Oreo came into my life about 6 months ago. I had wanted a pet rabbit for a long time, but while I was still in student housing, and having to travel home for all the holidays and vacations it wasnâ€™t practical. I finished school last year though, and I finally had a real full time job. It didn’t take me long to get settled into an apartment of my own with a long term lease. So off to the animal shelter I went. Oreo was young, and a bit timid, but he was also very sweet. I filled out the paperwork, paid the adoption fee and took him home.
Getting settled in together took a bit. Oreo was too young to litter train when he first came home. So for his first few months, he lived in a pen. Iâ€™ve also been working on the huge task of bunny proofing my apartment. Making sure things like electric cords that could hurt him if he chewed on them were not where he could get at them. He was finally neutered a couple of months ago, and soon became perfect in his litter habits. I have been gradually giving him more and more freedom around the apartment.
Tonight, is Oreoâ€™s first night to totally free roam, no going to his pen at bedtime. Weâ€™ve been working on it all weekend and I think he is ready. I’m going to bed early tonight anyway, so I’ll be well rested for my morning meeting.
At first he seems a bit unsure of what to do with this new level of freedom, but about 15 minutes after I go to bed, he hops up next to me and flops over against my belly. Iâ€™m nervous to go to sleep because Iâ€™m scared I will roll over and squish him. After a bit though I drift off to sleep, Oreo snuggled up to me. I wake vaguely to the feeling of a warm soft tongue on my face. Oreo is grooming my eyebrows. Oreo has always loved to groom my eyebrows, and itâ€™s a familiar comforting sensation. I drift back to sleep as my eyebrows dry and he moves up to my hairline.
â€œOuch!â€ I exclaim as I feel a hard tug.
Suddenly Iâ€™m very awake. Oreo has gotten tangled in my long hair. I reach up and carefully lift him out of my hair.
As I set him next to me and sit up I notice there is a bit of my hair sticking out of his mouth. I turn towards my pillow. There are a few very long locks of my brown hair on it. I reach my hand to my head, where I feel several short tufts near the front.
Oh God, Oreo has been seriously grooming me. Not just licking, but doing his own version of untangling my â€œfur.â€
What had been hanging out of Oreoâ€™s mouth is gone by the time I look back at him. He has been swallowing hair. As I feel the short tufts on my head and try to compare it to whatâ€™s on the pillow I suspect he has swallowed quite a bit of my very long hair. Iâ€™m suddenly feeling very panicky.
I jump out of bed. I gather the long hairs from my pillow to show the vet. I donâ€™t bother to get dressed, just throw on a sweater over my PJs and slip into my sneakers. I grab Oreoâ€™s carrier and put him in it. I stop briefly by the door to get my purse and keys. I get a quick glimpse of myself in the mirror, from what little I can see, my hair is a wreck. I donâ€™t have time to really examine it, and itâ€™s dark here by the door, but I can see bits sticking out funny. I pull it back into a hurried ponytail and grab the baseball cap that is fortunately right there.
I drive like mad. Iâ€™m ridiculously grateful that the veterinary clinic I take Oreo to has a 24 hour emergency room. Itâ€™s after 4 in the morning when I get there. The receptionist takes Oreoâ€™s information and sends us over to sit in the waiting area for a vet tech to come and triage Oreo.
Weâ€™re there about 5 minutes before a familiar face appears. The vet tech is Danny. I smile and start to feel a bit more relaxed. Weâ€™ve seen Danny at most of our appointments with Dr. Armstrong. Danny is always great and very gentle with Oreo. He has spent a lot of time with me giving me advice and just asking how things are going after Oreoâ€™s appointments.
Danny has a rabbit of his own that heâ€™s told me a lot about. It’s a flemish giant named Anguirus. Danny says Anguirus was going to be a show bunny, but his ear tattoo went badly and he lost half of one of his ears eliminating his chances at competition. After that, his owner didn’t want him anymore. Anguirus was abandoned at the clinic, so Danny got him.
I get the feeling all of Danny’s pets have similar stories. Though he hasn’t gone into as much detail about the others. I know he mentioned something about his diabetic catâ€™s previous owners not being up for giving her insulin shots everyday. He seems like a really great guy.
Seeing Danny makes me feel better knowing Oreo has a friend tonight.
