I let out a deep sigh as I put down the paint brush. The coat of paint barely helped the small dark dining room I had no chance of fitting my heirloom furniture in. For the millionth time I wondered if I had made a mistake buying this little house in the middle of nowhere. Of course the reality wasn’t that I had made a mistake, it was that I had had pretty much no choice.
When Joe’s family had offered to give him the money to buy my half of our house as part of the divorce settlement, it seemed like plenty for a down payment, and a way to speed up finalizing the divorce I had filed for over a year earlier. It wasn’t till I tried to get preapproved for a mortgage that I learned about the loans Joe had taken out in my name. My lawyer made him transfer the debt back into his name, but it was going to be a long time before my credit score was recovered enough to get a mortgage. I had even had to give the electric company a deposit, because they didn’t trust me to pay my bill on time.
So, I had to settle for what I could buy with cash, a small fixer upper hours from the city. It wasn’t terrible, good school district, lots of trees, but it wasn’t what I was used to. It’s not like the house in the suburbs had been grand, but it was big enough to fit the beautiful oak dining table my great-grandfather made. And I was used to living where I could either hop on a bus or train and be at the Met or Radio City without worrying about parking.
God, I hadn’t wanted to leave the suburbs. The town where my ex and I had bought the house was within a 5 minute drive of 3 shopping malls if the traffic wasn’t bad. Here, where I could afford to live, the closest mall was 25 miles away. Worst of all, I was finally free and out, and there wasn’t a single gay bar in the entire county.
I headed towards the bathroom to rinse the paint off the brush, since my new house was too basic to have a basement utility sink. I watched the blue paint swirling down the drain. I felt like I should be being careful about not ruining the sink, but I was having a hard time caring. The horribly out of style pink corian sink was ugly and scratched. I wondered if I could afford to replace it considering it didn’t even match the simple white porcelain bathtub.
I set the mostly clean brush down on the counter and started washing my hands. As I dried my hands off with the towel, I looked at myself in the mirror. I needed an update just as badly as the sink did. My long hair pulled back into a sloppy ponytail, no make up, stained old clothing. Yeah, it wasn’t like I was going to dress up to paint the house, but I didn’t expect to look so frumpy.
In some ways, I looked better than I had in years. I was sleeping better and not stress eating constantly, and I was drinking way less. This little town was a nice place to walk, so I was getting more exercise too. It all showed. I no longer had bags under my eyes; my skin was clearer and brighter; I had lost 10 pounds. Great as all that was it didn’t make up for the lack of style I had going on these days.
I took out the elastic holding back my hair and fluffed it up. It didn’t help. It was limp. What had once been a well maintained below my shoulders with face framing layers and long side swept bangs style had grown out to one length down to my waist with ragged ends. It was still a great color, chestnut brown just slightly darker than auburn. and thick, but it looked very plain. It was fairly thick, but so long that the weight pulled it flat.
I had been ignoring my hair for months, no years. I hadn’t worn it down in ages, the ponytail had become my default. I used to only wear a ponytail once in a blue moon. Even when I had worn a ponytail, it had looked good with the sideswept bangs and front layers creating softness around my face. Plus the hair in the occasional ponytail was much bouncier all layered and a few inches shorter.
During the separation and house hunt, I had struggled to scrape together enough to afford the basics. Going to the salon was a luxury I had given up. I was long overdue for a haircut. I lifted up a lock and looked at the numerous split ends, some so bad they looked like feathers.
Now that the divorce was settled and I had a house to live in, things felt a little less desperate. Not great, but better. Better enough that paying for a trip to a salon didn’t feel irresponsible.
On an impulse, I decided it was time to start feeling good again. I quickly put away all of the paint supplies and hopped into the shower. 20 minutes later, I was sitting in a robe on my bed amongst my half unpacked wardrobe googling hair salons on my phone. Hopefully I could find someplace with an open appointment this afternoon.
