It was around 3pm on Tuesday afternoon. I was on my own in the shop as Jim needed the afternoon off. It was always a quiet time so I didn't anticipate problems.
The shop was empty and I had just sat down with a cup of coffee when I noticed a very attractive young lady - probably a business woman in an expensive and well cut suit with an short skirt - walking towards the shop. She entered and immediately sat down in one of the chairs and simply said "A haircut please."
Well, this wasn't something that happened every day!
But, her attitude was so matter of fact I decided to just play along.
"So how short would you like me to cut your hair? I think a shorter style may be suitable." Well I had to try didn't I? I started to unravel her hair from the elaborate coil and it hit the floor with an audible sound.
So, imagine my surprise when she looked up at me and said, with a quiet somewhat raspy voice, "Suitable or not, I want you to cut the lot off please."
"Noooo, I can't do that! I assumed you would just want the ends trimmed." I felt rather flustered - I realised I must just be imagining, but ...
Even the gent looked up from his newspaper.
"No - please could you cut it all off so that's it's very short."
Well the gent was as intrigued as I was. To the extent that he put down his newspaper ... and pretended not to watch!
"But why. You have such lovely hair ...."
"Please. It must be cut. Can you do it for me now ... please?"
I brushed her hair, realising I had never seen let alone touch such beautiful hair. I may have a fantasy to fulfil, I thought, but is it right to take it out on such unique hair?
I gathered the hair in an attempt to see how she appeared with short hair. The answer was straightforward - she had great bone structure and could probably take the shortest of styles. Still I felt uncomfortable and decided not to take the risk. "If you must cut it then I think you should consult a lady's hairstylist. I'll be more than happy to recommend someone. I'm not really experienced at women's styles I'm afraid."
I stopped brushing and rather sadly turned the chair around so the woman could leave. She didn't move and I noticed she was upset.
"You ... you don't understand. My boss has just been replaced. His replacement is a woman and she says she will not allow women with long hair in her team - she says it looks unprofessional and projects the wrong image to clients. It also leads to inefficiency as it needs too much time to care for."
Without thinking I said, "What nonsense!"
"I... I know. But she insists I have it cut immediately or I am out of her team ... and I really love my job. So, I've no choice."
"But why here. Why not a stylist?"
"She told me to come here so I could get it done quickly and sufficiently short. She said a stylist would insist on giving me some airy-fairy style which would again be inappropriate. So I have to report back at 4 o'clock with my hair cut to her satisfaction or lose my job." She started crying.
"OK, OK. There's no need to be upset. I do understand now. And I will cut you hair for you if that's what must be done." So this was it - it almost didn't feel right as she required no persuasion from me. But, still it must be done.
So I swivelled the chair back and quickly snapped open a cape and covered the woman. In my haste I had failed to keep her neck clear and hence there was no way I could fasten the cape.
I got a strong impression that the gent would have jumped up and assisted if I had asked but that didn't really seem appropriate.
"I'm sorry about this madam. I do seem to be having a little problem here." I continued to fumble, and giggled nervously.
"Yes, well don't forget I mustn't be too long. I have to be back in the office by 4." The woman turned her head and looked over her shoulder at the gent. "Excuse me could you help a lady in distress." He nodded. "Could you come over and hold up my hair while the cape is fastened around my neck - it won't take a second."
How strange! He got up and walked over. "Er, what should I do?"
"Just gather it up and hold it on top of my head."
He was clearly unfamiliar with long hair. He gathered it in both hands at the nape and then ran one hand down about half way and looped it up and held it over her head. A sad look came to his face. Typical man - subscriber to the view that all women must have long hair. Boy, will he be disappointed!
"Er, is that OK then?"
I fastened the cape easily. "There, done it. Yes that's fine you can let go of it now. Thanks."
The woman looked up at him from the mirror and smiled, rather nervously. "That was very kind of you. I think you better let it down now because the lady will be cutting it off."
He looked very stupid, standing there with us two women looking at him. "Er, yes, well alright - but I don't agree. About cutting it I mean. It's lovely - er, I mean, well ...." Typical, I thought.
"Um - yes, well perhaps you should sit down now." I felt he had had enough of the enjoyment. Now it was my turn.
"Thank you. That's very nice of you to say so. But I must I'm afraid." The woman was surprisingly gracious I thought.
He nodded and gently lowered her hair until once more it reached the ground - for the last time I thought with anticipation.
