The Stylist’s Choice by Hair-Raiser
Kathy was feeling pretty good. It had taken some time, but she’d finally persuaded Carol to go for a bob. Carol’s hair fell to the middle of her back and was dead straight. On the odd occasion that Carol let her hair fall free, its natural beauty impressed everyone. However, she mostly tied it back in a ponytail or braid to keep it out of her face, which somehow just didn’t look as attractive. Kathy’s own hair was short, clipper cut at the neck and sides and razor cut on top giving a tousled look that was held in place by a few dabs of gel. Kathy loved getting her hair cut and had it done without fail every four weeks. She’d had it cut short in her early teens and kept it short for the next decade, although in many different styles. Not only did she enjoy getting her hair cut, she also enjoyed watching other people get their hair cut too and it was this interest that had meant that it was not uncommon for her to persuade a friend to get a new look and then accompany her to the salon to watch the show.
Kathy had known Carol for about nine months since she joined the local gym and had become good friends. Kathy had seen Carol’s hair swinging from side to side as she worked the treadmill and had suggested that it would be less hot if Carol cut her hair. Carol loved her hair long but insisted that it was her boyfriend’s wish for her to keep it long. Over the months Kathy had tried to tease her, flatter her and even bribe her to go for a shorter style, but Carol wouldn’t even consider it. That all changed when Carol split up with her boyfriend and suddenly Carol lost her excuse to keep her hair long. Moreover, her self esteem became badly shaken and she became more receptive to the idea of changing her look in order to restore it somewhat.
Kathy had been keen for Carol to try an ear length bob with high undercut, but Kathy had insisted on a more conservative shoulder length bob.
“If I like it and get brave, I can always go shorter,” Carol explained. “But if I don’t like it when it’s that short, I’ll be stuck for years.”
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John was finishing up a customer. Another woman with dead straight hair, although this one was blond and was having the ends tickled, just 1/2″ of hair cut. Although no expert, even Kathy could see that John had cut the hair immaculately with a perfect gentle curve working its way around from the back. Carol visibly stiffened as John finally took the cape off his customer and led her to the till. After a few moments John was back and facing the two young women.
“Well Kathy, good to see you again, but it’s only been two weeks. Do you want to go even shorter?” John asked.
“No, I’m just here for moral support. My friend here wants to go shorter.”
“That’s great. Let’s get her to the chair before she changes her mind.” John laughed at his own joke although Carol wasn’t absolutely sure that she wouldn’t.
John led Carol to his station and Kathy followed. Carol sat in the chair and John pulled the cape around. He made sure to get Carol’s hair over her shoulder and down her front before fastening it at the back.
John and Carol introduced themselves and then John asked, “So how would you like it?” He was hardly able to keep the anticipation out of his voice.
Carol took a deep breath. “Shoulder length bob,” she blurted out quickly, hardly believing that she’d managed to say it.
“That will look so great on you,” John enthused, trying to put Carol at ease.
“I think it’s a good start,” Kathy joined in. “But it would look so much better if she would have it taken to her ears and undercut at the back.”
Carol’s eyes opened more widely as she tried to comprehend what her friend had just said. They’d discussed that style often and Kathy knew Carol didn’t like the idea.
“Oh, yes,” John enthused. “That would look a lot more interesting and eye catching.” He started playing with Kathy’s hair, pulling it one way and then the next. Then seeing her small ears, high cheekbones and graceful neck he suggested, “But what we should really do is cut it like yours. It’s the same texture and it’ll really show off her great features. You’ll look like sisters.”
“Wow. What a neat idea,” Kathy hadn’t expected John to suggest alternatives, but it was very welcome.
“So, shall we get started?”
“Sure!” Kathy replied immediately, not realizing or indeed caring that her friend had been asked the question and not her. Still, this was enough for John.
John went to his station and picked up his razor. He gathered all of Carol’s hair in a ponytail in his left hand and pulled it taut. He flicked open the razor and moved it toward the ponytail, close to her neck.