I had just assumed I would be looking at a long list of salons at various price points with numerous reviews. I had assumed I would have choices. It had been a bad assumption. There was just one hair salon in this very small town.
Bab’s Beauty Parlor, was the only salon, it had a 2 stars average in the reviews. I read a couple of the reveiws. One from several years ago had a client complaining about going in for a stacked aline bob, and walking out looking like she had a completely different hair cut in the front and the back with no transition. Another more recent one said she asked for long layers and ended up with a mullet.
I clicked on Bab’s website anyway and was very unimpressed with the pictures I saw. A dye job labeled “ombre” was just two toned, dark brown and very brassy bleached blond, with no inbetween. A picture labeled “beach waves” was just messy unbrushed out curls, some very tight, others loose. And the cuts all just looked a bit off and very dated. They never fell quite right. Layers were choppy looking. There was a little boy with way too high sideburns. Even the before and after of what had obviously been a basic trim on a girl’s long hair lacked the smoothness one would expect from freshly done hair, and was just slightly crooked.
I figured I needed to expand my search. I hoped I wouldn’t have to drive too far, so switched to maps. I had planned to type in “hair salon,” but accidently submitted the search with just “hair.”
I was surprised when two marks instead of just one popped up in town. The first was Bab’s again, but then at the other end of Main Street there was Ted’s Barber Shop. I stared at my screen for a minute before I clicked. Google had Ted’s Barber labeled as a barbershop instead of as a salon so it hadn’t shown up in my initial search. A barbershop that had 5 stars. I stared at the screen for a bit longer thinking, curious.
I shook off my curiosity about Ted’s perfect 5 star reviews and remembered I had planned to see what was around in one of the neighboring towns. I had to pinch the screen 3 times before I zoomed out far enough to find another marker for a salon. It was a chain salon with a 3 star average. It seemed stupid to drive an hour for barely better than Bab’s.
I clicked back to the map, and zoomed back till just my small town filled the screen once again. There were just the same two options, a bad salon or a good barbershop. I clicked on Ted’s once again, and decided to take a closer look.
It was mostly men who had given out the glowing reviews of Ted’s, but there were 2 women who had also expressed happiness. I went to Ted’s website. Again, lots of pictures of men and boys, but a few women and girls. There was a girl holding up her long hair to show off an undercut with a great decorative design shaved into it. a before and after showing long hair going from slightly ragged to neatly trimmed with perfect layers. The staff picture revealed that though Ted the owner was an older fellow, the rest of the staff were women. The list of services included “lady’s cut,” “girl’s cut,” “lady’s shampoo + cut + style,” etc. The prices were certainly affordable.
Obviously, I didn’t want to go to a really bad salon, but the idea of going to something called a barber made me feel all kinds of uncomfortable. I felt stupid for feeling torn, why should it matter if it’s called a barbershop. Especially since it was obvious they weren’t excluding women.
I decided what the hell, and clicked to call Ted’s.
“Hello, Ted’s Barber Shop. This is Bess. How can I help you?” A friendly female voice asked.
“Hi, I was hoping to schedule a haircut appointment.” I said tentatively. “Is anyone available this afternoon?”
“We don’t do appointments very often.” Bess replied. “We’re a bit busy today. Teddy is on a fishing trip, and it’s Kim’s day off, so it’s just Jen and I. So we’re only doing walk-ins today. I could make an appointment for you during the week, but you’re welcome to come in if you don’t mind a little wait.”
“OK.” I said even more tentatively, since I wasn’t sure. “Thank you.”
I just stood there for a minute thinking. I could take a little trip next weekend and go back to my old salon. Make a day of driving there. I would feel a lot less nervous.
Then I caught my reflection in the mirror that was still leaning up against the wall because I hadn’t gotten around to hanging it yet. Which reminded me of two things. First, I had a million things to do, I didn’t have time for a long day trip to do something I could do here. Second, was just how badly I needed that haircut. There was a good chance I wasn’t going to get around to it if I put it off for a week. My almost dry hair was so limp I just wanted to pull it back into a ponytail again.
