“Mimosa, please,” I order as I sit at the bar.
“That’s an unusual drink to order in a bar at night,” the bartender observes.
“Yeah, I normally only have them with brunch,” I admit. “It fits my mood tonight though. I Â want something that’s festive and reminds me that I’m getting a fresh start.”
“What fresh start are you celebrating here alone?” It’s the woman sitting next to me.
“I saw my divorce lawyer this afternoon, the separation is official.” I smile as the bartender hands me my drink. “It’s been a long time coming.”
I turn to face the woman next to me. She’s the kind of temptation I’ve been resisting for years because I’m a fan of monogamy. I’m suddenly giddy with the idea that there is no longer any reason to resist. If I’m interested, I’m free to not just flirt, but also to see if it goes somewhere.
For some reason the bartender puts a maraschino cherry in my mimosa and it has the stem on it still. I rather obviously put the whole thing in my mouth. A moment later I produce the stem, tied in a knot and place it down on my napkin where I’m sure she can see it. I’m not sure if I’m being too subtle or too obvious. It’s been a long time since I was available.
I want to reach out and stroke her neck, but of course that would be moving way way too fast, and it would be rather creepy. Her hair is absolutely perfect. Her short, light brown hair isn’t simply squared off at the bottom, but beautifully tapered. It’s painfully gradual. So much better than my bland, medium length PTA mom hair.
I’ve finished my mimosa and I’m feeling brave. “I love your hair, it’s an incredibly good cut.”
“Thanks,” she says as she blushes slightly. “Want to play a round of pool? Nobody’s at the table.”
“Let me just get a refill first,” I say as I signal the bartender. “I have to warn you, I’m a wee bit out of practice.”
Actually, I’m very out of practice. I haven’t played pool since we bought the house in the suburbs about a decade ago. I remember though, how well bending over the table always showed off my impressive cleavage. I pull my hair back into a ponytail as she racks up the balls.
As we play, I get to know her. Her name is Ivy. She’s a furniture maker, but works at The Home Depot part time, mostly for the employee discount. She’s a bit young for me, to be honest. I’m well into my 40’s and she hasn’t quite reached 30.
I tell her a bit about myself, the three kids who are having a sleepover with their cousins at my sister’s house. She thinks it’s hysterically funny when I tell her I’m in a related field as a closet designer. This leads to multiple jokes. Admittedly, I’ve heard many of them before, especially the Seinfeld ones, but between the alcohol and the cheerful way she makes them, I’m delighted anyway.
Three games and five mimosas later, she’s driving me home since she switched to soda after the first beer.
As I fumble with my keys, she has her hands about my waist and I feel her breath on my neck. Inside, I stumble slightly as I take off my shoes. I knock over one of the boxes that is stacked near the door and labeled to go to Dave’s new place. Ivy leans against the kitchen counter, watching me with a slight smile.
“You’re home safe,” she says, sounding slightly reluctant. “I should get going.”
“You’d rather stay though, wouldn’t you?” I ask.
“I don’t want to take advantage of you.”
“Pffh, I’m not that drunk.” I concentrate on not slurring my speech. “My coordination goes before my judgment does. I wanted this before I took a single sip.”
“You didn’t know me before you started drinking.”
I press myself against her and kiss her firmly on the mouth. In no time my hands are up in her hair. It feels so good. Slight prickles on her neck, soft velvet through the nape, gradually transitioning to a thick plush feeling.
“I wish I could feel this every day.” I hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but now that I have, “did I mention earlier how much I like your hair?”
“It was the second thing you said to me.”
Ok, I’m not doing too well at proving that I’m sober enough to not to be taken advantage of. I really would want this stone cold sober though. So I just start nibbling her ear.
“Let’s get out of the kitchen,” she suggests, smiling.
We make our way to the living room and settle on the couch. After I toss a couple of toys at the toybox, and almost get them all in, we sit sideways so we’re looking at each other. My hand is almost immediately petting her hair again as I gaze into her amber eyes.
“You really like it, huh?” Ivy asks as she reaches over and takes out my ponytail holder. My still mostly red hair falls around my shoulders. She twirls one of the locks. I try not to show how much the slight tug on my hair affects me. “I bet you’re pretty used to getting lots of compliments on your own hair.”
“The attention’s been fading a bit along with the color,” I confide. “It was more of a thing when I was young and it was really fiery. I don’t mind the lack of attention though. Sure, some of it was compliments, but a lot of it was just being called â€˜HEY RED’ and rude questions.”
“Don’t ask,” I laugh it off. “I’d rather get the kinds of compliments you get for your hair. Yours is bold by choice, mine is just bold by birth. I always just keep it in a boring mom style.”
“If you think it’s boring why don’t you do something with it?” she asks.
