The Things You Do for Fame and Fortune by Sabrina S
The pub was almost empty. It had been a long night – we’d played three sets and the audience had yelled for more, which had been extremely satisfying for us.
We hadn’t been together long, only about six months, and this was our third gig in The Bell, our local pub. Our band – the Eurythmicals – was (surprise!) a Eurythmics tribute band. And the audience loved it!
I’d always adored Annie Lennox’s voice and, after literally years of practice, could sing remarkably like her. Not that I had all her looks. Sure, I was tall and thin with a wide, generous mouth – OK, big mouth! – but my dark blonde hair hung halfway down my back. I’d worn it that way since I was a child, and slicked it back in a tight ponytail tucked inside my clothing for our gigs.
The idea of a Eurythmics tribute band had been pretty obvious. My boyfriend, Dave, had grown his mouse brown hair and a beard and, with the right set of sunglasses, bore a suitable resemblance at stage distance to a 1980s Dave Stewart. Of course, having the name Dave was a good omen too! He played a mean guitar, and had been in three other bands before the idea of the Eurythmicals came to us both late one night after many beers and hearing me sing along loudly and tunefully to “Thorn in My Side”, which was playing on the pub jukebox.
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We’d recruited others from bands we’d played with in the past: Sam on drums, Patrick on keyboard, Jim on guitar. We all still had day jobs (I was a graphic designer), and had forgotten what a normal life was life after practicing almost every weeknight for months.
But now it was paying off.
“Brilliant!” said Robert, who owned the pub, bringing a very welcome tray laden with pints. “Bloody packed house! Listen, can you guys play again next week? Tell you what, I’ll sign you on for a month. The punters love it. Genevieve, you’ve got a fantastic voice! I’d swear it was Annie herself I was listening to. Maybe you can wear an Annie Lennox wig so you can look like her too?” he joked.
“Maybe,” Dave agreed slowly, stroking my sweaty hair. I didn’t like the sideways look he gave me. It meant he was up to something.
“Yeah,” I giggled, “I can just see me with a bright red crewcut!” I flicked out the ponytail from inside my bodysuit and released my hair from its elastic with a sigh of relief.
“Jeez, it’s long!” said Robert, stating the obvious. “You’d never get that lot up in a wig anyway!”
“You can always try,” Patrick put in, unscrewing his keyboard from its legs. “It’d really add to the band if you looked like her.”
Then nobody spoke for a bit. We were busy draining our pints and winding down in silence. Or as much silence as you can get if your ears are still ringing.
I woke up next morning with a crashing hangover. One pint had turned into somewhere around a dozen, I think. Robert had locked the doors and called it a private party, and fed and boozed us until the small hours. I recall singing at about 2 am, having plugged in Patrick’s keyboard and accompanied myself. I have a vague recollection of thinking at the time that I hoped Robert didn’t change his mind about our booking after belting out “Here Comes the Rain Again” with a pint glass perched, usefully, next to the keyboard.
Dave woke up just after me, groaning. “Bloody hell, Gen! How much did we drink?”
“Buckets,” I replied with a mouth that felt fur lined. “Is the room turning slowly or quickly? I can’t make up my mind.”
“Can you put the coffee on? The percolator’s too noisy for me right now.” Dave buried his face in his pillow.
A woman’s work is never done I suppose. I gulped several vitamin B pills and made an extremely strong pot of coffee.
Hours later I had a shower (when I could stand up straight again without tipping to one side) and washed the smoky pub smell out of my hair.
“How on earth would I get all this lot under a wig?” I muttered to myself as I towelled my hair dry. The thought of the wig was one I managed to retain despite the beer intake. I mean, I really do sing like Annie Lennox; I should make the effort to look like her too.
Dave poked his head in the bathroom door. “Cut it off,” he suggested.
“What?” I almost dropped the towel.
“Get a haircut,” Dave repeated. “Just take a picture of Annie Lennox to the hairdresser’s and get it all cut off.”
“But Dave,” I wailed, “I love my hair long! So do you, you’re always playing with it!” As if in defence I grabbed onto the long trails of hair hanging each side of my face.
“Yeah,” Dave agreed, “But this is business, love. If we want to be a success I think it’s the only thing you can do. You’ve got so much hair it’ll look daft under a wig. All lumpy and bumpy. And just think, if you cut it short you’ll save so much time in the mornings.”
