I am an epic failure at the hair salon. Aside from not enjoying the experience much, I just can't seem to get the hang of the whole thing. It all begins to crumble with that first question, “So, what are we having done today?” You would think that a woman in her late twenties would know what kind of hair cut she'd like by now. And I kind of do, but I just don't seem to have the hairdresser lingo to explain it well:
“Oh, well, I don't want anything off the bottom but maybe something on the face, just to make it look more interesting”.
Make my face look more interesting? Or my hair? Who knows what I meant by that (I ACTUALLY said this yesterday). After a quizzical look, the hairdresser – or stylist, as I'm sure she'd prefer to be called – reinterprets my vague description and repeats it back to me in stylist-speak:
Okay, so you're wanting to freshen up your look then? We'll leave the lengths, you seem to be growing your hair long (correct), but we'll give you some shape around the face, a little more layering and maybe a bit of a side-sweeping fringe. How does that sound?
It sounds great! For now.
Then, the second question, which I dread even more than the first – So, what would you say your hair routine is? I'm sure there are a few appropriate responses for this question, none of which would be true for me and my, shall we say, laidback approach to my hair. Instead, I tell the truth:
Well, I occasionally shampoo and condition it, less so at the moment with all the pool swimming I'm doing. And when I'm not chasing a toddler around, I might run a brush through my hair. That's if I can find my brush...
The poor stylist looks at me, a mix of horror and disgust in her face. Such blatant disregard for my hair health! She then explains to me (it feels more like chiding) that this may be why my hair is so dry, frizzy, oily, broken, unruly, flat, dull... you get the picture. Nevermind, I'm sure she tells herself, this hair can be saved! She capes me up, runs her fingers through my hair one more time, then ushers me over to the basin for a wash. As we approach the basin, my neck pleads with me, “Kate, please, as a loyal member of your body, having held up your heavy head for many years now, DO NOT let me get bent and cricked by that awful sink contraption! I will not cope!” My neck, as it turns out, is a bit of a wimp. I'd like to say the rest of me is more hardy but who am I kidding? While I thoroughly enjoy the scalp massage, lying on that basin for even a short period of time is hell. I squirm around a bit, trying to get more comfortable, certain that my stylist – who already thinks I'm unhygienic and lazy – now probably suspects I have worms.
Okay, the initial questions are over, my neck has (mostly) survived the wash basin, surely it gets better from here, right? Hmmm. As the scissors come out, I know it's only a matter of time before the awkward small talk begins. It's not awkward for everyone; in fact, I can see several other women carrying on perfectly inane conversations with their stylists as they get primped and preened. I just don't seem to have the knack for it. I'm not particularly interested in dissecting the recent weather we've been having. And when she asks me, with the enthusiastic demeanour of a 21-year-old, “So, any exciting plans for the weekend?”, what she wants to hear is...
OH YEAH, I'm totally going to hit that new club in the Valley with my girlfriends. We're going to get SOOOO loose!
Which is funny because in my day, getting loose did NOT mean getting drunk. It meant something quite different altogether.
The truth is something a little more like this...
No, I don't have any exciting plans for the weekend. I'll probably stay at home mostly, looking after my baby. I might do some washing, go for a walk in the park, find one glorious hour of no-baby time to read something trashy like a Who magazine.
Let me just say now that I rather like my simple, stay-at-home-mummy life. But when asked by an uber trendy bright-eyed girl who has no children and probably only moved out of home recently, I suddenly feel a bit on the boring side.
Anyway. Back to the haircut.
By now she's ascertained that I'm not terribly good at small talk so we sit in silence while she works. Thankfully for her, the woman sitting beside me talks enough for the both of us, her story going something like this...
… and he didn't know that I knew but I did know. Because my friend was at the same “work” dinner (her bunny ears, not mine) and saw him with her and she texted me a photo of them together so I knew all these details by the time he got home. He said he didn't have sex with her or anything but after we were fighting awhile he changed his tune and said he did have sex with her but I drove him to it. And that was the end of hubby number two...
And that was the censored version, let me tell you.
A few years ago, I actually took the final Harry Potter novel along to my hair cut and colour. I was up to a most crucial point in the story and couldn't bear to wait until I got home to find out who was going to live or die. It's HARRY POTTER, for heavens sake! I can still remember the look on the stylist's face when I pulled the heavy book out of my bag and began reading it – she seemed a little miffed that this client she was going to be working on for the next hour or two was going to completely ignore her in favour of the boy wizard.
In the end, I got an alright hair cut and the whole experience wasn't too painful. But I'll always be that slightly awkward person who would prefer to dodge the small talk and gossip for a good, long novel.