“I’ve got enough of a reputation around the PTA as the flakey one,” I blush at the admission. “I’m the one who always sends the kids in mismatched socks and with a random box of Entenmann’s cake or cookies for the bake sale. I don’t need to stand out more. It’s bad enough being the redhead, everyone always spots me and remembers me.”
“Your PTA is really that conservative? Like on that old TV show Harper Valley PTA?”
“God no!” I laugh out loud.
“So, why do you think they’re going to judge you on your hair?”
“I don’t really think they’re going to judge me, just notice me even more,” I try to explain. “Ella’s mom has blue hair and no one judges her. But she’s also the one who coordinates all the girl scout meetings, so when people notice her they aren’t thinking-there goes Stacy, the flakey mom with the asshole husband.”
There’s another layer to not wanting people to notice it. Â I don’t voice that though.
Ivy just looks at me for several minutes. She’s still got a hold of a lock of my hair and gently tugs at it as she twirls and plays with it.
“Well, they can stop thinking about the asshole husband.”
“Yeah, I guess I don’t have that anymore.” I smile to myself.
“If you didn’t care what anyone thought, what would you do with your hair?”
I sigh and think, closing my eyes. “I see younger girls with cute short asymmetrical cuts all the time, but I’m too old to pull it off.”
“Where do you hide the scissors in this place?”
Adrenalin suddenly makes me feel five times more sober. I laugh nervously, figuring it’s just a joke, but my mind goes to the box of haircutting implements up in the linen closet. I haven’t touched them in well over a year; since my soon to be ex-husband started going to a chain salon that, frankly, Â does an awful job of it. Cutting his hair had been a rather intimate thing between us, and we haven’t done intimate for a while now.
Ivy keeps looking at me and gently playing with the lock of hair she’s holding. She’s not laughing.
“I’ve got some May wine in the fridge, want some?” I’ve said it like it’s a question, but I’m not waiting for an answer. More alcohol is probably the last thing I need, but I want to distract myself very badly right now. I rush off to the kitchen and come back with the open wine bottle and two glasses.
“You’re thinking about it, aren’t you?” Ivy asks as she sips her wine slowly.
“What makes you say that?” I avoid answering as I gulp down mine and pour myself another glass, trying to get back to the foggy place I was in ten minutes ago.
“If you’re young and bold enough to get divorced and start over, and you’re young and bold enough to hook up with someone you met in a bar, then you’re young and bold enough to do something fun with your hair.”
“It’s a temptation,” I admit.
“So, where do you hide those scissors? I can tell you are thinking about them.”
“Bottom of the linen closet.” It’s out before I have really considered the consequences of giving this away.
“Ok, let’s go!” Ivy takes my hand. “Upstairs?”
“Third door on the left.” Why did I just tell her that? Things are getting a bit out of hand here.
We look down at the bottom of my linen closet. There they are, the two boxes that make up the kit that I used to use to cut Dave’s hair. The layer of undisturbed dust and cobwebs on it is thick. I pick up the first box, it’s a small shoe box that originally held a six year old’s ballet shoes. Ivy picks up the other box and wipes off the lid.
“You’ve been holding out on me,” she teases as she looks down at the Wahl logo. “Where do you want to do this?”
“I’m not sure that I do.”
“Ok, let’s just put the boxes back and go back to the couch,” she says, very matter of factly, as she puts her box down. Then she just looks at me, still holding my shoe box. “Disappointed, aren’t you?”
I chuckle at myself because I am disappointed, but I’m scared to admit it.
“So, where do you want to do this?” she asks again as she picks back up the clippers box.
“My bathroom, I guess.” I lead her through my bedroom to the en suite, placing the shoe box on the counter. “This has got to be the weirdest thing I’ve ever done.”
“Enjoying it though, aren’t you?” Ivy winks at me.
“I’m just going to grab the wine, I’ll be right back.” I definitely need more wine if I’m going to go through with this. Good god, why am I going through with this? I’ve reached the coffee table, I swig the wine left in my glass and pick up Ivy’s glass and the bottle. Then I head back upstairs.
I put the wine down and notice Ivy has opened the boxes and is oiling the clippers. The scissors and thinning shears and combs and clips that I haven’t touched in more than a year are spread out on the counter. They look exactly the same as they did the last time I saw them. The box was sealed well enough to keep them clean and dry.
“I couldn’t find a chair,” Ivy mentions.
“You really want to do this, don’t you?” I say, leaning in the doorway instead of going for a chair. “Why, why do you want to?”
“Because you want me to. And for the same reason that you own these,” she indicates the clippers and other implements. “It’s obvious from the dust that you only used them on your husband and that you haven’t for a while. I’m guessing that was around the last time you slept with him.”
