I’m getting my hair cut soon, but I’ve been putting it off, since I am a bit gun-shy about haircuts right now. It’s a bit hard for me to talk about, so give me a moment and let me calm my trembling hands…
Since I’m a fancy dame on a budget, I usually seek out cheap salons with great Yelp reviews like:
“Wow, this haircut was $, but it looks like $$$$$$$$$!”
My area of Brooklyn is sprinkled with odd little salons ranging from ‘way too expensive’ to ‘probably a cover business, so don’t risk getting raped’, so it’s difficult to discern between them based on a store front.
It was so much easier when I had long hair. I seemed to look like the person in my headshot, and I hardly ever had to deal with salons – additionally, I died my own hair, and felt really smug and thrifty about it. (FYI, I am just now crawling out of the ashes of my disastrous box-color days.)
After searching, I found a cute little salon down Third Ave. that had just opened. Their prices were muy reasonable, and they were gaining publicity online. I trusted the reviews, and scheduled an appointment for the next day.
I was super excited about the place. It looked decent, and the woman doing my hair was somewhat fashionable, and said she had styled hair for runway shows for years, and helped invent and market a brand of flat-iron.
Conversation flowed well, and she went to work, snipping away. I relaxed into my chair, and watched out of the corner of my eye. She was going along nicely, so I gave her my trust completely. What a gem of a place!
When she was done, I was mildly pleased. It was shoulder length, and exactly what I had asked for, but very average. Nothing spectacular, but no disasters. So, with a sigh, I remembered how little this haircut would cost, and I swallowed my pride. It would grow out soon enough.
She blow dried my hair, and then reached for her straightener. ‘Oh, how sweet.’ I thought. ‘She’s really giving me special treatment.’ So we conversed as she styled my hair. I studied the blonde dead ends scattered around my chair. After a while, I inevitably noticed what she was doing.
She had taken a thin straightening iron and applied it to the bottom half of my hair, spinning it like a curling iron, and then pulling out violently like a pair of scissors on a ribbon, making it curl within an inch of its life, and whipping my head back with it, ripping three or four stray hairs out by the root each time.
The ends of my hair were extending out in a tight curl, giving my head a bell, or bunt pan shape. The faster her elbow drew back, pulling the straightener with it, the tighter the curl, and the further I felt myself slip into a dissociative state reserved only for victims of prolonged abuse.
My head took on different forms as the time ticked by. At first resembled a Tiffany lamp, then one of the Great Lakes, and then – finally, a shower loofah shaped like George Washington’s head.
At some point during the life-altering process, she decided she was done, and handed me a mirror. I saw the tight-lipped ‘glad to do you a favor’ look on her face, so I forced a squeal of delight mixed with a groan of agony that came out sounding like a cat in heat, and said something like, “I’m glad I came super-duper thank you” while walking sideways to the cash register.
It was at that moment when I realized I’d have to walk home looking like an open bag of easter basket grass.
I clenched my teeth and everything else in preparation for the long trip down Third Avenue.
Throwing my purse over my shoulder, I opened the door. From the minute I left the salon to the minute I entered my front door, I walked with more speed and determination than I’ve ever exhibited. The whole time humming “What a Friend I Have in Jesus” and other church camp songs in the hopes of undoing the evil that had just been committed, and to deflect the stares and comments from passers-by. My tight curls bounced on my neck with each step, laughing at me… I may have blacked out once or twice.
Since I had to work that evening and didn’t have time for a shower, I spent the rest of the day with my hair pulled back into a tight wad-like pony tail that looked like a steel wool sponge.
That was the day I decided to start investing in my hair.