Everyone knew me as the girl with the long hair. The beautiful, rich brown hair that usually fell somewhere between my shoulder blades and my hips, depending on the time. I guess it is beautiful, but I don’t want to talk about my hair. It’s not important to my story, because my story is not about my hair; it’s about other people’s. My name is Sophie, and I have a hair fetish.
I can’t say for sure when my fetish began, but it probably began when I was seven. Okay, so, my immediate family lives in a decent sized town in the eastern United States. Some of the aunts and uncles and cousins live in a nearby town, and we would visit them often when I was younger. My aunt Janine ran a hair salon in the town where they lived, and my mother would often take me and my brothers Eric and Matt to get haircuts. I never used to enjoy going to Janine’s salon until I was seven, then everything changed.
My mom herded us to the waiting area, which had several plastic chairs and a coffee table with magazines. My brothers and I were fairly well-mannered and we sat in our chairs without saying much. I scanned the salon with interest, as I had the last few times I have visited the place. But my curiosity was piqued when I saw a girl, a little older than me, sitting in Janine’s chair. The girl had two long, thick brown braids, almost two feet long, which were tied off at the shoulder level. Janine threw a light pink cape around the girl and fished out her heavy braids from underneath the fabric. After getting arranged, Janine grabbed a pair of scissors and immediately began cutting.
My eyes must have been wide as dinner plates as I watched Janine mercilessly sawed off one of the braids. The girl just smiled as it all happened. After the first braid was severed, Janine casually tossed it onto the counter where she had her cutting tools. Janine continued with the other braid, showing no quarter to the remaining braid, and it joined its comrade on the counter. I had never been so fascinated by a haircut before, and I felt kind of funny, in a way that I couldn’t describe. As I gazed at the severed hair on the counter, my mind began to wander. By the time I came back to reality, the girl was finished with her haircut, and was walking out of the salon with her mom, her fresh new shoulder-length cut swinging as she walked.
Janine called me over and I sat on the same chair the girl had just been on. The butterflies in my stomach went crazy as I saw the braids right in front of me, still on the counter. Janine trimmed my hair, no more than a couple of inches, but throughout the entire process I couldn’t keep my eyes off the shorn hair in front of me. I had never had this reaction before, but I liked it. It wasn’t the same feeling as being nervous or anxious, but it was more like being excited. After what seemed like only a few minutes, Janine had finished with my hair and she threw the cape off my shoulders. I slowly jumped down from the chair, gazing at the braids on my way. My first instinct was to grab the braids, but then I really felt nervous and I decided against it.
My brothers got their haircuts and I stared at the braids, which I could still see. After we were finished, we left the salon. As I walked through the door, I turned and looked at Janine sweeping up the little snippets of hair on the floor, seemingly ignoring the braids. With a forlorn glance, I turned back around and headed back to my mom’s car.
For days after I thought of the braids. I even braided my own hair, but it didn’t have the same effect at all. I saw so many braids and ponytails at school, but I never felt the same way. Even at that young age, I figured that it had something to do with cutting hair instead of just the hair itself. Don’t get me wrong, I love hair and I think it’s beautiful, but it was just…different.
About a week after the haircut, my mom took me to Janine’s house while my mom had to run some errands. I always loved spending time with my aunt. She resembled my mom in a lot of ways, especially the dark brown hair and high cheek bones. As I was helping her make sandwiches for lunch, I mustered up my courage and threw out a seemingly innocent question.
“So, Aunt Janine, do you remember that girl who got her hair cut really short a week ago?” I spoke faster than I intended, eager to get the words out.
“Huh?” Janine asked, puzzled at first.
“You know, the one with the braids.” I put in casually.
“Oh yeah!” Janine recalled. “It was a really cute cut on her.”
“Yeah…” I began. I wasn’t sure how to proceed, so I just plowed on with my original plan.
“Did you, um, end up, like, keeping the braids or anything?”
Janine turned her head and my heart sank. Did I go too far? I didn’t understand these feelings I had, and I had developed a dread for anyone finding out. In retrospect, I don’t know how they could have possibly come to the conclusion that I had a hair fetish, but at the time it was nerve wracking.
“Oh, well, I don’t think so. I think I probably threw them out.”
“Oh, okay.” I was disappointed. How I wanted to see those braids again! Or even any other cut hair like that. As if reading my mind, Janine continued casually.
“I don’t know why, though, because I usually keep most of the braids and ponytails I cut. I don’t know what else to do with them.”
I looked up in surprise. She had more hair? My mind raced, trying to figure out a way to see the hair.
