Hostess

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A Typical Night

I sat with my back to the kitchen, going over our reservations for the night. After adjusting my head band, I tossed my hair behind my shoulders, knowing I should have worn it up tonight. However, Todd preferred me to wear it down.

“Hey Maddy. Did you have a good time last night?” Todd probed, setting up his station.

“It was fine,” I answered, ignoring his attitude. “You know. If you miss me, you can always stop by.”

“Yeah. You know how I get bored over there. What do you think tonight’s gonna be like?”

“I’m at work, so it will probably be the same,” I coldly replied.

Last night I stayed home and washed my hair. By the time it air-dried, I was ready for bed and in no mood to drive over to Todd’s place. I couldn’t stand to sleep with the smell of the kitchen in my hair. Even worse was waking up to the smell still there. Puke city.

I pulled out my compact and found the best positioning for my curtain bangs and straightened my velvet choker. Really, I looked about as good as ever. I had to dress nice to hostess at Bellafonte’s. By dress nice, I mean I wore a silk empire dress, platinum hoops, and high heels. Todd was a sous-chef.

He liked us working together, but I was getting sick of it, especially having to wash the smell out of my hair. For the longest time, I’d been wanting to get it cut in a posh, more grown-up style, but Todd wouldn’t hear of it. Sometimes I longingly imagined myself with a really short haircut, like off my ears and forehead short. There was something regal and commanding about a woman who could hold her head high with almost no hair, and no one to impress. Todd said if I ever cut my hair, he’d take it as a sign that I didn’t care about his feelings.

Whatever. Todd was my first serious boyfriend, since high school. We’d lost our virginities together. I didn’t mind wearing my hair how he liked it. It was a small favor. I’d chosen to go to community college so I could live near him, and I got a little apartment on the west side. Grossed out by his apartment, I refused to live with Todd until we were married. As of now, we weren’t even engaged.

Yeah, I know I probably could get any other guy. On a bad day, I looked like a young Jennifer Aniston. At least that’s what I’d been told. The thing is, I had grown to care very much about Todd. I had a romantic dream about being with just one guy, forever, and seeing it through.

I gave myself a quick spritz of Jimmy Choo as our first party shuffled in. Throughout the night I reapplied the perfume several times, finding it quickly over powered the scent of steaming garlic, cumin, and things like melted gruyere cheese and steaming scallops. For every smile I faked, I felt myself drifting further from my true, happier self. And tomorrow I was going to wear my hair up. It was driving my crazy.

Fuck Todd. All night he made raucous jokes with the kitchen boys. And I was always the outsider, even at his apartment. Half the time he had friends over to drink and play video games.

“Great work tonight,” said Chase, carrying a bus tub. As a dishwasher, he’d never be able to tell whether or not I’d actually done a good job. He was just being nice, and the thought did count for something.

I made a patronizing smile. “Thanks Chase. How are you doing, buddy?”

“I’m really good!” Excitedly, he hopped from one foot to the other. “Tonight my band’s playing down at The Nest, so I’m trying to get done real fast. You should come out, if you’re not too tired.”

“Thank you Chase.” I started. Some part of me couldn’t help but treat him like a kid. After all, he was twenty five and still just washing dishes.

This is where Todd inserted himself. “Good luck getting Maddy to come out. She’s got to stay home and wash her hair.”

I glowered at Todd, recognizing his intent to humiliate me. And what was I supposed to do? Let him get away with it?

Chase started to walk away and I blocked his path. “Well Chase. How about you give me your number and I’ll text you when I’m ready to go out. If you still haven’t played, I’d love to catch it.”

“Really? It’d be rad to to see you outside of work and for you to meet some of my friends. I think you’ll really like it.”

He gave me his number and I sent him a text so he’d also have my number too.

I really did want to see his band. I always had a thing for rocker guys. That’s probably what first attracted me to Todd, even though Todd kind of gave up on music before he ever got a band together.

The Pain and the Potential

It wasn’t exactly public knowledge that I had to wash my hair after work, every time I worked. Chase probably thought I was such a square, trying to dress and act as grown-up as possible. Sometimes I felt like I was compensating for having such long, girlish hair, hanging to my elbows. If Todd really loved me, he’d forgive me for getting it cut. Either that or I could quit my job, which seemed totally ridiculous.

But if I was going to keep my hair long, it was going to be healthy. There would be no blow dryers and no going out with wet hair. I couldn’t live with it being both long AND gross.

After two washes, I walked out of the shower and did my make-up, going a little dark and heavy. It wasn’t often that I went to bars, since I wasn’t twenty one. Even if I didn’t end up going out, I considered it good to practice my make-up.

I hit myself with some Choo and texted Chase.

Me: Have you played yet???

Chase: Yeah. Just got done.

Me: Fuck. I’m so sorry. Thanks so much for inviting me.

Chase: It’s okay. We sucked. Do you want to hang out anyway?

