rough.
Gail set the scissors down, picked up a smaller pair, and a comb. “Now I am going to shape the back. Look down and be still.” Gail used the comb to hold the hair away from the scalp as she cut the hair extremely close, about three-eighths of an inch long. She worked quickly. Up and down the nape, she cut the hair to one length. Although Kathy could not see Gail cutting the hair, she knew it was being cut short, extremely short. She felt tiny pieces of hair rub her neck as they floated down toward the floor. Everything was happening so fast, Kathy could not move or utter a word. Gail ran the comb up the nape several times to make sure the hair was one length.
On the sides, Gail pinned the curls up to expose straight hair beneath and began cutting the hair around the ear. Kathy watched as Gail used the comb to hold the hair out, then “snip” and the hair fell. Gail worked right up where the curls started. Kathy watched helplessly as her hair was shorn. Gail formed the hair in front of the ears into short pointed sideburns. The process was repeated on the other side. Finally Gail set the scissors and comb on the counter.
Kathy reached up and felt the short hair on her nape. The familiar long locks were gone. She grabbed a small section. All she could do was squeeze it between her fingertips.
Gail walked around the chair to look at her work. “I think it would look much better if the nape was clippered. I know that isn’t the way the model’s hair in the magazine was cut but clippered would look great on you. Is that OK?”
Kathy’s eyes got big as she tried to speak. Nothing would come out. The thought of having her hair cut with clippers was horrifying. All she could do was stare at the stranger in the mirror. Finally, she nodded her head in approval.
Gail opened a drawer, pulled out a pair of electric clippers, and attached a #2 comb. With a flick of a switch, the clippers began to purr. Kathy straightened up and froze. She felt paralyzed, almost as if some mystic force were holding her still.
“Now, I am going to form a nice precise weight line… You will be pleased with the results.” She placed her left hand on Kathy’s head and moved it forward until Kathy’s chin rested on her chest. The noise grew louder as Gail placed the clippers at the base of the nape. Kathy squeezed her eyes shut. Slowly, Gail slid the clippers up the nape to the base of the curls. Kathy felt light-headed. She could feel what was left of her hair being sheared away. If felt like all the hair was being shaved off her head. Gail repeated the process across Kathy’s nape.
Gail finished the nape and moved to the sides. Kathy watched Gail hold the top of her ear down and run the clipper to the base of the curls, about one-half inch above the ears. She wanted to cry as she watched the short shavings fall on the cape. Gail passed the clippers over the pointed sideburn. Her ear stuck out without even a hint of hair near it. She had a “cap” of curls all over her crown with short, fine hair below the weight line. Quickly switching sides, the process was repeated over the left ear. Gail set the clippers down and picked up a smaller pair with very fine teeth. Carefully, Gail went around the ears cutting stray hairs and forming an even hairline.
“For the finishing touch, I will form the neckline. What type would you like? I can leave it natural or make it rounded, square, or pointed.”
Kathy didn’t know what to say. She was in shock from the shearing. She looked into the mirror and didn’t recognize the woman gazing back. Finally she said, “I… I don’t know… Do what you think would look best.”
“With your features, I think pointed would look best.” Again, Gail forced Kathy’s head down. Starting behind the left ear, Gail worked down to the center of the nape. She moved up to the back of the right ear and back down. She repeated the process a second time to form a straight even edge. The teeth of the clippers felt like pins as Gail worked. Then Gail used the clippers to remove the excess hair on the nape. Gail set the clippers on the counter, picked up a brush, and wiped away the hair clippings from the ears and nape. “That looks so much better.” She applied talc to the freshly shaved skin. As Gail worked, she said, “What I like best about this style is you can take a curling iron to style it or just pick it out and go.” Gail took a curling iron and curled the front on Kathy’s hair to give the illusion of bangs with a side part. She curled several places on top and gently teased the hair. The result was a full-bodied top that contrasted sharply with the clippered sides and back.
Gail stood back to admire her work. “Wow! You look great! There aren’t many women who can pull this look off. You are definitely one of the lucky ones.” Gail looked in the mirror, then turned and looked at Kathy’s face. “You should let me wax your eyebrows. They are too thick and full for your new style. They need to be thinned and arched… It will soften you face and give you a more feminine look to match your lovely curls.”
Kathy was too stunned to resist. She gazed in the mirror and could not believe what was happening to her. She lost all will to withstand Gail’s request. Suddenly, “All right,” came from her mouth but it felt like someone else spoke the words.
Kathy wondered what she had done. How could she allow this to happen? She looked into the mirror gazing at herself. She was sitting there, her long locks gone. The hair would grow back, the eyebrows too, she thought.
“Good. This won’t take very long.” Gail turned the chair, lowered the back, and carefully placed Kathy’s neck in the recess of the sink. She pulled a long swab applicator out of a drawer and dipped it into a pot of molten wax. Carefully Gail applied wax to the underside of Kathy’s brows. She applied more to the outside, forming an arch. After the wax cooled, Gail pulled the wax off the brows.
