Karen Werner was known on campus as the girl with the long blonde hair–reasonably so, since it hung below her waist, and she wore it in a single thick braid that flopped and bounced as she walked. Once in class, a boy, tempted by its richness had tugged on the sleek braid, and she pulled away.
“It doesn’t like to be touched.” But each evening at the sorority house, she liked touching it. She washed her hair almost every day, the hair hanging doubly heavy when wet, and providing a slippery, sensual softness when she massaged in the foaming lather.
Afterwards, her roommate, Stacy, would often comb it for her–the hair, damp and shiny, with Karen’s head yielding slightly with each pass of the comb. They were a contrasting pair. Stacy’s shiny black hair was barely below her chin, and her pastime was often sitting in front of a mirror, snipping at strands which she considered too long. She was, in fact, the acknowledged haircutter in the house–the one the other girls came to for a trim, sometimes leaving with an unexpected shearing. But while Stacy talked about getting the scissors into Karen’s hair, and Karen had conceded that someday that might happen, that time had not come, and Stacy settled for the frequent combing, and brushing of Karen’s hair, and the snipping at her own.
Both girls had beautiful hair–Stacy’s, straight and black. Karen’s, a rich, tawny-blonde, with deep waves when unbound, so sleek and thick you could lose your hands in it. When the ritual of combing was over, Karen would braid her hair, aware that her hair was a sexual symbol to many–particularly her boy friend, Gregg, who always told her not to cut it. Yet, the way he kept talking about it, maybe he wanted her to cut it–or to cut it himself. You could never tell what turned men on.
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Actually, she had thought about cutting her hair many times. But only thought about it. On graduation, she’d probably have to go under the scissors. A three-foot floppy braid, no matter how thick and shiny, was hardly business attire. But that decision would come later.
It came, however, on a Friday night in Malloy’s Tavern, the night before the big game between Michigan and Michigan State. The four of them were together in a side booth, the second pitcher of beer between them–Karen and Gregg on one side of the table, Stacy and her boy friend, Jake, on the other. They’d been out together before, and there was no particular division of loyalties, even though Jake was from Michigan State, and was definite that Michigan State would win tomorrow.
“No way,” Karen laughed.
“Want to bet?” Jake said.
He was well-built, with a cocky grin that invited challenging.
“Sure,” Karen said. “What do I get?”
Although Karen had a more sedate look than Stacy (who was the athlete of the two), she could be equally sharp and spontaneous.
In the beginning, it seemed pure barroom banter. Jake offered to put up his Ramirez guitar- -which she had played.
“How about your hair?”
“My hair?” Karen said, more amused than surprised. People were always talking about her hair.
“No risk,” Jake said. “You’re sure Michigan is going to win.”
Gregg, who could cite all the team standings, sipped his beer. Stacy was delighted at the prospect. Karen was not even sure Jake was serious.
“Okay,” she said. “If Michigan State loses, I get your guitar. If Michigan loses, you get a whack of hair.”
“Not a whack,” Jake said with a grin. “All of it.”
Now, she knew he was joking.
For a girl with three feet of hair, this could mean cutting it all the way up to her shoulders– which when it came off, she had considered.
“Okay,” Karen said. “Say goodbye to your guitar.”
“Say goodbye to your hair,” Jake said.
The discussion ended with the waiter bringing another pitcher of beer.
The next day, Karen had forgotten the bet. She had no intention of taking his guitar, and certainly no intention of cutting her hair.
But after the game–Michigan State winning with a last minute field goal–the bet was not forgotten.
“Where do we do it?” Jake said.
Do what?” Karen asked.
“You’ve got a haircut coming.” Now, he was serious, with that challenging grin.
“Our room,” Stacy said gleefully. “I’ve got all the tools.”
They locked the door, so the room would not be filled with onlookers. Karen could not believe they were serious. But Jake moved a straight-backed chair away from the desk, and Stacy was laying out her barbering equipment–slender, sharp scissors, a large, wide- toothed comb, and a professional clipper with a long black cord. “Be my guest,” Stacy said laughing, gesturing toward the chair.
Karen sat down, realizing this was decision time. She could go along with the game–if this was a game. Or simply refuse. But at most, they might take a snip of her hair–which she probably wouldn’t miss anyway. So she remained in the chair. There was a mirror in the room, but on the side wall where she couldn’t see herself. Gregg was unsheathing his video camera.
“I had this ready–just in case,” he said. Which meant he had been in on it.
“What if we’d won?” Karen said.
“Then you could have been playing Jake’s guitar.” Gregg moved a floor lamp closer so the light flooded Karen’s already radiant hair. Without waiting, Stacy began to undo the thick braid, the sleek, honey-colored hair cascading almost to the floor. Karen turned. Gregg had the camera to his eye, the red light on.
“Don’t I get something to say about this?” Karen said.
“Like what?” Stacy said.
“Like who does it?”
“You know I can do it,” Stacy said.
