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Club H by Sean O'Hare

I had just finished my lunch-time workout in the gym. Had I read the advertisement on the Sports Club noticeboard correctly...

"Ladies, do you have long hair? If so, are you thinking of a change? Perhaps you're a little nervous?

Or would you just like to discuss cutting hair? Or talk to others who have cut theirs? Perhaps watch others have their hair cut?

You're not alone! Why not come along to "Club H" and meet with like-minded women in an informal and friendly environment.

No obligation. Please ring Michelle for further details on..."

This sounded too good to be true. I've always worn my hair very long but perversely, to my mind, I have always been fascinated by haircutting.

I often fantasize about having mine cut short and just the thought of this could prove quite a turn-on for me. But I like it long... and so do the men in my life!

When friends and colleagues have had their hair cut I would want to talk to them about it - why did they cut it, how did it feel having it cut, and did they like it so short - but I usually don't pursue this as I don't want to appear odd.

I enjoy going to the salon for a shampoo and trim - not so much for my own small change but to watch other women have theirs cut, although I had never seen any really big changes. These only seem to appear on TV and I had built up quite a collection of makeovers which I often watch avidly.

The advertisement might just be for a salon trying to build up extra business - and even that would be OK - but it seems to promise a little more. It could even be interpreted as a little weird - perhaps I should steer clear.

I made a note of the phone number and read the advertisement again. I run my fingers through my hair, firmly secured in a ponytail at my crown and still reaching my waist, and shiver a little... with excitement!

Sitting in my bright red convertible I punch the phone number into my mobile... and then pause. I release my ponytail and allow my hair to cascade around my shoulders... and then hit the green button on the phone...

"Good afternoon. Hairmasters, how may I help you?"

A salon. Not unexpected, I guess.

"Er, could I speak to Michelle please. It's about, er, Club H."

"Of course. Just one moment. Could I take your name please?"

"It's Judy." I felt nervous, but excited. What was I getting into?

"Hi Judy, this is Michelle. So you're interested in Club H?"

"That's right. I have long hair and, well, you know how it is...." What is?

"Indeed I do, and you'll be very welcome Judy." Again I shuddered as I imagined a coolness reach along my spine and up my neck. "We meet every Tuesday at 7.30 - please come along tonight - in the Hairmasters Barbershop. Do you know it?"

I gulped. The Barbershop... in the small parade of shops alongside the sports centre. I had often sat outside on a bench after a workout and watched the activities inside The Barbershop. It was mostly men of course having their hair cut - there was a woman's salon within the centre - but there was a steady flow of women too. Women who usually had their already short hair cropped shorter. The shop was staffed by women... I wondered which was Michelle.

"Judy? Are you still there?"

I had drifted off, imagining how it would be to walk into that barbershop with all my hair flowing behind me... and trying not to imagine more.

"Er, yes. Sorry. Yes I do know it. I, er, well yes I would like to come this evening if I may."

"Excellent. And remember there's no obligation. We just enjoy having fun with hair."

"OK, thanks." And I was about to put the phone down but I couldn't resist. "And, er, mmm, will there be any c... that is will anyone be having, er...."

"Oh yes Judy. We always arrange at least a couple of cuts each week but we're always keen to do more!" She let out a little laugh - jovial, but it felt a little cold, almost sinister.

I laughed too - a little nervously. "I see. Well, see you tonight then." I pressed the red button and let out a long sigh. Phew, what was I getting myself into?

Getting ready

Work went slowly that afternoon, but luckily I had no meetings and could stay in my office for most of the time as I imagined what this evening may be like. My mind kept drifting off as I pictured the inside of The Barbershop. How many women would be there? Would they all have long hair? Or all short... and just waiting for me?

At one point Emma, my boss's secretary, breezed in. A tall Australian girl, very slim and with blonde bobbed hair angled up at the back. I had spoken to her about her hair when she first had it cut that way a few months ago. But she became uncharacteristically quiet, almost coy, and clearly didn't want to discuss it further so I had said no more. But I always welcomed her interruptions and enjoyed watching her leave. As she did so today I noted that as the thick bobbed cap swung from side to side it appeared to be cut higher at the back and the nape much closer. It looked sensational and I nearly commented on it - but I just watched instead.

