Susan's Transformation by Sean O'Hare
Here she comes again, and it looks like she has another of her colleagues for me to attend to.
I'm not busy at the moment although there was a rush over lunch-time. Annie's occupied, while I've just been relaxing in the chair by the window, and looking at the activities outside.
Sure enough, Ms Grant is coming straight across the precinct from her glass-fronted office block and is talking earnestly to her younger colleague who seems more than a little downcast.
The door opens.
"...but is it REALLY necessary?" the young companion almost whined.
"As I've said, it's not NECESSARY. It's your choice. I'm just offering you some advice based on my experience in the firm. You need to appear serious to be taken seriously. If the partners perceive that the clients do not take you seriously then you won't get on. I think your latest review shows this, doesn't it?"
"Well, I suppose so. But surely it can't just be down to appearance, can it?"
"No, but it's part of the big picture."
"Good afternoon ladies, how can I help you?" I thought it was time to interrupt the discussion, to move things on.
"Hello," said Ms Grant as she turned round to face me with her cold smile which I had seen quite a few times over recent months. "We wondered if you would have time to attend to my friend Susan here?"
While Ms Grant spoke Susan looked about her, a little nervously, taking in her surroundings as if she had never been in such a place before. Perhaps she hadn't.
"Oooh yes, I should think so. What can I do for you Susan?"
"Well I..." Susan began to speak.
"She would like a complete change," interjected Ms Grant. "She thinks her hair is too long and doesn't contribute to the professional image she wishes to convey, so a much shorter style is called for." Based on the words that were being exchanged as they entered I know exactly where these thoughts came from... and also Ms Grant's previous visits.
"I see. Well, we can certainly do that. Being a barbershop we do, of course, specialise in shorter styles." I smile at Susan, as does Ms Grant, while Susan looks somewhat bewildered.
"Er, what? A barbershop? I didn't realise...." Her voice comes out a little high-pitched as if her throat was dry.
"Don't worry, I'm more than happy to style your hair for you. Now, please take a seat Susan," I said and I gently guide her with my arm to the chair by the window I had just vacated.
As she is seated I lift her abundant hair to prevent it getting trapped between her back and the seat, and allow it to cascade down so that it almost touches the floor. A small clip at the back of her head holds the crown hair sleekly and tightly off the face while the rest of the hair flows freely.
"Well your hair is certainly very long Susan, it almost reaches the floor. But not for long...." An immediate look of panic appears on her face as I pump the pedal and raise the chair a little. I give a little laugh. "It's OK. Don't worry Susan, I'm just lifting you to a more convenient height." For now!
I remove the clip and the fastened hair slowly slides forward, covering Susan's ears and slightly hiding her face, giving a much more gentle and vulnerable look. I begin to brush her hair. The brush glides through without obstacle - no snarls or tangles - right through to the ends which hang in a perfectly straight, thick line.
"And your hair is so lovely and thick too...." It is. The brush I was using was certainly not reaching the hair underneath.
"...but it must take a lot of time to care for. Shampooing it. Drying it. Hmmm, I really do think you're doing the right thing Susan."
I continue to brush. There seems to be a heavy atmosphere as no words are spoken. We are all watching the brush moving through the hair with rhythmic strokes as if hypnotised. Susan is beginning to relax a little, her eyes starting to close. Clearly this enjoyment of her long hair outweighs the disadvantages.
"Right," Ms Grant breaks the silence. "I think we should get started." Her smile broadens, and she unnecessarily smoothes back her slicked-back hair which is tightly pulled into its usual large bun at the crown.
"Very well." I put down the brush and lift a fresh, crisp white cutting cape and flick it open. With a single flowing movement I allow it to billow over Susan's seated form and come to rest. "I need to fasten the cape at your neck. Perhaps you could lift your hair Susan. It will make this a little easier for me."
She places her hands under her hair at the nape and lifts it clear. Her eyes close. I wonder how often she has done this in the past for her own pleasure... and the pleasure of others. I feel a twinge of regret over what is to happen. She looks very sad but, even so, the twinge passes.
I fasten the cape so that it fits snugly. "OK, thanks Susan." She releases her hair and the contrast of her dark, almost black, hair flowing against the pure white cape was breathtaking, almost angelic. I wonder if she ever wears white, rather than the dark business suits, to show off her hair so stunningly. Or should I say "ever wore" as it will be somewhat irrelevant shortly.
