Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Haircut Anxiety

Is it a sign of maturity or of nonchalance that I no longer fret before going to the hairdresser?  Inquiring bloggesses want to know.

I spent the hour before my haircut at Starbucks with Sgt. Lois.  We talked about her upcoming cruise and my mother's dentition and silly women in the Happy Ladies' Club as I drank my giant ice tea and she sipped her mocha caramel espresso something or other. I lost track of the time.  Idle chit-chat with a girlfriend is something that I don't do often enough. It seemed to happen more frequently when my days had carpool lines.  I'd forgotten how peaceful those hours can be.

I was forty minutes early but the chairs are comfy and the atmosphere is cozy so I snuggled into a padded seat at Style 7 Salon with Mark Helprin's newest opus. Faintly chemical smells wafted over the Grateful Dead on Sirius Radio as I fell deeper in love with the world in my novel.  Jesse surprised me, startled me, pulled me back to the reality as I let post-World-War-II New York fall back between the spines of the book.

I'd not been nervous at all.

I thought about that as he shampooed my head (not the hair... just the scalp... although how you accomplish that is still beyond me).  My earliest haircut memory is when G'ma decided that I should cut off my long pony tail.  I was in elementary school.  I didn't want to do it, no matter how many times she and the hair cutter told me how cute the new look would be.  I sat there, feeling powerless and exposed and at their mercy.  It was awful.

It really didn't get any better as I got older.  G'ma would trim my ends, and I'd scream as I saw something more than the requested amount of hair on the floor.  She would remind me not to look until she was finished, but I could feel the scissors too high on my forehead and why was it so difficult for her to leave my bangs exactly at the top of my eyebrows?  It's not like she was going anywhere; if they grew out and into my eyes she could cut them the next weekend just as she was right then.

It was an exercise in futility.  She wielded the weapon and I was the hapless victim.

There was a reason I let my hair grow to my butt during college.  I was demonstrating my release from a set of rules not of my own making.  My roommates and I would trim just the split ends from each other's long hair, but I don't remember anyone every going to a beauty parlor.  They were for our mothers, women who were willing to sit under a dryer for an hour, cooking their skulls then spraying the results into submission.

When I finally decided to cut it all off, I was faced with a real dilemma.  I'd had the first haircut in D.C., where TBG was in law school.  He graduated, we moved to Chicago, there was no reason to return to the East Coast every six weeks, and my head and I were on our own.  It was not a pretty picture.

I spent lots of money and a little bit of money at fancy and generic salons.  I took recommendations.  I went to a studio apartment in a funky neighborhood where I was waxed and washed and cut and made gorgeous.... but it was too weird to do without a friend along for safety.  My hair looked great; my fear made it an untenable situation.

In Marin, I met a house sitter who turned out to be a hairdresser and for seven long and wonderful years Charlotte cut my hair exactly the same way every month and a half.  Then she got pregnant.  She stopped working.  When she began again, she was over the bridge and too far for comfort.  TBG began to cut it again, because he was good at it and didn't charge very much at all.  Every hair on my head was the length of one of his fists, no matter how he picked it up, so I sat in a chair with a sheet over my shoulders and he snipped to his heart's content.

The problem was, he'd follow me around the house with the shears in his hand because he'd noticed a strand or two which had escaped his ministrations.  It was not relaxing.

Groupon solved the problem here in Tucson. It brought me to Jesse, who listens and does less rather than more, who doesn't ask me to color my hair or try something new he's been dying to experiment with on hair just like mine.  He hugs me and smiles at me and does just what I ask.  He never raises the price, so I add an appropriate increase to his tip every year.  He leaves me feeling elegant and clean and crisp and just the way I want to look.

And I'm not nervous at all.


  1. I am glad to know that the hair-cut panic attacks are hereditary. I get my long hair cut once every two (or 4) years, and the post-haircut 3AM panic attack is now regular. But I always love the results eventually. (Getting it dyed/straightened/crazified every 5-10 years is also super fun. Eventually.)
    My sister also suffers hair-cut anxiety, but the fault for that lands squarely in my four year old scissor wielding hands . . .

    1. I don't know whether to be glad that this trait is inherited or to apologize for your ancestry :)
      ant suzi


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