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.