I grabbed my cutest v-neck t-shirt, a nice pair of jeans, and my favorite hoodie. I took a moment to put on a little mascara and lip gloss. It was just about 10 minutes later when I slipped on my shoes and headed out the door, pulling my pretty much dry hair into a low ponytail as I went.
When I parked down the street from Ted’s, I took one final deep breath gathering up my courage. I looked in my rearview and saw the old fashioned spinning pole two storefronts down. I got out of the car quickly before I lost my nerve. I walked past the pizza place, the stationary store, and into Ted’s Barbershop.
The bell above the door jingled, and the people all around the store looked over at me. Both of the ladies working and a couple of customers said “hi” the rest just nodded and smiled, except for one little boy, who very loudly asked his mommy why a lady would come to the barbershop without a boy. She shushed him while looking like she disapproved, and told him she’d explain it at home. I tried not to let it show as I flushed with embarrassment, while wondering if the disapproval was about the question or my presence.
I was so embarrassed, I wanted to just turn around and head back out the door. I might have done so, except I felt like that was a pretty weird thing to do and probably more embarrassing than just being there. I spent a moment of my embarrassment trying to think of some excuse that would let me explain why I had entered the shop, but was going to leave again, but couldn’t think of one that really worked, like why would I be asking for directions when every business in town was on the same street.
I looked around the shop. It mostly looked like the classic 20th century American barber shop out of a Norman Rockwell painting, with just a few hints here and there that we were actually in the 21st century. Like the cell phone plugged into a charger on the counter next to the old register, and the sign that gave their paypal address. There was a row of full waiting chairs against the wall on the side of the shop opposite the side with the 4 barber chairs. There were a few more waiting chairs by the window at the front of the store, one was unoccupied, so I sat in it.
I went to pull my phone out of my pocket and realized I had forgotten it. I thought about going back to the car to see if I had left it in the cupholder, but figured it was more likely I had left it on the bed. I had hoped to be able to show whoever ended up cutting my hair a picture of the length my hair was back when I’d been maintaining it, and just ask for it to be a more updated version. I guess I was just going to have to explain it, which worried me a bit, because I always said things wrong and accidentally omitted important information when I was nervous. I remembered the time I was tasked with calling cousin Mike after grandma passed away, and left the date and time of the funeral on his answering machine but forgot to tell him grandma had died.
I watched and waited as Bess and Jen worked on the customers in their chairs, wondering which one was which. As they finished up customers and called up the next ones they seemed to know everybody’s’ names and the customers seemed to know theirs. They called people up from the waiting chairs by name. The waiting chairs never stayed empty for long, proving that they were indeed having a busy day. The new customers coming in also greeted everyone by name. I guess that was part of that small town charm I’d always heard of. I soon figured out who was who.
Bess looked to be in her mid 50s and had heavily layered blond hair down a little below her shoulders. She wore a nice floral print blouse and tan slacks with a sharp crease. On her feet were flats that were obviously a compromise between comfort and style.
Jen was a little younger, late 30s, maybe early 40s. Her black hair was cut pretty short into a pixie-bob, with a buzzed undercut on the sides. She wore a grey pinstriped button down shirt under a leather vest. She had tight black jeans and a nice pair of biker boots. The wallet in her back pocket was attached with a chain to one of her belt loops, like was popular for guys in the ‘90s. On her left wrist were a bunch of leather and macrame bracelets. She was utterly adorable.
I have to admit, I was spending a lot of the time watching Jen’s slightly round butt. She smiled a lot as she worked, chatting cheerfully with each client. When she called up Bobby, the little boy, she asked him directly if he was getting the usual, before checking with his mom. He repeated his question about why a woman was in the barbershop. She happily told him that Bess cut her hair, and that she cut Kim’s hair. She didn’t talk down to him, when she told him that lots of women got their hair cut here.
