MODERN DAY RAPUNZEL
c1991 Airweaver

I could hardly believe my eyes when I first saw it. Liz and I had just broken up, and I found myself reading the 'Personal Relation' ads in the paper for a bit of solace, when there it was about halfway through the section headed 'Women Seeking Men.' A sentence in one of the columns fairly jumped off the page:

"Modern day Rapunzel seeks soul mate to help tend unusually long hair."

Was this my lucky day or what? What a find! To me there can be no lovelier sight than a woman with long, glossy hair cascading down her back. Why arenít there more of them? Fact is, thatís why Liz and I broke up in the first place. Weíd had a fight about her hair the night she dropped by to show off her new super-short image. She said it looked 'smart.' I said she looked like sheíd just gotten out of prison. I admit I could have been more tactful, but I was devastated. Her hair was so long and beautiful before. It had given me the greatest pleasure. What a waste! And here was someone advertising in the paper actually announcing she had long hair and apparently asking for someone to help keep it that way.

There was a number to call in response to the ad, and I lept for the phone. Then I found myself having second thoughts. "Hold on a minute here," I remember thinking. "Letís not count our chickens before they hatch. Only losers or really desperate people actually take out personals ads. Itíll probably turn out to be some dour old maid or someone too lazy to do anything about her hair. Bet she hasnít combed it in a year, and it turns out to be all split ends and frizzies."

Still, nothing ventured nothing gained, as my mother used to say, so I dialed the number only to reach an answering machine. Her voice sounded okay, so I asked her to get back to me. Well, after a few rounds of phone tag, we finally agreed to meet for drinks at a wine bar we were both familiar with downtown. She told me Iíd recognize her as the one wearing the large, white picture hat. The bar has an attractive outdoor terrace, and she was easy to spot in that striking white hat sitting under a Campari umbrella. She didnít look half bad from a distance, and the prospects grew even better as I approached her table. Too bad I couldnít see any of that hair sheíd talked about in her ad.

Now, I canít say Iím all that crazy about blind dates. They can be a bit awkward, but she proved very easy to get on with. We hit it off right from the start and ended up having dinner together afterwards. Her name was Debra (never 'Debbie,' she warned), and over lasagna and Chianti, I took a closer look at her. She seemed so amazingly attractive I was puzzled. I said, "Excuse me for asking, Debra, but why does a pretty young girl like you need to take out ads in the newspapers? I think you would have guys swarming around you like bees."

"Oh that," she said, attempting to laugh it off. "No, Iíve had no trouble getting men. Itís keeping them that seems to be my problem. I guess Iíd better be frank. You probably noticed the bit about my hair. (You bet!) Well, itís very, very long and that means it takes a lot of time to take care of properly. I know this sounds vain, but I want to keep it that way and try to pamper it. A lot of men say they love my hair, but it turns out they donít at all. It seems to make them jealous. They all wind up saying I spend more time fussing with my hair than I do over them."

This was starting to sound very interesting, but I wasnít about to rush things. "Yes, the hair reference did catch my eye," I confessed, "but I canít see that being a problem. Quite the opposite, I would say. I think I 'd better be frank myself. Thatís actually the main reason Iím here. I love women to have long hair, the longer the better, as far as that goes. Well..., some other things too." I looked inquisitively across the table and could see just a hint of gold where her hair swept up over her temples and into the hat. "Any chance of seeing it?"

She shook her head coyly. "Plenty of time for all that... whenever. Letís not get into all that now, we're having a good time. Okay?" She was turning out to be pleasant company, so I left it at that, and we wound up talking about everything but hair. I was still hoping, though, that she would remove that darn hat! She had said her hair was very, very long. What did that mean exactly? After dinner I called a cab and dropped her off at her place. I left kicking myself that I had never seen any of that famous hair. This adventure might yet turn out to be a disappointment, but that one small glance I had of shimmering gold told me otherwise.

We got together again a few days later and took in a ballgame. It turned out she knew more about baseball statistics than I did. This time she had on a bandanna that covered her head completely, and I could see none of her hair at all. What was this? Some kind of test? I tried dropping a few gentle hints, but parted again none the wiser. This was becoming very frustrating. How I craved a look at that golden hair!

This went on for several weeks. Each of our dates after this (and there were several), ran along much the same lines. Every time she had her head covered, hiding her hair. She seemed to have no end of coverings to keep her hair well hidden from view. Like the time we got together at the skating rink. (Well, it was cold that day, so I really couldnít blame her for keeping the hood of her parka tightly zipped.) Or the time we went to the big Impressionist show at the museum. She showed up with a turban wrapped around her head. Very stylish, Iím sure, but no help in the hair-viewing department. I was amazed by the depth of her knowledge of art history (Debra seemed full of surprises like that), but even all those Renoirs and Degas, with their familiar images of women drying and combing their hair, couldnít get her to talk about hers. All I ever got was the acknowledgment that, "yes, it was very long."