“The bet wasn’t with you,” Karen said.
She had strategic evasion in mind. Stacy would love to cut her hair. Jake would probably chicken out.
“Let him do it,” Karen said, reaching for the scissors, and handing them to Jake.
“He’s cut mine,” Stacy said. “He’d have cut it all off if I’d let him.”
Karen remembered when Stacy had a close crop, almost boyish in its shortness.
But Karen’s faith in her strategy returned when Jake exchanged the scissors for the large comb, and began combing her hair. He held the full length of her hair in front of him, pulling the comb through slowly. The light caught the ripple effect, with wayward strands glowing incandescent-bright before merging into the sensuous, golden flow. Putting aside the comb, he dug his fingers into her hair, lifting the thick, honey-colored mane over her head, and letting it tumble forward. Buried in the cloud of hair, Karen emerged, brushing it away from her face with a practised gesture. Gregg was in front of her now, capturing the full event on tape.
Their strategy seemed clear–to record her near panic, and laugh about it later. So, Karen resolved, no panic! She would just sit quietly, the model victim, indifferent to the threatened shearing.
“You like playing with my hair,” Karen said.
“While you still have it to play with,” Jake said.
More threat. But she showed no reaction, letting her head go back, enjoying the pull of the comb through her hair. If he liked it, so did she.
Suddenly, the buzz of the clipper shattered her composure, and she grabbed for the back of her hair.
“No!” she said.
“Oh, yes,” Jake said.
Her instinct was to leap from the chair. She’d seen Stacy use the clipper on a pledge, with masses of brown hair falling to the floor with a single sweep. But nothing happened. Her reaction was exactly what they’d wanted. She’d been tricked again.
The persistent buzz of the clippers went silent, and Jake parted her long hair in the middle, combing each section from the side, then lifting the combined mass, and letting it fall down her back.
“Get a shot of this,” Jake said.
Gregg moved closer with the camera, and Jake, holding her hair with both hands, let the honey-gold mass drop, finding its full fluid length near his feet.
“Wonderful stuff,” Jake said, “Too bad it’s all going to end up on the floor.”
Karen, now sure of the bluff, sat straight, refusing to show the anxiety she felt. But at the sudden, raspy buzz of the clipper, she grasped the edge of the chair.
“Noisy little bastard, isn’t it,” Jake said. “Sounds kind of hungry, too.”
He lifted all her hair above her head, as if about to plow the clipper through the exposed richness.
Karen refused to wince, although her every instinct was to bound from the chair. Then it was too late.
She felt the clipper plunge into her hair–the cold steel blades touching her scalp, and relentless buzz their way upward.
“Oh, my God!” Karen said.
Her hands went protectively to her hair. But too late. They were doing it. Not just cutting her hair. There was no guard on the clipper. They were shaving her head.
“All off,” Jake said, smiling. “Remember?”
The shorn three-foot section fell in thick, silky lengths across her face and to her lap. Too shocked to move, she didn’t even touch the shorn hair. Strangely, she felt no surge of anger, or outrage–only an inner numbness, that left her sitting, unresisting. It was done.
Without pausing, Jake let the clipper feast again on Karen’s long, luxurious hair.
Stacy claimed the clipper.
“You have no idea how long I’ve been wanting to get at this hair,” Stacy said, laughing.
Karen did. Once, when Stacy was combing her hair, she’d playfully talked about how easy it would be to sink the scissors in, and with several swift cuts, sever the whole length. Fait accompli! Like now.
With obvious pleasure, Stacy put the clipper in at the front of Karen’s head, and guided it to the back of her neck–the clipper choking slightly, at the task of cutting such thick hair. A long severed section slid to Karen’s shoulder and fell to the floor, lying there in a silken mass. Karen tried not to look at it, determined not to cry.
Methodically, Stacy continued the shearing. Karen’s head felt lighter. She could see nothing of what they were doing. Nor did she want to. Another three-foot length of honey-colored hair fell to the floor.
The three were silent–engulfed with the transformation, Karen’s head coming naked under the clipper, the hair on the floor growing in sensuous profusion. Karen was engulfed with acceptance. Her long hair had been her trademark since childhood. As a cheerleader in high school, it would bounce and fly about her face. She liked the attention it attracted, but she didn’t like being known only for her hair. Once, after a high school dance, she’d sat before the mirror for ten or fifteen minutes, scissors in hand, fingering the thick drape of hair pulled forward over her shoulder, ready for cutting.
Stacy handed the clipper to Gregg.
“Watching is fine, but doing is more fun.”
