Tournament

Tournament

This is a story that involves female hair cutting. If that doesn’t interest you, please pass this one up.

STORY – THE TOURNAMENT By: Shearingly

My dad has a hair fetish. I didn’t realize that until we got a computer and I began exploring the Internet and found out there was such a thing as a hair fetish and what it was. O.K., so I have one too, but I’ve never told anyone.

My dad’s fetish is really obvious – he makes comments about the hair of nearly every woman he sees (one frequent comment, “I’d like to have that head of hair in front of me and scissors in my hand.”). My mom puts up with it because she loves him and considers it basically harmless and my sister grew up with it so she probably thinks everyone’s dad is like that. He does all the haircutting in our family – they never go to a salon or anything. He has worn out at least one set of electric clippers since I’ve been old enough to notice. He always gave me a crew cut, whether I wanted it or not, but lately he’s left the top just long enough for me to part and comb down.

My poor mom usually has the worst hairstyle in the neighborhood. My dad gives her a haircut once or twice a year, so it’s always growing out – somewhere between the brush cut he gives her (usually leaving bangs but everything else clippered short) and the three to six inch length it reaches before he decides it’s time for her next clipping. I can only remember him letting her get a perm one time. Her hair was four or five inches long at the time – she looked really nice for a month or so then he buzzed it off. She just sighs and endures it because he isn’t mean about it and he is a good husband.

My sister is a year older than me and at fourteen is getting picked on because of her haircuts. Each summer she got a brush cut, just like the boys in the neighborhood did. It made her something of a tomboy, I think. She played with the boys and could keep up with them in most every sport. During the school year my dad would let it grow out into kind of a pixie-ish cut, still quite boyish, but longer than mine. That was the only concession he made for her being a girl.

I credit that for turning her into the star pitcher on her girls softball team. The team was doing well this year – they had a nine and one season and were now into the year-end tournament. It just so happened that we lived on a road that was the dividing line for the team divisions. Our neighbors across the road had a daughter (the same age as my sister Cheryl) and she was on one of the opposing softball teams. Darla happened to be the star pitcher of the opposing team. They were also nine and one (they had each lost one game to the other during the regular season). The tournament was a single elimination thing and it was set so these two teams wouldn’t play each other until the last game – if they won all the others up to that point.

After the first game of the tournament and both teams had won, we had a cookout in our backyard and invited the neighbors over. Cheryl and Darla were friends (not best friends, but friendly to each other) and were talking over the games they had played that night. It was weird that they were friends because they were so opposite. Cheryl was the ultimate tomboy while Darla was dainty and feminine. She wore makeup and dressed in the latest styles. She was scared of spiders and bugs, loved talking about boys and hair and all the things fourteen-year-old girls normally do. Still, she had a natural athletic ability, especially pitching. Probably that’s why the two girls got along, they respected each other’s abilities.

Our moms were talking to each other and our dads were drinking beer and waiting for the charcoal to get just right for grilling. I was playing with my Game Boy and not paying much attention until I heard my mom say, “Are you willing to bet on that?” My mom is not all that competitive and I’ve never heard her make a bet. The girls stopped talking, the dads stopped talking – we were all listening.

My mom looked around at us and said, “Susan here, thinks Darla’s team is going to win this tournament. I think Cheryl’s will win. I asked her if she wanted to bet on it.”

“What’s the bet?” my dad asked.

“O.K., if Darla’s team loses, then…” she paused, thinking about it. “…then my husband will give Susan a dramatic haircut of his choice and my son will give Darla a dramatic haircut of his choice!” she blurted out in a rush. I looked at my dad and saw his mouth hanging open. It turned out he had never cut another woman’s hair – only my mom’s and sister’s. It made me realize that my mouth was open too. I reached up and pushed my jaw closed and stared at my mom. She looked over at me and winked. I guess my hair fetish wasn’t as much of a secret as I thought.

“What if Darla’s team wins,” Susan asked my mom.

She paused for a second and then said, “Well, you name what you want.”

Charlie laughed uneasily and said, “Susan, this is ridiculous. You know what kind of haircuts Fred gives.”

His wife, with really pretty, thick, shoulder-length, chestnut hair, looked at him with determination in her eyes, “Darla’s team will not lose.” Then she turned to my mom and said, “When Darla’s team wins, you and Cheryl will come over and clean my house once a week for the next three months. I hate to clean. Plus,” she went on, “your husband will give you and Cheryl the same haircuts you planned for us.”

Cheryl piped up, “Mom, since we are going to win can you make it so that dad will let me grow my hair out as long as I want?” My mom looked over at dad who shrugged and said, “Sure, I suppose she’s old enough to decide about her own hair – as long as she wins,” he added hastily, not wanting to give up something too easily.

