I met Mike in my junior year in college. It was a finance class, and we were the top students in the class. For some reason finance was just easy for me and I could tell it was easy for Mike too.
We dated a little and drifted apart after graduation. But a few years later we met again at a seminar in retirement planning for financial consultants. We dated more seriously this time and ultimately married.
We both joined a small startup company specializing in consulting to people wanting to ensure they had the means to retire successfully. What came easily to us in school, translated to making people money. A lot of money. The more money we made for them meant the more money we made. The company we joined grew and we have made a nice living for ourselves and our family.
Mike was older than I was by 4 years. When we met in college, he was using the GI Bill to study after having done 6 years in the Navy as a machinist.
Mike had always had a passion for cars. Specifically, classics from the 60s. He would rebuild them and sell them for a profit but not until after we had taken them to various car shows to show them off.
He had a shop in our back yard where we built a garage for him to work on his cars. He could do anything in that shop. Rebuild an engine, bang out dents or weld on new steel was no problem. He would spend hours out there. Some of those hours I would much rather he spent with me and the kids. But it kept him busy and happy. Our sons were also beginning to help as they became old enough to lend a hand as needed.
I noticed there were often the same people at the car shows. Only one in particular made any impression on me. Suzette was a very cute woman about our age. The striking feature about her was her hair. It was dark and short. As in very short. Especially, the sides and back where you could usually see her scalp.
Whenever she would walk around, I noticed Mike would take a second and then a third look at her and then drool if she made her way to our cars. At which point Mike would immediately go over and chat her up. I never worried though. Mike was the straightest arrow I knew. He would never think about wandering around, but he had no problems with looking. I didn’t have a problem with that either really.
I always knew Mike had a thing for short hair. He tried and tried to get me to cut mine. I was having none of it. I could not see myself in short hair. The shortest mine had ever been was a shoulder brushing length. Even then I felt naked. Mike’s repeated requests and hints fell on deaf ears well covered by my hair.
I had naturally blonde, thick, straight hair. Courtesy of my Viking ancestors in Norway from what my family all claimed. Everyone thought it looked wonderful. Even Mike, although he wanted it shorter. I worked out daily to ensure everything else worked right and stayed in all the right places. At 5’7” and 130 I thought I was properly put together. Mike definitely agreed and we worked out together in our basement gym.
During the early summer Mike had been looking at upcoming car auctions. After one night on his computer, he came to the couch where I watched TV. He had a huge grin and said he had found his dream car. I knew he had been looking for a Jaguar XK-E but they were like the crown jewels. Very rare that one was ever for sale. I asked him what he found. He said, “I found a 1962 E-Type Series 1 3.8-Litre roadster.”
My jaw dropped. I knew he wanted this car, but it would be expensive if it was in any decent shape. “What condition is it in”, I asked. He said it was in terrible shape but was confident he could get it to like new with some work. “How much work?”
“To be honest, it will mean a lot of hours in the garage. I think it will need a lot of body work. Then, those engines and especially the electrical systems are known to need serious attention and finally the running gear could be questionable.”
All I could see was the lights on in the garage and nobody home with me and the kids. I wanted Mike happy, but I also wanted some normality in the home too. Luckily, the car was being sold at auction and the auction was a month away.
I had time to negotiate with Mike.
The auction was coming up quickly. I wanted to please Mike, but I also knew what it would mean in terms of time spent out there and not in here. If you get the drift.
The Friday night before the online auction began Mike was all prepared. He had withdrawn enough money from savings to make a substantial bid for this car. He had registered and had his bidder’s paddle ready to go.
Because it was in such bad condition, the bidding should be much more reasonable than if it were in mint shape. But an auction always had surprises. Someone with deep pockets could get in there and steal it away.
I decided the downside of Mike being in the garage away from me and the kids was more than I could handle. I had to put my foot down.
“Mike, we need to talk. I do not want that car in the garage. It’s too much work. We will never see you and everything we do will be centered around that Jag for the next year or two.” He could tell I was adamant. But he also wanted the car. It was his dream.
