Georgia woke up one afternoon feeling as though her mouth was full of steel wool—again. What time was it? She tried to prop herself up to see her clock, but found her head much too heavy. She would have to roll.
Something smelled terrible. She opened one eye and saw Brad sprawled out on the floor; he had not made it in time to present his offering to the porcelain god and his face and long blond hair were covered in sick. Yuck.
Not that Georgia could complain about Brad. She did this almost every night, sometimes bringing Brad home, sometimes Taylor, sometimes Robby, and sometimes random dudes whose names she didn’t know. It didn’t matter, since she never remembered much. Sometimes she would suddenly become aware of being in the middle of getting it on with a man and have no memory of who he was or how he got into her run-down apartment, but she didn’t care.
Taylor had a brown quiff that looked good at the bar when the night was young, but you couldn’t really touch it without getting clay or wax or whatever on your hands. The best was Robby. His short back and sides were tapered just short enough to feel like animal fur when Georgia stroked his hair, and the top didn’t need product to stand up out of his face.
Georgia didn’t really care for Brad’s shaggy, beach-bum blond hair, which reached down to his shoulder blades like a would-be Thor. His square-jawed face was good, and body just soft enough to be huggable without being too flabby.
Right now, he had sick in his hair, which had dried in clumps. When he woke up he would want to wash his hair in the shower, but Georgia’s shower didn’t work. Well, strictly speaking it did, but she couldn’t afford her water bill if she let all of her conquests use the shower, especially the ones with long hair. Georgia didn’t even like long hair on men, but she forgot that fact whenever she got drunk enough, which was more often than not.
If she could only get up, maybe she could cut off his hair before he knew what was going on. No, she couldn’t get up. At least, not right away. Where was her bedside bottle? If she got some more gin in her system she would be able to function.
Georgia found the gin bottle and took a swig. There, much better. Now her head was light enough to lift and the aches and pains from God knows what happened last night were masked over.
She got out of bed and made her way over to Brad. Good, he was still sleeping. She rummaged in a drawer until she found a pair of scissors and the clippers she used on her intimate parts. Sober she would never dream of letting them touch someone else, least of all someone’s sick-filled hair, but Georgia was still fairly drunk.
“Let’s mow the lawn here.” Georgia straddled Brad’s torso, scissors in hand. She almost grabbed a fistful of his long blond hair before stopping herself. His hair had dried, matted sick in it. Wait a minute, Brad couldn’t possibly have been sick all over the back of his own head. Georgia had a brief flashback of having been in this position last night. She must have been sick all over him. Even if it was her own sick, she still didn’t want to touch it.
Right, then, the hair is coming off right at the root. Georgia inserted the scissors into his hair until they reached the scalp, and began cutting haphazardly. Watching the blond hair fall off onto the floor Georgia began to giggle. Brad was still unconscious. He won’t remember any of this, or have any clue how he lost his tresses.
As she plunged into his hair, making pass after pass, she noticed that the roots weren’t blond. Here was another man who was too proud to admit that he was bleaching his hair like many women do. Georgia would never dream of going blonde; why would any woman lucky enough to be born a redhead throw that away?
Brad’s roots seemed to be a reddish brown. Aha, another closet redheaded man. If he turns out to be a redhead, this might raise his standing in her book. Either way, the length of his hair was going to come off. Georgia mowed down the hair at the back of his head until there was only stubble left there, while the front and sides were still long. She shifted her weight to the right and almost fell off of him before she caught herself. This was dangerous, especially with the scissors in her hand.
Georgia began cropping the right side, almost cutting right into Brad’s ear. Oops, that was a close one. She pulled his ear out and snipped around it, going over the same area many times. When she was finally satisfied she shifted her weight again to cut the left side.
Now, for the top and front. She was able to crop the crown of his head without much trouble, but since he was sleeping face down it was going to be hard to cut the fringe. Georgia leaned forward, taking care not to pitch face-first. Every time she shifted position she felt the sand in her brain shifting too.
