Cropping Abby

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Cropping Abby
I watch my lovely wife climb up into the large chair and slide into a seat wide enough to hold two of her. The woman barber pulls her dark hair to the side and winds a strip of white tissue around her elegant neck. She looks up and smiles at me as the barber tosses a striped cape over her shoulders. I know she’s trying to project an air of quiet confidence, as if her impending haircut were nothing out of the ordinary, but the nervous tapping of her sandaled foot indicates a different story.
Today my beloved wife, Abigail Crawford Martin, known to one and all as Abby, will have her long hair chopped off in this unisex barber shop. She’s doing this to satisfy my longstanding desire to see her true beauty revealed thanks to a seriously short haircut.
As the barber fiddles with the tools of her trade, Abby mouths the words, “I love you,” to me.
I’m getting hard, and she knows it. I wonder if she is feeling the same arousal.

Because Abby and I seem like an unlikely couple, friends often ask how we met. I’m twelve years older than my wife. She teaches Sunday school at the Baptist church in town; I’m a confirmed agnostic when it comes to religion. Abby is an unaffected small-town girl, while I’ve been called a city slicker. Her car radio is permanently set to a country music station; mine plays jazz only. If an invitation for a Republican fund raiser comes in the mail, it’s for Abby. My political contributions go only to Democrats. Despite our many differences, somehow our marriage works. Like most couples, we sometimes argue, but we never go to bed angry.
You might say our romance began over a cup of coffee. It was a Monday in early September, a week after Labor Day. I was running late when I dashed into Starbucks for my first latte of the day. The take-out line was long and moving slower than usual thanks to the newly hired barista behind the counter. She looked like a high school student, but I knew that Starbucks hired no one under eighteen, so she had to be a coed from nearby Michigan State University, probably a first-year student.
I watched as she struggled to fill the unfamiliar orders, fascinated by her undeniable good looks and eager-to-please smile. She had a nicely proportioned oval face, a flawless olive complexion, a cute rosebud mouth, and luminous brown eyes accentuated by gracefully arched eyebrows. But her most compelling feature—the one that riveted my attention—was her thick raven hair. That morning she wore it pulled off her face and hanging loose halfway down her back. The luscious long bangs that she occasionally brushed out of her eyes were another compelling feature. Nature didn’t endow this attractive young woman with the height or slender elegance of a high fashion model, but I found her wholesome, girl-next-door looks extremely appealing. You could say I was instantly smitten.
I saw “Abby” imprinted on her nametag. When my turn finally came, I extended a friendly greeting. “Good morning, Abby. Having a rough first day?”
She seemed surprised that I knew her name, but politely answered my question. “Yeah, I guess you could say that,” she answered guardedly.
“Don’t sweat it,” I advised. “Keep your head and you’ll be a pro within a week.” I wanted her to remember me and was confident she would not forget our brief exchange.
I looked for Abby the next day, but she wasn’t there. “She probably has classes and works only two or three days a week,” I thought. It wasn’t until Friday morning that I saw her again. This time I asked, “How’s it going, Abby? You a pro yet?”
She recognized me, flashed a big grin, and answered, “Not yet, but I’m getting there.”
“The first day is always the hardest. Keep your cool and keep smiling, that’s my motto.”
When I returned the following Monday she spoke first. “Well, if it isn’t Mr. Cool checking in for his morning latte. It’s not fair that you know my name but I don’t know yours.”
“I’m Graham, Graham Martin. You remind me of myself working my way through college.”
“Did you work at Starbucks, Graham?”
“No, much worse. I flipped burgers at McDonald’s. Still have the scars to prove it.”
“Yeah, I guess that would be worse,” she agreed.
A week later, I stopped for a coffee on Saturday hoping I would once again find her behind the counter. She was. I asked if I could give her a ride home when her shift ended.
“Why do you think I need a ride?” she inquired suspiciously.
“Simple deduction, my dear Watson,” I answered. “Most likely you’re a MSU student, and you are three miles from campus. First year students aren’t allowed to keep cars on campus. I’m 95% certain you took a bus here this morning.”
“My goodness, you’re a regular Sherlock Holmes, aren’t you,” she replied with a touch of sarcasm.
“You haven’t answered my question, Abby. Can I give you a ride?”
“My answer is yes, I would love a ride home. It’s a very long walk and I have to wait thirty minutes for a bus. My shift ends at three. Don’t be late.”
I loved the way Abby wasn’t intimidated by a man many years older than she was. She treated me like a peer, not an older businessman. I was between girlfriends at the time, something that used to happen with some regularity. I guessed there was a decent chance that I might strike up a relationship with Abby.
I returned to Starbucks at five minutes to three that afternoon and waited in the parking lot with the top down on my year-old bright red Miata. Abby came out the door, looking around with a frown distorting her pretty face. Then she spotted me, waved, and trotted over to the car. “I was afraid you stood me up,” she began.
“I’d never do that. I’m a man of my word.”
“My mother warned me about men who drive convertibles, especially red ones,” she teased as she slid into the bucket seat next to me.
“Why would she do that?”
“She believes that fast women are attracted to men who drive fast cars. People might see me riding with you and think I’m easy. You know what I mean?”
“Still, you got into the car with me despite your mother’s warning,” I observed.
“You should know that Mama is wrong more often than she’s right. I’ll take my chances, but you need to obey the speed limit. Not one mile faster than to posted limit, mister. You’re on probation.”
