Since her first day at Saint Mary’s prep school, Suki passed the old barber shop, opening up on her way to school and bustling on her way home. Always, she wore her black hair in a pony tail, kept just long enough to be worn so. She never liked worrying about her hair. However, every time she saw a man sitting in the barber shop, she couldn’t resist the thought of herself in his place, receiving a sharp, easy to manage cut.
She felt she could pull off such a look, in her girlish white blouse and plaid skirt, per the school uniform. Besides, she wore perfume and a little eye shadow. Of course such a hairstyle would be invariably extreme for a teenage girl. But that didn’t matter. All she really wanted was to get into a great college, far from home, and live with maximum independence, a dream which aligned well with a no-nonsense haircut, clippered and precise.
And the haircut part of the dream found its way to distract Suki from her homework. She struggled to wrench herself out of bed, tossing restlessly, thinking of how free she might-certainly feel with her hair buzzed. Her occasional trims were always done at home, by her mother. The thought of asking for a buzz cut terrified Suki into a feeling of shame and strange arousal. But she was a senior this year, and it wasn’t like her mom could force her to wear one style or another. But that didn’t bay the fear at the attention to come if she really did get the haircut she’d set her heart to.
Halfway through chemistry homework, she found herself browsing netscape, listening to the pop radio, and sipping a mineral water. Clutching her gold locket, she wondered how other girls her managed to get away with a buzzed haircut without severely disappointing their parents. Mostly she found websites for people with a fetish for transformative hair cuts, and was somewhat surprised to see how turned on others were by the thing she wanted, and maybe lusted for. But if so many people, many being men, had such a fetish… she didn’t like the idea of a guy liking her just because of her short hair.
Despite her studious nature, Suki was interested in having some sort of romance before sinking herself into college, and then work. Some level of romance, and sexual experience, had to fit into her life. Being petite, and the only Japanese girl in school, it felt like every guy was either trying to get to know her, or leer from a distance. Sara told her that’s why most girls didn’t want to be her friend. They were jealous. But even high school friends could make good future connections.
It would be good to choose a boy for herself, one who could accept, and not fixate on the haircut she wanted to wear. So the haircut would have to come before the boyfriend. And oh, how she longed to feel her scalp between tiny, stubbly little black hairs.
“Mom. I want to have my hair cut shorter,” she announced, taking a seat at the dinner table. Per usual, her dad was still at work, and likely wouldn’t be home until late.
Mom’s eyes went wide as she sat down two plates of Tuna Helper. “Really? How come?” She implored, stone faced but clutching her fork, with that motherly, feigned curiosity.
Suki exhaled, expecting derision for her plan, “You can probably tell, I don’t like taking care of my hair. I always wear it up. So I might as well get rid of it all.”
“All of it?” Mom asked. Setting down her fork, she ran a hand through her own black, silky bob. A real mom-cut.
What’s she gonna do? Suki wondered, Refuse to eat if I don’t agree with her? “Yes, all of it.” Suki affirmed, matter-of-factly, and took a big bite of her dinner.
“Fine.” Mom huffed and sucked her teeth. “I don’t know what your dad’s gonna say, since he’s going to be paying for your senior pictures.”
“I don’t want to do senior pictures,” Suki reminded her.
“Yeah. I know, but it’s for us, the ones you love you. And I suppose it’s too much to ask to wait until after senior pictures to get the hair cut you want?”
Suki swallowed, unsatisfied. “When are we doing these pictures?”
“I don’t know. Summer time would be good, a good time for you try your shorter haircut idea. How short are you wanting to go?”
“What difference does it make? You already said I could do it.”
“Because I get the feeling you want to do something crazy like shave your head. Why don’t you come to the salon with me next time I go. We’ll get you a shorter haircut, just so you can try it out before you do something crazy.”
“So you’re not going to make me wait until after senior pictures?”
“I don’t know. I’ll have to talk to your father about that. So next Saturday. You’ll come to the salon?”
Caped and looking into the mirror, Suki made a few faces at herself. Her mother spoke to the stylis. “Suki wants to go short, but not too short. Not too short today, but off the neck and around the ears, like a pixie cut. Will you make her look nice?”