He stood behind me and drew all my hair away from my face. “You’ll look good. Serious.”
“What if I look hideous?” I moaned.
“Wear a wig,” Dave suggested dryly. “Look, go to the hairdresser’s now while it’s still wet. You’ll save the cost of a shampoo.” He pushed me out of the bathroom.
Which is how I ended up thirty minutes later in one of the salons in the High Street with a picture of Annie Lennox in my sweaty hand and my heart pumping at a million miles an hour. My hair was nearly dry by then anyway, so I realised it was just Dave’s way of getting me out the door and into the hairdresser’s. He’d even escorted me to the salon in case I’d changed my mind, and was now sitting in the waiting area reading Women’s Weekly. I hoped he really enjoyed the knitting patterns. Maybe he could knit me a hat if I looked really awful with short hair.
The salon was one the trendier ones, with a younger clientele instead of the blue rinse set. The hairdressers – male and female – were heavy users of gel and into body piercing. It was where I usually went for a trim.
“Hello darlin,” said one of them. I forgot her name; she didn’t usually cut my hair. She sashayed over to me in five inch wedge heels, her satellite dish earrings clinking. “What we doing today then?”
Her pierced eyebrow raised almost to her gelled hairline when I handed her the Annie photo.
“I’d… er… like my hair cut like this,” I said in a small voice.
The stylist – I remembered now her name was Chichi – lifted up my hair, seemingly astonished at the length of it.
“You sure about this darlin?” she said, looking from long-haired me to short-haired Ms Lennox. “Colour’n all?”
“Yes,” I said, more boldly. “I’m singing in a Eurythimics tribute band, The Eurythmicals, and I think I should look like Annie. We’re playing at The Bell on Friday nights.”
“Oh, RIGHT!” Chichi grinned. “One of the girls here heard you last night. She said you were seriously good. That’s it, then. Annie Lennox you shall be, my love. Take a seat.” Chichi pushed me into the nearest chair and, before I could think about it, fastened a cape around my neck and lifted out my long waterfall of hair so it cascaded over my shoulders.
“We’ll cut your hair first,” she told me, “then do the colour. I’d usually do the colour first but I’ll be cutting your hair with clippers so we need it dry.”
“C…clippers?” I quailed. Clippers were for blokes! My dad got his hair cut with clippers!
Chichi snapped her red acrylic nails against the picture I was still grasping. “It’s much easier to cut hair this short and even with clippers, love. I could do it with scissors but it’ll take a long time and you can see we’re pretty busy today. D’you want it that short on top, too?”
“Er…” I looked closely at the photo. Jeez, it was short! “I dunno,” I said, “It’s a bit short, isn’t it?”
“We’ll see how you look,” Chichi said. “I’ll leave it a big longer on top at the front, say an inch and a half, and if you want it shorter after that I’ll cut it again.”
An inch and a half! I almost leaped out of the chair, but couldn’t. Chichi had one hand firmly on top of my head. The other hand held a pair of clippers.
I saw myself in the mirror with eyes the size of saucers and a mouth opened in horror, watching as Chichi flicked the clippers expertly into life.
Humming and buzzing, the clippers came closer to my head. I thought Chichi was going to put me in a headlock at that point! She must have felt me tense up like a coiled spring.
Then she put the blades against my cheek and pushed them up into my hair, shearing away the hair in front of my left ear. The clippers snarled and spat as they encountered my hair, but got through it pretty quickly. Chichi simply drew them up against my scalp and in what must have been only a second had clipped a path through my hair.
My mouth opened wider as sheaves of hair slid down the cape and onto my knees. I made a croaking sound that was somewhere between a bleat and the cry of a strangled cat.
“No turning back now,” Chichi grinned. “Relax, it’ll soon be over. Have a good look, your ears are nice and flat to your head. This cut will look GREAT on you. Trust me!”
With that Chichi put the clippers near my ears again and shaved off the hair above them. At least it looked shaved to me. I figured it was about 1/4 inch long where she’d cut it, which was as good as bald as far as I was concerned!
The clippers felt funny against my head; not unpleasant. I tried not to look as they efficiently reduced my lovely hair to rubble, but instead closed my eyes and let my senses take over. Maybe I could convince myself I was only getting a rather unusual scalp massage.
