Friday, March 19, 2010

The Wasteland as Expressed through a Salon and Hairstylists

Ever get the feeling that the person who cuts your hair has stopped seeing you?  I mean, really SEEING you? You've been going to them long enough that they now think of you as an assembly part on the conveyor belt: their eyes are tired, they've been looking at heads of hair all day long, and your hair is just another batch they have to cut?

That's how I start to feel if I don't change things up.  

A few years ago, in college, I went to this chick, let's call her Kimberly (most girls who cut hair have names that end in a long /e/ sound, am I wrong?).  We always exchanged the usual pleasantries.  She told me the names of her kids in the pictures surrounding the mirror at her station.  I pretended to care.  Maybe I did care, I don't know.  It's hard to get attached to a picture.  Pictures tell you nothing about a person, especially posed pictures.  I mean, a picture of someone doing something, like walking along railroad tracks?  That tells you something.  That tells you the person is trite and uncreative—the exact opposite of what they intended the image to express: thoughtfulness and depth, an understanding of the intricacies of transition and the movement of life (the railroad tracks are a metaphor!).  

Anyway, Kimberly was great.  At first.  She listened to the vast and deep desires I had for my hair.  I explained my long prestigious college career with her.  I cracked sarcastic jokes about the vagaries of college towns.  I talked about my misgivings concerning hair and highlights.  She listened with her fist to her chin, nodding at the appropriate times, scissors clenched in her fist (safely) away from her chin, brow furrowed.  I came away looking like a New Woman.  

Two years later, after keeping that relationship with Kimberly and never diverting much from the hair style I'd developed with her, I had a mullet.  I had become Redneck Woman.   

Mullets weren't yet back in—oh they're in now.  I see women everywhere with the old mom Brady do, looking real stylish in their skinny jeans and tattoos.  But that hadn't come into vogue yet.  I got a lot of razzing for my mullet from my chic coworkers before I finally accepted that they were right, I had unintentionally developed a mullet.  

Presently, I have a new hair person and that person is a guy.  Our relationship started out great.  It was almost love at first sight—hairstylist/client love, that is, a variety all its own. Communication regarding hair has now broken down, however, and I have no idea how to veer away from the path we've trod.  When I try to steer him differently, he blinks and says, "Uh hmm, uh hmm," hands poised over my head, scissors ready to lop off two inches here and there until . . .  unintentional mullet.  AGAIN.

I say, "I want this part to be slantier.  Pretend I'm going to wear it straight, not curled [I have naturally curly hair], and then cut it like a pixie."  He feigns understanding, and I sigh inwardly, knowing it's going to look the same way it did the last time, but not the way I long for.  

I love my hair guy, but I see no way to break through this stalemate without hurting his feelings or finding a new stylist.  I start to feel like we're just voices talking through each other, not hearing what the other is saying; our laughter is forced and false; the hug when we meet again is cold, merely a token of friendship intended to mask the reality: that I am just another detached head of hair and he a robot with scissors.  

Change is futile, it seems.  I have learned the hard way, through my relationships with hairstylists.  If you and I should chance to meet after a few years of separation and I still have a mullet, know that I tried to break out of the cycle but the Universe has found a way to trap me in this rut.  Thank you Universe!  Thank you.  

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