I heard the bell over the door chime, and looked into the shop from the room at the back where I was grabbing a quick lunch now that the midday rush had subsided.
I saw a very attractive woman standing there. She was tall and slim, and wore a short backless dress, with thin shoulder straps and a low front. This was topped by the most amazing explosion of auburn curls. These curls were glossy and full of life, unlike the over-permed and damaged hair that one often sees. The hair streamed down her back, until it was loosely gathered with a white lace ribbon just above her waist.
She seemed very vivacious and full of life. Eyes darting everywhere. She gave the impression of being one of these women with the energy of ten, and a mouth to match in speed and volume.
I was very attracted to her, but clearly she had no business here. Some women did come in - most with their male partners although a few submitted to my attentions. I assumed she was either lost or perhaps a rep from one of the suppliers.
"Hellooooo, anyone at home?"
I realised I was so enthralled by this woman that I had just been staring from my vantage point in the back.
I jumped up and trotted out, and promptly tripped on the loose rug in the doorway I fell forward, just saving myself from hitting the ground.
I looked up at this woman looking down at me, with a rather pitying smile on her face. And I felt a complete nerd.
The smile broke into a grin. "Well I'm not in that much of a hurry."
"Er, I'm sorry. Yes, well, can I help you?" I was totally flustered in the presence of this woman.
"Hello Robert, I'm Sian and I rather think you can help me actually." The smile stayed and she looked me up and down as if appraising me. She paused and I started to speak, when she said, "I've watched you working in here many times. You seem very serious about your work. You rarely look up. You take your time. I like that."
Well I had never seen her. I know I would have remembered! But she was right I always give 100% of my attention to my work
Again I was about to speak when she marched over to my workstation, picking things up, putting them down. Playing with the levers on the chair, spinning it around and shouting "Wheeeeee!" like a schoolgirl. But schoolgirl she definitely wasn't. She was probably one of the most attractive women I had even seen - not just in looks, but in manner, and her style. I was just watching her like a lovesick puppy!
"Oh yes Robert, I've watched you quite a few times"
Was it my imagination or was she flirting with me. I was somewhat taken aback by her use of'Robert' - the shop was called "Bob's" and no one called me Robert. From her, it sounded great.
She picked up my combs and put them down. She picked up the scissors and after admiring them, she put them down. She picked up my heavy duty clippers and seemed fascinated by them.
"So, er, what...?"
Ignoring me she said, "Yes Robert I've watched you cutting, trimming, clippering and I have decided that you shall be the one". She jumped into my chair, still holding my clippers. "Robert I will allow you to cut my hair". With one hand she flicked out her hair and, with the other she held the clippers "With these please Robert". Her smile stretched from ear to ear, as she fidgeted in the chair, apparently anxious for me to start.
I was dumbstruck! I enjoyed the precision of cutting hair well, preferring short hair to long although my long haired gents seemed happy with the trims I gave them. But I knew I would have difficulty in trimming this woman's curly mane. This sort of styling just wasn't in my experience.
"Hey come on Robert, take these and let's get started. There isn't a problem is there?"
"Er, well, yes sort of. Trimming long curly hair isn't really something I'm used to doing. You have such lovely hair I wouldn't want to harm it through my inexperience. I could recommend another salon, although I would have to say that at the moment you aren't in desperate need of a trim anyway."
"Well that is very sweet of you but who said anything about trimming? I had it trimmed yesterday so it would look its best for today."
I was getting more and more confused. Partly by my strong attraction to her, but also because I couldn't understand what she was on about!
"So what are you doing today that's so special. And why are you here?"
"Oh you are so silly. What's special is that I'm here with you, Robert, and you are going to cut my hair for me. With these Robert, please."
Again she preferred the clippers and I slowly reached out my hand and stared at the clippers as if I had never seen them before. Her other hand lightly covered mine and it felt like lightning running through me. She was so damned attractive! "You will won't you. For me?"
I really didn't understand this. "You trimmed your hair, so it would like nice for it to be cut?" She nodded.
"Sure did. A friend took some photos so I would have a record of how it looked at its best. And now you're going to cut if for me aren't you Robert?"
I had taken the clippers, and she had removed her lace ribbon and placed it in her lap and was busily running her hands through her hair using the mirror to adjust it just so.
"So, not a trim ... well, how much then?"
She looked so excited as if something wonderful was about to happen. "All of it!"
"All of it?" I repeated dumbly.
"Well obviously not all, but I want it cut very short, Robert. I will let you choose an appropriate style but it must be very short indeed, please Robert."
"Very short? But ...".
"You do cut hair here don't you?"
