Silent Anne – DLBARGRILL
Kevin was a client who used to come in every six weeks to get his hair cut. He was likable enough, although I felt he spent far too much time talking about how much money he made and how his software company was doing. Not only were those things none of my business, but he seemed to be doing a bit of bragging.
What made matters worse was that he almost always came to get his hair cut with his girlfriend Anne. I gave her the nickname ‘Silent’ Anne because she usually just sat on the couch watching Kevin during his haircuts, content not to say a word. Kevin would go on and on about himself, as guys tend to do, but she wouldn’t say a word no matter what. I could tell she didn’t like him being so free with his financial information, but she never objected. On rare occasions, she would read a magazine or drink a cup of coffee, but only if our receptionist offered. She never asked for anything. It was as if her task was to pay attention to Kevin. Thus, I got a slight distaste of him, not for anything he did, but for the way I perceived his relationship with Anne was.
I cut her hair once, about six months ago. After one of his haircuts, Kevin asked if I could do Anne’s hair. He told me she needed her split ends trimmed. Anne, I guess I should say, was a beauty. She was nearly 6 foot tall, wore glasses, in her mid-20s with a thin, non-buxom figure, and an Ivory soap face. Her center-parted blond hair was almost poker straight as it fell in all one length down to the middle of her back.
I asked Anne what she wanted done and she repeated the request that I just cut the ends. The process didn’t take more than 10 minutes. She didn’t have a lot to say while I cut her hair and I don’t talk to clients who don’t want to talk to me. I’ve always believed in the philosophy that you give the client what they want. I couldn’t help wanting to crack this woman, however.
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I was somewhat surprised when I checked my calendar that day and found that not only did Kevin have an appointment, but Anne did also. As usual, she sat quietly while he got his hair cut and he gabbed about his latest software triumph. I was polite, because he was my client and clients get respect, whether they deserve it or not.
As I brushed out her long blond hair, I asked her how she wanted her hair done. Kevin interjected that she needed to get her hair cut short because her hair was too much work. I strongly suggested to Kevin that I’d like to discuss Anne’s hair with her, and that he have a cup of coffee.
I waited for Anne to say something, but she remained quiet. I was going to have to wrestle it out of her. “Tell me about your hair.”
“I’ve kinda had long hair since I was a child.”
“It’s very beautiful,” I replied. “Why would you want to cut it short?”
“It takes like 3 hours to blow dry and half the day to air dry. It’s too long to put up.” She looked to Kevin. “I’m kind of a slave to it.”
“I understand,” I told her. “We can work with that, without cutting so much.” I glared at Kevin, who smartly only nodded.
After washing Anne’s hair, I set out to my task. Her long hair was beautiful, the kind I often wished I had. I understood her problem though. We women should rule our hair, not the other way around. I cut two inches off the ends, then cut 5 to 18 inches off the top section of her hair, giving Anne long, angled layers in the front. The layers started just below her chin and stretched to the top of her breasts.
Blow-drying took me only 30 minutes, and I showed Anne how versatile her hair could be, changing her part from the right side to the left. “You can pull it back now, or put it up. You can even blow the layers back or under if you want a different look.”
Anne smiled and thanked me. I was satisfied. Her hair had a lot more going for it, but she was able to keep the length.
Thus, I was surprised when Anne showed up 2 weeks later, this time without an appointment. For the first time, she was by herself. When told I was busy with a client, Anne said she’d wait. It was a busy Sunday and she not only had to wait until I finished the client I was with, but also the following client. It was a little over an hour before I got to Anne.
Without Kevin hovering over her, I was determined to get to know her better. “You get your hair cut twice a year, and now you’re back a week later. You don’t like the haircut?”
“No,” she replied as I washed her hair. “I love it. My hair has so much body. It’s cut down on my styling time. I kinda think if it’s real short, it would be 10 times easier.”
I sensed Kevin’s influence. “Anne, short hair would make you look real tall.”
She laughed a shy, reserved laugh. It was the first time I’d seen her laugh and she had a good one. “I’m 6 foot. No matter what my hair looks like, I’ll look tall.”
“Is this your idea, or Kevin’s?”
“Well, I… That is…”
“You don’t have to do your hair how he wants it.”
“No, it’s not like that. I’ve always had my hair real long because that’s how guys like it. It was so much work, but my boyfriends loved it long. I always wanted to cut it, but none of them would let me.”
“Yeah. I’m kinda shy and my analyst says I’m not very assertive. Kevin encourages me to make more of my own decisions, he got me to go back to college.”
Maybe I’d misread Kevin. This was a woman who was drawn to dominant men, and Kevin might have been the least dominating of the bunch. “I think I can give you more what you want.”
“Whatever you think.” Anne was letting me off easy. I thought of telling her to insist on the cut she wanted, but I knew I could give her the right cut and she’d like it. I carefully brushed out the remaining hair and secured it a ponytail. In order to satisfy Anne, and still not take off too much, this would be the most dramatic way. Her hair was still thick, despite all the layers I’d added during her previous visit, so the cut was a slow SNICK, SNICK, SNICK. She winced as I did this. When the hair was finally free, I tied up the opposite end and presented it to Anne. Without her glasses, she couldn’t see what I was doing, but she could see the size of the ponytail was over a foot.
She smiled. “Wow.”
“I’m not done I told her as I found a new guideline and carefully cut the back to her collarbone. I then preceded to take the sides between my fingers and cut them up on an angle, thus layering her hair from the shoulders to the chin. I decided to change her part to the left side and parted the hair there.
