I was at the receptionist’s desk when a young woman entered the salon. She appeared to be somewhat nervous and unsure of herself. She had medium brown tresses that were tucked behind her ears and held with two simple side combs. She was wearing a long yellow rain slicker and worn jeans. Her hair was tucked inside of her coat so I had no idea how long her hair was. She was a pretty young girl and, like many college girls, was very natural wearing little or no make-up. She was about 5’6″ and weighed all of 115 pounds. She apprehensively approached DiDi, our receptionist.
“I’d like to get my hair cut,” she said almost inaudibly while looking down at the counter.
“Do you have an appointment with one of our stylists?” DiDi asked.
“No, I’m sorry I don’t. Do I need one? Should I leave?” she asked.
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“Oh no, an appointment is not always necessary. Our first available stylist will see you very soon. If you would give me your name you can take a seat in the waiting area. I’ll call you when your stylist is ready for you. Would you like a cup of coffee or something else while you are waiting?”
” No thank you. My name’s Susanne.”
With that Susanne quietly walked over to take a seat in the waiting area.
“My schedule is open,” I told to DiDi. “I want to take Sue. I think this may be a delightful opportunity.”
I walked over to where Sue was seated. I extended my hand and said, “Hi Sue. I’m BonniJo. I’m your stylist. Let’s leave your coat with our receptionist and step back into the salon”
Sue looked up with the widest, softest brown eyes. Although her eyes revealed her apprehension she took my hand as she stood. “Hi BonniJo,” she said softly.
We walked over to DiDi’s counter and I helped Sue off with her coat. As I helped her off with her coat I could see that Sue’s thick heavy hair flowed unhindered down her back, but I still couldn’t see the ends. Finally, when I had her coat off I saw that Sue’s hair hung below her hips. As I handed her coat to DiDi she and I exchanged knowing smiles. My instincts about Sue’s hair had been right. This would be an exciting hair opportunity.
DiDi hung up Sue’s coat and turned back just as I was gathering Sue’s thick, heavy, long, long hair in my covetous hands for the first time. “My god Sue your hair is so beautiful! And it’s so long!” DiDi hurried out from behind the counter to join us. Her hands joined mine in Sue’s hair. “Sue, when’s the last time you had your hair cut?”
“I’ve never had my hair cut, only the ends trimmed by my mother or sisters. We all have very long hair. This is the first time I’ve ever been in a salon. I’m really quite nervous.”
“Today is your lucky day Sue,” declared DiDi. “BonniJo’s the best there is with long hair and she’s so kind and wonderful to work with. Have a wonderful day.”
“Well Sue, let’s get you changed into a salon smock and discuss what we’re going to do today. Please follow me.”
Sue changed into a salon smock and we stepped over to my styling area. I asked Sue to remain standing so I could get a better idea of her proportions and to give me an opportunity to become better acquainted with her wonderful hair. When she had changed Sue had recombed her hair. As Sue stood beside my chair and looked into the mirror I stepped behind her to examine her tresses. Sue’s hair was a very pretty medium brown, normal in texture but very, very thick. She said she had shampooed and conditioned her hair that morning as she worked up the courage to come to the salon. It was obvious to me that her hair was virgin. I asked if her hair was indeed virgin. She asked what that meant and I explained what virgin hair was. She did indeed confirm that her hair was most definitely virgin. She wore her hair center parted with the sides held back with large mock- tortoiseshell combs. Her hair then descended in a thick, perfectly straight mantle down her back stopping just below her hips. As my hands instinctively moved to release her hair from the restraining combs I asked if I might take the combs out of her hair. Sue nodded her permission. I quickly dispensed with both of the side combs. As I set the combs on the counter Sue ran her hands through her hair to loosen the hair that was held by the combs. It was obvious that Sue was very practised at this most alluring routine. I picked up my brush and turned to face Sue. “May I brush your hair for you Sue?” I asked. She nodded her consent. I often find that the best way to relax and get a woman with long hair talking is while brushing her hair. I practically had to kneel as I started to gently brush her hair beginning at the very ends. I slowly worked my way up the length of Sue’s tresses and was soon taking long wonderful strokes through the entire length of her lush hair. As I brushed her tresses Sue began to relax and we started to chat. I learned that Sue was a student home for the holidays. As I continued to brush those beautiful tresses, we talked about her school and lifestyle . With each stroke her hair became more luminous and full. Finally, when I felt that Sue was comfortable with me the conversation turned to her hair. I asked what she wanted her hairstyle to do for her. What did she want her hairstyle to say about her.
