Sunday, January 30, 2011

Splitting Hairs

If there is one thing I dislike more than shoe shopping, it is haircuts. Probably the only reason I like them less is because they need to occur on a more regular basis and you don’t really have a chance to try it on before deciding whether you’re going to like it or not.

This also explains why my head of hair has varied in length between six inches and three feet long over the last 15 or so years. While I like it shorter for the efficiency and general agreeability, short requires regular maintenance. And, as my hair grows faster than the average person’s, it requires a lot of maintenance. That means gritting my teeth, walking into a place where a woman is going to force me to sit in a chair, stare a myself in a mirror, ask me questions about how I want to be made to look beautiful (which she will ignore). And then she going to expect me to make small-talk while she proceeds to do things with scissors that I am convinced is going to either leave me bald or looking like I invited a three-year-old to have a go - or both. Then I must pay an exorbitant fee for a result that would have made Picasso proud.

So, long seems like a good way to go. Except that I have an incredibly tiny head (I nearly suffered the humiliation of having to purchase a child’s bike helmet complete with SpongeBob stickers), and my fine, thin hair does not hang gracefully or do anything to balance my proportions. Needless to say, I don’t believe in permanents or other volumizing treatments demanding more money and maintenance.

My usual routine is to rotate through the various stages. I allow my hair to grow out until I get sick of it. I cut it off in frustration and, if I’m in the right place at the right time, I donate it. Then I suffer through the various stages of short until I can just tie it back and ignore it again.

Last week was another final straw. In the panic of minding the Smithsonian exhibit over the last few weeks, my hair had crept to the annoying lengths. Too long to look decent, too short to tie back. No time to do anything about it added to the underlying dislike of haircuts. Finally, on the day the Smithsonian got packed away, I went to do something to control it on its way to longer lengths.

Unfortunately, the stars were aligned exactly against me. My dry hair was full of static and flat, making it appear far worse than even normal. The one girl in the walk-in cuts-for-cheap that had almost become my “regular” stylist wasn’t working. My request for “just a bob, not too short” was promptly ignored leading to a battle of me gently suggesting a modification of the course, and her gaily chatting along and continuing on her path. She was desperate to tease a shape into my hair. My request for a “bob” turned into a sad attempt at a layered, vogue, inverted bob, complete with intensive blowdry and half a can of hairspray.

I’m not an overly demonstrative person, and probably less confrontational than I should be. I gave the results a hesitant benefit of the doubt in hopes that when I went home and washed it, it would be usable.

Not so much. The front hung in my face the annoying way it had before, and the back was short to the point of boy cut. The transition between felt more like the start of an Elizabethan curl-around-the-face do. Or maybe 1920s flapper?

Well, I suffered through a day with it, including a TV interview that broadcast the results to the top quarter of the state and some of the neighboring one. Fortunately I did manage to go and get it “fixed” the following day. Only real damage done was setting back my efforts to grow my hair long enough to tie back by several inches and more months. And it has done little to relieve my apprehensions about going under the scissors in the future.

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