I went to the hairdressers a few days ago with the usual dread and apprehension. I only get my haircut twice a year but I find it an uncomfortable and often disappointing experience. Let me talk you through my latest experience.
I look in the mirror and decide it is time to have a haircut. My hair has lost its jazz and its becoming a lion’s mane. I think of the risks involved in getting my haircut; the money invested and the result. I defer to the next topic.
A few weeks pass and I’ve bat away ideas of booking the eventful day in. But then the moment arises; I decide that no matter how much hairspray I use I would be better off with a god awful haircut than walking around looking so shabby and uncared for. Time to book with a hairdresser.
Now I’m not knowledgeable when it comes to hair. I get thrown off with the fancy words “forme”, “style”, “Brazilian blowdry”. What on earth is a Brazilian blowdry?! It sounds like something in the karma sutra. So with my limited collection of hair related words I call the last place I visited. Why? Well although the haircut was average, the hairdresser interaction was average and the price was average, I knew what kind of experience to expect.
“Hi there you’re through to Sak’s Birmingham hair salon, how can I help?”
“Err… (I’m already lost for words.) Hi. I’m after a haircut. I’d like to book myself in with you this week if that’s possible?” (please say no. I don’t think I’m ready for this anymore.)
“Yes certainly, what time would be best for you?”
“Errm… 12pm or after 5pm during the week is the best time.”
“Right I can fit you in for tomorrow at 12pm. What is it you are after?”
Okay this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. I mentally prepared myself for this conversation.
“I’m after a trim and some re-layering”. (Is re-layering a word? Have I already proved I’m as close to a haircut virgin as it gets?)
“Would you like [mumble, key hair dressing word, mumble, more confusing words, mumble]?”
I always sigh at this point. I can’t blag this, I can’t fake it. I’m going to have to come clean.
“I’m really sorry but I don’t know what any of those things are. I’m not really into hair. All I know is I get the dead ends cut off and I get layers put in to give my hair… errm… volume.”
Then comes the usual sympathetic response with an underlying tone of judgement before I’ve been booked in and confirmed. It’s got to happen now.
The run up to the day goes surprisingly smooth until I remember that this will be the last time I look at myself in the mirror with moderate satisfaction. I could look in the mirror tomorrow and see that I’ve worsened my appearance. I’ve never had a haircut where I’ve left feeling better than when I go in. Dread starts to kick in. I actually find that over the six months I’ve established a relationship with my hair. I’ve grown to love its unpredictability. I appreciate how it curls slightly so it looks as though I’ve styled it. I like how it weighs down so I wake up and don’t have to brush it. My hair has been good to me. I do something that I’m ashamed to say: I take a photo of myself with my hair down. I keep it as a memory of the good old times, and as a reminder for what will be. Don’t worry hair you shall return.
The day of death (for my hair as I know it) arrives. I walk through the doors and head to the receptionist. I get told that my haircut is with a gentleman called Yogi. Now I’ve only had two men cut my hair before. The first man loved cars as did I, so I would turn up every six months and he would have saved his car magazines for me. He was awesome. But as I got older I left the comfort of his salon and tried a city centre one. The second chap wasn’t so nice. He was busy talking to his colleague whilst drying my hair and burnt my scalp. I can assure you I never returned to that place. £55 for a butcher who burns? No thank you.
Yogi come and fetches me. I put my hand out and he seems surprised. Is it not standard to shake your hairdresser’s hand? He asks me what I like and after I hear two sentences which made no sense I look at Yogi with desperation and admit that I’m useless. He asks me simple questions which I appreciate. It means I don’t have to pretend I understand and nod occasionally. I tell him how I rarely brush my hair and even admit that I use shampoo and conditioner in one. This does not impress him; it’s like telling a room full of vegetarians that you are a meat eater. Yogi does well though responding calmly and educating me to the benefits of certain ingredients. I’m actually pretty impressed. A haircut and learning lesson- sounds like this is something I could enjoy.
I get taken to the sink. For me this is one of the most uncomfortable experiences of the whole rigmarole. I rest my neck and feel completely exposed. I’m wearing the awful black overall to protect my clothes so I look like a walking bin bag. I look at the ceiling and feel the water as it hits my head. I can anticipate its coming: the dreaded moment is inevitably here.
“So what plans have you got today?” Yogi asks.
“Sorry, what did you say?” I don’t know if it’s just me but I can’t hear well with water in my ears.
Yogi repeats himself and I attempt to make conversation but I don’t feel comfortable as I have this stranger stroking my hair which let’s not forget I’m rather attached to. I quickly scan through possible topics of interest with a hairdresser and after failing to think of any I chat about Christmas until Yogi takes me to the butchers’ slaughter-hair area.
Now I usually watch the hairdresser do the boring old standard cuts. They do nothing experimental, even when I’ve asked them to do what they feel best. Yogi was cutting like I’ve never seen before. He was the equivalent of Edward Scissor Hands. I was in awe. It was like watching an artist paint his masterpiece. Yogi had finesse and he looked deep in concentration. I didn’t want to disturb him. Not that I wanted any more conversation but I was afraid to speak. I spoke when I was spoken to and learnt when he educated me. It was an unusually enjoyable time.
The moment of truth comes when the hairdresser dries your hair. Now I couldn’t tell you if I got a Brazilian blow-dry but I watch attentively as Yogi pulls out the hairbrushes and works. I sit there whilst he pulls my hair debating whether I ought to resist the pull or go with it. I can imagine it’s rather helpful if the customer holds still so I clench my neck muscles as I anticipate more pulls.
He grabs the mirror and asks me to look. I’m filled with nerves. I like the front and that shocks me. I normally want to cry as they pull the mirror out thinking “is that it? Is that what I’m left with?” I look in the mirror and I am for the first time gobsmacked. It actually looks good. Better than when I came in: an absolute first.
Will I still be nervous to go to a hairdresser? Probably, but at least I found Yogi. A true professional who listened, educated me, took risks and showed that not all hair dressing experiences result in my finding a new hat to wear. Thank you Yogi.