"Sprigs!" I said. "I got sprigs!"
That's how come I started to cry. Cause sprigs are shortie little sticklets. And they are not attractive, I tell you.
- Junie B. Jones is a Beauty Shop Guy*
Everyone has done it. We almost always regret it, but we have all done it. We have our reasons. Convenience, money, time, or maybe we are looking for something new and different. We have all learned that it is a mistake, but experience is not always a memorable teacher. Sometimes we forget. And today, I got my reminder. Today, I cheated on my hairdresser.
To be fair, I am fully capable of doing certain hair-related things on my own. I can color my own hair. I can even put foil highlights in my own hair if the top layers are short enough. And it's a good thing. I have more gray hair than the average 34-year-old, and so if I didn't do some of the maintenance myself, I would never be able to afford the upkeep. But today, I did the unthinkable. Today, I walked into a hair salon that I had never heard of, and I entrusted my hair to a woman I didn't know.
My first clue should have been this: I found the salon on Groupon during my lunchbreak, and when I called, they were free to take me. But I rationalized this in my mind. Busy salon, but it was around lunchtime and people were eating and not getting their hair cut. Makes sense. So, I chose my hairstyle, texted the photo to several girlfriends for input, and I got back all positive responses. Sold. This was the goal.
Within the first five minutes of my haircut, sweet Clarice the hairdresser and I had become friends. She told me about her family and her life and this new job she was working (she had only been at this salon for three weeks), and we exchanged basic pleasantries. And then I asked a question that I should have asked before the haircut started.
What did you do before you started here?
Um, I was in school
Oh, Clarice. Really? I tried not to panic. Clarice worked very slowly. I assumed that was good news for me. It wasn't. By the time she finished, I had a thick top layer of hair that was cut straight across at shoulder level. Shoulder level. Only about 6 inches shorter than when I came in. I also had a thin layer of hair underneath that was approximately four inches longer on one side (only 2-3 inches longer on the other side). She looked at my hair with a puzzled look, and then she decided to face the obvious. In order to fix the mess, more cutting was necessary. At this point, I had been sitting in the chair in Clarice's private hair cutting room for approximately 45 minutes. And I had lost a huge amount of hair. In the mix of this last part of our conversation, Clarice had made the mistake of telling me another shocking truth. She didn't have her license yet. Apparently, she was waiting for it to come in the mail, but here was a woman that was working in a full-service salon that didn't even have a license to do it. I made the prompt decision to cut my losses and run. And run I did. I told her I would have to think about what to do next with my hair since it was shorter than I had intended. I pulled my hair into a ponytail to cover the craziness, mumbled a lie about possibly returning tomorrow to get it finished, and I left. The second I stepped out the door, the magnitude of the situation hit me. I have been growing my hair out for so, so long. I have resisted the urge to cut it all off. I have trimmed and deep conditioned. And in one fell swoop, Clarice had erased months of my patience. And so I cried. And I cried. And I cried some more.
I was crying too much to make the phone call to my regular hairdresser. Plus, who wants to have to make that call after such a huge mistake? So Jake called, and we headed across town to see Letty, my lovely hairdresser who always does exactly what I ask for. I wondered if she would be able to fix the mess Clarice had made. When I got there, she combed out my hair and assessed the damage. And she didn't laugh out loud, but I feel certain that she was laughing on the inside at my puffy eyes and butchered hair. And I don't blame her. It was ridiculous.
Letty set to work, making no guarantees, but assuring me that she would try her best to give me a haircut that would allow me to keep some length but would also make sense. She kept reminding me to calm down and breathe. And she cut and evaluated and measured, and I have to say that I didn't think she'd be able to do it. I didn't think she could pull it off. I thought it was too far gone. But after about 30 minutes and a little bit of genius, she had created a haircut that didn't make me cry. I loved it. And so did my husband. She was the hero of the day.
I drove away from Letty's, and I kept thinking about the disasters that I have created and seen created by people being too impatient, too cheap, too impulsive with their hair. A girl in college turned her hair green because she was sure that ash brown would look beautiful over her bleached golden blonde. It didn't. And I have gotten chin length bobs when I meant to get half inch trims. And people cut sprigs when they mean to cut bangs. It's just a mess. And really, we get what we deserve. Because after our first childhood experience of cutting our own hair and seeing how it turns out, we really should know better. We should leave it to only the most experienced and trusted professionals.
So, if you hear me talking hair changes, please question me. Make sure I am seeing someone I trust. Not sweet Clarice, who would make a perfect coffee companion, but a terrible haircutter. Not my friendly neighbor that has never had training but has a reputation for giving cheap haircuts. Not Super Cuts or Great Clips. Make sure I am seeing my tried and true hairdresser, one that has other customers that have cute hair. And a word to the wise, if your hairdresser doesn't wear her own hair, it might be advisable to not let her take scissors to yours. The end.
*If you are a parent and you are not reading Junie B. Jones books with your children, you are missing out on laugh-out-loud hilarity. This particular book is my favorite in the entire series.