Darla was sitting close by with her back to me. I reached over and lifted up a section of her auburn hair – she had it long, to the middle of her back – and whispered in my best horror movie imitation, “Soon your hair will be history,”

She jerked her head away, pulling the hair out of my grasp. “Don’t touch my hair yet, you creep. Your sister has to win, first.” Then she looked at her mom, “What’s in this for me? If we lose, I get a dumb haircut. But what if I win?” Her mom said, “What would you like, honey?”

Darla smiled in a conniving way and said, “O.K., if we win, you and dad will let me start dating.” Her mom frowned, they had agreed that she would wait until she was sixteen, at least, before she went out on a real date. She looked over at her husband who gave a sick looking smile and said, “I think she’s got you on that one.”

I looked at everyone and thought – this is some great bet. Whoever wins will be happy but whoever loses will be miserable. Suddenly my interest in my sister’s ball games soared to new heights.

We all went to the tournament games – the neighbors came to Cheryl’s games (unless Darla was playing at the same time) and we went to Darla’s (unless Cheryl was playing). They both won their next four games, fairly easily, and so it came to the championship game. Cheryl’s team against Darla’s.

I ought to hold you in suspense and give you a blow-by-blow commentary on the game, but the truth is I don’t remember much about the game. My mind was focused on Darla and that long ponytail of hers that she let poke out of the back of her ball cap. When she wound up and swung, it made her ponytail sway and dance around her shoulders. I wondered if I’d be able to give her the haircut or if I’d just collapse from sheer excitement. My knees were weak from the anticipation and I felt like I had to pee, real bad. I forced myself to concentrate on the game (as much as possible).

It was the last inning and the score was tied one to one. Both pitchers had done an excellent job only permitting seven hits in the whole game and one run for each team. Darla’s team was batting first. The first batter was struck out. Darla came up to bat next and took a couple of practice swings that looked like she was going to try for a deep base hit. When Cheryl threw the pitch, Darla moved to bunt and poked it toward third base. The catcher was too slow, Cheryl ran for the ball but by the time she’d grabbed it, set herself to throw to first and fired it off, Darla was on base. She was fast. The next batter was their best hitter and Cheryl walked her, so now there were two runners on base with only one out. The next play was awesome. The batter grounded it to the second baseman who stepped on the base and then threw to first – double play. Two outs and the side was retired.

Cheryl’s team put up two batters, both struck out, then she was up to bat. She was their team’s best hitter (and led the team in stolen bases) so Darla was torn whether to walk her or not. She fired off the first pitch, still a little undecided and it ended up an easy pitch, right in Cheryl’s best hitting zone. I heard the crack of the bat and watched that ball soar up and up in the sky and over the fence for a home run! The crowd went wild. I saw my mom and dad dancing around and hugging each other. My legs were still too weak to do much of that but I looked over and saw Darla’s parents holding each other close with sad looks on their faces. Charlie was patting Susan on the back, consoling her and every once in a while running his fingers through her hair – probably savoring the sensation before his wife’s haircut. Darla was absolutely stricken. She was sobbing and bawling (her team-mates thought she was taking the loss a little harder than necessary, it was, after all, just a game). They tried to hug her and console her but she just pushed them away saying, “You don’t understand.”

After the trophy presentations and team celebration we walked to our car. There was a note under our windshield wipers. “Good game, Cheryl. Call us when you get home.” It was signed, “Susan.” We drove home loudly celebrating and praising Cheryl all the way. She was on some kind of high. She held the trophy close, not wanting it to get bumped or scratched on the ride home. My mom looked at me and said, “Are you excited about your part in the bet?” I tried to look cool and just nodded, but she could tell how I really felt. She snuggled up to my dad and hugged his arm. She could tell that he was excited also and I suspected that she figured it would turn out good for her too. She did end up asking him to let her hair grow out to look more normal for a woman her age – and he did.

When we got home my mom called Susan and said offhandedly, “We got your note and you asked us to call.” She didn’t say anything about the bet. Susan told her, “We’ll be right over.”

The three of them came trooping in about five minutes later. Darla’s face was all blotchy from her crying. She had taken off her ball cap, removed her ponytail holder and brushed her long hair, so it was hanging loose around her head. Susan’s eyes looked red, but she held her head high and looked determined.

We all sat in the living room and they congratulated Cheryl on her game. We told Darla that she played well and it could just as easily have gone the other way. Finally Susan said, “Well, let’s get this over with. You won the bet, now we are here to face the consequences.”

My mom said, “Are you sure you want to go through with this?” My heart stopped. Was she going to let them waffle on this bet? “It does seem kind of extreme,” my mom told them.

Darla looked up with hope in her eyes. “NO!” Susan said firmly. “A bet is a bet. If Darla had won would you come over and clean our house for three months?” My mom said she would have. “Well, then, that’s it. We will abide by our part of the bet also.”

My dad went to get his box of haircutting tools and the barber’s cape. We moved into the kitchen and shoved the table to the side. My mom put a stool in the center of the cleared space and asked, “Who will be first?”