“Just a few stray hairs left, I will pluck the remaining hairs the wax missed.” She worked quickly removing rogue hairs. “Your skin will be tender for a couple of days.”
She handed Kathy the two gold hoops and said, “You can put your earrings back on.”
Instinctively, Kathy reached up to move her hair behind her ear. Her fingers contacted nothing. She put the two hoops on her ears. Gail spun the chair around and proudly announced, “Don’t you just love it! This style brings out your best features. From the front, the curls emphasize your eyes; from the side, your shapely profile; and from the rear, your graceful nape. You look like a million dollars!”
Kathy blinked. She could not believe what just happened to her. The familiar dark brows were gone. The brows were full near the nose and formed an extremely thin high arc over her eyes. Kathy, still in shock, was unable to speak. She just stared at the reflection of the woman looking back at her. Slowly, she moved her head to the right. Her ears were fully exposed. The weight line was now over the tips of her ears exposing the clippered hair beneath. She reached up and ran her fingers over the ear and into the back. The fingers moved upward into the curls. It did not feel like her hair. The clippered sides and back were soft, like velvet. The curls were thick and stiff, full of body. She moved her head to the left. Gail picked up a hand mirror and said, “Look at how lovely the nape is.” Kathy looked at the reflection of the mirror. One hour before hair draped down to her shoulder blades. Now, the hair on the nape was trimmed to the occipital bone. She could see her skin beneath the stubble. The neckline formed a sharp pointed “V” on the nape. She could see the clasps of her hoop and diamond stud earrings behind her ears. She felt naked.
Slowly her hand moved up to her brow. She ran the tip of her index finger over the hairs. The skin was tender. She looked up and saw herself in a mirror. What had she done? How in the world did she allow Gail to talk her into this? Her hair was ruined. Her brows were gone. Numbness developed. Kathy didn’t know what was happening to herself. She just stared blankly as people moved about. Time seemed not to exist.
After a long silence Kathy spoke, “I… I… I didn’t realize it would make me look so different.”
Gail smiled. “I know it is a shock. This is a big change but you asked for something modern with little maintenance. I have been dying to try this style on one of my customers. After a few days, you will ask yourself why you didn’t do this years ago. Just think of all the time you will save. No more long hours fixing that long hair. In the morning, pick it out and you are finished.” Gail handed the hand mirror to Kathy.
“It is so curly and the back is so short.” Kathy reached up and stroked the hair on her nape. She moved her head slowly side to side and looked at the nape. “I don’t look like myself.” She wanted to cry. Tears began to form in her eyes. Why did Gail have to “try this style” on her? It would take years for her hair to grow back. Her nape looked bare. She rubbed the tips of her fingers over the freshly bared skin. She could feel the stubble the clipper left behind. The clippered hair that remained was so short … She couldn’t grab it with her fingertips.
Gail sensed Kathy’s agony. “Kathy, look at yourself. You look confident, mature, and sexy. How could you expect anyone to take you seriously with all that long hair? Besides, short hair is the ‘in’ thing!”
Kathy climbed out of the chair and walked over to a full-length mirror. She studied her new look. The curls were sexy. She turned. The permanently exposed nape was erotic. The thin brows gave her a look of maturity and made her eyes shine. She reached up and wiped the tears from her eyes.
“See,” Gail said, “I knew you would like it.”
Kathy moved side to side, closer then further away from the mirror examining the stranger in the mirror. “I can’t say I like it but I do look professional. I look older. If this change helps me get the job I’ll be satisfied.”
“You don’t look older. The long hair made you look like a schoolgirl. Now you look gorgeous!”
A small circle of onlookers had formed. They complimented Kathy on her daring to undergo such a drastic change. “I wish I had your looks,” one admirer said. “If my hair was not so fine,” another woman stated, “I would have mine cut today.” Kathy began to blush at the compliments. She picked up her purse, pulled out a checkbook, and walked over the cash register.
“If you get the job pay me then … otherwise, this is on me. Don’t worry, you will knock them dead at your interview. Now remember, you need to wait three days before you wash your hair to get the most out of the perm. This is a low maintenance style. If you will drop by the shop every two weeks, I will clipper the nape to maintain the look.”
Kathy instinctively reached up and felt her nape. “No chance that will happen. I am NEVER going to cut my hair again!” she thought to herself.
Gail smiled, waved, and said, “Good luck on your interview.”
Kathy turned and walked out to her car. She could feel the breeze around her exposed ears. The sunlight warmed the freshly exposed skin on her nape. She reached her car, opened the door, and sat down. She pulled the sun visor down, looked into the vanity mirror, and began to cry.
Epilogue: Kathy interviewed and was offered the job. She grew to love her short hairstyle. So did her husband. She visited the salon regularly for “touch ups.” Although she has made claims to grow her hair back out, once it gets long enough to lay “flat” she has always had it permed or cut even shorter… but that is another story!