June 17, 2005

Hey, I Just Got a Haircut

About twice each year, I get a haircut. Sometimes I question why. It seems silly, really, to pay someone to take a pair of scissors to my head. But my hair is very dry, and I do like to periodically cut off those split ends so that the hair looks healthier. (I also go to the dentists twice a year too, although getting my haircut is usually less painful.)

And it's always the same. Usually the stylist (and I use the term loosely) will take off lots of hair. My hair is pretty thick, and by the time she's done, the floor will be covered with hair, piles and piles of it. Sometimes I will get a stylist who is determined to cut off all the sun damage, and she will lop off five or six inches. (An aside: I've always liked how my hair gets blonde highlights in the summer, but stylists always refer to it sneeringly as damage. And I will get a lecture about how, after I've been swimming in salt water or chlorine, I am supposed to immediately, upon leaving the water, race to the nearest sink and dump clarifying shampoo on my head. Seriously. This is why hair stylists don't get invited to pool parties.)

Here's the funny part: No matter who cuts my hair or how much she cuts off, my hair never looks any different. Not. One. Bit. Different. I have never had anyone walk up to me and say, "Hey, you just got your hair cut." Never once.

If I announce to friends and family that I just got my hair cut, they will look at me blankly and say something like, "Really? It doesn't look any different." Perhaps I am surrounded by unusually unobservant people. Or perhaps there is some other explanation for this phenomena.

Maybe it's because my hair has always been fairly long. It's thick and wavy. And stubborn, like me. Maybe it's because I don't use a hair dryer or curling iron or styling gel. Maybe it's because I go to the cheapest place possible and leave with my hair wet.

Or perhaps I am to blame. I don't give the stylist very good instructions. Usually I go in and say, "Do whatever you want so long as you keep it sort of long." If the stylist presses me for elaboration, I might add, "Just make it look more civilized."

Sometimes a stylist, empowered to do whatever she wants, will tackle my hair with great enthusiasm, snipping, cutting, combing - convinced that she has been appointed my personal saviour and is going to rescue me from the long-hair-that-looks-like-maybe-her-sister-cut-it-last-time. But then sometimes I get the nervous hesitant stylist who keeps asking me questions about what she should do. "Do you want me to angle it in the front?"

These questions drive me crazy. Doesn't this woman work as a hair stylist? DOESN'T SHE KNOW HOW TO CUT HAIR? Why is she asking me? Isn't this cutting-hair thing HER job? I mean, if I knew what I wanted to do about my hair, I would take a pair of scissors, sit myself in front of a mirror, and go at it myself. WHAT AM I PAYING THIS WOMAN FOR?

Even worse, she will start asking me about hair styles. This is patently ridiculous. Any random person on the street knows more about hair styles than I do. Isn't she supposed to be the hair stylist? Sometimes I get the young stylist who will helpfully start naming brown-haired celebrities. Yeah, that helps. Because I am always up on the way Demi Moore is wearing her hair these days.

"Do whatever you want," I mutter eventually, thinking it will get the woman to stop staring at the hair and start cutting it.

Usually, this the signal for her to pounce with her last and final question:
"When are we going to do something to cover the grey?"

I hear this every time. Every. Single. Time. Every stylist acts like she is telling something new when she mentions that I'm going grey. Like somehow, maybe I just did not notice all those grey hairs. And that once I look into the mirror and see the grey hairs, I will beg for her help in covering them up.

I love how the question is framed. The word when indicates that it is just a matter of time; I will give in eventually and let this woman dye my hair. Eventually, she will wear me down. How am I supposed to answer to the question? "Sure you can dye my hair. Right after they embalm me."

Finally, the stylist will give me up as a hopeless cause, drop the questions, and actually cut my hair. And this is the part I like. I start asking her questions. What kind of vacation she will take this summer, how old her kids are, that kind of thing. I like that part of the haircut, getting a glimpse into someone else's life. I do like someone fussing over my hair, combing and cutting it. My sisters and friends used to play with my hair when we were teenagers. So she will talk and fuss over my wet hair, and I will relax. By the time I get home, the wet hair will be mostly dry, and I will look into the mirror. And always, it looks exactly the same.

But when it comes right down to it, I don't mind really. I like my hair, the way it feels brushing against my chin and shoulders. I like it to be sort of long, and I think the grey hairs blend beautifully with the blonde highlights I get from the sun. I really don't want it to be any different.


Friday Mom said...

Sounds like we have similar hairstyling experiences, although since my hair is short, I have to go a lot more often. It's a good thing I don't really care about the latest styles. I won't use a curling iron or multiple products or hair color. Leaves me pretty much with the hairstyle I have everytime I leave the salon.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

It's thick and wavy. And stubborn, like me.

You are thick, wavy, and stubborn? Wow.

[Ducks and runs away]

Vanes63 said...

