It has taken me thirty years to find a haircut I actually like and that looks decent on me.
Exhibit A: Me choking myself out because I hate my hair.
Exhibit B: Me grimacing because I hate my hair (and photographers).
Exhibit C: Clearly, I am pissed off about this hair. And photographers. (Or, quite possibly, about the baby blue sweater vest I'm wearing.)
Exhibit D: Clearly, a mullet is going to make everything better. (Even photographers and sweater vests, now in pink. WTF?!)
On my birthday this year, back in June (the 15th, so mark it on your calendars and buy me something nice next year), I thumbed through the Yellow Pages under "beauty salons" and called down the list until I found one that was open and could cut and color my hair THAT DAY because 1) it was my birthday, and 2) if I didn't get it done THAT DAY I was going to change my mind.
I ended up in the chair of this goddess of a woman, this amazing creature whom we'll call "Brenda." Because that's her name. I had never met Brenda before, but Brenda gave me the most sensational haircut I have ever had. After spending the afternoon in her chair, I felt so much like a real girl that I went directly home and shaved my legs. No joke.
I've revisited Brenda several times now, and every time I go I am surprised at how much I enjoy the experience. It's therapeutic, sitting and spending time among these women. The chatter hums along over the hair dryers; the air fills with talk of children, relationships, current events. I can take part in the conversation or remain comfortably silent, and I am surprised at how often Brenda draws me out, has me telling her intimate details of my life before I even realize I'm doing it. I think in some ways she and the other stylists are like bartenders, unwittingly encouraging confidences. There's a publicness to this forum; the other hairdressers and their clients can surely hear me, if they choose to tune in to our conversation. And yet there is an atmosphere of acceptance here, and even solidarity.
I keep going back not just for the cuts, but for the comfort: the soothing washing of my hair as I stretch my head back into the basin, the smell of hairspray and chemicals, the voice of that one stylist who sounds SO much like Megan Mullally playing Karen on Will and Grace. I love that woman!
And of course, we cannot discount the end result of time spent in the salon: the haircut that accentuates the curl of my hair and actually causes it to lie nicely most days in soft cascades around my face, the cut that looks better the second day after washing, so that I can crawl out of bed and run my fingers through it before heading off to work. The cut allows me to spend that precious hour from seven to eight o'clock in the morning lying in bed watching one more episode of Bob the Builder with Mog before getting him dressed and fed and potty-ed and out the door.
(This is not to say that my hair really looks good enough to go to work without washing or styling it in the morning, but it looks just good enough to convince ME that I don't have to wash or style it. Because, you know. I set pretty low standards for myself, after all.)