Sunday, January 8, 2017

Hair's Breadth

“If you keep curling my hair in such small sections, it's going to take a really long time to curl my whole head.” That was what I said to the hairdresser I hired to curl my hair before I had my anniversary pictures taken.

I know most people wouldn't get a hairdresser for their anniversary pictures, but I had a couple of reasons for getting one. Bearing in mind, she was a human being I had never seen before in my life, I thought (by virtue of her profession), she should be able to do it faster than me, but when I saw the segments she was individually curling with an iron, I thought I would live and die in that hairdresser chair without experiencing any more life had to offer.

I have a ton of hair.

I spent most of my twenties with a layer cut that made my ton of hair seem less. Actually, with a layer cut, my hair would grow until it hit one spot on my back and then stop. I thought that was as long as my hair grew. Then one day, I learned the secret. My hair is both coarse and fine. Fine around my hairline and coarse on the crown. This means that if I blunt my hair instead of layer it, it can get a whole lot longer. Some of my hair is over two feet long.

I advised the hairdresser to take bigger chunks.

She reminded me she was a professional and I could just relax and sit quietly.

She took down the next row of hair to be done and the next. She was moving very quickly. Not too quickly, but quickly enough to remind me of the next reason why I wanted to hire a hairdresser rather than do it myself. It was a clipless curling iron and she wasn't wearing a glove. “You're going to burn yourself if you don't take it easy.”

She again reminded me she was a professional.

After awhile, I realized I had been sitting in the chair for over 45 minutes. It still felt pretty normal for a hair appointment, though I could see she wasn't making much progress. So, I took the opportunity to explain to her why she should fall in love with opera and explained in detail the exquisite finale of Lucia di Lammermoor with the falling snow, the black umbrellas, and the ultimate stabbing. After all, neither she nor I were going anywhere.

After an hour and 15 minutes, I was doomed to be late for my photographer and it suddenly seemed to me that all divas deserve their tantrums, when their stylists won't listen to their instructions and the divas themselves are doomed to lateness or a half curled head.

Then, some man... some man who worked at the salon slammed right into my girl and something bad happened. The curling iron burned her arm in a straight line. She sprayed her hurt with the bottle she had nearby, but I knew she couldn't be okay. But it didn't matter what I said about how she needed help, she just kept spraying it and letting the residual water slip down her arm and onto the floor. She sprayed it again and again, but just kept on doing my hair as usual.

I went to the salon so I wouldn't get burned, so one of my dumb kids wandering into the bathroom wouldn't get burned, so no one would get burned.

I paid her and tipped her and felt sick.


The story ends on my living room wall. There hangs a 20x30 poster of me printed on mildly metallic paper. The picture isn't even of my face. It's my cascade of perfectly curled hair that falls almost to my waist. She did know what she was doing.