Make me pretty!

I got a haircut today.  Better I should have said to the stylist, “Do what you can to fix this!” I’m never overly optimistic about the success of my haircuts. After decades of getting haircuts I have learned the truth of the diminishing quip, “The only difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is two days.”  And that further remark about having a “bad hair day”. It’s as reliable as the opposite, a so-called “good hair day”. Which no one ever bothers to mention – those occasions when one seems inexplicably at peace with one’s morning image in the mirror after a shower and straightening oneself to begin a new day.

All told haircuts and hair are an unconstrained mystery.  As one stylist once candidly announced, “You can always cut it or let it grow if you don’t like it!” A salutary observation I found does nothing to promote the industry. Though it most certainly eliminates a great deal of silly fussing about what to have done.

The less I have to do with the cosmetic undertaking the better. Indeed years ago when I was at law school I made the mistake of venturing too close to the quick by presuming to instruct a stylist how to cut my hair. No longer. I looked horrible! Now it’s just, “Make me pretty!” Or whatever alternative I feel is socially appropriate at the time. The central theme is that stylists will customarily end doing precisely what they want in any event – notwithstanding the bafflegab between the client and the stylist throughout the ordeal. The plain truth is that – aside from those employed on Hollywood movie sets trained to fabricate a “look” for an itemized purpose – most stylists have their preferred method or training. It matters not what imaginary scope or look we have in mind from having seen some other appearance we liked on television or elsewhere. And we’re the last person to tell them how to do it.

So this afternoon when I hobbled with my stick through the door of the hair salon I had already succumbed in my mind to endure whatever the particular stylist suggested. My age was partly a clue; namely, “Who cares!” Naturally out of courtesy she asked, “How short do you want it cut?”  Or words to that effect.  It really didn’t matter.  I just told her – well, you know.

I am now in that transition stage between day one and day two. I will say however that I came out of the place feeling pretty damn good about myself and the entire expedition. At the outset I had insisted upon having a shampoo because of all the gunk I had earlier put into my hair to keep it from blowing like a hay sack when I later drove the car with the windows open. Shampoos – especially for men in what are more accurately called “barber shops” as opposed to “salons” – are not universally de rigueur. I am always acutely aware that in many of these franchise outfits they’re running on a dime. So I discretely make it clear that I am not expecting anything for free.  Today for example as soon as I indicated my desire for a preliminary shampoo, the stylist proclaimed, “Oh, you want the MVP!”  I knew of course what she meant; namely, there’s an extra charge. To keep it light, I countered that, “I want the Old Fogey treatment!” then added just to be perfectly clear, “Money is no object!” It was a mock profligacy of small import but it cleared the air as to any possibility of retail confusion.

The comic introduction was in fact helpful for another reason.  When I had first arrived at the shop, the stylist who greeted me was not I thought especially enthusiastic. It was off-putting and it made me rigid.  Fortunately I overcame my petty reaction.  Both during the shampoo and afterwards the stylist proved herself talented and dedicated. In fact she uniquely mentioned she had been at the business over twenty years. Which in my mind is a more than adequate recommendation. I have since inscribed her name in my contacts for future.

The real test comes tomorrow morning.  For some peculiar reason it is always the next morning when I am taking my shower and washing my hair that I get the real sense of the haircut, just rubbing my hands into my hair, somehow capturing the exact trimmed edges of the hair.  The sensation is perfectly palpable.  And it only lasts one day.  A couple of days from now all this hype will be for naught.  Then it’s back to just being normal.