By Kaethel <Kaethel@wanadoo.fr>
Submitted: May 2003
Summary: This is it. Lois has finally decided to take the plunge and get a haircut. But can she trust a fashionable beauty parlour called "Wild Style" with her looks? Find out in this response to Tank Wilson's de-retirement-challenge.
This is a response to an extremely evil challenge that Tank posted to the Message Boards a few weeks ago. Since he's constantly claiming to be fanfic-retired, and the rest of us are always growling that we won't let him stop writing anyway, he decided to issue a challenge (you can find the original thread at this link
to both Wendy and me: if both of us each wrote a story where Lois got a haircut (he knows our aversion to Lois's short hair :P~~~), he would stop being retired altogether. He thought we wouldn't go as far as complying… but he underestimated our determination to get him out of his retirement! <eg> The other good side of the challenge, aside from forcing Tank Wilson to stop being retired, is that many authors took it and produced lots of hilarious takes on the haircut theme. Check them out as they get uploaded! You're in for a real treat. :)
As for this story, many thanks go to Breanna, who emailed me with the original idea on which I based the premise, to the readers on the boards, who laughed at my feeble sense of humour, and to my GE LabRat for her very helpful edits. And last but certainly not least, a huge thank you to my beta-reader, Wendy, for all the support and help she provided during the afternoon I decided to use the shears on Lois's hair. :)
Feedback is very welcome!
Lois stood outside the beauty parlour, feeling giddy and inadequate. Over the past few days, she had gone past it a good dozen times, with the firm intention of stepping in and asking for an appointment, but she had always chickened out at the last moment. In the end, annoyed by her own lack of courage, she had called the place and scheduled an appointment for the next day.
Today was "the next day", though. And she was standing on the sidewalk, hiding behind the large posters of fashion models adorning the windows. These girls would look good even if they were shaved bald, she mused scornfully. Way to make women feel inadequate! Besides, how did their hair stand upright on their heads like that? Surely they had to apply loads of hairspray, until the strands became as hard as drumsticks and defied Newton's law. Or else they had been bouncing while their picture was taken, in which case the advertisement was yet another hoax. She didn't want a spiky style anyway. It might do for teenagers, but she was a professional woman, now. She had an image to present to the world… and to her boyfriend.
She hid a smile. Her boyfriend. At last they had got together, after way too much skirting around their mutual attraction. And since he had mentioned that he liked women with shorter hair, she had wanted to please Cla… no. She wasn't doing this to please him. She was doing it for *herself*. She had worn the same hairstyle for way too many years anyway. She *was* due for a change.
She entered the parlour and stood in the doorway, unsure whether to go further or wait until she was given directions. You didn't want to upset people who would hold your looks in their hands a few minutes later, she acknowledged with a shudder.
The place looked like everything she abhorred. There was a thick smell of ammonia coming from a corner where an elderly woman was having a rather ominously purple-looking dye. Employees were milling about, easily recognisable by the uniform they wore… and the rather… interesting hairstyle on their head. In the five seconds she had stood here, she had spotted way too much spiky and flashy… things. She couldn't call it 'hair'. It didn't remotely look like hair any more.
She didn't want anything of that kind. In fact, her need to run away was getting stronger by the minute. She had felt the need for a change indeed, but maybe she could wait until Glen, her usual hairdresser, who owned a small shop in her neighbourhood, came back from his two-week holiday. She had been in a rush to do something about her constantly growing hair, and so she had grudgingly accepted Cat's recommendation of "Wild Style". But she should have known right away, from the name of the parlour and the way Cat's eyes lit up when she mentioned it, that it wasn't for her. At all.
She was about to turn on her heels when a woman came towards her with a bright smile, and she froze.
"Welcome to Wild Style!" she said cheerfully. "You got an appointment?"
"Yeah," Lois replied cautiously. "I called yesterday. My name's Lois Lane."
The woman nodded absently and perused the large appointment book with an expert, well manicured, and brightly-red- painted finger. Her attention focused on a scribbling that didn't look remotely like "Lois Lane", from where Lois was standing anyway, then she raised a frowning face towards her new customer.
"You've never been here before, have you?"
"No." Was that a crime? From the way the employee was observing her, it sure looked like she had committed the worst of felonies.
"Then we'll have to start a new file."
"A file?" What did she mean? What file? Glen didn't keep a *file* on her.
She must have looked somewhat panicked, because the woman's smile broadened and she said: "Nothing to worry about. It's just to make sure we know what we did to you in your previous appointment, so that if there's something you particularly like, or dislike, we won't forget about it."
Hadn't she just admitted that they might mess up with her hair? That she might *dislike* something they did? And then she dared say it was 'nothing to worry about'?!
