AUTHOR'S NOTE: One of my readers once mentioned that heíd like a 'growing-out' story, so hereís my attempt at that theme. Hope you enjoy it.

ANGIE'S STORY
c1997 Airweaver

Catherine and Larry Palmer had their hearts set on a boy, so they were a bit disappointed back in 1964 when their first child turned out to be a girl. Angie (a reluctant substitute for Andy) was much anticipated, since Cathy experienced great difficulty becoming pregnant. Perhaps the fact that Larry was Springfieldís long-suffering football coach and dreamed of siring a star quarterback contributed to their disappointment in having to settle for a baby girl, but thatís what happened.

Not that Angie wasnít loved or appreciated -- far from it. I only mention it here because Angie was brought up in a most androgynous fashion. She was invariably given GI Joes rather than Barbie dolls at Christmas and acquired a formidable array of sports equipment. From the cradle onward, her wardrobe consisted mainly of jerseys proclaiming Larryís favorite teams. Otherwise she was given clothes highly suggestive of Army fatigues. Angieís hair turned out to be one of her greatest assets, fair, thick and beautiful, but you would never have known to look at it. From the outset it was kept clipped in a manner that would have satisfied any drill sergeant. Whenever it got anywhere near an inch long, she was promptly escorted to the local barber shop for yet another trim. Cathy wore her hair equally short. Larry clearly liked it this way, and no doubt it was practical. To the Palmers, it was simply 'the way things were done.' Angie was an uncommonly pretty child, and when they were dining out waitresses would frequently commented: "What a handsome young man you have there." Angie would look up from under her Aís cap and give them a look as much as to say, "Piss off!"

Angie started grade school looking like the classic tomboy and then some. While the other little girls were having their dresses ironed and their hair curled for that exciting first day of school, she was being fitted for new track shoes and off getting her standard haircut. "Yet again," Cathy sighed. "Her hair grows so fast itís eating us out of house and home. Iím going to have to learn to do this myself." She had a point, since it takes constant vigilance to keep your hair looking like something resembling peach fuzz. By the time third grade rolled around, Angieís brother, Larry Jr., had been born, and for awhile the Palmers thought it 'cute' to dress the two of them alike, so Angie looked more like a boy than ever, her straight blond hair sticking straight up from her forehead in a uniform half-inch buzz.

It was at about this time that Angie became close friends with a girl named Becky Waters, who lived a few doors down the street. Becky sat in the seat directly in front of Angie at school, and Angie found her fascinating. In appearance the two of them couldnít have been further apart. Where Angie was fair and slim, Becky was rather dark and a bit on the plump side. Angie came to school dressed like the proverbial bat boy; Becky came in taffeta and lace. Then there was their hair. Angie was highly intrigued by Beckyís remarkable long, jet-black hair, which Becky claimed had never been cut in her life. No one at school had anything like it. Every day from her desk Angie could see it plainly in all its glory. It dangled before Angieís eyes in two sleek pigtails that fell like glossy ropes to down below the seat of Beckyís chair. There they finished off in a pair of curly tufts that Angie thought enchanting. Every time Becky moved, these graceful fluffs would float as if in thin air and sway gently back and forth beneath her chair. Whenever Becky was concentrating, she had a habit of drawing one of those shiny ropes up over her shoulder and stroking her cheek with its solf tip. Angie would sit in class looking at Beckyís incredible braids and wonder what it must be like living with all that hair. She could only rub her own half-inch stubble and stare. "Boy! Must be a pain to deal with." Yet, she had to admit it was awesome.

All year, Angie was over at Beckyís house almost every afternoon after school. Becky did such interesting things. Things nobody did around the Palmer household. She had a doll house and knew all kinds of neat games. She had such pretty clothes. Beckyís mother was nice, too. Not as nice as her own mother, of course, just different. Whatever they were doing, those fascinating pigtails seemed in constant motion, flying around her like a pair of animated whips, yet Becky seemed never to pay them the slightest attention. She appeared to ignore, even neglected them, but they were clearly a source of great pride to Beckyís mom. One day Angie had arrived at Beckyís house to discover her friend just finishing having her hair washed. Mrs. Waters was busy brushing it all out. Angie had never seen Becky with her hair loose like this before. There seemed so much of it. It was like she was engulfed in a great, raven cloud, and Angie thought she had never looked prettier, so soft and vulnerable. For the first time she felt a little bit jealous. Becky smiled up at her from under her heavy canopy of flowing hair, and Mrs. Waters even let her brush it a bit. It felt so smooth and nice. Mrs. Waters said it was all a bit of work, but well worth the extra bother.