“Really? That would be cool to see sometime.” Even at that young age, I was beginning to develop tactics to get things to go my way, as I am sure many a hair fetishist would do to see hair. Janine smiled.
“Well I need to go over to the salon today to pick up some checks. Why don’t you come along?” I grinned in satisfaction.
After we had eaten lunch and cleaned up, Janine and I drove to her hair salon and went inside. On her days off, she would often close down if one of the other stylists wasn’t scheduled. She never ran the place like a chain salon, mostly because she was successful enough to make her own hours. She unlocked the door and we stepped inside. The familiar smell of product washed over me, a smell I would become even more accustomed to later on.
Janine turned on the lights and walked over to the back room. I slowly paced down the length of the salon feeling the leather on the chairs. The salon now had a mystique, a certain appeal that I couldn’t place. It was almost magical in its draw, and I found myself wishing I could spend more time there. After a couple of minutes, Janine emerged from the back room holding a small stack of checks and a cardboard box. She put the box down on the nearest salon chair and rummaged around.
“Here we are!” Janine said as she pulled a 14 inch brown ponytail from the box. My eyes widened at the sight of the hair. It was thick, and fairly shiny in the artificial light.
“Wow,” was all I could manage. Janine chuckled and put the tail back in the box and pulled out two twin blonde braids, each somewhat thin and about 16 inches long. She held them out for me to touch.
“Those are cool!” I exclaimed, holding the silky braids in my hands. Janine smiled again as I ran my hands over the crisscrossing patterns of the braid.
“It’s always fun when a girl comes and chops her hair off.” Janine seemed to enjoy the process. Looking back, I wonder if she had a hair fetish as well, probably for cutting. I looked in the box and found a few more choice tails, including an amazing thick, shiny black pony almost two feet long.
“Where did this one come from?” I asked as I grabbed the tail in awe.
“That was from a Chinese exchange student, who was living with my neighbor,” Janine explained, crossing her arms and leaning against the station.
“She was such a nice girl, and she had never had her hair cut, at least nothing more than a trim. She wanted a real American haircut, so she came over and I cut all of her hair off!” Janine laughed and I stared at the ponytail in amazement.
“She had this cute bob that really suited her. And she left behind the ponytail, like she was so ready to leave behind her old self. All of these ponytails and braids were left behind. Sometimes clients take them home to keep in their hope chest, or something like that. But most of the time they don’t really care what happens to it.”
I caressed the silky tail and a crazy idea popped in my head.
“This ponytail is really cool, Aunt Janine. I guess if no one wants it, do you think I could keep it?” I looked up at her and smiled sweetly. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking, that I’m totally manipulating my aunt by pretending to be the adorable little girl that I was. Well, yes, kind of, but if she had said no, I would have dropped it there. Luckily, however, I didn’t have to.
“Sure!” Janine said. “She said she didn’t want it, and I don’t really have a use for it. I guess it’s yours.” I was so relieved that my gamble paid off. I hugged her leg, clutching the tail in my hand.
“Thank you, Aunt Janine! It’s so beautiful!” Janine gave an enigmatic look, part way between amusement and suspicion. I believe that she is the only person who might suspect that I have a hair fetish. But if she knew, she clearly didn’t mind it. She let me keep the hair, but she never told my mom. Even though it worked with Janine, I still felt anxious about anyone finding out about my thing for hair.
By the time my mom picked me up, I had safely tucked the braid away in a canvas bag Janine had supplied. When I got home, I ran straight to my room and retrieved my prize. It was even more amazing than I remembered. The silky black hair was slightly coarse, and it’s length was astounding. I treasured that hair so much. I would often lay in bed and stroke it, admiring its length and thickness, but that wouldn’t come for several more years. For the time being, it would rest in that canvas book bag, hidden from sight but not from mind. It was exciting to keep hair in my room, not daring to take it out except for certain occasions.
Even though Janine may have known about my fetish, she never said a word to me or anyone else. I continued to go to her salon for haircuts a few times a year, mostly to get my long brown hair trimmed. I began to wonder about my own hair, and whether I had the same reaction to it as I had with thinking about long hair being cut off. Thinking about getting my hair cut didn’t really excite me, but the thought of being in a salon and watching a haircut did.
One such opportunity came when I was in the mall with my mom about two years later. By now, I was nine, and my own hair reached my thighs. My mom visited the photography store to buy more film for our home-movie video camera, so naturally I peeked inside the chain salon next door. I saw a few chairs occupied, but my eyes were immediately drawn to a girl a few years older than me sitting in a chair off to the right. A black cape was around her, and her golden brown hair, which hung down the back of the chair, was long and loose. The stylist busied herself with preparing her tools before grabbing a hair tie and a pair of shears.
