My friends all tell me I’m crazy. I know they’re right—Junya is objectively speaking a beautiful, sexy, kind, and intelligent man and I’m lucky to be married to him. He’s too good for me, really. Even though he was made full professor this year, he is still hands-on with the baby and our older kids. He loves being a dad. I couldn’t possibly manage without him. He also looks cool as he rides to the university in the morning on his motorbike. The university is up in the mountains, after all, so it’s practical, but also sexy, especially with his leather jacket. The city of Kobe has the kind of leafy but urban elegant atmosphere that puts it in the same league as some of the most beautiful European cities—at least, in my book it does—so that it forms the perfect backdrop to Junya looking cool on his motorbike.
I feel like a freak for not being able to get into the mood with him ever since our youngest was born. At first I thought having a newborn had killed off my libido, but then I remembered still being interested after our older two were born. Let’s face it, I’m getting old and worn out. No, that’s not it, either. Now that I’m bringing up my third baby I know what I’m doing, and Junya is doing at least half of the work. I am not any more worn out than I was with my first baby.
I have a hard time admitting to anyone—including myself—that the real difference is in my waning attraction to Junya. When we were young graduate students, we were both poor, and neither could afford good clothes. The necks of Junya’s t-shirts were often stretched out, revealing quite a lot of his sternum, and there were unintentional holes in strategic places in his jeans. He was completely oblivious to how much skin he was accidentally showing.
Junya sometimes looked silly with his cheap haircuts, too. But there was something sexy about his wonky crewcuts. Now his long hair blows in the wind when he takes his helmet off. He spends a lot of time and effort on maintaining his glossy collarbone-length mane, since it’s his trademark. There are more girls studying under him than any of the other chemistry professors, and we both know that at least some of that is his looks. Simply put, my husband is hot.
And yet, his beauty did nothing for me anymore. Oh, I could appreciate it all right—the way I could appreciate a painting or a statue. I knew every inch of his body, which had not changed much since we were young and secretly making out in the lab storeroom. I have fond memories of deep-kissing in there, with one hand stroking the short hair at the back of his head while the other hand felt his bum. He has filled out a little bit, but I can still see his ribs and trace their outlines with my finger. I find a skinny, bony body on a man incredibly sexy.
It’s precisely because Junya is in academia and not a stuffed-shirt corporate job that he gets away with a bad boy look. I know he’s not actually a bad boy, but I’ve always enjoyed the illusion. That’s why I feel so bad that I’m never in the mood.
When we were younger seeing him naked would have been too much excitement for me. Now it’s part of daily life to see him shirtless and in nothing but his underwear when he gets out of the shower. I know that he’s frustrated with me for never being up to it, and that I’m incredibly lucky that so far he hasn’t resorted to seeking other pastures—at least, not that I know of. If he ever did, he would find no shortage of women throwing themselves at his feet. Even some of my friends have told me that they fantasize about running their hands through his long black hair.
One night, Junya came home with a package from the discount home electronics store. I felt bad that he looked so tired as he made dinner after a long day at the lab, but the post-partum blues really hit me hard this time. In fact, I felt guilty that he did as many of the household chores as he did. I couldn’t fault him for being quiet and possibly resentful toward me for not pulling my weight.
He did not open the package or say anything about it during dinner, but he did bring it into our bedroom that night. When he finally unwrapped his purchase, I saw that it was a set of clippers. Oh, right. Our son now had a proper head of hair to be managed, i.e. kept short, having outgrown the toddler stage. He was far too young to rock the sexy long-haired biker look of his dad.
To my surprise, Junya wrapped the cape from the set around himself. “I don’t have the time or energy to deal with all this long hair anymore, not if I’m teaching a full load, doing my own research, taking care of the kids, and doing my share of the housework. Please just cut my hair good and short. Never mind what it looks like, focus on practicality.”
I couldn’t tell if he was being passive aggressive or was serious, but I smiled. Junya had had short hair when I first met and fell in love with him, so I was not opposed to this. It was sweet of him to not even mention my lack of a libido. Really, that was not his fault at all. I wouldn’t have married him and had three children by him if I didn’t like him. The problem was me.
“Are you sure? I liked your hair short in the past, but what about your students? Won’t you miss your long hair?”
“No, I’m sure I want it cut short. I can always grow it back if need be. Look, I’m tired. Just get on with it.”
