New Year’s Resolution by HairRaiser
The girls sat in the pub gigling. It had been a ritual for the last four years for them to get together on New Year’s Eve and make their New Year resolutions to each other. Not that they had been successful in keeping the resolutions, but since they all worked in the same office, it put a bit of peer pressure on them and so they tended to last a bit longer and anyway, it was a good excuse to get drunk on New Year’s Eve.
At last it was Jenifer’s turn. “My New Year’s resolution is to get two promotions and then sack my lousy boss, the dreaded Maud.”
“Not fair,” Lisa protested. “That’s the same as last year, and you weren’t so successful then.”
“You’re wrong,” Jenifer corrected her. “Last year I promised to get Maud’s boss, John, to start going out with me and then get him to fire her.”
“Sounds like a better plan,” Lisa observed. “Chance of a secretary becoming a manager are about zero. What went wrong with it?”
“I don’t know. He’d just broken up with that girl from accounts so he was available. I flirted as openly as I dared and yet he just wasn’t interested.”
“I think I know how you could make it work,” said Wendy who shared Jenifer’s misfortune of working under the dreaded Maud. Wendy continued. “The girl from accounts is called Isabel and I used to have lunch with her sometimes. Well she told me the reason she broke up with John was because he was totally obsessed with her hair. He would always play with it which was annoying enough but the thing that really pissed Isabel off was that he kept on and on at her to cut it short. In the end she’d just had enough so rather than cut her hair, out went John.”
“I don’t see how that helps. I don’t want to cut my hair either.” Jenifer involuntarily checked her ponytail to see it was still there.
“Well Isabel managed to keep her hair and she went out with him for nearly two years. Just swish your hair around John, tease him about wanting to cut it and when he’s totally under your spell, get that bitch fired.”
Even in Jenifer’s drunken state, this seemed a much better plan than getting two promotions within a year. She and Wendy planned their tactics and two days later they were back in the office and put their plans into action.
John was a creature of habit and every day at 11:00 he would go to the coffee room to get a cup and read the newspaper. Wendy and Jenifer were already waiting. Jenifer, who normally wore her hair tied back in the office, had washed her hair the night before and was wearing it lose. Wendy was brushing it when John stepped into the room holding his empty coffee mug. Wendy had managed to build quite a shine in the chestnut locks and the blunt cut ends were neatly curled under, falling to mid-back.
“I tell you, you should cut it. You don’t want this headache every day.” Wendy launched into the prepared script.
“I’d like to, but the boys seem to prefer my hair long.”
John slunk around the wall to the coffee machine and did his best to ignore the girls. Wendy couldn’t remember the rest of the script and so tried the direct approach.
“John? Could you help? Jenny wants to cut her hair short but is worried that they boys won’t find her attractive. What do you think?”
John went bright red and after a few seconds managed to blurt out, “I’m sure she’d look good no matter what she did.” He filled his mug and beat a hasty retreat, forgoing his normal newspaper reading. The girls had failed and after a few conciliatory words returned to their desks before Maud noticed their absence.
Jenifer was working away when John came up to her desk.
“Jenifer. I’m sorry not to have been much help in the coffee room. Wendy kind of caught me by surprise. If you’d still like my opinion why don’t we do lunch together down the pub and we can talk about it.”
Jenifer agreed quickly and when John was heading back to his office, bolted over to Wendy’s desk to let her know that their charade had in fact been successful.
Down at the pub, Jenifer sat talking animatedly to John, but it soon became clear that he was getting bored. She flirted as much she dared and hinted in fairly direct terms that she fancied him. He didn’t respond and Jenifer started to develop the sinking feeling that her plan to oust Maud was not going to work.
Eventually John asked, “So what’s this about wanting to cut you hair short?”
“Not such a great idea huh? I happened to mention it once to Wendy that I was thinking about cutting it short and she’s not stopped telling me to do it since,” Jenifer lied convincingly.
“No. It’s a great idea. You should really do it.”
“What, may be 5 or 6 inches up to the shoulders?” Jenifer noted the change in attitude in John who was now clearly interested in her.
John didn’t respond immediately and studied her face. “Do you mind?” he asked, leaning across and pulling Jenifer’s hair back in to a ponytail before she could respond. She noticed he was getting aroused and allowed herself to hope again for the demise of Maud.