Beckyís family moved the year Angie started high school when Beckyís father was relocated to another city. Angie was sorry to be losing her best friend and for a long afterwards remembered the day the moving van arrived to take them off to Lawrence, in far away Kansas. There had been a sad farewell, and they promised to stay in touch. Then the two of them had hugged for a final time and Becky spun away, her familiar dark pigtails flying around her like always, for her long hair still remained uncut. "Gee, how much theyíve grown," Angie remembered thinking, looking at Beckyís braids for the last time. "Wow, those things must now come just about to her knees!"

We all know how teenagers tend to be rebellious, and Angie began to feel that spirit of independence awakening within her that first year of high school. It was 1979 and Angie was just about to start ninth grade. She missed Becky and all their good times together and thought of her often. How pretty she had looked in her frilly dresses and with all that incredible hair. Although, if truth be told, Angie was much more attractive than Becky could ever hope to be, given half a chance. Still, beauty isnít measured by outside appearance alone. The more she thought about Becky, the more self-conscious Angie became of her own appearance. She went so far as to ask her mother to buy her a dress, something along the lines of what Becky used to wear. "After all, mom, I am a girl," she tried to remind her mother. All she got in return was a blank look. There was no way Mrs. Palmer could understand.

No doubt the turning point came the day before school opened when Mrs. Palmer marched her daughter down to the barbershop for her regular pre-school shearing. Angie had protested the well-worn ritual. "But Angie, you want to look neat and tidy for school, and you know how fast your hair grows. Why, it's almost touching your ears at the moment. Now, letís hear no more about it. Frankly, Angela Palmer, I donít know whatís gotten into you lately." Angie wasnít sure either. She had no idea what it was she wanted, but, as she waited for the barber to reduce her hair to its usual rigid configuration, she knew it certainly wasnít this. She suddenly thought of Becky and that day she'd seen her just after her hair had been washed, with all those thick black tresses enveloping her like some mysterious cloak. She thought about Beckyís nice dresses and those long, long braids reaching more than halfway to the floor and wished she could be more like her. She came to a conclusion and made a silent vow right on the spot. She swore she would never allow her hair to be cut ever again, as long as she lived, and ran out of the barbershop, leaving the barber holding his smock in bewilderment. The decision changed her life.

There was little either Cathy or Larry could do to change her mind, although they certainly tried. They finally gave in to her wishes, and Angie got her dress. It was simply easier that way. Anyway, little Larry was there to carry on the image of the Palmer household. If she wanted her hair to turn her into a ragamuffin, that was her business. In fact, Angie did look rather incongruous the first time she showed up at school wearing the new dress her mother reluctantly bought her. It looked so out of place next to her military haircut. "That girl looks rather like a waif," her math teacher thought on first seeing her.

If teenagers are oftentimes rebellious, they are also known to be impatient. From the day she made her vow in the barbershop, Angie couldnít wait for her hair to start growing. She kept staring in the mirror half expecting some great transformation. Her entire life had been spent with a half-inch crewcut, and she couldnít wait to see how she would look with long hair. The great transformation didnít take place, of course, at least not at once. These things take time, after all. Too much time for a 14-year-old. All she saw when she looked in the mirror was an all-too-familiar crop of severly cropped hair sticking straight up from a forehead she thought overly high and too prominent ears. It seemed to take forever for anything to happen. She wrote Becky telling of her decision and asked her to keep her fingers crossed. Then one day, she noticed her hair wasnít quite standing on end anymore, but beginning to droop a bit under its own weight. Yes, it was actually growing! Every day it reflected a little more of the light. She bought herself the best hair brush she could find and spent hours brushing it, urging it to grow faster. Finally, with the help of a little mousse, she was able to get it to all lie flat. She reveled in its shine, turning her head, first left, then right, to watch the light play off it. She brushed it some more. Why, it was actually a lovely shade, the color of honey. She hadnít noticed that before. And it was really getting longer!

