I hoped my stylist Jeff wouldn't notice, but sure enough, as soon as I sat down, he pulled the hair on both sides of my head to check if they were even. They weren't.
"So how's it going?" he asked.
"Okay," I said, without enthusiasm.
"Okay? Not what I was hoping to hear."
"Something felt off to me this time around."
"Well, this haircut kinda felt ... mean."
"Mean?! Your hair felt mean?!"
Jeff gaped in the mirror, appalled, as he levered my chair up three bounces. I fluttered my hands from under my black gown to grip the longish sideburns framing my ears.
"These tufts are too bulky or something. The whole effect is kind of ... severe."
"Mean hair." Jeff tilted his head to one side. "Not good."
In my mind, the red flag was now flapping madly: It's like complaining to the cook about the food, I realized--he could very easily just spit in it and return it to your table. Would Jeff retaliate by shaving my head?
He did not. But he did give me a foil, punishment enough, because getting a foil means sitting for half an hour in the salon window in full view of sidewalk pedestrians looking like this.
At the last minute (and after I took this photo), Jeff had the inspiration to color my eyebrows, which I think really helped with the mean factor.
The other day, I came across the following description of foil characters while reading Writing Genre Fiction (Milhorn). "A foil is a piece of shiny metal put under gemstones to increase their brightness. Foil characters are closely associated with the character for whom they serve as a foil, usually a friend [she] can confide in and thus disclose her innermost thoughts. They serve to bring out the brilliance of the character for whom they serve as a foil."
Foil characters. Hmm. The best hair stylists know how to make characters look brilliant as well. Thanks, Jeff.