You sit in the black fake leather chair, put your feet on the foot rest and stare at yourself in the mirror. It’s not just any mirror though. It’s not like your one at home, the one you’ve got tilted at just the right angle, in just the right light.
The mirror in your bedroom doesn’t emphasise your pores or how pale you are or the lines around your eyes that you’re already freaking out about because you’re in your twenties Goddammit and you shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of sh*t yet.
No, your mirror at home’s pretty good to you. The mirror at the hairdressers? Not so much. For one, it’s surrounded by the brightest white lights known t0 man. Two, it’s the size of a small skyscraper. Three, it’s in front of you for the entire time it takes to cut, blow dry and straighten your hair. The entire time. Nobody sits in front of the mirror for that long in normal everyday life. Nobody!
Well, some people might. But those people are weird, right?
You’re left to your own accord while your scissor-wielding friend (we’ll use that term loosely) sweeps up the remnants of the last victim’s locks, glancing at your reflection every so often to check that you’re still perusing the hair magazines thrust into your lap 5 minutes earlier.
Finally, when you’ve almost had enough of staring at the made-up models in the magazines, your hairdresser stands behind your chair, smoothes out your hair over shoulders and asks So, what are we doing today?
Oh, I don’t know… maybe cutting my hair?
You point to a picture in a magazine. You don’t want anything drastic, just a trim. You need your fringe cut because it’s getting in your eyes and you definitely, definitely don’t want a restyle. Nooo restyle. Nooooo siree.
Moments later you’re counting the ceiling tiles and your head’s in a sink while the hairdresser attempts to slowly burn your scalp off with the hottest water ever. Seriously, don’t they know that the water’s always going to feel hotter on your head than it does on their hands?
You feel like a total idiot walking back to your chair with your hair dripping into a plush, fluffy towel and your black cape billowing behind you like some harmless, towel-turban-sporting superhero but you get over it when the hairdresser starts trying to find your parting. They part your hair here, there, here again. No, that can’t be it. How were you wearing your hair before? You take the comb and do it for them, not meeting their eyes in the mirror.
Then, as if to humiliate you even further, they place what looks like an old car mat around your shoulders.
The moment the cutting starts you feel your whole body tense. Aren’t they cutting a bit too much off? Didn’t you agree to an inch? This doesn’t look like an inch. Why are they pulling your hair at weird angles? Don’t they know that when your hair dries it’ll be much, much shorter than when it was wet? Aren’t those scissors just a little bit close to your ear than you’d like them to be?
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Isn’t this meant to be relaxing? Aren’t you supposed to be enjoying this just a little bit? Can they tell that you’ve been butchering your own split ends with nails scissors for the past year because you’d rather spend your hard-earned cash at happy hour.
Look straight head, the hairdresser barks.
You wish you were at happy hour.
The chopping continues but it’s slower now. More precise. The hairdresser’s pulling down strands and checking each side, snipping off bits here and there in the process. Then, as if in some kind of hairdressing-themed horror movie, you find the scissors looming dangerously close to your eyes as you’re informed that the hairdresser will now be trimming your fringe.
Don’t breathe. Don’t breathe. Don’t breathe.
You manage to survive the fringe attack without sacrificing any eyelashes and breathe a sigh of relief that the worst part is over.
Are you sweating? You’re sweating. Oh my God, can we just get this over with?
Next, the industrial strength hairdryer gets pulled out and the hairdresser, with little to no knowledge of how your hair specifically reacts when blasted with a rampant stream of hot air, finds themselves in a new battle of wits between the paddle brush and your wild, increasingly large bouffant. Another customer walks into the salon.
Can the ground swallow you up now or can it wait until later?
When the GHD’s heat up and they’re singeing the bejeezus out of every newly-cut strand of hair on your head you know you’re on the home straight. Five minutes and you’ll be on the bus home. Ten tops. That is until you realise that this isn’t you getting yourself ready in the morning, haphazardly flattening your hair with one hand and trying to find your left shoe with the other. This is 3pm on a Monday afternoon and your hairdresser’s got all the time in the world.
The hairdresser’s dividing your hair into sections, meticulously clipping strands in the strangest of angles towards the front of your head. Does anyone actually do that home? You don’t. Then slowly, oh God so very slowly, they begin to straighten your hair. In fact, you don’t think you’ve ever seen your hair so straight. You’re not sure how you feel about that.
Again, can this just be over already?
Finally, it ends and you realise that you maybe, just maybe, could have asked for a bit more off the bottom. I mean, you are paying for this right? Too late now, you’ve been sat here for well over an hour and your bum’s gone a bit numb. Not to mention the fact that you’ve run out of things to say to your well-meaning hairdresser.
The heavy rubber car-mat is lifted from your shoulders. The cape is released from around your neck. The handheld mirror is held up behind you. You gush to your hairdresser’s reflection about how amazing your new hair cut is. Is it amazing? You’re not sure yet.
You get up and look down. Your hair; it’s all over the floor, a blonde/brown massacre on the shiny white tiles. You feel a bit sad for your hair just lying there on the floor destined to be brushed up into a bin liner and thrown away.
Oh pull yourself together, it’s just hair.
And then the big sell comes: would you like to invest in these purple, limited edition straighteners? Would you like to buy this ridiculously overpriced bottle of hairspray? How about you come back in 6 weeks for another trim? We can book you in now if you like?
You mumble something incomprehensible about giving them a call to let them know and hastily punch your PIN number into the machine, pulling out your card as soon as screen tells you to. You thank the hairdresser, accept the business card and try to take one last look in any available mirror before you’re released back into the public eye.
Too late; you’re outside, the wind whipping around your newly shortened, straightened, perfectly styled hair. You long for your mirror at home, the tepid temperature of your own shower and…. maybe next time, your trusty nail scissors.