Monday, June 4, 2007

Hairpisodes: What hair does to us, what we do to hair

This is how it starts. I sit in the salon chair and the stylist fastens that slippery black cape tightly around my neck—too tightly. I’ve never heard of anyone asphyxiating in a stylist’s chair, so I try to relax. This hair appointment is therapy—a much needed dose of medicine—a make-over to my next level of self-awareness. Breathe, I tell myself, breathe.

I've lost my regular hairdresser, who was so hard to find in the first place, and now I'm overdue for a cut. I couldn't seem to bring myself to make an appointment--I've had so many bad styling experiences over the years I've begun to refer to them as "hairpisodes." I don't consider myself superstitious, but I have a hunch this outing will end badly. Let's face it, I'm pinned to the chair, and that woman behind me is wielding some razor sharp scissors. I should just leap up and run screaming from the salon, black cape and all, but stupid me, I hang in there.

"You like?" the woman keeps asking as she snip snip snips, pieces of hair flying in all directions. "You like?" I don't nod, afraid she'll miss, and besides, I can hardly swallow. But the stylist doesn't notice, chattering away in a foreign tongue to the other stylists, and especially to the sullen woman sweeping with the broom. It takes ten, maybe fifteen minutes to lose the hair I've been growing out for six years. Released from my noose, I stumble forward, grab my purse, and pay hastily so they won't see me cry.

Arriving at the restaurant to meet Dave, he looks up, then back at the menu like he doesn't know me. My throat still feels choked as I sink into the booth opposite him. He glances up, then does the double-take I fear.
"What did you do?!" He asks.
"Well, I didn't mean for it to be this short," I say thinly.
"Where did you go?"
"That discount place across the street. My regular hairdresser moved to Texas." I sound as forlorn as I feel.
"Across the street? I go there! Did you get that skinny woman who cuts hair like a butcher?!"
"Maybe. Does she have short brown hair that looks sorta like this?" I grab a stout tuft from the side of my head.
"God! She only knows how to do one cut. Everyone leaves her chair looking exactly the same!"

So I'd met the butcher, and faced her like a coward. I resolved to never go back there. And grow back my hair, too. That would show her.


Jo said...

OK! I can't read these without being transported back to my own hairpisodes. There was this time that I went to the mall in Bellingham with a friend. She said, "You know, we could stand to get our hair cut. How 'bout it?" Well, she was a relatively new friend and not wanting to disappoint her, I said sure and we walked into this mall salon. I should have had a clue when my hair "technician" told me she just graduated from beauty school after having flunked out twice. Why didn't I listen to my inner voice? But she seemed so thrilled that she'd made it through. I guess I was happy for her and wanted to celebrate with her. "So, how would you like it cut today?" Well, I launched into a rather elaborate and I thought specific description- one I was sure she'd understand. "OK about 2" off everywhere then, huh?" "That's what you heard me say?", I asked somewhat shocked. (I'm a slow learner.) "Well, did you want something else? Look, if you're not happy we can have you see someone else.", she exclaimed somewhat defensively. "No, no- 2" will be just fine". Do I need to tell you that it was the worst haircut of my life? I was crying as I paid my bill. And I've cut my own hair ever since! Thanks for the memory.-JG

Anonymous said...

Good post.