â€œSo, it says Oreo ingested something long and stringy.â€ Danny says looking at his chart, then smiling at me. â€œLet me guess, your phone charger?â€
Danny kneels down and starts opening Oreoâ€™s carrier. I self consciously let go of the end of my ponytail which I had been nervously playing with.
â€œNo, not wires. Iâ€™m really careful with them like you suggested.â€ I say it slowly, I realize Iâ€™m very embarrassed to tell Danny about what happened. I take a deep breath and continue, because I know I have to get it out. â€œHe ate some hair.â€
â€œHair?â€ Danny is lifting Oreo up and looking at his bottom as he asks. â€œYour hair? How?â€
I nod my head. â€œHe was grooming me while I was asleep.â€
â€œHow much did he get?â€ Danny has put Oreo down and is petting his ears.
I just shrug. Iâ€™m really not totally sure how to explain it, I know it was at least some.
â€œDo you want to show me.â€ Dannyâ€™s tone doesnâ€™t sound like a question. He is closing Oreoâ€™s carrier.
I really donâ€™t want to show him. Usually I show up at Oreoâ€™s appointments looking reasonably well put together. I feel stupid enough in my flannel Pajama bottoms, with yellow ducks on them and tons of little holes from where Oreo has chewed them. Now, I have to show him the wreck my hair is. I normally think my hair looks good, shiny and brown with reddish highlights when the light catches it. It reaches my waist. My hand is shaky as I reach up to the brim of my cap.
Danny makes a cringey face when I lift it up for him to see. Iâ€™m not sure if the cringing is because what he sees is bad for Oreo, or if I just look that bad. Either way, I feel miserable.
â€œSome of it was left on the pillow,â€ I say. I take the hair out of my pocket to show him, remembering thatâ€™s why I brought it. â€œI think only about half of it though. I saw him swallow a bit.â€
â€œThat looks like less than half,â€ Danny tells me as he takes it from me to look at, then hands it back. â€œWas that all that was on the pillow?â€
I nod as my tired mind processes what heâ€™s saying. That means the chewed off bits are worse and more obvious than I thought.
â€œOk,â€ He says as he jots down something on the chart. â€œOreo looks pretty good for now, and we had a cat hit by a car come in just a bit ago, so itâ€™s probably gonna be a pretty long wait. I have a salad in the fridge, would you like me to bring some out for Oreo.â€
â€œThanks, that would be great.â€ I brush a tear I feel on my cheek off.
Danny pats me gently on the shoulder before walking off to get the salad.
Itâ€™s around 6 oâ€™clock by the time we get seen by the vet.
â€œIâ€™ve seen bunnies eat and pass all kinds of things without trouble.â€ Dr. Sherman tells me after he sets Oreo back down on the exam table to munch on some more salad. â€œOf course every now and then something will cause stasis. Normally, I just send rabbits who have ingested something home with the warning to keep a close eye on them. In Oreoâ€™s case though, Iâ€™d like to keep him here for observation. The length and quantity of the hair he swallowed makes me nervous. Heâ€™s probably fine, but I want to be careful.â€
I stand there miserable. I just want to take my bunny home, but I know listening to the vet is the best thing, so I nod agreement and bend over and kiss Oreo before Danny takes him out of the exam room towards the back of the clinic.
By the time Iâ€™ve settled all the paperwork and head outside to my car in the parking lot, the sun is up. It must be almost 7 oâ€™clock. Time for me to get up and start getting ready for work. Work where I have an important morning meeting today. The first meeting at the office I have a key role in. If it weren’t for the meeting, Iâ€™d call in sick.
I canâ€™t actually face my day though. Instead I just sit on my car bumper and let the tears run down my cheeks while I clutch Oreoâ€™s empty carrier. The carrier I wish I was taking him home in. Looking down at my flannel PJs I donâ€™t know how Iâ€™m going to pull today off. Iâ€™m chilly in just my sweater, but I donâ€™t want to get in my car. I canâ€™t even drive right now because my vision is all blurry from crying.
Iâ€™ve started to think about my hair now. Earlier I was so worried about Oreo it was shoved mostly to the back of my mind. Now though, I am worried about how much he got. I love my soft brown waves.
My hair is a comfort to me. I have to admit, Iâ€™m still a hair twirler. I know I should have outgrown the habit long ago. Itâ€™s a very deeply ingrained habit, Iâ€™m not sure anything will ever break it. Not even the several months I spent as a kid without enough hair to twirl made a difference.