"Yes, yes, of course..." I felt so flustered. Never had such an attractive woman sat in my chair. Rarely had I ever seen such an attractive woman. And she was asking me to chop off one the things - perhaps THE thing - that made her so special
"Well come along then, chop-chop." She laughed brightly at her little joke and I couldn't help but smile although inside I was quaking with a unique sensation - a dull ache of longing, almost of instant love, mixed with the fear that this woman was asking me to destroy her beauty.
I began to brush out her hair, playing for time. I expected the curls to be resistant like those men who had allowed their curly locks to be thick and difficult to handle. But her hair allowed the brush to pass through, with a slight tension caused by its thickness, and then it sprung back into perfect shape once more. Never had I cut a woman's long hair short, although I have trimmed it on occasion. I give my regular ladies similar styles to the men. Once I even restyled a young woman's shoulder length, lifeless hair. But never had I been presented with this One of the reasons for becoming a barber rather than a ladies' stylist was, after all, so I wouldn't be obliged to perform such actions.
"OK Robert, have you decided how you'll style it yet" Hardly! I was trying to work out how not to! I had to understand. Why would she want this? There must be a reason.
"But Sian, why would you want your hair cut short? It's so lovely as it is."
"Robert, I've had a lifetime of that. People admiring it, touching it, saying how they wished they had hair like it"
"I can believe that. Ah, now I understand. You want people to stop categorising you as a long-haired girl, and take you seriously. To get away from the stereotypical image..."
"Robert, shut up! You've got it all wrong. I love all that attention. And now I want a different sort of attention. OK?"
"But why your hair...?" "Look Robert, I'll let you into a little secret. I have always wanted to cut my hair. I love it like it is but I have always had this uncontrollable urge to have it all cut off."
"Always?" "Since I was a young girl. I don't know why but it has always been there nagging at me. I've never told anyone before. Whenever I passed a salon I would feel compelled to walk towards it. A little voice would say, go in and get your hair cut. Sometimes I would go in. I would sit, wait and watch. Sometimes I would get a trim and others I would just walk out. As I became older this urge became stronger, more real if you like. But I could never shake off the thought that the way it looks now grabs people's attention. But the thought of cutting it short became so intoxicating, so very exciting. Almost erotic"
I had heard of people who got excited by haircutting. I did in a professional, detached way - it was always so good to see a client leave happily with a smart haircut. But I could see nothing erotic about trimming wet hair or shaving someone's neck with clippers. I've certainly never thought about it in those terms!
"So Robert, I have surveyed all the salons and barbers in the area and have chosen you to shear this lot off." As she spoke she placed both hands behind her neck and slowly lifted the mass of hair above her head revealing a milky white neck So long, so soft looking, so vulnerable. Suddenly the thought of shaving that neck with my clippers seemed like a good thing to do. Perhaps the right thing to do. For the first time in ten years I felt a slight stirring of excitement from my occupation. It was disconcerting. I still didn't want to ruin this lovely woman's hair, but the thought of it hitting the floor and exposing her wonderful nape seemed, well, almost erotic.
"You will do it, won't you? It has taken me years to get here. To sit in this chair. To ask a barber to chop it off, Robert, please?"
I thought, long and hard. In the silence you could hear a pin drop. I was a turmoil of emotions, too complex to relate on the page. Should I or shouldn't I? The difference between the vivacious and excited women who entered a few minutes ago and the subdued, waiting woman was scary. I slowly nodded.
Her eyes suddenly widened once more and she almost leapt a foot out of the chair in excitement. Her hair bounced on her shoulders as she did so and seemed to ripple like a waterfall down her back. Anyone passing would think I had asked Sian to marry her - and I could have done right there and then - but she was so excited that I was going to divest her of her crowning glory.
I realised I needed to keep my detached professionalism - how, I didn't know, but I needed to.
I picked up the haircutting cape and placed the shapeless garment over her. Of course I had trouble tying it around her neck. "Perhaps we could dispense with that Robert." She pulled the cape from my hand and threw it to the floor. "I think I would prefer to see my transformation wearing just this."
She held up her hands as if to display that short, backless, almost frontless, dress, which perhaps she thought I hadn't noticed!
"No problem, Sian. OK, well if you're ready, let's start." She fidgeted in the chair once more as if settling down to watch her favourite TV programme.
"I'm ready Robert." More than I was! I was still trying to decide the best sort of style. With hair like this a bob just above the shoulders would look good but I knew this was not what Sian wanted. She had said short and it would be difficult to see how it would fall until it was cut much shorter.
"OK, Sian. Well I'll remove all the length first. I'll cut it to chin length."
"I want it much shorter Robert. You promised..."