The thought kept crossing my mind that I shouldn't go. I knew I wouldn't be getting my hair cut, but it all felt a little odd. But then again perhaps it could all be as innocent as it seems - just a bunch of a stylists trying to help out women with a little problem. But could their "problem" be the same as mine? Almost an obsession about hair? Surely there can't be other people like me, can there?

I left work at exactly 5pm. Unusual for me - one or two people even commented as I marched out. I jumped in the Mazda and sped home with a mix of nervousness and excitement in my heart.

As soon as I got home I threw off my business suit and jumped in the shower for a long soak. I lathered my hair and then held my head back and felt the suds flow through my hair and down my back... a sensation I've always loved. As I stepped out of the shower I began to run a comb through my hair and wondered how I should wear it this evening. Loose? Up? Ponytail? Should I curl it?

And what should I wear? Something formal - suit or dress perhaps - or just jeans? I settled on a short, black skirt and loose white top - and decided I would wear my denim jacket to keep it informal.

I dried my hair and then brushed it until it shone. While I did so the TV showed one of my edited videos of hair makeovers. I watched - as I had done many times - ordinairy women with waist length hair similar to my own have it chopped off by popular stylists... and each time as the hair fell, or it was held up in the air by the triumphant stylist or TV presenter, my stomach turned over as I tried to imagine how the often tearful victim felt.

I admired my hair in the full-length angled mirrors that I had had fitted in my bedroom and noted with some pleasure how it fell in a thick straight line along my bottom. I decided to keep it simple and so I just gathered the hair at the front and the sides and secured it firmly at the crown with a simple clip. The slicked back front and sides contrasted beautifully with the glossy stream of hair sliding down my back.

Time was moving on - already nearly 6.45 and it was a 10-minute drive. I completed my make-up and with a final brush of the hair was ready to go. With regret I had pulled up the hood on the Mazda so that my hair didn't get mussed up.

As I drove there were butterflies in my stomach. I didn't really know what to expect from the evening but I was told I would get the chance to see some haircutting and this encouraged me on. I turned into the small car park in front of the shops - much emptier this time of day - and I could park with a view of The Barbershop. Unlike the day there were blinds pulled down on the large windows although I could still see through the door that the lights were on and people appeared to be moving around inside.

Despite feeling rushed I had arrived 15 minutes early and decided to wait a little while. After a few minutes the doors of the car next to me opened and two women alighted. Both in jeans and T shirt - one with mid-back, straight dark hair and the other with beautifully spiral-permed hair flowing a few inches past her shoulders. They were talking and smiling. They marched directly towards The Barbershop, alternately fingering each other's hair until they reached the door. They knocked and were promptly admitted. Another car pulled up and a woman who may have come straight from work - wearing a well-fitted jacket and extremely short skirt. Her hair was pulled back tightly into a neat bun at the crown - it could have been of any length but its bulk suggested it was very long. Again she walked smartly to the door and was admitted.

I decided that if I was entering then now was the time. As I left the car, two teenage girls walked across the car park. One was dressed similar to me - the denim jacket, short skirt but with a pink shirt - while the other wore tight black jeans and tight top. Both had long blonde hair - one worn loose and wavy and the other in a pair of fashionable braids. They chatted but looked a little nervous - the braided girl constantly ran a hand down one of the long thick plaits and looked worried. The girls went inside. For some reason they looked a little different from those who had arrived by car... perhaps it was just that they were younger. Perhaps...

I arrived at the door at the same time as a beautiful, red-haired woman - her incredibly thick hair, skillfully styled, tumbled in waves and curls around her face and then continued down her back on one side and past her waist while on the other it had slipped over her shoulder and covered her breast and continued to the hem of her simple, snug-fitting, and extremely short white woolen dress.

We smiled at each other - admiring each other's hair - as the door opened and I followed her inside...