"Right madam. Do you have a style in mind? How short would you like me to cut it?"
"I got the strong impression that it must be no longer than my boss'. Her hair is very short at the back" - she ran her hand over the back of her head - "and at the sides too" - she indicated an area covering much of her temple area. "She has the top longer, sort of layered, and resting on the short areas. Do you know what I mean?"
Why didn't she just say short back and sides? Well I'm sure I'll be able to do a little better than that ... and equally short!
She added after a slight pause, "Rather like a man's cut actually."
"Hmmm. That is very short. You don't want it that short do you." I tried to sound shocked, although felt very excited.
"Yes, I think that will be best in the circumstances. If it is to be short anyway then I think it must be cut that short." She sounded a little breathless. "So, time to start I think ...."
"Well, OK, if you're sure."
I turned away to get things ready and think how I wanted to approach the cut. I had considered doing the whole thing with clippers but felt it would be over too quick. I wanted to savour this experience. So I decided to slowly cut off the bulk first.
As I returned to stand behind the woman, with the scissors in my hand I noticed she was smiling at the man. I wondered if he would be smiling at her once the golden locks were gone.
I held the scissors up and her smile faded, to be replaced by a look of concern, perhaps even fear.
"Ready?" I said. I scooped up all the hair and gathered it at the crown and held it firmly about six inches above her head with one hand while the scissors were poised over the taut length between my hand and her scalp. Her hair showered around her and I thought that she should make the most of this feeling because it wouldn't be experienced for much longer.
"Well, do you want me to cut off your hair or not?" I could barely control myself, but partly to draw out the scenario and also to give the continued impression of professionalism I felt I had to ask.
She raised her eyes and looked straight into mine. "Yes," she almost hissed, "cut it all off."
Your wish, etc. I felt exceedingly excited, even happy, and let it show. "OK, let's do it then." And with that I closed the scissors and there was a dull crunching sound. The woman winced, and closed her eyes - perhaps not quite believing what was happening to her beautiful hair.
I opened and closed the scissors once more, with little discernible impact. This was going to take ages, I thought - and smiled to myself. All my attention was now focused on this task - I was trying to resist smiling but it was difficult.
I continued to open and close the scissors and, each time, the woman winced. Several more tears had appeared although it was very clear that she was holding back how she really felt. She wanted to appear brave - but was failing.
The woman had gradually leant her head back - hardly surprising given how hard I was pulling but now she was almost looking up at the ceiling.
After around ten attempts I had made some headway - several small sections had now been severed. Short strands hung from my hand while longer clumps were collecting around her shoulders.
I sighed and with my scissors-wielding hand, pushed her head forward so that once again the hair was taut. "Please would you not lean back" I ordered. "It makes it very difficult to get this lot chopped off." I felt so good. So excited. Did the woman? I doubted it - she was probably thinking when would this end? What will I look like?
The scissors started their task once more it was clear that she now leaning forward- straining, almost tugging against my firm pull such that it appeared she was rocking forward following each closure of the scissors.
Certainly more headway was made and, as if anticipating, the completion of this task, the woman let out a small exclamation with each cut.
I had one more cut to make and I paused for effect. The woman had tensed, leaning forward. Then I suddenly closed the scissors, this time with an audible snap as the blades closed together. My hand sprung into the air and I held the long ponytail high, like a trophy. I had just severed 4 feet of hair from this attractive woman - and, believe me, I nearly lost it.
The woman's head shot forward and a long, low groan escaped from her lips to replace the by now familiar small cry that had followed each cut. Her hands came from under the cape and her head rested in her hands as she attempted to wipe her tears away.
I placed a rubber band around the base of the ponytail and looked at it in admiration, running my hands along its length.
After a short period the woman started to raise her head and her hands reached behind her head. As she once again looked in the mirror she contemplated the face of a woman now wearing a rather uneven layered bob - a face that ten minutes before was surrounded by long, beautiful hair. As her hands ran through the severed lengths, with a questioning, almost admiring, look on her face as she turned her head from side to side, she saw me handling the recently attached ponytail. Perhaps reminding her of what she had just lost she once again let out what was clearly an involuntary groan, almost of despair.
"Right, that's the worst of it over. Shall we get on?" Not a question at all of course. And she didn't bother supplying an answer. I pulled away the woman's hands which she continued to run through her hair. I dropped them in her lap and pulled the cape down firmly to cover them.
