Read the Fine Print
The following story pays homage to and explores a shared fantasy. A tenacious motif in stories about haircuts deals with surrendering body and self-image into the hands of another person. Often this leitmotif transposes into the motif of forced haircuts. It is an undercurrent on hair-related message boards and sites.
Attuned to this motif is the question of whether glabrous women are alluring or repulsive. Even when a woman seems to celebrate her brave, audacious, and glistening image, the author of this story believes that he recurrently senses incessant images of regret in the tone of the woman who has lost her hair. Hair symbolizes femininity. Its destruction symbolizes a profound even if (if the woman is lucky) only temporary loss of femininity. The author is very much interested in your musings about his story.
Read the Fine Print – Ted Morgan
Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t.
“You’ve seen Leonardo da Vinci’s “Ginevra de Benci” at the National Gallery?” Howard waves an oyster with his fork before dipping it into the New Orleans concoction of horseradish, red pepper sauce, lemon juice, and a dab of ketchup. He slides the oyster into her mouth. Then he sips from a bottle Beck beer.
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“Only at the National Gallery’s website (www.nga.gov). It’s a knockout site,” Rachel replies before she sips her cold Dixie beer.
“Ginevra de Benci was obviously a dazzler. I have a pretty intense reaction to her beauty.”
“She’s close to being bald!” Rachel giggles. Howard frowns.
“That’s part of her allure! The image really turns me on.”
“Huh?” Rachel almost chokes on the Louisiana oysters she has just taken into her mouth. She coughs.
“What do you mean ‘huh’?”
Rachel regains herself. “Anything turns you on! She looks like a bald woman wearing an elegant scarf. I hardly think a woman can be good-looking without hair. Obviously, you would make love to a bald woman!”
“Chère, I would and I have. Cutting off a woman’s hair arouses a lot of people, men and women. My supreme fantasy focuses on taking away a pretty woman’s hair.”
“I can’t believe a man I like could think this way. It seems such cruelty… hair is such an important part of being a woman. It just seems so degrading, so deeply humiliating to take away a woman’s hair!”
“Being a woman is defined by having hair? That’s a male chauvinist pig remark, don’t you think? You know that early in the women’s movement during the sixties, some women with long hair cut their hair to protest just such an image?” Howard revealed his age.
“Of course, they just made you horny?”
“Well, yes, these cuttings did make me sexually excited. Look, I agree with you. The prettiest bald woman is still ugly. When I cut off several inches of Ann’s hair, she later deeply regretted it. I knew she would. But, you know, I wanted to take her all the way to bald – slowly and painfully to completely depilated.”
“A shiny, smooth-headed woman does turn me on. Still, I never find hairless women beautiful, but God, they are sexy.”
“Not attractive but sexy? What are you talking about?”
“I love women with enchanting hair. I love ravishing hair. I love your ravishing hair. However, shaved women seem sexy, even liberated. I admit that they also look diminished. It’s the humiliation any woman without hair bears that excites me.”
“God, you are cruel!”
“Well, it is brutal, I know, when you transform an exquisite woman into a freak.”
“Well, I agree that all glabrous women look like freaks. I know some women suffer from alopecia. Most have the good sense to wear wigs or turbans. Of course, they’re not freaks, just unfortunate victims of illness,” Rachel apologizes to people not at the table.
“Redress, counselor. They often are very sexy victims of illness! Whenever I see some of the good-looking women who have alopecia, I want them. I really want them.”
“I remember that you just said a hairless woman cannot be comely.”
“Sure, however, baldness on a woman is not what excites me – at least excites me the most. I’m excited by forcefully taking a woman’s hair from her. I want to take it without her consent, even her unspoken acquiescence,” Howard continues.
“The notion of taking an beautiful woman’s hair – her dignity – sparks my most fierce lust. I don’t think I’m very remarkable in this. Every man wants to seize some sort of trophy – physical or psychical from the woman he most loves. He wants to take something she treasures as an emblem of their mutual endearment. All men aim at dominance. It’s biological,” this chauvinist pig chants.
“Cutting off hair is not immutable like pulling out a pretty girl’s teeth,” he continues. “That would work too. It would be extremely humbling. However hair grows back; it just takes a while to reclaim its dominion.” Howard threw in that little peculiarity about teeth for emphasis and shock. Rachel seemed to miss it.
“That’s bull! Still, it seems so intense to me to know a man – a good man – would actually desire to do such a cruel thing to a woman.” Rachel almost turns red. “It’s just so savage. You fear the power of a woman’s beauty over your desire and imagination. A woman’s beauty causes you to forfeit mastery over your desires. A woman’s beauty threatens your sense of command.”
“Well, yes, I guess you’re right. Remember the amateur barber wants to shear, clip, and shave the woman he adores,” he pauses. “The thought turns you on! Admit it, I know it does.”
“It does not!” Rachel blushes angrily, because she knows that she does feel intense desire whenever she daydreams about being forced to shave her head.
Howard whispers under his breath. “The seed is planted.”
Rachel asks, “What did you say?”
“Nothing. You’re excited, aren’t you?”
“No,” she lies. “Catch you later. I have a client to interview this afternoon.”
“Catch you later Ginevra.”
“In your dreams!” Rachel moans more than quips.
“In my dreams and in yours,” Howard gently whispers.
That evening, Rachel records this incident and her reaction in her journal: “Howard dumbfounds me. How does he know me this intimately without having known me intimately? I am aghast and exhilarated in the same second.
“Thinking about a powerful man forcefully taking my ravishing hair away from me mortifies and electrifies me. Knowing that Howard shares my most secret sensual reverie disorients and embarrasses me. This is so deep!
“Yet, alone in the middle of the night, ravished by desire, I enjoy nightmare fantasies of a strange and powerful man willfully and piecemeal changing me from my alluring and seductive female self into a hideous, clean-shaven freak.” Rachel slowly and tenderly brushes her hair before retiring into night.