First Night at the Barbershop

As we entered those I had seen go in, plus a few other women all with long hair, were chatting together, each with a glass of wine in their hand - all except the two teenage girls who didn't appear to be around. The door had been opened by an elegant woman in a white suit with a sleek shoulder length bob...

"Good evening ladies, I'm Michelle," she said as she held out her hand.

"Er, I'm Judy." I took her hand and we smiled at each other. I instantly felt an affinity to her.

"Hi Judy, very good to meet you. Please have a glass of wine."

A younger woman - also wearing white with her wavy hair pulled into a loose ponytail - offered a tray of glasses. I selected a glass of red.

"And I'm Helen, Michelle," my red-haired doorstep companion announced herself as she also took a glass of red, touching my glass as she nodded towards me and said, "Hi, Judy."

"Welcome Helen." Michelle introduced us to the other five guests - as she described them - and we chatted briefly... although interestingly not about hair despite the surroundings.

Michelle chatted softly to her companion, nodded and then walked to the door and pulled down the blind.

"Well ladies, we're all here now," Michelle announced. "Please help yourself to another glass from Lesley and take a seat." I quickly downed the glass I held and took another and sat in one of the semi-circle of chairs set out in the shop.

"I'm so pleased you could all come this evening. In case you hadn't realised this is the first time any of you have come along to a meeting of Club H. Our regulars tend to meet on other days but we thought you would all prefer to experience this first time together." She looked along the line of us and we nodded, and there were a few murmurs too.

"I have to say that I think you all have lovely hair. You've clearly looked after it well - and for many years -and that's why I'm sure one or two of you may be thinking of a change." I looked away from Michelle and noticed all the others do the same. "Or perhaps you enjoy talking about haircutting or watching haircutting...." We ALL looked up - I felt a warmth rise up inside of me and tried to hide a smile - and I could feel 6 other women felt the same. Does this mean I'm not alone with these feelings? "...ah, I see that you are all of a similar mind!"

Michelle emptied her glass and we all drank a little more and smiled at each other. "I suspect you've all felt a little apprehensive, perhaps guilty, about these feelings in the past. Well you don't need to be. You are among friends, all of a like mind and I hope we're all here to have fun."

Michelle turned away and then turned back holding a large pair of scissors and said, "OK ladies, who's first?" We gasped as one, and no one moved or spoke. After a pause Michelle's face broke into a broad smile. "Well it was worth asking!" She tapped the scissors in the palm of her other hand. "Don't worry - let me just say again this IS a club - your club. You don't have to do anything you don't want and you may of course leave any time you want. But perhaps you would like some idea of what we get up to." Without waiting for an answer she said, "Lesley perhaps you would ask Claire to join us."

Lesley went through to the back of the shop and returned with one of the teenage girls - the girl in black with the braids - and indicated that she should be seated in the barber's chair in front of us. Lesley shook open a cape which billowed out and came to rest covering Claire. She fastened it at her neck and then reached down and flicked out the braids so they rested in her lap - she then refastened the cape at her neck securely.

"Hi Claire," Michelle spoke brightly. "And what can we do for you today?"

Michelle lifted the tip of one of the braids and held it out to its full extent. It was long - perhaps 30 inches and very thick and glossy. "I would, er... please could you cut my hair for me."

As Claire said this I noticed Lesley switch on two video cameras, one to one side and the other at the back of the room.

"Of course Claire. And how you like it cut? How short do you want me to cut it for you?" Michelle, still holding the braid, raised the scissors in the other hand and held them open against the hand holding the tip... and slowly began moving them along the length of the braid.

"Oh, er... well, I'm not sure really. What do you think?"

"Quite short, I think Claire, don't you. It will suit you quite well." The scissors now rested at the base of the braid - against the side of Claire's head. She looked worried. "What do you all think?" I realised I had been holding my breath and as I looked around the others appeared to be doing the same - and then I noticed several eager nods, especially from Helen my red-haired friend. I found myself calling out, "Yes, cut it short."

