An Undeniable Experience

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“The atomic number is a periodic function of it’s element … I don’t remember learning this at all … “I thought to myself. I was studying in my room for the upcoming quiz. I was a sophomore at high school which meant that I had to take Chemistry. I wasn’t very good at it at all with all the elements, equations and formulae. I had been studying for an hour and wasn’t getting anywhere. So I decided to head to the kitchen for a quick break. I made myself a crisp grilled cheese sandwich and sat down to eat.

“ Uggh, could use some juice to cope with the dryness. As I went to open the refrigerator door, I looked up at the Calendar that hung on the side of the fridge. The Calendar was where all the important appointments and events were written. I always liked to plan ahead of my schedule. At first, it was just a habitual glance at the Calendar. Nothing important I thought … then I saw it. In the box for Thursday it said “3:30 Sophie Haircut “No, it couldn’t be. My Mom wouldn’t have booked an appointment for my haircut. She just couldn’t have! I gulped in anxiety as I stared at the Calendar.

I always hated getting my hair cut. I absolutely despised getting haircuts. Ever since I was a little girl, as long as I could remember, I was always terrified of haircuts. I don’t know why, but I just have been. When I was younger I would scream and cry when I got my haircut, but as I got older I started behaving. Still, the fact that I would sit still in the chair all caped up and helpless made me resent getting a haircut anymore. I don’t know what it was that I hated about haircuts so much. I guess it was a combination of things. I hated having that cape tied around my neck. It made me feel trapped and helpless.  I also hated how the scissors were so sharp and pointy. The quick snips the hairstylist always terrified me. I never really trusted my stylist. Her name was Gina. She knew I hated haircuts, and would always trim my split ends for me, but I always feared she would cut my hair shorter.

I had really long blonde hair, down to my back. My Mom knew that I hated getting haircuts, so she didn’t make me go that often. But when my hair got really long and got a bunch of split ends, she’d take me to the salon for a trim. I would never ask for a haircut since I hated getting my long hair cut. The only times I got a haircut was when my Mom made me. To be honest, I kind of liked getting my hair cut. I mean, I hated going to the salon and actually having it cut, but I was glad my Mom made me do it. I didn’t want my hair to be all long and stringy. I knew that my ends were splitting and really needed to have them cut. I would never admit it to my Mon but I actually kind of liked how Gina cut my hair.

Nonetheless, I still hated getting my hair cut, even as I have grown older and more mature. Every time I sat down in the salon chair, I would become timid and scared. I would watch Gina cut off tiny bits of hair and say to myself, “Please no more than that ! Please don’t cut off more than that. “The anticipation of the haircut was the worst.  I got so nervous when I found out my Mom had booked me an appointment.  I took a couple bites of my sandwich, but it didn’t taste good.  I wasn’t hungry anyways. I went back up to my room to try and study. I couldn’t concentrate.  “Who cares, “ I thought, putting my books away without even  finishing.  “ I’ve got bigger things to worry about than this” . For the next three days I didn’t enjoy anything. I was too worried about getting my hair cut. I knew that after I got my haircut, nothing bad would happen and I would be happy again, but that didn’t matter. For the next three days I was sullen and gloomy, scared and frightened.

I said nothing over those three days about getting my haircut. I thought if I didn’t say anything, my Mom would forget. That didn’t happen. I was hoping Thursday in school would drag for eternity, but time seemed to fly by in minutes. I was dreading the thought of getting my haircut the entire day. My Mom picked me up at 3 o’clock. I was hoping she wouldn’t say anything. I was really hoping we could just go home. But no. “Sophie I’m not sure if you saw the Calendar or not, and I’m sorry to tell you that I’m taking you to the salon for a haircut now. I know you hate it, but you are getting a whole lot of split ends and you can’t walk around with your hair looking so damaged. “

I didn’t say a word.  We both sat in silence for the duration of the car ride to the salon.

We pulled up to the curb in front of the salon.  My Mom said to me, “I know I usually come inside with you, but I can’t today.  The grocery’s closing early today and I need to buy dinner. Here is some money.  Don’t forget to leave a tip. Text me when you’re done. “With that I was standing in front of the salon all alone. My Mom left already. This was the first time I was going to get a haircut on my own. My Mom would always come in with me and do the talking for me. She would say, “Sophie just wants a trim today. “And I would just sit there and take it all in. Today, I actually had to take charge. It would be so weird asking for a haircut, when I didn’t really want one. But I did want one. I knew I needed a trim; my ends were splitting so badly. But I hated haircuts.

Well, I couldn’t stand there all day, I figured. I briefly considered just walking somewhere without getting a haircut, but I knew my Mom would be pissed if she found out. I took a deep breath and walked in the salon hesitantly. Immediately, I was surrounded with the scent of shampoo and the mixed sounds of chatter, blow dryers and scissors snipping away.