Susan moved forward. “I want to get it over with. Now Fred,” she said to my dad, “the haircut is your choice, but I only ask…” her voice tapered off, then she shook her head, “No, I won’t say a thing. A bet is a bet. You do what you want.”

My dad began pulling a wide-toothed comb through Susan’s lovely chestnut hair. It was thick and the ends were curled slightly so they just missed her shoulders, but curled under her chin. She was a very pretty woman and I sat where I could watch her face as my dad began the cut. He got those big clippers out and plugged them in. Then he gently moved her head forward so she was looking down at her lap. Then, with a confident, steady motion he snapped the clippers on (Susan jumped at the noise) positioned the blades on her forehead and pushed the clippers back across the top of her head. At the crown he stopped, moved the clippers away and shook off the accumulated hair. I saw tears running down Susan’s cheeks as she saw her lovely hair falling to the floor. My dad held her head steady while he took three more swipes on the top of her head. Then he set up and worked at shearing the left side. By this time she was sobbing quietly and Darla was bawling again. My dad is very experienced and wasn’t cruel enough to draw it out so in a few more minutes he had reduced Susan’s head to the same short brush cut he gave my mom so often.

When he shut the clippers off there was a deafening silence in the house. Only Darla’s sniffles could be heard. Susan slowly put her hands up to her head and rubbed the soft stubble that remained. She put on a brave smile and stood up. “Thank you, sir,” she said politely to my dad, then she moved into her husband’s arms, almost crumpling against him and let out a couple of sobs. No one moved or said anything, we kind of watched her and then looked away, embarrassed for her.

Finally she regained control and said briskly, “All right, Darla, it’s your turn now. The quicker we get this over with the better.” Darla moved toward the stool like she was in a trance.

“Do you plan to use the clippers, son?” my dad asked me.

“Yes, sir.” I replied. He laid them on the table within easy reach. I picked up the wide-toothed comb and began pulling it through Darla’s auburn locks. My heart skipped a few beats, my legs felt weak again and I thought I might pee my pants – but I held it all together and savored the sensation of my hands moving through this beautiful hair. It was a heady feeling, this power over her hair. I was going to completely change her appearance in a way that would take many months for her to recover. WOW!

I had thought about this a lot and decided how I would do it. “Do you have a ponytail holder?” I asked. Darla didn’t but her mom had one in her purse and fished it out. I told her I wanted to put it in a ponytail and cut that off and keep it as a souvenir. I fumbled around until finally Darla reached back herself and quickly and neatly put the holder in where I had started. It was low on the back of her head, right at her nape, really. Once that was in, I picked up scissors and started to gnaw through it. The hair was thick enough it took a while but finally it came free. I set it on the table. Darla could see it and she started crying again. I combed out the hair that was left – it looked sort of like a chin-length bob cut. Then I parted her hair down the middle of her head and started on the front left, lifting up the sections, holding them high and severing them off a quarter inch from her scalp. I did that all over the left side from the part down. When that was done I picked up the clippers and buzzed the whole left side right down to the scalp (I had taken off the plastic guard my dad had used on Susan’s cut). After doing the left side I repeated the process on the right. I was pleased and proud of the result. It looked evenly buzzed all over and I hadn’t gouged her scalp anywhere.

It was strange, when I got done, Darla reached up, felt her head, then looked in the little hand mirror we had for her but didn’t say a word. I could tell her first glance was a shock, but she seemed to have run out of tears. She stood up, squared her shoulders, politely thanked me, like she’d seen her mom do and then began to walk toward the door. Susan took it harder than her own cut. She bawled loudly and hugged her daughter close. They moved toward the door, Charlie looking very uneasy – not really knowing what to do.

My mom walked with them to the door and said, “Susan, Darla, this has happened to me more times that I can remember. You will have a good cry. You’ll look in the mirror a lot and eventually you will get used to the look. You will feel strange going out in public at first, and you might even want to get a wig, but after a while you may decide you like it short – there are some advantages. If you want to talk about it, just give me a call.”

It did take a while, we didn’t see much of them the rest of the summer. My mom went over the next week with a bucket of cleaning supplies and helped Susan clean her house, just to show that she wasn’t trying to be superior. That helped a lot. The women became better friends over it. The girls grew closer – partly because after school started a lot of Darla’s friends shunned her or made fun of her hair. Darla helped Cheryl learn how to use makeup and they watched their hair grow out together (remember, Cheryl’s wasn’t much longer than Darla’s after the cut). I was amazed at how pretty and feminine Cheryl could look with some coaching about the makeup and clothes. My mom’s hair grew out, soft and radiant. She kept it between chin and shoulder-length, allowing my dad to trim it and once in a while shave her nape, but that was all.

I haven’t had another opportunity like that one, maybe some day another bet will come along and I can do it again. Meanwhile, I have this lovely auburn ponytail….

THE END

 

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