Christmas is Coming
"Well, your girlfriend could always come here to get her hair cut," Marie suggested, as she began to run the clippers up my nape, cutting it very short as usual.
I had mentioned that Nikki had been thinking of getting a new style, but she had been put off by the high prices charged by the local salons that friends had suggested. We weren't exactly flush with cash at the moment but I had to admit her formerly shoulder length layered style - now much longer - could do with some attention despite the fact that we both liked it long.
So the thought of letting Marie, the mistress of the clippers, loose on my girlfriend's locks certainly didn't fill me with enthusiasm. I didn't reply.
"There, that's much better, a nice smooth neck," she said, as she turned off the clippers. And I could imagine the half inch tideline now showing following the recent sunshine. "I said she could always come here Dave."
"Hmmm, I guess she could. But she has long, thick hair which we both like so I don't she'll really want to come here. I'll mention it to her ..." I replied not committaly.
"No, no - the ladies side of the business have gift tokens available. Christmas is coming after all, and there's a discount for first time customers."
The ladies side of the business. Ah, I forgot about that. It was partitioned off from the barbershop, entered through the other door. Insistently, she said how much it would cost as she dusted the clippings from collar and swept away the cape. It was so reasonable compared with the prices Nikki had been given - and as I was stuck for Christmas ideas - I agreed.
Marie scribbled the details on a gift card and popped it in an envelope and I handed over the cash.
"I'm sure she'll be delighted Dave. Just let her know that she can pop in and make an appointment when she's passing. OK, see you in a few weeks."
"Oh Dave, what a lovely thought. I wonder if I can make an appointment before Christmas. I'll pop in tomorrow morning." As Marie predicted Nikki was delighted. "And the ladies bit is separate isn't it? I don't want to have your barber shaving my neck like yours! Why do you have it cut so short?"
"Well I don't really get a chance to discuss it. Just that I want my hair cut. It seems everyone gets pretty much the same sort of cut there, certainly on the neck. And it's cheap of course," I added jokingly, "and it means I don't need it trimmed quite so often so we can save money."
"Well I'm not sure we're that desperate that we can't afford for you to have a bit more of a style. In a hairdressers they always sit down with you before to discuss styles."
"Not in a barbers. You just sit down and they start cutting."
"Hmmm, well it would be nice to have a some hair to ruffle a little .... and hang on to. My hand just slides up your neck - have you noticed - although it's rather grabbable here ..." she giggled, running her fingers through the layers on the crown.
Needless to say I noticed such things, and began to run my fingers through her lovely long hair. "And it's just a trim you're having, right?"
"Mmmm, of course sweetheart. I know that you like something to grab on to as well," she said dreamily. "And thanks again."
"Hi, my boyfriend has given me this gift voucher. I wondered if I could make an appointment for a trim before Christmas?" I informed the rather snooty woman behind the reception desk.
"Well, I don't know, let me see," she said in a rather flustered way. "We are very busy of course this time of year, you know."
I felt disappointed, after the excitement of last night I was looking forward to a bit of pampering. I was fed up dragging back my grown out Rachel-style layers into a ponytail, and using clips to stop the sides falling into my face. "I see ..."
"I'm not even the receptionist, you know. I'm a beautician. Our receptionist rang in sick! Here, let me look at that card."
She glanced at my card again. "Oh," the receptionist exclaimed, with a note of surprise. "But this has Marie's name on it."
"I see. Is that a problem?"
"Er, well no, not really. Well in that case she can do your hair for you now if you have the time."
"Really!" I exclaimed. "That'll be fine."
"Very well, then just go through this door here and take a seat. She's out the back. I'll give her a call." She yelled out, "Marie, customer for you! Requested you especially."
I stepped through the door and sat down on one of a line of chairs at the back of the salon and looked around. It all looked a bit basic but I guessed it was only the upmarket salons that went in for the potted plants and fancy lighting.
"Oh!" exclaimed the woman who appeared from the back of the salon, as if surprised to see a customer despite the bellow from reception. "Hello there, would you like to come over?"
She stood by a styling chair, with a welcoming smile on her face. Her appearance was reassuring, especially her blonde and curly hair, hanging down her back. Clearly not one of the scissor-happy stylists I had sometimes come across when younger. Returning her smile, I sat down and reviewed my thoughts about what I would like to have done although I was open to any suggestions.
With a swish, she threw a cape over me which completely enveloped me. I then saw myself rising up rather jerkily as the stylist pumped at a foot pedal.
She pulled out the band and the side clips, and tossed them onto the counter before me.
She then picked up a comb and scissors, and began to comb through my hair from crown to ends. "I did hear Amanda correctly didn't I? You did request me specifically?"
"Well, ummm, yes ..."
"It's always nice to have recommendations. I don't get many though. Women that is."
"Well it's my boyfriend who comes here ..."
"Really? Well, in that case we know what sort of style you'll be wanting then. Unusual for a guy to encourage his girlfriend to come here though."
"Is it?" I said, beginning to feel a little uneasy, but not really sure why.
"Do you want it layered through the top?" she asked, fingering my overgrown fringe. "Oh yes, most guys don't like too much change in their ladies' hair."
"Well, I was hoping to grow it all out to one length, although shorter around the sides."
"No problem. OK, I hope you're ready for this." She laid a hand on my head, pushing it forward slightly and, with horror, I saw her push the scissors into my hair around ear level and close them. I was too shocked to say anything. What was she doing. The scissors opened and closed again, and my hair began to slide down the cape in front of me, gathering in my lap.
"N... n..." I stuttered.
"I know this bit's a bit of a trial. I'm always surprised when women clients ask me to cut their long hair - not that it happens that much as I said - I could never bear to part with mine. OK, won't be long now."
