I couldn’t believe my eyes. This was too good to be true. I had been coming to the Burns Night Supper celebrations in Tokyo for years, but tonight there he was—the man of my dreams. I knew I had never seen him before.
“Hello. I’m Maura. Are you up for being my partner for the Eightsome Reel?” I strode right up to introduce myself. I don’t drink alcohol but with haggis in my belly I felt emboldened; I don’t need liquid courage.
“Sure. I’m Gordon.”
I could tell that he didn’t see himself as attractive, which was good for me. Gordon had shoulder-length stringy red waves, a pale complexion, blue-green eyes behind his unironic glasses, and skinny legs, which were visible because he was wearing a kilt. I guessed that he was a Campbell based on the tartan. I love a man in a kilt. I also love a man who looks awkward and geeky, because usually those types don’t have years of womanizing behind them.
If Gordon simply cut his hair, he would be the perfect man in the looks department, as far as I was concerned. Even better if he could dance.
We got into a circle for the Eightsome Reel, men standing to the left of their partners. I was comfortable in my position as Second Lady. I wasn’t sure what I would do when it was my turn to show off in the middle, but I wanted to be sexy but tasteful.
My pulse quickened as Gordon and I linked arms for the “swing” step at the beginning of the dance. Touching him made electric currents run up and down my spine and I felt warm all over, even though it was mid-January. Maybe if I were lucky tonight I would catch a glimpse up Gordon’s kilt.
Men’s kilts are so sexy in part because of the tease. They’re short enough to show off a man’s legs from the knee down, but just long enough that a lassie can’t see anything much even when the kilt wearer is dancing and twirling frenetically, because the kilt doesn’t quite ride up enough, in part thanks to the sporran weighing down the front. It’s terribly gauche to ask a man what he’s wearing under his kilt, anyway. There was only one way to find out.
I noticed that Gordon was not drinking either when we finished our dance. “I see you don’t drink either.”
“No. I used to, though. Those days are behind me. Besides, I need to be alert when I go into work the first thing in the morning.”
“What do you do?”
“I’m a systems engineer. I just got transferred to Tokyo.”
This was promising. “I’ve been in Tokyo for three years or so now.” I lowballed the number so as not to scare him with my probable true age. I had guessed that he was at least five years younger than me.
As the night wore on, I couldn’t stop looking at him and wondering about him. I wanted his phone number. More than that, I wanted a shag, right here in the hotel ballroom if possible. It would be best if I could bring him home to my flat for that, but his kilt would make it easy to do even standing up.
There was just one problem, though. The long, grotty hair had to go. I don’t mind a man who’s thinning a bit on top, and heaven knows I love red hair on a bloke, but it has to be short.
“Hey, you seem to be looking at me a lot tonight. Anything the matter? Do I have food on my face?”
“No, that’s not it. I just find you very attractive. I think I quite fancy you. You want to come home with me?”
“Whoah there. That’s what this is? You have strange taste.” I could tell he was flattered by the gleam in his eye.
“Aye. I like you very much and want to get to know you better.” We could spend the rest of the night sitting on my bed and talking, but we both knew what I really had in mind. Truth be told, it would be easy to fulfill my desires even in an alley, but I really wanted to cut off his hair first, and I could only do that at home.
“How much whisky have you had to drink since the evening started? Are you sure?” What a gentleman, double-checking my ability to consent.
“Not a drop. I’m completely sober. I haven’t had a drink in five years. But I’m drunk on your charms.”
Gordon looked shocked at this admission. I was acting like a drunk girl, after all. It was natural to assume that I had started off with good intentions and then given in to the siren call of whisky at some point during the evening. But we Irish girls are nothing if not stubborn. When I made the decision to quit drinking, I meant it.
By this time we had gotten our coats on and were walking to the station. If we hurried we could just make the second to last train, then connect to the last train of my metro line. Even then the last train didn’t go all the way out to my stop, so I would have to walk another twenty minutes in heels. I could use a shoulder to lean on for that.
On route to the station, on the train, waiting to transfer, on the next train, we talked about all sorts of things, his life, my life, his ideas, my ideas, our life philosophies. I had never felt like this before. I felt as though I had always known Gordon and had just found him again after a long separation.