The shared act so no recriminations. Without hesitation, Gregg took the clipper, letting Stacy hold his camera. Ever since he’d known Karen, he’d been fascinated by her hair–not just the beauty of it–but the thought of cutting it. Why, he never knew. It was a recurring fantasy, holding out the long braid, and forcing the scissors through the heavy, polished hair; or letting her hair all full and loose, and with a forceful slicing, having a huge golden hunk come off in his hand. Living this fantasy, Gregg took a handful of Karen’s long hair, holding it loosely above her head, and severing it at the scalp with a pass of the clipper. From his willingness to cut her hair, having the camera waiting, and his close following of football– Karen was sure Gregg had been the one to suggest the bet. Not that anyone could have been sure of the outcome of the game, but sure of the outcome if the bet was lost. She felt Gregg lift more of her hair, the steel blades of the clipper, now warm, climb up the back of her head. More severed hair fell across her face, and she brushed it aside.
“You should be getting this on tape,” Stacy said, reclaiming the clipper. This was her haircut party, and the party was far from over. One side of Karen’s head was shaven bare, making the long polished hair on the right seem even longer, set off by the nakedness. Karen sat motionless, her eyes on the mounds of hair on the floor, and in her lap. After the first cut, there had been no turning back–which, of course, had been their plan. For Stacy, cutting hair was a sensual thing. She loved working with the long hair of the young pledges, who felt they needed a change, never expecting the sudden onslaught of the clipper. If they protested too much, or began to cry, she would switch to scissors, snipping away, to arrive at the same short and tailored look.
“Feel different?” Stacy said. She tipped Karen’s head forward, to better guide the clipper through the heavy remaining hair, each cut lower than the last, and then around her ear. More honey-colored hair fell to the floor, lying in a soft, taunting pile. For Karen, it was past the time of shock. She could only stare at the hair that had been hers, and take a slow, deep breath. “There,” Stacy said, making the last pass of the clipper. “All done, and all gone.”
Karen raised her hand to her head, feeling only her smooth shorn scalp. “Take a look at yourself,” Stacy said. Karen stood, facing the mirror. She was bald. Totally bald. In her wildest nightmare, she had never imagined herself like this.
“How do you like it?” Stacy said.
Karen turned her head. She had small, perfect features, which she seemed to be seeing for the first time. Certainly, there was nothing to hide them. “I think it will raise a few eyebrows,” Karen said, still staring at her naked head.
“And a few other things,” Stacy said. “A lot of men really get off on a clipped head.”
“So I see,” Karen said, glancing at Gregg. She backed Stacy toward the waiting chair. “Now, your turn.”
“You don’t know anything about cutting hair.”
“I’ve seen you do it lots of times,” Karen said. “Nothing to it.”
With a certain bravado–and caught in the spirit of the occasion–Stacy settled into the chair. “Just don’t get carried away.”
Karen stooped, picking up the longest pieces of her shorn hair, and laying them on the desk. “Clearing the field,” she said. Running her hand through Stacy’s shiny black hair, Karen lifted one section at a time, holding the hair between two fingers, and applying the scissors with deliberate care. Unlike the masses of hair taken from her, Karen trimmed only an inch or so at a time, the glossy black pieces falling to Stacy’s shoulder, and into her lap. Gregg was recording the clipping, his camera close. Jake was watching. Stacy liked short hair. But he had never been able to talk her into a really short cut. Now, she was certainly going to get one–but Karen was prolonging the inevitable.
“See,” Karen said, “just a clip here, and a clip there.”
Methodically, she gathered more of Stacy’s shiny black hair between two fingers, the scissors making their crisp, decisive cut. Stacy could not see herself in the mirror, but lifting a piece of hair on her head, it felt only several inches long.
“Not too short,” she said.
“You can hardly see the difference,” Karen said. “But you can feel the difference. Like you say, it turns men on. Isn’t that right Jake?”
Jake was silent, seeing what was about to happen.
“Now, we come to the good part,” Karen said.
The clipper snapped to life, and before Stacy could pull away, Karen had mowed a clean white streak through Stacy’s thick black hair.
“Like mine,” Karen said. “You said it looked great.”
Knowing there was no repair, Stacy could only sit rigid, braced for the next run of the clipper. In a way, she had half expected it.
Slowly, Karen peeled Stacy’s head, widening the strip of white scalp with each pass of the clipper, then playfully, taking several detours at different angles. Now, there were not short clumps of black hair in Stacy’s lap, but six and seven inch pieces, thick and shiny. When she was through, Karen snapped off the clipper, and rubbed her hand across Stacy’s bare scalp.
“Jesus, it feels different,” Stacy said.
“Take a look,” Karen said.
Stacy stared at her bald head in the mirror, turning from one side to the other. Karen, with her matching shaved head, watched Stacy’s reaction.
“You know,” Stacy said, “I always wanted to do this and never had the nerve.”
“Now, you’ve done it,” Karen said, “and we can shock the hell out of everyone.”
The change was shocking; for Gregg and Jake, an unrealized fantasy realized–and recorded. Stacy was gathering the longest pieces of her shiny black hair, laying them in a pile on the desk. Karen had already assembled the long lengths of her honey-blonde hair, even in its apartness, sensual and flowing. Binding one end with a rubber band ,she handed the luxurious trophy to Gregg.
“How nice,” she said, “to be rid of the both of you.”