“For how long?”
“Until I say you’re not. Drive, Mr. Miata.”
This spunky young woman really impressed me. She may have been unsophisticated, but she had a keen sense of humor and didn’t seem the least bit apprehensive about being seen with an older man. I had dated many women since graduating from MSU ten years earlier, but never really connected with any of them. With Abby I sensed that things might be different.
Before dropping her at the dorm, we made a date for the following Saturday. I had no idea what we were going to do or where I might take her, but I wanted to make our first date a truly memorable occasion. My only clue was her decided preference for country music. The first thing she did after entering my car was tune the radio to a country station. “If you want me to ride in your Miata, you gotta play my kind of music,” she scolded when I complained.
I searched the Internet looking for country music shows in the Lansing vicinity. I had almost given up when I discovered that Brad Paisley was playing in concert at Caesar’s Casino in Windsor, Ontario, across the river from Detroit, ninety miles away. Although I couldn’t name a single song he sang, I knew he was a real big name in country music. I gambled that he was one of Abby’s favorites. The tickets up front were pricey, a good bit more than I would normally pay for a first date, but if Abby was impressed it would be well worth the cost.
When I picked her up Saturday afternoon, Abby wanted to know our destination. “We’re going for a little ride, darlin’,” I told her.
“My hair’s gonna be a mess if you don’t put the top up, Graham.”
“Don’t want to mess up your lovely hair, darlin’. You’ll find a scarf in the glove box.”
After she secured the scarf around her head, she started up again. “What’s with this darlin’ business anyway? You make us sound like an old married couple.”
“You want me to call you something else? How about honey? Sweetie? Sugar pie?”
“Knock it off, Graham. If you want to call me something other than Abby, you can call me Jasmine.”
“Why Jasmine? That’s a strange name.”
“Jasmine is a beautiful flower with a lovely fragrance. It’s kind of exotic. If I ever have a girl child I’m gonna give her that name.”
“Okay if I call you Jazz then?”
“Yeah, sure. That’s kinda cool. I like it.”
“So if you like the name, why are you frowning?”
“I’m trying to think of a cool name for you. Graham sounds awfully stuffy and proper, like a character from Downton Abby.”
“My high school buddies called me G-Man,” I offered.
“Nah, you don’t seem like the law and order type. How about Gorgeous George?”
“He was a pro wrestler back in my father’s day.”
“Well, you are a gorgeous man. That’s what I’ll call you until a better name comes along.”
We’d been on the road for more than an hour and were approaching the outer suburbs of Detroit. I could see Abby was growing restless. “You still haven’t told me where we’re going, Gorgeous. I hope it’s close ‘cuz I gotta pee,” Abby whined.
“Not too much farther, Jazz. Just a few more miles. Keep your legs crossed.”
When she saw the Ambassador Bridge looming ahead of us with maple leaf flags flying, Abby recognized where we were. “Graham, you should have told me we were going to Canada. I don’t have a passport.”
“Relax, Jazz. All you need is a driver’s license.”
As we neared the hotel that towered over the casino complex near the Detroit River, Abby grew more excited. “What is this place, Gorgeous? I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“It’s Caesar’s Casino, Jazz. We’re going to a concert here.”
“Oh my gosh. I saw a sign for Brad Paisley. We’re not going to see Brad Paisley are we?” Her excitement was unmistakable.
“I sure hope so. We didn’t drive all this way to play the slot machines.”
“This is terrible,” she cried.
That was not the reaction I had hoped for. “What’s the matter, Jazz?” I asked.
“Look at me,” she cried. “I’m wearing these old blue jeans. My hair’s a mess from riding in your convertible. I can’t see Brad Paisley looking like this.”
“Calm down, babe. Every problem has a solution. I’m sure we can fix this one.”
While I stood in line to check us into the room I’d reserved, Abby prowled the shops located off the hotel lobby. She returned a few minutes later highly distressed. “There’s nothing here, Graham. None of these shops sell dresses. I can’t go looking like this.”
“I saw the concierge’s desk as we came in. We can ask there.”
“What’s a concierge?” she asked.
“That’s a person who works for the hotel who helps guests find what they need.”
We located the concierge who directed us to a shopping mall a few miles away. There Abby found a little black dress that revealed her shapely legs. “That’s just the ticket,” I declared. The salesgirl clipped off the tags and Abby happily carried the dress out the door together with the pair of black heels and nylon stockings I insisted she needed.
“I didn’t know we were going to spend the night,” my date coolly informed me after we checked into our room.
“We don’t need to spend the night. We can drive back to Lansing after the concert if you wish, but you’re gonna need a place to change and freshen up.”
“You’re so extravagant, Gorgeous. Paying for a room you may only use for an hour or two,” she observed.
“It’s important that you look your best tonight. It’s the least I can do.”
“You’re also very thoughtful. I like that in a man,” she said. “But if you think I’m going to sleep with you tonight you’re badly mistaken.”
“Jazz, I hope you noticed—this room has two beds—one for you, one for me.”
“Yes, I saw that. So tonight you’re going to show me whether you are a true gentleman or just another horny guy.”
“Guess I’m still on probation.”
“You got that right, mister.”
With thirty minutes remaining before the concert began, Abby was still in the bathroom struggling to tame her unruly locks. “I can’t do a thing with my hair,” she wailed.
“Don’t panic, Jazz. Just remember, there’s a solution to every problem,” I repeated.