“Stop!” Carol shrieked at last, somewhat regaining her composure.
“Something wrong?” John enquired.
“Yes. I don’t want my hair cut that short.”
“Why, don’t you like Kathy’s haircut?” John asked knowing full well that it was going to be tough for Carol to say she didn’t like her friends haircut with her standing next to her.
“Yes, I like it. But it’s too much of a change for me.”
“It’s only a little bit more off than you had planned,” John countered. “In for a penny, in for a pound.”
“No,” Carol stated emphatically.
“There’s nothing I can say?” John asked.
“Is there anything I can say?” Kathy offered.
“So it’s the bob?” John asked.
“OK. If you’re sure.”
John relaxed his grip and slid it down the ponytail slightly. He then sawed through the ponytail with his trusted razor. Kathy was delighted to see that the ponytail had been taken off above the hairline of the nape so that the shortest hair was parallel to the top of Carol’s ear. Carol was in blissful ignorance of this fact as the front hair fell to below her chin, slightly shorter than she had anticipated, but not too far from her desired shoulder length.
John held the pony tail up for Carol to see. “Do you want to keep it?”
“Please.” came the reply from a more confident Carol who had made it through the big step of losing 18″ of hair. John passed the trophy to Kathy.
“So that’s the hard part done. You can just sit back and relax now.”
John went back to his station and picked up his clippers. He attached a number 3 guard and plugged them in. He turned back toward Carol.
“What the hell are those for?” Carol asked as some of her trepidation returned.
“To do the undercut of course.” John replied casually.
“I’m not having the undercut. I’m having the shoulder length bob.”
“Oh god. You meant that bob. I’m afraid I’ve cut it too high at the back for that.”
“Well that’s what I want.” Carol replied defiantly.
“I can’t stick it back on. The longest style we can get is the ear length bob with undercut. Shall we continue?”
Carol stared blankly in the mirror, not believing that it could happen. Kathy stepped in.
“No good crying over spilt milk, Carol. Might as well go through with it. It’ll look fantastic.”
Carol continued to stare blankly in the mirror.
“Go on John. Better get it over with,” Kathy advised.
John walked behind the chair and roughly pushed Carol’s head down. He turned the clippers on that purred into life. He flashed a quick smile to Kathy who was still clutching Carol’s severed mane. Kathy returned the smile and winked. John started ploughing the clippers up Carol’s neck. He stopped the first swipe an inch above the nape line. He was about to make the second swipe when Kathy asked, “Hey, could I have a go with those?”
John wasn’t sure that was a good idea but said, “If it’s OK with Carol.”
“Oh go on Carol,” Kathy pleaded. “I’ll be real careful.”
“You’d better,” Carol confirmed sternly.
John passed the clippers to Kathy. “Just make a cut alongside mine and when you get the same level just kind of lift them out like this.” He held her hand and motioned the action he wanted her to make.
Clearly enjoying the experience, Kathy’s first cut mirrored John’s perfectly, but she got completely carried away on the second and ploughed it all the way to a line level with the top of her ears. John snatched the clippers out of Kathy’s hands but she was too happy to notice John’s stern look of disapproval. Carol’s head was still bowed down and she was unaware of any wrongdoing. John then re-cropped the rest of the neck area to the higher line dictated by Kathy’s exuberance. He swapped his number 3 guard for a number one and re-cropped the bottom half of the cut, leaving a natural M shape of the hairline as it joined the nape of the neck. John put down the clippers.
“Look at that. Isn’t that the most sexy neck you’ve ever seen? Go on. Just feel it.”
Kathy beamed as she rubbed Carol’s neck spike. “Oh, that is good. You have a feel Carol.”
But Carol was in no mood to join the celebrations. She kept her head bowed down.
“I’m sorry, but this head is just too sexy to keep it covered in hair. We’re going to have to show those ears off.” John declared.