Me: I’m home and I’m sober.

Chase: I’m sober too. I wanted to play good.

Me: Want to just come over?

His responses were so swift, I was taken aback by his interest. But guys always thought they really liked me until they got to know me. Todd really knew me and it seemed like he could hardly tolerate me. He hadn’t even texted to see if I would stay over with him. He’d probably wait until the bar closed and see if I wanted to give him a ride home and-also-stay-the-night. If Chase was coming straight from the show, we could maybe have some kind of a party.

I slipped into a t-shirt and plaid skirt. Party clothes? My hair was just now almost dry enough to hit the town. I looked at myself in the mirror, feeling very much like myself. I guess a part of me, my long hair, would always be dedicated to Todd. So I put it into a high ponytail and pinned up my bangs. Then I put on my earrings and choker. Breezy, but sensual.

“Wow,” Chase breathed and sauntering into my high-ceilinged one bedroom. “You’ve got style, Maddy.”

“Thanks. This is where all my money goes,” I shrugged.

“Yeah.” His eyebrows shot up and I wondered if he believed me.

“You know how much I make.”

“I do know,” said Chase and I silently thanked him silently for not reminding me how much cheaper it would be to just live with Todd. “By the way. You look really nice.” He was such a gentleman, too!

“Thank you.”

I turned away, blushing. Chase plopped onto my leather sectional and I poured him some wine. I kept a box in the fridge for company. Most people liked hanging out here.

“So what do you want to do?” I asked. “I wasn’t sure if it was going to be just you, or what.”

“Oh,” he nodded. “We can do whatever you want. I just haven’t really gotten a chance to get to know you, so I thought we could relax and, you know, just hang out..”

“All right.” I sat next to him,. “That sounds really cool. Really deep. You know. It’s really embarrassing. I didn’t really think Todd would tell anyone.” I blabbed and anxiously patted my knees. How many times did I just say really? “I really can’t stand to smell like work. Like, the smell gets in my hair and it’s so gross and I-can’t-stand-it. I think it shows that you have a really open mind, to invite someone like that-like me to your punk show.”

“Open mind?” he puzzled, then grinned. “Sweet Maddy. When I tell people where I work, they all ask me, ‘What’s Maddy like? She’s so pretty, like a movie star.’ People see you through the window. You’re like a local celebrity.”

Really?? I thought, blushing as the words dumped from his impish little mouth.

“Oh stop,” I said, and got up to refill my cup.

“You don’t ever think about cutting your hair?” he asked and I froze. I suppose under different circumstances, it wouldn’t have been such a personal question. But he didn’t know Todd was keeping me from cutting it.

“Don’t you ever think about not being a dishwasher?” I parried, intending to let him know where we stood. After all, I was going to college, studying business, and I was dating Todd, who was going to be a chef.

“I’m sorry if this is a touchy issue. I’ve just been kind of dying to know..”

“Why’s that?”

“I’m working on my instinct. I went to school to be a barber, but I’m not ready to settle down and open up a shop. If I’m going really commit myself to a profession then it’s got to be working for myself. When that day comes, I want to be a master stylist.”

“That’s very wise of you.”

“I already have a lot of clients. If you’d made it to the show tonight, you’d see. Half the crowd gets their hair cut by me. I do it for free, since I’m not an official business, and people get to see my work.”

“I get it. And if you cut my hair, everyone who sees me can also see your work.”

“Well, that’s just a small part of it. You know, I just want to make everyone feel beautiful. I think we all deserve just a little more love, even if that love comes from just loving how we look.” The conviction in his voice gave me goosebumps, like there was no doubt as to whether or not he was going to be a great hair stylist.

“Todd doesn’t want you to cut your hair…” Chase guessed. I wasn’t going to tell him but he saw right through me.

“So?” I shrugged.

“It’s okay. I understand. Relationships can be really tough.”

“Thanks for understanding. Todd’s your boss, not mine.” I continued, feeling flirtatious. “But you want to cut my hair. How do you want to cut it?”

“I don’t want to choose for you. What I want might be kind of selfish and I don’t want to cause trouble with Todd.”

“What’s Todd have to do with it?”

“I just… I feel like if you let me cut your hair just how I want, it will seem like there’s something going on between us.”

“But there’s nothing going on between us.”

“Exactly,” Chase nodded.

“Well come on! Tell me. How do you want to cut my hair?” I pressed. Was I missing something? Was this Chase’s weird way of putting the moves on me? I scooted closer to him. In response, he stood up and backed away. My heart raced, sensing his imminent departure, and I couldn’t let him go. “Chase. I want you to cut my hair. Fuck Todd.”

The Haircut

Chase kept his barber kit under the seat in his van. While he went for it, I refilled our cups and set up a stool in my bathroom.

