“Hey, do you want come along?” The surfer dude waved at me from his open convertible. His German shepherd barked in a friendly manner from the backseat, while the dude’s surfboard was propped up on the seat next to him. I approached the stopped car and saw that the surfer dude was wearing nothing but swimming trunks. I wondered idly whether he had any clothes in the boot of his car for after he had been swimming. If I were him I would not want to drive home in wet swimming trunks.
“There’s nowhere for me to sit.” He would have to move his surfboard to the backseat next to the dog.
“Oh, come now. You can hold my surfboard. It’s important to me, but I trust you with it.” I could tell from his breezy, nonchalant delivery of this line that he had already enjoyed a measure of success with this pickup line. He could give the lads in Ibiza lessons in not being awkward.
I decided to get into the car with him, even though I had never seen him before. I would never consider doing such as thing back home, but here I was on holiday in California. He looked friendly and not at all dodgy or like a serial killer. His sun-bleached blond hair flapped in the wind, except the front part, which was held in place by his sunglasses. It had never occurred to me to use sunglasses as an impromptu headband, but this bloke made it cool.
“I’m Lucy.” I thought he should have introduced himself first, since he was the one picking me up, but perhaps he would get the idea if I modeled the behaviour I wanted to see.
“I’m Brayden. Wow, you have an exotic accent.”
“Exotic? Hardly. I’m from Reading, outside of London.”
“See, you are exotic. I’ve never met a British girl before. Welcome to California! You know, we have a Redding here, too, but it’s a ski town in the north of the state.”
I had no idea any part of California got cold enough to ski, but Brayden reminded me that California is the same length and general latitude as the whole of Japan, so the northern part does indeed get snow, while San Diego, the nearest big city from where I was right now, was in the southernmost part.
“You look exotic, too. Black hair and blue eyes. Like Pierce Brosnan or Cillian Murphy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a girl with that combination.”
“You just named two Irish actors. That’s the clue. I have Irish roots. We’re not all green-eyed gingers.”
Brayden’s eyes got bigger. “That’s even more exotic!” In his excitement he took his sunglasses out of his hair, causing the wind to blow his long tresses across his face. I was a little nervous about his ability to see where he was going with all that blond hair blocking his vision as he was driving.
“I hope you don’t get offended, but I worry about your being able to see the road. Here, you can borrow my spare hair tie. I don’t want you to crash.”
All my friends back home tell me I’m a wet blanket, an Eeyore, but I can’t help it. I didn’t want to be killed on holiday just because I got into the car of a stranger who let his long hair obscure his vision on a winding coastal road with a decent amount of traffic. Spelled out like that, this whole adventure sounds colossally stupid. I’m normally much more cautious than this—well, except when I’ve been clubbing—but I do tend to be a bit freer on holiday.
Brayden accepted the hair tie and duly tied his hair back, but the front pieces that were too short to reach the main part of the ponytail continued to flap about in his face. This didn’t seem to bother him, but it drove me crazy. I wished I had a box of pins, or, better yet, a pair of scissors in my purse to solve this problem once and for all.
“So. I can see that you surf. Doesn’t your hair get in the way? I think I read somewhere that the actor Chris Hemsworth cut off all of his long hair during his Christmas break one year partly because it kept getting in his face and driving him crazy when he was trying to surf.”
Brayden was clearly going for that Australian superhero surfer movie star look. I wanted to see if he was any good at surfing or if he was just a poser.
“I don’t just surf, I swim, too. Actually I was a lifeguard as a teenager.” Again, it seemed like his hair would be a hindrance. I wouldn’t want him trying to save me if he was drowning in his own hair. He perhaps thought that these images would be impressive to me, but I’m a practical girl, and a bloke needs to look the part.
When we arrived at the beach, he bounded out of the car, let his dog out the back, and held out his arms for me to give him the surfboard. I decided to stay in the car and watch him. After all, I didn’t have my swimming suit with me.
Unsurprisingly, the front pieces of his hair stuck to his nose and his brow ridge when wet, and he wobbled on his surfboard as he tried to push them out of his face. If he had a swimming cap, that might have helped. When he got upset by a wave and swam after his surfboard, he set off in the wrong direction, likely because he couldn’t see, and another surfer had to help him. He wouldn’t have this problem if he cut his hair short like the other surfers, who seemed much better at the sport.
When he came out of the water and returned to the car for a drink of water, he was still pushing hair out of his face. He must have been able to tell from my face that I wasn’t really impressed by his performance. Even when he was inches from me, I couldn’t help but watch the other surfers.
“Yeah, you’re right. I kinda suck.” Aw, he looked so cute with that crestfallen expression on his face.
