To Please Her Grandmother: Part 1

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“Come on let’s try in here!” Paula grabbed Lauren’s arm and practically dragged her towards a dark looking salon located in a deep corner of the old shopping centre. The dark brown wood which decorated the front of the salon did nothing to ease Lauren’s apprehension as she was forcibly moved towards the door.

“Are you sure?” Lauren asked uncertainly. “This looks like a place for old ladies.”

“We can at least ask if they do walk-ins,” said Paula as she flicked her long dark blonde hair over her shoulder with a hint of annoyance.

“Can’t you get a haircut after the film?”

“There’ll be later viewings we can go to. But the salon might close early! Besides you said you didn’t mind coming with me.”

“Yeah,” retorted Lauren, “when I thought you had an appointment. I didn’t think you meant dashing between every salon in town.”

Paula didn’t reply and pushed open heavy wooden salon door. A bell above the door chimed.

“I still think you’re mad for doing this,” Lauren muttered under her breath as she followed Paula.

Inside Lauren blinked; momentarily wondering if she had somehow stepped back in time. The cream tiles on the floor and the walls and the three large black leather barber chairs all gave the impression of a room that had been untouched by the passage of time for several decades. In fact, Lauren mused, the salon had probably never been redecorated since it first opened.

Despite the three chairs there was only one stylist currently in the salon. She was an older lady with a tight grey perm. In the chair sat an elderly lady with white hair who seemed to be almost finished getting an identical perm to her stylist.

“Ah hello ladies, why don’t you have a seat? I’m almost finished with Marjorie here and Susan will soon be finished her lunch break.”

“Oh thank you,” said Paula almost breathlessly. “See, I told you it was worth checking this place.” They sat next to each other on a couple of thinly padded seats that were placed along the back wall of the salon.

“And you’re absolutely sure you want to do this?” Lauren asked for the hundredth time.

“I promised Mum that I would. Besides you’ve never met my Grandmother. If I don’t do this she’ll chop my hair off herself. At least this way I’ll end up with a neat haircut. I just wish she’d given Mum more notice that she was coming to stay with us.” As she spoke, Paula sadly ran her fingers through her long blonde hair which currently reached her mid-back. After this afternoon it was going to be a long time before it was that length again.

“Hello, I’m Susan. Which one of you girls would like to go first?” A woman in her 60s with short brown hair that was finally succumbing to grey, approached Paula and Lauren.

“Me please,” said Paula hopping up from her seat. Susan indicated that Paula should take the third and final chair in the row. Without hesitation Paula made herself comfortable in the large barber’s chair as Susan threw an even larger red cape around her.

“So what can I do for you today?” Susan asked Paula.

Paula gulped nervously. It was now or never.

“Well I just found out this morning that my Grandmother is coming to stay with us tomorrow. And well, she doesn’t like long hair on women. She thinks it makes them, us, look young and immature. So I really need a short neat haircut. I don’t want to upset her.”

Susan was gently brushing any tangles out of Paula’s hair. “Well I think its lovely you want to please you Grandmother like that. And she’s quite right, I’m sure you’re going to look very mature with a new short hairdo. Although judging by the length of your hair it must have been quite a while since her last visit.”

“My Grandmother’s been living abroad in Spain for the past few years. She and a couple of friends all have apartments close to each other.”

“And you haven’t wanted to keep your hair short during that time?” Susan asked quizzically.

“I’ve liked having long hair,” Paula said meekly.

“Hmm,” said Susan gazing down at her sternly. “Well then, how short were you thinking?”

“To my shoulders,” said Paula uncertainly. “Oh no better make it shorter than that.”

“How about to here?” Susan placed a comb just between Paula’s chin and her earlobes. “I think this length would really suit you.”

Under the cape Paula crossed her fingers and hoped the sacrifice would be enough to please her Grandmother. “That would be perfect, thank you. And perhaps a fringe as well?” No why had she said that?

“Of course, I think they’d go very nicely with the new length.”

While Paula sat resignedly at what was about to happen to her hair, Lauren stared opened mouthed as Susan divided her friend’s hair into sections. She was so relieved none of her relatives cared what she did with her hair.