By Christmas time, she could feel it just beginning to touch her collar. The sensation was a bit strange at first, as if a stranger was moving behind her, but somehow reassuring. She was enchanted; her mother said her hair looked like a mop. It started to grow out over her ears. This tickled a bit at first, and Angie would slick it back with plenty of mousse to keep it out of the way. She came to think of this as her 'greaser' phase. She was encouraged by some of her friends, who started to comment on her hair for the first time. Anne said sheíd never noticed before how pretty it was. "Of course, thatís because youíre wearing it a bit longer now. Looks good on you." Michele commented on its "neat shine... Go for it!" Angie treated her hair with devoted care, brushing it carefully for long periods of time and making sure she arrived at school with every strand in place. It formed a shimmering cap of perfectly symmetrical spun gold on her head, lapping over her ears with a soft, iridescent glow. And, as if freed for the first time from some forced bondage, Angieís hair seemed to be growing even faster. Mrs. Palmer gave up making rude comments and confined herself to shaking her head from time to time. By the end of that school year, with hair just touching her shoulders, Angie became obsessed with the idea of having really long hair. She shampooed it as often as three times a day, for she was convinced this would stimulate her scalp. She brushed it by the hour, coaxing it, willing it to greater lengths. By the end of the next year it was practically down to her shoulder blades, full and vibrant and exceedingly healthy. Angie looked like a different person. Her junior year she was easy to spot on campus as the girl with the swaying mantle of blond, satin hair shimmering in the sunlight. Even her father admitted that he never knew what a lovely daughter he had.

By her senior year, Angieís hair was beginning to turn her into a bit of a celebrity. She won a poll and appeared in that yearís yearbook in a picture over the caption reading, 'Best Hair: Girl.' There may have been other girls in the school with longer hair, but everyone had to agree that Angieís was the most perfect. Who could argue with that stunning mane of golden silk that grazed Angieís cheeks and spread evenly in a symmetrical arc halfway down her back? Every hair falling in perfect place, for Angie did everything possible to keep it in flawless condition and followed a strict routine. During free periods, while the others would be off to their fun and games, you would find her in the girlís room attending to her hair. If Angie seemed preoccupied with her hair, no one appeared to notice. Those who remembered her from earlier days, figured she was just compensating. Angie considered she was making up for lost time. She liked her hair this way and only wished it would get longer, lots longer. Why hadnít she taken that vow sooner? She could have had hair to her waist by now. Thatís what she really wanted. She brushed it religiously several time every day and read everything she could on keeping it in good condition. As it increased in length, Angie experimented with parting it in the middle, on the left, to the right, or with no part at all, brushed straight back off her face held by a broad ribbon. She discovered moving the part around worked best. Her hair seemed to like that, filling out evenly and getting more beautiful with each passing day. And it was the most perfect shade of honey blond. (That dreadful Roberta Wilcock swore she bleached it, which of course wasnít true.) By the end of the following summer, it was practically down to her waist. Angie had almost fulfilled her dream.

In college, Angie found the men flocking around her in droves. Much of the attraction Angie had to admit was her hair, which by this time was becoming extraordinary. There was something about the way it flowed in one continual curtain of silk down her back, as rich and full at one end as it was at the other. She thought it her best feature by far and paid more attention to it than ever.

Her roommate sophomore year had long hair too, and encouraged her further. "You know," Pam had said on first meeting her and asking her to turn around so she could admire Angieís crowning glory, "I thought I knew something about long hair, but, jeez, Iíve never seen anything like that. Howíd you come by it? Itís utterly fantastic!" So, Pam heard the story of Becky and Agnieís vow.

"You mean you donít plan on cutting it ever? Not even when it hits the floor?"

"Well, thatís not likely to happen. And even if it did, a promise is a promise."

"Iím not so sure it wonít happen with hair like that. Hope you know what youíre doing. I think it would be a kick to try, though."

Angie hadnít thought about Becky in a long time, but now every time she brushed her hair she would be glad she had kept her vow. It had opened so many doors. Pam was a fantastic braider, and they made lots of money at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire that summer with Angieís beautiful hair and Pamís braiding skills. She even did a little modeling after an agent spotted a picture of her gorgeous mane in the college paper. Her hair was truly to her waist by now, longer than Pamís, and more lovely than ever. She kept up her routine faithfully, hoping to get it longer still. The night of the senior prom, Angie made a spectacular sight, entering on the arm of the football captain with her hip-length tresses shimmering in the festive lights, every hair brushed to a polished sheen. "Dad would be proud of me now," she thought.