We argued well into the night and went to bed more than a little angry for the first time in our marriage. We had always made up before turning out the lights. Not that Friday though.
Saturday dawned and Mike said he had placed a bid on the car. I was still upset but knew what the car meant to him. I asked him again to please not buy the car.
A few hours later he came to me. “Terri, you know how much I want that car. How about I offer a deal?” I immediately grew suspicious. “What kind of a deal?”
“You get your hair cut short and keep it short for at least the two years it would take me to rebuild the car that I won’t have.”
Well, that was a surprise out of left field. I never saw that one coming at all.
“Think about it. If you come home by 3PM tomorrow afternoon with it cut short, I’ll stop bidding on the car. The auction closes at 6 so that gives you time to decide.” That was his deal, and it was as good as a written contract. A handshake with him was unbreakable.
The ball was now in my court. But how short was short enough? As usual, Mike was as prepared for me as he was for his clients. He had two pictures he had printed out from some website he found. Each of them was of a very short haired model. Both were blonde and about my age and build, so I could see how I might look.
Holy cow were they short. Even shorter than Suzette’s hair had been. I don’t think the sides could be longer than a quarter of an inch and the top not much more than two inches. Projecting little spikes into the air on one model and little disconnected pieces on the other. Each of them looked cute but they were not for me.
He really wanted me to look like this? I looked at him like he was crazy. He said he could go either way. A car or the hair, but he wanted one or the other.
I needed time to think. If I went through with this, Mike would be happy either way. If I didn’t, then I would be unhappy. I would have Mike in the house, but I wouldn’t have my hair. Or I could have my hair, but my husband would be in the garage the majority of the time. It depended on how unhappy I wanted to be.
I had never put a value on any of my physical assets. Least of all my hair. Now I was placing a very large value on it. Was my hair worth tens of thousands of dollars? It was to Mike. Was it to me?
After sitting and thinking about it a while I made my decision but didn’t tell Mike. I called Liz, my normal stylist, for an appointment. “Sorry, Terri. The next time I can get you in for a cut is Wednesday.” I hung up. Where was I supposed to get a haircut to meet Mike’s specs by tomorrow afternoon?
I went back to Mike and said I couldn’t get an appointment until Wednesday. “Terri, I do not want any reneging here. Either you are here at 3PM tomorrow, with your hair cut like one of the pictures, or I am bidding on the car.” “But where am I supposed to get it cut by then? Liz can’t fit me in.”
“You can always go to a walk-in place. Sport Clips is where I go, and they have an app you can download to get on the waiting list. Shelly has been doing my hair for a long time and you like the way she cuts it. See if you can get in to see her. If she’s not available any of the stylists can do those cuts.”
Yeah, right. Like that was going to happen.
I tried other “normal” salons. None of them had any appointments available in the time allocated. I was running out of options and time. It was now late Saturday afternoon, and the salons were all closed. Even the walk-in places.
Saturday night came and I decided if I was going through with this then I better download the Sport Clips app, just in case.
Sunday came and of course no regular salons were open at all. I looked at the app.
Shelly was indeed working today. But she had a waiting list of almost 2 hours. That would put me after 1 o’clock. Close to Mike’s deadline of 3. I put myself down on her waiting list and sat watching the clock and wondering for the thousandth time if my hair was worth this or should I just let Mike have his damn car.
At 1230 I got a text from Sport Clips. “Your stylist will be ready in 15 minutes. Please arrive in the store by 1245 or lose your spot in the waiting list.” O no. My time to psyche myself up had just evaporated. I had to get in the car and go.
I grabbed my keys and almost forgot the pictures in my run to the car. I arrived at the store with a minute to spare.
I entered a man’s haircutting place. Mike had told me over the years that he had seen a handful of women in there. But that was rare. Now, here I was invading a man’s domain.
As I walked in one of the stylists asked if I had checked in online. I said yes and she told me to enter my phone number at the kiosk. I did and then looked up and saw the waiting list on the monitor. Terri T On Deck with Shelly it said. I sat down. My hands frigid even though it was 85 degrees out.