I slide open the drawer in the counter in front of Susan. Her downcast eyes open wide as she watches me remove the large pair of scissors that I rarely have cause to use, plus a similarly large comb.
I comb down the hair from a centre parting over Susan's right ear, and flowing down the cape with the ends coiling in her lap.
This was by far the longest hair that I had ever seen in my chair, and probably the nicest I had ever seen.
I insert the blade of the scissors in her hair at the temple above her ear...
"What? How sh...? Hang on! Pleasssse...?"
I slowly - and with an obvious show of regret - remove the scissors and give a little sigh. "What's wrong Susan?"
"B...b...but we haven't even discussed styles have we? I mean, you weren't really going to cut it that short, were you?"
Yes! "Not if you don't want me to. Of course not." I thought I caught the hint of a wink from Ms Grant. "But this is a barbershop Susan. I am used to cutting hair short. I need to get rid of the bulk of it swiftly before deciding on a style. You do understand that don't you?"
"Yes. Well no. I don't want it cut that short. I thought...."
"Susan." Ms Grant comes forward. "Now Susan, don't be so silly. I think we've agreed the way forward haven't we?"
"Agreed? AGREED! You have...." A rather pouty Susan seemed ready to take control once more.
"SUSAN! Silence. You agreed to come here didn't you?"
"Yes, but...." Still pouty, but a little more subdued.
"And you knew you were getting your hair cut, didn't you?"
"Yes, but I...." Looking worried.
"So you're going to get your hair cut."
"Yes...." She now looked like a startled rabbit. No idea which way to turn.
"Good. Now sit quietly while your barber firstly gets rid of the bulk of all that hair. Proceed." Ms Grant nodded towards me.
Susan's resolve is clearly crumbling. I once more place the scissors at her temple. Susan screws her eyes tightly shut. I lower my head and whisper in her ear, "Don't worry Susan. I'll get this over with as quickly as I can. Ever had short hair before?"
Susan shakes her head which sends ripples through the length of her hair, from the crown to the ends. "OK, well I'll make sure it looks really good." And with that I begin to close the scissors.
The hair is thick and healthy and, even with the largest scissors I possess, progress is slow although the crunching sound is so loud. The scissors close and a three inch thick hank of hair separates at the temple and begins to flow down Susan's shoulder. Susan was watching out of the corner of her eye as her precious locks continued to flow over her breasts and coiled in her lap.
"Oh no Ms Grant. It'll take so long to grow again. I...." I swiftly moved the scissors along.
And I cut off the next chunk of hair without delay. It follows the same path as the first but spills over in her lap and slides to the floor.
"Why can't I wear my like yours Ms Grant. It looks so professional. So neat."
"Don't be silly. You would always be tempted to wear it loose as you have today."
"But I wouldn't," Susan really whined this time as she watched the remainder of her hair on the right-hand side fall to the floor.
"Easily said, Susan. Anyway half your hair has now gone so it wouldn't be possible anyway. Look!"
And, sure enough, I have neatly bobbed Susan's hair above the right ear where it hangs. Just hangs. While the left side is still full, glossy... and long!
"Oh it's SO short. I...."
I lean forward again as I finish removing all the hair at the back. "Susan, calm down. This isn't short. That comes next once we've removed all this."
"Shorter than this? Shorter?"
I nod as the final long hank of hair slides down into Susan's lap where a large mound has collected. The floor is also littered with 40-inch locks of hair.
I reach down to my drawer once more and select my heavy-duty Oster clippers. I uncoil the cable and plug them in. I hold them up and switch them on for few seconds. "Oh yes Susan. Quite a bit shorter I think." I select a number No. 1 attachment and place it on the clippers.
"Wha... what are they...?" Susan looks unbelievably as I move the clippers towards her.
"These are hair clippers Susan. Remember this is a barbershop. We use these to cut hair nice and short." I bring the clippers to rest at Susan's temple.
"I know WHAT they are. And what they do. And you're not...."
I flick the switch which makes it difficult to hear more. I use my free hand to steady Susan's head, and begin to force the clippers through her much shorter but still very thick hair. Slowly a path forms as the clippers cough and splutter over the ear and down the hairline to the nape.
