For Nan: Hair 101 – A Test in Self-Confidence
This post is something that I wrote back in 2006. Yesterday, Nan made mention about the possibility of going to a salon that she’s “not cool enough” to go to (her words, not mine—I say she IS cool enough for anything). Below, you will see that I have had the same feeling about myself. So, this is for you, Nan!
**Disclaimer: I am not trying to offend anyone with anything I have written here (six years ago). I am a very sarcastic person, and this post was written in jest (with a smattering of truth about my own self-confidence issues, back in 2006). The real issue here is just that—my own lack of self-confidence (back in 2006) and not an issue with any type of person regardless of their physical appearance and/or personality. Please read it in the humorous way that it was intended. And again, I wrote this six years ago—I’d like to think that I have grown up some since then.**
I just came back from the hair salon. It’s always a baffling experience for me – a mix of many emotions. And here’s why…
I have always been a SuperCuts girl - $12 for a simple haircut is just the right price for me. [Remember, that was back in 2006. Now, I go to Lemon Tree simply because it’s closer. The cost today is $25 for a wash, cut and blow dry, in case you were wondering.] But since I’ve moved, I have had to find a new place to go. So, I did. Today was my first experience in that salon, but no matter where I go, it’s an ordeal for me from the moment I step into the place.
I don’t normally make appointments to get my hair done. It’s not that I object to making appointments, but I just go when I happen to have time. In this new place, “walk-ins are welcome,” which is good news for me. So, having never been there, I ask what their going rate is, for, you know, “just a haircut.” The girl says, “We start at $25. Yeah, your hair should be $25.” So, while I’m choking down this information, I also have to pretend like I’m not both stunned and appalled by this price. I almost say to the girl (who by the way is one of those thin pretty girls with a load of self-confidence, the“I-hate-her-because-she’s-beautiful-and-she-knows-it-and-gets-everything-she-wants-because-of-it” type, all of which I have never been, henceforth to be referred to as a “Twinkie” for the lack of a better term), “Twenty-five dollars just to cut my hair, which, if you haven’t noticed is thin, fine, limp, and low-maintenance?!” But I stop myself just in time, because after all, I desperately need a haircut and I’m already here. “Okay,” I think to myself. “I’ll get it done this time and just go back to SuperCuts next time, even if I have to drive a half-hour away. At least what I’m spending in gas money I’ll save in hair money.” So, I’m told to have a seat and someone will be with me in about five minutes. I don’t mind waiting, but there is NO ONE ELSE is the salon, so, what exactly am I waiting for? Do they think they have to make it seem like they’re busy, when I can clearly tell they’re not? Maybe this someone has to finish her venti caramel macchiato or her cheese Danish (which she will never admit to eating).
Finally, my stylist comes out and asks me to follow her into the back. Upon a second look, I see that although she is thin, she does not fall into the “Twinkie” category. Whew! Although she barely opens her mouth to talk, she is nice and asks me my name and talks about the weather. She asks me to sit down for my shampoo. While I like the warm water rushing over my head and the nice scalp massage that is included, I hesitate for just a moment, wanting to ask if the shampoo part of it is included in my $25 or if that will cost me extra. After all, I did just wash my hair myself only about an hour prior, and while I’m not a “professional,” I have been doing it for years and think I do a pretty good job. But, again I give in, thinking that I won’t do this again and that it’s a one-time “treat.” So into the chair and sink I go.
Now here’s a question though. Why do these people feel they have to make idle chit-chat with me while I’m letting them touch my head? I know they think their being friendly and nice, but really what they’re looking for is a good tip in the end. I like getting my hair done – it’s relaxing and calming. But the fact that these people insist on talking to me disrupts all of that. I try not to be rude and respond to what they say and ask, but I don’t ask questions in return, hoping they’ll get the hint that I don’t want to talk. But of course they don’t.