I called down to the front desk. “Can you send one of the stylists from the salon up to room 1112?” I asked.
“You can relax, honey. Help is on the way.”
Five minutes later a pert young hair dresser named Pamela arrived at our room. She took Abby by the hand and escorted her into the bathroom. Fifteen minutes later, my date emerged with every hair in place. She looked dazzling in her sexy new dress and expertly applied makeup. But it was her hair that captured my attention. It shone like it never had before. In the back it hung past her bra strap. Her bangs provocatively merged with her eyebrows. She bore only a vague resemblance to the perky barista I met at Starbucks two weeks earlier.
“Wow! You look fantastic, Jazz!” I exclaimed.
“I owe it all to you and to Pamela who rescued me from a hair catastrophe. Be sure to give her a good tip, Graham,” she told me.
“Already done, mam,” the beautician acknowledged as she walked out to door.
After Pamela departed, I said, “Turn around, Jazz. Let me see the back.”
Abby complied. “I’ve never seen your hair look so beautiful.” It was the truth. She was dazzling.
“I wish I had Pamela’s services every day,” Abby declared. “My life would be so much easier. This long hair can really be a pain sometimes.”
Have you ever thought about cutting your hair?” I casually inquired, thinking this might be a good moment to plant the seed. What I didn’t dare tell her is that I have a strong preference for short-haired women. I’ve dated lots of women with long hair, but I always try to persuade them to cut it short. Sometimes it works; usually it doesn’t, and before long I stop dating them. Maybe that’s why I stayed single so long.
“Of course, I have,” Abby replied. “Just about every morning when I wake up. Good thing there wasn’t a pair of scissors handy fifteen minutes ago or I might have done it here,” she remarked. “I suppose every woman with long hair thinks about cutting her hair at times like this, but then that thought goes away. Honestly, I prefer long hair. It’s kind of a religious thing with me.”
“I don’t understand. I know Pentecostal women have to keep their hair long, but you’re a Baptist, aren’t you?” I asked.
“Yes, I am. We really don’t have time to go into it right now, but when I look around in church, I see that all the younger women have long hair, as long as mine or longer. Plenty of older married women have short hairstyles and no one says a word. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable there with my hair cut short. Maybe one day when I’m married I’ll think about cutting my hair, but not now.”
That pretty much shut me up on the topic of short hair, but it didn’t stop me from thinking about it. Every time I see an attractive woman, especially one with dark hair like Abby’s, wearing a very short hairstyle I get aroused. Short hair on women has always been a turn-on for me, and spending time with Abby only strengthened my desire to one day see her with her long hair cut short.

Taking Abby to the Brad Paisley concert was a stroke of genius. one of the best decisions I ever made. She loved every minute of his music, singing along with most of the tunes. I had a great time watching my date thoroughly enjoying herself.
As we filed out of the hall with the rest of the audience, she thanked me. “This is the best concert I’ve ever been to by far! Thank you so much for bringing me here, Gorgeous,” she enthused. We held hands taking the elevator up to our eleventh floor room, but slept in separate beds, just as I had promised. However, that didn’t stop me from plotting the next steps in our relationship. I vowed she would be my wife one day.
We left early the next morning for the drive back to Lansing. Abby didn’t want to miss her Sunday school class. All the way back she sang songs we heard at the concert. She had a lovely voice. “That’s why I’m a music major,” she said when I complimented her. “I love to sing and I’ve been playing piano since I was five.”
“Are you going to be a performer?”
“Nope, I’ve got no desire to be a star. My voice is not that great. I want to become a high school music teacher. That would be my dream job.”
When we pulled up in front of her dormitory, she suddenly grew serious. “I had a really great time, Graham. And you were a perfect gentleman. Do you want to be my boyfriend?”
That question, dropped so casually into our conversation, took me completely by surprise. “I beg your pardon?”
“I think you heard me. Do you want to be my boyfriend?” she repeated.
“Yeah, sure, of course I do,” I stammered. “But isn’t this kind of sudden? We’ve only gone on one real date.”
“That’s true, but I like you and I think you like me, so why not be boyfriend and girlfriend?”
“Explain for me, just what does it mean if we’re boyfriend and girlfriend?”
“It means you and I would get to know each other better. It means we will see each other on a regular basis, spend time together, and most of all it means we don’t date other people.”
“Does it bother you that I don’t go to church?”
“Yeah, it bothers me some. It would be great if we went to church together, Gorgeous, but nobody’s perfect. I’m willing to overlook your lack of religion if you can overlook my faults.”
“You have faults?” I joked. “I hadn’t noticed.”
“Seriously, Graham? If you haven’t noticed them already, you will. Perhaps you’re too much of a gentleman to point them out. Anyhow, right now I must get ready for church. My ride will be here in half an hour. Thank you so much for taking me to see Brad. It was a wonderful evening.” She bent over to kiss me and then skipped up the walk to her dorm, carrying her new dress draped over one arm and the new shoes in the opposite hand.

Abby and I did something together almost every weekend for the rest of the semester. Sometimes it was going to see a movie or eating dinner at an expensive restaurant. Other times it was a simple stroll in the MSU Botanical Garden. One beautiful Sunday afternoon in mid-October we spotted a wedding in progress in the garden and watched the ceremony from a respectful distance as the couple exchanged vows. “This spot is just perfect. This is where we should get married,” she coolly informed me.