A few minutes later a woman of about my age and size came out asking if I was Terri. I stood up and said I was. She introduced herself as Shelly and she escorted me back to her station. There were TV monitors everywhere. Some game was on, but I will never be able to remember what it was. I sat in the chair, and she spun it towards the mirror asking me what brought me in today.
I looked at her in the mirror and made up a little story. I said my husband had been after me for years to change my style and I finally decided to make him happy. It was a lie but a little one. She asked how I found her instead of just any of the stylists in the store. At this point I had to come clean and said Mike had been coming to her for a while and he suggested her.
She got a look on her face. I could tell she had no idea which of the several hundred people she cut hair on was my Mike. I grabbed a picture from my phone and showed her and she perked right up. “O yeah. I know Mike. He’s been a regular for years.”
She started playing with my hair. “So how much of a change are you doing? We are not the kind of place that does long styles for women.” I was ready for this and with my hands shaking I took out the pictures Mike had printed out. Shelly looked at them and blew out her breath. “Well, either one of these will be a big change for you.”
I was kind of hoping she was going to try and talk me out of the haircut. Honestly, if she did then I was going to accept her offer and go on home.
Shelly never even tried. Totally different from a salon where the stylists would always talk you out of going short. Instead, they would talk you into keeping the length and changing the color.
“I knew Mike liked women with short hair. He’s mentioned it several times. You ready?” I rather shakily said I was, and Shelly threw a cape over my shoulders and fastened it around my neck.
“Which of the two models do you like? One is short and spikey and the other is more of a lot of disconnected pillows I’ll call them. Both are good looks and will be great on you. Any favorite?”
I looked at myself in the mirror. Possibly for the last time ever with long hair. “I’m not real sure. Do you have any recommendations?”
Shelly looked at me and said with my hair either style would be a stunning look. “But I think the pillow look is really cool. It will take a little bit of scissor work to get it right, but I think that’s a look that will work for you and be professional all at the same time. In fact, with the pillowed cut you could get it to spike up pretty well too. That’ll add a little spice whenever you want it.”
I looked again and decided Shelly might be right. “OK, that works. How short will you be taking the sides and back?” Shelly picked up the picture again. She looked from the picture to me and said, “I think they used a number one on the sides and back. A number two wouldn’t have the effect that picture shows.”
“I’m sorry. What’s a number one or a number two?”
Shelly smiled and said, “O yeah, sorry. They’re numbers for the guides or cutter heads we put on the clippers to get a length. A number two is a quarter of an inch and a number one is an eighth of an inch. That picture shows it’s pretty short. I’m sure it’s a one.”
An eighth of an inch? OMG. I hadn’t really looked too hard at the photos other than to notice they were incredibly short.
“I guess I’m in your hands, Shelly. Let’s get going.” I looked at my watch. It was already after 1. I had to finish the cut and get back home by 3 or the deal with Mike was off.
Shelly put some of my hair up on top of my head with a clip. She combed out the sides and back.
She turned to her counter and picked up a set of big black clippers from a hook. She looked in a rack where a lot of little steel attachments were and selected one with what appeared to be small teeth. Satisfied she had the right attachment, she placed it on the clippers.
I knew what was coming next and barely had time to register what was happening before I heard a click and a whirring sound coming from those clippers. These were not the little ones Liz used to clean up my neckline. These were huge and they were coming at my hair.
Shelly lifted up the hair in the back and inserted the clippers going all the way up to the top of my head. I knew a lot of hair was coming off but since it was in the back, I couldn’t see a thing. She repeated her work to the right side of that and then came around to my ear.
To say I was scared would be an understatement. Having never had short hair before, I was scared of losing my femininity as well as my security blanket. Having the clippers going right up against my scalp was terrifying.
I could barely breathe. And I had no idea how Shelly could cut my hair with all of my shaking. I felt like a small earthquake was going on underneath me. Apparently, my shaking was not as bad as it felt to me. Shelly kept on with her work.
