If You Can’t Take the Heat…Circa 1968.
Anna looked out her bedroom window at the quiet street below. It was August and the summer heat was keeping everyone indoors. The day before it had reached over one hundred degrees, and that day it seemed even hotter.
“Oh, I can’t wait for fall.” Anna sighed, rising from the chair and heading down the stairs. Andrew would be home soon, and he would want supper on the table.
As much as Anna hated the heat, she knew that she was lucky. Their house had a cupola and the breeze it created in the house was noticeable, even in this heat.
Anna ducked into the half bath off the kitchen and grabbed one of the multicolored scrunchies from the edge of the sink and wrapped it around her long blonde ponytail. Anna knew how much Andrew liked it, or she probably would have cut off the length years ago.
Lots of the women that she knew were getting their hair cut that summer, and Anna felt a little left out. She would envy how cool their necks and backs must be, free from the burden of a thick layer of hair.
Andrew walked in, a little later than normal. He kissed her, as he always did, depositing his briefcase in his office before grabbing a Budweiser from the fridge and heading into the living room.
“I’ve got supper ready.” Anna insisted as he walked through.
“I’ll be right there, Sweetie. I just want to check the score of this game.” As soon as the TV came on, Anna knew that she would be serving his supper on a tray. As hard as he worked, she supposed he was allowed to eat wherever he pleased, but Anna just wished that it was with her, at the table.
The following day seemed a bit cooler, and Anna decided that she would take advantage and go for a walk uptown. There was a pleasant breeze that ran the length of Main Street, and for a while, it was enough to keep her cool. The higher the sun climbed, the hotter it got, until on the return trip, she was unbearably warm.
She had stopped to simply hoist her hair away from her back, when Lois Bridger stepped out of the five and dime.
“Oh, Anna, honey. You’ve just got to get that bobbed.” Lois patted the bottom of the pageboy bob she sported, shaking her head. “Tell me you’re not still flying the flag for Andy?”
“He likes my hair long, Lois. I don’t want to disappoint him.” Anna sighed, allowing her hair back down against her back. She was instantly as hot as she had been.
“Well, all I can say is you’ve got to be your own woman, Anna. It is the sixties after all.” Lois strode away, and Anna envied how cool she looked.
A few doors down, Anna stopped into the ice cream parlor. The refrigerators kept the place cool, and the ice cream wasn’t too bad either. Anna ordered a cone of vanilla and sat in one of the curled wrought chairs that were scattered about.
“You just have to be dying under all that hair, sweetheart.” The older woman sympathized, as she wiped the table where Anna was seated. Her hair was cropped into something resembling a man’s style. Women her age could get away with a cut like that.
“It is a bit uncomfortable.” Anna sighed as she finished the cone.
“If it was me, I would have taken scissors to it myself, by now, with all this heat.” The woman suggested.
Tired of hearing all the comments concerning her hair, and relative comfort, Anna made her way back down Walnut Street to her house. She set to doing the laundry and tidying up the house. By the time she was done, it was so hot that she simply doused her head in a sink full of cold water, well, as cold as it would get after a few minutes.
She stripped off her blouse, and her bra, and let the rivulets of water dribble from her hair, onto her skin. Climbing the stairs, she heard the phone ring in the kitchen. She debated not picking up, but thought better of it.
“Anna, hi. I’m going to be heading out with the boys tonight, so I won’t be home for dinner. I hope you didn’t plan anything fancy.” Andrew said, hopefully.
“No, nothing special. Where are you going?” Anna asked.
“Oh, we thought we’d go out on Charlie’s boat. Cool off, you know.”
“Can I come with you?” Anna asked, knowing what the answer would be.
“Well, none of the other wives are going, so you’d be a little left out. Another time, okay? Listen, honey, the other line is ringing, I’ve got to go. See you around nine.” And with that, the line went dead. Anna just sort of stood there, until the phone started with its ‘phone off the hook’ alarm.
Heading back up the stairs, she was going to go lie down until she had to start supper, except the only supper she would be making was for herself, and to be honest, she just wasn’t hungry. Grabbing a towel from the bath, she started to wrap her damp hair when she simply stopped.
Anna stared at herself in the mirror, the strings of dampened blonde hair falling around her face, and covering her exposed breasts. Right then, she was angry, and her mother always said that you should never do anything rash when you’re angry. Well, mother wasn’t there, but the scissors were.
Without really thinking too much about what she was doing, Anna picked up the manicure scissors and raised them to her hair, just below the chin. She didn’t know how long she stood there with the open blades surrounding that strand of hair, but she woke up when it closed.
A two-foot-long curl of blonde silk cascaded to the floor, leaving one hell of a notch in her otherwise perfect hair. What she noticed then, was that although the scissors were at her chin, that hair now rested about midway up her cheek.
“Oh, shit.” Anna never swore, but she did just then. What the hell am I going to do now?” She asked her reflection.
The hank of missing hair mocked her from the mirror. For a moment, she honestly thought about cutting it that length all the way around. “What kind of a bob would that be?” She asked herself out loud.
Looking at the clock, it had just gone four, and if she hurried, she might be able to make it to Ruth’s Salon before she closed. Anna hid the offending hair underneath the rest with a few bobby pins, grabbed her purse, and ran out the door.