Once again, I was flabbergasted. We’d been dating for only six weeks and already she was talking about marriage. “Whoa, wait a minute there, Jazz. Don’t you think you’re rushing things a bit?”
“Maybe I am. Years ago my mother accused me of being impetuous. I had to look up the word in the dictionary. I found it means making decisions quickly. Some people think that’s a bad thing, but I don’t. This is a wonderful place for a wedding, don’t you think?”
“Yes, of course it is, Jazz. But you’re talking about us getting married when you’ve only known me for six weeks. Don’t you think we should take our time?”
“What’s the matter, Gorgeous?” she teased. “You got another girlfriend I don’t know about?”
“No, of course not,” I protested, “but why so soon?”
Suddenly Abby turned serious. “Because I don’t want to be a sinner,” she solemnly declared.
“I don’t get it, Abby. Haven’t I been a perfect gentleman?”
“I’m not worried about you, Graham. I’m worried about me. That night in the hotel in Canada, I woke up about five AM and nearly crawled into bed with you. You looked so adorable. I felt this powerful desire to make love with you. I had to take a shower to cool off.”
Then it was my turn. “I understand you don’t believe in sex before marriage, and I respect that, but you said your parents expect you to finish college. I’m sure that means a lot to them.”
“Oh, I’m gonna graduate from college. You better believe that, mister, but there’s no law that says you can’t be a married woman and a college student at the same time.”
“I guess this means I’m not on probation any longer,” I joked, trying to inject some levity to a conversation that had suddenly grown very serious.
“Mister, you were off probation the night of the concert,” she laughed.
At my insistence, Abby agreed to postpone any further discussion of marriage until after she introduced me to her parents at the end of the semester. In the meantime, we continued our courtship.
I was fascinated by the variety of ways Abby wore her hair. Sometimes she pulled her thick dark locks into a high pony tail; other times she gathered them at the base of her neck. She seemed to have an endless variety of braiding techniques. But I liked her hair best when she let her raven mane flow freely over her shoulders and down her back.
One Sunday evening in November she was studying for an important music theory exam at my apartment. After an hour of intense concentration, she put down her notes and snuggled next to me on the couch. “Study break,” she announced as she eased the John Grisham novel I was reading out of my hands. Soon we were making out. I caressed her hair and whispered how much I loved her. When we came up for air, Abby drew away and reached down to fondle my throbbing cock. “My poor, poor darling,” she cooed sympathetically. “It feels like you’re about ready to explode.”
I didn’t want to spoil my chances for marital happiness by forcing her into an act she would regret later. “I hope I can wait until we’re married,” I panted.
“Why do you think I started talking about our wedding? Guys aren’t the only ones who can’t wait to have sex. The only reason girls don’t go in for one-night stands is because the consequences for us can be permanent.”
“You’re talking about babies, aren’t you?” I questioned.
“Of course, Einstein,” she said as she playfully smacked me aside of my head.
“So how do you feel about babies?” I asked.
“I love babies. I want babies. Three or four of them, at least. A houseful.”
“And how are we going to support this brood?”
“You’re gonna work real hard,” she informed me with a smile. “Me too. But it will be fun raising a bunch of Graham crackers.”
“I hope they have your looks,” I replied.
“And your brains,” she added.
After a long pause she grinned playfully “In the meantime, I think I ought to relieve your distress.”
Abby reached down and unzipped my fly, then released my fully erect cock from my boxers. It only took a couple of gentle strokes from her soft hand to trigger a massive discharge of cum all over the front of her sweatshirt.
I sat speechless in stunned surprise. I never expected such an open sexual display from this Baptist Sunday School teacher.
“If it’s not too much trouble, Gorgeous, I’d like to borrow one of your shirts to wear home,” she smirked.

One evening in December, not long after that conversation, Abby was over at my apartment browsing through my bookshelf. She pulled a folder out from between a couple of novels and started looking at the photos I had stashed inside. “Graham, what are these?” she asked with a note of alarm in her voice.
“Those are private. Give them to me,” I cried.
Abby turned away to prevent me from snatching the photos out of her hand. “These are gross, Graham. All the women in these pictures have almost no hair. What are you doing with them?”
“I collect them,” I reluctantly admitted.
“What in the world for?” she continued.
“I find them interesting.”
“Interesting in what way?”
After a long, painful pause I answered truthfully. “Sexually,” I admitted.
“That’s so gross. So that’s why you keep asking about my hair. I thought you loved my hair, but you probably are thinking about cutting it all off, shaving me bald. That’s so messed up.”
“Abby, I would never do anything to hurt you. I wouldn’t cut a hair on your head without your permission,” I declared with all the sincerity I could muster.
“Graham, these pictures hurt me. Knowing that you want to make me look like these women pains me a lot. I don’t want to be around you. I’m going home now.”
“Let me drive you,” I pleaded.
“I’m going to walk. I don’t want you around me,” she sobbed as she stormed out the door.

I waited until Friday before calling Abby. I hoped that would give her time to cool down after our first lovers’ quarrel. “Abby, we need to talk,” I said as soon as she answered the phone.
“Yes, we do. I’ve missed you so much, Graham. Can you come over right now?”
We met in the lobby of her dorm within fifteen minutes. She wrapped her arms around my neck as we shared a tearful embrace.
“Dear Jazz, I will never again mention cutting your hair as long as we’re together,” I promised.
“You don’t have to do that, gorgeous one. I forgive you. I hope you can forgive me for overreacting.”