Angieís hair was full and straight, falling clear to her hips, and an enviable shade of honey blond; it was a visual poem. It continued to grow, getting practically down to her knees. Angie though of cutting it a couple of times after she discovered she was starting to sit on it. She kept telling herself it was getting too awkward and heavy, things she hadnít anticipated. It wasnít very practical. But then she would remember her androgynous childhood and think how far her beautiful hair had brought her and keep putting off the idea. One day sitting alone in her room with her hair flowing magically around her, she found herself reading through an old girlhood diary and came across the entry for the day her mother had tried to take her down for that last fateful haircut.

"A drag. Mom had me down to Spencerís for another butcher job. Like, didnít we just do this last week? So, how much hair have I got anyway? I think Iíll just let it grow, like Becky. She swore to me that she never had her hair cut even once and look at it! Iíve never seen such awesome hair in my life. Wonder how Iíd look that way. O.K., diary, hereís the deal: I am never going to get my hair cut again ever, as long as I live! Hope to die. In memory of my best lost friend, Becky."

Angie smiled at the girlish jargon, and picked up a strand of her lovely hair, nestled by her side on the sofa. She studied it carefully. It felt butter-smooth and, oh so soft! The light from the table lamp fell on it and made it glow. She ran her fingers through its entire length. No, she hadnít cut her hair in all this time, and look how it has responded. A torrent, practically to her knees. How could she think of cutting it now? It meant far too much. She had taken a vow back then to never cut it again, and she would stick to it. That much was final. Maybe a bit to keep the split ends in check, but there werenít many of those, thank God. It could continue to grow. She would stick to her promise. She even began to wonder how long it might possibly get. She remembered telling Pam she wouldnít cut it even if it hit the floor, and what Pam had said when she doubted the possibility: "Iím not so sure it wonít happen with hair like that." Well, sheíd worry about that when the day came. Anyway, as sheíd told Pam, "A promise is a promise."

She pulled out some old childhood pictures and studied the face of a sad orphan with cropped, featureless hair. She couldnít recognize herself. She wondered what Becky would think if she saw her now. What was she was doing now, anyhow? Havenít heard from her in years. Did she go to college too? Must have, she was so smart. Wonder if sheís gotten married. Does she still have those awesome pigtails? So long and thick they had been! Why, even in third grade they hung past the edge of her seat. Theyíd be something else if she still had them.

* * *

After graduating from college, Angie took a small studio-apartment and determined to live on her own. Unfortunately, she found she had little in common with her parents, nor had she yet encountered Mister Right. All that summer, Angieís hair got progressively longer, practically to her knees. As it continued to grow, she found she had to make certain adjustments in her lifestyle in order to accommodate it. It certainly was taking more time to wash and dry now. But ever since she first started growing it out, Angie had never begrudged the extra time it required, and actually found the process rather relaxing. There was something quite soothing about that quiet time she set aside each day for its brushing, and she only washed it three times a week now. After it dried and been carefully brushed to a lustrous sheen, it felt so soft and luxurious against her skin, as it spilled in all its splendor down her back and over her thighs. She did discover, however, that she had to keep a close eye on it, since, being so long, it tended to catch on things more often, like in the car door (she had slammed that shut on her loose mane more than once), but she simply learned to be more careful and come to recognize potential hazards ahead of time. She had to be more careful with it, as well, when she went to bed at night. After it became tangled overnight a couple of times, she started to braid it just before turning out the light. That long, heavy braid became her faithful sleeping companion.

Angie got a job as receptionist at Foster & Reed, the highly-respected advertising agency. By now, her hair had not been cut in over ten years, and her fellow employees, all of them male, used to hang around the water cooler simply to get an eyeful of her seated at her desk with that delicious blond mane of hers flowing down her back in all its glory. Angie continued to wear it loose, and all that year it fell in a solid curtain that reached half way between the seat of her chair and the floor. It was a sight to behold, rustling slightly each time she reached to answer the phone. It was still growing, too, as she discovered the day she bent forward to pick up something and got it caught in one of the chair wheels. Some of the more gallant members of the staff acquired a safer piece of furniture for her. Angie seemed entirely unconscious of her prodigious mane, but she was fully aware of its power over others. She knew it was the reason why more trips were taken to the water cooler than absolutely necessary. She secretly enjoyed the attention and smiled to herself when she could feel all those eyes staring at her behind her back. She was so glad she had stuck to her promise of a decade earlier not to cut it. She had become a new person.