Sue replied, “I want my hair to reflect my individuality. To be me. I grew my hair long to because every woman in our family was expected to have long hair and it obviously grew very long. I love my long hair and everyone tells me how beautiful it is and how lucky I am to have such hair but……. no one else has hair like this anymore and I don’t want to either.”
“You want, you need a change. Why don’t you take a seat and I’ll get some style books for us to look at.” Sue stepped to the front of my styling chair and with a practised hand swept her lovely long tresses over her shoulder. As she sat she lifted her heavy locks and dropped them over the back of the chair. Her hair fell with an audible slap against the back of the chair. Sue was still a bit nervous as she focused on her reflection in the mirror.
When I returned with the style books Sue set them on her lap and began to page through them. As she looked for “her” style I stepped behind the chair, buried my hands into her thick warm hair and began to gently massage her scalp. I looked over Sue’s shoulder as she turned the pages of the style books. I noticed that she looked most intently at styles with lots of layers and movement around the face. Looking at Sue’s features I knew a style like these would bring out her eyes and her beautiful bone structure. With some subtle highlights Sue would be stunning.
As Sue looked at one such style I asked, “Do you like the styles with layers and movement around the face?”
“Yes. They’re so soft and feminine. Do you think it would look OK on me?”
“OK?! OK?! Sue you would be gorgeous with a layered cut! The cut would flatter your every feature. Your eyes, your cheeks, your overall look. We can individualize the style for you with the cut and color. You would certainly be an understated elegant young woman with this style.”
“Well maybe.” Sue continued to look at other styles but kept turning back and studying the layered cuts. Finally, Sue closed the books. She drew her hair over her shoulders and ran her fingers through her hair as she was deep in thought. “OK. Let’s do it!”
“That’s great Sue. You’ll love it. You are going to be so beautiful. Even more beautiful than you are now. And it will be so easy to care for and style. So versatile.”
As I began to get my styling tools ready, I handed the brush to Sue. I understood this was a very special time for her. This was a historical event for her. Her first haircut! “Why don’t you take a few moments for yourself Sue. Brush your long hair one last time. Let me know when your ready.” Sue took the brush, stood and began to brush her gorgeous long tresses for the last time. Sue took her time brushing her hair very lovingly. I must admit it was very exciting to watch Sue brushing the yards of her hair knowing that I soon would be cutting her hair.
As I watched Sue brush her hair I thought of how I would accomplish the cut. I remembered a conversation I had with a stylist who had cut the “shag” style in the 70s. He had told me about a one cut technique that he had perfected for cutting this layered style. I had always dreamed of trying it and here was the perfect opportunity. The cut was done with one pass of a straight razor. I didn’t have a straight razor among my styling tools so I excused myself and went to borrow a razor from one of the other stylists. I asked Melanie if I could use her razor. She had a beautifully hand crafted straight razor. The case was hand rubbed teak wood. When she opened the blade it sparkled in the light. Melanie asked why I needed a tool I never used. I explained the situation and my plan to her. Melanie said I could use her razor if she could be there for the first cut. I happily agreed. Melanie commented that her razor needed to be at its best for the task ahead and she skilfully honed the blade on a leather strop. Melanie gave me a few quick lessons in handling a razor and then closed the blade and handed the razor to me. We went back to my styling area.
Sue had finished brushing her hair, which was absolutely dazzling, and was seated in the styling chair with her tresses draped over her shoulders. Her tresses ended in a shiny, roiling sea of hair, filling her lap with her hair. She held the brush idly in her hands which were folded in that wealth of hair that for now filled her lap. I introduced Melanie to Sue and Melanie retreated discreetly into the background.
I asked Sue if she was ready. She replied she was. So I took the brush from her hand and handed her the razor. To be holding the instrument of her hair’s demise surprised Sue. In a calming voice I told Sue exactly what I was going to do. This reassured her and we were ready to proceed. Using my hands I brought all of Sue’s hair forward into a reverse ponytail at front of her head. Using the brush I smoothed her thick tresses into the tail. It was all I could do was to hold her thick hair in one hand as I utilized the brush in the other. The ponytail had to be absolutely centered and perfectly symmetrical. The heavy tail I held was so long the ends still rested in Sue’s lap. I continued to smooth the tail and check it from every direction. I’m sure we presented quite a sight to Melanie and others in the salon. When I was absolutely satisfied with the ponytail I held my hand out for the razor. Because I had to use one hand to hold her ponytail I had to rely on Sue to open the razor for me. Sue resolutely opened the blade and placed the handle in my waiting palm. The closer I cut the ponytail to the head the shorter the top layers. The further away I cut the tail the longer the layers. We had decided to start with 2 1/2 layers. I tightened my grip on the tail and asked Sue one last time if she was ready. She looked at the tail of her hair that fell in front of her to her lap. She reached out instinctively, protectively to touch and hold her hair. Sue ran her fingers through her thick tail that I dangled in front of her. She held the ends of her hair in her folded hands that rested on her lap. She sat silently thinking about the irrevocable event that was confronting her if she consented. I thought I was losing her. That she wouldn’t go through with the cut. “Sue, we don’t have to do this. We can stop now if you want,” I said. No reply. Sue just gazed at her beautiful tresses that draped in front of her. My hand and arm holding her heavy tail of hair were beginning to tire.