“If you say so. Which attachments should I use?”
“I don’t care.”
I couldn’t see his face since he had his back to me, but I could easily imagine his expression. He was annoyed with me, and I deserved it. On the other hand, it’s not every day that my hot husband gives me carte blanche to chop off all his long hair, so I was going to enjoy this opportunity.
I set him up in the bathroom, with newspapers on the floor for easy cleanup. The flimsy vinyl cape was transparent, so that I could see his bare torso through it. He was sitting on the bath stool in just his underwear. His legs looked thin enough to look good in skinny jeans but I knew they were actually quite muscular. That’s a given when you’re from a mountainous city. I always liked his compact but nicely-shaped bum. It’s a myth that Asian men don’t have sexy bodies.
I played with his hair for a while, gathering it up in my hands and twirling it around my finger. I wish my hair were this thick. Men’s thick hair also looks good when cropped short. I combed his side hair forward over his ears and secured the top with one of my hair ties. So far so good.
I snapped the number eight guard onto the clippers and turned them on. My hands must have been cold when I gathered his hair into a sort of ponytail at the base of his neck. Junya shivered ever so slightly when the clippers made contact with his nape and began their march upwards. It didn’t take long for the newspaper around him to acquire a deep layer of black clippings.
When I finished cropping the back, I shut off the clippers and stroked the short hair before planting a kiss at his nape, the way I used to do when we were young. Something awoke inside me at that moment and got stronger as I combed out the hair on his right side before I began clippering it off. I pulled his ear down and out to edge around it, positioning my face closer than necessary to see that I hadn’t missed any hairs. Junya still smelled of the same cheap detergent that he did when he was young and reliant on the laundromat. Of course, this is because I’m stingy and still get the same cut-rate brand, but I had forgotten how much I liked smelling it on him.
Next I moved on to his left side and repeated the process. Now his ears were completely exposed. Hey, I didn’t know he still had a little rhinestone stud in one ear. I remember being impressed by his courage in getting a piercing, even if it was just one hole in a conventional spot, because I was too scared to get my ears pierced at first, even though I had insisted that I wanted to. Junya got the one hole first just to show me that it wouldn’t hurt. I had no idea that he had kept it, because I couldn’t see his ears under all that long hair.
I removed the guard from the clippers and sawed through the base of the bun I had made at the top of his head, then put the number eight guard back on to buzz his crown. His crown hair showed no sign of thinning. Junya had won the genetic lottery.
I changed the guard on the clippers and began going over his back and sides again. There was something hypnotic and soothing about the repetitive hand movements and methodical path up and down his head, not to mention the soft hum of the machine. I used my comb to blend the transition to the top, then changed the attachment again and again as I repeatedly caressed his scalp with the clippers. When I exposed the bare skin at his nape I felt a thrill, as if I were watching a strip-tease. I enjoyed the intimacy of edging around his ears with the bare blade.
“All done.” I couldn’t help but drape myself around him from behind. When was the last time I had gotten this wet down below? It was hard to bring myself to disengage: as soon as I had removed the cape I threw my arms around his bare back again and started kissing his newly-exposed neck. I was surprised how much I wanted to explore every inch of Junya’s body all over again.
“Whoah there. Let me take a quick shower first to get the clippings off. I didn’t expect you to get all hot and bothered like this.” Junya had not spoken at all during the haircut.
I cleaned up while he was in the shower. Just the thought of him emerging dripping wet and naked was exciting. Why didn’t we think of this before? The kids were still young enough that I didn’t worry about their reactions. They would get used to seeing their dad with a crewcut.
When Junya came out, he didn’t bother putting on pajamas. He knew that I would be unwrapping his towel soon enough anyway. I wrapped my arms around him from the front and began stroking the still-damp hair at the back of his head. A quick rub with the towel was all it took to get it mostly dry now, since the towel was coming into direct contact with his scalp. I stroked his hair with one hand while the other hand wandered down his back until it settled on his bum. At this point he staggered backwards toward the bed and fell over onto it, with me still on top of him.
In the morning the kids did notice their dad’s new haircut, but adjusted to it in less than five minutes. Junya himself smiled as he secured his motorbike helmet. He looked even more badass to me than before. His short hair would be easy to manage, and I had promised to do more at home to reduce the burden on him. Even if his students wailed and lamented the loss of his long hair, he wouldn’t care—his wife had got her mojo back.