Abby and I had a long heart-to-heart talk that evening. It was truth telling time. I confessed that her long hair was one of the things that initially attracted me. “Isn’t enticing men one of the reasons you women spend so much time on your hair?” I asked.
“Yeah, I suppose it is,” she reluctantly admitted. “That’s probably why I reacted so strongly when you confessed that you wanted to see me with my hair cut short. If I cut my hair as short as the women in those photos I feared that I wouldn’t be desired by any male, especially you.”
“Jazz, you have to understand, I think women with short haircuts are incredibly sexy, and lots of other men feel the same way.”
Abby offered a thoughtful response. “Intellectually, I get what you’re saying, but I can’t ignore my gut reaction to any mention of cutting my hair. Maybe someday I’ll get over it, but you’ve got to agree not force me to do something against my will.”
“Sure, I can do that as long as you promise not to make a big deal about my strong preference for short hair. There may be times when I admire a short-haired woman or replay a hair cutting scene in a video. Don’t make fun of me because of that. It’s just the way I’m wired.”
Abby paused for a long moment, apparently thinking how to respond to my request. Finally, she said, “I think discussing differences like these is what makes relationships work; what keeps couples together. And I want us to be together for a long, long time.”
“Me too. I heartily agree.”
Abby and I grew closer than ever after that incident.

After her semester exams were done, I drove Abby home to Bad Axe, a small town near the tip of the Thumb region of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. It was a three hour drive so we had plenty of time to talk. I confided my fear that her parents wouldn’t like me. “They’ll probably think I’m too old for you, too worldly. I know if I were your father, I’d be very jealous of any man who got too familiar with my lovely daughter.”
“Don’t judge my father before you meet him,” Abby advised. “I know he’s just a small-town letter carrier, but he loves me very much and wants nothing more than to see me happy. It’s my mom you’ve got to watch out for.”
Abby was right. My visit with her parents went much better than I expected. Andy Crawford was an outgoing, friendly guy who offered to take me ice fishing on Saginaw Bay when the lake froze over, an offer I gracefully declined. But it was her mother who really interested me. Sophia Crawford had thick dark hair just like her daughter and spoke with a distinct accent. She was Italian, which surprised me. “I met Abby’s mother when I was overseas in the service,” her father explained. “I could speak only a few words of her language and she knew about as much English, but somehow we communicated. We’ve been married nearly thirty years now and I still say meeting Sophia was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“That’s the way I feel about meeting Abby,” I confessed. “That’s why I drove her home. I want to marry your daughter and we’d like to have your blessing.”
“That’s fine with me,” he smiled. “You’re a lucky man. Our daughter’s told us how much she loves you and how you’ve behaved like a perfect gentleman. She’s got a strong sense of right and wrong and has always made good choices. I can’t take credit. Sophia mostly raised her. You’ll need to get her approval. If she says you’re all right, that’s good enough for me, Graham.”
When Abby and I sat down with her mother it was a much different conversation. “Abby, don’t you think you’re too young to marry?” she began.
“I’m the same age you were when you got married, Mama.”
“Yes, but I wasn’t a college student. I didn’t want to graduate and be a school teacher,” she pointed out.
“I can still do those things as a married woman, Mama.”
“Abby, you’ve only known Graham for four months. You should wait ’til you know each other better. Take your time.”
“Mama, you don’t want your grandchildren to be bastards, do you?”
A shocked expression registered on her mother’s face. “Abigail, you’re not pregnant, are you?”
“No, of course not, Ma, but I want to be. Graham and I want to have children, a whole houseful.”
“But what about your education? Your career?”
“A woman can do both these days, Mama. We want your blessing.”
“Abigail, you’ve always been a stubborn child. I guess you get that from me. But I only want what’s best for my only daughter. I think you two should wait until you’ve known each other for a year. If you still feel the same way in September you can have my blessing.”
That night I slept on the couch in the Crawfords’ living room. When I got ready to leave the next morning, Abby walked me to my car. “I see that my dad really likes you. That’s a good sign.”
“But what about your mother?” I asked.
“She doesn’t make snap judgments. It usually takes her a while to make up her mind. I’m going to work on her. She’ll come around, you’ll see.”
“I’m going to shop for your Christmas present when I get back to Lansing. Is there anything you need?”
“I don’t want something I need. Surprise me with something unexpected, something I wouldn’t get for myself.”
“Is this a test?” I asked.
“Yes, I suppose it is. Your gift will tell me how well you understand me.”
“That’s putting a lot of pressure on me,” I complained.
“I bet you’re equal to the challenge,” she said with an impish smile.
I was stumped. Most girls would go for jewelry, a pair of diamond earrings, perhaps, or a 14-karat gold bracelet, but not Abby. Concert tickets wouldn’t work either, I’d already played that card. So what could I do?

Two days before the start of the new semester, I greeted Abby as she stepped off the bus from Bad Axe. “I missed you, Jazz,” I said as we embraced.
“And I missed you too, Gorgeous. Here I brought you a present,” she said as she handed me a beautifully wrapped gift box.
“Can I open it now?”
“No, you’ve gotta wait ’til we’re alone together.”
“Hmmm. I’m very interested.”
When we were back in my apartment, I gave Abby the Christmas gift I had selected. “You go first,” I insisted.
