It’s fraught with danger. The outcome is unknown. You have no control, a bystander with his hands in his pockets watching a potential disaster unfold. A stranger about whom you know nothing is entrusted with carrying out the deed. You sit and hope. You’re nervous. How will it all turn out? Will you curse this person to all and sundry? Will you have finally found “the one”, to whom you will only go to execute this delicate assignment?
I speak, of course, about the perils of getting a haircut.
You’ve put it off for long enough. You’re past the point where you can shoe horn your hair into that shape you find acceptable. People have commented. It’s time to go through the wretched ordeal once again. But where to go? You’ve tried so many places. A barber or a hairdresser? What’s the difference? Surely the staff in a hair dresser are of the highest calibre, with 1st class honours degrees from hair college…
A hairdresser is usually found in big loud hair emporiums. Appointment only, you know, totally professional. The Staff seem to think being a hairdresser is akin to being a rockstar. All black clothes, the kookier the better. Ludicrous hair styles that don’t exactly fill you, a normal person, with confidence. Everyone busy, but super casual. Hey, we got this ok? This is easy. 1st Class honours from the most prestigious hair college in the country, remember? Yeah yeah yeah, we know what you want, but maybe we think a different style is better. Sit down and relax, we ‘re artists. Hey, you like this music? No? Yeah it’s great isn’t it.
So what am I doing for you today? Uh huh. Yeah, sure. So like that pop star everyone likes? No? Oh you don’t know what you like. I’m gonna make you look super hip. What do you mean you don’t want to go all hip? Hey big hair is in. I’m going to blow dry it, put some product in. It’s gonna be awesome…
The washing of the hair is the only relaxing thing about this option. Nice seat and a long languid wash employing several different types of shampoos and conditioners. You find yourself thinking about how you wash your hair at home. It’s not like this. Do people really take this long washing hair? You decide that you will start to take time in the shower and do as the professionals do, and then immediately realise this might be the stupidest thing you’ve ever thought. No chance.
Hey so are you in work? Oh really? What do you do? Wow accountancy? That’s brilliant. I have a computer too…. Our politeness forces us to exchange with this person. It’s like the worst date ever, except you’re sober and wearing a cape. This exchange is utterly pointless. You will probably never see each other again. So enliven your conversation by being someone else. I’ve gone down the route of having a carefully prepared back story (script supervisor for big hollywood movies) and going full improv on the fly (Cowboy. Pretty difficult). Maybe try an accent? Remember you could be anyone.
The conversation goes back and forth. Your hair artist not taking any social cues from your curt answers and increasingly furrowed brow. So the weather has been great…Do you like weather?…..Me and my friends we went to that concert and danced our asses off, like this… Me and my friends are crazy!….It’s horrible. The artist is using a plethora of tools with which to shape your head. It’s all very intricate and it takes a long time. The outcome is never what you want. There is product and a hairdryer used to finish up. You now look like the oldest guy on a football team: gut, bad knees and a schoolboy’s quiff.
You leave under a cloud of irascibility. It cost way too much, took too much time and they didn’t listen to a word you said. You may aswell have said look do what you want, that’s what you want to hear isn’t it? Just go fucking nuts. I’m going to sit here and stare daggers at you in the mirror. Let’s just cut the bullshit and get it all out in the open. I don’t like you, and you think you’re Michaelangelo. We’re not going to be friends so let’s get through this without one of us ending up with a scissors stuck in him.
Usually found in smaller establishments. Ones to avoid have pictures of celebrities like George Clooney in their windows. Oh you do George Clooney’s hair? Jesus, that’s incredible. I didn’t hear about him going to Crumlin... No appointment necessary, just come in, sit and wait. And it’s the wait that is the worst bit. 3 barbers working. One of them is a talker. Another doesn’t look like he knows what he’s doing. And the last guy hasn’t used a scissors yet. He’s all electric razor. Jesus, which one do I want to get? Hair roulette. If you had balls you’d wait and say “actually I want that guy to cut my hair” but you don’t, you’re too polite. So when the razor guy finishes first and beckons you over to the chair, you smile and walk over, while inside you’re screaming “Fuuuuuck!” and having a very subtle nervous breakdown. You tell him what you want, and you can see his brain working. He’s going through the 3 hairstyles he knows how to do, and deciding which one is close enough to the nervous instructions you babbled.
He’ll obviously have to wash your hair first. One of those sink in front situations, where you have to bend forward and water dribbles up your face and into your nose. It’s an ordeal. He reluctantly does one wash, presumably using shower gel, and then smothers you in a towel. A trickle of water goes down your neck and wets your collar, which causes you to grind your teeth in anger.
Next comes the delicate act of manufacturing a seal with towels and hair napkins to stop any stray hairs from going down your neck into your clothes. He should take his time with this and do some tests, but he does not. Through touch and sight you notice one part of the seal that will leak countless hairs and annoy you all day. But you say nothing. You smile and say thank you. Because you’re an idiot who doesn’t want to cause a scene.
He begins to cut and immediately it starts to go wrong. He’s decimating you with that bastard razor. At least he’s not a talker. You take the phone out and pretend to read something really important. He’s almost done, and the scissors haven’t even been used once. You’ve already made a mental note never to deal with this guy again, and you’re getting more and more angry. This is nothing like you wanted. He’s just making your hair smaller. Jesus Christ. So angry. Then he’s done and shows you the back of your hair and you have to say “yeah, great. Thanks man”. Inside, once again, every fibre of your being is screaming Murder Him. You actually wish this idiot harm. You’ve been abused. He’s not fit to shear sheep for fuck sake. You pay, and find yourself giving him a tip, because, well you’re a nice guy. Inside you hope he somehow chokes on the money.
Outside you survey the carnage in a shop window reflection and try to correct it as best you can with your hand. Your rage is all-consuming. You spit curses as you walk away. How difficult is it to do what I ask? In what other business can you go in, ask for a product and be given something totally different?
I’d like a Porsche please.
No problem Sir. Here’s your Ford.
Great. Wait, what…?