â€œHey, are you OK?â€ I hear a familiar friendly voice as a shadow is cast over me. I look up at Danny. Heâ€™s got a jacket on over his scrubs and a backpack slung over one shoulder. I guess itâ€™s the end of his shift. He sits down on the bumper next to me and eases the carrier out of my hand. â€œOreoâ€™s going to be fine. Thereâ€™s a good chance he wonâ€™t get stasis, and even if he does heâ€™s here so heâ€™ll be treated right away.â€
â€œI know, itâ€™s hard not to worry though. Iâ€™m trying to get myself motivated to face the day.â€ I explain while wiping tears off my face. â€œIâ€™ve got a big meeting at 9:15, so I canâ€™t be late for work. I really should be there early, like 8:45 to have time to get ready.â€ I pause and sigh. â€œI need to get home and figure out how Iâ€™m going to get my hair looking professional.â€
â€œIâ€™m pretty sure a haircut is the only way youâ€™re going to manage that.â€ Danny says.
I shudder as Danny reaches over and takes off my baseball cap. I canâ€™t believe he did that. I snatch my cap and put it back on. I shrink down, embarrassed.
â€œSorry.â€ He looks genuinely remorseful about the faux pas.
What Danny said is making my heart race. I try to put it out of my mind though. I tell myself I should take what he says with a grain of salt. Dannyâ€™s a guy with short hair, how much can he possibly know about it? I have no intention of cutting my hair, Iâ€™ll figure something out.
â€œEven if I had time to get a haircut, there arenâ€™t going to be any salons open at this hour.â€ Itâ€™s true and reasonable, as well as sounding much more mature than admitting that the idea of letting anyone near my hair with scissors gives me the heebie-jeebies. â€œIâ€™m sure I can figure out a way to put it up that will work.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think thatâ€™s really going to work.â€ Says Danny giving me a very dubious look. â€œListen, my sister and her wife own a salon. Iâ€™ll give her a call and maybe she can open it early for you.â€
â€œThatâ€™s really nice of you, but I wouldnâ€™t want to put your sister to any trouble.â€ I smile trying to look grateful. â€œItâ€™s too much to ask.â€
In reality, Iâ€™m not feeling grateful.
â€œItâ€™s no big deal.â€ Danny already has his phone out and is tapping it. â€œThey owe me a favor for watching their four dogs when they went to the Caribbean.â€
â€œNo reallyâ€¦â€ I try to get in an excuse before he actually makes the call, but it is too late.
â€œHey, Lisa.â€ Danny speaks into the phone as he gets up walking a short distance away. â€œCan you do me a favorâ€¦â€
I bury my face in my arms as he goes out of earshot. I try to calm myself. She is probably going to say no anyway. Even if she did say yes, I can ask her just to arrange it so that it looks reasonable. Worst case, I suppose some bangs wouldnâ€™t be the end of the world. That last thought makes my stomach lurch.
â€œ…Ok, weâ€™ll be there in about 10 minutes.â€ Danny is walking over and hanging up his phone. â€œWhy donâ€™t we just put Oreoâ€™s carrier in your car, and weâ€™ll take my truck. You donâ€™t look like youâ€™re in any shape to drive.â€
I didnâ€™t know how to handle this at this point. He is being so nice about everything and going so far out of his way. So I just nod and pick up Oreoâ€™s carrier and put it in the car.
The salon is in a brick building on Central Avenue. We arrive before Dannyâ€™s sister, but not long before. Soon a car pulls up and two very tired looking women step out.
â€œHi, you must be Hannah,â€ the woman I guess is Lisa says. She gives Danny a pointed look adding â€œthe pretty girl with the little black and white bunny.â€
Danny turns beet red, and I can see Lisa chuckles slightly as she unlocks the door.
â€œThis is my wife Jenny.â€ Lisa continues and the woman next to her nods to me before going inside and turning on lights. â€œSheâ€™ll be more talkative once sheâ€™s had some coffee.â€
When we step inside, Jenny is already at the coffee maker getting it started. Danny goes to help her. I stand in the middle of the floor feeling awkward as Lisa puts her purse away and hangs up her jacket. Jenny starts doing little tasks around the shop, as the coffee brews.
â€œHere, Iâ€™ll hang up your sweater.â€ Danny says right behind me. He takes it as I slip out of it. I feel very exposed without it. I have on just a thin strapped tank top now, not even a bra under it. I have one arm wrapped around myself, the other hand holds the end of my ponytail to my lips.