Jen finished up with Bobby and tried to be friendly with his tight lipped mom as she paid. Jen took a few minutes to sweep up and get a sip of her drink before she looked at me, and smiled.
“Hi, I don’t know your name, but you’re next.” Jen said with raised eyebrows, as she motioned me towards her chair.
“Hi, I’m Amanda.” I said trying for slightly flirty, “I just moved out here a couple of weeks ago. I just bought a bungalow over on Lakeview Road that I’m fixing up.”
“Oh, you bought the old Thompson place?” She exclaimed. “Steve, the realtor, said he thought it would probably go to a flipper. I’m glad someone who’s planning to live there bought it.”
“I’ll be living there for at least a few years.” I said as I climbed up into the barber chair. “Have you lived here long?”
“I grew up here.” She answered as she put a strip of tissue around my neck, which was a new experience. “So, what are we doing today, just a trim?”
I’d been so distracted by her cute rump, I had half forgotten why I was here. I hadn’t planned what to say. Then again, what I wanted wasn’t that complicated. I just wanted it back to the way it used to be before I had started neglecting myself. My hair had been nice looking when it was better maintained. I just really didn’t want to feel like I had to put it in a ponytail all the time, I wanted to feel like it looked good down again. The soft layers that had brushed along my jawline had made my face look so much softer
“So did you just want a trim or something else?” Jen asked again, as she put the white cape over me and fastened it around my neck, making me realize I was taking way too long to answer. “Do you want to keep most of the length?”
“Oh no, it’s completely grown out. It’s been years, it weighs a ton. I liked it much better when it was shorter. Take the length up a bit.” I blurted out quickly hoping I didn’t sound like a dweeb. I was flustered and there were people waiting. “I just want to get rid of the ponytail. I like it brushing the jawline with layers. I want to go back to having bangs, I used to have side-swept bangs. I had meant to show you a picture, and ask you to do an updated version, but I forgot my phone.”
“Ok” Jen said enthusiastically, and pumped the chair up a wee bit. “We’ll get rid of the ponytail.”
She took the scissors out of her pocket and started pulling down on the elastic holding my ponytail. She stopped after just a few inchs or so, instead of taking it all the way down, and raised her scissors towards the elastic. I assumed she was going to cut through the elastic. I smiled at her taking the “get rid of the ponytail” so literally.
“Like this?” Jen raised a quick questioning eyebrow at me. She was pushing on the elastic, so that I could feel it pressing into my neck. I guess she wanted to make sure I didn’t mind wasting the hair tie. I gave a little nod and waited for the sound of her cutting through the elastic. Suddenly, I heard a much louder crunching noise than I expected, and felt a slight tugging. I felt a thin strip of cold metal rocking slightly against my neck. I was a bit confused for just a moment.
OH GOD!!! She was taking get rid of the ponytail very very literally!!! She was cutting my hair off short.
How could she think I wanted it short!!! I went over my recollection of what I had said, and realized that it probably sounded like I wanted the whole thing jaw length, not just the shortest of the layers. And then she had asked me to confirm the length before she actually cut it, and I thought she was asking about an elastic. I had gotten myself into this by being a tongue tied idiot. If I tried to correct what I had said, I was going to sound ridiculous. Besides, it was way too late to stop it . A whole lot of hair must have been severed with the very first crunch, and we were well past that.
I watched shocked in the mirror as bits of hair started to swing forward onto my face. I Just sat there not saying a word as she kept sawing through my hair. I’d so been looking forward to my hair bouncing at nipple level drawing just a bit of attention to my impressive cleavage, like it used to, and the locks that were swinging down didn’t even brush my shoulders, and this wasn’t even the finished length.
There was a last crunch and a final snap. Jen held up my ponytail for me to look at like she was showing off a big fish she’d just caught.
“There you go!” She said with delight. “One ponytail gone. Feels good huh?”
I forced a smile, and nodded as my heart pounded so fast I was a little dizzy. I knew that if I said anything, I would break into maniacal laughter. Looking at my thick chestnut hair dangling there was so surreal. I couldn’t even be upset yet, I just felt numb. She put the ponytail down on the counter in front of me.