"It will be shorter, that's just so I can assess how it will behave when shorter before deciding on a style" Impatient, or what!
"Oh, I see. Sorry".
I retrieved her lace ribbon, gathered her hair at her nape and bound it securely. With her hair pulled back in this manner she looked very different - still as attractive - but more sophisticated without that cloud of auburn curls surrounding her face.
"Well Sian, that's the last time your face will be framed by that mass of hair. Do you feel sad about that?"
"Yes, of course. But I won't change my mind. I want you to cut it."
I opened the drawer in my work area and selected my largest pair of scissors, ones that I used rarely. I held them and clicked them together a couple of times. Sian's eyes widened in anticipation. She licked her lips and grinned broadly.
I slowly moved the scissors to a point just above the bound ponytail and loosely held the hair in my other hand, the back of my hand was resting on Sian's nape. Initially it felt cool like marble to match the paleness of her skin. But I felt it begin to radiate heat and saw that a redness, or rather a glow, was in her cheeks. Embarrassed perhaps by her feelings. I have to say I felt much the same.
As the cold scissors touched her neck in readiness for this unique cut her back arched and she appeared to have received an electric shock as her whole body trembled.
I was frozen. Looking in the mirror I saw Sian trying to avert her eyes from her reflection and my gaze although this was difficult with me holding her hair.
"Are you OK, Sian? Did I cut you or something? Sorry, I..."
"Don't worry Robert I should say sorry. But a girl has to do what a girl has to do." She raised her eyes slowly with an extremely mischievous look on her face.
"What do. Ah... oh!" My face was a picture when I realised what had just happened. It was my turn to glow!
"Just carry on Robert. But you may have to stop occasionally. You'll know when!" She winked! Well, all this was most peculiar. I began to wonder if others had reacted, perhaps less visibly, to my attentions in the past. Women, or even men! And all this before I had even cut one hair.
I looked down and saw these dark auburn curls erupting from my grasp and spilling down Sian's pale back glistening in the reflected light of the overhead lamp. I still felt this was so wrong, but what could I do?
"OK Sian, I'm going to start cutting now." I began to close the scissors. Sian's mouth opened and she took a sharp intake of breath as the scissors began to sever those curls.
Even with these large and extremely sharp scissors one cut wasn't going to be enough. I looked down and saw a few springy curls separated from Sian's head - they seemed to bounce backwards and forwards as if endeavouring to join up once more.
I opened the scissors and Sian breathed out, and then sucked in once more. Her breathing, or near panting, closely followed my cutting rhythm until finally the last strand was severed.
At that point my cutting, and Sian's breathing, sped up and she jumped forward in the chair and exclaimed, "Yes!"
The remaining curls swept forward at chin level and both hands shot up to feel the chopped ends. A long expulsion of air followed, almost like a groan. I averted my eyes, admiring the volume, texture and of course length of the magnificent ponytail I held in my hand.
Once Sian had composed herself I held up my trophy. Its weight was quite a surprise as so often long hair is much lighter than it appears. I thought that Sian would have had a permanent headache from this great weight of hair pressing down on her.
She ran her hands through it, marvelling in its texture and length. It billowed out from my grasp like no hair I had ever seen before, and glistened like gold. "Isn't it lovely? It almost looks alive." My thoughts exactly.
And then it looked like the true situation had suddenly hit her. This wonderful hair was no longer part of her. Her expression became thoughtful, almost melancholy. She looked on the point of tears.
Then she suddenly rearranged herself in the chair, flicked her bobbed hair and said, "Well, Robert, time to finish what you've started."
I laid the hair on the counter in front of her and then began to asses the growth pattern of the shortened hair. As a bob it looked great, it could have been the style that had been made for her - just like the long cloud of curls. It was true - some women could wear any style.
It was still difficult to decide the best choice. The fullness which looked attractive made it difficult to cut a neat attractive style. A simple layered style would look too ordinary. I still hadn't decided on a final style but I knew my next course of action.
I combed up all the hair above a line which ran from a point a couple of inches above her hair and secured it at the crown. Sian watched with interest, unclear what was to happen next.
I combed through the still thick lengths hanging from this horizontal parting. I then reached down and picked up my hairclippers - the very same ones that Sian had but 15 minutes before implored me to use on her hair.
She looked a little less sure now.
"Right Sian, the next stage is for me to shave off all this." She seemed to tremble as I ran my hands through these shortened, but still attractive curls. "Do you want me to do that?"
"Oh, er, yes please. Very much. Will it be, er, shaved as in, well er, shaved?"
"No, not with these." She looked almost relieved "But later I will shave the hairline close... with foam and a razor. So there's something to look forward to!"