The next challenge I face comes when we move from the sink to “the chair.” I know I’m not the smallest person in the world, but I’m also not the biggest. And I’d like to think that, while I’m not a skinny mini, I don’t repulse people either. But how can I think otherwise when I’m sitting in front of a full length mirror, and the reflection I see is that of Twinkie #2, the broom girl. Now this girl has every characteristic of a “Twinkie.” And she’s wearing a tight sun dress to boot. Okay, nice sun dress, I think. But my next thought is, “Why?” She’s not at a party. She’s not even at the mall. She’s at work—in a hair salon, away from the sun—sweeping away my dead, wet hair, which has been forcefully detached from my head and thrown on the floor. Yes, that career choice definitely warrants a sun dress. Still, I feel self conscious, like everyone else in the place is snickering behind my back, laughing that I am not skinny nor wearing a tight sun dress, that I don’t belong anywhere near this place, let alone in it.
On with the cutting and styling. What length would I like it? Do I want layers? Do I want it angled in the front, and if so, starting from what point? So many damn decisions to make. I should have just cut my own hair at home with a knife. It might have been a little messy, but at least I wouldn’t have to make idle chit-chat and tons of decisions. But, then again, my home lacks a built-in Twinkie brigade. I try to enjoy the fine-toothed comb running through my hair and along my scalp, as well as all the moving about of hair by the hands of my stylist. And I pretty much manage to do that, until they complain that they’re tired of hearing a particular song on the radio. I want to shout at them, “Well, your first problem is that you’re listening to WXYZ [insert top 40 pop station that plays the same songs over and over and over again here]. Your second problem is that you’re all a bunch of Twinkies!”
Thus, we are nearing the end of my salon experience. Out comes the mousse and hairspray, which I don’t want. But I’m afraid to say anything. What if I upset my stylist? After all, she does have a pair of scissors. And I’m sure the broom girl could get pretty feisty if pushed to the edge. So I just sit there with my mouth closed, like I do in too many other situations. But then she reaches for the blow dryer. I relax. I like the warmth and, again, the moving about of hair. But while she’s got this machine loudly blowing hot air into my ear, she starts talking to me again. I can barely hear her voice, let alone understand what she is saying. Does she think I can hear her? I just nod politely and smile, raising my eyebrows for emphasis. But really, I could have just agreed to her giving me a buzz cut to match that of Sinead O’Connor’s, and I’d have no idea (not that there’s anything wrong with Ms. Connor’s hair choice—it’s just not for me). But in the end, everything is alright as far as my hair goes. It’s still there, although shorter and styled in a manner that is unlike the way I usually style it – boring, limp, and lucky if I took out my own hair dryer (yes, I do have one!).
But now here comes the real test – the part where I get very nervous and start to sweat. I have to pay for the wash, cut, and style, but more than that, I have to pay the tip. Gulp. Okay – I can handle this. The cost, as we know is $25. So how much should I leave for tip? What’s the percentage again? I can never remember. I know that when I pay a $25 meal, I double the tax. But there’s no tax here. And I should probably factor in a flux rate – was she really good or extremely bad? And what if she was just alright? What am I going to do? How am I going to figure this out? Okay, okay. Calm down. Maybe I’ll just leave her $5. Is that good? Is it too much? Is it too little? I’d rather pay too much than too little, but then I don’t want her to think that I’ll overpay again when (and if) I come back. And if I pay too little will she curse me under her breath? Will she stop liking me (even though she could have hated me from the moment I walked in the door? After all, I did interrupt her macchiato and cheese Danish and I don't fit the Twinkie mold). So I just bite the bullet, make my executive decision, and give her my $5 change from the $30 I reluctantly handed over to Twinkie #2. She seems pleased and thankful, although she doesn’t know exactly how much I gave her, because it would have been rude of her to count it in front of me.
So, I leave, liking my new haircut but feeling very self conscious of ever having been there, like I didn't deserve the "special treatment" I got. Now I can go on with my life as it is, as I know it, as I like it – a low-maintenance life in my Twinkie-free home where I will never use styling products. I’m definitely going back to SuperCuts next time.
I then wrote a post-script a day or two later:
Apparently my new hair style (which isn't that different from the old one, just shorter) is a big hit. Everyone seems to like it, especially with its sexy swinging motion.
So all the drama and worries have fallen by the wayside. But was it worth $25 and all the angst?
As they say, "Only her hairdresser knows for sure."