“Well you could, but I think you should really go a lot shorter. It would really show off your great neck and ears rather than hiding them,” John stated as enthusiastically as he could. “Still I guess you know that since you normally wear it tied back. Why bother? Just cut it short. Easy!”
“But I think really short hair doesn’t look so feminine. No boy would look at me again without this stuff.” She tossed her hair to the side and back and again noted the still increasing arousal from John.
“Nonsense. Short hair would not only look feminine on you, it would be downright sexy. You’d have boys queuing up to take you out. I know I would.”
Jenifer smiled. Maud was toast. Now she needed to move the conversation back to safer ground and secure the first proper date. “You might be right, I’d certainly like to try something really short and shock everyone. But I’d have a nervous breakdown thinking about going to the hairdressers to have all of this cut off. I’ll have to keep it until I can overcome my fear.”
“Don’t think about it. Next time you’re at the hairdressers, just decide to do it there and then.”
“That wouldn’t help. I’d just have the nervous breakdown at the hairdressers and I wouldn’t even be able to get the words out. No I’m so chicken, I’ll just have to keep it.”
“Perhaps next time you’re going you could take a friend for morale support. Wendy could go and if you get cold feet, she could tell the hairdresser for you.”
“Wendy? You’re joking. If I let her tell the hairdresser what style to cut, I’d be bald. No, I’d need someone I could really trust and someone who I know cares for me.”
“OK. So that’s me. I’ll go with you and tell the hairdresser you want it short. You can trust me and you know I care.”
Jenifer smiled once more. John was definitely hooked and she could soon start to undermine Maud’s position. “Yes, John. But if you’re with me and I’m going to the hairdressers then I know it’s going to be cut short and I’m back to the first problem. I’d have a nervous breakdown before I even got there.”
John laughed. “Well, you certainly are a problem, but I know I can get you that short haircut somehow without a nervous breakdown.”
They finished their drinks and left to return to the office. They chatted brightly as they walked down the street passing the parade of shops. Suddenly John took her hand and before she knew what was happening John had led her into Jack’s barbershop.
“Hello sir. What can I do for you?” Jack asked, stepping up from his chair in the deserted barbershop.
“No, it’s not me today, it’s my friend here. She’d like something a lot shorter.”
Jenifer’s heart started to pound. “John, we’ve not got time for this, we’re late from lunch as it is.”
“Ah. The advantages of being boss. Don’t worry, I’ll tell Maud it was my fault.”
“But John. This isn’t the usual kind of salon I go to,” she whispered under her breath, but Jack clearly heard.
“I know, but we needed to do it on impulse otherwise you’re going to have a heart attack and this is the only place that does hair between the pub and the office. Anyway, Jack here is very good. He does mine all the time.”
Jenifer couldn’t think of anything to say and was quietly led to the waiting chair by Jack. He got the cape around her and as he wrestled with her hair from under the cape and combed it through, it was clear he wasn’t used to handling long hair.
“So Miss, what’s it to be?”
Jenifer’s mind was in a whirl but managed to utter, “Just a trim please.”
John laughed. “Keep calm. Deep breaths.” He turned his attention to Jack. “No she’s a little nervous. She really wants it all off but is terrified. I thought something quick and easy like a crew cut. So she gets that stunning look but it’s over before she faints.”
“Crew cut OK Miss?” Jack asked flatly.
It clearly wasn’t for Jenifer, but she wasn’t sure how to talk her way out of this without pissing off John.
“John. Perhaps another time. I’m really not sure I’m ready for it.”
“From what you said earlier, you’ll never be ready. Better get it over and done with if you meant what you said about wanting to try short hair.”
“Come on. You said you trusted me. Trust me now, you’ll look great!”
“Yes, but, I’ve been thinking about it too long now. It’s no longer an impulse and I’m halfway towards the nervous breakdown.”
“So Jack. Better get the shit off her head before she gets to the second half of her nervous breakdown.”
“Get this shit off?” Jenifer repeated, not believing her ears. She fixed her stare on John hopefully transmitting her disapproval to him and forcing him to relent and let her out of the chair with at least most of her hair intact. Unfortunately Jenifer didn’t notice that Jack had misinterpreted the repetition not as a question and instead understood it to be an affirmation. He had stepped back to get his clippers, fixed a number 4 guard and had turned it on and swept it down Jenifer’s centre parting before she knew what was happening.
