|This is not me, but it IS what this|
experience made me want to do.
Unfortunately, with no immediate plans to return to my home state, my hair - which hadn't been cut since August - was starting to look distinctly hobo-esque. Admitting that I couldn't wait for a Skullz trip, I turned to Yelp to find the best-rated salon in my area, which led me to make an appointment at a quaint little place about half a mile from my apartment. I actually found myself excited to try someplace new.
On Friday afternoon, I strolled into the salon for my 1pm appointment. I was the only customer there, greeted by Kris*, the owner for whom the salon is named, & Anna, his young, friendly assistant stylist. He sat down in a corner chair, hand on his chin, & asked me to describe my hair situation: what I had, what I wanted, what I liked, etc. I immediately felt very tended-to, like he cared about how I felt & how I looked & would make a real effort to please me. I felt like I'd made a good choice. A relief!
Anna led me to a back room, where I removed my jewelry & my top & changed into a billowy salon smock. Kris told me he'd cut my hair dry while standing, so that he could cut it along the contours of my bone structure, or something, & then we'd shampoo & style it. In this intimate salon setting, natural sunlight pouring in, me with the smock around my shoulders, my clavicle bare & scissors humming around my head in an intimate salon filled with beautiful natural light, I felt like a celebrity. I let beautiful. I felt relaxed.
I also felt increasingly like this unconventional little salon was a liiiiittle bit fancier than I'd bargained for. I started to panic. How much was this going to cost me?! What's the going rate for haircuts these days?! Why hadn't I thought to ask when I booked the appointment?! Oh, shit. Though I felt comfortable with her, I decided not to ask Anna, instead just enjoying the spa-like experience & bracing myself for a likely hit to my wallet at the end.
Kris was quirky, to be sure, but mostly friendly. Middle-aged, dapper, & very British, he forewent the typical stylist/client chit-chat & instead chatted almost exclusively with Anna, occasionally making strange little quips about the music, his family, & a frog he found in his backyard pond. But he made me laugh, & it was clear that he was a real artist, the kind of talented stylist you inherently trust with your hair. At only one point did I feel even slightly uncomfortable: "Do you color your hair yourself?" Yes. "How could I tell?" Rhetorical & passive-aggressive, but... yeah, OK, whatever. Brits!
Post-cut, Kris suddenly accosted me with questions about my hair care routine: What shampoo do I use? How often do I condition? Haven't I noticed how dry my hair is? When I expressed concern about my hair's tendency to get greasy, he huffed, "Well, you shouldn't condition at the ROOTS!" Suddenly, I felt very small, very judged, very ugly. My hair is dry, I know; damaged, yes, I figured. But Kris's visible disdain for my favorite feature - & the fact that I intersperse my Bumble & Bumble shampoo days with Herbal Essences ones for the sake of frugality - immediately erased all memory of the relaxing, beautiful feeling I'd experienced earlier. Despite my confidence that the cut was going to cost much more than I could afford, I let him talk me into a $20 leave-in conditioner, in part out of embarrassment & sudden desperation to repair my apparently horrific tresses.
Then came the moment of truth. When it came time to pay, I steeled myself for the damage & found it was worse than I'd imagined: $185 for a haircut with a side of shame! Holy God. Still, I didn't bat an eye; I'd laugh about this later, right? At least I'd just gotten paid. But when Kris rang me up, he added a matching shampoo to the conditioner I'd already agreed to. When I told him I could only buy one of them & asked which he recommended, he was taken aback: "I can't answer that! You need both of these. Your hair is SO DRY. I just can't answer that!" Anna kindly stepped in & advised me to stick with the conditioner, using it on the ends of my hair every day. "And Anna!" he shouted when that issue was resolved, "What is she doing wrong with her color? Tell her what she's doing wrong with her color." When he wasn't watching, Anna gave me a brief but desperate look, clearly meant to apologize for his rudeness, & provided me a couple of at-home coloring tips. Clearly disgusted by my DIY hair, Kris rang me up & sent me on my way. "Come back to us," he told me. "We can help you! You can make an appointment with Anna if you want. She'll cut your hair for only $60." I left feeling like total white trash, humiliated & self-conscious.
My hair looks fine. It was a very good cut, after all, & if the experience hadn't ended the way it did, I would've laughed the whole thing off. Rookie mistake, right? Leave it to the girl who's gone to the same stylist for seven years to book an appointment elsewhere without thinking to ask the price! Ha ha! Shit happens! But even now, three days after the fact, I'm still stewing over how crummy I let that snooty stylist make me feel. I've always rather liked my hair, except for that time I accidentally dyed it a purplish maroon. Other people like my hair, too! Right? I mean, I think they do, but who knows? After Kris's harsh critique, I'm left feeling like maybe I have no concept of what I actually look like.
I know it's silly, & of course I won't let one pompous hairdresser dash my self-esteem forever. But during this brief period of mourning? Keep that mirror away from me, please, because I just can't bear to see the apparent mess that is my mane.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go condition my hair. Over & over, forever.
*not their real names
*not their real names