Lost in translation (Martine visits Hair Joyce)

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[Editors note: I did not write this story. I was trying to find an old non-english story from the old site and ended up translating a handful as I was looking. This was originally posted in French on hairsnip.com]
I had practically never left Paris. I had spent the last three years completely absorbed in the creation of the company that employed me. All my time had been occupied between the office and my apartment each day from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., leaving one only to return to the other. I knew that I had to project the image of a woman full of confidence in herself and sure of herself with her professional contacts; but deep down, I knew I could get annoyed over the smallest trifle, I was perpetually tense. Over time, I had learned to hide this and I even managed to present a profile better able to go in the direction of the wind and especially without making waves, gaining a little breadth. Indeed, the company had taken off and thanks to these three years of sacrifice, I was able to climb a few steps in the hierarchy, until the day when I was asked to take over the management of a branch in London. Although almost 30 years old, I had never traveled abroad, even for a weekend, and this idea seemed stressful to me and unsettled me slightly.
Hesitant at first, I finally accepted and left alone for the English capital. I arrived in London a week in advance so that I could test my English accent. So I naturally started by visiting a few monuments, taking those famous double-decker buses and rushing to the clothes shops that abound in this megalopolis. It was clear that very few things differentiated us, apart from food and since everything was going without incident, the confidence that I gave to my accent was growing. Of course, there were still a few small obstacles that I had not yet faced, things like visiting a doctor or a dentist for example or choosing a hairdresser, but I now had the cards in my hands and everything should go well.
  In Paris, I used to go to big and famous hairdressing salons where I left a fortune every month and a half to see my hair shortened by an unfortunate little centimeter while having previously benefited from the application of an energizing shampoo associated with a volumizing balm which allowed them to undergo without damage the light perm or the tone-on-tone coloring that seemed necessary to me. A friend gave me the address of a salon in London that corresponded to the standard I was used to, but I must say that the prices charged by the big salons in England are exorbitant and I had to choose between leaving a little more length to my hairstyle or change my style completely and thus go to simpler salons.
To tell the truth, I wore at that time a very long and slightly wavy hairstyle which allowed me to vary according to my mood between the ponytail and the sophisticated buns. This hairstyle, however, required frequent maintenance: monthly trimming and root lifting that only the best hairdressers knew how to perform. In London, they were rather avant-garde, the fashion tended towards sporty and rather short cuts. Another friend gave me the address of a new stylist. His name was Peter, and he said he had learned his trade in Paris, which allowed him to know the art of styling long hair. Indeed, it turned out that Peter never forced me to cut my hair more than I wanted and since he charged honest prices, he became, for a time, the ideal hairdresser.
My hair is brown with auburn highlights, it is smooth and a bit flat in nature. Fortunately, a certain length and a slight perm give them the necessary volume.
I must say that I love going to hair salons. I can’t quite explain it, but I get a kind of strange pleasure watching other women have their hair cut. Thanks to the fashion trends, even those wearing long hair now tend to have them sometimes shortened beyond reason, just to follow the latest trends.
Having sat many times in front of the mirror for all the time required by the deep application of some conditioner or other hair product, I could see the anxious looks of the women on the back of whose necks the scissors were directed. A kind of hypnosis took hold of me just at the sound of scissors clicking. I have always wondered what effect the feeling of these blades moving so close to the skin could cause. Often I wanted to ask one of these women how she felt in those moments, but of course, I never dared. Sometimes even scissors were not enough, they were replaced by a clipper. A clipper like the one used for men’s cuts that we still saw in some old hairdressers or on television in reports showing the shearing given to newly recruited soldiers. I must say that I have always been strangely drawn to these scenes without knowing the exact reason.
In the same way, men with short, neat hair all had, for me, that little something that makes you faint. I took extreme pleasure in caressing their shaved necks and I also appreciated that their temples were slightly shorn. While hiding the slightest excitement on my part about it, I encouraged my boyfriends to have their hair cut in this way . But my natural shyness prevented me from showing them too personal an investment on my part in this regard. Many were unresponsive to my suggestions, seeming more concerned with keeping their hair long than actually wanting to please me; from there, our relationship did not last. Only one, Alexandre, with his student look, hair down his neck and somewhat covering his ears, surprisingly submitted to my “demands”. During a meal, I told him about my tastes and like so many others, he replied that he never imagined having to cut his hair. I just told her that I thought a shorter haircut would suit her better. He stroked his hair and I felt rather embarrassed by my words. He looked a little surprised and gave an evasive nod without saying more.
The next day, we were walking hand in hand along the streets and he stopped in front of the window of a small neighborhood hairdresser. He told me that he had decided to please me and without letting go of my hand, he entered the salon.
Hélène, a woman in her fifties with a playful look, welcomed us. She had just put on a nylon gown for her client and while tying the strap around this guy’s neck, she smiled in our direction and waved at us, indicating that we should sit in the empty seats just behind her. Alexandre noticed the large amount of hair on the floor around the styling chair where Hélène was working. I felt his hand stiffen in mine, surely wondering if that was such a good idea. He ended up smiling, tilting his head. We sat still holding hands.
