Sunday, 19 February 2012

Bad Hair Day

'So, are you doing anything exciting this evening?'
'No.'
'Doing anything exciting this weekend?'
'No.'
Pause.
'Have you got anything exciting planned for the holidays?'

I hate hairdressing salons. I hate the perky questions distorted by the water sluicing my ears. I hate the magazines that are lobbed into my lap with 101 cures for cellulite and the tales of mother-in-laws' kinky relations with household appliances. I hate the black overalls that advertise the white dust blizzarding from my scalp. And I hate being confronted with my own decomposing reflection in a spotlit mirror.

Give me a dental surgery over a pamper parlour any day. Dentists don't expect you to make small talk while they're drilling a molar. There are no mirrors in dentists' lairs. And my dentist has earned my grateful allegiance: he told me that I have very high-quality saliva.

Twice a year, though, I slide shaggily into a faux leather chair in our local hair emporium. Twice a year I am asked what I want and reply that I don't know. Twice a year there is a silence as we contemplate my drooping yellow tresses. And twice a year I envisage, briefly, a glorious resurrection before the wall photos of frightening-looking women with virulent explosions of hair unnerve me and I ask defeatedly for a trim.

For the last half decade I've been anticipating my Second Flowering. I'm not sure what form it will take, but I imagine myself rising phoenix-like from my corduroy fetters and mesmerising the check-out queues at Asda. Hairdressing salons, however, make me realise how remote this miracle remains. They remind me that my evening plans invariably involve my tartan sofa rug; that my weekends are spent wrestling slime from the kitchen drain and paddling through manure puddles while my daughter learns to ride, and that the holidays are when I catch up with my mother.

Today, the stylist brings out a razor and begins shaving my neck. This is a symptom of maturity that I had not predicted. While the hairs of my head are clogging my bathroom plugholes, my neck is growing its own winter pelt.
I can see small talk bubbling up in him as he readies his blades. Briefly, wildly an impulse seizes me. Clubbing, tonight, I shall tell him, in my silver cobweb sheath dress. A weekend balloon trip with a posse of male models and the Easter break in a shark tank in Dubai.

'So, doing anything exciting this evening?' he mumbles through a mouthful of hair clamps.
I glance down at a magazine strapline about what someone's ex did with the family gerbil. I lack the energy and inclination to compete with real life. My Second Flowering will have to be indefinitely postponed.

'No,' I reply. And we lapse back into our usual silence.

28 comments:

  1. This may help you, provided you're not too middle-aged to know what a walkman is!

    A blonde went to a hair dresser's one day, listening to a walkman. The hair dresser asked her what she wanted, and the blonde replied, "I need to get my hair trimmed, just make sure that you do not take these headphones off." The woman looked at the blonde, surprised, but did as she was told. While she was brushing the blonde's hair, she accidentally bumped the headphones, knocking them to the ground. As she bent down to pick them up, the blonde fell over, onto the floor. The hair dresser was very confused. She picked up the head phones and listened. This is what she heard..."breath in...breath out...breath in...breath out..."!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a born and bred blonde I learned to breathe - and blink - unaided by the age of 30. So I think, as the Walkman indicates,this tale is outdated. Evolution, you know!

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  2. Replies
    1. When I look in the mirror (which, fortunately, I don't have to do very often), I would be jolly glad to see a middle-aged vicar's wife staring back at me. As it is, I look like those shock-horror newspaper pictures of 'so-and-so's morning face'. Even in the afternoon.

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  3. I hate hairdressers too. I hate to sit there for hours and then the result is always so disappointing. Its expensive too. There are so many things I'd rather do with a child free hour or two.

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    Replies
    1. Exactly. That's why I only do it when I can no longer squash my hat over the wilderness.

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  4. I'm laughing about "are you doing anything exciting this evening?" "No".

    If a hairdresser asked me if I was doing anything exciting with the next 60 years, I fear the only answer would be "no".

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  5. Funnily enough bot my dentist and the hygeneist like to chat and ask questions while working on my teeth. I sit there thinking: is he expecting an answer now or is it a memory test and I have to give all the answers together at the end?

    As for hairdresser - Are you goin on yer olidees? Is is fer somfing special? Ave yer got a boyfriend?

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    Replies
    1. I think you need to change your dentist. My worst ever hair ordeal was with a young stylist who'd just been dumped and who took it out on my roots.

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  6. Another advantage to being a middle-aged man. My wife shaves what's left of my hair with clippers while the children laugh at me. Bliss.

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  7. I like going to the addresses, I like the glossy magazines, I like the 'free' hot chocolate.
    However, I had the best hairdresser - apart from actually being able to cut my hair very well, he was grumpy as hell and couldn't be bothered with small talk.
    He's now stopped cutting - it took me years and years to find a decent hairdresser. Now I am growing my hair.

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    Replies
    1. Oddly, I find grumpy hairdressers just as stressful. They oppress me so am inclined to babble to cover for them. My ideal would be an amiable non-English speaker so we could beam at each other and maintain enforced silence.

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  8. Wonderful post. I too loathe visits to hairdressing salons and the inane questions which may explain my Dulux dog look.
    Your second flowering will come and when you are old, you WILL wear purple even if it is under the rug.

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    Replies
    1. I'm wearing purple as I type. Half my wardrobe is purple. Is that an early sign of new bloom?

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  9. you know 101 cures for cellulite?

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  10. Really well-written post. Your description of a hair salon describes my own perfectly! Those magazines are the epitome of trash, aren't they!

    CJ x

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  11. My mother used to go into the hairdressers and as soon as she sat down would say 'I hope you don't mind me closing my eyes but I find having my hair cut very relaxing' they never bothered her with any small talk. Perhaps you could try that. Incidentally ... she never had a bad cut so don't worry about what they are doing while your eyes are closed.

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  12. I never talk at the hairdressers. They have finally got the message!

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  13. I LOVE the hairdressers, or, as we call them in the male sex, barbers. They never try to talk (or only in heavy Arabic accents so you can pretend you don't understand them) and I find it very therapeutic having someone fiddling with my scalp (even when it's just my daughter playing 'dandruff clinic' with her nit comb). But I do studiously avoid the mirror; I'm sure I'm fresh-faced, tight-jawed and pert-eyed, but my barbers' mirrors are faulty and somehow make me look grey-skinned, pouchy-eyed and chinny. Can't understand it.

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  14. I always take my Kindle to read. Can't stand those magazines or get embarrassed by reading the only juicy article...

    They do a head massage here in France, after the conditioner. Feels so good I almost fall asleep. My hairdresser is older than me, and nice and homely. She's also a brilliant cutter.

    You look like you could have a pretty stylish cut, from your photo. You even have a sort of Frenchy bone structure. You'd need to go more than twice a year to keep it looking good though...

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  15. I have to disagree - my hairdresser is brilliant, we talk conspiracy theories for hours (well, half an hour or so) and it is very entertaining. As I mentioned to Mammasaurus on Twitter a little while ago though, dentists are different. You walk in, they put a mask on. They are pretty much putting a signal out that they 'do not want to talk about conspiracy theories'. It's rubbish.

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