I have a professor, who acted practically like a dad to me, who I confronted right after getting a haircut who had this conversation with me:

Me - So... what's up?
Him - Nothing really, just grading.
Me - So... I got a haircut. Did you notice?
Him - Ummm...
Me - So, are you going to say anything about it? Do you like it? Does it look nice?
Him - I can't win here.
Me - What do you mean?
Him - If I say I like it, that means I didn't like the way it looked before. If I say I don't like it, that means I think you made a bad decision. I can't win either way.
Me - So you don't like it?

The conversation just went in circles after that, but you get the idea.

I'm sure your hair looks lovely.

- V.

the lawmom said...

Some days I think we have a little bit in common, even if it is just liking my husband. Not today. Other than the "thick and wavy" part--I used to have a sylist that called my hair "fat" b/c it is apparently thick in diameter and there is lots of it.

Scrivener said...

I usually have a fairly similar conversation with the stylist--he or she will ask what I want to do and I'll say, "Hey you're the expert, jsut make it look good" maybe adding something like "I like it longish and shaggyish." The difference though, and I assume this is because I am a guy, is that the stylist then says, "ok fine" and just cuts it. I do not often get much in the way of astonished follow-up questions.

Scrivener said...

Hey, how'd lawmom sneak that comment in there in front of mine? How'd she know I was about to say something?

the lawmom said...

You are always about to say something.

Scrivener said...

You got me there.

~profgrrrrl~ said...

I love haircuts. I probably get 8-10 per year. I won't get fussy styles (max I'll do is blowdry with a round brush, which may sound fussy but when you have fine, thin hair it takes about 2 minutes start to finish). But I do agree with the whole I'm-paying-you-to-be-the-expert-so-be-the-expert part.

Do you want people to notice? I find it hard to notice unless someone has short hair.

People sometimes ask me if I got a haircut when I need one, which I find funny.

As for grey ... used to think I would want a big long grey braid, but these days I think it might be time to go pink. An all pink pixie cut, perhaps? :)

Rana said...

That would be cool, profgrrl. Maybe with white highlights?

People almost always notice when I get my hair cut, because I usually go from shoulder length in a ponytail to chin-length fluffiness (the weight tends to straighten out what should be waves).

I have mixed feelings about the dyeing and the grey thing. I did have my hair dyed for a while, when it first started going grey, but that was when I could afford to hire someone who knew what they are doing. I don't trust my own skills to try it on my own.

Why would I want to dye it? It's not quite vanity, or fear of looking "old" -- indeed, I look forward to the day when it is eventually completely white. But here's the thing -- my hair has always been very dark, and even when it got "bleached" by the sun, all that it did was develop nice red-brown highlights. With the silvery grey, it's both lightening and shifting from a warm spectrum to a cool one. This means that all the colors I used to look good in don't, at least not reliably. At least I still look great in black, and I'm coming to enjoy being able to wear dark orange.

But I miss the dark hair and my coppery highlights. :(

Danny said...

For a long time, I'd go to a barber to get my haircut, come home, look in the mirror, and say, "crap. I could make a mess of it just as well myself, and not have to pay anything for it." Finally, I started cutting my own hair.
Now, if only I had enough hair to be in a "hair in the face" picture....

Purple Hydrangea said...

i hate getting haircuts and so it is also usually once or twice a year, usually Feb for some reason... by the time i get to the salon my hair is to my shoulders and ask to have it cut "very short, above my ears..." Sometimes i get asked "are you sure" like i don't have a clue what i am talking about, "have you ever had it that short before" like maybe i was going thru a crazy spurt and don't know what i am asking for.. these cutters i know will probably not cut my hair very well... i really like the ones who just start in, with no questions asked... they just nod and ask reasonable questions like, do you want me to thin it out too? YES!! this one is a winner

Phantom Scribbler said...

The last time I went to a hairstylist, I was 17. Believe me, jo(e), your hair is the ultimate in trim and trendy compared to mine!

I worry about it as I get older, though. The grey hairs are so unruly!

PPB said...

I've always thought it was funny that just about any other professional tells you what they're going to do and just does it. Hair stylists make you help them. I hate that.

Glad your hair is feeling better, even if it looks the same. I always feel lik emy hair is better organized after it's been cut.

Moreena said...

I love my haircutting time. My stylist feels like an older niece, and she has the best stories to tell about being single in a small town. She works in a salon that is next to a run-down gas station, and the gas station looks luxurious in comparison. The stylists converse among themselves, occasionally passing the phone from booth to booth when a mutual acquaintance calls. It used to be one of my alone-times away from the kids, but now Anni is in love with my stylist, too, and always tags along.

Rev. Dr. Mom said...

I got the "when are we going to start covering the gray?" question on my 25th birthday....now however, in my early 50s people, including the stylist who cuts my hair, are very complimentary about my very silvery gray hair.