The stylist put the lovely hair in a low ponytail, resting at the girl’s shoulders. The tail must have been at least a foot and a half. I watched as the stylist asked the girl something, and the girl nodded. The stylist sank the scissors into the base of the tail and after a few moments it was severed. The stylist asked something else, but the girl smiled and shook her head. The stylist shrugged and threw the ponytail on the ground. She continued to snip and trim her client’s hair into a cute shoulder length shag. Before I could see the end result and the fate of the glorious ponytail, my mom came out of the store and I whirled around to face her, trying to look natural.
Less than a year later, a little after my tenth birthday, I remember walking past a salon on my way home from school. I glanced through the window and saw a haircut in progress. The male barber was shearing off a girl’s long braid, probably at least a foot long. The girl was about my age, and her mother was directing the action from nearby. The barber nodded as he ran his clippers through the braid at the girl’s nape until the braid was severed. As I tried to act casually looking through the window, the barber walked to a nearby metal trash can and tossed the brown braid into the garbage. Although I was somewhat dismayed at seeing such beautiful hair thrown away, I knew that there would be many opportunities to keep hair. I wasn’t sure yet, but I resolved to try something.
There was a hair salon near our house, run by a friend of my mom’s, called All Tressed Up. It was a mid-level salon, elegant enough to be hip but not particularly expensive. The owner was a nice lady named Olga, a Ukrainian-American who had lovely blonde hair and a warm smile, although she could come across as severe sometimes. Although I never got my hair cut there, I was good friends with Olga’s daughter Svetlana, who was in my grade. Svetlana herself had pretty blonde hair, usually dancing around her waist. Even though mine was a lot longer, I would compliment Svetlana on her hair, which meant a lot to her. I would sometimes hang out with Svetlana at her mother’s salon, something I enjoyed doing for obvious reasons.
One day when I was thirteen, Svetlana and I were sitting in some of the waiting chairs reading books. School had gotten out, and I spent a lot of time with Svetlana, usually at her house, the park, or at the salon. I was never a sporty girl or anything, although I did like to play volleyball sometimes. Svetlana loved to read, almost more than I did. If I remember correctly, I was finishing some mystery novel about a girl who discovered that she was actually kidnapped as a child, and Svetlana was reading a book in Ukrainian.
Anyway, as we were reading in the waiting area, the door to the salon opened and a young woman entered. She must have been in her late twenties or so, and it looked like she had recently gotten off from work. Her hair was a light brown, lighter than mine by a shade, and the scraggly ends reached her hips. She hung up her light jacket and Olga beckoned her to an open chair. After swinging a white cape around her and combing the client’s long hair, Olga put her hands on her shoulders and popped her hips.
“So, what do we do today?” Olga asked, in her thick Ukrainian accent. The client cocked her hand, thought for a moment, before quickly saying:
“Chop it off. I don’t have any more time for my hair, and it’s dead.”
“I understand,” Olga said sternly as she immediately began to braid the client’s hip length hair. Svetlana laughed to herself because she knew her mother’s gruffness with clients didn’t indicate her impatience, because Olga was a very pleasant women; Olga’s difficulty with English translated into blunt talk. I watched as Olga tied the braid off with a hair tie and let it drop, hitting the back of the chair. The braid tapered off in the bottom 10 inches or so, but it was a really long braid, about 3 feet long. Olga grabbed a pair of scissors from her station and immediately began to chop the braid at nape level. My eyes flicked from the book to the haircut in progress, but I couldn’t bring myself to come back to the book. Olga crunched her scissors with determination, but she did so gracefully, without jerking the client’s head. After almost a minute of cutting, Olga finally severed the braid and dangled it in the air.
“There, hair cut,” Olga stated before throwing it on the counter. The client smiled weakly as Olga started to snip small pieces of hair off the rough bob. I stared at the long braid on the counter; thin as it was it was still quite long and shiny, save for the ends. Svetlana looked up from her book and followed my gaze to the shorn hair.
“Wow, she cut off a lot of hair!” Svetlana said in awe, whistling. I nodded slowly, still staring at the braid.
“Does your mother cut long hair short like that often?” I asked Svetlana, in a somewhat distracted way. By this point, Olga had already moved on to point cutting her client’s fresh ends, making the cut even more stylish. Svetlana smiled.