Cindy, the stylist, gave an easy grin, “Yes, of course I can do that. We’ll do something nice for your daughter. Nothing to worry about. Why don’t you have a seat?”
“All right. Thanks.” Mom said, then added to Suki, “I’ll be watching from over there.”
When she was gone, Suki looked to Cindy, a middle-aged blonde with a spray bottle in hand. Stretching her feet under the gown, Suki added, “I wouldn’t mind if you went really short. That’s what I really want… I don’t know what my mom’s deal is.”
Cindy shrugged. “Well, she’s the one who’s paying. So I have to do what she wants,” sounding like she’d just woken up, with a cigarette in her mouth.
With much spraying, combing, and tousling, she snipped away at Suki’s silky hair. First, came a fringe, halfway up her forehead. Suki thought it made her face look rounder than ever. Then Cindy snipped around her ears, leaving a little side burn, and cutting a brief taper in the back. After texturing and thinning, it she was left with a very soft, somewhat round coif, somewhat like a bowl cut with a smoother transition to a nape which was cut very close, but never buzzed.
Suki liked how her ears showed without sticking out, and how her stud earrings contrasted with her now visible hair line.
“How’s that?” Cindy asked, before mom came to survey the result.
“I like it a lot,” Suki admitted, somewhat sated. She reached out of her gown and patted at her bare neck. Having most of her hair cut off did arouse her, more than she thought it would. Without the gown, the curve of her shoulders was more pronounced. She also felt more confident in the existence of her chest.
Then at home, Suki couldn’t stop looking at herself, and touching herself, so pleased to be free of all that hair. Heading back to school, she looked at her reflection in the big window of the barbershop. She noted the sun glistening off the invisible hairs along her jaw line. Clutching her locket, she felt more confident than ever that she’d someday have her haircut right inside.
Knowing the buzz cut of her dreams had been put off, she began seeing Jeremy. Making out in his basement, he’d caress her nape and kiss at her bare neck. And she was in heaven, whipping her little hair about, running her lips along his bare chest, tickling him with her fringe.
But the thrill didn’t last. This wasn’t the haircut she wanted. Her hair, which used to always be worn up, had begun to get in her eyes, forcing her to tilt her head at uncomfortable angles to read her books. The hair around her ears began to curl outward, though she tried to tuck it back. And the hair at her nape began to look like a mullet.
“I need a trim. Bad,” she told her mom, once again at the dinner table.
“I see. You are looking a little shaggy, but my hair salon isn’t cheap. You’ll have to wait until I go to get my own trim.” Mom answered, tight-lipped.
“But it’s driving me crazy,” Suki grumbled. “I have a mullet.”
“I see. Why don’t you let it grow out to how it was?” Mom replied, innocently. “It seems like maybe you don’t like short hair, after all.”
“But this isn’t the cut I wanted, and you know it.”
“Yes, but we had a deal. You can get the haircut you want after senior pictures.”
“And what am I supposed to do until then?”
“Live with it.”
“I feel like you tricked me into getting this stupid haircut, because you knew I wanted so bad to go shorter,” Suki spat.
“But what about sweet Jeremy? Do you think he wants a bald girlfriend?”
“I don’t know. I guess he’ll have to deal with it.”
Mom lifted from her chair, unaware of her raising voice. “But I don’t want a bald daughter. What kind of mother would I be if I let my 17 year old girl shave her head? I won’t let my child become some freak.”
“Is that what you think of me?” Suki breathed, sounding more hurt than she’d intended. “Do you expect me to hide the person I am, just so you can… so you can what? Save face with your friends who might not approve of me? Fuck you.”
“How dare you talk to me like that?” Mom gasped, then began to cry, and ran off.
Well that was it, Suki thought. This simple thing she wanted was going to be forever a sore subject between herself and her mom. But for what? She clutched her locket again, and opened it to the picture of baby Suki, with her mom. “Mom will get over it,” she breathed.
She left for school early, after a restless night, nervous for how the kids at school, and Jeremy, might react. She thought it’d be best to get her haircut in the morning, instead of spending another night nervous.
This early, the neon Open sign was off, but she tried the door anyway, and it pushed open, triggering a bell to announce her presence.