Then one evening after work, Angie had a terrible fright. Sheíd been working late, going over some tedious paperwork her boss had asked her to attend to. She was tired when she finally decided to pack it in at 10:00 oíclock and head for home. She rode down from the eighth floor office and was just stepping off the elevator when someone came through the front door of the building. It was only the night watchman making his hourly rounds, but a gust of wind blew Angieís loose hair back into the elevator just as the doors were closing behind her. Angie found herself trapped, her hair firmly caught in its steel jaws. In panic, she reached for the button and quickly pressed it before the car had time to move. The doors opened at once and Angie was freed. It turned out to be of no real consequence, but she found the experience frightening.

That night Angie lay awake thinking for a long time. Her hair was becoming downright dangerous, she thought. It could get her killed. Perhaps the time had come for her to finally cut it. After all, it had achieved its purpose. She had wanted long hair and goodness knows sheíd gotten it. Vanity and vows are all well and good, but not worth giving up your life for. She had made that promise to someone she hadnít seen in ages. It had been years ago. Didnít she have the hair to prove it? Down to her knees and still growing as much as ever. What was she trying to prove? Where would it all end? Yes, the time had certainly come to cut it off. She would have more time for other things. She would start looking at new styles in the morning.

Angie reached out an arm and felt her hair all coiled neatly above her pillow in its customary nighttime braid. It felt so comforting nested there. It was part of her. It made her feel special. It gave her an advantage over other women. It could lead her to Mister Right. He would know what to do. Angie was confused and slept poorly.

In the morning, Angie stood at the open window brushing out her hair. As usual, she was enjoying the way it looked, with the sunlight turning every strand to molten gold. Angie had to admit she liked it the way it was. With dawn had come clarity. What had she been thinking of the night before?

Thank goodness she had come to no snap decisions. At least she still had her hair, and, yes, she would allow it to continue growing. She resolved to keep every inch of it and knew what she was going to do. Much as she might have preferred otherwise, Angie decided that from now on she must bind up her hair whenever she went out, if only for safety. That was a much better idea than cutting. She hadnít put her hair up many times before and wasnít very practiced in the skill, but she could learn.

So Angie began showing up for work each morning with her hair confined to a large chignon. She hadnít realized how much hair she had accumulated until she first tried arranging it this way. There seemed to be so much of it. Whenever she attempted to wind it all up on her head, entire sections had a way of slipping loose, and she would have to start the process all over again. She felt awkward handling it those first few days, but she got progressively better as time went by, and she learned a number of little tricks along the way. She kept telling herself that the chignon made her look older, but some at the office said she looked better than ever. Mr. Reed was pleased because he thought she looked more professional.

Early the following year, a new face joined the group around the water cooler. This was Allen Porter, the most recent addition to Foster & Reedís famed art department. He was casually meeting the gang around the cooler that first morning, when he suddenly turned around and had his first glance of Angie seated at her desk. He could hardly fail to notice the massive chignon of gorgeous blond hair neatly piled on her head.

"Who, pray tell, is that?" he gasped.

"Why, the fair-haired Angie," one of the crew replied. "Ever seen anything like it? Like to meet her?"

Allen was awe-struck and more than a bit tongue-tied when introductions were made. That hair! It was unbelievable. He could hardly keep his eyes off it. Who had hired this angel? For as long as he could remember, Allen had been a passionate admirer of long hair, the longer the better, and cursed the luck that there were so few chances to meet such glamorous creatures. He felt highly self-conscious and was certain he had blown his chance at that first awkward meeting. How could he be such an idiot, just when opportunity knocked?

Allen began to have fantasies about Angie at night. At first he suspected that perhaps her chignon might not be her real hair. He had been fooled this way before. But, no, a number of the water-cooler gang described how she used to come to work with it all flowing down her back like a cape, and how she told them sheíd taken to wearing it up all the time because it was getting just too long. From that moment on, Allen began to look for any pretext that would get Angie to let down her hair for him. He just had to see it. He could not rest content until he saw it in all its splendor. How long was it, anyway? "Down to her knees, at least," he was told. "Perhaps a bit more than that by now." Allen spent long hours in the darkroom absorbed in his work (for the company was especially busy just then) and daydreaming about Angieís magnificent hair. Each day when he came to work he made every effort to engage her in polite conversation. She seemed a bright, cheerful person. He determined he would ask her for a date.