At first I wasn’t sure what to do. I don’t know if I should go sit down in the waiting area or check in first at the reception. I didn’t know what to say, so I just stood there until the receptionist looked at me. “Hello “ she said, “ do you need help with something? “ I wasn’t sure how to respond so I just stared blankly at her. A little annoyed now, she said, “Are you here for a haircut? “

“Yes, my name is Sophie. “

The receptionist looked at her monitor. “Yes, Sophie. You are here to see Gina, right? She will be with you in a little while, why don’t you have a seat?”

I walked over to the waiting area and sat down. I looked around the salon. There were lots of people getting their hair cut. I really didn’t want to draw attention to myself and get embarrassed.  I tried to watch how the other customers were behaving so I could try and copy them some of them were chatting up a storm with their stylist, seeming to be completely oblivious to their surroundings, while others were just sitting quietly, watching their stylist snip away at their hair. I saw Gina at her station with another client, a woman in her twenties or so. The woman had mid-back length brown hair. I watched as Gina sliced through the woman’s hair, cutting layers into it. Gina worked very quickly – combing, sectioning, cutting, combing, sectioning, cutting. Soon there was a fairly significant pile of hair on the floor. After a few minutes, Gina put down the scissors and turned on the blow dryer. This meant she was almost done, that it was almost my turn. About a minute later, she turned off the blow dryer and removed the cape off the woman. It was officially my turn. Gina saw me and greeted me with a big smile, “Hey Sophie! Are you alone today or is your Mom coming?”

I gulped. Now I would have to engage Gina by myself, and take charge of the situation. I really wasn’t ready for this. “Yeah, my Mom’s a little busy today, “I said sheepishly.

 Gina smiled again, “Your Mom is a hard working lady,” she said trying to befriend me. I just sort of looked at her, so she just cut to the chase, “Why don’t we get washed up,” she said, directing me to the washing station. I was hesitant to get up at first. Whenever it was my turn to get my hair washed, I would always get this nervous feeling. I got up very slowly, and dragged my feet to the sink. It felt like such a long walk from the waiting area to the washing station. I plumped myself onto the chair. Gina turned the water on and began washing my hair trying to soothe me. It seemed like seconds when I realized I was in the styling chair. I looked at myself one last time before Gina caped me. She flung it over my body and fastened it around my neck. I realized how nicely my blonde hair contrasted the black cape. I noticed the scared look in my eye as Gina combed my hair.

“So Sophie,” she began to say, “How do you want me to cut your hair? Just a trim? Or if you want, I can cut it shorter.”

Oh no, what was I supposed to say? I wish my Mom was here to say just a trim for me. I stumbled with my words, trying to find the right thing to say.

“Sure, “I said. Wow, I had done it. I couldn’t believe what I had just said. Did I really just ask Gina to cut my hair shorter? It felt so strange, so not me. It even felt naughty for some reason. I was almost 100 % certain that I would not have agreed to shorter hair if my Mom was here.

Gina pinned most of my long blonde hair on top of my head, leaving only the back hanging down. She ran the comb through my hair again, and then picked up her scissors. It had just dawned on me that Gina didn’t tell me how much she was going to cut off. She probably figured that since I never wanted to talk to her, I didn’t want to talk now. All I knew was that she was going to cut my hair shorter than usual. That could be a very small, barely noticeable difference, or it could be a drastic change. I shuddered, hoping she wasn’t going to cut too much.

I watched as Gina placed the scissors at the middle of my back and I heard the snip – snip – snip as she quickly closed the scissors severing off my blonde hair. She sectioned another piece, then snipped away with the scissors to cut off more hair. I sat there frozen, having no idea how much hair she had cut off or what my hair was going to look like when she was done.

Gina took down some of the pins and let more of my hair down. She combed out another section and placed the scissors at the middle of my back. Again, a flurry of snipping, and then she repeated. I knew she was cutting somewhere along my back, but I couldn’t tell whether she was giving me a slight trim or if she was cutting it just below her shoulders. That was the nerve wracking part, not knowing how much she was cutting.

Gina took the last few pins down and let the rest of my hair down. She sectioned, combed and cut a few more times. I t appeared as if she was finished with the back. Next she moved along the top of my head, sectioning off a long lock of my hair and pulling it straight over my head. I watched as she placed the scissors right towards the top but pretty close to the middle chunk of hair. As she quickly closed her fingers, the scissors sliced through a pretty long portion of my hair. 3-4 inches of blond hair fell onto my lap. When I saw how much hair Gina had cut off, my stomach churned. Gina took another section of my hair, held it high above my head, and snipped through another long chunk of it.

