February 6, 2019

sharp scissors

P.J. understands why I insist on using our small town's Great Clips for my hair cuts, but she doesn't like it one bit.  My intractable frugality lands me there time and time again, clutching a coupon, with my hair already washed at home and damp and ready to cut.  I've seen the prices at "real" salons and they are not acceptable.  My hair is not worth that much money.

P.J. watches this play out.  Sometimes I come home happy with my cut.  Sometimes, I mutter about it being too short but point out that "hey, at least it'll grow" and make the best of it.  Occasionally I gripe because I have to take my own scissors and snip a piece or two that got missed.

This time, though, was the worst.  For three days she's listened to me say in a small, far-away voice, "I wish I had a time machine.  I wish I hadn't gone there Saturday and gotten it cut.  I just wish I could take it back."  I don't want social encounters right now.  I want to put a bag over my head.  I want to hide in my cubicle, or at home, or in the car.  I don't want to be seen.

Great Clips wasn't terribly busy.

"How you been?  Girl, I don't think I've cut your hair for a while now.  You was about to go out of the country last time," she said, spraying my hair down with a mister.

"Seriously?  That was Ireland, two years ago in April!  That long?"

"Two years?  Naw, it don't seem like it's been that long, but maybe it has.  Tell me what we're doin' today.  You hair done got long!"

"Yeah, it's different, that's for sure.  I don't want it chopped short any more.  Um, okay, much longer in the front because I leave those pieces hanging down around my face.  Just a little trim on the bangs to get them out of my eyes.  Back level with the bottom of my ears, so stack up the neck a little and then grade it down to the long pieces in front.  And thinning out the top so it doesn't lie so heavy, some layering.  Will that work?"

She picked up her scissors and went to work on me.

"I'm glad you tell me so much.  Some people don't say nothing, and then they don't like it.  You got to know what you wanting.  So how your boy?  Where he at school?  Tilt your head down for me."

"Same as yours.  We love that school.  What's he doing now?"

"He at State, living in an apartment and working a job and all that.  It's a lot, but he doin' it.  We proud of him, that's for sure.  All right, look up."

"State's a good school, not easy from what I hear.  Good for him!"

And throughout the mandatory salon-interaction chit-chat, my stylist basically did the opposite of everything I asked.  My hair is now shorter in front instead of longer.  The right is slightly higher than the left because she judged by my ears, which I always point out are not level because they didn't give a shit about plagiocephaly in the 1970s.  My bangs look like the newest ride at an amusement park and I can't even them up myself because they're already far too short.

I don't know why I had it cut Saturday.  I liked it before.  It was just long enough to gather into a messy pony tail at night.  Getting it cut was something I did just because it's a thing you do, like eating the second helping.  I didn't even want it.

Most forms of regret aren't this pure, uncomplicated.

I had a rat tail when I was seven.  It was an unsightly rebellion against several years of hair cuts and age-inappropriate perms visited upon me by a neighbor who was a retired hairdresser and, more to the point, cheap.  She always assaulted my hair in our kitchen.  I went through school with short, choppy hair, pronounced bangs, and general mess, punctuated by the occasional curly choppy general mess complete with miasma di perm.  When the rat tail fad caught on in 1984, I somehow managed to talk my mother into letting me grow one.  It was majestic, at least eight inches long, when I accepted the bribe of two dollars to let her snip it off.

That was two months' wages.  I would sell out again in a heart beat.

I never could figure out the art of Hair.  I feel like until recently, it was messed up perpetually for thirty-five years.  Once, at age nineteen, I got a perm at a Fantastic Sam's and the lady somehow genetically modified a clump of follicles on the right side of my head and that patch of hair has had a different texture, frizzy and frail, ever since.  I can't carry a dyke look properly; at the other end of the spectrum, when it reached far down my back and I did my own French braiding, I hated the roundness of my face.

I finally - finally - got it right a couple of years ago.  I grew into it.

And now it's croggled.  Now, growing is all I can do.

Maybe my hair is worth more.


  1. Lille,
    I bet you can really rock a hat in the dead of winter for a few weeks. Bad haircuts are the worst. The older I get, the worse my hair is -- a lot less of it and frizzy -- it used to be long, silky, thick and healthy. Now, I just need to shave it all off and get myself a wig. Didn't know I could be so vain until my hair decided to rebel. Good quality wigs are so damned expensive! Mona

    1. It really does make one question vanity ... I don't like to admit it but how I look is REALLY IMPORTANT to me. Yuck!

  2. I - almost - wish I could post a picture of me with permed henna'd hair - just to make you feel a little less ARRRRGGGGG!! MY HAIR!!! - but you're exactly right - it'll grow out and maybe, just once you might try somewhere a little bit more expensive - but I do have to say they can fuck up too and absolutely not listen to whatever you say.

    Other alternative - get the boy to look a few hair cutting YouTube videos, and give him a sharp scissors - Hazel's been doing mine for the last six months or so and she's starting to get the hang of it - she wants to do this, I just gave in to the pressure 'cause 'it'll grow out'