And then Allenís golden opportunity arrived. One of Foster & Reedís oldest clients was starting a new ad campaign, and Allen had been assigned to do the photography. When he discovered the product being developed was a shampoo, he was beside himself. All he could think of was how he could use Angie as a model. There turned out to be several obstacles to this. For one thing, Angie had no known modeling experience. Furthermore, the client already had his own models picked out and, in any event, this was not a product specifically targeted towards long hair. "A message we may not wish to convey," was the way Mr. Burman put it, when they were holding their first production meeting with the client in the company board room. Just then, Angie walked through the door to get Mr. Reedís signature on something.

All eyes were suddenly on Angie. Allen was as surprised as anyone when Mr. Foster casually inquired, "Miss Palmer, have you ever done any modeling?"

"Not for some time, Mr. Foster, but actually I have. I did a bit while I was in college, and quite enjoyed it too. Iím sure I have some excellent references at home."

"I will probably want to look at those. Now, I donít want to make any promises, but, if Mr. Burman here is willing, I think it might be an interesting experiment. The Burman Company is coming out with a new line of hair products. How would you like Mr. Porter to do a photo session focusing on your hair? I hope Iím not speaking out of turn when I say I have noticed for some time that you have particularly attractive hair."

Burman was less than enthusiastic, but agreed to the experiment. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Angie left with a conditional contract in her hands. Allen couldnít believe how good fortune had fallen into his. The shoot was arranged for the following Tuesday. Allen had no experience with the specific subject of hair photography and spent the weekend reading up on the finer points of his craft. He had the studio all set up and ready to go by Monday evening. Angie washed and conditioned her hair twice that day, so it would look its very best. She arrived promptly the following morning, and the two of them prepared for a busy day. Allen was in the highest state of anticipation. The moment he had so looked forward to had arrived at last. Angie simply put his excitement down to his artistic temperament.

"Now, Ms. Palmer if you would please let your hair down." Allen would remember for the rest of his life the moment when, after they had selected a blue outfit for her to wear the better to show off her coloring, Angieís hands reached up to dismantle her massive chignon. The bright studio lights caused it to shimmer with a thousand highlights. He held his breath as Angieís hands fumbled briefly somewhere within the rich tapestry that was her crowning glory. Then with a sudden rush her hair sprang loose and tumbled like a vast waterfall of silk down the entire length of her back. The sight was beyond Allenís expectations. He had never seen anything like it. It fell, rich and full. It came several inches below her knees, practically to her calves, a lovely, shimmering curtain of perfection. Allenís first comment, I believe, was, "I think we can do something with this." ("Another stupid remark," thought Allen. "Of course I can do something!") Angie began to brush out her long, seductive tresses, while Allen started working his camera. Never had he wanted his camera to capture images so badly.

"You can probably reach it far better than I can," said Angie, passing Allen the brush. "Perhaps you should do this for awhile. Just gentle strokes, though. OK?" Allen was is heaven. "This day is going to be filled with wonderful surprises," he thought, "why sheís even going to let me brush it!" It felt as perfect as it looked. So soft. Just like cream. Allen had worked out an exact scenario of what he wanted to do. First some shots of that heavenly hair down and flowing. Perhaps some grooming shots. Then some with Angie putting her hair back in its chignon, showing how she achieved that wonderful affect. Then maybe some of those fuzzy Pantene-like pictures with her hair caught in full motion, swirling around her. Of course, this was still a shampoo commercial; there had to be some pictures of it all wet and lathery. Allen wanted to save these for last, but Angie said that wouldnít leave enough time for her hair to dry, so they decided to do that right after lunch.

Lunch turned out to be more fun for them both than either expected it would be, and they got to know each other much better. Angie found Allen pleasant company, serious about his work, but with a wry sense of humor and a practical down-to-earth nature. He was nothing like, for instance, her father. As they continued talking, Allen found himself thinking less and less about Angieís hair and more and more of Angie herself. He even forgot they would soon be doing that hair-washing sequence heíd been so looking forward to. This exceeded all expectations. How the water and lather had flowed around when they eventually returned to work! The end of the day found them close friends.

The photoshoot came to nothing. In their hearts they both knew it wouldnít. Mr. Burman said that, although the pictures were nice, they didnít 'speak' to his product. There were positive results, though. Angie received a raise and got several nice compliments from Mr. Foster. For his part, Allen had several splendid pictures to add to his portfolio.