â€œHannah, come on over.â€ Lisa calls to me standing next to one of the swiveling salon chairs.
I fight the urge to run out the door, like I did last time I was in a salon at age 8. It had been worth the spanking when we got home, especially since mom never wanted to be embarrassed the same way again so never took me to the salon again. The time weâ€™d gone to a salon before that, mom said was for just a trim, but it wasnâ€™t. Once that trust had been broken, it wasnâ€™t coming back.
I tell myself to calm down, they are doing me a favor. Danny is always so nice to Oreo, his sister can’t be that different right? I should try to trust her a little bit. I walk over trying not to look too reluctant. I sit uncomfortably in the chair, my legs twisted together. I know I should sit straight, but my body leans to the side away from the back of the chair. Away from where my hair is supposed to hang ready to be cut.
â€œOk, letâ€™s see what we have.â€ Lisa says as she lifts off my cap and undoes my ponytail. She shakes out my hair for a moment and frowns. â€œDanny said you just needed it evened out. To even this out, most of the length is going to have to go.â€
I shudder again, then squirm in the chair uncomfortably. â€œCan you do an up-do or something with a curling iron to just camouflage it?â€
â€œNot quickly,â€ Lisa states matter of factly, â€œand then what will you do tomorrow? Itâ€™s not a real fix.â€
I hate that what she just said makes perfect sense. Iâ€™m trying to stay reasonable myself, and come up with a way to get out of this with all my hair. I give up.
â€œSo, youâ€™re gonna have to cut in bangs?â€ My voice is quivering as I ask. I have a lock of hair twirled tightly around my finger.
â€œYou didnâ€™t really get a chance to look at it before you put the hat on did you?â€ Lisa says softly.
â€œI was in a rush to get Oreo to the vet.â€ Iâ€™m feeling really scared and vulnerable now. I pull my legs up against myself, so I am now balled up in the chair.
â€œThe short bits go all the way back to here.â€ Lisa turns the chair a bit and points out a very short lock, from fairly far back on the side of my head. â€œThereâ€™s no way to incorporate it all into bangs.â€
When Iâ€™d sat, the way I leaned had turned me so the side with the chewed hair was away from the mirror. Iâ€™m not sure if it was an accident, or if some subconscious knowledge had made me. Now that Lisa has turned me so it faces the mirror Iâ€™m shocked. Itâ€™s not just the locks in front I had felt, itâ€™s an entire swath of hair along the part. Itâ€™s extremely visible.
â€œI donâ€™t want short hair.â€ I simply blurt out. â€œCanâ€™t you do something?â€
â€œShort hair will be safer for Oreo if he grooms you again.â€ Danny says in a naively upbeat tone. I think heâ€™s trying to be encouraging and helpful, but itâ€™s brought me to the edge of tears again. Lisa makes the same cringey face Danny had when I let him see under my cap back in the clinicâ€™s waiting room.
â€œDanny, can you do me a favor? I have some really heavy boxes of shampoo in my car.â€ Lisa says. â€œCan you drive my car around back and take them into the stockroom?â€
Danny turns red, realizing Lisa is sending him off because he put his foot in his mouth. Lisa pulls out a rolling stool, and sits on it as she watches Danny head outside. She positions herself so we can talk eye to eye.
â€œDannyâ€™s better at reading animals than people.â€ She speaks gently. â€œI donâ€™t think he understands how hard this is for you. It doesnâ€™t look like you get regular trims. Youâ€™re completely terrified arenâ€™t you?â€
I just nod silently, as tears run down my cheeks. Itâ€™s easier to admit when I donâ€™t have to say it out loud.
â€œHe also doesn’t really get people caring about their hair. When I was in beauty school and Danny was still in high school, I needed someone to practice on. He had kinda longish shaggy hair. He let me perm it, his only demand was that I would buzz it off when I was done.â€ Lisa smiles at the memory. â€œDanny didn’t care in the least that heâ€™d gone from about 4 inches of hair to nothing but stubble. He just really doesn’t understand this.â€
Lisa pauses. â€œYou don’t really get your hair done much do you?â€
I shake my head no.
â€œHow long has it been since you were in a salon?â€ Itâ€™s Jenny asking from across the room where sheâ€™s sipping her coffee and holding another.