Nuzzling behind my ear, the clippers ran all the way up the side of my head. I gasped. It really was quite an incredible sensation! The blades felt warm, and tickled as they sheared away my hair.
Chichi pushed my head forward so I was facing my knees. I opened my eyes to see my legs covered in long strands of blonde hair. As I watched, snaky locks slithered to the floor.
With one hand Chichi lifted up my hair at the back of my neck, holding it in a loose ponytail.
I heard the clippers come closer to my head, then the blades were against my skin, buzzing away at my nape. I shuddered at the tingly sensation of the vibrating blades against my bare neck.
Then – grrrr! Bzzzz! – the clippers were back into my hair, snarling and growling and clipping and cutting and shearing. I felt them pass slowly up the back of my head, over that bumpy bony bit and onwards to the crown, where I had a little cowlick. I gulped again. My head felt all tight and a bit cold where my hair had been clipped away.
As the clippers came against my neck again I was feeling positively naked. Chichi showed no mercy though – she pushed the clippers into my hair as if she was really enjoying it. A barberette on a mission!
Half my hair had been cut away now. Hesitantly I brought one shaky hand out from under the cape and touched my head. Jesus! Did I have any hair left at all?! I brushed my stubbly little pelt of hair up and down, and my fingers didn’t even go through it – just over the top! I bit back tears. All that hair, years and years of growing it, tending it, moisturising it, brushing it…and now it was being shorn off in a matter of minutes.
“Feels good, doesn’t it?” Chichi said cheerfully. “I had a haircut like this a couple of years ago. I loved it! Might get it cut again after this, you’re getting me all inspired.” Chichi’s own hair wasn’t much longer, it was all spiky and stood out from her head in gelled black spikes. Apparently assured that her client was satisfied with being scalped, she attacked my hair again.
The sensation of the blades against my skin was rather erotic. I tried not to think of the damage they were doing, but resigned myself to it. I’d look bloody naff if I got up out of the chair now anyway, all buzzed on one side and half of the back, with the top looking like God knows what!
“Annie Lennox,” I whispered to myself in a mantra that couldn’t be heard over the buzzing blades. “Gigs. Money. Fame. Annie Lennox. Gigs. Money. Fame.”
I closed my eyes again, aware that my neck – and the back – had been clipped and all the long hair cut off. I even heard Chichi drop the ponytail to the floor. It made a slithery sound as it hit the tiles.
Chichi straightened my head again and placed the clippers behind my right ear. They sounded very loud.
Then up they went, through my locks, severing them, spitting them out. Perversely, I began to enjoy the experience. My head was starting to feel very light after the weight of hair it had carried for years.
I opened my eyes and gasped. Good grief! I actually looked good! One side of my head was clipped close, with the hair marginally longer towards the top. I could see nothing at all at the back, not a wisp of hair poking out behind my ear, which for me was very odd indeed. As I watched Chichi sheared away above my ear, and clumps of hair spilled onto my shoulder. God, those clippers were quick!
There was only one long lock of hair left to cut. I watched as the blades crept underneath it, and buzzed through my sideburns and up to my temple. The hair fell away instantly.
“I-it’s great,” I said, my voice croaky.
“Told you,” Chichi responded. “Ain’t even finished yet. Wait till I do the top.” She looked at the picture again. “It’s a bit longer towards the front. Might even go up in a bit of a quiff.” She spun the chair around so I was facing her. I couldn’t see my reflection any more.
Chichi produced a comb from her pocket and ran it into my hair, holding it up straight. It didn’t seem very far away from my head as she clipped off the hair sticking out. Slowly she repeated the procedure, working backwards from my forehead, cutting my hair shorter and shorter as she headed for the crown and my cowlick. It felt all tickly and funny as she cut it, with the clippings raining down on my denuded head. By the time she reached my cowlick she’d discarded the comb and was delicately running the clippers over my head. I shivered at the unusual, extremely pleasant, sensation.
She spun me around again and I saw my newly cropped head. “Wow!” I exclaimed. I didn’t even look like me! My hair was shorter than my own father’s! It stuck up from the top of my head in what had to be shock at being cut so short. Disbelievingly I took both hands out from under the cape this time, dislodging the last of the long clumps from my lap. I ran my hands all over my hair, marvelling at how velvety soft it felt. I looked ten years younger. I turned my head this way and that.