I think there are probably all kinds of other just as reasonable explanations for the dust layer, but of course, she’s right. I just shrug noncommittally since I’m too chicken to actually admit it.
“Want to grab us a chair?” Ivy reminds me.
I pour myself some more wine then go across the hall to another room and get an office chair. I only clunk it into a few things on my way back to my bathroom.
“You should take off your clothes,” Ivy suggests.
“Only if you do too,” I counter.
Ivy immediately starts taking off her t-shirt, so I pull off my blouse. Then she undoes her blue jeans, so I slip out of my slacks. We’re both standing in nothing but our bras and panties. Ivy’s black panties match her sports bra. Mine as usual are mismatched. I wear an ivory lace underwire demi-cup bra and bright pink panties with little hearts and a bow. Her tattoos are sharp and saturated with color. I stand there nervously.
“Sit down,” she says invitingly.
I take a deep breath and a sip of my wine before I go to the chair. I straddle it backwards, leaning forward against the backrest. The top of the backrest hits conveniently just under my breasts. I can see myself in the mirror. My hair looks good, why am I doing this?
“Oh! You’ve got a tattoo back here,” Ivy sounds delighted with her discovery as she lifts the hair that had obscured it from my shoulders. “It’s big.”
Everyone who sees it always says that exact same thing, “it’s big.” Except my mother-in-law, but for all I know, if someone translated whatever it was she muttered in Hungarian into English it may have been “it’s big.” I’m not sure what it is about the tattoo that elicits such a universal response. Well, I guess the size has something to do with it, but it really isn’t huge. I’ve seen plenty bigger. Love it, hate it, totally indifferent, the response is still the same “it’s big” varying only in tone and what follows after.
“It’s kind of hard to make out,” Ivy continues. “Is it celtic?”
That I’ve only been getting for a little while, people used to know what it was as soon as they looked at it. After 20 plus years of sunburns, chigger bites and general living, it’s faded and blurry. I finish my wine and reach forward to put my glass on the counter.
“I’ll tell you about it tomorrow,” I promise her.
She smiles at the assumption that she’s spending the night. Then she twists my hair and uses it to pull my head back so she can kiss me.
After she releases me, she starts combing out my hair. I can feel the soft ends hitting just below my bra band. She’s going very slowly, lingering over it and doing things like stroking my neck. The level to which I am enjoying this is indescribable.
Eventually it ends though, and Ivy starts parting my hair. She makes a section that starts near my temple above my right ear, and spirals down and halfway around my head to end at my nape behind my left ear. Â She leaves that section down, and uses a clip to secure the rest of the hair to my head.
I feel giddy with a combination of fear, anticipation and excitement. I have invited a strange woman into my home and she has talked me into letting her cut off a bunch of my hair. I’m not even sure how much, since it’s not like we really discussed it, I just made a vague comment that is very open to interpretation. Another thought occurs to me.
“Have you ever done this before?” I have no idea if Ivy has any clue what she’s doing, or if she can even cut a straight line.
“You probably should have asked these questions before telling me where the clippers were.” I hope that she’s teasing.
“You’re not going to tell me how short you’re planning to make it, are you?”
Ivy just shakes her head while smiling. Then she picks up the scissors. She holds the sides of my head with her hands, letting the closed blade of the scissors press against my cheek. Â She tilts my head down so I’m looking at the floor.
I feel her fingers on my neck, then the cold metal above them. I hear the shcrunch as the blades of the sharp scissors close on the hair. Instead of letting it fall behind me, Ivy deliberately drops the long red lock in front of me. I watch it land on the floor.
It’s amazing how elation and horror can blend together. I both want to make this stop right now, and for it to go on forever. I tell myself that it’s too late to stop it. If I do, I won’t be able to wear a ponytail, bun, or braid for months without being asked what’s up with the short bit. When I feel the scissors on my neck again, I realize that Ivy’s not planning to leave me enough hair for ponytails, buns, or braids anyway. Another lock is dropped to drift down before my eyes.
The rest of the long hair from my nape hangs over my right shoulder. The cold blade slips behind the hair. I feel the line of cold metal against my neck. Shlick. Ivy lets it slither down my front to get caught in my bra.
She places her hands at the sides of my head again and tilts it back up. Â I watch in the mirror as she combs out the hair around my ear and starts slicing it off against the comb a few inches out. The loose hair flutters down to my bare freckled shoulder. She continues to the last of the hair by my temple, cutting it against the comb, it falls into my cleavage.
Ivy takes a quick break to sip her glass of wine. I look in the mirror. It’s short, but not that short. My hair comes about halfway down my ear. I figure she’ll let the top down and follow the line down to the other side. Â She’ll probably take it to just below my jaw line on the long side and clean up the neck with the clippers. I can see it, this should be pretty good, not too wild.