"Yeah, I guess so," she said slowly, eyeing the adjustments I was making to the clippers.
"But don't worry, these will make an excellent start".
I was now on more familiar ground and felt a little more confident. No longer was I cutting off a woman's crowning glory - now I was working on taking relatively short hair and providing a smart, well cut look ... and hopefully still attractive. I still felt nervous, especially as I admired the still gorgeous curls that hung down waiting for my clippers to remove them.
"Right head down a little, and hold still please".
She did as she was told. Initially her head went promptly down, almost down into her lap as if presenting her neck for my attention. Which I guess she was. Then perhaps realising she would miss the action, she slowly raised her head until she could make out in the mirror what would happen.
The curls collected round her neck and shoulder and I held them up and slowly passed the clippers along her neck. I did this as slowly as I could and once again I could hear Sian breathing heavily.
The clippers bit and a spray of fine curls flew everywhere. As I continued to pass them up Sian's neck a white trail was left behind, which eventually blended with the horizontal parting as I lifted the clippers Various lengths slipped down, all characterised by that golden luminescent quality.
I ran my hand along the shorn area, partly to remove a few stray cuttings but mostly to see how it felt. I wasn't disappointed. It was very short, but the short lengths I could feel against my palm stood neatly to attention which gave me ideas for the final style.
I felt a tremor through my palm as I did this.
"Yes, very smart, Sian. Perhaps you would care to assess progress?" Without waiting for a reply I lifted her hand and placed it on her partially shorn nape. She could feel the comforting glossy curls initially but then, as she moved her hand, she felt... nothing!
She jumped at this sensation, as if in shock. "Phew, that is short, isn't it?"
"Yes it is. And now I'll remove the rest of this."
I made a show of clearing the clippers although they were fine. Once Sian was ready once more I turned on the clippers and slowly removed the remaining curls. I tried to ignore Sian's squirming in the chair - difficult for sure, but I tried.
Eventually the whole area was clipped very close. I picked up my smaller clippers, the ones that cut very close, and passed them again and again over this bare expanse using my palm to feel for any stray hairs.
I stopped and allowed myself a little time for next step. When Sian was ready I released the long locks from her crown and these tumbled around her face covering much of the bare area. Sian seemed a little relieved by this comforting view. But not for long as I grabbed scissors and comb and began to layer and trim her remaining curls which tumbled all around her.
As I hoped, once the hair was cut to an inch it seemed to become a little wavy - almost straight. Shorter still and it stood to attention like a cornfield.
I continued combing the hair up, clipping off the curls and matching the length of the remainder to its neighbours. I blended the sides into the clippered areas of the nape and temples. Throughout this Sian seemed to have entered a world of her own. Eyes opened wide one minute, then closed.
I damped down the remaining crown hair and pulled a comb through it and it fell into place perfectly. A short layered style, almost a flattop.
The look on Sian's face was one of pure wonder. She actually appeared speechless. Her mouth started to open. And when she felt the coldness of the foam on her hairline her lips formed a perfect "O".
I scraped only a little way up the hairline, so perfect did it already look The auburn, glistening quality of her hair still shone through - even this short.
I held up a mirror to allow Sian to observe the final look. I moved it around so she could see it from every conceivable angle.
Professionally, I felt this was one of my best ever haircuts. It was very smart, very precise, and suited the client perfectly. Was it because I liked the woman so much, rather than maintaining my usual detachment?
I turned off my professional detachment to assess my ex-long-haired client as a person. I had thought she looked so attractive when she came in but now... now, she looked gorgeous.
I put the mirror down and Sian looked straight ahead. She hadn't spoken a word for some time. A hand came up and passed along through her short crown hair, which flattened and then sprung back up as her hand passed by. Her hand went over her shaved nape and I saw she shivered.
What was she thinking now? What have I done? What will my friends think?
"So Sian, all done. Is that OK for you?" Her face looked serious. "Well, next time could you cut it a little shorter?" We both laughed
"I'd like to come back every Monday if I may?"
"Please do, it would be my pleasure."
"And I would like to thank you for satisfying my ambition, and doing it so wonderfully. Would you mind joining me for a drink this evening as a little thank you?"
Mind? Hardly! "That would be an even greater pleasure."
I said there would be no charge as she opened her purse. She paused, smiled and put it away. "You're very sweet."
As she walked to the door her hand came up to caress her beautiful nape and my professional, undetached body twinged!
I stood amongst the voluminous shorter cuttings around the chair and lifted the long ponytail. As I was about to call out if she wanted it, but given the admiring looks she was already receiving as she walked away I didn't think she would have much use for it.