Haircut Number Four- The Bride Makes and Entrance; Mandy Gets a Shaved Pixie
Mandy’s cute crop lasted a few more cuts, her admitting that it was a hell of a fun cut, though she still wanted to go shorter. I was meeting her extended family for the first time in a few weeks, at a wedding in a different city. “I want to wow them all with my bitchin’ haircut,” she admitted. “And no more teasing me. I want it ubershort this time. Like, your scissors are staying put and your clippers are getting their exercise.” As my boys were coming with us to the big wedding, we had planned that she would take them to their soccer games that Saturday and they’d all meet me at the shop for our pre-trip haircuts toward the end of the day. We were leaving in the middle of the next week, so this was our haircut day before all the other last minute things we had to attend to. It gave us a fresh look but not the “just stepped out of a salon chair five minutes before we arrived” look.
It was also a Saturday where we had an entire wedding party booked. I’d met with the bride a few months earlier, as two of her bridesmaids were clients at the salon. She’d been complaining that all her stylist wanted to do was boring, traditional buns, and she wanted something way more playful. She admitted to her Maid of Honour (a brunette with a shaved nape and sides pixie with a big streak of colour- which changes- across her bangs) that she wanted to cut it short. Her hairstylist insisted not to until after the wedding, but that’s such a cliché. The Bride didn’t want to spend her honeymoon dealing with inches of princess hair when she wanted to lop it all off and start her marriage in a sporty short haircut. But she didn’t want to do it before the wedding, because she wanted to make an entrance. You only get that one near-heart attack “wow, look at your hair!” moment when you go from long to short, and Piper wanted that moment to be when she walked into the Church, not at a shower or a stagette.
When I met with her, she came armed with pictures of short haircuts from every angle. Her favourite was Dominique Rinderknecht, Miss Switzerland from a few years back, whose shaved blonde pixie made quite a splash at the Miss Universe pageant. My bride wanted to make a similar splash in her elegant, simple wedding dress. “If she can wear the Miss Switzerland crown with shaved hair, I should be able to pull off a little headband full of pearls.” She had pictures of her dress, so I knew the eye catching back of it and we both did some thinking about the perfect short (and surprise to everyone) haircut for her wedding day. If she changed her mind, we could always do a perfectly-neutral chignon.
While her mostly short-haired bridesmaids had usual their stylists give their undercuts a little shave to freshen them up, and her two out-of-town bridesmaids worked with stylists they’d just met to style their hair into something that would stay put all day, I took the bride to a private cutting area and asked her once more if she was ready. “So ready!” Piper nodded. “Cut it off!” So I snipped off her long red ponytail. Then I sheared and shaved her into a neat, clippered pixie cut, with not a single strand coming anywhere near her ears, and a longer top and side section, which covered one of her shaved sides, but not both. We then clipped and trimmed the nape into a perfect natural W. There was an actual gasp when she returned to the main shop where her bridesmaids were getting makeup applied. They got ready in the shop, having brought their dresses with them, and using that private cutting area now as their change room. The picture from the front of the church showed five short-haired ladies with five variously buzzed napes, and bridesmaid’s dresses with deep back necklines drawing attention to their perfectly snipped hair. “My mom’s jewelry will stand out now,” Piper nearly cried when she saw her mother’s wedding pearls draping down her back and her tiny pearl earrings showing up in her now very exposed lobes. When she stood at the front of the Church, the shaping at her nape drew attention and was anything but boring.
Her father arrived to get her, so they could do some pre-wedding pictures, and he cried. Tears of joy. Her mother had passed when she was very young and she had very few memories of her, but she remembered her mom always had her hair done, sort of Princess Diana short. I felt a twinge of sadness for my own boys, who also lost their mom when they were too young to really know her. But the happiness on this girl’s face gave me some comfort in knowing that my choice of profession can sometimes bring a smile to a person’s day, and the biggest day of her life in this case. My boys are used to amusing themselves with their tablets, but even they looked at the bride when she made her entrance and said they’d lost their mom young, too, but “she’s always kind of with you. She’s with you today.”
I was near tears myself by that point. Now it was time to trim up my boys and give Mandy her requested “bitchin’” haircut. My eldest son asked me to shave off his lopsided locks and give him something more classic in style. “I like Mandy, I want to make a good impression on her family,” he explained. He didn’t have to ask me twice. His hair was shaved down into a classic crewcut before he had the chance to tell me what style he was thinking. My youngest was less enamoured with the notion of a classic anything, but he knew he would look like a jerk if he didn’t also want to make a good impression on Mandy’s family. His head shape and natural hair is more suited to a straight up brushcut, though, and it had been a while since I’d had the chance to give him the cut I preferred. I quite enjoyed buzzing off the longer-on-top section to match it to his close-cut sides. They were both clipped and then we ordered Chinese for our dinner while I worked on Mandy.
It was time for Mandy’s proper pixie. I know she wanted a buzzed pixie like Jillian’s but I suggested we leave her with some length for the pictures at the wedding. After listening to clippers buzzing for the better part of the day, she was ready. I wanted to hear her ask for it. “Come on, have some courage,” she implored me when I began to snip above my fingers. I would not do it. I cut her into a classic pixie, neat and short above the ears and short at the back, but with no shaving or buzzing involved. I dried it and flat ironed it, leaving some lash tickling length at the bangs. It was very Ginnifer Goodwin. “I want it shorter,” Mandy said again.
Our food arrived just as she made this declaration, so I made her wait until after we’d eaten. “You were going to shave it,” Mandy reminded me after we’d cleared away our cardboard containers. “Was I?” I teased her, eyeing my clippers charging in their stand. “Yes,” Mandy nodded. She was not backing down. So I parted the sides and shaved the back, then shaved the side so close that I could use the clipper as a comb to guide it down. I shaved an exactingly short undercut and snipped the “longer” side still shorter than I had earlier. Her bangs now looked too full, so they were given some piece-y dimension and a lot of thinning. Mandy eyed me expectantly when I went to remove the cape. “Um, don’t you have more to do?” she asked me. So I once again picked up the clippers and sheared her nape, down to her natural hairline and not any rounded or amended shape. It was a perfect little W, like I’d shaved for Piper earlier that day. Then I kept on shaving. Up the back, too short to comb. Shaving the sides the same one-eighth length. I trimmed up the top not with scissors this time, but clipper over comb. Of all the brave girls who’d sat in my chair that day and shed their locks, Mandy’s was the shortest cut. She’d gotten her bitchin’ haircut. I got a kick-ass girlfriend who regularly pops into the shop for “a little shave.”
We attended Mandy’s niece’s wedding the following weekend, Mandy still rubbing her shaved nape and grinning when the hair fell out of her fingers. It hadn’t grown long enough yet to meet between them. Her niece was married in thick blonde ringlets and Mandy confessed to me while we were dancing that night that she kind of thought the bride from my shop looked prettier. “There’s something rockin’ about a bride with short hair,” she shrugged. “Like, she’s a grown- up walking into this.” Yes, there is, I nodded. Don’t grow yours out until after we’re married. “I’m not planning on growing out my hair,” she shook her head, before she fully realized what I’d said. Then she grinned.