Nicole couldn’t remember the last time she was this nervous. Sitting in the waiting room, anxiously anticipating that moment when the woman would appear and call her name. “Funny,” she thought “Mouth is dry but my hands are wet. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?” Never before had she attempted anything this drastic. Impulsivity was not her thing, she carefully thought out all her decisions and rarely stepped outside her comfort zone. Change made her uneasy so she simply avoided it whenever possible. Today however, today was different.
“Nicole?” The voice quickly brought her back to reality. The figure standing in front of her was young and quite striking. She was stunning, dressed in a short leather skirt, a low cut, sky blue blouse and black sandals, it was her hair that caught Nicole’s attention. It was dark, almost black with the front falling just to her jawline. The back was layered and rose up a few inches shorter than the front. The right side was tucked behind her ear and the left seemed to hang down just a bit lower, creating an asymmetrical appearance. The cut was crisp, sharp and impossible not to notice.
Nicole smiled nervously and stood, tucking a strand of her own long, chestnut hair behind her ear. Unconsciously, as if she was ashamed or suddenly self aware. The stylist sensing her unease, smiled warmly. “Right this way Nicole. ”
Yes, today was different. As long as Nicole could remember, she had long hair. It was a beautiful brown that showed flashes of red when the sunlight hit it. Hanging down nearly to the small of her back, she felt that it was a part of her. Nicole knew that she was attractive, her petite figure and heart shaped face had broken more than a few hearts. Confidence was not a strength however, and her hair was a security blanket. She trimmed it 3-4 times a year and it was always the same. “Just cut an inch or two, that’s it.”
The most she had ever had cut was last year when she redid her grown out bangs and the stylist had cut almost 4 inches off of the length at the same time. She had been upset at first but secretly felt a thrill when looking at it in the mirror. She had always looked at shorter haired women with envy and fantasized about cutting hers the same way but could never find the courage to follow through. But this time, things would be different.
She stepped into the main room of the salon and followed the stylist to the waiting chair in the middle of the room. As she settled in to the plush, red leather she quietly started to doubt. “I can’t do this. I’ll just get my usual and maybe next time I’ll feel up to it. What if I don’t like it? It’ll take years to grow back!” She looked into the mirror and once again found her eyes drawn to the stylist’s hair. She loved it. She thought of how liberating it would feel to look into the mirror and see that style on herself. Today is different.
The stylist whipped the cape around, fastening it around Nicole’s neck. She then gently pulled the hair back and began to comb it out. “I’m Amber by the way, what are we doing for you today?”
This was it, the moment of truth. “I want it cut into a bob.” Nicole couldn’t believe the words had actually come out of her mouth! Amber smiled and continued to comb out the long hair in sections. “Really? That’s a pretty big step for someone with hair as long as yours. How short of a bob are you wanting?”
“Actually I want it cut like yours. I’m sorry abut I can’t keep staring at it. I think maybe an inch or two longer though?” Nicole replied
“I’m flattered” Amber winked at her. “You’re a brave one, not many people come in here and ask for nearly 2 feet of hair to be cut off at once. But for what it’s worth, with your jawline, I think you’re going to look stunning!” She continued to talk as she finished combing out the last section of hair. “It’s going to be so much easier to manage each day, and way cooler in the hot months too.”
She reached for the scissors and Nicole felt her pulse quicken. There it was again, dry mouth and wet hands. She rubbed her palms against the legs of her jeans but to no avail.
“You’re going to love it, I promise.” Amber held the shears up as if to offer one last chance to back out.
“I hope so.” Nicole could barely get the words out
Amber’s hand descended and Nicole felt the cold steel of the scissors against the nape of her neck. They slid forward and she heard an audible “crunch” as the hair she had so desperately held on to was severed. Nicole looked down at the ground, expecting to see a pile of hair but there was nothing there! Amber had paused for a moment, grinning at Nicole in the mirror. She then lifted up her left hand and shook it. The 16 inch length of hair waved back and forth in front of her face. The hand opened and the section of hair fell in a heap to the floor. Quickly, Amber resumed her work. It became a rhythm, the scissors slid, snipped and the pile of hair on the floor grew larger and larger. With every cut, Nicole could feel more of a breeze on her bare nape and with every cut she felt the anxiety melting away. It was too late now, she just had to sit back and trust that Amber would give her what she wanted. Getting rid of the length took only a minute. “You’re free!” Amber spun the chair around and exclaimed “Give it a shake, see how it feels.”