By now I could see hair falling on my shoulders. Hair that I had tended to for years. Now lying lifelessly on either my shoulder or the cape. As she went up and over my ear it was exposed for the first time in my life.
My eyes were saucers watching this happen. She then placed the clippers in front of my ear and moving them up they removed everything in their path. For the first time it registered on me that I wouldn’t even have sideburns.
Shelly worked quickly. She moved to the back again and repeated everything she had done on the right side again on the left. Satisfied, she turned the clippers off and placed them on a hook.
I looked at myself. As far as I was concerned. I was bald on the sides and back with a mushroom of long hair hanging from the top awaiting its fate.
Soon enough Shelly removed the clip holding the hair up and it fell over my eyes until she combed it out. She grabbed a spray bottle and wet the hair. Then, picking up a pair of scissors she lifted the hair and quickly closed them cutting a good 18 inches of hair off.
Not even uttering a “tada” she tossed the lifeless hair onto the floor. She repeated this all over my head until all I had left was hair not even 4 inches long lying flat on my head.
I knew this was only a step before the final cut. She began twisting my hair in tiny sections and then started cutting another inch, or more likely two, creating the pillowed look from the picture. I was beginning to like this look. I still wasn’t sure of having short hair, but the look was nice. Unbelievably short but nice.
But it was on someone I didn’t know. I looked at myself again in the mirror. The eyes were the same. The cheeks were the same. But now they popped out at whoever was looking at them in the mirror. It was me but a me that was completely new. I continued shaking.
She stepped back to survey her work and for the first time she asked me how I was doing. “OK, I guess. It’s a shock because I’ve never had short hair, and this is about a short as it gets.”
“Terri, you’re doing great. I think this look is going to be great on you. You have a nice oval face, your body shape is perfect, and you have great hair, and small ears. Perfect for short hair of any kind, but this look is really coming out nice. I just have to finish it up.”
What was that? “Finish it up?” I thought it was done. Apparently not.
Shelly picked up her large clippers again and removed the steel clipper attachment. She reached over and picked up another attachment. This one looked like it was smaller than the first attachment had been, and Shelly installed the new attachment on her clippers. She looked at me and said, “the first time I was using a number two. Now we’re finishing up using the number one.”
Uh, oh. What I had thought was bald before was about to become even shorter.
Shelly started in front of my right ear this time. She moved the clippers up and I could see short hairs floating away. Leaving almost nothing in their wake. I was certain it was so short my skin would easily be seen and with my blonde hair it would appear to be shaved.
She repeated her clipping all the way around my head. When she finished around my left ear, she turned the clippers off and stood back to survey the look she had created.
Satisfied everything was as she wanted it, she put her clippers on a hook and picked up a pair of scissors with mean looking teeth. I knew these were thinning shears, but they had never been used on me before.
She cut the hair on the top to blend it with the sides. She very carefully stayed away from the little pillows she had created. I watched as what appeared to be large amounts of hair came off. I worried she was going to cut so much that I would have nothing left at all. But that didn’t happen.
The top now blended nicely with the sides. The little pillows she had created gave it a nice, disconnected look. Not a smooth look at all but a lot of little sections of hair doing their own thing. I liked it.
I looked at myself again in the mirror. I suddenly noticed I had bangs. I honestly could not remember ever having bangs. Maybe in early childhood but never in more recent memory. I had them now. And they were baby bangs that came maybe an inch onto my forehead. They were choppy bangs too. Not a straight line but lots of little bang-lets if that’s a word. I thought I could get used to them too. Actually, I thought, I have to get used to them because I’d have them for another two years at least.
Shelly picked up a small set of clippers and then outlined my ears and whatever was left of my sideburns. She then used a loud shaver of some kind and shaved my neck removing anything left behind by the clippers. It felt funny and gave me goosebumps.
She placed everything back on her counter and proclaimed herself done. Handing me a mirror she turned the chair so I could see the back and sides better.
To say short would be an understatement. I know my hair was shorter than Mike’s.
