It cost me nine quid for a start. That’s Reason #1 in why I should have suspected the haircut wouldn’t end well.
Reason #2 was the fact I had interrupted two perma-sniffing Ukrainians in what looked like a half-hearted game of scissor darts. Tumble-weeds of split-end sweepings wafted across the floor in an eerie wind.
“Hi. I have forty minutes. I wondered if you could sort this mess out in that…”
“Sure sure, yes. I take you over.”, One Of Them answered brusquely as she simultaneously took my coat, sat me down, and choked me with a black cape tied too tight. I gagged like a bileous superhero and tried not to be offended by her desperation to plonk me down. My hair wasn’t that bad, was it?
“You can do it dry if you like.”, I offered, conscious of time. Nothing good ever came out of that sentiment.
“So, you obvussly want all this to coming off?”, she gestured with the bottom ten inches of my hair like a flick-blade. I quietly said I was thinking more like three inches, just to take off the wonky bits that had built up from my ill-advised home self-trimmings.
“Rilly? (Long pause in which I maybe blinked a full three times). Ok.”
And off she went. Snip snip.
I don’t know what was more unsettling – watching her cutting my hair in the mirror, being able to watch myself watching her cutting my hair in the mirror, or being able to watch twenty of myselves watching twenty of herselves cutting my hair in the kaleidoscopic mirrors around the salon. She moved like a majorette who had recently switched to ninja arts and kept dropping the nunchucks. Her scissor blades kept snagging on my cape.
“I’ve never said this before, but I saw a picture of Britney Spears with these sort of fringey flicky bits and I wondered…
“Sure sure. I do.” She muttered as she dragged thinning scissors down the canopy of hair wailing at my cheek. I saw my hair fall to the floor in slow-motion.
I thought of Britney. She’d had some hairy rides with scissors and stuff and had come out of it ok. I wondered if the sartorial tragedy I saw unfolding in front of me would earn me a pity residency in Las Vegas but I knew I’d never be able to pull off the sequins. I choked on one once. No one is going to pay two hundred dollars to see me panic-choke and gesture for a Heimlich from Barry Manilow in the front row.
She finished up. Pulled my lengths long and tight against my face like she was trying to exorcise demons from my follicles, then plonked her scissors in a cup. She wrenched my poor cape from me. It was like being parted from a cousin in an Auschwitz queue. I wondered what would happen to it.
I did the British thing. Beam. Teeth. Bluster. “Gosh, that feels so much better, thank you!” as I limped over to the counter to pay. I stared into my purse and wondered if Matt would still love me with my new head.
“Where’s your tip box?”
Rattle. Infinite echo.
I re-entered the cold feeling lighter, nervous of my first glimpse of myself away from the stilted trippiness of the comedown salon. I pondered hair and femininity and style and hiding behind a mane and the art of tipping and Britney and assertiveness and paying more than nine pounds in future, when I realised I’d left my coat and had to go back. Which was handy, because I wanted to check I still had all my ears.