"I see you requested a cut." She reached for Lois's hair and held a strand between her fingers, as if inspecting it. "Are you set on a particular length? Any style you'd like to try?"
"I want to avoid anything too wild," Lois clarified hurriedly.
The woman laughed and dropped the tress at last. "Don't worry. You're in good hands."
Lois wasn't so sure she was in good hands a few minutes later, when Eleanor — since that was the name of her 'faithful' hairdresser — made her sit in front of a large mirror and started to energetically pull on her hair with a comb. A *thin* comb. Ow! What kind of… ow! comb was that anyw- "Ow!"
"Sorry, did that hurt?"
No, it didn't. I just screamed for the sake of it, Lois growled inwardly.
Hadn't Eleanor asked her if Lois wanted her to apply one of those intense nutrition conditioners that were supposed to do miracles with hair knots? As a matter of fact, in the fifteen minutes that Lois had spent sitting at the washbasin — five minutes of which in the humiliating situation of having a wet towel draped across her head (to enhance the effect of the treatment, Eleanor had explained) — she had heard that question being asked to customers half a dozen times. Employees probably got a percentage according to the number of times they talked about that conditioner. Not to mention it was a rhetorical question. What customer in their right mind would choose to decline the attention when employees were so determined on telling you that it made the combing phase much less painful?
"Keep still, we're almost done."
Lois darted a glare at the mirror and the image of Eleanor standing behind her, comb in hand, rueful smile on her face.
Besides, 'less painful' was all relative. Lois didn't dare think about what she would have gone through if she had told Eleanor that she didn't need the treatment. On the other hand, she shouldn't be surprised; considering the vigorous and foamy rub that the employee had inflicted on her hair, it was no wonder it was full of knots now.
"All right," Eleanor said at last, and Lois held back a sigh of relief. She was only too well aware that the torture wasn't over. She had never much enjoyed the hair- drying and styling phase at Glen's, and *he* was careful when he did it. With Eleanor and her boisterous handling of the hairbrush, there were reasons to be worried. "Now we have to see how short we want to cut that hair."
We? What did she mean, *we*? Lois wanted to enquire immediately. *She* would decide, and Eleanor would do what *she* asked her to do. Not the other way around! She was about to voice a protest when Eleanor turned to another employee standing by the counter and called him. As he approached, the bluey-purple streaks of his beard catching the artificial light of the parlour, Lois realised with a sinking heart that the 'we' in question probably didn't involve her at all.
Again, Eleanor took hold of two strands and held them up around Lois's head. "Tank, what do you think? I'm tempted to try the same thing we did to Ms Weldon last week."
Same *thing*? What kind of *thing*? What had they done to Ms Weldon?
"Hmm." Tank examined her hair for a moment and scratched his chin pensively. "I'd go for something trendier. Something shorter, actually. Like the style I did for Amanda Ross?"
Eleanor giggled, a sound that Lois found most irritable. She had heard it way too many times already when Eleanor had vainly tried to make her talk about the weather and the pollution assailing Metropolis in the summer. "That was wild. But I'm not sure. Ms Lane's got a somewhat strong jawline. Too short would make her look old."
Strong jawline?! Look *old*?!
At last, they turned to her. "Ms Lane, you said you wanted a change, right?"
"I'd rather keep it classic, if you don't mind."
"Aww. You know, I do think that you'd look great with strands of a lighter shade." He turned to Eleanor again. "We could work on a few blonde streaks to enhance the contrast with her natural shade."
"Listen," Lois interrupted Eleanor's enthusiastic reply. "I really do not want anything out of the ordinary. I want something shorter than right now, yes, and a real change of look, but I sure don't want people to look at me as if I came out of the wild posters on your window. I don't want anything spiky or flashy or streaky or blonde-y. I just want a nice, professional style. Can you do that?"
When, three hours of exhausting debate and stress later, Lois got out of Wild Style, she felt elated. Much to her surprise, the haircut hadn't turned out to be the disaster she'd prepared herself for. Once she had given direction to Eleanor, the woman had actually done a good job. There had been some nervousness — and Lois imagined it had been mutual, judging by the employee's unsure expression — when the mirror had been held behind her head, but once she had smiled her approval, Eleanor had relaxed back into her friendly smile.
Lois rubbed her hand across her nape. It felt strange to feel the air brush beneath her new chin-length bob. She supposed she would miss the feel of her hair along her back at first, but she would quickly get used to this new style. At least it wasn't too wild a cut. It was much, much shorter than the waist-length tresses she had worn for years, but it looked good. Classical, professional, stylish, without making her look that much older.
Claude would like it!