Nicole looked in the mirror and shook her head back and forth, amazed at how much lighter she felt. “It’s so short! I love it already!” She couldn’t stop smiling
“Just wait until you see the end.” Amber said confidently. She turned the chair back to face the opposite way and started wetting the remaining hair. It was then sectioned out and pinned up as Amber began the more precise cutting. The back was snipped bit by bit up the nape, each new section slightly shorter than the last. Then came the sides, the right side section was combed straight down and Amber cut expertly at an upward angle towards the back. Small bits of hair, an inch or two in length fell onto the cape leaving Nicole to play with them absentmindedly. She had come so far in the short time since she walked into the salon and was feeling quite proud of herself.
Amber stopped cutting momentarily and stepped in front of the chair. Flipping forward the hair she had tucked behind her ear, Nicole could see that it was indeed shorter then the opposing side. “You said you wanted it cut like mine, did you also mean this asymmetrical part too?”
Nicole thought about it for a moment. “Sure, I’ve gone this far so why not.”
“I thought you’d say that.” Amber said
The cutting continued. The left side went the same way as the right only it was about an inch shorter. Amber paused again, surveying her work. She gently moved Nicole’s head from one side to the other, measuring lines and ensuring it fell properly. Then came the touch ups. A snip here, a readjustment there. Nicole was becoming antsy, she desperately wanted to see the end result. She thought of what her friends and family would say. They would love it, all of them had said at least once how great she would look if she went shorter. Her thoughts were interrupted by an unfamiliar “snick” sound. Then she heard buzzing and felt a vibrating on her neck. What was this? She hadn’t said anything about clippers! As if Amber sensed her sudden panic she leaned over and whispered ” Don’t worry, this is just a nape touch up. I won’t shave anything unless you ask me to. Trust me though, it feels great. The vibration is…stimulating.”
Nicole just nodded slightly, hoping she hadn’t made a mistake in coming here. The clippers moved slowly upwards, stopping just at the edge of her hair. Her skin tingled and but she found to her surprise that the clippers felt wonderful. She closed her eyes and let the sound wash over her. Amber expertly guided the clippers over Nicole’s bare neck, cleaning up loose hair and giving the back of the bob a clean and sharp look. The buzzing stopped and she felt the cold metal being removed from her nape. “See, no shaving unless you tell me to.” Amber said with a playful smirk.
For a moment Nicole was tempted to give her permission. The clippers were relaxing and just as Amber had said, stimulating. “No I think I’ve done enough for one day.” She said with a laugh.
“No problem, It’s time for the big reveal anyways!” With a flourish Amber spun the chair around.
Nicole’s heart leapt. It was perfect! The front fell 3 inches below her chin with the left side an inch shorter. The lines were clean and gradually rose towards the back until finishing in a layered nape about level with her ears. Her new bob was shiny, healthy and moved beautifully back and forth. It was everything she had imagined. Looking down at the floor, she was amazed to see the enormous mound of hair piled at the back of the chair.
“20 inches makes a big pile doesn’t it.” Amber laughed
“No kidding, I never would have thought I had that much hair. It always felt kind of thin.”
“It’s still 20 inches. That’s a lot no matter what. What do you think?”
Nicole couldn’t help but grin “Its perfect. I’m in love!”
“I told you!” Amber unsnapped the cape and pulled it off. “Now if you ever want to take a whack at the clippers again, come back and see me. I’ll make it worth your while.”
“I’ll do that. Thank you so much for your help today!”
Nicole walked back to the front, touching her hair the whole way. It felt strange not having hair hitting her back as she walked. She could feel the unfamiliar edge of the bob gently rubbing her bare, shaved nape. She paid, left a generous tip and left. Maybe next time she’d have to take Amber up on that offer. The clippers were a hard feeling to forget.