By the time she reached Ruth’s place, it was locked up tight. Dejected, and feeling fairly foolish, Anna slowly walked back up Main street, wondering how she was going to explain her massacred hair to Andrew.
She could feel the bobby pins slipping and stopped to adjust them, when a man said something to her. She was so preoccupied with what she was doing that it didn’t register.
“Can I help you with that?” Louder, the young man asked, noticing her dilemma.
Anna had inadvertently stopped right in front of Lazlo’s Barbershop, and the man that was speaking was obviously one of the barbers.
“Not unless you can magically grow this hair as long as the rest,” Anna answered, almost in tears.
“Why don’t you come on inside.” The man pointed up at the blue neon sign that flashed ‘Air Conditioned’.
The blast of cool air as she stepped through the door nearly caused her to faint. Between the heat and her frustration over having done something so crazy, well… she grabbed the back of a chair and sat. “I’ve never been in here, it’s so cool.”
“Yeah, the boss says it keeps people comin’ in.” The young man jested. “So, what’s going on with your hair there?”
“I had a little mishap with a pair of scissors,” Anna explained.
“Mishap, huh? Looks to me like you cut it.” He grinned.
“Exactly.” Anna sighed, exasperated.
“Lemme get a look at that.” He requested.
Anna allowed the barber to unpin the offending locks and allow them to fall against her cheek as they had in the bathroom.
“That’s too much to the side to cheat some bangs, and too short for a bob. I’m afraid all I can do is give you a regular haircut.” The barber offered, apologetically.
“A regular haircut?” Anna queried. “And what is a regular haircut?”
“Well, something like this.” He pointed upwards to his own coif. The side and back were tapered down to the skin at the bottom, and the top offered only enough to part with the expedient of a little Brylcreem.
“That short?” She questioned, painfully.
“Anything too much longer is just gonna look shaggy.” The barber explained.
“A regular cut.” She said again, cementing the idea firmly in her mind. For a moment, she thought about what Andrew was going to think, and then pictured him out on a boat, frolicking in the water, and that anger welled up all over again. “Oh, let’s just do it and get it over with.” She spat, not meaning to take out her frustrations on the man.
“Well, alright. Have a seat right here and we’ll fix you right up.” The barber spun the chair, so it faced in her direction. It certainly looked comfortable enough.
Anna settled in, allowing the young barber to fasten a red and white striped cape over her, and cinched up tightly around her neck. This was no different than the salon, she thought.
When the barber began clipping away her hair, that was where all similarities to the salon ended. She gasped as her long blonde hair fell away, strand after strand.
“That’s the hard part, honey.” He comforted.
Anna looked at herself in the large plate glass mirror and nearly cried. All that remained of her once-glorious blonde hair, was a choppy mess that almost framed her face. Oddly enough, the hank of hair that had brought her there in the first place, still sat on her cheek, like a demon.
“Can you just chop that off please.” Anna indicated the hair with her eyes. One quick flick of the clippers and even that was gone.
“So, I’m going to start tapering the sides and back now. You’re going to feel the clippers against your skin. They won’t cut you, so don’t worry.” The barber explained, assuming that she had never experienced anything like this before.
His assumptions were correct. Anna jumped as the clippers made first contact behind her left ear. She didn’t think he would ever stop as they traveled up the side of her head, but stop he did, somewhere before the top. Each pass began to be less of a shock, and by the time the barber had reached the other ear, Anna could actually say she was enjoying the sensation.
“That’s not too bad, right?” He asked.
“No, not at all.” She almost told him it felt good, but restrained herself. Anna almost felt bad when he hung up the clippers and began working with the scissors.
Slowly, but surely, the haircut the barber had described began to take shape. The top of Anna’s head was pared down close, and the sides and back were clippered tight at the bottom and then a shade longer near the top.
As Anna looked at herself in the mirror, the image that she saw reminded her of only one thing. A man. “I look like a man.”
“Trust me Miss, but you could never be mistaken for a man, even with this cut.” He insisted, trying to instill some confidence.
“No, it won’t do. Can’t you just use… those again?” Anna asked, pointing to the clippers.
The barber looked puzzled. “What do you want me to do?”
“Can you just… run them all over?” Anna asked, with a flourish of hands above her head.
“Sure.” He shrugged. “Why not?” The barber grabbed the clippers, removing the guard, and set to work.
Anna’s shock turned to excitement as he ran them straight down the middle of her head, and by the time he had removed the rest, she was nearly beside herself. Her arousal was no secret from the barber, who wondered if her little faux pas was nothing more than a ploy to get her into his chair.
With no guard on the clippers, and Anna’s exceptionally light hair color, she was essentially bald. They both looked into the mirror at the result, but Anna’s appraisal took the barber by surprise.
“I love it!” Anna smiled, running her hands over the sandpaper surface of her scalp. “Andy’s gonna kill me, but I really do love it.”
As Anna walked out of Lazlo’s, she made no attempt to hide her newly shaved head; in fact, she seemed to be flaunting it. With every sideways look that she got, she would run her hand gracefully over her head, enjoying the coolness of it.
Anna had no idea what her husband’s reaction was going to be. Frankly, she really didn’t care. What she did know, was that she was going to be a regular customer at Lazlo’s Barbershop.