Susan lifted up the first section of blonde hair. “Are you ready?” Paula nodded firmly.

Snip, snip.

“Woah,” Lauren breathed quietly as a two foot long lock of hair was severed from Paula’s head.

Susan laid the hair on top of small bench that was attached to the wall in front of the mirrors “There, first one is the hardest.”

“Right you’re next dear.” Startled, Lauren turned her gaze from Paula and looked blankly at stylist with the grey perm. “I’m all finished now dear if you want to jump up.”

“Oh!” Lauren’s momentarily confused brain quickly started working. “No it’s ok, I just came in to wait for Paula.”

Snip, snip, snip.

A second thicker section of Paula’s hair joined the strands on the table. “You know, I might be a little while with, Paula is it? Paula’s haircut so you might as well get a trim while you wait,” Susan suggested.

Both stylists looked at Lauren expectantly. Lauren could see the logic in their thinking. Either she sat doing nothing in the waiting area or she sat and waited in the barber’s chair.

“Why not,” she said, shrugging out of her coat. Currently her light brown hair was shoulder length and featured a lot of layers. Feathered, her stylist had described it as. Lauren thought back to her last haircut six weeks ago. “I suppose it’s been a while,” she said out loud. “I could do with another haircut.”

“Lovely, have yourself a seat and I’ll get you sorted. I’m Elizabeth by the way.”

“Lauren.”

“Well Lauren do you have any idea what you’d like to do with your hair?”

“Umm I’m not sure. I don’t normally have spontaneous haircuts.”

Elizabeth ran a comb through Lauren’s layered hair, wondering what she might suggest to her new client. Lauren had said it had been a long time since her last haircut mused Elizabeth; immediately and incorrectly placing Lauren into the category of young women who wait several months between haircuts. The more she thought about it the more convinced Elizabeth was that she was looking at a badly grown out pixie cut. Lauren was definitely in need of a new haircut.

“Hmm well I can see how your hair has grown out, so why don’t I take you roughly back to your previous style? Then you can decide how much more you’d like off and I can shape it more precisely for you?”

Obliviously to her impending fate Lauren nodded her head happily in agreement. “Yeah that sounds great.” Her hair had grown approximately half an inch in the past six weeks. Still thinking back to her previously salon visit Lauren said; “then maybe an extra centimetre or two off? I think that would look good.”

“Not a problem my dear,” said Elizabeth, delighted that Lauren had so readily accepted her suggestion.

Satisfied with what she thought was about to happen, Lauren settled back into the barber’s chair and turned her attention back to Paula’s haircut. She had only ever known Paula with long hair. It was so strange seeing her willingly submit to such a drastic cut. She watched fascinated as Paula’s neckline was revealed.

Meanwhile Paula was trying to distract herself by watching Lauren’s haircut. The pile of blonde tresses on the table in front of her was considerably larger than she had expected. And there was still more than half the haircut to go. Paula tried not to flinch as the scissors moved closer and closer to her earlobe.

Susan turned Paula’s head to the side to make sure the line she was cutting was precisely straight. As a result Paula had a good view as Elizabeth lifted a handful of Lauren’s hair at the back. Paula’s eyes grew wider as Elizabeth slid her scissors deep into that light brown hair and quickly hacked it off with the scissors.

Wow, thought Paula. For as long as she’d known Lauren she’d never see her friend with her hair this short. Paula wondered what had made Lauren embrace the short hair look so quickly. And she seemed much more at ease that Paula felt. In fact Lauren had smiled unconcerned as Elizabeth tossed the handful of hair to the floor. Almost as if she couldn’t even tell how much hair she had just lost. Paula wished she could be unaware of the twenty-four inch locks of hair Susan was taking from her.

Fascinated Paula watched as Elizabeth removed chunk after chunk of Lauren’s hair until the back resembled a messy pixie cut. The floor was covered in a sea of light brown locks of varying lengths.

