Free-Floating Hostility

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Demon Barbers of 2nd Ave

Today I had most of my hair cut off. It's summer, and grooming interests me on no level. Mike is on his way home from work, meaning the countdown is about to begin. Once it took Mike 18 hours to notice I had lost 4 inches of hair (post-wedding break for freedom). So the time after that, I took the old Dave Barry routine to the next level. Mike knew this time where I was headed, so half an hour after my return he remembered that he was supposed to be complimenting my hair and said, "Oh, you got a haircut. I like it." "They canceled my appointment," I answered. "I didn't change my hair." "Dammit!," he wailed, "I thought I had it that time." "Ah, it's okay, I'm just fucking with you. I did cut my hair."

Maybe it's that I don't give him enough practice. I hate and dread trips to the salon, and have been known to go six months without one (think of it in dog years if you're a man). It's bad enough that I have to think about my own hair every day without being reminded that strangers can see it too. And the judgment! And the grilling--not as in hot curlers, but as in "and how often do you blowdry? Mmm-hmm." This is probably how demerol addicts feel when they have to consult their doctor about their swollen lymph nodes, the same general feeling of having no right to be there when hard working people are waiting outside, and that the whole depraved situation is ones own fault.

The best haircut I ever got was from a dyslexic veteran of the air force who in her military days literally blew up a plane after misreading the instructions. Unfortunately, mine was apparently the only competent haircut the woman ever gave--she literally burned the hair out of April's scalp and was summarily fired days later. The time after that I had an adorable hairdresser named Diane, who put me completely at my ease, telling me wild stories about her Greek family ("People ask me if it's like in the movie and I tell them, no, we roast our lamb on the spit in the backyard not the front") and her other job on her uncle's mobile veterinary clinic ("and I told her a dalmation crossed with a chow? No, I'm sorry, puppy abortion!"). I was ready to follow Diane to the ends of the earth, not because of how my hair came out, but simply because I was not mortified to submit to her craft. On my return I learned that she had only been visiting the salon as part of her student training, and no one could tell me where she had gone. I was compensated with Yoshi, who was at least willing to put up with a client who behaved in the chair like a Dalmation-Chow victim of dogfight abuse, cringing at the sight of the comb, cowering at the suggestion that I take my barrettes out so she could see what my hair actually looked like, retreating, comatose, to my Happy Place at the sound of the faucet. Today, however, I learned that Yoshi too had moved on to greener pastures.

I decided it was a sign. I searched for a new salon in Berkeley and came up with Blow, which though highly recommended on Citysearch was reassuringly dykey in ambiance (if not necessarily in staff). Unlike the place I would go to in Davis, which affected the air of a buddhist temple, Blow saves its overhead for training humane stylists to comfort neurotics and freaks like me. Becky, my stylist, was cheerful and haimish, and made it almost the entire appointment without chiding me for going five months between cuts. We agreed that I was ready to go short, and that other than my wanting not to look like a boy I didn't much know what I wanted. She thought for a moment. "I'm thinking a grown-out pixie," she pitched. Now, it just so happens that the look of mine that certain parties still wax nostalgic about was the result of a true pixie cut that my fear of stylists allowed to grow out into something kind of cute. So this sounded promising. I checked what length she had in mind and gave her my blessing.

Back in the office, I didn't quite think I could justify a phone call, but I dashed off a furtive email to Sarah: "I got a hair cut on my lunch break, went really short and now I look like an adolescent lion. " Four hours later I was on the phone to my brother. "I look like Nana. A cross between Nana and an adolescent lion." "Doesn't sound so bad to me," he said with total nonchalance.

Editor's Note: Mike got home, and noticed within a minute. A new record. Though it's hard to miss an adolescent lion.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Alice at June 29, 2006 6:54 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I'm a haircut masochist: a woman cut my hair and made me look like Velma from Scooby Doo, yet I returned to the same place several months later and couldn't bring myself to ask for a replacement. What happened? Velma again.

    Also, every time my bangs are about to grow out, I happen to sit down to watch Law & Order and Carey Lowell is on and I start thinking, "I can do short bangs..." and then I inevitably screw up whatever progress I've made.

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