At that time, I felt a little guilty and even more for being in such a strange environment. I didn’t feel very comfortable, my usual nervousness tickling my senses again. But I still couldn’t leave Alexandre here, especially just after persuading him to come! Not a word was said while we waited. We remained quietly seated and smiled a little when we saw Hélène buzzing her client’s hair.
I took advantage of this moment to look around me, noticing 2 other hairdressers – an old man and a young woman. The woman wore curly hair cascading over her shoulders, unlike Hélène, who wore hers extremely short in a rather severe, almost masculine style. I thought that as a hairdresser for men, she had seen fit to cut her own hair very short and I wondered how long the ringlets of the young stylist would last. My eyes frequently fell on Hélène’s hair, platinum blonde on top with darker back and sides. His blonde hair was slicked back while the darker ones were nearly shaved. His fairness made him look almost bald. It fascinated me, and despite being so short, this hairstyle suited her perfectly and it was hard to imagine her wearing any other style. I couldn’t help but touch my own hair today, held back by a black velvet headband – and I’m sure she noticed it at least once and smiled at me, just this precise moment. I gave her an almost sympathetic smile, the same envious look I give to all women who wear such short hair. Deep inside me, I wondered if, one day, the old man hairdresser had forced Hélène to sit in the chair before the store opened and shaved her close as if to advertise the style of his salon. .
– “Alright then. Ready!” I was brought out of my daydreams by the voice of Hélène inviting Alexandre to take a seat. He squeezed my hand tighter, let go, and walked over to the chair. He sat down and the hairdresser immediately wrapped him in a blue nylon cape which she tied tightly around his neck. She then threw a white towel over his shoulders, clutching his neck with a clasp. She then took a comb and smoothed the young man’s hair quickly. Suddenly he looks so small, like a little boy.
– “You have great hair for a man! Thick and in great shape, what are we going to do to it today? Just a light cut?”
– “Uh, well, not really, uh, something… a little different, much shorter. It’s Martine’s idea, uh…” He looked at me in the mirror and I saw Hélène follow his gaze. She smiles.
– “In that case, if it’s Lady Martine’s idea, we’ll ask her!! Come closer, Martine, and let’s see what you would like us to do with this young man’s mop of hair.”
All eyes in the store turned to me. I wanted to blend into the floor, but I slowly got up and approached the chair. Never had I felt so embarrassed.
– “Well, I think Alexandre should wear his hair a little shorter, a more masculine style, a kind of…” She was right, the hair of the young man exuded health. “I’m thinking of something just above the collar, maybe still covering the ears a bit too…” But Helen didn’t give me time to fully answer.
– “Very well, no problem.” She ran a hand through the thick hair on the back of Alexander’s neck. “We’re going to get rid of ALL of that and on the ears too. Do we leave some length on top, Martine?”
– “Uh… Yes…. No… also….”
– “And you? Alexandre, you agree”
– “I want to please her,” said Alexandre kindly.
– “Thank you very much, Martine, you can go and sit down now.”
Looking away, I went back to my chair, I saw that Hélène was grabbing a clipper in her hand. The same one who had shaved the hair of the previous client. She gave it a quick brush stroke and started the engine briefly. I jumped at the sound of the machine. Hélène chose from the guard spread out on the shelf the one that seemed to her best suited and looked at me through the mirror, all smiles.
– “Well, Alexander, now let’s give your lady what she wants!”
The roar of the clippers echoed through the living room again and it dove on the boy’s neck. Hélène put a hand on Alexander’s head and then pushed in, there’s no other word for it, she pushed the clippers straight into the back of his neck, going through the thick brown hair to finally reappear high at the back of his the head. Giving the clipper a flick, she sent a mass of dark hair across the floor. I watched him fall but my amazement was even greater when I saw the white band on the back of my friend’s head. Not pure white, no, just a faint black shadow as if Alexander hadn’t shaved his beard for a day or two. Locks of eight to ten centimeters clung to his shoulders.
It was a real shock for me. I saw Alexandre send me a few shy smiles through the mirror, raising his eyebrows as if to say it was my fault. Of course it was! And he was not yet really aware of the reality, he did not yet know how much, in one pass, the hairdresser had shaved him! But what could I do now, it was all too late. Helen directed her clippers again towards the neck, shifting, I could see even better the light skin appearing under the buzz of the clippers.
– “Is it short enough like that, Martine?” cried the hairdresser to me over the noise of the clippers. “We got rid of all those curls as you requested.”
The clippers continued its back and forth in the back of Alexandre’s neck and I felt, at that moment, Alexandre’s strange gaze land on the hair lying on the ground; that hair I’d had fun with a few nights before by putting it together in a little ponytail that I pretended to cut with my fingers while laughing. I’m afraid there isn’t enough hair to do it tonight. There may be no hair. Alexandre realized this when Hélène moved to one side and, with a clipper, cleared a temple and all the hair around her ear.
The shy smile was immediately replaced by a look of shock. He wanted to say something but realized it was now too late for that. Most of her hair was either on the floor or tumbling into his lap. As for me, troubled by the action of the clippers, I stood there blissful and paralyzed at the same time.
