Every now and then, probably when Mom was using the haircut bowl for something else, Daddy used to take me to the barbershop for a dollar haircut. My hair was snipped halfway down my ears, parted on the side, and pulled off my forehead with a small barrette raked across my scalp. I think I can still feel the furrow. Mom could jam that sucker in there so that it would last all day. There was enough DNA in one of those barrettes to clone me.
By the time I was tipped unwillingly into adolescence, by a sheer stroke of genetic fortune I had the kind of hair that was popular at the time. It was straight, light, and long enough to iron on an ironing board without bending over. In fact the object for the next eight years was to grow it as long as it would naturally go before petering out into a fuzzy hem of split ends. That would be just below the butt crack, so it was pretty long, although one must note that there isn’t as much distance between my head and my butt as there is on regular people. But still.
And that is why I never had cause to visit a professional beauty salon until I was a junior in college, when I was living in London and suddenly unfashionable. Since I hadn’t had a haircut in eight years, I decided to go big and go to the Vidal Sassoon salon. That’s where I first learned that there are two parts to the beautician’s job: to make you beautiful, and to persuade you that you are in calamitous need of being made beautiful. That, in fact, you are hopeless and pathetic, without professional assistance.
“I don’t know,” the man said, curling a lip in distaste, lifting a section of my hair and letting it drop. My proud, glossy curtain was abruptly revealed to be a sad, stringy bundle of possum fur. Lift, drop. Grimace. Lift, drop. Grimace. Tsk, tsk, cavernous sigh. “I guess I can do something.” With a look of bleak despair, he asked me what I had in mind. Thence came the following exchange, a classic of dueling idioms, in which I, in my American accent, apparently declined a proposition he never made, and he introduced me to the British term for a hairstyle that can be maintained with a hair dryer alone:
“I dunno. I don’t wanna Shag, really.”
“Well, do you want a blow job, then?”
The execution of the haircut–at that point, whatever he wanted to do–progressed in awkward silence.
Subsequent professional haircuts followed the same pattern. The beautician stood behind me, lifting and dropping my hair while glowering into the mirror, and finally allows he might be able to do something with my hair if he does enough texturing and sells me enough Product and only because he is a genius. Once I visited a friend’s recommended stylist and it all went pretty well, in the sense that he kept his despair about what I’d given him to work with to himself, and I thought the result was just fine too, when he spun me around and gave me my glasses back.
“Great!” I said.
“Do you want me to do anything about this?” he said.
About what now?
He puckered up his face in genuine concern and ran his fingertips over my cheeks, where, for the very first time, I was made to notice I had a fine thick blonde beard, and that there might need to be something “done” about it.
“No, thank you, that’s fine the way it is,” I said, reserving a portion of his tip for an extra adult beverage.
So went the next thirty years, during which I twice grew out my hair long again so as to avoid seeing myself through a hairstylist’s eyes, and now I’m back to short, especially since there is a nice barber right around the corner who charges me the senior rate of $12 even though I’ve told her several times that, in spite of appearances, I’m three years shy. “Oh go on, you,” she giggles, and continues to charge me less. I’ve decided to accept that.
She also asks me what I want. And then she tells me I can’t have it. “You can’t go that short,” she says. “You have those cowlicks in the back. It will look weird.”
Or “Your face is too long.” Or “You need more hair to cover that thin spot at your temples.” Or “That gray is washing you out.” Or “You might want to pull the attention up and away from your eyebrows…at this point.”
And I nod and think: Twelve dollars, twelve dollars, twelve dollars.
But the last time I vowed to persevere, and I demanded it short. Very short.
“How short?” she said, masking disapproval.
As long as it’s just a little longer than my beard, I’m good.
Hee! Mutatis mutandis, massage is just like that. To be a real business success I should convince people that they are a total physical disaster, their shoulders the tightest I've EVER seen, and their backs are about to go out for the last time, and that crick in their neck is about to proceed to total paralysis. I just can't do that part. Your shoulders are just like everyone's, I'm afraid, and my back is as creaky as yours, and while a good massage is one of the Great Good Things of life, you'd take a hot bath instead and get along fine without me. I manage to make a living anyway, though.
