For as long as she had known Connor, Cierra had felt that there was something special about him to her. Even before she discovered boys in that way, she had never been able to get enough of looking at Connor. Now, as teenagers, she understood better her longings toward him.
Connor was the quietly handsome type. He wasn’t cocky or flashy, like the boys who were popular in high school, but had fine features whose balance and proportion were perfect, at least in Cierra’s eyes. She had spent many hours playing with him when they were kids and knew his kind, responsible, diligent nature well. Maybe someday, when they were done with school and had gotten started on their careers, Cierra could possibly marry him.
The one thing about Connor that Cierra didn’t like, however, was his hair. When he was younger he had wanted a nice crewcut, but his mother had said no, claiming that a super-short, grown-up style would sexualize her little boy too early. Now she probably wouldn’t object, since they were both nineteen and in school, but Connor had long since given up and fallen into a rut.
He still had the shaggy, grown-out version of the classic little-boy cut, making him look not unlike an emo kid, complete with black hair. Cierra longed to give him a good going over with her clippers as her haircut model for her Christmas break homework for cosmetology school.
He would look so much more handsome with a crewcut. Asian hair tended to be firm enough to stand up nicely even without product, as long as it was tapered properly. The contrast of black hair against white scalp in a skin fade was wonderful. Cierra found herself getting wet down below whenever she saw her teacher demonstrate a clippercut on a male model. It felt like watching a strip tease as the man’s hair was clippered off, exposing the shape of the skull and much of the scalp. She liked being able to see his cute ears, the strong jaws and neck, and above all having an unobstructed view of his face. Besides, having so little hair covering his head was almost like being able to see into his brain, the most attractive part of a man’s body.
Cierra’s cosmetology school was about a block away from Connor’s community college. It was fairly common to run into him during lunch if she went out, or in the evening when classes ended for the day.
“Oh, hi Cierra. How’s school?”
“Just counting the days until Christmas break. Except, I have some homework for break.”
“Homework? What kind of homework?”
“I need to cut somebody’s hair. The assignment is a short crewcut.” Cierra was hoping that Connor would volunteer to be the model.
“Oh, I see. That makes sense.”
“Dad is bald. I can’t give him a crewcut. I don’t have anybody in my family to be my model. I’m not sure what I’ll do.” Please, Connor, take the hint.
Connor gulped. Good, it’s occurred to him that he is the most logical choice. It wasn’t possible that he was attached to his silly shaggy mop. After all, he wasn’t the type of boy to care deeply about his hair, since he wasn’t actually an emo kid, and wasn’t into manga or Asian boy bands. Connor himself had wanted a crewcut when they were younger.
“You want to cut my hair. I’m not sure what my mom would say.”
“Oh come on, you’re more than old enough to get a proper grown man’s haircut. You’re in college now. I don’t see how your mom can complain. Besides, your hair now is much longer than the style she preferred.”
Finally Connor relented. Then he smiled. It was just as Cierra had suspected. He still had some latent desire for a proper crewcut, but had buried it deep inside as an impossibility.
“Let me know your schedule and I can reserve a work station in the barbering room at school. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you’re helping me out like this.”
The day of Connor’s scheduled shearing, both Cierra and Connor came early to their meeting place and Cierra led him through her school compound to the practicum classroom where she would be cutting off his hair.
Once Connor was seated in the reserved chair, Cierra began to run her fingers through his hair, partly to assess texture but mostly due to the sheer joy of the moment. When she finished playing with his hair, she caped him and inserted a tissue into the neck of the cape in the back before picking up scissors and a comb.
“I thought barbers always wet hair before cutting.”
“That’s if they’re doing a scissor cut. Wet hair is bad for clipper blades, so I’m keeping your hair dry, at least at first.”
Cierra began by combing Connor’s side hair forward, Sassoon-style. She would start at the back. Then she inserted the comb at the nape and began snipping as she moved the comb upwards. “I’m just taking off the length first.” Cierra said more to herself as confirmation that she was doing it right than to Connor.
Next she parted his hair on top and began slicing off the long hair on the left side. She smiled as she snipped up and over around the ear. After parting his hair again on the other side, she repeated the process on the right side.
Finally, the top. Cierra used her fingers to prop up the long top hair to snip off, then inserted the comb once she had gotten the length down to a manageable level.
“Now for the fun part.” Cierra put down the scissors and fired up the clippers. These weren’t the fancy ones that she dreamed of owning, maybe when she was a full-fledged stylist, but they were serviceable. “Chin down.” A shiver ran up Connor’s spine as Cierra placed her hand on his crown to guide the clippers upward.
Cierra enjoyed replacing the guard on the clippers several times as she created the fade. Even though Connor was her first live model, she was able to blend the gradation much better than she had initially feared. Her worst fear had been botching this crewcut, which she had dreamed of giving to Connor for years, but so far she was doing reasonably well.
Cierra focused as she shaped the top and the very front, moving in front of Connor to get a good look at her work. Once she was satisfied, she blew off the cuttings with the dryer and kicked the mountain of black hair on the floor with her shoe to get it out of the way. All that was left now was the edging clippers.
Cierra wasn’t really a fan of the high-pitched whine of the edging clippers, but tracing the line up and over around the ear was one of her favorite parts of a haircut. She would square off the nape to go with the squareness of the crewcut.
“There, all done.” Cierra checked the footage she had shot of the cut. This was what she was going to turn in as homework, along with still photos of Connor’s new crewcut from every angle.
“I hope I was helpful to you. Now that I see myself with this cut that I wanted all those years ago, I can see that I was right—it works well on me.” Connor turned his face upwards as Cierra unfastened the neck of the cape. She leaned down and gave him a quick peck on the lips.
“You’ve been an absolute joy. I hope I get to do this again.” For the rest of my life, she added to herself. She could have sworn that Connor winked at her reflection in the mirror.