“Just a second!” called a voice from the back as the old barber approached. “I was just having my coffee… Oh. Hi. What can I do for you?”
“I’m here for a haircut,” Suki replied, surprised at how unsure she sounded. “Am I too early? I was hoping to get it done quick, before school.”
“I do work quick,” the man nodded, sticking his thumbs in his pocket. He was chubby and wore a short crewcut, buzzed to probably a number two on top, then faded to bare skin around his ears. “But I don’t do many women’s styles like you got.”
Clutching again at the locket, Suki took a breath, then continued, “I don’t want a regular woman’s style. I want a cut like yours, buzzed all the way down, and faded. Please.”
“Oh. I see.” The man stared off for a second. “All right, have a seat and we’ll get you taken care of real quick.”
Suki took a seat in one of two leather barber chairs. She felt the black leather against the back of her knees as she trembled in anticipation. She licked her lips, smiling into the mirror. She’d almost forgotten she’d put on a little extra make-up today, to assert her girliness in the wake of this daring act.
Pumping the chair as high as it went, the man couldn’t help but ask, “So why does a girl like you want such a short haircut?”
“Well,” Suki started, removing her earrings, “I never liked fussing with my hair, and I’ve always wanted to try something really short, and I kept thinking about it. You know how it can be… curiosity.”
“Yes, of course.” Was the barber’s curt response, as if he’d maybe heard more than he was entitled to know. Expertly, he wrapped a strip of paper around Suki’s neck and draped a striped cape around her. Picking up his clippers, he asked with a conspiratorial grin, “Your parents aren’t going to come in and yell at me for this, are they?”
Forcing a giggle, Suki replied, smiling wide, “No, of course not.”
So the barber flicked on the clippers and used a comb to guide them against her scalp, right at her sideburns. She lost her breath at the first sight of pale skin, revealed. Finally, it was all real. Immediately she felt the ceiling fan’s cool breeze on parts of her never before bared. Quietly, expertly, the man pushed her head down and worked his way around the back of her head, leaving the top long. How can he be so calm? She thought. To her, it felt like she was on a roller coaster, just as it was about to drop, though it’d been too late to turn back as soon as the car started to move.
As he worked around her left ear, she stared straight ahead, into the reflection of her black eyes, determined to let every second sink in, determined to remember everything about this experience. She thought there would be music, but the only sound was the harsh buzz of clippers. And the smell of the place was more like after shave than that of a salon’s hair products. She didn’t before realize how narrow her jawline was, or how round her ears were. And her cheeks were so fleshy compared to the rest of her skin, which was now so visible. She was bald to the tops of her ears, and in love with it.
Then the barber started at the crown of her head, making his way forward. It felt like several minutes before she could see how the end result might look. But gradually the shadows of her overhanging black coif dissipated. And eventually the clippers made their way to her hairline. After brushing a few bits from her nose, she noticed how short her top had been buzzed, so short she could see her scalp between the 8th inch strands of fuzz. And that was what she’d been dreaming of. Immediately she wanted to touch herself, and spend the next several hours in bed, then make use of Jeremy, if he was so obliged. Then she remembered to stare ahead, and noticed how small her head was. It was cute. Yes, she felt confident in her ability to rock this look.
The barber made a few quick passes over areas that weren’t quite even, then produced his neck duster, to remove the little clippings which had scattered and attached themselves all about Suki’s neck and face.
“I’m trying not to smear your make-up around,” The man muttered with a chuckle, “How is it? What you wanted?”
“Yes. Exactly. Thank you so much.” Suki beamed.
The barber handed her a mirror and turned her around. “And that’s the back. It looks good?”
Suki reached up a hand and caressed her smooth nape, then brushed at her black fuzz. “Yes. It’s perfect.”
After the man removed her cape, she put on her earrings again, and felt the urge to grip her locket. Instead she mussed with her fuzzy hair and spun around before the mirror, so free. There were some shocked reactions at school, but pretty much everyone thought it was a really cool, unique look. But Jeremy immediately took a chance to touch her bare nape. In a hug, his breath grazed the skin behind her ears.
“Do you like it?” she breathed.
“Yes. It’s perfect.”