â€œAbout 17 years.â€ My voice squeaks out the embarrassing answer. Jenny has come over and Offers me the other coffee. My stomach is too nervous to want it. â€œNo thanks.â€
â€œLetâ€™s try to forget what Danny said, and talk realistically about your options.â€ Lisa talks slowly. As she takes the coffee from Jenny. â€œYou can spend the next year or two getting up early to do elaborate styles in an attempt to camouflage what happened till itâ€™s grown out. Itâ€™s going to always look a bit strange, and overdone. Kind of like you are going to the prom instead of work. You could incorporate hats and headscarves into that.â€
Lisa takes a sip of the coffee then continues. â€œI can cut just the front area, so that the short bits blend in, and try to keep most of the length in the back. Itâ€™s going to be a mullet, not just bangs. I know they are bringing the â€˜80s back, but not so much the mullet. It’s not even going to be a good mullet, since the front is going to be very short. I honestly think it will look awful. It will get you to your meeting, but not looking very professional. If it really is what you want though, we can do it.
â€œI could send you to someone for extensions. Since the placement is so visible, you would need someone who does them all the time, an expert.â€ She pauses again for another sip of coffee. â€œIt’s not happening today, Iâ€™m not sure it can happen till next week. It’s going to be expensive and high maintenance.
â€œOrâ€ she continues. â€œI can cut it short. I can do a cute feminine crop that will match the length youâ€™ve got where the bunny got to you. It will look good and be easy to make professional in the morning. Itâ€™s the only option that will get you to your meeting this morning both on time and looking good. I know itâ€™s scary though. I understand that on many levels how it will look isnâ€™t the most important thing to you. Itâ€™s what I recommend, but I wonâ€™t do it if you donâ€™t want me to.â€
I know she said to forget what Danny said. I know that what Danny said was another major faux pas and I should ignore it. It is still in the forefront of my mind.
â€œDo you think Danny is right.â€ I ask tentatively. â€œDo you think itâ€™s better for Oreo if Iâ€¦â€
â€œDanny is sweet, but he doesnâ€™t always say the right thing. He can be a bit awkward.â€
â€œIs it true though?â€ I ask swallowing. â€œI like that he cares more about Oreoâ€™s well being than charming me.â€
â€œYou know, heâ€™s been talking about you and how much you care for that bunny for months now.â€ Lisa has a quirky smile as she says it. â€œHe wants to ask you out but says it would be unprofessional. I think heâ€™s just too nervous.â€
Lisa chuckles then gets back on topic. â€œI donâ€™t know whether or not itâ€™s accurate that it would be safer for Oreo. I know Danny wouldnâ€™t have said it if he didnâ€™t think it was true though.â€
â€œCut it.â€ I barely get it out of my dry mouth. â€œCut it short.â€
â€œAre you sure?â€ Lisa asks as she gets up, and looks at the clock, reminding me how little time we have left.
â€œYeah,â€ I squeak out. â€œIs there enough time?â€
â€œFor the haircut sure. Weâ€™ll skip the shampoo.â€ Lisa bites her lip. â€œYou canâ€™t go to work in your PJs though. Where do you live and where do you work?â€
â€œMy office is actually really close to here, itâ€™s in that business complex across from the mall. My apartment though is about 15 minutes from here in the wrong direction. Plus I have to get my car.â€ I explain.
â€œWhat would you think of Jenny going to your apartment to get stuff?â€ Lisa asks.
â€œI donâ€™t want to put you guys out any further, youâ€™ve already gone to so much trouble for me.â€ The niceness is making me feel even more emotional, I’m already so tense between worrying about Oreo, and thinking about whatâ€™s going to happen to my hair.
â€œItâ€™s no trouble.â€ Jenny says. â€œJust let me have your keys and tell me the address.â€
â€œThe keys are in my purse, my drivers license is too, so you can get the address off it.â€ I say all choked up. â€œIf you could get my charcoal skirt suit out of my closet and any blouse and bra from my drawer, that would be great. Youâ€™re sure itâ€™s not too much trouble.â€
â€œItâ€™s fine.â€ Jenny reassures me. As she grabs what she needs and heads out the door.
â€œOK, letâ€™s get started.â€ Lisa says, as she pushes the stool sheâ€™d sat on out of the way and turns the chair Iâ€™m in straight towards the mirror. â€œYou havenâ€™t changed your mind?â€
It still is scary as hell, but I will walk through hell for Oreo. I wipe off more tears as Lisa picks up the nylon cape draped over the back of the chair next to me.