“Oh yeah, she likes it a lot. You know her, she may not seem very emotional, but she loves cutting long hair short the most. She keeps a lot of the hair she cut as well, in a big box.”
My heart leapt. Olga had a box of braids and ponytails too? I began to wonder how common it was for stylists to keep a lot of hair like that. I mean, they weren’t going to use it or anything. My mind raced with possibilities, and I made a mental note.
Meanwhile, Olga was doing the finishing touches on her client’s bob. I had to admit that it looked way better on her than all that thinning, straggly long hair. The client seemed to think so, as she ran her fingers through her new hair. The long braid was left forgotten on the counter, and after finishing up with some product, the client paid and left. Olga swept up the clippings with a broom and threw them away in a nearby trash can. After stowing the broom away, Olga grabbed the long braid and walked to a closet. She opened the door and retrieved a cardboard box and placed the braid inside. I caught a glimpse of several ponytails of various colors in the box. With that, I determined to ask Olga about the hair.
I got my chance about a week later. Svetlana was at tennis practice, while Olga was manning the salon. I was walking by “coincidentally” and I stopped in front of the salon. Olga was alone in the shop, sitting in a styling chair and reading a magazine. As she heard me come in, she put down the magazine and stood up.
“Ah, Sophie, I did not expect you,” Olga said in her thick accent. Her deceptive stern expression did make me feel uneasy, but I knew that she liked me, or at least Svetlana assured me of that fact. Her blonde hair was cut in layers that hung to her mid back, voluminous but not overly thick.
“Hi Olga,” I said casually. She had asked me to use her first name, as a sign of familiarity.
“What can I do for you, Sophie?”
“I, uh, wanted to ask you a question.” Even though I had been through this with Janine, I still found it tough to say.
“Ask question, I can help.”
Well,” I began tentatively, “I noticed the other day that you had a bunch of hair that you kept.”
“Ah yes, box of hair, this one right?” To my surprise, Olga strode to the closet, opened it, and took out the box in question. It was about halfway full, a sea of different colored tresses. My eyes widened slightly, but I composed myself.
“Uh, yeah, that one. I was wondering what you are going to do with the hair.”
“Good question. In my country some women sell their hair, but American women do not do that. And I don’t know people who take hair. It is here and I do not use it.”
I nodded in agreement, and I planned my next move very carefully. I knew that it was an odd request, but by no means earth shattering. Deep down, the trepidation came from my fetish, and my fear of being found out. Still, the pull was too strong for me to resist.
“Well, I think hair is really cool. I mean, if you don’t want it, and no one wants it, do you think I could take some? Hair is really cool, and I would love to compare it with other hair…” I trailed off, not wanting to overdo it. Olga looked at me sternly, and I almost lost my nerve. Then, after a brief pause, Olga nodded.
“Yes, you can have some hair. Take from the box. Whatever you like.” She set the box down on the counter and climbed back into her chair, some distance from where I was. My palms became sweaty with nervousness, and I tried to breathe deeply. The hair in the box varied in length and quality. The braid from the other day was very long but dry and wiry. Another braid was short and riddled with split ends. There was a magnificent black ponytail, about 15 inches long, that shone in the light of the salon. It was so soft and silky, reminding me of the hair of a Japanese American girl who had been a playmate when I was a kid, and of course of the other tail I had. I set that one aside and delved deeper. A stunning red braid caught my eye, a beauty of about a foot in length, and secured with purple elastics. My eyes settled on a lovely blonde ponytail, a staggering two feet long, thick and sleek. I pulled it out and admired the texture, running my fingers through the silken strands. Don’t get me wrong, I love my own hair, but there is something so magical about enjoying someone else’s. I resolved to take those three home, so I set them aside and gave the box back to Olga.
“Are you finished?” Olga asked.
“Yes! Thank you so much Olga! I will take good care of the hair.”
“Good for you, Sophie.” Olga put the box back in the closet and gave a half smile, the closest she could come to the real thing. “I know you will like them, I think.”
I smiled, but I hesitated. Did she know? That half smile was telling, almost as if she could sense why I wanted the hair. It wasn’t close to Janine, who I think knew the instant I expressed interest in owning hair. Still, I had the hair I wanted, so I stuffed it in my backpack and I headed straight home.
I ran upstairs even as my mom asked me how my day had been. After shouting something back, I wrenched my door open and immediately went to the canvas bag that held my prized ponytail. Now, the glorious black tail had companions; the similar black tail, shorter but thicker; the red braid; and the glorious blonde tail. I admired my little collection before stowing it away for safekeeping. Now that I had started a collection, I wanted to expand it. The question now was: how?