“There you are, that should give you an idea of what the finished haircut will look like,” said Susan. Paula dragged her attention back to her own hair. The left side of her hair still reached her mid-back however the right was now cut in a perfectly straight line that ran less than a centimetre underneath her earlobe. She was sure her Mum would approve of such a change but would the cut be enough to satisfy her Grandmother?

“It looks really good so far, thank you,” said Paula politely.

“I’m pleased you like it,” Susan smiled warmly at her.

“Excuse me is Samuel working today?” asked a female voice.

Paula and Lauren peered at the reflection in the mirrors as Susan and Elizabeth turned to face a woman in her early forties firmly holding the hand of an eight year old boy with a mess of bright red curls.

“Ah sorry, it’s Samuel’s day off today,” explained Elizabeth, “but he’ll be back tomorrow. Is it your son who needs the haircut?”

“Yes, Tom’s hair grows so fast!”

“I don’t want another haircut,” said Tom sulkily.

“But you need a haircut darling,” said his mother patiently as she stroked his curls. “Just look at how much hair those two girls are getting cut off. And they’re enjoying their haircuts!”

Paula and Lauren’s eyes met in the mirror. Neither of them wanted to commit to the conversation nor were they entirely comfortable with being used as an example by a stranger.

“Well then they can have all their hair shaved off and I can keep mine,” Tom pouted stubbornly.

“It’s got to happen darling. Ladies, we’ll see you tomorrow.” With goodbyes exchanged, mother and son left the salon.

“Samuel is the male barber who works here,” explained Susan even though neither Paula nor Lauren had asked a question. “He’s excellent at summer and back to school haircuts.”

“Now where was I?” said Elizabeth turning her attention back to Lauren who was silently puzzling over why the mother had included her in the major haircut category.

Satisfied with the back of Lauren’s hair, Elizabeth scooped up all the hair remaining on the right side of Lauren’s head in one hand. Lauren frowned then her eyes bugled as the scissors scrunched through her hair, leaving a short shaggy mess.

“Don’t fret dear,” Elizabeth consoled her as she casually dropped Lauren hair onto the floor. “I told you this is just the rough cut. I’ll get your hair neatened out soon enough.”

“It’s just…” Lauren struggled to find the right words to match the panic she was now feeling. She had only wanted a trim. Why was Elizabeth cutting off so much hair? “It’s not quite what I expected.”

Scrunch, scrunch, snip.

“There we are,” said Elizabeth, adding the last bunch of hair that had been attached to the left side to Lauren’s head to the floor. “Now I can more easily style it to the look you had in mind. So is this about the length your hair was the last time you had it cut or would you like to go a bit shorter?”

Lauren stared stunned at the reflection facing her in the mirror. Just minutes ago her hair had been at her shoulders, now all she was left with was a raggedy mess of three to four inch clumps of hairs. Unbeknownst to her, when Lauren had suggested taking more length off her hair, Elizabeth act on this ‘request’ immediately by removing an entire inch of hair more than what she had originally planned to cut.

“You know,” said Lauren processing her frantic thoughts as she spoke, “I think this length is good. Let’s leave it here.”

“Are you sure? I’d be happy to take off more if you’d like to go shorter.”

“No thank you,” said Lauren hastily. “This length would be great.”

Content that she had another satisfied client in her chair, Elizabeth began snipping away at Lauren’s remaining hair. She methodically transformed the back and sides into a uniform two inches in length whilst blending them into the two and a half to three inch sections of hair on the top of Lauren’s head.

Unaware of her friend’s regret, Paula closed her eyes as the scissors snapped shut right beneath her earlobe. How could scissors make such a loud sound? And why oh why did her Grandmother have to have this unannounced visit? This time yesterday she was happy and she had her lovely long blonde hair in a braided bun on top of her head. And now…Paula looked sadly in the mirror as the last long lock was sheared.

“Nearly finished. I just need to cut your fringe and make sure everything is even,” Susan assured her. Paula nodded her head and made no comment as Susan brushed her hair over her eyes.

