I woke up on the morning of 22 May with a start at the same time as usual, nervous about catching my train for work; then I realized that it was Saturday. Further, it was my birthday.
Oh yes. I had made arrangements for my birthday present myself. Alex had agreed to this of his own free will, although admittedly I’m the dominant partner in the relationship. I wonder if he’s awake yet. I reached for my phone.
“Hello, Alex? You up? It’s me, Julie. Good morning.”
Alex sounded only moderately sleepy on the other end. He must have already been at least half awake when I rang. Alex even had the presence of mind to wish me a happy birthday and jokingly called me “the future Mrs McDonald”.
“Yeah, happy birthday to me. I’m glad you remember.”
“Of course I remember. How could I not? Do you want me to come pick you up or should we meet up at the barbershop?”
“Come pick me up. I wouldn’t want you to start without me.”
After I got off the phone, I picked out my favorite green dress. My grandmother used to admonish me that red and green should never be seen, but I loved the look of green clothes with my pale skin and red hair. In fact, I had met Alex at a convention for gingers. He was cute and considerably younger than me; I was really lucky to have him as my fiancé.
Speaking of the wedding, although I’m hardly particular or persnickety, I had been worrying that Alex would insist on keeping his collarbone-length hair shaggy and long. He was young enough and had enough hair to not look pathetic, but I secretly felt that he would be much more attractive with a nice, short crewcut or buzzcut that would make his blue eyes pop.
Alex had announced just two weeks ago that he would let me choose whatever I wanted from him for my birthday, so I had asked if he would be willing to cut off all of his hair. I promised him at least a good snogging afterwards, likely more, to sweeten the deal. Since the wedding was not until November he had plenty of time to grow his hair back if he so chose. I was confident, however, that he would decide to keep his hair cropped after seeing the effect his short hair would have on our sex life.
To my surprise, Alex had consented. When he turned up at my front door, he had his long hair pulled back into a ponytail. “I wanted to see what I would look like or how I’d feel without my hair falling forward onto my shoulders.”
Just a short tube ride and we were in front of the barbershop that we had picked out together. It was the old-fashioned type, where seasoned professionals knew how to wield a pair of clippers to shear men quickly and efficiently.
“Hello, we’re here for my fiancé’s ten-o-clock appointment. This is Alex and I’m Julie.” As always, I led the way.
“Oh yes, Mr McDonald. We’ve been expecting you. Diane will take care of you in a moment.” The elderly barber disappeared into the recesses of the shop to summon Diane.
“Yes, Grandpa, I’m coming!” Presently a young woman no older than twenty-five appeared. Even though she was young and reasonably pretty there was nothing sexy or glamorous about her manner. She was all business. Good.
When she laid eyes on Alex, however, she smiled. “Oh, so you’re Mr McDonald. Nice to meet you. Let’s get rid of that mop I heard about, shall we?” She motioned to Alex to sit down in one of the old brown leather chairs. Who knew how long it had been since the last time Alex had been in a barbershop like this. To my relief, he was flashing his million-megawatt smile and looked relaxed, and not at all resentful about the impending demise of his long red tresses. In other words, he was his usual irresistible self.
“It’s very sweet of you to please your fiancée like this for her birthday.” Diane wasted no time in caping him up and inserting a tissue at the neck. Neither of us were going to mention my incentives or Alex’s ulterior motives.
Diane picked up a pair of shears. I had already given instructions over the phone about the details of Alex’s haircut. Alex himself didn’t even know what these instructions were, but the point of the deal was that I had carte blanche. Alex could easily guess that he was going to lose his ponytail at the very least, and did not seem surprised when Diane sliced it off with her long shears the way she would a wilted dahlia.
Now for the fun part. As Alex shook out what was left of his long hair, Diane rummaged in a drawer for the correct clipper attachment. Aha, there it was. Diane snapped on a number six guard and turned on the clippers. “OK, here goes.” She plunged into his hair from the front so that he could see how short we were going. A momentary look of shock gave way to a mischievous grin. He was enjoying this, too.
Diane was also smiling as she plowed through the long red hair, making pass after pass. “You have nice, thick hair. The kind that looks great buzzed.”
“Yeah, I’m Scottish. Highlanders have the best hair.” Alex was smirking now.
It didn’t take Diane more than five minutes to mow down all of Alex’s hair to roughly a centimeter. With a flick of her wrist, she sent the last tuft of long hair tumbling down onto the cape from his right temple, then shut off the clippers.
Alex’s expression clouded over for a moment until he heard Diane snap on a new guard. Good, the haircut wasn’t finished yet. I was a little surprised at how eager Alex was to be shorn, given the amount of time it must have taken to grow his hair so long. Perhaps he was simply ready for a change. More likely, he was thinking of his reward back at my flat afterwards.
Diane inserted a comb into what was left of Alex’s hair at the back and sides as she began the fade. I had asked for a medium fade, with special care taken around the ears and on the nape. It was fun watching her pull his ears out and down as she edged around them. I had suspected all along that Alex had cute ears, and sure enough he did. They had been visible when he wore his hair pulled back, but somehow his ears seemed more adorable when the hair around them was buzzed.
I knew Alex was easy on the eyes, but I had seriously underestimated just how attractive he really was. Without all that hair to cast a shadow over his eyes and obscure his jawline, I finally had a clear view of his face. His eyes looked bigger and bluer than before. The subtle height of the top and front of his crop helped, too. I had seen his face and jawline when he wore his hair pulled back, but ponytails flattened his front hair.
Hey, is that a stud in his right ear? I had never noticed it before. Surprisingly I didn’t hate it. Combined with the short hair, the effect was more bad boy than hipster. It was interesting to me how a change in hairstyle was enough to change the whole impression that his clothes made. A super-short crop would look good no matter what outfit he wore with it, whether casual or formal. It would work well with a kilt, too. I had seen a picture of Alex wearing one; I hoped he could be persuaded to wear one again, given how sexy he looked. His legs looked pretty shapely in the photo.
Alex giggled as Diane edged around his ears. Aw, it must be ticklish. I smiled to see Alex clearly enjoying his shearing. It occurred to me that the perfect present for his birthday on 8 July would be a nice set of clippers. At this rate he would likely be amenable to letting me help him maintain this cut.
“There you go, all finished. A number six faded burr cut. Your fiancée has good taste. This look really works on you. I hope you keep it.” Even Diane herself seemed impressed with how delicious he looked. Too bad Alex is already mine.
I leaned down over Alex in the chair and kissed his forehead from above. “Sneak preview.” I paid for Alex’s shearing and we rushed home. I wanted to jump on him right there in the doorway, but I did remember to close my front door behind us.
On our wedding day, Alex looked stunning with his close-cropped hair and kilt. How lucky I was to be able to spend the rest of my life with this man at my side!