â€œI havenâ€™t changed my mind.â€ I answer as I see in the corner of the mirror Danny coming back in. â€œIâ€™m willing to go short.â€
When Lisa shakes out the cape, the sound of the rustling fabric makes my empty stomach lurch again. Itâ€™s a good thing it is empty, or I might throw up.
â€œI need you to relax enough to sit straight.â€ Lisa tells me. â€œI know the long emotional night at the vet is making it harder for you to handle this, but can you try to sit up?â€
I stiffly put down my legs, and center myself. Itâ€™s a bit like having to lift an enormous weight, itâ€™s such a struggle.
Lisa tosses the cape over me. As the satiny black synthetic falls over me, it feels cold against my bare arms. It rests loosely over my shoulders. Lisa pulls my long hair out from under the cape and places it over my shoulder so that it hangs down over my chest, before she fastens the cape around my neck. The physical sensation is making it feel very real. I know the cape must weigh almost nothing in reality, but it feels heavy on my shoulders.
I want to ask her to take it off, and tell her I don’t care about my pajamas getting hair on them. I don’t though. I don’t want to seem any weirder than I already do.
â€œCan Danny hold my hand?â€ I almost whisper.
â€œSure,â€ Lisa answers as she gestures to Danny to come over and rolls the stool next to me.
As Danny walks over, Lisa picks up a spray bottle and comb from the ledge under the mirror. She starts squirting water in my hair and combing it smooth around me as Danny sits. The tiny droplets that hit my neck are cold. I reach out from under the cape. Danny takes my hand in both of his. My hand is swallowed up in his hands. They are warm and strong and calloused.
â€œIâ€™m sorry about earlier,â€ Danny starts, â€œI didnâ€™t thinkâ€¦â€
â€œItâ€™s ok,â€ I cut him off. I donâ€™t care about earlier, I just want him here for me now. â€œDonâ€™t worry about it.â€
Lisa puts down the spray bottle and picks up a pair of pointy silver scissors. I grip Dannyâ€™s fingers tightly. My throat feels tight, and another tear is running down my cheek. The teeth of the comb go down my neck.
I feel the scissors on my neck just below the hairline. The blade spreads the droplets as it slides behind my hair. I hear shlunk, then I feel the hair fall away from my neck. An involuntary whimper escapes my throat.
I twist around to look behind the chair at the lock of hair on the floor. It folded on itself when it landed, and lays there damp and limp. My eyes go wide before my breath catches.
â€œTry to sit still.â€ Lisa says guiding me back gently, her hands on my shoulders. â€œYouâ€™re going to be late if we donâ€™t finish this.â€
Danny is also pulling me back by the hand he is still holding. Heâ€™s making a soft shushing sound and stroking my hand. I take a deep breath and squeeze his hand back.
Lisa smoothes my hair back down again with the comb. I feel the scissors back at my neck again. They once again close with a shlunk. I close my eyes and try not to imagine what the next lock looks like laying on the floor alongside the first.
With my eyes closed my imagination is running wild. Itâ€™s not good. I take a deep breath and open my eyes.
Lisa keeps cutting across the back, the scissors crunching through the hair. My neck starts to feel very exposed. When she gets to the end, she starts snipping up around my ear. The scissors clicking closed over and over again.
As she gets to the top of my ear, a cut lock slivers down the front of the cape. I canâ€™t help but whimper again as my hair coils in my lap. I try to sit still, but suddenly my whole body is uncomfortable and my legs have a mind of their own as they cross and uncross repeatedly. I feel Dannyâ€™s grasp on my hand tighten, and his shushing becomes more urgent.
â€œTake a deep breath and hold it.â€ Lisa put her hands on my shoulders, pressing down. â€œTighten all the muscles in your body, and then relax them as you let the breath out.â€
I follow her instructions and settle myself. I donâ€™t really feel better, but at least I can control myself again.
Lisa resumes cutting the hair above my ear. I watch in the mirror as lock after lock falls away from the side of my head. The cut ends brush against my cheek as they fall to the cape sliding down my chest.
One of the locks slides down my arm to my wrist just above where Danny is holding my hand. It feels damp and itchy instead of soft like usual. I clench my jaw and squeeze my eyes tightly shut trying not to freak out again. Only a small sound escapes as Danny brushes it to the floor.