Helene put the clippers down and sprayed the hair from above. She snipped away with scissors and comb, leaving a length of about eight centimeters. She combed his hair back making a slight parting on one side, Alexander’s look seemed very different. Hélène picked up a new clipper, smaller this time. I wanted to jump up and shout, “No, that’s enough, he’s had enough.” But of course, I didn’t say anything. Alexander’s face no longer reflected any expression. Helene used this trimmer to shave the hair around the ears and at the bottom of the neck.
Hélène then coated her hands with gel and massaged Alexandre’s hair, making it smooth and shiny. She also massaged the shaved areas from the back and sides. I realized how much I would have liked to do this myself. Alexander’s hair looked perfect now.
She turned the chair so that Alexander was facing me. “So, Martine, are you satisfied?”
I mumbled something. “Um, yes. Thank you, that’s excellent.”
So she abruptly pulled off the cape, allowing Alexander to get up. As he was heading to pay, Helene thought it best to say.
– “Well, Martine, I think it’s your turn now, right?”
Suddenly my mouth felt dry. I felt very strange. My legs wobbled beneath me.
– “No, we promised never to touch her hair” threw Alexandre to Hélène.
– “Oh, I see. Well, too bad, goodbye, then!” Helen reached her right hand to her own shaved neck and smiled. ” I think I could have cut them almost as short as Alexandre and besides, it would suit you perfectly!! “
Alexandre and I never really talked about his haircut. He said nothing and was happy to please me. He never let his hair be cut so short afterwards, but he continued to visit Hélène’s salon regularly, and she often asked about me. I never knew whether to really believe it or not. I would have liked to go back with Alexandre but he never said when he was going and I felt awkward asking.
Although we agreed to remain friends, we decided to end our relationship a year later and I have never seen him since.
I often think of that day when my mind wanders about hair. It seems so at odds with my own hairstyle. I could never find the words to describe the state in which this adventure put me: to feel Alexandre’s gaze on me, the whole process of his shearing; what a strange excitement. I experience this same feeling every time I visit the hairdresser and as soon as my eyes can meet the bent neck of another woman succumbing to the clippers.
One day, sitting at my desk during lunchtime, my friend Nancy arrives.
– “Hi Martine, how are you?” she said to me in her perfect English, reinforcing my decision to take some language lessons.
– “Hello Nancy. I’m fine, thank you” I tried with my best accent. She laughed gently but refused to comment on my attempt.
Nancy is a very beautiful woman, a little younger than me with a much more exacerbated personality. On her own, she sat down on a corner of my desk, crossing her long legs.
– “I came to ask if you were interested in going out with a group of us tomorrow. Just for a meal?”
– “Oh, that’s very nice, yes, of course, thank you very much. I know so few people here.
– “OK, that’s perfect. I’ll contact you as soon as possible.”
She tilted her head then and I could see her hair sliding down her cheeks. She had amazing hair. A very short, slightly asymmetrical bob. I love seeing her when she leaves her hairdresser: the neck is short and degraded like black velvet, I am sure that such a cut is made with a clipper. It is a real perfection, it is clear that she frequents a great hair salon.
– “Uh, Nancy, can I ask you which salon you go to?” I said to her, surprisingly uncomfortable.
– “Salon? Frequenting? Oh, yes, my hair! do you like this haircut?” She ran her hand to the back of her neck, thus lifting her hair and thus revealing those cut shorter. “It’s a small salon near Payton Place. It’s run by a friend, Joyce and her sister Elisabeth. They opened it last year.”
– “Yes, it’s really perfect.” I said, “I’m looking for a good hairdresser.”
– “You want to have your hair cut! But no, it’s…”
– “No, just a light refreshment” Nancy seemed shocked by my words.
– “Oh, it’s that….. Joyce is… how do you say… she’s different, uh….” Suddenly, her cell phone rang.
– “Robert!” she exclaimed, with a huge smile on her face. ” It’s Time. ” she said more quietly. Then she became more nervous, almost irritated and capricious before saying to me: “I have to go, Martine, I take my day, see you tomorrow then.”
– “Okay, you can leave, see you tomorrow. Have fun!” She laughed stupidly and as she headed for the exit, I heard her exclaiming in English in an excited voice.
Damn, she forgot to give me Joyce’s phone number. In the secretary’s office, I took the phone book and it was quite easy for me to find a hair salon called “Hair Joyce”. I then picked up the phone. I felt incredibly uncomfortable but it happened to me every time I decided to do something to my hair. But I can’t wait any longer to have them cut, I have the name of a good salon so it’s time to decide.
I started dialing the number and after a few rings a voice said, “Hair Joyce, I’m listening.”
– “Oh, hello. My name is Martine. Uh, I would like….”
– “Excuse me? Excuse me, are you French? Do you speak English?”
– “Uh, yes…yes!”
– “In whom can I help you…..Martine…is that it?”
– “Yes, Martine, I am indeed French. I am calling you on behalf of Nancy, she and I are office colleagues. I would like to make an appointment with Elisabeth for a haircut, please. As soon as ‘it will be possible for you…’
– “It’s Elisabeth on the phone! Oh, you’re friends with Nancy! Let’s say, tomorrow morning, at ten o’clock, will that be ok?”