“It’s not quite brushing the jaw line, yet, but we’ll have it there in just a few minutes.” Jen continued as she stood behind me and started fluffing out my now short hair. “Then we’ll add in those layers and bangs. So, why did you let it grow out for so long?”
I took a deep breath to steady myself, before I even attempted a response.
“I kinda neglected myself while I was busy with my divorce” I explained as Jen started spraying water into my hair. “I only went on a few dates during the separation, so I didn’t really feel a need to take care of myself.”
“Well in a way it worked out nicely, it’ll a nice ponytail to donate.” Jen pointed out as she picked up a spray bottle. “You can feel good about that as well as getting back to taking care of yourself again.”
The bottle squeaked as Jen squeezed it repeatedly while ruffling my hair. I thought about the mess I had gotten myself into, and wondered how I was going to look by the end. Getting to donate the ponytail was making me feel a bit better about the mix up.
Jen sectioned my lightly dripping hair. I watched her petite hands in the mirror as she worked, her nails were short and neat. She twirled the hair in each section to hold it in place, instead of using clips. Then her hands tilted my head forward so I was looking down at my chest.
I felt a comb smoothing down a thick section onto my neck. The fourth time the comb scraped down, it stopped right about where my head ended and my neck began. Then I felt the point of scissors taking little snips right along the comb. The points of the scissors made their way from one side to the other, leaving an opening between the hair that was still on my head and the severed hair that clung to my neck where I didn’t feel any wet hair. When Jen finished snipping her way across my neck, she combed through the hair then down past it knocking the loose hair off my neck. Most fell behind me where I couldn’t see, but one small bit slid forward over my should and down my chest to where I could see it. It was a good ‘nother inch or too off of what already felt so short.
I had expected her to let down the next section and start cutting it to the same length, but instead she started combing the now very short hair of my nape up and cutting it even shorter. I could hear the scissors snipping right up against the comb that she kept running up the back of my head.
This was definitely going to be the shortest my hair had been cut since I was very little. As a little girl, as soon as I could express an opinion, I always said I wanted long “princess” hair. I wouldn’t even submit to a basic trim without making a fuss, fearing it would be turned into a serious haircut taking it back to the short hair I had in nursery school. It wasn’t till I was old enough to take myself to salons that I began to get actual styles, but always long ones. When all my peers were getting emulating Jennifer Aniston and the “Rachel,” I opted to look towards Lisa Kudrow instead and went for the “Phoebe.”
I couldn’t see exactly what was going on in the back of my head, but the amount of snipping was worrying me. I could also feel a pretty thick layer of cut off hairs landing on my neck and shoulders.
“You’re cutting quite a bit back there?” I said tentatively.
“Don’t worry, I’m not doing a stacked aline.” Jen chuckled. “It’ll be a more updated shape. I’m just tapering it a bit up into the weight line, not quite an undercut. Was your previous bob a stacked aline?”
“I’m not sure how to explain it.” I said since I hadn’t previously had a bob at all.
“The great thing about a bob is it never really goes out of style,” Jen said in a way that made me suspect it was something she’d said many times before, “it just gets reinvented over and over. Sometimes it’s angled a little more this way or that way, but there’s always some version in style.”
She paused for a moment and I took the oportunity to raise my head. She smiled at me through the mirror. I had a moment of wondering how those full pink lips would feel against mine, and suddenly only cared if she liked the way my hair was going to look, any other opinion suddenly didn’t matter.
Jen untwisted one of the sections and combed down more hair to cover where she had already cut. Then she retwisted the section and tucked it back in front of my ear, and repeated everything on the other side. As she combed the hair flat against my neck, I tried to think of how to drop a hint.
“I guess now that I’m getting myself together, I should try meeting people again. But I have no idea where people go to meet around here. When I left my ex, I used to go to this one particular bar in the suburbs. Or sometimes I would drive down to Asbury Park but that’s hours from here.” I said just before I felt Jen’s hands tilting my head down again.
