The Certainty of Beauty

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She had shouted that it didn’t matter and he had hollered it wasn’t important. He had plans, had to go, so they parted with matching lies still hanging between them. Angie knew that she would say what she had said, she always did. But, deep down, she knew the truth. That it did matter, it always would, no matter how hard she tried to rationalize or be broad-minded.

It had been their worst fight in a long time and at a critical time for the two of them. Stan had been giving her the old “why keep two places” speech and she was seriously considering the logic of it. Old wounds of the heart, still tender, had made Angie less than romantic about the notion of blending her life again with someone else’s, but she did truly love Stan and it had been months since they had slept apart for more than a night or two. It had never really been this easy for her with anyone else before; Stan and she just “got” one another.

But tonight it felt like it had nearly all been undone. She had dropped by his place, just before he was due to be gone for most of the night with his cronies to a ballgame. Angie had explained to him that she needed to use his computer right away to finish writing a report for her work that was due on Monday; her laptop had gone buggy that day from some virus. She had even seductively joked that she would be glad to stick around until he got back and make it worth his while. But, he was uncharacteristically hesitant; nervous about something. Then, with uncomfortable humor that spoke of so much more, he had warned her not to go snooping in his files. She had gotten angry at his insinuation, he got defensive and the whole thing exploded like an atomic chain reaction. Angie knew what it was all about, even though Stan admitted to nothing; pornography. There was something in his computer he didn’t want her to see.

Angie considered herself a thoroughly modern woman. She had no moral qualms regarding porn. People were free to do what they wanted with their own bodies, as far as she was concerned, just as others should be free to look at what they do. And she certainly wasn’t squeamish, as almost two decades as a physical therapist had proven. But she was always disturbed whenever she discovered a man she was with used it. For she just couldn’t compete, she felt, with the women in them, which made her feel all the more unattractive.

No golden ratio had been used to arc her features; perhaps one of a sturdier metal. When she looked in the mirror, there was often the face of a noblewoman or a fearless pioneer that was not at all unpleasing. But there would never be a fairy princess or a sultry model. She’d never lacked for men’s interest but knew hers was not a face or form that would be causing any jaws to drop. So, whenever she was with anyone, she was never certain of why they wanted her; always worried that they really wanted someone prettier. She only wanted one thing and that, she thought, she could never have: to know that she was the most beautiful woman in the world, if only to a single person. Of all she had dreamed of love, nothing was more desired than to hold that certainty.

So, to confront proof that a lover fantasized about the faces and bodies of others, even though she was honest enough with herself to admit she did it too, still stung her deeply, undermining her self-confidence.

Now Angie sat at Stan’s computer, her work done, and stewed over what to do next. She told herself she should grow-the-fuck-up; that whatever was in there was his business and it would just upset her and probably anger him even further. But she had to know, she couldn’t let it go. And so Angie set herself to searching out the truth of what her man really wanted.

At first, she was confused. There didn’t seem to be anything she expected to find. No files of melon-chested sirens in lurid, sleazy poses. There was little in his pictures but vacation photos and the like. She puzzled over a file marked “haircuts”. Why would he have that? Was he thinking of changing his look? Considering that he was mostly bald, it didn’t seem very likely. Maybe it was different haircuts he’d had in the past, it might be fun to look at it later. She probed subfolders, to see if he kept his stash hidden and was rewarded with the discovery a file labeled “sexy girl”. Certain she had found what she’d been looking for, Angie was pleasantly surprised to find it only contained pictures of herself Stan had taken. Though they were of her soon after a shower, there was no nudity, just shots of her with her hair still wet and combed back away from her face.

So she went into his browser history, perversely determined to uncover what she knew she should best leave alone. Again, she was perplexed. No triple X adult video sites. No hot sluts with dripping pussies and big hair. But still more listing with the words like ‘haircut’, ’shaving’ or ‘makeover’ in them. What were these sites? Haircut stories? Haircutting fun? And then, the one that she focused sharply on and opened: haircut fetish.

It was a discussion site, the kind where people posted pictures and comments about a common interest. She opened and read the posts and looked at the pictures randomly while the focus behind all of it assailed her mind. Such an idea would never have occurred to her; that someone might find any of this interesting, much less erotic. But here it was, right in front of her on her boyfriend’s computer. Loads of it. She had expected to find plenty of pictures of women, but not ones like these. There was seldom even any hint of sex or even nudity. Just image after image of feminine women with close buzzed, butch haircuts. Women improbably smiling in barber chairs beneath grey-skinned, freshly shaven scalps, still wet. Women with naked necked bobs and startlingly stunning bowl haircuts. And desire, endless desire, expressed a hundred different ways; desire to give such cuts; desire to watch them; desire to see and touch the shorn results. And, most of all, the frustrating desire to share this secret passion with another.

Perhaps it perplexed her at first because Angie had always been so indifferent towards her own hair. Never one to be drawn into the web of glamour, she had been wearing it the same way since middle school. Every couple of months she had routinely dropped into whatever chain hair cutting place was at hand to have the ends of the below-shoulders blunt cut trimmed before pulling it back into the simple, no-fuss ponytail she wore most of the time. She just never really thought about it at all, until now.

Angie had shuffled back to the picture files and opened the one tagged “haircuts” to find more of the same severe short and buzzed styles and barbershop and salon scenes. Many of them were of women who even resembled, if not herself exactly, then certainly her “type”. She looked again, for a long time, at the pictures Stan had taken of her with her hair wet. It must be because they made her hair look short that he liked them so much. She giggled a bit at the sudden thought of him sitting here at his PC screen, masturbating to them, like she was some, well… sexy girl.

Finally, she turned off the machine and went into the bathroom. She stared at her reflection and pulled out her ever-present hairband, letting her hair hang free. She picked up the brush she kept there and began to stroke it through her thick, straight locks, then pulled it back away from her face tightly with one hand and studied herself intently. It occurred to her that the only reason she had always worn it long was simply that she was a straight female and thought it was expected; all guys like long hair, right? Feeling little confidence in the rest of her femininity, she had allowed it to be her only expression of it, other than earrings and the occasional touch of make-up. But, other than that, it was something largely ignored and kept out of the way. It amazed her. Could the answer really be something so simple as that?


Angie would not normally felt comfortable going out in so short a skirt and such high heels, but today she felt glamorous and sexy like she had never before. Wearing a bit more make-up than she was used to, she had even stopped in to a salon early that day and had her hair put up in a simple, but alluring French twist. She mused at the thought of how odd she must look, sitting here with Stan in a barbershop, waiting her turn, She had done it all for him, she wanted it to be perfect. Though they had finished moving in together a short time before, this felt like the real beginning for them and for her. Stan, who had always been complimentary and attentive, sat looking at her with adoration. Soon, her turn would be called and they would both have their most secret longings fulfilled.

And when the call of “next!“ came, she stood up without hesitation, casting a sly smile at her lover who sat watching with dream-come-true rapture in his eyes. She seductively pulled the pin from her hair and shook it out, to let him see it fall down upon her shoulders. Then boldly crossed to the barber’s chair, where she would finally know the certainty of beauty.

 

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