She turned the chair sideways so I couldn’t see the mirror. She sectioned off a large section of my hair on the sides of my head and pulled it forward, in front of my face. She put the scissors very high up, close to my shoulder, and sliced through my hair, the scissors progressively moving away from my head. Since I couldn’t see the mirror, I couldn’t tell how much hair Gina was cutting. But when I felt her put the scissors by my shoulder, I knew it was a lot. As she did this a few more times, more and more hair was falling onto my lap.I could make out that these chunks of hair were much longer than the previous chunks. They must have been about 5 inches long. That was when I realized that she was giving me layers!

As she turned the chair to work on the other side of my head, I took a quick glance at myself at the mirror and noticed that the hair around my face ended around my shoulders, presumably down to the middle of my back or so. There was now a very large pile of hair on my lap and on the floor. All that long blonde hair, just sitting there. It looked so weird. I felt like there was more hair on the floor than on my head.

Gina turned the chair all the way around so that my back was facing the mirror. What was she going to do now? She combed the hair on the front of my face straight over my face. At this point, this was where my hair was the longest since she didn’t cut it yet. It stretched all the way down to my lap as I was sitting down. Gina combed it down all the way. Then she placed the scissors right above my eyes. Oh no. I thought. She was giving me bangs! With a big terrifying snip across my eyebrows, the last of my long blonde hair fell from my head. There was now a strand of about two feet sitting on my lap. Oh my God. That was a lot of hair. What would my mother say when she saw how much hair had been cut off?

Gina swiveled me around so I could see myself in the mirror. I had bangs cut straight across my eyes and layers starting at my shoulders and working down my back. It was a huge change for me, and I felt like I had just done something illegal by cutting so much hair cut off.

“So,” said Gina, “How do you like it? Is it short enough for you?  Or if you want, I can cut it shorter.”

“Ok,“ I said without even thinking. What was I doing? I HATED getting haircuts! I was supposed to be scared to even get a trim! When I got haircuts, my Mom was supposed to drag me in against my will, I was supposed to pout as I sat down in the chair reluctantly, my mother was supposed to tell Gina to give me a trim because I hated getting haircuts, and I was supposed to leave the salon being glad that I only got a trim and that I didn’t have to get more hair cut than I wanted. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would agree to Gina to cut it shorter, let alone cut it even shorter than that!

“Really?” asked Gina, “ I’m surprised . Normally you want me to cut off as little as possible.”

I didn’t respond. I was too stunned, speechless and shy to make conversation with my hairstylist.

“Are you sure you want me to cut it shorter?” she asked.

I thought about it for a second, I could back out now. I didn’t have to go through with it. I could just leave now with the way my hair was, tell my Mom that Gina did it to me without asking and I hated it. That way, I could make my Mom feel bad for making me get a haircut without her, and that way I didn’t have to explain myself if my Mom made comments about it. But something inside me told me that I really did want short hair. I kind of felt like deep down inside that I always wanted to cut my hair really short and see what it looked like. But I was always too shy, too scared, I always felt like since I was afraid of haircuts, I could never break out of it and go shorter. But my Mom wasn’t with me this time. I felt independent and brave. I always wanted to do it.

“Yes,” I said boldly.

“Alright them.” said Gina with a big grin. “Prepare for a drastic makeover, because all this hair’s coming off!” she said hold my freshly layered hair in both her hands.

I sure hope I was ready for this, because I didn’t really know how to explain it to my Mom and everyone else why I cut my hair.

Gina quickly pinned most of my hair on top of my head. Then, very dominantly she pushed my head down towards my chest. She combed my hair down and I felt the cold steel blades at the nape of my neck. Then I felt the terrifying SNIP as the scissors repeatedly closed, leaving a cold, wet strand of long hair sitting on my neck. Gina picked it up and playfully flung it onto my lap, allowing me to see how much hair she had cut off. Holy shit, I thought that must have been another foot of hair right there. Gina wasn’t playing around. She really was cutting it real short! Where was she going with this? I watched as she combed down another section of my hair and snipped it off my nape.

After pulling down some pins and chopping more off my nape, Gina moved onto the sides. She pulled my hair straight out horizontally from my head, and placed the scissors about an inch from my head at a perpendicular angle from the head. Then, she bought the scissors downward, cutting off all that hair in one fluid motion. Then she did the same thing on the other side of my head. I watch as a river of silken blonde hair cascaded onto the salon floor. She did this a few times until the sides were short enough. Then she worked very quickly, lifting my hair with the comb and snipping off the length to taper and layer the sides and back of my hair, still leaving a wispy and feminine texture. It was very short. She then lifted my bangs with the comb and snipped repeatedly, taking away the bulk and leaving it uneven and wispy.

