Ann dyes her hair black. Her eyes are blue, her skin is pale. She wears red lipstick and nail polish in a shade of red so dark it looks black. Her hair is bobbed short and combed forward so there is a dark delicate curl over each cheek bone. Her new bangs are short and thin and lie across her pale forehead. She asks if they look okay. She says she was at her friend's drinking red wine when she cut them. I ask if her friend cut her own bangs as well, and she says yes.

I used to cut hair with a girl. This was when I was a blonde. I would go over to her place and we would drink beer. I'd put on an old T-shirt and sit on her couch while the bleach soaked in. Sometimes she would dye her hair too. She was naturally a dark blonde, and she'd dye it with a red tint. Over the weeks, her hair got redder and redder, as she would dye hers while I did my roots. Sometimes I would cut her hair. It was long, past her shoulders. She'd say take off an inch, and I'd take off two. Not that I meant to, but it would just happen.

I really can't cut hair at all, though I've cut many people's hair. Sometimes I would see if I could get someone to let me cut their hair. It was an act of persuasion, a challenge of wills. Oh, come on, I'd say, I can draw a straight line; I can cut hair. I was able to do this with one of my friends once. He'd been saying he needed a haircut, and for days I was trying to get him to let me do it. Finally, I won, and laughed hysterically the whole time I did it. It was actually pretty even, but I ended up giving him this weird bob that looked like a ridiculous surfer hairstyle. The shelf of hair stuck out from his head, which made it look like a mushroom. The next time I saw him, he'd hacked it off himself.

One night I was dying my roots and she wanted another trim. I talked her into letting me cut a little more than that and she said okay. I started in with my dull scissors, taking sips of beer. This went on for a while. I had to keep evening in up. We drank more, and when I got my head out from under the faucet, the room was spinning. I made it to the couch, where we fell down together laughing, and later passed out on her bed.

I woke early. Everything was quiet and the light coming through her window was gray. It was snowing. It must have been snowing all night because there was maybe a foot of fresh snow on the ground. I put my clothes on and caught my reflection as I was leaving. My hair was very blonde, almost white-blonde, and for a second I didn't recognize myself. I walked down the alley past people's back yards. I was hungover. Everything was white and sanitized by the snow. I felt ragged inside. Snow beaded into little droplets on my boots. My friend woke up later and her hair was totally fucked up. She had to get it professionally cut. Everyone was laughing about it.

I haven't cut anyone's hair since that. I don't feel like talking anybody into anything. I don't talk to that girl anymore either. I have no idea what her hair looks like now. I guess it's probably long and her natural color, like mine.

Ann runs her fingers through her bangs and raises a plucked eyebrow. The straps of her dress keep falling down and she asks if they look better down or up. Or one up and one down. She fiddles with them. I tell her to leave one up and the other right on the edge of her shoulder, so by the time she's forgotten about it, it will have fallen down by itself and she won't even be aware of it and she will be beautiful.





 "Haircut" © 1996 by Caroline Linder

Original Graphics © 1996 by Jim Davis-Rosenthal



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