Evidently he felt the same way, because he wasn’t paying attention to the fact that we were most of the way to my flat. When we walked the final leg of the journey and ended in front of my front door, he still didn’t seem to think about it. It was not until I let him in that the thought seemed to cross his mind.
“Do make yourself at home. I’ll put the kettle on.” I decided to keep my evening dress on for the time being, complete with the scarf that I had hoped looked enough like a sash in my family tartan to pass. I knew full well that Irish tartans were not exactly ancient and authentic, but then, neither were the modern Scottish ones. Both were well out of my price range, anyway, so my scarf would have to do.
After I served him tea I found myself sitting across from him, my fingers in his hair. “You didn’t wash your hair today, did you? I realize it’s not good to wash textured hair every day, so I didn’t wash mine either, but I still put more effort into my hair than you did into yours. Or do rugged Highlander computer geeks not care?”
“I know I need a haircut. I wasn’t trying to go for the long, Braveheart look, but Burns Night rolled around before I could get my hair cut. Besides, I’m having trouble finding a good, English-speaking barbershop that’s not super expensive or poncey.”
“What would you say to my cutting your hair?” I cut to the chase.
“Could you get it short enough? I don’t want to look like I got drunk again and did it myself.”
“Your hair is already a mess. I can get pretty close to the scalp with scissors. We can try it now.” I got up to get out my hair-cutting equipment. I cut my own hair, after all. This is almost a necessity when you’re a curly-headed girl without much money, as salons that understand European hair, especially naturally curly and wavy hair, are rare and expensive in Japan.
I showed him my cape. The bottom of it folded up to help avoid making a mess. Gordon smiled. The creative ingenuity of this appealed to the engineer in him. “You really are serious.”
I caped him right there at my kitchen table just for laughs. “I guess I’ll let you do it. Shouldn’t we move to the bathroom?”
“Good point.” I led him by the hand to my tiny bathroom, then lifted the stool out of the bathtub for him to sit on. “I love the colour of your hair.”
“It’s almost the same colour as yours.” He looked at me and smirked.
“Mine is naturally red but not this red so it’s enhanced with henna. I doubt yours is.”
“No, it’s not. It’s not enhanced in any way, as you’ll notice if you peek downstairs.” Finally, a naughty comment. I grinned. “I’ll be having a look eventually, but I need to take care of this business first.”
I didn’t bother to comb through his hair, since I was going to be cutting off most of it anyway. Besides, you don’t comb or brush textured hair unless it’s wet. I grabbed the hair and pulled it into a ponytail at the base of his neck, then sliced through.
Maybe I needed a comb after all. When I trim my own hair, I just snip the ends of each long ringlet, which doesn’t require a comb. A man’s short haircut, however, is a different story. I rummaged through my bathroom cabinet until I found a comb and used it to section his hair, combing the sides forward to allow me to focus on the back. There was no set of clippers, but I knew I could insert the comb right at the roots of the base of his neck. I quite enjoyed the snick snick of the blades closing in on the dirty red hair and seeing the crimson clippings collect in the upturned bottom of the cape.
Once I got up to the crown of his head, I took another pass with the scissors, this time without the comb, as I tried to taper the back. This would not be the best haircut of Gordon’s life, but it would still be an improvement on the hair he had had when I first saw him tonight.
Satisfied, I moved to his left. I parted the top so that the long part would cover the right side of his head, then picked up my comb. Instead of starting from the bottom up, I inserted the comb midway down the side of his head and worked up from there, so that the hair covering his ears would be much thinner, giving a peekaboo effect. Then I inserted the comb down another couple of centimeters to repeat. Now I could see the outline of the top of his ear very clearly. I loved this part the best—snipping around his ear. I put down the comb and closed the scissor blades right next to his scalp.
After repeating this procedure on the other side, having re-parted the top hair, I kissed the newly-exposed top of his ear. Rawr. Now for the top. I pulled it upwards, then twirled it around my finger. Next I sliced it off at the base. I used my fingers to gauge length as I mowed down the top to less than a centimeter long.
Once I had finished and cleaned up, Gordon stood up so that he could see himself in the mirror. “Not bad. It’s much shorter than my usual cut.”
“I like short hair on a man.” I drew closer to him, wrapping my arm around his back. Now his neck was exposed, making it easier to nuzzle.
I found out that night what this particular Scotsman was wearing under his kilt, but I’m not going to tell. A lass needs some class, after all.