BrightStar said...

I am more of an expert with my own hair than a stylist. Sometimes the styles they think would look cute on me just totally suck. So, when I let them do whatever they want, I'm invariably disappointed. When I come in with specific instructions, photos, etc., I'm usually quite happy with the haircut. So, I think they're experts on styles in general, but not on styling my hair in particular.

I've never colored my hair. I can't imagine I would color over gray hairs, either. I just can't imagine the upkeep involved with coloring over roots, for example.

Yankee T said...

I get my hair cut every 5 weeks. I make the next appointment as I'm leaving the current one. I LOVE getting my hair washed and cut.

Lucy Tartan said...

I cut my own hair. It's easy after the first few times.

LisaV said...

Okay as a former hairdresser here, I have to step in. Many people are very particular about how their hair looks, even if they don't claim it. It's always the person who says "Do what you want" that ends up crying in your chair because you angled it in the front and now it can't be pulled into a ponytail. Plus if you go to a different stylist every time, they have no idea what you consider "looks good." If you are going to a chain, say Supercuts (but probably others too) the stylists are taught to ask many questions to figure out what you want. It's called making the customer happy. Take a picture of yourself you like and show it to someone. The celebrity thing doesn't work well, other than if someone is desperate to figure out what you want. Oh and the gray thing, completely inappropriate. I would only discuss hair color with a client who brought it up.
I only get my hair cut 3 or 4 times a year now, its long and straight with bangs. Sometimes I take it up to my chin, but I always grow it out again.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

I love your attitude (in this case as in pretty much everything). I've got more grey at 36 than all of my older siblings (and than all of you who've posted hair pictures), but I won't ever cover it... sure, it's a sign of age, but that means (hopefully) wisdom and experience, and if I'm not going to disguise those, why should I disguise my hair?

Mr. Sniffly said...

I get about 25 hair cuts a year.
I pay about $20 total, because every two weeks I take the clippers to my head and *poof* I'm done.

I spend more time styling my beard (yeah, I'm that I.T. guy) and pestering Dr. Sniffly about whether I missed a spot or not.

dr four eyes said...

Stylists always ask me if I want my hair layered or not, and I have no idea how to answer this, chiefly because I've never been able figure out what effect, if any, layering, or not layer, has on my hair. I have thick, curly hair that does whatever the hell it wants. I usually respond with, "I don't know, but just make sure it's long enough for a pony tail when you're done."

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I am so glad you're so wonderfully comfortable with yourself.

Me, whenever my hair gets long enough to send to "Locks for Love," I take a scissors, whack it off and send it. Cry for a few days. Then start furiously growing it again.

It's cheap, it hopefully helps someone else (a child with cancer), and if I want to know about someone's life, I can read your blog! Or someone else's.


Anonymous said...

:D you are so funny :)

Vegan Momma said...

I trim my hair every eight weeks as for a clarifier. 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vineagar mixed with 16oz of water/herbal infusion "(or add to your shampoo bottle.) I rinse my hair and use it as a leave in. It is fabulus! It gives the hair lots of shine/sheen and does an excellent job of eliminating build up. ;-)

Chatty Kathy said...

I keep my hair fairly short so it needs cutting about every 5 or 6 weeks. I'm terrible about making the appointment and wait until I just can't put enough stuff in it to make it look good anymore. And once I've done it I feel so clean. And no one notices how clean I am. I always have to say "I got my hair cut." "Oh. I can see that, now that you mention it."

(I love the way you take an ordinary event like getting your hair cut and turn it into something worth talking about—words put together in such a way that I must think about my own experience.)

Anonymous said...

I can help you out here.
First, stylists, especialy the younger ones, are used to getting people who are VERY picky. When you go in to them you have to let them know they really honestly can do what ever they want so long as you still have a certain length. Tell them what is too short for you. Tell them you are not afraid of anything other than that, even layers are fine or not fine. Let them know what your willing to do to style it, will you blow dry it, will you curl it, do you just let it fall as it is...or do you want to be sure it can go back into a pony tail.
We have to ask questions, because 9 times out of 10, you say you dont know or care..but then when we are done you didnt want bangs, the layers are all wrong, or you cants stand the face framing.
Its your hair...on your head...you have to deal with it so if you dont have atleast some kind of ground rules, we get very skittish. Just give us a basic line in the sand and we can go from there. Tell the stylist "I dont want to look the same when I leave as i did when I came in"
give us a break, We are the professionals but we arent a mind reader.

Liesl said...

Hehehe. I got the, "Why don't you let me cover up your grey?" question at my last haircut. Complete with the, "Grey looks distinguished on men, but makes women look old" follow-up.

I've been on this Earth 41 years, and trust me, I've earned every one of my grey strands. I'm not about to bow to fashion and cover them up!