Laughing, Chichi produced a mirror. “Told you didn’ I? And I haven’t even finished, just gotta blend it a bit yet.”
The back of my head had been shorn into a close pelt, and I could see the shape of my hairline. I had to admit – it looked fantastic!
Chichi wet my head with a sprayer and got the scissors out, cutting my hair shorter and shorter as she blended the sides with the top, tapering it close around my ears. Tiny clippings tickled my cheeks and nose. She pushed my head forward, lifted the already shaved hair at the back of my neck and tapered it even closer with the scissors and comb, snipping as quickly and efficiently as a barber. The scissors made a ratatatat sound, as fast as castanets. The blades were cold against my skin. I couldn’t believe it was me sitting there, having my hair nibbled almost to extinction.
“There!” Chichi said, satisfied, when I felt there was no more hair left to cut on my nape. “Now, let’s fix the colour up.”
She blasted my head with a hairdryer, and my hair was bone dry in 30 seconds flat, it was so short. While I gazed, astonished, at my new look she made up the bright red colour. My hair – what was left of it, anyway – was duly smothered in it and I was given The Face to read while it activated.
I was debating whether to get tight black vinyl trousers to go with my new look when it was time to rinse off.
Now this WAS a peculiar sensation! I was used to my long, wet hair feeling heavy in the basin when it was shampooed. Instead, the hot water felt even hotter on my head with very little hair left to cover it. It was quite erotic; I was aware of every little needle sprayer in the handset tingling my scalp. Chichi’s hands felt as if they were massaging my bare skin, and I shivered at the sensuousness of it. My shampoo was over in a third of the time, and when my hair was toweled dry it was that – dry!
I encountered a vision in the mirror with hair the most incredible shade of red I’d ever seen and realised it was me. I giggled as Chichi rubbed some gel into my hair and gave it a final blast with the dryer. She dusted my face and neck to get rid of all those little clippings.
“Annie Lennox move over,” Chichi said, the pierced eyebrow arched again as she unwound the cape. “You look smashing, girl!”
“I do!” I agreed, fishing an extraordinary sum of money out of my wallet. God only knows keeping up the Annie colour and cut was going to be more expensive than just having the ends trimmed every few months!
Dave was sitting in the waiting area engrossed in the latest goss about Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. He was mouthing the words as he read them – that’s my Dave, can play a brilliant guitar but he’s no brainbox. His own wild hair looked frightful compared to my neatly clipped skull, and I ran my hands over my shorn head unconsciously.
One, two, one two three four.. “There must be an an-gel, playing with my heart,” I sang, perfectly in tune.
Dave’s head snapped up as if it were on strings.
“Genevieve! Bloody hell, you look fantastic!” Demi and Bruce dropped to the floor, face touching face as they didn’t seem to do too much in real life these days.
He ran his hands into the spiky hair on top of my head. “I never believed you’d go through with it, I thought you’d wimp out!”
I grinned. “Fame and fortune won me over.” I still felt naked without my long hair, but people were looking through the window at me with my fiery red head, and the glances were rather admiring. I fished in my bag and got out bright red lipstick, and painted my mouth. The transformation was complete.
The next Friday night we rolled up at The Bell to a packed bar, the biggest crowd we’d pulled yet. I sang my lungs out and got more whistles than I’d ever had in my life – including some from Chichi and the other stylists, who’d all rolled up to the gig. Chichi, incidentally, sported a very fresh clippered cut not unlike my own. My newly cropped head swelled to gargantuan proportions at all the applause and shouting, and we did three encores.
As the crowd left, protesting, when the doors closed, Robert came over with his customary tray of pints.
“Great show, guys,” he grinned. “See, Genevieve, I told you the wig was the thing, you look just like Annie Lennox. It looks really natural, too, you’d never know you had all that long hair tucked up in there.”
“No, you wouldn’t, would you?” I took a pint gratefully. Should I tell him, or should I let him work it out for himself? I ran my hands over my shorn hair, and Robert’s eyes bulged. His mouth opened.
“You mean -” he began, but I didn’t hear the end of what he was saying, I was laughing so hard I nearly spilled my beer.
The end. (c) Copyright 1999 Sabrina S.