As if instantly, Chase appeared me behind me. He shook out his striped barber’s cape and wrapped it around me. With a wry grin, he flicked at my ponytail, and noted, “Todd’s going to be mad if I cut your hair short. How long should we keep it to prevent him from making my life hell? He is my boss, after all.”

Feeling like a sudden badass, I asked, “Why don’t you just cut my hair short and quit your job?”

“Yeah right,” he scoffed. “Won’t Todd be mad at you too, if you let me cut all this off?” Chase carefully undid my ponytail and unclipped my bangs. He sprayed and combed my hair like it was some kind of delicate treasure.

“Why are you being weird? You want to cut my hair and I want you to cut my hair. I want short hair.”

“It’s just. I am weird. If you don’t tell me exactly how you want your hair cut, I will feel like I’m having my way with you. I will be… turned on by cutting your hair short.”

“Please, have your way with me.” I insisted, no stranger to turning people on.

“Even if that means cutting your hair really short?”

“I mean. You want me to feel beautiful, don’t you?” I batted my eyelashes, hoping that reminder would keep him from shaving me totally bald. Now that this was really happening, I started to feel scared, knowing Chase was somewhat of a pervert about the whole hair cutting thing, and I was at his mercy.

“Yes. Of course.” Chase sucked his teeth. “I have something really sharp in mind. Something that will look really sleek and elegant, especially on you.”

“Well that sounds good,” I said, uneasily, seeing how ‘sleek’ and ‘sharp’ could also be used to describe Mr. Clean.

“Don’t worry. You won’t be totally bald. Just styled with class, care, and precision.”

He made his first cut near the top of my head. I felt the sound of the slicing blade all the way through my skull. He held out my hair and cut it loosely down to around an inch, from top to bottom, leaving my bangs alone. All the while, I smiled at him through the mirror.

“I’m really happy you’re doing this.” My head already felt so much lighter.

“Me too, Maddy. This is kind of a dream come true, for me.”

“Yeah. Me too.”

Chase went ahead and cut my bangs to match the length of the rest of my choppy crop. My dirty blond hair was always darker this close to the roots. Right now, it matched my make-up, making me look really punk.

“Don’t worry. You’re going to look so hot,” he half-whispered, plugging in his clippers.

He snapped on a big guard and flipped the switch. My eyes went wide as they mowed away at the top of my head. Chase gave a pensive hum and attached a smaller guard to the clippers. My stomach twisted at the notion that he was going even shorter, on the top of my head, a shorter buzz.

“How long is that?” I tried to act casual, speaking over the roaring clippers.

“It’s a half inch. I wanted it just long enough to keep from poking straight up.” It sounded like this ‘sharp’ haircut was going to need frequent trimmings. We exchanged another smile. My nose ticked as little hairs landed on my face. I looked down and gasped at the mass of long, dirty blonde locks all over my floor. I looked up and smiled at Chase again.

“How do you like it?” he asked.

“It’s amazing,” I gave the answer he seemed to be expecting. Really, I did like it. I felt ethereal, weightless without all of that ugly hair to mess with.

He pulled the guard off his clippers and used his comb to guide them, fading my hair on the sides and the back. I blushed at the cold steel against my neck, leaving me bald up to the top of my ears, which stuck out just a little, like a pixie with a crew cut. I felt myself twitch with arousal at the feeling of Chase’s hairy knuckles against my shaved scalp. He was so careful, holding my earrings out of the way.

Chase pulled out a straight razor and smoothed out my hairline, smiling the whole time. He brushed me off and removed the cape. I checked myself out for a bit. On top, my blonde was naturally lighter than it was in its shorter length, adding an extra level of definition to my fade. Chase had done an amazing job and damn. I was looking hot.

After cleaning the bathroom, we stayed up for hours, just getting to know each other. I felt so confident and comfortable in his admiring stare. I let him sleep on the couch while I stayed up in bed, touching myself, feeling so sexy. Even the brush of down pillows on my shorn head just got me so hot.

Liberated

The next morning I took a quick shower and dressed myself to the nines, taking advantage of all the time it used to take to fix my hair. It was going to be all my best jewelry, none from Todd, with my halter dress and a crystal headband, somehow feeling more feminine than ever. Chase stared at me, nursing his coffee.

“What?” I threw a magazine at him.

“Please don’t go. I don’t want to stop looking at you.”

“Yeah, well. I have to go. Someone has to hold down a job around here.”

“Oh yeah. I’d better go,” he sat up and put his shoes on.

“I’ll hit you up when I get out… if you want, that is,” I said.

“I would love nothing more,” Chase answered, making us both chuckle.

“Maddy! You cut your hair! Why!?” Todd made no attempt to keep his voice down; right in front of everyone, and I saw how all those boys looked at me… with such lust.

I motioned for Todd to join me around the corner.

“I did cut my hair, and I’d like if it you just left me alone for a little while.” I said.

“!!!!”

“We’ll talk about it some other time. I have my own life to live.” I gently pushed up his chin, to close his gaping mouth.

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