“My last girlfriend and I once spent a weekend in Asbury Park.” She answered as she pulled the comb down till it stopped a little higher up on my nape than it had before. “I like P-town better though.”
I was kinda glad it was hard to talk with my chin pushed into my chest, since I was sure I would say the wrong thing. I was so so happy though, that she seemed to be both the right orientation and available.
I just listened to the sound of the scissors snipping through my hair, and concentrated on the feel of the damp hair landing on my neck. Then I felt Jen’s warm fingers, brush some of the loose hair off, and I wished I could feel those fingers other places.
Jen tilted my head back up and once again started untwisting my hair. This time instead of just combing down some of it in the back, she combed it all down both in the back and around the sides, so it hung naturally.
She started cutting again. I could feel the snipping start at my spine and working towards my shoulder. I watched as the shiny silver scissors came around and watched a couple of inches of hair falling first onto my shoulder, then in front of my shoulder where it slid down to my chest, then my lap. Till she made it to the front and snipped the last lock off just below my chin.
I contemplated the new length as Jen started cutting around the other side. The cut ends swung just below the bottom of my ear and did indeed brush against my jaw as was promised. It brought attention to my lips. Maybe it’s better than bringing attention to my cleavage.
Jen spent a bit of time combing the hair out and taking little snips here and there, especially around my ears.
“Do you want layers all over, or just around your face?” She asked me.
“Go with whatever you think is going to look best.” I said, since I hadn’t thought about it at all, since this wasn’t even close to the hair style I had been thinking about. “It’s been so long, that I really haven’t kept up with what’s in style.”
“Ok,” she said, as she resumed combing. “Really noticeable isn’t really the latest style anymore, so I’ll just do a little to take the weight off and give it a little movement.”
She started combing the hair at the top of my head upward, then clamped it between her delicate fingers so that about 2 inches stood up. She cut downward with the scissors almost exactly lined up to my hair so that when she closed them a thin spike was left and a small sliver fell away. She moved over just a tiny bit and snapped the scissor closed again. She cut the first section into five long thin spikes before letting it down and combing up another section. She kept repeating this all over my head at various angles over and over, Tons and tons of hair was floating down on my shoulders and face, but somehow, I still seemed to have the same amount of hair. Finally, she combed my hair though a few times and seemed to be pleased with the rsults. My hair was falling a little differently, curving towards my jaw.
“Any opinion on the length and stye of the bangs, or is that up to me two?” Jen asked me with a wink and chuckle.
“You’ve been doing great so far, might as well keep trusting you.” I said with a smile, and realized I was genuinely not upset about the mix up anymore. And I don’t think it was just because of how cute the person giving me the haircut was. Though I had to admit that was probably most of it, as I looked up at her sparkling blue eyes.
She combed most of my hair behind my ears, then sectioned off a litle triangle above my forehead, and combed the hair from it forward over my face. I could just barely see her through the curtain of hair in front of my eyes.
Jen started taking tiny snips at the center of the curtain, just below my eye brows. I closed my eyes, and felt the freshly cut hair glide down my face. Tickling my nose, and getting stuck in my lip gloss. As she moved out towards the sides, the hair slid over my cheeks, and down to my chest, tickling my jaw as it went.
After working her way across my forehead in both directions, she combed my brand new bangs up away from my face and took a few snips. I opened my eyes and watched the hair flurries falling before me. I blinked my eyes closed again, as a bit landed in my eyelashes. Soon my face was covered in a dusting of short hairs.
“Hang on. I’ll have you dusted off in a little bit.” Jen promised as she combed through my bangs one more time.
I heard her turn and take a step towards the counter, I carefully opened the eye that felt less likely to have bits of hair in the lashes about to fall into my eye, and watched Jen put down her comb and scissors and pick up a hairdryer. She turned it on and pointed it at her own hand for a moment, I guess to check the temperature.
