It had been a long week, or a long month rather, and I was feeling drab and in need of change. It was the day before thanksgiving and I had arranged for a morning to do homework but decided instead to get a hair cut. The salon I normally go to (the whole 2 times a year I get my hair cut) wasn't answering their phone, and when I drove by I saw why. The parking lot was full of cars. Every seat in the salon was taken by elderly women getting their hair done before family arrived for the holiday. After a quick glance at myself in my rear view mirror, I decided I would not let this setback deter me from my mission. I remembered a place in the mall I had gone to a few years back that was cheap and had done a good job, so I headed for Asheville Mall.
When I arrived at the salon, I thought maybe the name had changed, but I could not remember what the name had been, so I didn't think more of it. As I approached the woman at the desk I noticed the entire salon was empty so I made a sad joke about being sorry I hadn't made an appointment. She didn't think it was funny. Though I was the only customer, I waited 10 minutes to be seen.
When my hair dresser came out from the storage room, I liked her right away. She was a large, elderly lady named Barb, who was clearly from New York. Along with her strong accent, she had funky dyed hair, fake long nails, lots of make up, a leopard print shirt, and a loud piece of gum. She made me feel like we had known each other for some time and used my name a lot, saying things like, "How is Faith today?" "What will Faith be doing with her hair today?" She was warm and friendly, and I felt as though I was in good hands. I told her I wanted a trim and a little style. Maybe a subtle angle down from the back and styled bangs to frame my face. She gave me a big smile and assured me she knew exactly what I meant.
Once I sat in the chair at her station, another customer came in and sat next to us. The customer and her hair dresser began a loud conversation full of juicy gossip. I quickly lost myself in their conversation, forgetting I was getting my hair cut until Barb handed me a mirror and asked me what I thought of the back. I looked at my reflection and thought perhaps I may have been looking at someone else's head by accident. That's not the shape of my head, is it? The bottom was short and layered up to a big poof on the top of my skull. I considered it for a moment, then politely asked that she try and even it out so that the layers were not so distinct and the top not so poofy.
"And not too short!" I added.
She smiled that reassuring smile again and let me know she knew exactly what I meant.
After cutting away a little more, she turned me from the mirror to get a better angle on my hair. Next thing I knew, I heard a click and buzzzzzz. Before I could process what was happening, I felt a chunk of hair drop from my head.
"Are those clippers?!" I tried not to scream.
"Oh honey, don't worry, I have long teeth on them. It'll be real pretty. Dontcha worry!"
Since she had already begun, I decided in fear to trust her calm words. Still turned away from the mirror, she started on my bangs right away. Hack, hack, hack. I had never experienced so much pain during a hair cut. It reminded me of when my mother would brush my hair when I was a kid, telling me I needed to "toughen up" my scalp. Still teary eyed, she turned me back around to face the mirror.
"How's it look darlin'? I think it looks great!"
I thought perhaps she wasn't done yet. My bangs were short on top and longer underneath. From my face to my ears my hair looked exactly the same, and then as though it were a separate head altogether, there was but half an inch of length left on the back! I could not speak, so I just sat there a minute in silence, trying to figure out what she was going to do next.
"How's about a little stylin', yeah?" she said with another peppy grin.
It wasn't until she picked up a bottle of gel that I realized she was done with the cut. With a little gel and fru-fruing I noticed my hair looked exactly like hers, but shorter and much worse. In fact, it looked like a reverse mullet gone wrong (not that it could possibly go right).
Now if this had been someone else's story, I am sure I would claim in confidence that I would have told that hair dresser a thing or two and made her fix my hair or refused to pay altogether. But the truth is, in that moment I could think of nothing but getting out of there and putting on a hat or possibly pulling a Brittany Spears. So I paid my bill- shamefully, I even tipped her well (she was just so nice!). I walked to my car as fast as I could, put on a hat, and drove home. The whole drive home I refused to look in the mirror, hoping that if I waited long enough, maybe it would magically get better. I pulled up my driveway to see Aaron dumping a load of leaves from his truck. Aaron always compliments my hair, even when I cut it myself. He'll make me feel better! I thought hopefully to myself. As he approached my window to give me a hello kiss, I took off my hat. The look on his face captured the essence of my hair cut so well, I should have snapped a picture.
Needless to say, I had my mom cut off the rest of my hair when I went to Charlotte for Thanksgiving. Thanks to 30 years of practice on all my brothers, she did a pretty fabulous job with the short hair! So for those of you asking, that is the story of why I went short... again.