Abby didn’t hesitate; she ripped off the wrapping paper and opened the jeweler’s box. It took a moment before she realized the silver object she held in her hand was a hair clip engraved with musical notes. “Oh Graham, it’s lovely,” she exclaimed. “Does this mean you want me to keep my hair long?” she inquired.
“No. It means that as long as you keep your hair long, I want you to show it off—let everyone see how beautiful my fiancé is.” She agreed and taught me how to fasten the clip in her hair.
“Now it’s your turn,” she eagerly declared as she thrust her box into my hands. Inside I discovered a smaller box and a handwritten note. “It’s from Mama. You’ve got to read it before you open the other box.”
I slid the note out of its envelope and read aloud: “Dear Graham, My daughter and I talked several times after you went back to Lansing. She convinced me that she truly loves you. Abigail may be impulsive at times, but she has always made good decisions and I trust her judgment. I don’t want to deny you two the happiness her father and I have known. My parents didn’t want me to marry Andy, so we eloped. I know my mother always regretted not being able to be preset at her daughter’s wedding. That’s why you have my permission to marry Abigail. I wish you both much happiness. Love, Sophia.”
“Abby, that’s wonderful!” I shouted. “I should have known you’d be able to persuade her.”
“Now open the small package, she ordered. “It’s from me and Mama.”
I opened the box and found a simple gold ring with a small diamond setting. “It’s Mama’s engagement ring,” Abby explained. “She gained weight when she was pregnant with me and couldn’t wear it any longer so Dad bought her a new one. She had this one sized to fit my finger.”
“I had planned on buying a bigger diamond,” I said, “but I appreciate your mother’s gesture.” I went down on one knee in the traditional proposal posture and solemnly intoned, “Abigail Crawford, will you do me the great honor of consenting to be my wife.”
“I will, Graham. I will,” Abby said with tears rolling down her cheeks.
Then she surprised me with a second gift-wrapped package.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“A little something extra,” she smiled.
“No fair. I only had one gift for you,” I protested.
“Don’t call it a gift. Call it a promise,” she said. “Go ahead. Open it.”
I was puzzled, but did as she told me.
The box was filled with clippings of dark hair that could only have come from Abby’s head. I had noticed that her hair was about two inches shorter, the result of one of her semi-annual trims I concluded. These had to be the remnants of that haircut, but I could not decipher the meaning of this gesture.
I stared at her, waiting for an explanation. Finally, I asked, “What’s the meaning of this, Abby? You said something about a promise.”
“This is my promise to you, Gorgeous. After we are married, and after the birth of our first child, I will get my hair cut short, as short as you like. But until that day, you cannot say one more word about me getting a short haircut.”
I stood there flabbergasted, amazed at the words my dear Abby had just uttered.
After a long silence, Abby spoke up. “Well, what do you say, Graham? Do you agree?”
“Yes, of course,” I mumbled. “This is such an unexpected gift I don’t know what to say.”
“Just tell me that you’ll love me whether I have long hair or short.”
“I do. I love you so much, Jazz. I feel like I’m going to burst.”
That night we made love for the first time. “You gotta wear a condom, Graham,” she insisted. “No way I’m going to be pregnant on my wedding day.” I never asked Abby, but I supposed now that we were officially engaged, we were as good as married in her eyes and the ban on premarital sex no longer applied.

On the first Saturday of October, Abby and I were married in the MSU Botanical Garden just as Abby had predicted. My bride was radiant in a sleek white sheath, with her dark hair braided and arranged atop her head. It was decorated with a spray of baby’s breath. As her father presented his daughter to me he said, “I’ve always wanted a son. Welcome to the family, Graham.”
Since my income was sufficient to support both of us, Abby quit her job at Starbucks. By taking one extra course each semester and going to summer school, she figured she could graduate in three years instead of four. She did her student teaching in her third year at a Lansing public school and loved the work. As graduation approached, she sent her resume out to school districts across the state. Job openings for music teachers were scarce, she informed me. Unlike other teaching positions, most music teachers loved their work and seldom retired early.
I thought it was time we started looking for a home. “Let’s wait until I hear about a job for next year,” Abby cautioned. “I hope I get hired in a school district near Lansing, but if I get an offer from another part of the state, I may have to accept.”
“I understand, Jazz. If you do take a job near another large city I can look into transferring. My firm has several other Michigan offices.”
That’s the way it stood until the first week of June when Abby received an offer to teach music and direct the chorus at Mason High School, just ten miles from Lansing. “It’s a nice small town with a strong music program in the schools,” she explained.
“Sounds perfect. You should accept,” I counseled.
“I already did,” she said with a smile. “I knew you’d want me to.”
Abby spent the weeks before the start of school preparing for her new responsibilities. This included a shopping trip to Eastgate Mall near Detroit to upgrade her wardrobe. She returned home with two suits, two pairs of shoes, blouses in assorted shades plus miscellaneous accessories and undergarments. Later that evening she modeled her purchases—everything except the undergarments—for me. She concluded the session with her usual question, “Well, what d’ya think, Gorgeous?”
“You look very professional, Jazz. But if the purpose of these clothes is to distinguish you from your students, you gotta do something about your hair.”
“Yeah, I know,” she sighed. I kinda let it go over the summer. That’s why I made an appointment with the Jean Paul salon for Friday afternoon. I thought maybe we could go out for dinner afterwards.”
I didn’t recognize the name of the salon, but it sounded expensive. I hoped maybe someone there might be able to talk Abby into getting her hair cut shorter. “Sounds like a great idea,” I told her. “It could be our own private celebration.”