Yes, thought Paula sadly, at least this was better than a haircut dictated by her Grandmother. In her youth she had lost many a ponytail and braid to scissors wielded by her Grandmother. Although the worst time had been when Paula and her parents had visited her Grandmother when she had first moved to Spain. An innocent Grandmother/Granddaughter shopping trip around the local markets had begun with Paula sat in an open-air barbershop chair having her head shaved completely smooth – much to the delight of the watching crowd.

Snap, snap.

The scissors, still loud, crunched through the hair covering Paula’s eyes as Susan created a neat line that rested a few millimetres above Paula’s eyebrows. “I hope my Grandmother appreciates this,” said Paula still lost in her memories.

“Oh I’m sure she will my darling,” cooed Susan. “I for one would love it if my granddaughters asked me to cut their hair in a smart, neat style like this. What do you think Elizabeth?”

Elizabeth, who had nearly finished blending and adding texture to Laura’s pixie cut, laughed. “Well my youngest granddaughter, Rachel, asked me if I would perm her hair for her. She said she was curious about having one after seeing many of our regulars getting perms. What do you think of that Susan? I’m going to try to convince her to get her hair cut short at the same time so I can give her a nice little bubble perm.”

Lauren shuddered and hoped Elizabeth wouldn’t get any further ideas with her hair. Fortunately the next words spoken by Elizabeth were, “there you are dear, that’s you all done.” She picked up a large, handheld mirror to show Lauren the back of her hair.

It was all Lauren could do it smile grimly and nod her head. She didn’t want to see how short her hair was. Why had she allowed Paula to drag her into this old fashioned looking salon? And why on earth had she sat in this chair instead of staying in the waiting area?

“Oh you look so lovely with your hair nice and short,” said Elizabeth fondly gazing down at her handiwork. “This hairstyle really suits your face and why would you want to hide that bonnie face of yours behind all that grown out messy hair?” Elizabeth unclipped the cape and released Lauren from its folds. Lauren immediately vacated the barber’s chair.

“And that’s you all done too my darling,” said Susan as she made a couple more tiny snips at Paula’s new hairline. “What do you think? Like your friend, I think you much better without all that long hair weighing you down. You should listen to your Grandmother and try keeping it short for a while.”

Paula stared resolutely at her reflection. At the perfectly straight ear length bob and the precise thick fringe that covered her forehead. She refused to look at the mountain of dark blonde hair on the bench in front of her, only focusing on her face framed by those short locks.

“Thank you, it’s exactly what I needed,” she said sincerely.

“I almost forgot, are you wanting to keep your hair?” asked Susan as Paula and Lauren were paying for their haircuts.

“No that’s fine,” said Paula, refusing to glance at her severed hair.

“We’d be happy to donate it for you if you’d like? To make wigs. You’re not the first young lady to walk in here and ask for a big change.”

“Yeah, of course. You can donate it, that fine with me,” Paula said.

“And as for you my dear,” Elizabeth wagged her finger at Lauren before the pair could leave. “If you ever change your mind about having another inch cut off, you come back and see me. You may not think so, but I believe you would suit an even shorter cut.”

“Umm thank you, I’ll remember that,” said Lauren startled, hoping that she would never visit the salon again.

Outside and out of sight of the salon Paula and Lauren gaped at each other.

“Look at you!”

“No look at you!”

“Your hair’s so short!”

“I can’t believe you went that short!”

“I didn’t want my hair this short,” said Lauren miserably. Her hands kept flickering upwards to stroke her newly shorn locks. She explained to Paula her confusion over what had just happened.

“I so sorry, it’s my fault you ended up in that salon. For what it’s worth I think a pixie cut looks really good on you.”

“Thanks. What about you? You happy with your hair?”

Paula tugged on the ends of her hair, willingly to start growing and grow fast. “I guess I’m used to short styles now. It was nice having long hair while it lasted. I just hope this length will satisfy my Grandmother.”

 

If you liked this story check out part 2 here.

4 responses to “To Please Her Grandmother: Part 1

  1. Lovely story. Hope for part 2 soon. Could you make the caping part more special? Neckstrip and lots or snaps closing or denim buttons. Maybe second cape. Love it

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