Far more important, however, Angie and Allen had been thrown together, and it was only a matter of time before they fell in love. Allen never pushed his fixation with Angieís hair. They were married in 1989. Angie had, indeed, met Mister Right. They were such a perfect match. Among other things, Angie found her hair much less of a worry now there was someone to help her with it, and Allen was more than willing. Here was someone who could understand why she had done what she did, why she had wanted her hair to obtain such imperial lengths. Allen encouraged her in every way he knew. Each time he brushed out those long, beautiful tresses, he could hardly believe his good fortune. He had met the girl of his dreams.

Allen and Angela Porter spent their honeymoon at a charming small hotel in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. The first night a bottle of champagne had arrived in their room, 'compliments of the management.' The attached note was signed by the manager, 'Rebecca Monroe.' The name meant nothing to either of them, but it made Angie think of the woman with the unusual hair who had checked them in earlier. And it had been unusual hair. Thick, black braids that coiled around her head like a sort of crown. You didnít see many people with hair like that these days. Might have been as long as Angieís own. Then something struck a familiar chord.

"Rebecca Monroe. You donít suppose that could possibly be Becky Waters, do you, Allen dear." Allen knew all about Becky because of the important role she had played in Angieís story. "I couldnít tell you, my angel. But I know the way we can find out. But, please, not tonight. Iíve made other plans!" (We now move forward to afford the Porters some privacy.)

The next day, after a refreshing session tending to Angieís hair, it indeed did turn out to be Becky. (You knew it would, didnít you gentle reader? Why else would it have been brought up?) And what a grand reunion the two old schoolmates had! The husbands, Allen and Jack met, and Allen thanked Becky profusely for being the inspiration behind the object of his desire.

"So you never did cut your hair," Angie inquired of Becky after they had all gotten caught up to date and were sitting over iced drinks that evening in the little courtyard behind the inn.

"No, I never had the heart," Becky answered. "I know how much it meant to mom and dad. And then when mother died, I couldnít bring myself to do it. Anyway, Jack likes it this way, donít you dear?"

Jack nodded, and Allen said, "I know what you mean."

"You know, I couldnít have cared less back when we were in school," Becky went on. "Then when I went away to college it sort of became like, you know, my trademark. Itís far too long -- Iíll show you sometime if youíre interested -- but every time I got ready to cut off every flaming inch of it, I would think, why, I bet Iím the only person in the country who can claim that theyíve never cut their hair in their life. Not once. Nada. That makes me feel a bit special. Oh, Iíve met people whoíve made the claim, but it turns out they once had bangs, or short hair in kindergarten, or something. Ever hear of Diane Witt? Woman somewhere up North with hair lots longer than mine. Read somewhere she last cut her hair in 1981. There, see what I mean? So, as far as Iím concerned, Iím unique."

"What about split ends?," asked Allen. "Donít you trim these once and awhile? Wouldnít that count as cutting your hair?"

"I wouldnít know," replied Becky. "Donít think I have Ďem. Anyway, like I say, scissors have never touched my hair."

"Itís interesting," Angie observed. "Here youíve kept your hair because of your parents, and I grew mine because of my parents too, but for entirely opposite reasons. I bet if my folks hadnít made such an issue of my hair and made me wear it the way youíll remember it, I would never have let it grow in the first place, certainly not this long."

Jack suddenly got up. "Enough of this chatter, girls. All this bragging about how long your hair is! Itís time for show and tell. Bet you dollars to donuts Beckyís got the longest, most beautiful hair in the entire world."

Allen was ready for the challenge, but all bets were off when Becky unveiled her extraordinary tresses. They were standing in the orchard behind the inn, and Becky unwound the two heavy braids coiled around her head and got Jack to undo them. She was standing on the fruit-picking ladder, while Jack worked his fingers higher and higher through her hair. He then spread it all out for them to admire. It turned out to be over eight feet in length and an awesome sight, floating before their eyes like a vast raven cloud in the soft evening air, sleek as an otterís pelt. Because the subject had come up earlier, they checked it for split ends and could find nary a one. It was amazing. Somewhat to her chagrin, Angieís hair only brushed her calves, coming about half way between her knees and ankles. "But just look at it!" Becky exclaimed. "My hair may be lots longer than yours, but you win the bet for the most beautiful hair hands down. Anyway, Iíve had a few yearsí head start on you in the hair-growing department."

"Well," said Angie, "you were my inspiration for getting it started in the first place, and I see youíre my inspiration still."

"Long may it grow!" shouted Allen and Jack in unison.
 
 

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