I open my eyes and look back at the mirror again, just in time to see the last lock fall. I look completely different on this side without the cascades of hair framing my face.
Lisa moves around to the other side and starts cutting up and around my other ear. This is the last of it. All the long hair I have left is now falling to the floor and my lap. I squeeze Dannyâ€™s hand yet again, as more tears roll down my cheek.
I look down at the pile of hair in my lap. I stifle another whimper before it can escape.
Lisa tilts my head up so I have to face the mirror. She combs the hair in the front down over my eyes, it only reaches the bottom of my nose. She starts snipping across my forehead creating short bangs just above my eyebrows. The points of the scissors poking me ever so slightly, as the hair in front of my eyes falls away. I have no hair to glance out from under, my eyes are just always there. My eyes that are so red and puffy at the moment.
Lisa picks the spray bottle up again, and wets my hair a bit more. This time, much more of the cold spray hits my neck and ears. It makes me feel naked not having the blanket of hair protecting me.
I look at Danny and meet his eyes. He smiles at me and gives my hand a squeeze. He keeps one hand holding mine, but reaches over to a box of tissues with the other. He takes out a tissue and gently wipes my tear wet face. When my face is dry, he rubs my forearm. It may have taken Danny a while to notice what I was going through, but now that itâ€™s obvious heâ€™s going all out to comfort me.
Lisa combs the wet hair upward, and starts slicing it off against the comb. Heavy chunks of hair start falling on my shoulders. Though the cape felt heavy going on, its thin fabric does nothing to soften the blows from the hair landing on me.
Lisa works upward, the combâ€™s teeth scraping against my scalp. Soon she gets to the the swath of short hair where Oreo groomed me. She combs the hair up and I can see the length sheâ€™s been slicing it off at mostly matches. She trims just the slightest bit off the ends, so it looks cut instead of chewed off.
I look down at my lap as more hair falls into it. A fair sized pile has formed. I relax my hand, letting go of my death grip on Dannyâ€™s fingers, and just letting my hand rest inside his. Itâ€™s not that I feel better, the fight has just gone out of me and I feel drained.
The long tresses I had wrapped around my fingers and could hide behind are gone. I wonâ€™t be able to feel the comfort of brushing my hair across my lips anymore. Lisa was right that how it was going to look, wasnâ€™t as important to me as other things.
Though how I was going to look wasnâ€™t as much of a thing, I knew I was going to hate it. I was right, I hate what Iâ€™m seeing in the mirror. Itâ€™s just me laid bare. Nothing left to soften me. My hair is pretty much gone. Itâ€™s boy short.
â€œWhat makes it a feminine crop?â€ I ask. Itâ€™s definitely not the length.
â€œMostly the texture. How Iâ€™ll finish the neckline and sideburns will help too.â€ She answers. â€œDonâ€™t worry, you wonâ€™t look like a boy.â€
Lisa keeps snipping away and hair keeps falling on my shoulders. She spends a lot of time using the tips of the scissors to nibble away at the neck line.
There is so much hair on me that isnâ€™t attached anymore. I hate how I look and feel, but try to remember itâ€™s for the best. I trust that Iâ€™ll look professional, and now Oreo wonâ€™t hurt himself if he chews my hair again.
â€œIs it going to freak you out if I use the edger on your neck?â€ Lisa asks me.
â€œI donâ€™t think so.â€ Honestly though, Iâ€™m not even sure what that means.
When Lisa picks up and turns on something that reminds me of the little trimmer I use on my under arms and around my bikini area, I begin to think I should have said yes it would freak me out. I close my eyes though and try to sit still as I feel the vibration stroking down my neck.
The edger is taking away what was left of the little wispy curls that used to escape when I put my hair up. Ok, occasionally they didnâ€™t actually escape, Iâ€™d pull them loose. Those curls were the bit I could always count on being there for me to twirl.
Lisa puts down the edger and picks up the hair dryer. She starts blow drying my hair. She ruffles it and shapes it simply with her hand. It doesnâ€™t take long.
Lisa picks the scissors back up and starts snipping away again. The dry hair that falls catches the light, reminding me how much I loved the color of my hair. Itâ€™s so hard to see the color with it so short. I canâ€™t pull it over my shoulder and smooth it with my hand and admire it.