“Don’t go getting your hopes up, mister. I know how your mind works. I’m not gonna let them talk me into a short haircut. That will not happen until the birth of our first child.”
I dropped Abby off at the salon around five. “I’ll give you a call when I’m done, sweetheart,” she said as she exited my trusty Miata. I knew she was feeling good about this appointment because she never called me sweetheart unless she was in an especially good mood. That was surprising. Usually she was nervous going into a hair appointment.
She called around six-thirty. “I’m ready. Come get me,” she practically sang into the phone. She sounded happy and excited. I wondered what was up.
Abby was standing in front of the shop when I pulled up to the curb. I checked out her hair, but from that distance it didn’t look that much different. Her bangs were an inch shorter, but that always happened when she got her hair trimmed. Guess I was secretly hoping for a dramatic makeover.
She hopped into the front seat as cheerful as I’d ever seen her. “Hi sweetheart. Tell me what you think,” she cooed.
“What I can see looks nice, but you gotta turn around so I can see the back,” I told her.
She twisted half way around so I could inspect the longer hair that hung down her back. It was a good bit shorter, maybe three or four inches had been amputated, but not nearly as much as I had hoped for. However, I did notice another change. “It looks smoother, not so unruly,” I observed.
“That’s because Marie, she’s my stylist, cut some layers into my hair. That makes it lay better.”
“I like the way it looks,” I said.
“Thought you would. But there’s something else. Close your eyes please.”
“Why do I need to do that?” I protested.
“Because I said so. Just do it, Graham,” she ordered.
I did as she said. After a moment, I heard, “Okay. Now you can look.”
Abby was still sitting with her back to me, but this time she had gathered her hair and was holding it on top of her head.
It took me a second to two to realize what she wanted to show me. The hair on the back of her head two or three inches up from her bare neck was clipped close to the skin. It was no more than a quarter of an inch long. “Holy shit, babe,” I exclaimed. “You got an undercut.”
“You know I don’t like it when you curse like that, Gorgeous,” she said in a mock serious voice.
“Sorry, Jazz. I couldn’t help myself. That’s one hellacious haircut.”
“Yeah, I kinda thought you’d like it,” she said with a sly grin.
“Can I feel it?”
“Of course you can. I did it for you, Gorgeous.”
I reached out and rubbed my fingers across the short bristles now covering the inches above her neck.
“Mmmm. That feels great, lover,” she purred in her most sultry voice.
“I can’t believe you did this,” I exclaimed. “I thought you were dead set against short hair until our first child was born. I didn’t think you’d ever consider something like this.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, lover man. For the last two years, ever since you told me about your fetish, I’ve been trying to think of a compromise, some way I could feel comfortable among the women at church and, at the same time, give you what you want. When I discussed my predicament with Marie, she suggested the undercut. Frankly, I’d never heard of it before, but then she showed me some pictures and I knew it was the answer to my prayers.”
We went to dinner that night, but hurried through the meal. I told the waitress to skip the dessert and bring the check. “What’s the rush, Gorgeous?” Abby asked.
“I think you know, Jazz.”
“Oh, that,” she said with sympathetic smile. “Of course, I should have expected this.”
I pushed the speed on the way back to my apartment. “Cool your jets, mister. There’s no need to get a ticket,” Abby cautioned.
Three months later, as we snuggled in front of the fireplace in our new home in the country not far from Mason, Abby whispered in my ear, “Gorgeous, I think I’m pregnant. I missed my period again and I can feel my body changing.”
Our son was born six months ago, just a couple of weeks after high school graduation. We named him Jeffrey. In a week Abby will return to her teaching job. Her dad recently retired after thirty years working for the Post Office. He and Sophia have moved into an old farmhouse a few miles away from us. They will watch Jeffrey while Abby is teaching school.
Last week Abby told me, “I’m ready to get my hair cut short, lover.”
“So you’re finally going to take the plunge,” I observed.
“I am,” she confirmed. “Now that I’m married with a child, I sit among the older women at church. I stand out because I’m the only one with long hair. So you better get ready, Gorgeous. This will only happen once. Once I go over to short hair I know you’ll never let me go back, and I won’t want to.”
This time Abby made an appointment at the unisex salon in town. One of the teachers at her school, a woman with a very short haircut, recommended the woman barber she used. The main reason she did that instead of returning to the salon was so I wouldn’t feel out of place watching her hair being cut. We discussed possible styles for her. “Nothing too extreme. I don’t want stand out too much,” she cautioned.
“How about a cut like Katy Perry’s?” I suggested hopefully, as I shared a couple of photos I had downloaded from the Internet.
“I’m not gonna go blonde for you,” she responded instantly. “That would be too much.”
“Try to picture Katy as a brunette. I think that would be a tremendous look for you.”
Abby paused for a moment before rejecting my suggestion. “I don’t think I could do that. I’ve got something else in mind and I think you’ll like it.”
“So tell me about it,” I insisted.
“You just have to be patient. I want you to be surprised.”

Friday afternoon I picked Abby up at the school after classes were dismissed for the day. She hopped into the passenger seat of my Miata. I noticed that she wore her lovely hair down and fastened in the back with the clip I had given her on our first Christmas together.
“Ready for the big shearing?” I eagerly inquired.