I would take a day off. There is nothing urgent at the office and I have a few days to spare. Besides, I can prepare to go out with Nancy, as agreed.
– “Perfect, Yes, at 10 am, tomorrow morning.”
I thought I had said the right thing, nothing more, and as Peter, my former hairdresser, often says, a cut is a cut. I noted the address of the salon while informing my secretary of my wish to take a day off.
The next morning, the insistent buzzing of the alarm clock roused me from my sleep: 7:00 am. It’s time to get ready to go to work but not this morning, what a pleasure to laze in bed. I walk slowly towards the bathroom and start by brushing my hair then, as usual, my mind still confused, I enter the shower and put on a plastic cap to avoid getting my hair wet. I always feel a little nervous before going to the hairdresser, especially when it’s a new place. I feel in the pit of my stomach a sort of throbbing although I don’t see why I should be worried; I still can’t explain it to myself. Anyway, it’s a little more excitement and it’s a pleasant experience after all, to be pampered. It will surely be interesting to observe the activities of this fair. I get out of the shower and start getting ready for the day. It’s going to be hot today so I’m choosing a tight little red dress. I chose this color to make my hair color pop even better. How am I going to wear them today? It’s going to be hot, but I decide to leave it free anyway, the hairdresser will certainly shampoo me.
Finally ready, I leave my building and head for Payton Place, the address of the salon. I’d probably be early but the morning is so beautiful that I don’t feel like staying inside. Most of the time, my hair catches the eye when I’m strolling around town. I feel that and I don’t mind.
While following the route I had drawn in my head, I manage to find my way easily. It’s just 9:30 a.m. The area is full of small shops. I vaguely remember walking around here. Going up the street, I begin to trigger the countdown of the building numbers to finally arrive in front of a store with a white front, “Hair Joyce” is written on a sign above the door. I’m really early! What to enter and wait? No, I decide to sit on the terrace of the nearby café to enjoy a cup of coffee and enjoy the late summer sun.
From my seat, I observe passers-by and also try to examine the salon. But it’s too far for me to see inside. The door opens and a tall, elegant woman comes out. She is dressed in a well-made black suit, she walks quickly and I can hear the click of her gold bracelets and her earrings which are very easily distinguishable thanks to a short hairstyle, most certainly sculpted by Joyce or her sister. She was the very kind of woman you often expect to see coming out of a fashion magazine: very fashionable, blonde, very short hair, 3 centimeters, no more, it seems evenly cut and sticks to the face of the young lady. From here, she looks clean-shaven and this style suits her perfectly. I can’t help but stare at her. She turns to me and says, “Hello!” I nod my head shyly, smiling, but feeling so awkward.
I wonder how she must be feeling, like every time I see a woman having her hair cut so short and especially when it’s such an attractive woman like this one now disappearing downstairs from the street. I pass a hand under my hair, in the nape of the neck, trembling a little despite the heat, I feel the weight of my hair and that reassures me. I know I would never dare to cut my hair but, strangely, I try to imagine it.
I take another sip of coffee and see two women about to enter the salon. One wears short hair and the other just in front of the shoulders. This brings me a relief because I was beginning to think that this salon only did short hair. I am looking at my watch. Another 15 minutes ahead of me. I decide to get up.
I smooth my hair back as I approach the door. I notice that the style of the salon is apparently quite modern: lots of black leather and bare metal. The storefront displays some modern art objects including a kind of transparent box with multicolored material inside which looks like…no, it can’t be…
– “Hello Miss. How are you?” I had just closed the door behind me, a piercing female gaze immediately fell on me from the small reception desk.
– “Uh, hello, I … I have an appointment with Elisabeth, I’m Martine”
– “Oh yes, it’s my sister, she ends up with another client just over there but…” She looked at me strangely. “But…uh, you’re a bit early!”
– “It doesn’t matter, I’ll wait a bit.”
– “Uh, yes, … but are you really sure that you have an appointment here?”
– “Yes, of course, at 10 o’clock.”
– “No, I mean, well, your hair. How well do you know our salon?”
I felt a little strange at that exact moment, like something was wrong in my head. But probably, I had to work on my English even more to understand the subtleties that Joyce was trying to reveal to me. I was trying to think of Nancy. She told me that this salon was different, different from what? I can’t remember. I think that’s when his cell phone rang.
– “My friend Nancy comes here. She told me that you were different….”
The phone rang.
– “Oh, hello. That’s perfect. Please join us. I know that Elisabeth will be very happy to meet you.”
I took a few steps and sat down while Joyce called. I catch several glances directed at me and particularly at my hair. What could be more natural in a hair salon.
As I could see from the outside, the inside is quite trendy. The seats are in raw metal covered with a few surprisingly comfortable red leather cushions.
The young woman sitting next to me is the one with short hair who came in shortly before me with her friend.
– “Hello” she said to me, followed by a fleet of words that I had a lot of trouble capturing. She looked at me curiously
– “Hello, uh, French” She tilts her head, tries a few words of French but quickly gives up.
“Your hair, it’s beautiful. Are you going to have it cut?” She then shows me her own haircut. I feel a shiver down my spine. I just stare at her.