Finally, she moved onto the top of my head, She took the hair that was still left long and combed it straight up as high as it would go. There it was, the last of my shining, beautiful, long blonde hair. She took the scissors and placed them an inch and a half away from my head, slicing through my hair, sending it raining onto my cape. She took the comb and combed back my hair on top of my head. Then she sectioned a piece and held it up, snipping it down with the scissors. She repeated this process until my hair was short all over, and in the process sent clumps of blonde hair all over the cape and on the floor. I stared at myself, in sort of a trance as Gina cut more and more.

“All done,” exclaimed Gina with a big smile on her face. “I never thought you would have the guts to go short, Sophie, but I gotta say, you look great!”

I stared at the mirror. I didn’t recognize myself. It looked absolutely amazing. Gina had given me super short pixie, short on the front and sides and a bit longer on the top. It framed my face perfectly and showed off my ears. I never even considered the possibility of going short. Now that I did it, I kicked myself for being such a chicken my whole life. But for some reason, I still felt nervous, still felt uncomfortable.

“Don’t you like it?” asked Gina.

I wasn’t sure what to say. I really did like it, but should I play the timid girl who always lets her Mom talk for her? Or should I speak up once and for all? “I love it,” I said with a slight smile.

Gina pulled the cape off me, sending all the hair that had been on my lap onto the floor to mix with the other hair. She took a broom and swept it all up into one gigantic pile of blonde. I took one final look at it before she swept it onto a dustpan and dumped my past into the garbage can. I texted my Mom to come pick me up, and tried to think of an excuse for getting my hair cut short.

I decided to just let her find out for herself when she saw me. I wasn’t scared anymore. Now I was looking at a future of trying new things and taking chances. And of course, shorter haircuts.

2 responses to “An Undeniable Experience

  1. Hi Caroline,

    This a lovely story, but it is not your original work. The original is called On Her Own, written by StingRay45 and posted on 1hss in May of 2012. That website has since been deactivated, but it’s still visible using a tool called the WayBack Machine, which archives snapshots of internet pages. I immediately recognized this story because it is also one of my favorites. You’ve changed some of the words, but plagiarism is not just the verbatim words used, but also the content.

    Take this, for example. One paragraph from StingRay45’s work says, “Nonetheless, I still hated getting haircuts, even as I have grown older and more mature. Every time I sat down in the salon chair, I would become all meek and scared. I would watch Tina cut off tiny bits of hair and think to myself, “Please, no more than that. Please don’t cut off more than that.” The anticipation of the haircut was the worst. I got so nervous when I found out my mom had booked my appointmoint. I put the mayonnaise onto my sandwich half-heartedly. I took a couple bites, but it didn’t taste good. I wasn’t hungry anyway. I went back up to my room to try and do my math homework. I couldn’t concentrate. “Who cares,” I thought, putting my books away without even finishing, “I’ve got bigger things to worry about than this”. For the next three days, I didn’t enjoy anything. I was too worried about getting my haircut. I knew that after I got my haircut nothing bad would happen and I would be happy again, but that didn’t matter. For those next three days, I was sullen and gloomy, scared and frightened. ”

    Yours says, “Nonetheless, I still hated getting my hair cut, even as I have grown older and more mature. Every time I sat down in the salon chair, I would become timid and scared. I would watch Gina cut off tiny bits of hair and say to myself, “Please no more than that ! Please don’t cut off more than that. “The anticipation of the haircut was the worst. I got so nervous when I found out my Mom had booked me an appointment. I took a couple bites of my sandwich, but it didn’t taste good. I wasn’t hungry anyways. I went back up to my room to try and study. I couldn’t concentrate. “Who cares, “ I thought, putting my books away without even finishing. “ I’ve got bigger things to worry about than this” . For the next three days I didn’t enjoy anything. I was too worried about getting my hair cut. I knew that after I got my haircut, nothing bad would happen and I would be happy again, but that didn’t matter. For the next three days I was sullen and gloomy, scared and frightened.”

    As you can see, they aren’t worded exactly the same, but there is no doubt they are the same. Even though you’ve changed a few details (In the orginal, for example, the girl is named Carly, the hairdresser is Tina, and at the beginning she is studying math, not chemistry) it is still the same story. Doing this sort of copying will get you in very serious trouble in a school or work environment, and depending on the situation, could even get you in legal trouble.

    It seems to me that you have good taste, as the original is very well written, and as I said, one of my favorites as well. I’d encourage you to think about what appeals to you about StingRay45’s story and incorporate those aspects into your own writing. For example, do you like the idea of someone getting a progressively shorter haircut? Do you like that the hairdresser is in control here? Do you like that the main character comes to realize that she isn’t obligated to keep her hair long? Those are all concepts that you could write a new, original story about. I’d love to read some of your original writings, I know you’ve got it in you!

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