I am surely not alone in the fear I feel when faced with the fact that I desperately need a haircut and cannot put off the inevitable trip to the hairdressers any longer… As I am jetting off on holiday tomorrow, I realised recently, and with a sinking heart, that if I didn’t wish to return with a head full of dreadlocks, I would really have to get the ends chopped off my out-of-control mane. So yesterday I manned up, braved the dreaded ‘dresser and it was just as tortuous as I had anticipated.
I wisely declined the proffered glass of wine (knowing from bitter experience that it would in all likelihood have been warm, and probably cheap Chardonnay, and that I would be the only client awkwardly sipping between snips, looking to all and sundry like the token lush). There is little worse than having to force down the remnants of a lukewarm and hair-contaminated glass of wine as the hairdresser holds up the mirror to show you the back of your head; anything to avoid appearing ungrateful! So, alas I had to face my ordeal stone-cold sober.
There are many reasons I hate visiting the hairdresser. Below (and in no particular order) are my six all-time worstest real-life hairdresser experiences:
1. The time the boy-child employee (I suspect he was on work-experience at the time) washed my hair, didn’t bother applying conditioner, violently towel-dried it (despite my protestations that this possibly wasn’t advisable considering my curly locks), and then loudly announced to the whole salon that “there is something WRONG with this hair”. This was after he had tried in vain (and much pain) to drag a tiny comb through the matted mess that was once my crowning glory.
2. The time the old-lady hairdresser made me stand up for my entire appointment as my long hair was allegedly making it far too difficult for her to cut. (I would like to clarify at this point that my hair is touching-the-bra-strap length, not a weird down-to-the-backs-of-my-knees freaky affair). She actually reclined in the seat and cut my hair from there, as I wobbled in front of her. What’s more, and to my eternal shame, I didn’t complain (more of that later). I assume she was the aged granny of one of the regular stylists, and she sported highly impractical, bright pink, ridiculously long nail extensions. These nails must have rendered it very difficult to manoeuvre a pair of scissors, and certainly didn’t do anything to add to my comfort as they scratched about in my cleavage as she cut the front of my hair. Looking back, I should probably have been wary as to her work ethics when she announced that she was going to straighten my hair before cutting it (with straighteners, not water), as it made curly hair “easier for me to deal with”…
3. The time the salon-owner spotted a bald spot (stress-related alopecia, and quite possibly brought on by the thought of visiting her, I’m sure), heard my almost-Glaswegian accent, and decided that this baldy bit MUST be the result of the loss of a fist-full of hair, clearly relinquished during a fight. She felt the need to announce this wee deduction of hers to the entire salon. This is also the woman who, on an entirely separate occasion, shouted across the room to an employee: “You need the shampoo for VERY dry scalps for her, not the normal dry-scalp stuff, the special VERY dry scalp stuff”. At this point I was definitely wishing I had a glass of wine to cry into – Chardonnay or otherwise.
4. The time I went for a free haircut carried out by a trainee hairdresser who I met in the pub where I worked at the time… I happened to glance at the lengthy worksheet she was filling in as part of her assessment and saw that she had written that I had a triangular-shaped head. Triangular! I was paranoid about that for weeks. She also pointed out to her assessor that my hair simply wasn’t sitting flat… The assessor attempted (and failed) to be tactful, when she quietly pointed out that it wasn’t a kink in my hair that was apparent, it was my roots growing out…
5. The time I came home with a tail. Curly hair should not be cut into a point at the back. This is a fact. Hairdressers should be taught this in hairdressing school. This is also a fact. When I return to the salon later in the day after a tearful conference with an honest friend, they should not suggest that nobody in their salon could possibly have done something like that, imply I’m trying to scam a free haircut, and only very, very grudgingly put it right for me (and only then after I have pointed out the offender).
6. The time I went to the hairdressing college (what can I say, I like a bargain haircut!) and the young girl took hours to cut my hair, sadly failed her assessment and had the AUDACITY to blame me because I hadn’t told her I had curly hair when I made the appointment! (She promptly lost my sympathy and any hope of a tip).
So as you can see, my mistrust of hairdressers is founded in experience and the trepidation I feel when I know an appointment is imminent is very much justified.
Hairdressers definitely bring out the worst in me; they make me lie and they turn me into a weak-willed wimp. Take yesterday for example, when the girl cutting my hair asked when I’d last had a chop. Obviously I lied (doesn’t everyone?! Hairdressers are scary!) and said it was a couple of months ago – the stock answer, surely? Shouldn’t that have been the end of that conversation? Well no, clearly not, because the owner of the salon (she of fisticuffs/dry scalp/ loud-voiced fame) announced that ACTUALLY my last appointment had been in January. I then found myself getting tied up in knots waxing lyrical about visiting a different salon, in a different town, when I was visiting my Gran, in May, up North, at a weekend, on my sister’s birthday. All lies, all completely ridiculous, and all the while watching my face grow redder in the mirror in front of me. Cringe.
I also lie when they ask if the temperature of the water is okay. It can be scalding hot, or freezing cold, and yet I will bravely (stupidly) endure it. Even as I write this I realise how utterly ridiculous I am!
In my defence, hairdressers lie through their perfectly-polished teeth too. They enthusiastically declare my freshly dried hair to be stunning!”
(Look lady, I know I can’t drink wine without spilling it but that doesn’t mean I don’t know the meaning of the phrase ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’!) I have lost count of the times a coiffeur has announced (aforementioned teeth gritted) that she would kill for my curls, all the while bracing herself against the counter in a futile attempt to relieve my troublesome hair of a particularly stubborn knot. I’ve heard them say this as they have given up and snipped the offending knot out. Don’t think I didn’t notice that… (I’m just too intimidated to mention it!)
I never usually shy away from a good complaint; I actively enjoy taking faulty goods back to shops, and happily tell taxi drivers when they idiotically attempt to take me a roundabout route (I may not sound like I’m from around here, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know where the house I’ve lived in for two years is, scumbag!) yet something about the hairdressers renders me pathetic. I say the cut looks lovely, even when complete with tail (to be fair I didn’t actually know at the time; I lied when you held the mirror up, I couldn’t really see the back of my head, but you sounded like you wanted me to say I could), I buy the £24 a bottle special extra-dry-scalp shampoo when you suggest I really should, hell I’ll have two! I will discuss truly terrible topics such as who will win Strictly Come Dancing, or whether cycling makes your thigh muscles look too big. I even tipped the boy who got the comb stuck in my hair. It is so unlike me and it makes me hate myself (but more so the salon for causing this sad and sorry transformation!)
I’m off on hols tomorrow (did I mention that?!) and if I were braver I would have taken a leaf out of my wee sis’s book and got a foreign haircut (“it’s much less stressful: you don’t have to talk and it’s totally acceptable, if not EXPECTED, that you consume a holiday beverage first…”). I just can’t help thinking that with my track record, the language barrier would have been tempting fate, however…