– “Cuts Um… cutted!” It repeats itself somewhat unnecessarily and rather insistently. She moves towards me the opening and closing of her second and third finger.
I instinctively back away. I shake my head and my hair with it.
– “Cut just that” I say, pointing to the tips of a wick.
She laughed “Here?” She shook her head too but not a hair moved. She then indicates to the woman who had entered with her. “Monday, friend. Cut!!!”
I followed her gaze and saw that she was right. Her friend was sitting in one of the armchairs, covered by a white and pink striped cape. A young hairdresser was standing next to her. Her hair was a little like Nancy. She took an electric clipper and gathered her client’s hair into a ponytail then, without a word, placed the clipper on the young woman’s forehead and pushed it back in the middle of her hair. At the time, I wasn’t sure I could see, but she repeated the same action several times, holding firmly to the ponytail. I was totally hypnotized. Alexander’s haircut came back to me.
Oddly, the woman sitting next to me and her friend seemed to like it, they both had wide smiles on their faces. Even the hairdresser was smiling despite a determined look on her face. A look that meant: I want to cut all your hair. That’s what she did, in fact. The ponytail she was holding ended up falling to the ground.
– “And another one in…” I didn’t understand the rest of the sentence. Another woman in something, in what? What does that mean ? And the other hairdressers, Joyce, Elisabeth….
Joyce moved from the desk to the armchair, she had a rubber band in her hand which she attached to the ponytail. She quickly brushed it off and put it in the transparent box in the storefront. I finally realized that I had seen correctly: The box is full of cut hair. Up close it was obvious but from further away the colored, silky and different lengths intertwined with each other and produced a quite pleasant effect. Some of the lengths seem really substantial. Unconsciously, I touched my own hair, shivering. I begin to think how so much hair was collected although I was able to witness the extraction of the last donor.
The hairdresser took off the big black guard of the clippers and attached another smaller one to it, which she showed to her client. She tilted her head.
– “No, Anna, let’s see, It’s not the right one!” Anna opened her eyes wide, staring at the object and then closed them slowly in approval. The hairdresser then chose a much smaller comb and without more ceremony, turned on the clipper and pointed it at Anna’s head. Locks of dark hair seemed to fill the air around her. His head was then gently but firmly tilted to the left and then to the right before being tilted forward. all the while, the trimmer continued its work relentlessly, continuing to remove every hair from Anna’s head until it looked like a piece of bare skin. During a brief pause, the hairdresser replaced the large clipper with a smaller one. The loud hum of the first was replaced by a high-pitched roar before the cold blades touched the girl’s neck. Then it seemed to me that I could hear each of the blades cutting through every hair from the completely shaved nape of the neck to around the ears. A white line had formed between the remaining brown hair and the tan skin on the back of her neck! Anna, the client had gone almost bald. I had just witnessed her shearing in this salon. I had never seen a cut like this before. Why so short? Why ?
V – MY CUT …
  “Hello Miss. How are you today?” Asked me Elisabeth asked with a pleasant accent if a little brusque.
– “Hello Elisabeth. Very good, thank you.”
– “It’s a pleasure to meet a friend of Nancy’s. I’m happy that she recommended our salon to you, but a little surprised too. Did she tell you that we are different?”
– “Yes, she did. And your sister had started explaining to me, but….”
– “Oh well, and then it doesn’t matter, now that you’re here. ” She said before I could ask for any clarification on this famous difference. This was starting to really intrigue me.
– “Of course, I….”
– “It’s okay, come with me now, please.” I followed her to the styling chair.
I settled into the chair waiting to discuss my hairstyle requirements before being led to the shampoo unit. Elisabeth picked up a striped nylon cape, gave it a quick tug, and began tying it around my neck. My hair tended to get in between and I heard Elisabeth sigh, as if exasperated by this mass of hair. Joyce was looking at us and approached us, she lifted my hair so her sister could tie the shoelace properly.
– “Thank you, Joyce. Here you go, Martine.” She placed her hands on my shoulders and gently leaned me back in the chair.
– “Lean on the backrest, it’s more comfortable, please.” I was already seated. It was quite comfortable actually. Elisabeth adjusted the height of the chair by pressing a pedal on her foot. I soon found myself high up, my own feet swinging freely. She slowly began to smooth my hair with a comb. Joyce stayed next to me and the two sisters exchanged knowing glances.
– “We are going to start, Martine. Are you ready?”
– “Errrr … yes. But, uh, we didn’t discuss the style I want or even the length to cut …”
– “I’m sorry, but I thought you wanted all this… But, we can talk now.” She seemed a little disappointed, as if in a hurry to start her work.
– “So, what do you want, Martine?”
Less than two centimeters. I have to think about dividing by at least two to turn centimeters into inches. “Just a thumb.”
The two sisters looked at each other, surprised.
– “Really, a thumbs up!” Elisabeth smoothed back my hair and held it firmly in a ponytail at the back of my head. The two sisters chatted all excited by my choice. “Yes, an excellent choice for sure.”
Why this excitement? and this word, crewcut, what does it mean?
– “You have a lot of courage. But, I’m sure it will suit you perfectly. You’ll see! Elisabeth is perfect for this kind of haircut” Joyce whispered to me.