What was this about her hair, anyway? She was the one who had brought it up in the first place, all this Repunzal business. So why was she so unwilling for me to see it, or even talk about it? She must have known how much I longed to see it, feel it, watch it floating in the breeze. But the only time she even mentioned her hair after that was once when she called to say she was running late because she had just washed it, and it was taking longer to dry than she thought. I liked her and thought she liked me. Still, it was getting frustrating.

Sometimes, however, patience is rewarded. I well always remember the night I finally hit pay dirt. And the wait proved well worth it. She had asked me to meet her at her apartment about eight, I remember. I canít recall what we had planned to do, because of what happened next. I arrived right on the dot and rang her bell. Debra didnít answer the door as I expected, but called for me to enter. I found her standing in the middle of the living room striking a pose and wearing a tight-fitting, dark blue suit that set off her coloring to perfection. Firmly planted on her head was the same white picture hat she'd been wearing the first time we met. She gave me a little smile as if to say she was keeping a secret, then lifted her arms to the brim of the hat as if saying it held a secret of its own. She said, "You told me you like your women to have long hair. Do I qualify?"

If she was going for dramatic effect, she was certainly succeeding. She carefully removed her hat to reveal an absolutely ravishing sight. No wonder she wore her hair covered in public; it was so beautiful it would have caused car accidents! Never have I seen such remarkable hair. It had been arranged in a series of braids that wound in profusion across the top of her head. Coils gleamed and danced in the light as if giving off a light of their own. Her hair was so lush it took my breath away. Such color, such a creaminess, such texture! I could feel a lump in my throat and a hard on.

I could tell she was pleased with my reaction. "It's nice when a man notices when a girl spents extra time on her hair. I took more time than usual today because I thought it might please you. Iím afraid itís very long." She reached up and casually stroked a particularly glossy strand that swept up in a rich wave from her forehead. "Would you like to see it all?"

I nodded like a giddy school boy, as she knew I would. She raised her arms and reached beneath the braids to the nape of her neck, searching for whatever hidden pin held them in place. Her hair had been so perfectly arranged that it seems a pity to disturb what amounted to a work of art, as she seemed intent on doing. At the same time, the thought of seeing her release this elaborate arrangement was so arousing I could hardly wait for her to release the shimmering pile and let it fall. I could see where she had parted her hair carefully just left of center, the part running straight as a die for her forehead clear to the nape of her neck. It was as if every strand had been individually brushed from this immaculate parting, which could just be seen running under the series of braids that crossed and recrossed the top of her head ending in an elaborate series of graceful curved loops draped above the nape of her neck. Every plait gleamed in the light. Not a single hair seemed out of place. No loose end or wondering curl spoiled the utter perfection of the picture before me.

She moved slowly towards me and her hands found two small blue bows I now could see helding the ends of these perfect braids in place. She was about to release them for my pleasure. I tried to imagine how all this hair would look when it was all free, flowing and rippling over her blue suit. Debra was an attractive woman, but this was a surprise beyond my wildest dream. Debra was about to display her secret, her extraordinary hair.

How long would it turn out to be? I had certainly wondered about this before. There certainly seemed a lot of it. Even tightly bound on her head, its profusion was undeniable. Liz had once had waist-long hair, and I once met a woman with hair falling below her knees. But this hair suggested something more remarkable. But what if all this hair wasnít real? Maybe some secret in among that rich tapestry made it appear longer and thicker than it seemed. "Donít worry," Debra said, as if reading my thoughts. "Itís all mine. Actually, I hope it will get longer."

Slowly, as if giving me time to saver every second of the forthcoming show, she untied the bows one at a time. Then quite without warning, two heavy plaits swung free from the back of her head like stout ropes and fell with a pleasing swish down her back, bouncing against her body to a point just below her narrow waist. They fell to her crotch and would have been just long enough for her to sit on, the ends hanging like two feathery anchors at her hips.

Both braids were pleasingly plump, and I loved the way they captured the light as the strands weaved gracefully to and fro through each immaculate twist. They gleamed against the blue of her suit. It was clear from their thickness that each confined a vast quantity of hair; they were so tightly intertwined that it was hard to tell how much. The texture was extraordinary. Although quite thick, it was not course as such hair often is, but the texture of smooth satin.

I looked back to Debraís face to realize that her heavy braids had actually only been partly released. Only part of them had been freed. The swaying pigtails hung suspended from a pair of silver berets helding them above her ears. Between them, the elaborate series of braids still crossed the crown of her head as before. These dangling braids were either artificial, or else her hair promised to be much longer than I thought.

"Now to let it down the rest of the way," she said.

Her hands reached for the beret over her left ear and released the clasp. A portion of the sleek coils on top of her head began sliding slowly to the side under their own weight, and the freely hanging braid, which earlier had extended to just below her waist, began to slither downward inch by inch brushing against her body as it descended past her hips, past her thighs, on down past her left knee, until at last it hung free, swaying against her calf. The end touched the carpet. This braid was longer than she was tall. The tip actually brushed the floor!