Blow drying took only 15 minutes, something which pleased Anne. Before I finished, I showed Anne that she could put the hair up and leave the wisps of hair on the side for a sophisticated look, something I knew she needed. Letting the hair fall down, I used a round brush to angle the layers upward.
When she put on her glasses, Ann had the biggest smile I’d ever seen her have. “It moves so much,” she said shaking her head.
“Yeah. You can do a lot with it, but it still has length.”
Kevin came in about a month later and this time he was alone. I took note of it, but didn’t say anything. If there was a problem between the two of them, it wasn’t any of my business. Kevin chose not to make it my business.
That left me curious. Two weeks later, that curiosity was piqued. Anne showed up, again alone, and this time with an appointment. Her hair had grown out to the point where it was now too long to curl under or flip out. Instead, it fell a half-inch beyond her shoulder blades. Anne also wasn’t wearing her glasses.
As I washed her hair, I asked her about them.
“I’ve always had contacts,” she said. “But I’m not good at putting them in. With all the time I save on my hair, I have more time in the morning.”
I smiled. I had done well.
“Where’s Kevin tonight?” My curiosity was boiling over and I felt more comfortable asking the timid Anne than the loquacious Kevin about their relationship.
“At home. He wanted to come, but I asked him not to.”
Wow, I thought as I brushed her hair out. “You liked the way I did it last time?”
“No,” she responded as she put her hand at her chin. “I want it much shorter.”
“Anne, we went through this,” I insisted. “You’re well suited for long hair.”
She kept her hand at her chin. “I’ve seen other tall women with short hair.”
“Look Betsy, it’s what I want. I like how you do my hair, but if you won’t I’ll go somewhere else. Maybe Supercuts.”
I was horrified, not only at her assertiveness, but also with her mention of the butchers at Supercuts. You can’t give a good haircut in 15 minutes. I pulled her hand down a few inches.
“You’re the boss.”
Anne smiled. She probably hadn’t heard that often.
I separated the hair into three sections, clipping the longer hair on each shoulder in front while I combed the hair in back. I regretted what I was about to do. I snipped off 8 inches of hair straight across in back so it fell an inch and a half below her chin. As I did the last time, I gave her the hair to prove the deed was done. Anne held onto it and smiled.
Anne and I chatted for the first time. She talked about how she had a few job interviews and she wanted to look good for them. I learned about her friends and family. She even talked a little about her relationship with Kevin.
I graduated the hair a little longer on the sides, so it fell in a nice bob two inches below the chin. For the cut to look right, it would have to look sleek. That meant a center part, with both sides exactly the same. I took a big round brush and blew the hair under so that each side touched below her chin. The cut was much cuter on her than I thought it would be.
“My eyes. Look at my eyes!” Anne squealed. “They stand out so well. This is great.”
I thought I finally found the haircut to make Anne happy, but I was wrong. A week later she made another appointment.
“Betsy, you don’t look happy to see me.”
“Because I know you’re unhappy with the cut. Again.”
“No. It’s great. I love the way it shows off my features and all.” She pushed the hair off her face, but it fell back. “I just feel like my face gets hidden.” She took a magazine clipping out of her pack. “This is what we’re going to do.”
I didn’t argue. I’d already cut almost two feet off her hair, so it was too late for that. I just hated to do it. Her bob was so neat and perfect. The cut I was about to do was messy chaos. Nevertheless, the perfect center part disappeared. I razor cut the hair to 3 to 5 inch chunks, easily eliminating all the hair which hid the ears. I made a note to point it out. “You’re going to feel kind of trippy with your ears exposed.”
She laughed, but not the shy laugh I’d heard a few weeks before. This one was comfortable.
I continued razoring over the other ear. To the casual onlooker my razoring might have seemed haphazard. One clump of locks I took was cut to 4 inches, while the next was only 3. That was the secret of this cut. It had to look messy.
The bangs were down to the bridge of her nose, long enough to cover Anne’s eyes. While I cut, I made sure I left them there. Anne said nothing, but I could tell she was amused. I finished the back, tapering the hair to a point just beyond the nape.
“I have cheekbones,” she exclaimed this time, as if I had revealed some new part of her body. “I love it, it’s so chic.”
“You can do a lot with it. Change your part, slick it back, on the face, or off.”
I showed her the back, which was also in 3-4 inch chunks an inch below the chin.
“Anne, could we…”
“Buzz the back a little?”
“Not that this looks boyish or anything, but that would look more feminine.”
Her eyes lit up at the hum of my clippers. I put on the 1/8″ guard and buzzed the back up an inch. The chunks were still there, but they ended a little above the hairline. All that was left was stubble. Anne couldn’t stop running her fingers on it.
That was a month ago. I just saw Kevin yesterday. Instead of talking about himself, he couldn’t stop talking about how much he loves Anne’s new look. There was a change in her lately, he told me. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but she seemed to be a different person. He was so enamored with her, he was thinking of proposing.
I didn’t tell him, but I saw the change too. Anne was much more outgoing and confident. I know it’s not just because of the hair, but it makes me feel good to think so. ‘Silent’ Anne who was too shy to ask for coffee was gone and I was proud.
Anne should make an appointment in the next couple of weeks. Her cut requires regular maintenance. I doubt she’ll go any shorter. What else could we do? A buzz cut?