Courage? Why do I need courage? What does she mean?
– “Joyce, help me?” says Elizabeth.
I tried to move my head but was forced to see that it was held firmly. I struggled to get my hands out of the sleeveless cape. I was trying to pull Elisabeth’s hand away, the hand holding the scissors.
I was out of breath. I had to hold my breath for an eternity. The two sisters looked at me both worried and surprised at my reaction.
– “What is happening to you, Martine?”
– “What are you planning to do with my hair? It seemed to me that you were going to cut them all!”
– “Of course. That’s what you asked for, Martine” said Elisabeth, almost angrily.
– ” I do not have …. “
– “Two centimeters, you said.”
– “Yes, I know, I….”
– “Your hair is very thick. So it will be a crewcut. Sorry, in French, uh….. I don’t know the word!”
– “Crewcut, what does that mean? I don’t understand.” I said in a slightly alarmist tone.
– “A bit like a brush” Joyce explained to me, taking out a hairbrush in her hand while stroking the short hairs.
I shivered thinking about what could have happened to me. These women wanted to give me a crew cut and I didn’t understand. I could have looked like that woman in the street without wanting to. I would have finally known what it was like to have your own hair cut short. And if I hadn’t reacted, it would now be too late to turn back.
– “Yes, it will suit you very well. Shall we do it again…if you are ready?”
– “NO! LISTEN!” I shouted. Both women were shocked by my retort and nearly flinched. I was also very shocked.
– “I just want my hair to be shortened by two centimeters. Just a cut for the ends. Do you understand me?”
– “Excuse me? But of course we understand… now. But we’re very embarrassed, you knew our salon is different.”
– “Yes, I knew it but how is it different. You still haven’t explained it to me.”
– “You told us you knew” said Joyce with an exasperated air. “OK, let me explain: last year, we were running a traditional salon here, but business was not doing very well. The clientele in the neighborhood being quite old, we were confined to doing perms, blow-drying and other colors , which was never our cup of tea. So we decided to reorganize the salon. And we specialized in short haircuts, even very short haircuts for women.”
– “A kind of barbershop for women.” Elizabeth pointed out.
– “Yes and it’s a success. Many of our clients know that we have an excellent reputation as stylists and they like this idea.”
I begin to understand why they could have made such a mistake. “So most of your clients wear short hair?”
– “All of them. No client is allowed to leave the salon with hair longer than 10 centimeters. And with each visit, we expect less. You remember the woman just before you. That hair was too long. I told her that next time I will cut her much shorter.”
– “All, But I am here. I….”
– “Yes, but we think you have understood. Many women have sat in this armchair with long hair and I have freed them from it. You see, the proof is there, in the basket in front of the window. It is …how do you say…something!”
I understood now! It was high time. It is clear that this salon is not where I will get the cut I want for my cut hair.
– “Sorry, I wasted your time. I’m confused and I better go now.”
– “No! One moment, please. I have just told you that we do not allow any client to leave with hair longer than ten centimeters. This is our advertising and our trademark.” explained Joyce.
– “M. .. but I’m not a real customer.” The knots tightened in the pit of my stomach. Images of the previous shearing crossed my mind, The woman near the café, countless images of short, close-cropped hair, Hélène, Alexandre’s hairdresser…
The two sisters looked at me in the mirror, still trapped in the striped cape, my long hair cascading over my shoulders. There was a long pause and Joyce finally said… “But yes! You’re a client!”
– “No, let’s see, I… really have to go.” Two pairs of hands lightly touched my hair; one pair resting on each shoulder with very light contact to prevent an attempt on my part to stand up.
– “Martine, we see a lot of women like you here, too, with long hair. We know that you would like to know the feeling of a cut, a short cut. Isn’t it?”
– “Well, I uh, I…” I had a hard time swallowing, a little annoyed by these two women above me. Two women with precisely very short haircuts. I didn’t think of it right away but it excited me terribly.
– “I watched you when Anna was shaved earlier, you couldn’t take your eyes off her for a moment. ” Joyce told me.
I heard the noise of the clipper again.
– “And I saw you at the cafe admiring my previous client when she left”
Her image flashed into my mind again.
– “At this time, you thought that these haircuts would be as pleasant for you, Martine?”
– “Yes I thought about it, but…”
– “We know that, Martine, we know your goal, even if you dare not admit it. We must help you.”
Together they lifted my hair above my shoulders and smoothed it gently. I was beginning to realize that I was losing control of the situation.
Joyce began by brushing my hair. I felt a little more relaxed.
– “You realize that we have to help you, Martine.”
– ” Yes I know. “
– “We are true professionals.”
– “Yes, I understand that.”
– “You have seen our work.”
– “Yes.” I closed my eyes beginning to indulge in the sensuality of Joyce’s constant brushing.
– “So we will decide what is best for you”
– “Yes.” I felt very relaxed brushing as Joyce spoke.
– “Excellent, it’s good that you agree. “
Be? To what?
– “Mmmm?”
She stopped brushing my hair, I was a little disappointed, I opened my eyes and saw Elisabeth with scissors in hand again. She smiled at me and nodded as her sister quickly put my hair back into a ponytail for the second time.