The process was repeated with the beret over her right ear, and a second glossy plait slithered smoothly downward to join its mate at floor level. And there Debra was, standing before me, framed in two incredible golden pigtails of the most carefully combed and braided hair I had ever seen, braids that extended the full length of her body. These braids were not only long, but thick and healthy, almost as full at their tips as they were hanging in front of her ears. The long, smooth skeins within each braid passed and twisted through one another in rich, even turns, each twist about an inch wide and shining with a deep golden glow.

Debra said nothing, but bent forward to pick up the end of her left braid. As she did so, both braids slithered forward as if they had a life of their own. She untied the bow and with practiced hands began undoing the braid. Silken hair began to spring forth in all its glory. A smooth curtain of gold began spreading out as her fingers worked their way further and further up the braid. With each twist of her fingers, separating strands moved and rustled against her, bursting forth and spreading as the curtain expanded first from the floor to her knee, then from floor to waist, from floor to mid-back... until the entire braid was unbound and the mane flowed smooth and free in billowing waves enveloping her entire left side in a sheet of gold.

As she stooped over to reach for the end of her second braid, the freed portion on the left shifted forward across her face like a veil and arched forward in a graceful curve spreading in a golden wave across the floor. Debra quickly unwound her right plait until she stood there bathed in a golden tent of flowing hair that completely covered her from head to toe. The color of her hair varied from gold to honey to rich brown. I could see broad parallel bands marking where her hair had been braided before. Now that it was all hanging loose, her hair proved longer than it seemed before. It did more now than just brush the floor, but spread between her feet in a pool of spun gold. I remember her saying she hoped it would grow longer. Was that possible?

Debra turned and her thick curtain of hair moved and flowed to the rhythm of her body, the ends sweeping the floor. She stretched out her arms and gathered up the entire luxuriant torrent, which she stroked like a cat and then deftly tossed over her shoulders so the mane swept out behind her. Taking shimmering skeins in each hand, she spread it out like wings for me to admire. The hair flowed from between her fingers like burnished quicksilver.

I was awed, and I could tell she was pleased with my reaction. "This hairís a lot of work," she said, "but sometimes...for you...itís worth it. What do you think?"

"Itís unbelievable!" I finally managed to say. "Can I touch it?" I know, it sounded naive, but I was kind of in shock.

"Oh, you can do more than that."

I gave her a tender squeeze and buried my face in her tresses. They felt deliciously cool against my cheek and were unbelievably soft. The delightful smell of scented shampoo filled my lungs. She gave a shiver of delight, and we made love for the first time right there and then.

After we both had calmed down sufficiently, she stood up and asked me to brush her hair for her, which had become somewhat disheveled in our abandon. I carefully tried to return her hair to its previous luster, moving the brush slowly and deeply through that all rich, wonderous hair. It gave me no end of pleasure. As we sat down together on the sofa, she gathered her loose hair up in her arms and spread it across her lap like a robe. Tendrils of it dangled seductively down between her legs.

I had a million things I wanted to ask her, but still couldnít keep that beautiful hair off my mind. What I said must have sounded obvious:

"Your hairís absolutely magnificent," I stammered. "Iíve never seen anything like it. But itís so long, how do you manage?"

"Thatís just it. I canít anymore. Itís gotten too long for me to deal with alone. My family used to help me, but motherís gone now, and my sister had to leave town a month ago. Now you understand the reason I had to place that ad. I really need help with my hair. I canít bare to cut it. Iíve had it all my life and just have to know how long it will get. Iím sorry I led you such a long song and dance, Alec. I knew from the first you were interested in my hair, but you never pushed. But you have to be careful with men. Thereís so many creeps out there. But now I know. Youíre the first guy Iíve met Iím sure I can trust."

"So, it was a test."

"Well, I guess a bit, but there was more to it than that. I wanted you to realize there was more to me than just a silly girl being vain about her hair." I thought back about her knowledge of box scores and art and all the other things we had done over the past few weeks. There certainly was more to her than just that magnificent mane now wrapped around her like a cloak. But what a wonderful fringe benefit!

"Letís go out and celebrate!"

"Youíve got it." We stood up, and Debra got me to help put up her hair. She had to show me everything, as I didnít have a clue what I was suppose to be doing. Her hair felt so good. She proved a good teacher. It was all so much fun and exciting I hoped she would let me try it again soon. I still had much to ask her, but there was now plenty of time for that.

So, there you have it. Thatís how Debra and I first got together. Sheís been a good wife and hair had played a large part in our lives ever since. She now works for George Michael (she has proved a godsend to many of his clients), and I have made a small fortune on hair care products with my background in organic chemistry. You may have heard of the HairGlo line, or be familiar with that marvelous series of TV commercials showing a comb sliding through an ocean of gorgeous hair, all of it Debraís. (Unfortunately, none of the images give any idea of its now regal length.) Our daughter Susie (never 'Susan') says she wants her hair "just like mummyís," and promises never to cut it. We shall see. It just goes to prove that sometimes dreams do come true.
 
 

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