“Yes. Go on Carol. You’ll not be sorry.” Kathy was getting carried away seeing all the hair flying.
“No!” Carol looked up at John and Kathy’s happy, smiling faces.
“Tell you what,” John offered. “Let’s toss a coin. Heads you get the bob, tails, hello ears.”
“C’mon Carol. You’ve bravely said goodbye to a foot and a half of hair and now we’re quibbling over a few more inches.” John was getting desperate.
“Well, they’re my inches and I want to keep them.”
“Of course you can,” John added confidently. “I’ll put them in a bag with the ponytail.”
Kathy laughed. “You’ll look really great Carol. Let’s do it.”
Carol looked long and hard in the mirror. She’d already lost a lot of hair, would taking it around the ears be so bad? Carol decided that it might not, but it wasn’t what she wanted and no amount of bullying from John and Kathy was going to change that.
“No. It’s going to be shorter than I intended and that’s as far as I’m prepared to go. Just finish the bob and once I’m used to it, I’ll let you know if I want to go shorter.”
Kathy and John exchanged a glance. There was no mistaking Carol’s reserve and in fairness, she had already lost a lot more hair than she had really wanted.
“OK, Carol. You can’t blame me. It’s so rare that someone with such beautiful features is prepared to go shorter. Let’s get that bob done.” John picked up his spray bottle and wetted Carol’s hair. Carol relaxed a little in the chair after the verbal onslaught from John and Kathy. Her hair was going to be shorter than she originally wanted, but it was going to be longer than John and Kathy were insisting.
John sectioned the hair. He took a long last look at the sides as Carol had left him a bit of a problem. The higher cut at the back would not look good on an undercut so he decided to blend the top layers in to the cropped neck and then cut a steep angle down to the ears. John spent overly long on the back, almost fearing to go around the sides where Carol would see how high the neck had been cut. When Kathy was looking like she’d calmed down, he quickly chopped off the left side. In order not to make the angle too steep, he ended the cut just on her ear lobe rather than below it. When dried, this would look even shorter and John feared how Carol might react. Meanwhile, however, Carol’s expression had not changed. John glanced at Kathy who was still enjoying the show.
John let the upper layers down and cut them to the same length and finally he repeated on the right hand side. He considered asking Carol what to do about her fringe but decided he didn’t want the debate. He brushed her fringe forward so that it covered her face. He then sliced it off, half way up her forehead. Kathy made a little squeal indicating her approval and surprisingly, Carol’s expression remained calm. John got his razor and textured the finish. Finally, he blow dried the hair which was complete in minutes.
“Now is that something or what?” John declared, proud of his work.
“God you look wonderful Carol,” Kathy added.
Carol was silent for a few moments. “It’s shorter than I wanted, but I think I like it. Nobody is going to recognize me, that’s for sure.”
“So do you think you’ll be back for it cutting like Kathy’s?” John wasn’t one to quit. “Hey, look at this.” Before Carol could answer, John pushed the sides of Carol’s hair behind her ears. “Don’t those ears look sexy?”
Carol was amazed, but she had to agree it looked better.
“So are you going to let me get those ears out from under that hair?” John tried his most charming voice.
“No time like the present.”
“All right,” Carol almost whispered. John went back to the station and put the number 3 guard on his favourite instrument of hair removal. He put them right to Carol’s ear before turning them on and the sudden buzz made Carol sit up straight and hold her breath. John pushed them mercilessly up around the ear and then repeated on the other side. Minutes later he’d re-wet the top of Carol’s hair and was razoring the top down to a short and highly textured finish. A few dabs of styling gel and Carol was finished.
“Well?” John couldn’t wait to hear Carol’s verdict.
“So you were right. It looks great.”
Kathy looked at her friend. She’d introduced another person to the joys of short hair and her friend was happy. Kathy wondered who she could persuade next to go for the crop.