Am I dreaming? Or was I really reliving what had happened to me minutes before?
Joyce pulled my hair back with both hands and amazed, I saw Elisabeth slide her scissors around my hair just level with her sister’s grip.
I tried to shout: NO! but my throat was too dry and no sound came out of my mouth. My mind was totally blank and the reflection in the mirror paralyzed me. I couldn’t move.
The tension in my hair stiffens a little more.
Elisabeth strained the closed scissors, a sign of intense concentration, she bit her lower lip. No, she couldn’t really do that. One woman can’t do that to another.
In the mirror, several locks appeared in Joyce’s clenched fist. No, that is not possible.
“Wonderful, it’s so thick,” Elisabeth yelled with undisguised jubilation.
” Take your time !” said softly. “Enjoy the moment!”
An intense emotion welled up inside me. I was trying to control the tears that were trying to fall but at no cost did I want to close my eyes. I wanted to watch.
What I had long dreamed of seeing was happening to me: cutting a woman’s very long hair!
A strange feeling was coming over me now: an intense emotion that had been contained for too long. Out of breath, my face flushed and I felt the excitement rise, almost like…
With a sudden, triumphant movement, Elisabeth cut my neat ponytail and Joyce held it up.
– “YES!” Both women exclaimed., “Welcome to the short hair club, Martine!” Joyce added, stroking my cheek. The two women smiled at each other.
I still wanted to deny the obvious but my hair now cut in thick, uneven lengths around my cheeks was proof of that. “I can’t believe it…I…NO!”
– “It’s better. Now that you’ve consented, Martine.”
– “Agreed? What….”
– “To cut your hair, of course!” said Elisabeth in an obvious way. She started running her hands through my hair. This contact was new to me. “And now do you still want us to continue?”
I was distracted by Joyce tying my cropped hair with a rubber band.
– “So!” She put them in front of me. All dead but still shimmering in the light as she moves around. More than sixty centimeters of hair! It couldn’t be mine. I was trying to get them back. Joyce laughed. “No, Martin!” And she threw the hair in the plastic box. “Tradition demands!”
“Martine, this is starting to get long. So, crewcut. Two centimeters, okay?” Elisabeth exclaimed in a somewhat exasperated tone.
– “No, that’s not what I asked, it was a….”
– ” She’s right.” Joyce said. “A little longer on it will fit him better, I think.”
It seemed better to me. “I….”
– “A square, perhaps?” Elisabeth interrupts me before I speak.
Yes, that’s what suits me even better. “I….”
She hand-tied my hair to one side. A short, chin-length bob looks quite appealing… but it’s still too short. I began to regret that she hadn’t just cut the bare necessities. She continued to pull them up. The two hairdressers looked at me in the mirror with a puzzled expression. They were talking to each other without any interest at all as far as I could tell.
Then, at the same time, they looked at each other, smiling with an air of complicity.
Joyce was standing nearby watching her sister with her arms folded. Elisabeth ran a fine comb through my hair. I could see a few sections of longer hair around the rim of my head. She twisted them and held them with clippers. She combed the rest straight down, drawing a parting about two inches above my ears and like that all the way around my head.
My breath was literally taken away when I saw Elisabeth take a clipper in her hand. Of a type similar to the one I had seen used on Alexandre: Big and noisy.
She couldn’t be serious. She was trying to scare me! I couldn’t believe she was thinking of using this device on me. Elisabeth put her free hand on my head and pressed down so that I leaned to the side. I was trying to resist.
– “No, you can’t….” I tried, at that moment, to get up from the armchair.
Joyce’s hands rested firmly on me; one on my head the other on my shoulder.
– “Please don’t be silly. You can’t leave with hair like that!”
My blood froze. I couldn’t make the slightest move. I could only stare at my image in the mirror: my head tilted to the side and the trimmer gently approaching my temple. My heart was beating faster and faster. I had completely lost control of the situation.
The cold metal of the clipper blades brushed against my cheek… my head filled with a shrill vibration that peddled through my entire body.
The blades skimmed across my cheek. I felt the coldness of steel. Then, suddenly, the electric motor changed rhythm: the blades had just reached the first hair roots. Hair lengths of up to 15 centimeters began to slide down my cheek as the trimmer moved up towards the parting line. With a sudden movement of the handle, the hair cut by the clipper dispersed, leaving behind a visible furrow, not as white as the parting but you could see the skin through it. Without pausing, the hairdresser was now repeatedly ironing her trimmer over the side of my head so that all the hair was evenly shorn. When finished, the grip of the two women relaxed.
They changed sides. Joyce pulled my head to the other side and placed a hand on my shoulder while her sister quickly slid the trimmer over my other cheek and trimmed my other temple as well.
Elisabeth then moved behind me and lifted my head, holding it straight so I could see myself well in the mirror. The sides of my head appeared shaved, There was no other word. My eyes filled with tears. Joyce held me in this position for a few seconds, then she smiled as she stared at me through the mirror. I then felt the pressure of his hands on my head, forcing me to tilt forward as much as possible. I could only see my the cape over knees and the counter in front of me.