I then made a neat parting in her hair to one side and repeated the exercise on the other and then again at the back, gathering the sectioned hair in a small pony-tail on top of her head. Certainly this six inches of hair contrasted rather dramatically with the four-foot bundle that I had laid out on the counter below the mirror. The woman couldn't take her eyes away from the silken tail that lay before her.
A few seconds later I turned on the clippers. The woman clearly didn't know what the noise was - she looked around her with an inquiring look upon her face, perhaps looking for a wasp! Well she was going to get stung!
"OK, head down again please." And assuming this would be insufficient I placed my free hand on the woman's head, grabbing the hair that I had gathered there, and then I pushed her head down so that the woman was almost looking at the floor. I then raised the clippers and placed them on the back of the woman's neck. The woman flinched, clearly unfamiliar with the feel of the cold metal and the buzzing sensation.
I paused, partly to anticipate what would happen next and partly to make the woman wonder what would happen next.
I then eased the clippers forward and hair began to fly everywhere. Given what had already been removed it was difficult to believe there was so much left ... at least for the moment.
I hadn't attached a guard to the clippers, as I wanted her hair to be short. Oh, so short all the way to the sectioned off area. After the first pass I took the clippers away; the white swathe that had appeared up the back of her head was very satisfying.
I turned off the clippers and put them down, and quiet sobs could be clearly heard. The woman was trying to raise her head although my hand held it in place.
I ran her hand along the shaved area and the woman visibly shivered. "Mmmm, that's rather nice, don't you think?" No answer of course. "Let's get the rest sorted out shall we?"
I restarted the clippers and again placed them on the woman's neck. Once again the woman shook as the clippers were slowly eased forward and a further rain of hair began to fall. And then more, as the action was repeated until the back of her head was bare, although shoulder length wings of hair still hung at the sides.
I relaxed my grip on the woman, allowing her to raise her head. Her eyes were red although she now appeared composed and for a few seconds she attempted to turn her head to see what had been effected at the back of head. However the wings of hair at her side conspired to prevent this. But not for long as I now came alongside the woman, pushed her head to one side and proceeded to start clipping the remaining hair away.
The woman gasped as the clippers touched her cheek, and once more when she saw the damage they had wrought. "Not... not the back too? Not like that?" I nodded and smiled broadly ... and continued to remove the hair that remained. I repeated the action for much longer than really necessary as I enjoyed watching the look of shock appear on her face each time the clippers touched and the small gasp each time they were removed.
I quickly moved to the other side, forcing the woman's head the other way and clipped all the remaining hair. Given the large amount that had been cut as one piece, and still sat before her, there was an incredibly large amount of hair on the cape and around the chair.
I then turned off the clippers and there was silence. I moved behind the woman once again and to admire my handiwork - the smoothness of the back and sides that were virtually shaved. So fresh looking. So awesome.
The woman stared back at herself, totally stunned.
I released the hair at the top of the head and it covered most of the clipped areas. A sigh went up from the woman - possibly one of relief that the severity of the cut wouldn't show.
But I had other ideas as I combed it through, sprayed it with water and proceeded to layer the remaining hair. And once finished it laid quite flat, parted to one side and finished abruptly in a line about an inch above her ear - a precise chilli-bowl cut.
Some of the clipped areas were covered by the top layers but by no stretch of the imagination all. If anything, the short layers appeared to emphasise just how short the rest of it was. What's more it seemed to balance the look, and so completing the style.
I stood back and whisked away the cape, skilfully, so as not spill clippings over the woman's immaculate suit ... or even her long legs which flowed from her oh-so-short skirt.
The woman just stared at her reflection. I held up a mirror behind so that the woman got a view, for the first time, of the rear. She gasped. Her hands shot up to feel the back, and the sides. And she gasped once more.
"It's s s so short!" she stated, rather unnecessarily.
"Yes. But do you like it?"
"I er, I we, well yes actually. I love it!" She grinned. She looked at the gent - almost as if asking for his approval - and he nodded.
She jumped up, paid me and including a rather large tip, and almost danced out of the door.
I called out, "What about the pony-tail?"
She called back, "I've no need for it. Perhaps the gentleman would like it as he seemed so reluctant to let it go earlier?"
And she went.
The gent shook his head, although he had the opportunity to contemplate it as it remained on the counter as I started to trim his rather boring hair.