She was right - it didn't take long and, by the time she had finished cutting, my hair wasn't long. I stared at myself in the mirror and saw that in ten seconds, after a few deft crunches of the scissors, my cascading locks had been reduced to a dull, vaguely even, ear length bob.
"But I didn't ..."
"I know, it's surprising how quickly I can cut it off isn't it - years to grow, and chopped off in a few seconds." I watched her pick up a set of hairclippers. No, surely not! "Who is your boyfriend, by the way?"
A click, followed by a buzzing sound, filled the air. A felt a pressure on my nape as she eased my head forward once more. "Er, his name is Dave ... but look ..."
I felt so confused about what was happening. No consultation, or anything. A bit like Dave had described about his experience. Suddenly the tone of the clippers changed, and a mound of hair fell into my lap. Small clippings seemed to fly everywhere around my face.
I felt the pressure on my nape again. "Dave, did you say? I don't always remember the names of my gents. Doing men's haircuts doesn't take that long so there's not usually much chance to chat."
She moved to one side, placed the clippers under the hair that hung over one ear and pushed upwards and I watched as the hair fell to the floor. My ear seemed to spring out from the side of my head, as if surprised to be suddenly exposed to daylight. A few more passes and she moved to the other side and repeated the process. And then she put the clippers down, and sprayed the remaining hair on the crown with water.
She began combing and snipping. "I think it may look better layered through the top, but I'll leave it sleek for now as that's what you asked for. I'll taper it in to the clippered back though. You can always come back to have it restyled. You'll need to every 3 weeks or so now, anyway, with it this short. No more six monthly trims for you now!" she giggled. "The only Dave I can think of is the one who came in yesterday."
"Yes that's him. He bought a gift voucher for me to have a restyle. But I ..."
"That Dave? But he said his girlfriend had lovely long, thick hair - neither he nor his girlfriend would want it cut short," she said with a puzzled air. She put down the comb and scissors, and picked up the clippers once more and flicked the attachment off the blades. "And you have - er, well had - long hair ..." she said with a slightly worried air. "Besides he bought a gift voucher for the salon next door."
I felt a strong pressure on my nape once more, accompanied this time by a coolness of metal. A vision of Dave's bare nape flashed into my mind. "Salon? Next door? But it is me ... and I, er, never ... well, never expected ..."
"Oh, so you changed your mind. You did ask for me specifically after all," she said, looking rather relieved. Impossibly fine snippets of hair seemed to fly around my face as she stroked the clippers in front of my ears.
"No! You're Dave's barber? But I just gave the voucher to the receptionist, and she ..."
"Amanda!" shouted Marie.
She put the clippers down, and took a dollop of gel from a small tub on the counter which she worked through her fingers.
"The gift voucher you just received. It didn't say that I was to be this client's stylist did it?" She began working the gel through my hair, working it into a high gloss.
"Yes, it did!" she replied. "It had your name scrawled all over it."
"Yes I signed it, but it was for the salon. Didn't you read it properly?"
"Look, I'm not the receptionist! I was just trying to help out," and she stormed out haughtily.
"Well, it seems there's been a bit of a mix up," Marie said. "Still, given that you've decided to go for a really short style then you came to the right person. Some people call me the mistress of the clippers you know." She slicked my hair back from a side parting, and it shone like glass.
Marie then held up a mirror so I could see the back of my hair. Except there was no hair to see. It was clippered to nothing. My neck was shaved, just like Dave's. The only long hair - relatively speaking - was that on my crown, which tapered down to nothing at the bump at the back of my head, meeting the stubble that remained.
"My hair ..." I said, because I could think of nothing else to say.
"Yes. I prefer mine long, but it does suit you - sometimes I do wonder if I should give it a try. Don't think so though. Now come back every 3 weeks or so to keep it looking good."
She whisked away the cape and the enormous piles of hair that had collected in my lap bounced on to the floor.
"Er, OK," I said without enthusiasm. I took one last look in the mirror - not quite believing the whiteness showing at the sides - and with the single thought running through my mind, what would Dave say.
"Hi Nikki. Did you manage to make an appointment?" I called out from the hallway as I took off my jacket. For some reason the thought of Nikki getting a new hairstyle had occupied my mind most of the day.
"Er, well sort of. Well that is ..."
I walked into the kitchen and couldn't believe what I saw. Nikki had her back to me, and her hair had been shaved to the bone.
"What have you done?" I asked, trying to keep my voice under control.
"I'm sorry Dave. There was a sort of mix up, and I ended up getting Marie cutting my hair. And ..."
"Marie? The clipper mistress?" She nodded. "But you wanted to keep your hair long didn't you. The voucher was for the salon."
"I know, but ... oh I'm so sorry." She fell into to my arms and my fingers were drawn to exploring the stubble on her nape. Little stubble though - it was smooth like mine at the nape. My other hand patted the unaccustomed slick hair on her crown, which finished abruptly at the back of her head.
"It's beautiful. You, look so beautiful Nikki," I said, not quite believing that she would ever wear her hair so short.
"What?" she said, withdrawing from the point of tears. "You like it?"
"Mmmm, I love it - it just looks and feels so wonderful. You look wonderful."
"Oh, really? Well, since I got back I haven't been able to leave my nape alone. It just feels so sensitive and ... well, I keep thinking of my hair being cut and I get well sort of ... I don't understand it ... as I run my hand up my neck I just sort of ..."
"Don't worry, I understand." I ran my finger up and down Nikki's nape and felt her tremble with pleasure. "Let's pop upstairs and we can talk about it ... or something ..."
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