Time to change Jen by Jim B.
“Hi, Jen!” Dawn said as she answered the telephone. “How have you been? It’s been, what, ten years since we talked.”
“Yes, about that long,” Jen answered. “Look… haven’t much time to chat with you now, but I am in town for a few days, some kind of business deal… I can’t go into. I am in need of a haircut. I kind of let my hair go for the last three months working on this project. Anyway can you fit me in for a shampoo and cut?”
“Let’s see,” Dawn said as she looked over her appointment book. “Well, I have a one o’clock… I can fit you in between two others say around three?”
“No,” Jen answered half-heartedly. “I’ll be in a conference all afternoon until four.”
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“Jen,” Dawn inquired, “Tell me when you’ll be free. Maybe we can work something around that.”
“Sounds great, Dawn,” Jen replied as she looked over her calendar for the day. “Well, today’s part of the conference will be over around four-thirty, then I have a quick “businessman’s lunch”, if you know what I mean, right after. I would say the earliest would be around six!”
“Let me take another quick look,” Dawn said as she moved her finger over the bottom of the page. “Six… is alright.”
“Great,” Jen told her old friend. “See you at six. I’ll need a good shampooing and want something kind of short.”
“No problem,” Dawn answered as she wrote in Jen’s name. “I think we can come up with something for you. By the way do you still color your hair that white blond?”
“It’s growing out,” Jen replied. “Got about two inches of roots.”
“Do you want to do a color, too?” inquired Dawn.
“No, not really,” Jen answered. “Really thinking about letting the ol’ natural dark brown grow back in.”
“Okay,” Dawn answered. “See you at six.”
It was a little before six when Dawn arrived. Jen was finishing a styling on an elderly lady in her sixties, with silver tinted hair. When they walked to the reception desk Jen noticed Dawn and walked over to her.
“Dawn,” she said extending her right hand to her. “Been some time since we’ve seen each other. So, how have you been?”
They talked a few minutes about old times and what Dawn has been doing. Then, Carol, the shampoo girl for the shop, came from the shampoo room escorting a woman, who looked to be in her mid-forties with shoulder-length brown hair that had a reddish tint to it. As she extended her arm, motioning the woman to sit in a barber’s chair, Jen noticed them.
“Dawn,” she explained, “I have one more before you. Mrs. Heights and her husband are going on their vacation early this year and she wants her hair cut short. They want to leave around eight tonight, so I told her to get here as soon as she could and I would stick her between you and Mrs. Rayan. It will not take me that long to cut her hair. Do you mind waiting a little longer?”
“No, not at all,” Dawn replied. “The wait will give me a little time to look through some of the magazines you have.”
Jen thanked Dawn and walked to the barber’s chair.
“I hope you don’t mind the barber’s chair,” Jen asked of Mrs. Heights as she caped her. “But, with how you want your hair cut this is better than the styling chair.”
Mrs. Heights smiled as Jen pulled and pinned the cape in place. “I was kind of surprised you said you could cut my hair like I want it cut,” she told Jen. “The last stylist I asked almost had a heart attack.”
“Nonsense,” Jen replied. “A crew cut is a crew cut… It’s cut the same way for a man or woman. Besides, I have been wanting to try this barber’s chair out since I got it last month. Only been sitting in it between customers, and had children climbing in and out of it.”
When Dawn heard how Jen was going to cut Mrs. Heights hair, her attention turned from the magazine she was looking through. She had never heard of a woman getting a crew cut, a haircut that is mainly for boys and men. But, she was pleased that Jen had arranged for Mrs. Heights to come in between her and her last customer.
Jen didn’t play around with cutting Mrs. Heights’ hair short with the scissors. With her facing the mirror she reached under the shelf, in front of the chair, and took hold of the large black clippers hanging there. Then, she took an attachment off the shelf and slid it on the head of the clippers.
Jen walked behind the chair and tilted Mrs. Heights’ head forward. There was a loud “click” followed by the loud humming sound of the clippers. Without a word Jen placed the clippers on her neck and pushed it upward sending a pile of reddish brown hair to the floor. Dawn, watching Mrs. Heights, noticed she didn’t move as Jen started another upward pass with the clippers.
Quickly Jen began pass after pass up the back of Mrs. Heights’ head, leaving behind hair only a half inch in length. With the back clipped Jen moved the clippers up and over her right ear, sending a pile of hair tumbling in to the cape-covered lap of Mrs. Heights. Stepping to the right side of the chair Jen began clipping the right side of her head until it was a half inch all over. Then, she walked around the back of the chair to the left side, and quickly clipped that side to half an inch.
Finally, standing behind the chair Jen brought the clippers over Mrs. Heights’ head and placed it in the middle of her head at the forehead. With the same skill she used to clip the back and sides, Jen moved the clipper back over her head sending the pile hair to the floor behind the chair.
When the top was clipped to half an inch Jen turned the loud clippers off, and dusted Mrs. Heights’ face and head of any hair that did not fall under the clippers. As Jen removed the attachment Mrs. Heights moved her hands from under the cape and brushed them over her half-inch clippered head of hair.
“Jen,” she said, “I hope you don’t think I’m crazy, but could you go shorter?”
Looking at her in the mirror Jen shook her head and asked, “How much shorter?”
“I’ll leave that up to you,” Mrs. Heights answered.
With that Jen grabbed the big black clippers again and oiled the teeth. Then, she picked up another attachment, much smaller than the first one, and put it over the teeth of the clippers.
