“You’re looking a little shaggy”, she says, after sitting me down in the chair and putting one of those nylon robes on me.
“Yeah, I meant to book awhile ago but…”, I shrug.
“But…?”, she asks.
“It’s… complicated.”, I relinquish.
“Complicated?”, she asks.
“I noticed it was starting to look a little unkempt about 3 weeks ago, and I asked my wife to phone and book an appointment. But’s she’s busy, and it takes a while for her to get around to it. You know, kids and stuff. This is what always happens. It always takes 3 weeks from the time I notice it’s getting a little long until I actually get in for a haircut.”
“Your hair is really changing colour.”, she says.
“Thanks.”, I say, feeling self-conscious.
“No, I LOVE it!”, she says.
“Ha ha! You’re kind. Going a little grey, I know.”, I chuckle, a little embarrassed.
“No, it’s not grey,” she says,”It’s like…TITANIUM!”.
She’s getting a tip.
“So, what are we doing today?”, she asks, taking a step back and looking at me in the mirror.
“I don’t know. I never know what to do with it. I was thinking of letting it grow, you know? Doing something interesting with it. I’m a musician, I shouldn’t have hair like a financial planner.”
She tilts her head and squints, nearly mouthing the words, “Financial Planner?”. “Okay,” she says,”C’mon in the back and let’s get you washed up.”
I lean my head back into that head sink and for that first moment, I feel like I’m playing some kind of trust game. She tests the water with her hand. She must be losing sensitivity, because the moment the hot water hits my scalp I flinch. It’s like smelted iron. “Ouch!”, I think. “Are you washing my hair or disinfecting it?. It’s 10 am. I just washed my hair. I got up at 8:30, showered, shampooed my hair and purposely didn’t put any hair wax in it so she wouldn’t have to do this. Did I do something wrong? Didn’t I wash it good enough? It’s been, like, an hour since I did this. My dandruff can’t be that bad.”
“Is it too hot?, she asks.
“No, it’s fine.”, I assure her.
I’ve gotten used to it, and almost start to doze off as she massages the shampoo and conditioner into my hair. “Do they bring in phrenologists at hair college to teach them how to do this?”, I wonder.
“So, why don’t you phone?”, she asks, almost startling me.
“Your wife, why does she have to book your appointment for you?”.
“Well, like I said, it’s complicated.”
She raises her eyebrows and looks at me over her glasses. (She’s not really wearing glasses, but she looks at me the way someone would look at you over their glasses, if they were wearing glasses. Which she’s not.)
We move over to the chair and she starts cutting and trimming and thinning. I’m proud to be almost 35 years old, and I actually have to get my hair thinned-out.
“I have this thing.”, I say. “I just… can’t… phone. You know? It’s like ordering pizza. I get all frozen up. It takes me 15 minutes to decide on what pizza to get everyone, and then I can never remember what size we got last time, and whether it was enough, and then I phone and they ask ‘Have you heard about our specials?’ which further confuses things, and then when I tell them I want a 15 inch… and then they say, ‘You mean and Extra-Large?’. See? Cuz 15 inches sounds like just enough, but then when they call it an Extra-Large…”, I sigh. “So, I just can’t do it. I have to get my wife to call.”
“Ha ha! You sound just like my husband”, she says. “He does the same thing.”
“See?!”, I cry, “So you understand?”.
“No way. He’s crazy.”, she laughs.
She turns on the clippers and starts raking around the back of my neck. Then she gets out that ridiculously soft brush with the white bristles that every hairdresser has. I need to get one of those brushes. She sweeps the hair from the back of my neck, my ears, and my face. “Now is when you need to wash my hair.”, I think to myself.
She styles my hair and asks if I want any ‘product’ in it. ‘Product’? My mind races through a grocery store of a thousand different possible ‘products’ she could mean. Everything from drugs to guacamole. “Sure, just some gel.”, I say.
She takes off the nylon robe, sweeps all the hair from around the chair into a little pile, and we head to the till. “Do they throw out all that hair?”, I think to myself.
I pay for the haircut, and leave a tip for the “titanium” comment. We avoid eye-contact while the debit machine does its thing.
“So, do you want to book for next month?”, she asks.
“What?”, I ask, confused.
“Do you want to book ahead, so your wife doesn’t have to call?”, she suggests.
“Uh….no….,” I hesitate,”I don’t think so.”
“Oh? How come?”, she asks. She knows me well enough to know this is gonna be good.
“See,… I’ve thought about it. But then I think, ‘What if my hair doesn’t grow as fast?’, you know? Like, does your hair grow at a constant rate, or does it vary? Maybe it depends on diet, and exercise or temperature. Does your hair grow faster or slower in the winter? I’d just hate to book a hair appointment for, say, a month from now, only to show up and not really need one yet.”
“Does your hair grow at the same rate…?”, she asks. Baffled.
“Okay… Well, here’s my card, in case you change your mind.”, she says, shaking her head
“Yeah. Thanks…. Maybe next month?”
The bell over the door jingles as I exit.