I just read your comment without looking at who wrote it, and I was going to say: "You should read what my friend Dale has to say about massage." In your case, never mind.
You've got great hair… I myself have about 15 maybe 18 which Devery continues to dye from mouse brown to a brilliant burgundy just because… and of course about 11 total eyebrow hairs… Yeah… You've got great hair!
At least it quit falling out altogether, for now. Except in some other places.
Given a choice between a shag and a blow job, you seem to have made the right decision. You might try a buzz cut, which is one notch shorter than my own beard and takes zero maintenance. It's all the rage among runway models.
My decision at that point was to keep my mouth shut, so yess–probably the right one. Hey! Look at that picture! It's pretty close to a buzz cut!
Keep it simple is my motto. My hair having mostly disappeared over the years left me with the hope I'd eventually qualify for a discount at the barber shop. Nada…:( You persevered.
Bald guys have to pay full price. It hardly seems fair.
Yes, hairdressers are a needed evil. What would we do without them? Mine is always telling me 'You won't like that'. Ultimately she is right most of the time. I do like to change it up from time to time. Mainly it goes from a little shorter to a little longer, but not long at all. White, my hair is white. People just have to deal with it.
I like the feeling of having my hair cut while it's being cut. Unfortunately, it can only last so long.
I LIKE my white. I've earned it!
I'm more gray than white. I think you have to have had dark hair originally to get that nice white.
For most people the white comes after age 70.
For some of us dishwater blonde segues seamlessly into dishwater gray.
I remember the first time I saw you with that Vidal Sassoon cut — it was such a radical departure from the Murr Brewster that we had known for all these years… You looked so fancy! I also remember that in the same year, it was fashionable to wear an unfortunate shade of peachy-orange eye shadow. I walked into your flat and saw your roommate sporting it, and thought "OMG, that girl looks like she's burning up with fever. Or is it Malaria?" Heck back in those days, I don't think people our age wore much eye makeup — we were finishing up being hippies, and the only eye shadow we knew about was that ghastly bright turquoise shade that bad redneck girls wore with too much mascara…….But yes, loved the Sassoon cut — almost as much as that beautiful long straight hair that you had before…..Oh, the memories!
I think I quit the eye makeup right when I went to college. Clean break: no one would think I looked sick. (They'd assume I always look sick.) I don't remember the peach eye shadow but I do remember wearing brown nail polish. Now I have no interest in drawing attention to my fingernails. They're little stubs.
I can't even imagine having enough hair to cover my head unless I grow my beard out a bit more and tie it on top of my head in a rather weird fashion statement. Maybe it's a statement I should make just for fun.
"Old-Man-Bun." I like it.
I used to have long hair when I was a teenager, and my mom trimmed the ends for me. When I was about 19, I decided to get it cut, and having never been to a hair stylist before, went to the fanciest one in town. Shags had been big a year or so before, and that was what I had in mind. I brought a picture with me of what I wanted, at which he curled his lip in disdain and told me that my hair was too baby fine for a shag and he'd give me a cut that suited me. Since he was the PREMIER hair stylist in town, I let him have his way with me. And got a Toni Tennille style bowl cut. I put a brave face on it in the salon, but bawled my eyes out when I got into my boyfriend's car. I wanted to look rock and roll, not soft rock.
Now that I'm an adult, I realize that I am paying the stylist, so s/he is my employee. I may listen to what s/he recommends, but I am free to disregard it. Fortunately, I am a little more savvy now about what suits me and what doesn't, and what would be too much work. And I have a stylist who listens to me and gives me what I want, and also gives lots of good advice on how to achieve it. There is a reason that a lot of women are more faithful to their hairdressers than their spouses, once they find a good one.
And we'd better be faithful to them, because most of us have spilled all our secrets to them.
Every second year my hairstylists move on out and I am left training another one, which takes about … two years. What I can't figure out is why, when I say "same as last time, it was perfect, please just give it a trim" I get such a completely different cut? Maybe there's a hairdresser out there that can weigh in??
You look great with your short cut. I am so jealous, because I just look like a boy with mine that short. Not a good look for me.