If the person looking at the face in the mirror was of someone I had never seen before, the view of the back was of an alien from another planet. I could easily see my skin all the way around my head.
I felt my arm reaching out from beneath the cape all on its own. My hand came up and touched the sides and then the back. It felt like little soft bristles going up. Brushing my hand down felt like velvet. Very strange but not at all bad. In fact, rubbing it gave me goosebumps all over again.
Running my fingers through my hair on top was another sensation I hadn’t felt before nor had I expected what I was feeling. It was short for sure and would take a lot of getting used to. All too soon my hand left my hair behind because it was so short. A weird feeling, but not unpleasantly so.
“How do you like it? Is it enough like the picture for you?”
Twisting and turning my head I had to say I did like it. It was short beyond belief, but it looked good. I would just have to get used to it. I told Shelly, “Strangely enough, I do like it. I think it’s just like the picture.” Shelly beamed.
She then reached for a jar of something and put some cream on her hands and rubbed it into my hair. It made the pillowed hair pop a little more. “This will help it look best.” I agreed to buy some as it was clear I would have this look for some time to come.
Giving myself a final look in the mirror without a cape on me I realized something. People were going to notice something quickly when they saw me. Of course, they’d notice short hair. But they were going to be seeing a lot of blue eyes and nice cheekbones that I had been hiding from public view all my life. Maybe that’s what Mike had been after all along?
I drove home. Half of me was driving and half of me was playing with what was left of my hair. Each time my hand reached my neck the goosebumps came back. I was really liking this look. And the feeling of the shortness of it was really starting to turn me on. Thank God it was only five miles to the house.
I walked into the house and went to Mike’s office. The time was 2:35. I was 25 minutes ahead of the deadline.
Mike looked up and a look of absolute shock and awe came over his face. I think he never expected me to get my hair cut in the time he had allocated. He jumped out of his chair and immediately embraced me like he hadn’t seen me in years. He then stepped back and looked again at me and my hair.
I don’t want to say adoration, but a look of awe came over his face. I could tell he liked it.
“You look fantastic. Better than I ever imagined. I guess I’m not getting a Jag anytime soon.”
With that he grabbed my hand and pulled me to our bedroom. Luckily, the kids were all out somewhere. We had one of, if not the best, times we had ever had up until then. His hands were all over my body. Not just my hair. But I could tell when he got there, he became really excited. “It feels like velvet. I love it.” I loved the reaction it was receiving from him too.
We finished in the bedroom and Mike went and closed the office door and he started cooking Sunday dinner. I went to my office and did some work of my own.
It’s been two years since that Sunday auction deadline haircut.
My hair is still short and sometimes even shorter than that day of the auction. I stop in and see Shelly every 4 weeks for a cut. Sometimes surprising myself at how short I’ll go.
Mike and I have never been better. I quickly came to love my short hair. It is way more versatile than I ever expected. I do indeed spike it up every so often to give it a different and wild look. It works wonders.
When I went to my office that fateful Sunday, there was still time left on the car auction website. I logged in and placed a bid on the Jag in Mike’s name. It was a winner.
I decided I could not deny Mike of a desire he’d had for so long. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
My short hair unknowingly became a convenient excuse to change things up. I just gave him two presents that day. And I believe I also gave myself a present as well. It seems that short hair turns me on too.
Mike was dead serious about keeping our deal. He was out of the bidding. It was only my placing a bid that got him the car. He has told me I could grow out my hair anytime I wanted. I just smile and say, “No way.”
Mike and our boys did indeed rebuild that Jag. We have taken it to car shows and it has received awards for how well Mike rebuilt it and how it presents itself to the crowd. We have also received offers to sell it. Big offers. It is not for sale.
O yes. Suzette is still walking around the car shows. She still has short hair. Mine is shorter. Is Mike still drooling when she walks by? No. Does he take the time to speak with her? Yes, but no more than any other passerby. Now he looks towards me, even while he’s speaking with her.
I am the center of his attention and that’s all I need.