As she saw the clippers mowing through the mop of hair, sending tresses tumbling down her face and onto the cape, all she could say was, “Oh my god!” Two more quick swipes down the middle and Jenifer had a 3″ wide cropped swathe on the top of her head. Jack continued widening the swathe on the left and right side of Jenifer’s head sending curtain after curtain of hair sweeping down the cape landing on her lap and onto the floor. Once he’d reached the top of Jenifer’s ears he stopped. Jenifer stared in the mirror in disbelief. All the hair on top of her head was no more than 1/2″ long, the rest was untouched. She concluded she looked like an aging rock star suffering male pattern baldness who had only recently discovered the miracle of Rogaine. She saw John’s smiling face in the mirror and couldn’t remember ever seeing anyone quite so happy with themselves.
“Wow!” he said. “Fantastic.”
Jenifer smiled back weakly. She couldn’t think of the right adjectives to reply to John but she was sure fantastic wasn’t one of the ones she would have chosen.
Having fitted a new attachment to the clippers, Jack returned to his work starting on the left side and sweeping up the temple, perpendicular to his original cuts. As he continued around the side of Jenifer’s head she realised it was cutting much shorter than the cropped top and her white scalp peeked through the 1/4″ dark stubble. When Jack had worked his way to the back he roughly pushed Jenifer’s head down and held it there while he pushed the clippers up through the long mass of hair that remained. Jenifer could tell the clippers were working hard as the pitch dropped a couple of tones and Jack pushed them more slowly through her reducing mane. The sensation on the back of her head was curious and not unpleasant, other than the fear of not being able to see what was happening and it certainly felt like she was being completely scalped. Soon Jack released his grip and moved to the last remaining section of long hair on the right side of her head, which was removed quickly. Jack removed the guard and then using clippers over comb he blended the sides into the top. Within 10 minutes, her mid-back hair was history.
Jenifer stared blankly in the mirror. Suddenly all of her features seemed bigger. Bigger eyes, bigger ears and a bigger forehead. Of course, there was no big hair other than the pile on her lap and on the floor.
“Do you want a straight line at the neck or left natural?” Jack asked the traumatised Jenifer.
She had temporarily lost the power of speech and so the pause was broken by John’s suggestion of putting in an “M” which Jack duly obliged.
“Maud’s going to love that,” John observed happily.
Jack at last put the clippers down and after brushing around Jenifer’s hairline to remove loose hairs, he applied a few dabs of Brylcreem to make the top stand up more uniformly. He then got a mirror to show Jenifer the back of the head with the “M” clearly formed against her white neck until an involuntary nod of Jenifer’s head released him from his stand and he unfastened the cape and swept it off, sending the hair piled on Jenifer’s lap flying to the floor.
“Careful how you jump out miss. Your head’s so light now you’ll probably go through the roof.” It was the first time Jenifer had seen Jack smile. “No seriously, take it easy as the floor’s quite slippy with all of your hair.”
“Hold it there, Jen,” John cried out. “I’ll sweep some of it up. I’ve got to get a souvenir for the guys in the office.”
Jenifer sank back in the chair and felt somewhat embarrassed by the sight of her boss’s boss scrambling on the floor picking up her hair. He managed to collect quite a fistful and with Jack’s help, brushed it through to make a reasonable looking ponytail. Jack fastened it with a rubber band and then John held it aloft like a trophy.
“Come on Buzz. Better get back to the office,” John commanded, playfully rubbing her bristle. Jenifer climbed out of the chair and, zombified, followed John towards the door where they waited. After standing for a few moments it occurred to Jenifer that they were waiting for something and when Jack announced “£4:50” she surmised that John was expecting her to pay for enduring the torture rather than him picking up the tab for his enjoyment. She handed over a fiver and was given 50p in change. John looked horrified.
“It’s customary to tip,” John hissed under his breath.
“Oh. Thank you,” Was all Jenifer could manage as she handed back the 50p to the man that had scalped her of her pride and joy.
They headed back to the office in silence. Jenifer wasn’t quite up to conversation and anyway, John was too deeply engrossed with his ponytail to pay too much attention to Jenifer or indeed the looks he was getting from the people he passed. Jenifer shook her head. What could she tell Wendy? She lost her hair and not got Maud fired. Worse. She’d gotten a tribute “M” put into her haircut and that was without even a commitment of another date from John. How she wished she’d tried to get a two-step promotion instead.