Oh Senator, Love the Suit by HeadBoy
Emilia walked into the shop, all cut-glass walls with two-sided photographs that hung from the ceiling. If this was a salon, it was like none she’d seen before. In one corner stood a pair of Go-Go cages, with girls dancing away in hideous short skirts bedecked with orange and green flowers and Twiggy hair to go with their Go-Go boots. On the other side of the shop was a photographer shooting pictures of would-be models, diva-ing up the place. Throughout shop were pedestals where low-backed black and yellow chairs sat. The floor was tiled to resemble honeycomb, and the walls, with all that glass brick, gave off odd angles of shadows and light. Rage Against the Machine blasted from the speakers, shaped like beehives; Emilia wondered what she’d just walked into. But, the place came highly recommended and she needed something new. It also came with the requisite “we’re better than you are” sunburned nostrils, from sticking their noses in the air for so damn long, aesthetic.
“Welcome to the Hive,” the tall woman behind the counter said, with an “I’m superior to you” look about her.
“Emilia Santino, I’m here for my 4 o’clock.”
“Your 4 o’clock what?” asked the talk woman, with a growing disdain.
“Ya know,” Emilia said, not taking her attitude, “If I was stuck behind a counter all day, making minimum wage, forced to watch more attractive women walk by day in and day out, I’d be a shrew myself. So, I suppose I can’t blame you for being such a bitch.”
There was an audible gulp in the tall woman’s throat. She pushed back her chair, stood up, and said, “Right this way, please.”
Emilia wanted to get a new hairstyle, she’d been thinking about it for a month, and she wanted something that just grazed her shoulders and framed her face. The music was pulsating, loud and foreboding, Emilia paid it no mind and ignored it as best she could. Her hair was to her shoulder blades, to the point of bothersome, rather than attractive.
The shrew from behind the counter introduced her to her stylist, and nodded to him unbeknownst to Emilia. Apparently, there would be a price to pay for telling her off, a price she would, maybe, regret.
The stylist combed out her hair and made faux pithy conversation, sizing up her pretty, but dated hairstyle.
“What was it you were looking for?” he asked, running his fingers through her hair, finding no split ends. Instead he found only sweet smelling, full-bodied locks.
“Something a little shorter, maybe to the top of my shoulders. Maybe blunt. What do you think?”
“Trust me,” he said, turning Emilia around and leading her to the shampoo sink.
The warm water felt soothing, so did the shampooist’s fingers, strong, tender fingers that rubbed, massaged and caressed her scalp leaving a tingling feeling slowly lulling Emilia into a sense of security.
Back in the chair, she eased into a comfortable position and closed her eyes as the stylist combed out her hair again.
The music pulsated, but Emilia drifted away, tired and relaxed from an already long day. The stylist looked over at the shrew behind the counter who nodded again, he responded in kind. His scissors went up the back of her hair to the nape of Emilia’s neck while she fell into the arms of Morpheus.
She did not feel her hair fall away, and could not put up a fight. As she slumbered, she was robbed of her pretty – though too long – hair, the stylist worked away, cutting the back until it was parallel with Emilia’s ears. The sides were subdued with five snips, quick merciless snips that exposed Emilia’s ears. Ears, it turned out that would stand up as her most flattering feature. Small, supple things that had an ideal shape and contour to them. The shrew from behind the counter was taking pleasure in watching the hair fall to the floor, hit the cape and otherwise leave Emilia’s head.
“This’ll teach her to call me names,” said the shrew, so full of self-loathing she had no friends and even fewer options in life. Emilia’s hair was still being cut away, the top being snipped and sliced into oblivion. The stylist worked fast, not wanting her to wake up mid-cut. The style appearing on Emilia’s head could best be described as a long pixie. Especially when the stylist chopped her bangs into submission with one snip. They fell across her eyes on the way down, causing a slight stir from Emilia, and a momentary pause to the stylist.
His ego and talent would not allow him to give a bad haircut, and also, he figured that if she complained he could play it off to his boss that he was just following what he thought her wishes were. The stylist gave some thought to his cruelty long enough to look at Emilia’s sleeping face. The evil side of him won out, however, and he turned on the fashion-forward looking clippers. No matter how they appeared, they were weapons of mass destruction to the slumbering woman.
The hum of clippers did not wake Emilia, she slept, unaware that the hair around her ears and in the back was being buzzed away to less than 1/2 an inch. They sculpted away the remnants that clung to her head, chewing away with arch precision. She would stir slightly, but not wake as the stylist tilted her head the other way. There was a full, tousled look to the new haircut/massacre, sort of like a sloppy version of the Eton crop popular years ago. Sort of. In other ways, it looked like a high-priced hatchet job, metered out on an innocent person.
The stylist even out the hair on top and the sides as Emilia began to stir to consciousness. “Almost done,” he said. “Almost finished” is what he meant. Just-finished clients walked passed, admiring the work, not knowing the elitist attitude at work behind the smiling face of the stylist. The clippers hummed away in a dulcet tone, and sounded similar to the beat of Rage Against The Machine, still bleating from the overhead speakers. The thudding was constant, and finally enough to stir Emilia to consciousness.
Emilia’s eyes grew wide as she saw herself in the mirror. Her forehead was exposed for the first time since she was six and cut her own bangs. Her ears were revealed for all the world to see. Her neck, her soft, sonorous neck was exposed to nearly taunt the male population with its near musical beauty. But her hair, her cherished hair, was gone.
She looked at the cape and at the floor to see that it was not a dream. She looked back at the mirror and felt the panic fade from her body.
“You have lovely features,” the stylist said, trying to play off his sabotage. “I thought this would be stylish and flattering.” The hum of the clippers died away as he switched them off, dusting her neck and holding up a mirror, triumphantly.
Emilia squinted at the mirror, turning from one profile to the other and using a hand mirror to see the back. Her blank, shocked expression gave way to a smile, a broad, glowing smile.
“This,” she said, “is perfect.” She wasn’t sure, but she was not about to give the shrew the satisfaction of seeing her flustered. Emilia could see the shrew in the mirror, smug grin fading to shocked torpor.
The stylist dusted Emilia off, feeling defeated as well. The shrew from behind the counter felt sick. Instead of ruining someone she did not like, she had inadvertently done her a favor.
Emilia got up from the chair and thanked the stylist. As she left a tip at his station, she tousled what remained of her hair and looked in the mirror. “So cute. Thanks again,” she said with a smile. Emilia knew that when she got home, she take a long hard look, a look with no one else around. If she needed to, she’d have a good, cathartic cry.
As she got to the counter to pay, she looked at the shrew and smiled. Taking her change, Emilia began to turn to walk out the door. “See you for a touch-up in a few weeks, sweetheart,” she said, sarcasm dripping off her tongue.
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