“Eyes closed.” Jen ordered.
She pointed the dryer at my face, using it to blow the loose hairs downward off my face. I felt her finger tips delicately pluck some of the longer strands that were stuck to my lips away. After my face was mostly clear, she pointed the dryer towards my neck, blowing all the loose hairs away and off to the floor. Then she quickly dried the only slightly damp hair. I heard the dryer turn off and opened both eyes. Jen picked up a brush, as she put down the dryer. I closed my eyes again, as she brushed my face off with the ever so soft bristles.
“Almost done.” Jen almost sang to me. “I just need to clean up the back.”
She was at the counter again, picking up a small trimmer and comb, though I had seen similar ones used on others before, this would be the first time I had ever experienced it myself. Soon the little machine was humming. She stroked the trimmers up the back of my neck. The slight vibration, relaxing the muscles. She ran the trimmer over the comb right about where my hairline was. After several passes, she turned off the trimmer and gently stroked upward with her hand. She once again went to the counter and put down the trimmer.
“I just want to make a few little adjustments.” She picked up the scissors.
Once again, she tilted my head down, and started combing the hair at the nape upward and taking little snips up against the comb. Then she let my head up again, and I watched as she went around the bottom of my hair combing and taking tiny snips, till everything was completely perfect.
Finally, she combed through one last time. Then ran her fingers through my hair, and smiled at me. She put down her comb and scissors and picked up the dusting brush. She brushed me off again and unfastened the cape. She took off the strip of tissue, and balled it up. She took the hand mirror off a hook, and went behind me.
“So, what do you think?” Jen asked, holding up the mirror with one hand and resting the other hand on my shoulder. “Does it live up to expectations?”
I tilted my head back and forth looking in the mirrors. In the back, when I held my head straight up, it looked like it all just went straight across, but when I tilted my head forward, it revealed the tightly tapered hairline. As she had said, it wasn’t quite an undercut, since it didn’t go up very far.
I reached up my hand, and ruffled my new bangs, which grazed my eyebrows. They were kind of fun and flirty. Then I reached back to feel the tapered nape. The very short hairs prickled against my finger tips. I rubbed my hand up and down it a few times, smiling. I smoothed the hair along the side of my head, and accidently lightly brushed Jen’s hands, which sent a jolt through me.
Jen squeezed my shoulder, and went to put the hand mirror back on the hook. She turned, and looked down at me while leaning against the counter, waiting for me to say something.
“It feels so different.” I looked into Jen’s smiling eyes as I spoke. “It’s better than I imagined.”
“Better than you imagined?” Jen looked mildly confused, “You say that like it’s the first time you’ve had a bob.”
“Well it’s been long for quite a while now” I replied, since it was true even though it left out most of the story, “and it’s never been this exact style.”
Maybe someday, I would tell her the whole story about how I had said the wrong thing while tongue tied. Today, just wasn’t the right day for it. Today I risked making her feel bad about what had happened. Too soon to laugh.
I stood up, I wasn’t sure where to go next. I looked around and spotted the register, and started to head towards it.
“So um…” I started, as tongue tied as ever.
“No charge when you donate over 10 inches, and that is way more than 10 inches,” Jen said as she nodded towards the ponytail on the counter. “I’ll take care of sending it off if you like.”
“That hardly seems right.” I said nervously. “You did such a great job, and how do I know what’s a good tip, and…”
“Well, how about this; since it’s Saturday night, you can take me out for dinner as a tip.” Jen said with a very neutral expression. “Would that work for you?”
“I think I could handle that.” I said trying to sound cool even though internally I was screaming YES!!! YES!!! OH BABY, YES!!! “But I don’t really know what’s good around here.”
“Pick me up at 7, when we close, and I’ll take you to my favorite place.” She said with a smile and a wink.
“Ok, see you at 7.” I replied trying to look casual as I walked to the door, even though I was imagining my fingers exploring her body while my teeth were nibbling her nipples.