“Do it! Cut it! Cut it all off! Just hurry!” With that Sue’s hands tightened their grip on the locks that she held and her eyes clamped shut. I needed no further encouragement. I had the blade of the razor at her hair before the last word was spoken! The razor sliced through Sue’s hair so effortlessly. The thick tail put up virtually no resistance to the sharp blade. As I sliced through Sue’s hair, the new layers began to descend. The first layers cut were from the top of the tail and were the longest. They fell to cover Sue’s shoulders in a exquisite veil of precise layers. As I continued slicing the beautiful layers began to build upon themselves in quick succession. Only one or two seconds had elapsed and I was halfway through Sue’s thick tresses. The layers continued to fall beautifully about Sue’s head. In about two more seconds I was through the entire ponytail and the cut was complete! It was stunning! Sue had suddenly become a femme fatale! In my left hand I held the heavy severed tail of Sue’s hair and in the right the razor that had been the tool of its amputation. Sue released the end of the tail as her hands flew to her newly shorn head. This released her hair totally into my hands for the first time. I stepped back and laid down the razor. I took the heavy tail in both hands and for the first time assessed its mass and beauty on its own. Melanie brought me out of my trance as she stepped forward to tie the cut end of the tail with a stout cord. Sue was out of the chair and stood in front of the mirror checking her hair from every angle. I went over to her and as she took her severed hair in her hands for the first time I saw tears. She held the shorn tresses to her cheek to feel their softness. She filled her lungs with their beautiful light fragrance. I escorted Sue back to the styling chair and lovingly took the tail from her hands and laid it on the counter in front of her where she could see it reflected in the mirror. I checked Sue’s cut for symmetry and precision and found that I needed to make no adjustments to the original one cut-cut.
Missy, who does the color at the salon, came over and the three of us discussed how highlights and lowlights could be used to enhance the cut, the style and Sue’s entire look. I left Sue in Missy’s capable hands and off they went. While they were gone I combed through Sue’s ponytail. I covered the cord that bound her tresses with a soft blue ribbon and then placed the hair in a tissue paper lined gift box. I placed the large side combs she had worn into the salon next to her hair. I wrote a little commemorative note on a card, placed it with the severed tresses and then secured the box with a matching blue ribbon.
When Sue and Missy returned Sue’s hair was freshly shampooed and ready for styling. The first style we did was an everyday style that was blown dry until damp with Sue’s head inverted as I used my fingers to comb her thick tresses. I finished the style with a round brush which I used to style beautiful waves into her newly layered hair. The style was gorgeous. Her hair was beautiful and the colors Missy had added were wonderful. Sue’s hair was so easy to style. Sue was thrilled with the style. Finally, to send her off I wanted to give her a special style, though one that she could accomplish herself. I dampened her hair and set it in a simple roller pattern which I explained to her at every step. When all the rollers were in I put her under the dryer. When we were ready, I took out each roller carefully and separated and placed each curl with my fingers. Sue’s curls were heavenly, so soft and full of life. The layered cut was perfect for this style and for Sue. We did her makeup to be more vibrant, to bring out those beautiful eyes, and we were through.
Sue went to change back into her clothes. When she returned she said she’d have to get a new wardrobe to go with her new hair. Sue was all smiles. She thanked me profusely and I replied that I had enjoyed every moment too. We hugged and then I presented her with the ribbon wrapped box that contained her long tresses. She asked what it was and when I told her she said thanks but that she felt so free now without her long hair that she didn’t care to be reminded of her long haired days anymore. I set the box back on the counter and escorted her out to DiDi’s counter where we said our final goodbyes. I returned to straighten up my work area. I picked up the box knowing that Sue’s lovely tresses would be a keepsake for me. Displayed in my home they would be a constant reminder of this most exciting day.