That is SO true. You get that perfect cut and apparently it can't be duplicated. I blame the Libertarians.
I do like your latest 'do'. And it also looks as if it fulfils my major requirement of haircuts. The style has to be wash n wear. No product, no blow drying required. And it is about half the price I pay – which is another bonus.
Thanks. Well, to be fair–I go to bed with it wet, and in the morning it sticks straight up on top and is flat on the sides, and in spite of everything I'm not THAT surprised first thing. So I dampen it and blow it out for about fifteen seconds.
I've been wearing my hair nearly as short as yours for a while now. Sometimes I think about growing it a bit longer, like Helen Mirren was wearing hers a couple of years ago. Then I realize that I don't have the patience to grow it out, and that I wouldn't look like Helen Mirren anyway. Sigh. Your cut looks very cute on you.
I remember thinking, when I was much younger, that I would not be bothered by the changes that age brings, because I thought Georgia O'Keefe was so attractive. Of course, she looked better at ninety than I did at twenty. Duh.
We don't have beards, we have peach fuzz. Which luckily won't evolve into manly beards.
I've given up going to hairdressers, a short style needs constant trimming to keep it that way, so I've grown mine just below the shoulders and keep it in a pony tail.
When I did get it cut and was asked what I wanted, my forever reply is wash and wear, nothing shorter than four inches.Then it curls up anyway, so it still looks okay.
My peach fuzz is getting legs.
I've had the same hairdresser, Darlene, for 30 years. She's a couple thousand miles away from me so I only see her once a year. I tried seeing my wife's hairdresser. Twice. Both times he put my dry curly hair under a blow dryer and I looked like Phyllis Diller on a bad day. I'll continue to see my Darlene and between cuts, hack away at my bangs so I see well enough to drive. BTW, your hair looks great.
A couple thousand miles away? That's a good way to stay under budget.
It is always about selling the product. I get a 12.00 haircut and wonder why it has not climbed with inflation like everything else. I feel guilty and hand her a 20 and tell her to keep the tip. $20 for a haircut is cheap to me as 15 years ago I paid just under $40. Mine is too short today, but my hair grows out and I personally am not a fan of the supershort cut for my little head.
My head is super little. I need my hair to stick up all over just so it looks normal size.
When I got older, the hair on my legs & underarms stopped growing. This gives me more time to spend on my newfound beard & mustache!!
Yup, yup. And yup, yup.
This one cracked me up… made me think of my granddaughter recently writing about the hair on her legs blowing in the wind (hey, she's a born-again hippy… what can I say?)… and my short hair (I can remember a friend declaring that anyone over 30 (or was it 40?)needs a short haircut… long hair makes one look older. Heck, now I try to comb my hair so it covers my hearing aid tails (just wait, you too may know what I'm talking about) but not so that I look like that one of the 3 Stooges that had those curly mutton chops all down his face. I know, it's a losing battle, but… the good thing is, I'm looking from "behind" the image… I can't see my hair, my mustache, my hearing aide tails… truth is, without my super strong spectacles I can't see much of anything. Great blog… I love it!
Oh man–I shaved my legs until I was a hippie, and then not again until my thirties, and now it's all fallen out. I remember the breeze through the leg hair!
Hair. Haven't thought about it in years. Cary was never interested seemingly in what mine looked like, and like you she had the long blonde straight stuff.
I go to the place in Butte that admits they'll take 'walk ins', every two to four months. Each time the same person professes to have never seen be before and do I prefer 'sissors or trimmer'. I never know what to say.
My hair was down to my shoulders in Portland, circa '72, but since then it's been kept at bay.
I did look good with long hair, a white lab coat and stethoscope draped around my neck though.
Hey, I've got a picture of myself with long hair and a white lab coat too! No stethoscope. Maybe a dead rat.
I'm just back from the UK and Ireland and my hair decided to revert to its heritage. I had what I call my Irish Afro and no amount of product could make it behave. If I lived there in that wind and humidity, I'd have my hair cut short too. But like a previous commenter, I'd look like a boy too. Your cut is cute and I envy you the ability to carry it off so well.
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