My whole body shook when I felt the metal on my neck. It vibrated for a moment along my neck. Then, again, the clipper buries itself in my hair and the sound changes, I hear the crackle of my hair, crushed in the jaws of this voracious machine. I thought of Alexandre, who had his neck shaved like this. I understood that mine would very soon become similar. At that moment, I remembered the haughty gaze I showed towards the clients who suffered the same outrages in the salons I used to frequent. I now felt the same gaze on me from both hairdressers even though their own hair was already short.
I should have felt anger…or fear it…or just sadness…but another emotion was manifesting deep within me. These two women now had complete control of me; their gestures and their smiling faces tended to want to show me their own excitement and I admit that I, too, was beginning to be invaded by a wave of pleasure.
A cool wind caressed my neck. A freshness that the metal clippers revealed to me a little more each time it passed. I made an attempt to try to imagine the work of the trimmer in my neck. Time and time again I felt it slide down my neck and less and less hair fell in front of my eyes.
The clipper suddenly went silent. I was allowed to raise my head and again I saw in the mirror bare sides first. Then I tried to turn my head so that I could see my neck. Similar to the temples, it appeared to me shaved, shorn!
We undid the clamps, letting the hair fall from the top and Elisabeth, scissors and comb in hand, observed me while taking a break.
I suddenly saw the chrome weapon approach my forehead, opening its blades, just flush with the implantation. No she can’t!
“No I….”
With three quick snips, my bangs fell to my knees exposing my forehead and eyes. My bangs had just been kept to a minimum. I had already seen women with such haircuts. I hated it! !
My open eyes looked huge. They got even bigger when I saw even more length had been taken away from the sides and back. A short bob, so short it couldn’t cover my ears, not even my temples. As if that wasn’t short enough, Elisabeth lifted a lock from above. It must have been about 10 centimeters tall, no more. She cut it at the roots. She lifted another; she also cut it, leaving it a little longer. Her pace quickened and she seemed to cut my hair haphazardly. It may sound unbelievable but I could glimpse some form of existing hairstyle. A very short style.
I still couldn’t quite believe what was happening to me as Elisabeth continued to lift and cut relentlessly. I sat there, totally dazed, staring at myself in the mirror, trying to visualize my long hair cascading over my shoulders. The shorter the hair, the more I became aware of what was happening to me and the more the pleasure rose in me.
In the mirror, you could see the cape moving; my hands under it had slipped from the arms of the chair to reach between my knees. They moved rhythmically down my thighs…and higher. I tried to hide the movement but I didn’t stop.
Elisabeth put down the scissors and picked up another instrument.
Bzzzz! A small clipper appeared in her hand and she quickly pointed it high at my temple; more hair fell again. The temple hair was now really clean shaven. The clippers were moving fast and its tiny little teeth nibbled the back of my neck the same way. My excitement intensified further. I had to bite my lip trying to suppress the scream that would inevitably escape if I was alone.
My hands felt damp, a warm dampness enveloped my sex…. The slight grimace I made at that moment told my hairdresser everything about my condition, she smiled in the mirror and turned off the clippers.
Elisabeth looked away and I was able to release a small sigh; the valve of the deep explosion that had just shaken me. I saw Joyce in the mirror, she was smiling at me. Was I normal? I blushed slightly.
Elisabeth applied gel to my hair and pulled my hair back. A word came to mind. Funky! I don’t know where it came from but it suited my hairstyle perfectly. I looked at least 5 years younger.
– “That’s it, it’s over. Do you like it, Martine?”
I could barely speak. It seemed incredible. I would never have dared to ask for such a cut and despite the happy memories that Alexandre’s cut had caused me as well as the other cuts I had witnessed; I had never felt such pleasure.
A mirror was presented to me and I could see the back for the first time. I was seized with an involuntary gasp. The top of the head was cut short as on top. On the other hand, while going down, that became very short: I could see by transparency the white skin of my neck. The nape of the neck was bare, drawing a completely white-shaven demarcation all around my neckline.
– “Martine, do you like it?”
– “Uh, yes, it’s beautiful. It’s very… uh… funky!”
The two sisters laughed with me as much by my amazement as by the pleasure they were able to reveal to me.
The cape was taken off me and Joyce gently brushed my face and my neck to remove the few small hairs that remained attached.
– “Thank you, Thank you very much Elisabeth and Joyce.” They looked at me with deep smiles of satisfaction. I felt myself floating, like in some kind of dream. It had been such an amazing experience that I just wanted to keep it forever etched in my mind.
I paid and I was given a card for another appointment in three weeks. Three weeks ! ! I who had always had the habit of going to the hairdresser every six weeks. But soon, I’ll realize that I can’t wait any longer.
I greeted the two women before leaving the salon. Once in the street, I could admire my reflection in the shop windows. I picked up my pace, eager to get back to my apartment to examine my new hairstyle in detail.
– “Oh no! You too! Oh, it’s terrible!” The waiter who had served me coffee an hour earlier had run up behind and was staring at me with a pitiful look on his face.
I turned to him smiling.
– “Come on! That’s very funky.” I widened my smile a bit more than he returned shyly. Perhaps a hesitant start to understanding.
For the first time, I put a hand on my neck and I understood the reason for the amazement of the waiter. I shivered involuntarily and my pace quickened.

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