“I wish you wouldn’t make my haircut sound like I am an animal being clipped. I’m getting a new style to please my husband. This is a voluntary act of love, not a compulsory shaving. I hope you understand the difference.”
“I’m sorry, Jazz. You know how much this means to me. I don’t want to discourage you and I don’t want you to feel that I forced you into this.”
“Okay Graham. That’s enough discussion. Just let me have some quiet until we get to the shop.”
We drove up the mall parking lot. I found a space near the entrance to the unisex shop. We walked to our destination hand in hand. As we entered the shop, Abby clutched my hand more tightly. Six traditional barber chairs were arranged along the far wall. Three of them were occupied by male customers. A woman wearing a barber’s smock who appeared to be in her forties greeted us. “You must be Abby. I’ve been expecting you. I’m Greta. The last station on the left is mine.”
Greta led us to her chair. Abby released my hand and climbed into the seat. I found an empty chair opposite where my wife was sitting. I was close enough to overhear the conversation between the two women.
“I understand this is going to be a big change for you,” Greta began. “Have you even had short hair before?”
“Not really,” Abby answered. “Nothing shorter than shoulder length and that was in second grade.”
“You have lovely hair. You’ve obviously cared for it well. Was this a difficult decision?”
“Not really. I’ve got a young son at home plus a full-time job. Having short hair will save me time and trouble.”
“And what does your husband think about you having short hair?”
“He’s been very supportive. He’s eager the see me with a short hair style.”
“Let’s not keep him waiting any longer. Have you decided on a style?”
“I brought a picture with me. Why don’t you take a look and tell me what you think?”
Abby reached into the pocket of her slacks, unfolded a sheet of paper, and handed it to Greta. The barber studied the photo for a minute. “Yes, I see this is going to be a major change,” she said, “but I think you’ve chosen wisely. This is a very attractive style. It will look good on you and should be much easier to take care of. There’s only one thing you should be aware of.”
“What’s that?” Abby asked.
“To keep a cut this short looking its best, you will need to schedule a return appointment every six weeks or so.”
“I’m sure that won’t be a problem,” Abby assured her.
“So why don’t we get started?” Greta suggested.
“Yes, of course,” Abby answered.
The barber gathered Abby’s long hair in her left hand, pulled it to the side, and wrapped a striped cape around Abby’s neck with her right. After securely snapping the cape, she removed the clip from my wife’s hair. “Don’t think you’ll be needing this for a while,” Greta observed.
“It was a gift from my husband,” Abby informed her barber. “I’m going to save it for my daughter.”
Greta pivoted the chair so Abby was facing the large mirror on the wall and began running a black comb through twenty-five inches of my wife’s dark brown hair. I could see Abby’s reflection in the mirror. She was carefully watching every move her barber made.
Greta used her comb to gather the long hair from the top of Abby’s head, twist it into a bun, and secure it with a clip. Next, she reached for an electric clipper, attached a plastic guide over its blades, and switched on the power. I saw Abby cringe as her barber selected one long ribbon of dark hair near the base of her neck, ran the buzzing clippers up into the hair, and severed the first strand. I watched in awe as the unbound hair slithered silently to the floor beneath the chair. Greta never paused as she continued systematically mowing a narrow band of shortened hair around Abby’s head. When Greta finished the first pass, she released more of the long hair from the top of Abby’s head and began cutting a second path in a similar fashion. She followed the same procedure on the third and fourth rounds, but I noticed that the barber was leaving the hair somewhat longer on each round, skillfully creating a graduated cut.
I wondered what Abby was thinking as her barber systematically clipped her hair from two feet to a fraction of an inch. Studying Abby’s face to detect her reaction to this drastic haircut, I could see no regret or sadness in her expression. Of course, she couldn’t see how short her hair was being cut, but she certainly could feel the pressure of the clippers against her head. She betrayed no distress at her shearing. She seemed serenely unbothered by the barber’s assault on her lovely mane.
The next step involved trimming the hair on each side of Abby’s head and exposing both of her ears. Now my wife could see the full effect of Greta’s handiwork with not a trace of hair visible below her earlobes. Abby turned her head, first to the right, then to the left, inspecting what Greta had accomplished thus far. I thought I detected a brief smile cross her face as she observed her altered image. I was relieved to see that she approved of the way her transformation was progressing.
Greta then went to work on the top of Abby’s head, shortening the longer hairs that still remained. The only part of my wife’s hair that her barber did not trim were her lovely bangs. Apparently, these were satisfactory length. But Greta did rearrange them, brushing those longer hairs to the side, creating a pixielike effect.
Finally, it seemed that the barber had come to a stopping point. She reached for a small mirror for Abby to hold and my wife inspected the finished creation. Her beaming smile indicated her approval.
“You like?” Greta asked.
“I love it!” Abby exclaimed. “It’s even better than I imagined.”
I paid Greta and added a large tip to her standard fee. “You do excellent work. We’ll be back,” I told her.
Abby was busy fastening a pair of large silver earrings that she had brought from home. These would have been hidden by the long hair she wore half an hour earlier, but now they could be displayed as the perfect complement to her marvelous new hairstyle.
My happiness was complete. Not only was my beautiful wife sporting a sophisticated new hairdo that conformed to the abbreviated length I found most compelling, but she appeared to be delighted with her stunning new look. I had been anticipating this day for nearly three years. The reward for my patience was well worth the long delay.

This story is inspired by the TA77 video “Wednesday.”

2 responses to “Cropping Abby

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