Georgia gave Brad’s forelock a tug to lift his head. There, that’s better, now I can cut the front. Luckily there was no sick stuck in the very front of his hair, so she was able to hold it out, making it easier to cut.
As soon as she had mowed down all of his forelock to a couple of millimeters, his head fell back down again. Satisfied with her work, Georgia got dressed and left for the day, leaving Brad on the floor.
When she came back that night, Brad wasn’t there. Never mind. At least he cleaned up the floor before he left. That was mighty considerate of him.
In fact, she didn’t see Brad in any of the usual bars over the next several months. Georgia didn’t really miss him at first, since she had Robby and Taylor, and her new conquest Randy, who had 1990s frosted tips. If she got him drunk enough maybe she could cut them off. On the other hand, lately her tolerance was dropping, so she was often too drunk to cut his hair by the time he was drunk enough.
One Saturday morning, Georgia was nursing a hangover as she stepped out to get brunch. She wasn’t really interested in the greasy breakfast foods that were supposed to help with her hangover, but she did want some mimosas.
Hey, is that Brad? Georgia couldn’t believe her eyes as she saw Brad standing in front of a church with a coffee. He still had a red-brown tapered buzzcut, although he had clearly gotten it fixed professionally after Georgia had gotten through with it. The front part was maybe a centimeter long at most, while the sides were tapered even shorter. With his hair like this, Brad was stunningly handsome. His skin seemed clearer and his eyes weren’t red even though it was only ten in the morning.
“Oh, hi, Georgia. It’s been a long time. What are you doing up?”
“Brunch. You know I never have food at home. Got to get some mimosas in me. How about you? You kept the haircut, minus the sick that was in your hair the last time I saw you. You look so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning. Most maddening to look at.”
“I’m waiting for my sponsor. I kept the haircut as a reminder of what kind of life I used to lead. That, and women seem to like it.”
“Sponsor? Sponsor for what? I agree you look better with short hair, especially in its natural color.”
“I got sober after that encounter with your scissors. I’m six months sober now. I’ll be collecting my chip at the meeting today.”
Georgia made a face. Brad had quit drinking. Now that he was more attractive to her, his lifestyle no longer fit hers.
As she stood there, Randy approached, to her surprise. “Hi, Brad. Are you waiting for John D.?”
“Yeah. Oh, where are my manners? This is Georgia. She is the woman who is directly responsible for my getting sober. She cut off all my long blond hair with nail scissors six months ago.”
Randy lifted an eyebrow. “You had long hair?”
“Yes, he did. Bleached blond. It didn’t look good. Good riddance. Frankly your frosted tips need to go, too.” Georgia was still intoxicated enough to have no filters.
Brad laughed. “Don’t let her do the job, but she’s right. Maybe she can dictate the style at the barbershop after the meeting.”
“Would you let me at least watch?” Georgia was interested.
“Sure. We can meet you after the meeting, or why don’t you just join us. You can sit in the back and see what it’s about. Oh, there’s John!”
It was too late for Georgia to run now, not that she could with her pounding head and wobbly knees, not to mention the hedgehogs dancing in her stomach.
“”John, let me introduce Georgia, the woman responsible for my rock bottom.”
“Oh, pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you. Come on and join us, the meeting will start.”
Georgia had no choice but to follow them into the meeting room above the church. There was a large table in the middle of the room and a coffee pot set up on a smaller table by the wall. People were taking their seats around the table, but there wasn’t quite enough room around the table to fit any more chairs, so Georgia sat in a chair in the corner. She wanted to disappear, but could barely focus on anything other than her hands, which had started to shake.
Once the meeting came to order, people started to introduce themselves by their first names. “Hi, I’m Brad, and I’m an alcoholic.”
“Brad.” Everyone repeated the name.
When everyone around the table had introduced themselves, John D. spoke up. “We’ve missed a person. Georgia, please feel free to participate.”
All eyes turned to Georgia. She felt a mix of anger, humiliation, shame, and fear to have been tricked into this situation. Well, not deliberately tricked. John D. didn’t know she had no intention to join this bunch.
