I have been trying to put it off for sometime, but we have a function next week and soon after we will be flying out, so I was running out of time to get my hair cut.
I have long envied men the no-fuss, walk in, walk out barber shop solution and in this attitude, I find myself almost totally out-voted by my fellow women, who find a visit to the salon a relaxing and pampering experience. The only person I know who dislikes going to the hairdresser as much as I do is my mother, who has been cutting her own hair forever – somehow. I did not inherit my dislike from her though. She resents the expense, I resent the time it it robs from me and the investment it demands.
For a number of years now, I have been sprinkling a little light colouring around the top of my hair as grey shoots have begun to appear. Every time I sit infront of the mirror at the hairdressers, I see more have appeared. Sooner or later I am going to have to make a decision about whether to continue forward with my plan to get blonder and blonder, or whether to say stuff it and save myself a load of time and money and let nature take its course.
Because it takes me a while to get myself motivated to make one of these visits, I go to a salon that does not use a booking system, you just turn up. Sometimes, on the weekend – just like today – there is a small wait and I was asked to occupy myself for 25 mins before they could find me a chair. The result was that I sat down half an hour later with a thin plastic shopping bag full of crockery that I have since had to hide from my husband to avoid the ‘Why did you buy more bowls – we have bowls?’ conversation and 30 minutes less of the podcast I had brought to listen to.
The hairdresser was just finishing off another client so I had plenty of time to enjoy the unpleasant close up of my flabby plain face, with its unplucked eyebrows, its jowly jaw line and its double chin hovering like a pink ruff under my head. The harsh overhead fluorescent lighting also really helped to bring out the bags under my eyes. Putting my reading glasses on made things a bit better, because they broke the sight of my face in two and rendered the vision in the mirror out of focus, but I had to take them off as the hairdresser started raking a comb though my hair.
‘What are you having done today?’ She chirped.
‘Just colours like last time, please and a cut to get rid of the scraggy bits.’
‘Hmmm… I am looking at your growth here, you could probably do with a half head rather than a T-section, because you are getting a triangle at the back,’ she replied.
‘I have no idea what that means,’ I said, ‘but I think I will just stick with what I had before.’
‘No problem. What colours would you like?’
‘I have no idea,’ I said, ‘They are on the card from last time. Those were great, thanks.’ Then added, ‘Listen, you have to understand I am really bad at this, so there is almost no point is asking me technical questions, because I won’t know.’
She studied my colour chart from before.
‘Hmmm.. I am wondering if we should just take that gold down a shade, what do you think?’ she asked.
‘I honestly have no opinion on the matter. You may as well be speaking Turkish, just hide the grey and cut the scraggy bits please,’ I thought, but said, ‘Sounds great!’ Because I wanted her to stop talking and she looked like she was super helpful and would probably try to explain if I pleaded ignorance again.
So began the time sucking activity. Half an hour to put the foils in, then an over-optimistic setting of the timer for 30 mins, at which point I knew she would come back, check the colour, make a tutting noise and then reset the timer for another 15 minutes. After this I was led to the sink and asked if I wanted the chair massager on. ‘Sure’ I said, because I feel that agreeing with them makes it go faster. The chair does not massage, it just sort of vibrates. The seat has a leg rest that flips up so when I try to put my bags at my feet, the young apprentice tells me that won’t work because the chair is going to move and to put it on the chair next to me. I feel guilty, like someone on a bus deliberately trying to prevent other people from sitting next to them, but do as I am told.
Next the toner, while I stare at the flock wallpaper with its swirly patterns and wonder why when they were getting that done, they did not hire someone who would go to the trouble of doing it properly. The pattern is about a millimetre out where one strip meets another. If they can get within a millimetre, surely they can actually match it? The wallpaper fury occupies almost all my time at the sink, which is a while because they have to wash the dye out, let the toner take effect, then wash that out.
Another woman is brought to the row of chairs to get her hair washed and looks at my handbag and shopping bag on the seat next to me and I want to explain that it is not my fault, that I did not want to leave my purse and iPad and new crockery under the mirror in the busy shop and the girl told me to put it there. In fact, I wouldn’t even have had the shopping if I had not had to kill 25 minutes and my husband is going to be upset with the bowls I have bought because we have too many already. She does not want to hear it, though and is already vibrating on her own chair three seats away.
Finally the washing and toning and rinsing is over and I can pick up my bags and clunk back to the mirror for the cut, which fortunately takes much less time than anything else. My fringe, which is half way down my nose is clipped back up to my eyebrows and the hairdresser takes about an inch off around the other bits and puts some layers in the back, because saying yes to that idea seemed to make her happy.
What makes me happy though is when she finally tells me I am done. She was a lovely girl, from Manchester and we had a nice chat about the UK and her experience travelling around Australia but I have been trapped in this place for just over two and a half hours by the time I thank her and get up to leave. Picking up my bag of new crockery, I clunk to the front desk with mys new shiny golden hair, pay the lady at the till and give thanks that it is all over – for at least another twelve weeks.