As she turned around to show her the clippers with the smaller attachment, Jen turned the clippers back on. The loud humming sound filled the shop again. Mrs. Heights smiled as Jen walked to the right side of the chair. Again, without a word, Jen began passing the clippers over her head reducing the half-inch haircut to a quarter of an inch. As Jen began the second pass Mrs. Heights began to smile and she moved somewhat in the chair.
Jen patted her on the shoulder and began another pass. Within minutes Mrs. Heights’ hair was a quarter of an inch all over. Standing behind the chair, clippers still running, Jen took the smaller attachment off and tossed it onto the shelf.
She tilted Mrs. Heights’ head forward and began pushing the coverless clippers up the back of her head, sending what hair was left into the air with a flick of her wrist. Another pass was begun and the pile of hair was flying in the air like the first. Jen was moving the clippers faster, soon she was clipping the right side of her head. A little stop to walk around the chair and Jen was clipping the left side of her head.
Finished, Jen again stood behind the chair. She looked into the mirror at Mrs. Heights’ face, who still had a smile. Dawn could not believe what she saw next, as Jen brought the coverless clippers to Mrs. Heights’ forehead and held it there.
She watched as they looked at each other in the mirror. Neither saying a word, just looking straight into each other’s eyes. Was Jen playing a game, or was she waiting for Mrs. Heights to say something? Dawn’s eyes became fixed on the clippers. Her breathing became rapid for reasons she could not understand. Her body began to shiver as they stood there, Jen with the clippers touching Mrs. Heights forehead.
What was she doing?
What was Mrs. Heights thinking?
Then, in a soft clear voice Dawn heard Mrs. Heights say, “Do it. You know it’s what I want.”
With that Jen slowly moved the clippers over Mrs. Heights’ head reducing the quarter-inch hair to fuzz like the back and sides. As Jen moved the clippers backwards Dawn noticed Mrs. Heights close her eyes and a bigger smile came to her head.
“Feels so good doesn’t it?” Jen asked her as she began the second pass over her head. Mrs. Heights smiled and shook her head just enough for her and Jen to understand she was liking it. Jen placed her left hand on the back of her head as she moved the clippers backward. Then, she tilted Mrs. Heights’ head back towards her, so she was looking up at the ceiling, and moved the clippers slowly over the rest of her head.
When she was finished and the clippers put to rest under the shelf, Jen dusted her face and head. Mrs. Heights sat there with her eyes still closed. Dawn noticed her body move, more like jerking, as Jen did this. Then, her body stiffened and she took a deep breath, then her body relaxed.
Jen undid the cape and let it fall down into Mrs. Heights’ lap and across the chair. Then, she walked towards the shelf and leaned on the edge of it. Jen looked at Mrs. Heights as she looked at her haircut in the mirror. Jen smiled a little as she watched Mrs. Heights brush her finger over her buzzed cut.
“Well,” Jen asked still smiling. “What shall we do now?”
Mrs. Heights looked at herself moving her head side to side. Then, she looked, stared, at Jen. Dawn noticed a twinkle in Jen’s eyes as she waited for Mrs. Heights to say something. Neither said a word, just looked at each other as if waiting for the other to say what was to happen.
Then, Jen stood up and turned to the shelf. She opened a small cabinet under the shelf and removed a large white towel. Walking behind the chair she tucked it into Mrs. Heights’ collar, then spread it out over her shoulders.
Jen walked back to the shelf and placed one hand under a small silver machine. With the other hand she pushed a button on top the machine causing a winding sound. Dawn eyes watched as a foamy white substance began flowing from the machine into Jen left hand. When Jen had enough of the foam lather she walked to the right side of the chair.
Slowly she began dabbing the white foam along Mrs. Heights’ hairline, like she had seen barbers do when they were finished cutting a man’s hair. Slowly Jen dabbed, then spread the foam until she had gone from the right side to the left side.
Then, she stood there looking at Mrs. Heights in the mirror, her left hand still filled with the white foam. Dawn could see Mrs. Heights’ body move in the chair, more so than before. Her breathing was starting to go wild. Her eyes stared at Jen’s left hand, in the mirror.
Then, she spoke…
“Not today,” she told Jen. “Maybe when we come back in a few weeks.”
With that said Jen walked to the sink and washed her hands. After wiping them she picked up a straight razor from the shelf. Taking hold the leather strap that hung from the right arm of the chair, Jen stropped the open blade of the razor over it.
When it was as sharp as Jen wanted, she began to slowly shave just a thin line around Mrs. Heights’ haircut, just like the barbers did to the men.
Finished, Jen wiped what foam was left. She put some powder on the hair duster and dusted it around and over her head, then across her face.
With her right hand she reached across the chair and pulled the cape removing it.
Mrs. Heights sat there looking at her haircut, moving her head from side to side. Then, brushing her finger tips over her head.
She stepped out the chair as Jen brushed a few hairs from her dress.
They walked to the desk. “Three weeks?” Jen asked Mrs. Heights.
“Yes,” she replied. “Then, you can finish what you wanted to do.”
Mrs. Heights paid Jen and left the shop.
As Jen walked back to the floor she tapped Dawn on the shoulder, asking her, “So, you want to let your natural hair color grow back?”
Dawn looked at her as she stood and walked behind her to the barber’s chair.
“Yes,” she commented. “But, I think I’ll let it grow some more before I have the blond completely cut out. Just a few inches today.”
Jen was smiling as she took hold the cape and patted the seat of the barber chair.
“That should be in about three weeks,” Jen said in a strange voice. “Just when Mrs. Heights comes in for the haircut she really wanted.”