I raise the clippers with a flourish and a thick mass of hair falls to Susan's shoulders. "You have such thick hair Susan. It must be very uncomfortable in the heat and so tiresome to look after. I'm so glad I can help you." I make another pass with the clippers. My plan was to get the back and sides clipped off as quickly as possible, while Susan was still not quite taking it in, and then I could shape what was left into a short, sharp style of the type favoured by Ms Grant.
While I continue with the clippers, Ms Grant is trying to hide a deep smile. She always really gets off on watching me at work. I'll admit to enjoying work, and I do find it special when I help women get rid of their long hair and move to a nice, short cut. It's fun and the end result is always special. But to Ms Grant it was much more - it affected her much more deeply. She would cross, uncross and move her legs. He hands would move, as if to brush something off her clothes, but would move frequently. And then the deep smile. Pleased to watch the cutting? Or pleased to see her young colleague get her long hair shorn? Or excited by the fact that she had been responsible for it happening? Or was she imagining herself one day sitting in the chair and losing her own hair?
I move to the other side and begin to repeat the process. As I once more hold her head firmly, and force the clippers through, I feel a few tears on her cheek. Her eyes are closed.
"It's OK Susan. Starting to look really good."
I move to the back and force her head down. Her eyes open briefly and then widen as she sees smoothly clippered sides with the few inches of hair on the crown looking like a silky cap sitting above it and looking quite long in contrast although finishing well above the ear. I hear a little whimper and can hear tears hitting the cape before I turn the clippers on once more.
I place the clippers at the nape and push them right up and over her crown. Hair tumbles forward, past her face and into her lap. I've decided on a style and most of the remaining hair will need to come off.
I put down the clippers and pick up my smaller comb and scissors. I comb the remaining longer hair forward - all 3 inches of it - and snip it off close to the hairline. Several more times I do this, graduating the layers around the face and through the crown to no more that half an inch. I blend this into the clippered sides. A lovely short, head-hugging style in big contrast to the full, face-hiding, mass of hair she walked in with.
I picked up the clippers once, removed the comb and adjusted the blades to their shortest cut. "Just finishing it off Susan. Won't be long."
Finishing it off... true! And won't be long... true again!
Once again I place the clippers above the ear and push back and finding little resistance now. The eighth of an inch now fades beautifully into... well nothing. I show a little restraint and don't shave too high at the sides. Bit when it came to the back I couldn't resist shaving it all off almost to the crown.
With the scissors I did a little more graduating around the face, thinned out the fringe into spiky peaks and blended the short layers with the shaved areas. The white scalp showed clearly around the hairline and up her neck, contrasting vividly with the little dark hair that remained.
Susan's expression tells me she has begun to take in what has happened. At least 10 years' hair growth now surrounds her on the floor. The long hair which she loved to brush, to have brushed and to flaunt, probably to men and women alike, had gone. Replaced by the shortest of crops. Nothing to hide behind. A sign of a highly confident woman and a very sexy one. And the change in her expression leads me to believe she is beginning to realise that.
"It... it's soooo short. I can't believe it's me."
I hold up a mirror so that she can view the rear.
"Gulp! You've nearly shaved it haven't you." She holds my gaze in the mirror. I give a little nod. Her face breaks into a smile. "I love it. I liked my long hair but this feels, well, so sexy and different. Thank you so much."
I removed the cape and Susan gets up admiring her new profile in the mirror. Ms Grant also gets up. "And thank you so much for encouraging me." She plants a little kiss on her cheek.
She pays and I inform her, "You'll need to come regularly to keep it looking good. Every 2 to 3 weeks ideally but, if you pop in when we're not busy - like now - I would be happy to clipper the back and sides weekly if you would like to keep the style looking really sharp."
She looks to Ms Grant. "Would you mind if a I took a little time off each week?"
"No, of course not Susan... provided I can come with you and watch."
"OK. And perhaps on one of the visits we can think about doing something with that large bun of yours?"
They walk off, arm in arm, laughing - a very different picture from when they entered.
I began to collect the long lengths from the floor and bundled them together and looked forward to Ms Grant bringing her next friend along... and also hoped for the time that she would sit in my chair.