Claire whispered, "OK Michelle, do what you think best." Michelle smiled and I noticed her pull the braid taut and open the scissors wide. Claire's head moved to one side as well, momentarily relaxing the pull on the braid until Lesley moved forward and with firm pressure pushed her head the other way, tightening the braid once more.

There was quiet. I watched the scissors close and then heard a crunch. The expression on Michelle's face changed to one of determination as the scissors opened and closed again and again. On about the tenth cut the braid was severed and Michelle tossed it towards us and Helen caught it. I looked into Helen's lap and together we marvelled in its length, bulk and condition. We passed it along the line and I looked up to see Claire staring back at herself in the mirror. A similar braid still hung down on one side in its full glory while the other side was cropped short and untidily around the ears. She wore the saddest of expressions, and several tears were on her cheeks.

Michelle seemed unmoved as she pulled on the other braid and quickly severed it, then tossed it into Claire's lap. She ran a hand through Claire's cruelly cropped hair. "Right Claire, now we can get started!"

I looked to one side at caught Helen's eye. I raised a brow and she winked and smiled. Then she turned to watch eagerly what would happen next. I did the same.

Michelle sectioned the hair at the crown - a few inches above the ears - much as my own hair was sectioned. Then she combed down the remaining uneven lengths. "Lesley. Triple-0 please." She looked a little surprised - much as I did as I didn't know what this meant. She lifted a set of hair clippers from a shelf nearby - a heftier set than I had usually seen used. Lesley uncoiled the cable, made an adjustment, plugged them in and handed them to Michelle.

She turned the clippers on and I think we all jumped, including Claire... especially Claire. They popped and crackled and then settled down to a loud hum.

"Head down please Claire," requested Michelle. And when she paused Lesley moved forward and eased her head forwards. The clippers entered the raggedy hair at the nape and were pushed up and we all gasped as we saw a shaved path form behind the clippers. Again and again the clippers moved until the nape was bare. And then Lesley eased Claire's head to one side and Michelle shaved her temples. And then moved to the other side and did the same. Even once the nape and temples looked virtually bare, Michelle continued - apparently using her hand to feel for any hair that may have escaped.

Then, once satisfied, she let down the crown hair which briefly covered the bare back and sides until this was quickly cut, layered and faded. Michelle applied a little dab of grease and slicked back the hair that remained. From behind it appeared that a man sat in the barber's chair with an extremely short man's haircut. But no, it was a woman - with that same haircut!

It looked so severe and Claire appeared not to know whether to cry or laugh. She seemed in shock. Her hands came from under the cape and disturbed the large braid resting in her lap - it hit the ground with an audible thump, followed by a stream of fine clippings.

Her hands felt the bare nape and looked at the reflection in the mirror Lesley held up for her. "Wow!" she exclaimed. "It's wonderful Michelle. Thank you."

Tension seemed to escape from the room. We all seemed to be fingering our own hair - perhaps to reassure ourselves that it was still there. I felt a little uncomfortable. I knew I had become excited as I watched Claire's shearing - it was something I had always dreamed of and it had fully lived up to expectations. Just seeing all that hair fall, and seeing the oh so bare nape. Phew...!

Michelle looked pleased. "I'm so pleased you like it and I think our friends here are grateful to you for allowing them to watch. Is that right?" We all clapped politely - and as we caught each other's eye it was apparent that we all felt the same.

"OK, another glass of wine I think." Everyone jumped up - like me, just pleased to move. Claire joined us and we all chatted easily. There was much touching of Claire's hair and feeling her bare nape which she seemed to enjoy. When my turn came the sensations that ran through my body were so intense.

I spoke to Helen for a while and I found her feelings about hair were very similar to my own. Just talking about these feelings was such a release. And also quite a rush. As we spoke I found myself imagining shearing off her long, red hair myself - the effect of the wine perhaps, and also having just witnessed what I had. I noticed that the video of Claire's shearing was being replayed and Claire herself was avidly watching it.

It all seemed so natural and, from my viewpoint, so wonderful.

I really felt part of the club. A very interesting club. I was going to enjoy myself!

Why don't you visit Club H?

THE END...