But the words that came out of her mouth surprised even Georgia herself. “My name is Georgia, and I’m an alcoholic.”
“Georgia.” The group repeated her name and got on with it.
In that moment she felt a giddy relief. The fight was over. A tear trickled down her cheek, which made her mad at herself.
After the meeting, John D. put his hand on Georgia’s shoulder. “I know that took courage. You may not feel ready, but keep coming back. You boys, do you have some sort of reward planned for her?”
“Yes, actually.” Good, Brad hadn’t forgotten. “Come on, guys.”
The three of them walked across the street to the barbershop. Randy’s frosted tips were coming off. Inside was a woman of indeterminate age who was nevertheless still beautiful in a way that would have been called a “handsome woman” in the 19th century. She smiled knowingly when the three walked in.
“The lady here needs Randy’s hair cut. Tell her what to do.” Brad took the lead, as the one who had been sober the longest.
“The frosted tips need to come off. I want his hair cut to about a centimeter on top and tapered down the back and sides—similar to Brad here.” This was her favorite haircut on a man.
“Yes, Miss, with pleasure.” The barberette winked. Randy gulped. He had obviously spent time, effort, and/or money on getting the ends of his hair bleached, and now it was going to be mowed down.
Randy closed his eyes as the barberette gently pushed his chin down onto his chest. Georgia enjoyed watching him squirm as the barberette snapped the attachment onto the clippers; this almost masked how ill she felt. The clippers came to life with a rather loud hum and began their march up the back of Randy’s head. Randy had not seen the attachment the barberette had put on, so he had no way of knowing how short the back was going to be.
It was one of the lower-number attachments, since he was going to have a middle skin fade. The steady rhythm of the barberette passing the clippers up through his hair from the nape to the crown in repeated strokes was oddly mesmerizing.
When the back had been mowed down, the barberette moved to his left side. His hair was already reasonably short, but there were hairs that hit the top of his ear and splayed out every which way. Georgia smiled as the barberette pulled Randy’s ears out and down to edge around them.
Now that she had cropped the entire back and sides to the same very short length the barberette changed the guard on the clippers and began the fade. Randy seemed to relax a bit, perhaps thinking that the top would be left long. That or the time spent on this part had helped him to temporarily forget what was coming next.
The barberette even completed the nape and sideburn cleanup with the edging clippers before she turned her attention to the top of Randy’s head. She put the clippers down and picked up a pair of scissors. Randy smirked. He clearly didn’t realize that scissors could cut hair just as short.
The barberette started at the back part of his crown, working her way forward, snipping the hair just a fraction of a millimeter longer as she came toward the front, so that when she reached the fringe the gradation would be natural.
Randy looked down at his lap and saw the mix of natural dark brown and bleached blond hair. His face looked pensive for a moment until the barberette gently lifted up his head. She grabbed his long fringe between her fingers and snipped.
When Randy’s haircut was finished, he did not look silly any more, but he didn’t look just like Brad, either. This style worked on most men, and yet somehow didn’t turn them into clones of each other.
As they left the barbershop Brad slapped Randy on the back. “Georgia’s taste isn’t so bad, is it? The best thing about this from your perspective is that you don’t look the way you did when you were a drinking man. I found it helpful to be able to look in the mirror and see someone who didn’t look like drunk Brad, to build an identity as sober Brad. I don’t want to be drunk Brad ever again.”
Randy looked down at his shoes, then up at Brad. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. Thanks, Georgia. Hey, there’s another meeting tonight that I’m going to. Our sponsor told us to do at least ninety meetings in ninety days, but recommended going to more in the beginning. Would you like to come?”
Georgia surprised herself by answering, “Sure.” Really she just wanted to admire Randy’s new haircut, but why not.Georgia did not drink again. Brad became her sponsor and encouraged her to go back to cosmetology school to get her license. After she had been working as a hairdresser for a year and had sponsees of her own, she and Brad were married. Randy was the best man.