“No, I wouldn’t say that. I just think you haven’t reached your full potential. I think you are just as capable as these other surfers in terms of technical skill, but look. They aren’t spending half of their time in the water struggling with their hair. Perhaps if you wore a swimming cap you could concentrate better.”
Brayden pushed his front hair back again. “You’re right. Maybe I should just get a haircut already. Gah.”
“I think you would suit short hair.” It was hard for me to stay neutral on this. What am I thinking, giving a near stranger hairstyle advice. Maybe it would be fun to be the one to cut Brayden’s hair. I had only ever cut doll hair as a child, not even my own fringe. On the other hand, I had grown up watching my mother cut my father and brother’s hair short with clippers.
“You think so? I feel funny about my jug-handle ears. Besides, haircuts aren’t cheap around here.”
“I think your ears are cute. They would look fine exposed. You know, there is another Irish actor with black hair and blue eyes who really changed the roles he got by cutting his hair. With long hair halfway down his back the focus was on his full, sensuous lips and chiseled cheekbones, so that he looked like a female fashion model. He got a lot of queer and androgynous roles. But then he chopped off all of his hair into a crew cut, and suddenly his muscular neck and square jaw became more prominent and he started giving off a more masculine vibe, resulting in his being cast as kings and badass villains. Unsurprisingly he has kept his hair very short ever since. His ears are shaped like yours and they stick out much more than yours do, but they make him more macho-looking. He was pretty before, but now he’s stunning with short hair. I forget his name, though. Pity.”
Brayden didn’t look entirely convinced, so I continued my argument from a different perspective.
“If you learn to cut your own hair or find friends who are willing to do it, you can save a lot of money.” I couldn’t believe it. I was trying to talk Brayden, whom I had known for less than an hour, into a major hair change.
“Would you be willing to do it, then, since you’re so keen on my having short hair?”
This was the logical next step. “I’ve never cut anyone’s hair before, but I would be willing to try.”
Brayden made a face, then smiled. I could tell that he had just worked out that short, stroke-able hair on a man is a huge turn-on for me. This was the price of admission for a hookup. “All right.”
I noticed a drugstore next to the petrol station by the beach. This would be an American drugstore that had a truly bewildering array of goods, from greeting cards to garden gnomes to small home electronics to prescription medications. It seemed entirely possible that they would have haircutting equipment.
Sure enough, they had some cheap clippers and haircutting shears. Might as well pick up a cape, too.
“Here we are. Where do we do this. I guess under that palm tree right there. We can just let the cuttings fall onto the sandy beach. That’s the beauty of cutting hair outdoors. Maybe you could rinse the saltwater out first so as not to rust the scissor blade too much.”
When Brayden came back with his hair sopping wet I grabbed it and squeezed some of the water out. I liked how it clumped together into manageable tufts that would be easy to snip through.
He sat down on the ice chest from the boot of his car. It occurred to me that I wouldn’t need to cape him, since he was going to go right back into the sea afterwards. “OK, here goes.”
I gathered his wet hair at the base of his neck and squeezed it all together, then positioned the scissors there. Snick, snick. I peeled the cut hair off of his back and tossed it onto the ground. Then I then grabbed some hair at his occipital bone, holding it vertically between two fingers and snipping the way I had seen hairdressers do. I repeated this maneuvre all the way up to his crown, and then used my own comb from my purse to part his top hair to the right. Next I grabbed the hair behind his ear and snipped vertically, then repeated this until I had worked my way to his sideburns. The next step would be to pull down his ear, comb down the hair around it, and snip. I re-parted his hair on the other side and repeated this procedure on the other side.
Now for the top. I enjoyed squeezing the top hair together into a point at the top of his head like the single spike that David Beckham wore at one point in the early 2000s before breaking up the spike into six units, which I then snipped off about a centimeter above his scalp. Having thus removed most of the length, I rubbed the hair with his towel. Water is not good for clippers.
I decided to run the number eight guard all over his head first. Then I went through the attachments in order, fading his back and sides down to almost nothing, using the comb to blend the way I had seen hairdressers do. I enjoyed edging around his ears, which didn’t stick out as much as Brayden had feared they would. Finally I point-cut the top a bit more to get a messier look. Brayden was a California surfer dude, so I thought he would appreciate this extra effort I was making for an effortlessly casual look. How ironic.
There, all done. While I cleaned up, Brayden bounded back into the sea and began surfing without even looking at his hair first. I took this to mean that he trusted me to make him look decent. He was smiling as he caught the waves, now that he no longer had to contend with hair getting in his way. And I was smiling too, admiring the unobstructed view of his face and neck and imagining what I was going to do with him that evening. Who cared whether he had any spare clothes in the boot of his car. He wouldn’t be needing any clothes for what I was hoping to do, although his new short haircut would pair well with any style of clothing. He would be getting the haircutting equipment as a parting gift from me. I was going to have good memories of my California trip.