Oh dear, what I am going to do? I received an invitation to an annual gala event for people in my industry that says “Ms. Gloria Stuart and guest”. Where am I going to drum up a guest? I’m single and will probably die that way; men find me terrifying. I’m good at what I do but being a woman on the autism spectrum means that other women find me strange and I have a tendency to mansplain to men.
Oh, I know! I should bring Greg along. Greg was a promising young associate who joined my team. I can use my authority as his boss to ask him to come with me. He’ll benefit from the professional networking opportunities and might enjoy the event itself. Good food, live music, and dancing makes for a pleasant evening.
There was only one problem. Greg had a handsome enough face, but terrible dress sense and long, stringy red hair. This was all right in the office, but I hesitate to show him to powerful people in our industry like this. Does he even have a proper suit?
“Greg, I have a favor to ask.”
“The Henderson Gala Dinner is coming up and I have two tickets. It’s a good opportunity to meet influencers in the industry and it’s usually fun in its own right. Only thing is, it’s a black-tie event.”
“You want me to accompany you? Are you sure?”
“Yes. I see a lot of promise in you. I think you’ll benefit from it, and your presence will be good for the company. Assuming, of course, that you don’t embarrass me. Make sure you don’t drink too much and don’t pinch anyone’s bottom.”
“Of course I wouldn’t do anything like that. Black-tie, you say? I suppose I can wear my kilt. I inherited my grandad’s when he passed away.”
“Yes, that sounds good. I’m glad you have something to wear.” In fact I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to buy Greg suitable clothes. That just left his hair to be taken care of. A flattering haircut would be all that was necessary.
“Wow, I’m looking forward to this.” Greg started to smile.
“Good. Then maybe you’d be open to doing something about that hair. I don’t care how you wear your hair when we’re just in the office, but if you’re going to be the face of our firm I need to demand a higher standard. But it’s your choice.”
Greg’s expression clouded. I could see him weighing his options. Save his hair and lose a great career opportunity, or sacrifice his hair and the image that went with it for a chance to better his career. Of course it was purely his decision to take, since hairstyle is very personal, reflecting as it does how a person chooses to present themselves to the world.
“All right. You’re my boss, after all. I suppose I’m selling out, but hair grows back. We’re just cutting it, right? Not trying to cover the ginger?”
“No, there’s nothing wrong with the colour. If there were I would have to cover mine as well.” Perhaps this was another reason I saw Greg as a protégé. We had the same hair colour and the same alma mater, except that Greg was ten years younger.
We agreed to meet up on Saturday and go to the barbershop of my choice. I would be giving the instructions. Greg’s hair would look thicker short, especially since it was straight.
When Saturday came I reached the lobby of our office building first. I had no idea where Greg lived and didn’t especially want to give him my address so I had suggested that we meet here. Ah, here he comes. His long hair looked less incongruous with a flannel shirt and jeans than it did with a cheap, ill-fitting plastic-y suit. A nice short haircut would still look good even with casual clothes.
I led the way to the barbershop I had chosen. Here we are! A young barberette was waiting for us. She looked to be about Greg’s age. That was a good sign. If he liked her he might want to keep coming back to maintain his new haircut.
“Hello, I’m Gloria, and this is my subordinate, Greg. He needs a proper black-tie haircut to meet important people in our industry. I don’t want his appearance to embarrass me as his boss.”
“I see. Yes, I understand your concern.” She beckoned to Greg to sit in her chair and then she began to run her fingers though his hair, which reached past his shoulders. Even I could see that there wasn’t much texture. It would have to be cut into the hair, which meant a very short style.
The barberette caped him up and began to section the hair. I trusted her, and she understood that Greg was not the one who had a say in the final style. First, she grabbed the hair at the back and formed a mid-height ponytail with her hand, then reached for a pair of mean-looking shears. Snip, snip, and the back of Greg’s hair was cut into a mullet. Next she grabbed the right side, gathered it above his ear, and hacked off the length in the same manner, then repeated the process on the left. Finally she gathered the hair at the top of his head and twirled it around her finger; she sliced off the ponytail at the base.
At this point Greg’s hair looked like a crazy mod-shag-mullet thing from the glam rock era, but I knew that the barberette wasn’t finished. She picked up a pair of red clippers, attached a guard, and gently pushed Greg’s chin down onto his chest. I couldn’t tell which number the guard was, but once she started pushing it through the hair at the back of his head I could see that it must be one of the smaller ones. The hair was no more than an inch long now.
She worked the clippers over his back and sides several times, removing length, but focussing primarily on the transition toward the crown of his head. This was because she was just going to replace the guard and fade downwards anyway. By the time she got down to ear level the hair was about a quarter inch. She tapered even shorter down below the occipital bone, then switched to trimmers. I enjoyed watching her pull his ears down and edge around them.
Once she had cleaned up his nape, she turned off the trimmers and picked up the shears again to attack the top. She blended the crown area to the back and sides as she grabbed finger-fulls of hair and sliced off everything that protruded from between two fingers. This was gloriously short. She left a tiny bit more length as she moved toward the front, but even his fringe was no more than an inch and maybe a quarter by the time she was through. Next she picked up thinning shears and began to add texture. She also pulled his fringe straight upwards and point-cut into it so that it would stand up with minimal product.
When she was all done, she looked to me for my verdict, so I smiled my approval. Greg stared at himself in shock in the mirror. As well he should, because he was simply stunning. Without all that stringy hair, his cute rounded ears, manly jawline, and perfect hairline were on display. His perfectly-shaped head was so appealing that I wanted to stroke it, but I controlled myself. I’m his boss, not his lover. It wouldn’t do for me to overstep my bounds.
“Now you look ready for a black-tie gala dinner. I’ll be proud to introduce you to everyone.” I couldn’t wait to go to the Henderson Gala Dinner with this boy toy on my arm. Senior executives at other firms would surely nudge their husbands and try to get closer to Greg if he looked like this.
The day of the gala dinner, Greg looked like a movie star with his short ivy league cut and kilt. The colours even complimented the Stuart tartan sash across my chest so that we looked right together. I watched Greg limit himself to slowly sipping on his drink and smiled. Good, I won’t have to worry about him getting drunk and committing a major faux pas. I don’t drink at all but my autism more than makes up for that in the awkwardness department, so I was glad that my protégé wouldn’t have the same struggles, especially if he didn’t inflict them on himself.
When it was time to dance I led him onto the dance floor for the Eightsome Reel. Greg knew what he was doing, so he volunteered for us to be the Top Couple. As I locked forearms with him and swung, I smiled. This year’s Henderson Gala Dinner was the best fun I had had in a long time.
Greg must have charmed quite a few people, because he managed to bring in more business over the next quarter. He often left the office right at closing time, dressed up, because he had been invited to industry-related events. I sent him off to these with my blessing.
Sure enough, Greg kept the haircut, and I heard it through the grapevine that he is now dating the barberette. I’m so happy for him!