As Lisa snips away, Jenny walks back in holding a bundle of my clothing in her arms. I can see she thought to bring things I forgot to mention, like shoes. She sits down and waits. After 10 minutes or so, she starts looking impatient.
â€œIt looks perfect Lisa,â€ Jenny says looking at my reflection in the mirror. â€œStop fussing or sheâ€™ll miss her meeting.â€
â€œOK, OK,â€ Lisa says, but takes a few more snips before putting down the scissors. She grabs some gel and rubs it through my hair. â€œThere you go. I know you donâ€™t love it now, but hopefully in a couple of days when you get used to it, youâ€™ll see how nice you look.â€
As she takes the cape off I reach up to my head. The hair is so short under my hand. It almost reminds me of Oreo’s fur, but not as soft. The freshly cut ends are slightly prickly. The crop makes me look more mature, which isnâ€™t a bad thing. Maybe I wonâ€™t be constantly looked at as the youngster at the office. Iâ€™m trying really hard to see a bright side.
â€œThank you,â€ I say. Itâ€™s hard to mean it, but Iâ€™m trying to. I hate the haircut, but I do appreciate that she went out of her way for me, and has been so kind during the process. It’s not her fault I hate the haircut, Oreo chose the length.
I give Dannyâ€™s hand a final squeeze and take my hand back. I get up. I plan to walk over to Jenny, and take my clothes from her, but I look down and see my hair. All my hair on the floor, scattered around. Dark and damp. Long locks under the shorter ones. My stomach lurches again, and Iâ€™m glad I said no thanks to the coffee.
I sit back down. My hands cover my mouth as I stare down at the hair covered floor. I close my eyes. I feel Dannyâ€™s strong hand squeeze my shoulder. I need to take several deep breaths before I can open my eyes and get back up again. This time, Iâ€™m careful to not look down as I walk over to Jenny.
â€œThanks so much for getting my clothing.â€ This time meaning the gratitude is easy. â€œWhere can I change?â€
â€œThe bathroomâ€™s over here.â€ Jenny says as she walks me to the door. â€œSplash some cold water on your eyes while youâ€™re in there and youâ€™ll look fine.â€
As I come out of the bathroom dressed for work I look up at the clock. Itâ€™s already 8:48. I sigh.
â€œI wish Iâ€™d brought my car,â€ I lament. â€œIâ€™m never going to make it.â€
â€œIâ€™ll take you to your office,â€ Danny offers. â€œThen Iâ€™ll pick you up after work and take you to the clinic. You can pick up your car, and I can even get you in to visit Oreo for a few minutes.â€
â€œYouâ€™ve already gone so far out of your way.â€ Tears are in my eyes again as I feel so grateful but donâ€™t want to take advantage.
â€œI want to, OK.â€ Danny says, as he puts his jacket on. â€œIâ€™m looking forward to seeing Oreo this evening too.â€
â€œThanks,â€ I say. Then remembering what Lisa said earlier I add, â€œHow about I take you out to dinner after we visit Oreo. Yaâ€™know to show you how much I appreciate everything. Though I guess Iâ€™m not really â€˜the pretty girl with the bunnyâ€™ anymore.â€
My hand had self consciously gone up to my bare neck as I thought about not being the pretty girl he had been interested in anymore. Iâ€™m embarrassed as soon as the last bitâ€™s out of my mouth. Danny isnâ€™t the only one who can put his foot in his mouth.
â€œOh Hannah, donâ€™t worryâ€ Danny reassures me, patting me on my shoulder. â€œOreo will be fine. Youâ€™ll pick him up tomorrow morning, and youâ€™ll still have a bunny.â€
â€œUhm, I donâ€™t think thatâ€™s what she was what she meant.â€ Jenny says quietly to Danny, he gives her a very confused look. â€œI thinks sheâ€™s worried you donâ€™t think sheâ€™s pretty anymore.â€
â€œWhy?â€ Danny asks still looking confused. Then looking at my face he says â€œyour eyes aren’t that red.â€
â€œDonâ€™t worry about it.â€ I smile slightly. â€œLetâ€™s get going while I still have a chance to get there before the meeting starts.â€
Dannyâ€™s confusion assures me he still thinks Iâ€™m pretty in a way that a compliment could never. People give out compliments for the sake of politeness whether or not they mean them constantly, but Dannyâ€™s confusion is so obviously genuine. I still donâ€™t feel very pretty, but at least I know someone really thinks I am.