When Ivy puts down her wine glass though, things don’t go as I expected. She picks up the clippers and puts the Â¾ inch attachment on.
I’m torn between curiosity and terror. “Pour me another,” I say before she gets a chance to turn them on.
“I swear, I’ve drunk 200 pound men under the table.” Â I chuckle.
She fills my glass and hands it to me. I take a couple of sips and place it back on the counter.
Ivy turns on the clippers. I’d forgotten how loud the start up clunk was. As much as I was expecting it, it surprises me.
Ivy places the humming clippers right on my cheek. She guides them up into the hair, all the way to the top of the loose section. Most of the hair that I had thought was at its finished length is now scattered on my chest and shoulder.
“Well, I guess I should have seen that coming.” I’m laughing, but I’m not sure why. I reach for my wine. I take a quick sip then put in back on the counter.
“Oh god, I thought you’d figured out what I was planning when I put the attachment on.” Ivy turns off the clippers and squats down in front of me. “Stacy, is this a bad idea to do this when you’re this drunk?” she asks, her in-control demeanor suddenly changing.
“No, this is the perfect time to do this,” I say, right before I take the opportunity to kiss her. Â Sure, I never would have actually let this happen sober, but that doesn’t mean I wish it hadn’t happened. Alright, part of me wishes it hadn’t, but other parts are thrilled. “It’s too late to turn back at this point anyway. And I’m not that drunk, just nicely buzzed.” Then I break into giggles over the unintentional pun.
“I was planning toâ€¦” Ivy starts.
“Shh,” I put my finger to her lips. “Don’t ruin the surprise. Do whatever, I’m sure I’ll love it.”
Well, I’m not actually sure I’ll love it, but I’m enjoying how out of control this has gotten so much that I don’t even care if I’m going to hate it.
“Ok,'” Ivy stands back up and walks around me. She’s gone back to the seductive touch that she had while combing my hair out earlier. Her fingers linger on my neck and she brushes off my shoulders before she turns the clippers back on.
She goes slowly as she runs them around and over my ear. She gently bends my head back down, then runs the clippers up my neck into the nape. She runs the clippers over the whole loose area, reducing it to an even three-quarters of an inch.
Ivy turns the clippers off again and switches from the Â¾ inch guard to the â… inch guard. She pauses, making sure I see what she’s done. I’m not sure if it’s for dramatic effect or to give me a chance to change my mind. Maybe both. I take the opportunity to take another sip of my wine.
She flips the clippers back on and tilts my head back down. She runs them up my nape, flicking them away just a little before she reaches the top. Tiny prickles of hair flurry down on my back. When she finishes the back, she raises my head back up and starts doing the side. It seems like Ivy is leaving slightly more of the Â¾ inch hair at the top than she had in the back.
Ivy puts the Â½ inch guard on. I’m pretty sure I know where this is going, though I was surprised earlier. Yep, she goes up exactly as before, but doesn’t go quite as high as she had with the â… inch guard, flicking them away.
With the â…œ inch guard she only does the nape, not taking any more off the side. Then she does pretty much the same with the Â¼ inch guard. Then she goes just around the bottom with the â…› inch guard.
Finally, she has just the bare blades. Ivy uses them along the edges, softening them. She finishes it off by turning the blade over to take the last little bit on the neck almost to the skin.
“I know you’re dying to feel it,” Ivy says right in my ear before she puts down the clippers.
She’s absolutely right, and I don’t need to be asked twice. My hand is up petting it and rubbing up against the grain along my neck. This is so wonderful. It’s all there, the prickles, the velvet, the plush.
“Now you get your wish, you can feel it everyday, whenever you want.” Ivy smiles at me.
“So, how do you want me to thank you?”
“I should probably finish the top first,” Ivy points out, opening the clip holding my hair to my head. The part that is still long part tumbles down.
“I guess you have a point. I’ll try to restrain myself till you’re done.” I stroke her cheek and give her a quick kiss.
Ivy picks the comb and scissors back up. She combs down the long hair, finding the natural part on the right side of my head, smoothing it out. She places the scissors at my temple where the clippered section ends. The first snip sends a foot long lock slithering down my chest. It takes a lot of the earlier shorter clippings with it to the floor. She snips her way around, following the line set by the earlier sectioning. I feel the hair sliding slowly down my bare back. When she gets to the left ear, she slows down, continuing the angle into the front. The final long lock is cut off at lip brushing level.
Ivy goes back to above my right ear. She starts combing upward and layering it, cutting with the scissors against the comb. I watch as the scissors flash open and closed over and over. Short hairs rain down on my shoulder. A