The haircut.

I was heading to NYC for a Coaching Institute at Teachers College the following week. I was about ten weeks pregnant with my third child and feeling run down, nauseous, and not myself. I decided that a fresh haircut would be just the thing to give me a little pep in my step for my adventures at the institute.

My sister had been cutting my hair for almost the last ten years. But her residence in North Carolina didn’t really fit in with my “on a whim” need for a trim. I decided to call a local salon that I knew people recommended all the time.

I was in luck, they had an available appointment for that Saturday. “Chris will take care of you,” the receptionist assured me.

“Are you sure about this?” my husband asked when I told them about my Saturday plans for a haircut. “You can’t just let anyone cut your hair.”

“It will be fine,” I dismissed. “It’s just a little trim.”

That Saturday, I arrived at the salon, found a seat in the waiting area, and scanned the salon, wondering which stylist was Chris. As I watched a woman apply a fresh wave of Aquanet to the only elderly client’s freshly coiled bouffant, I said a silent prayer that this wouldn’t be the woman cutting my hair. But as she escorted the woman to the reception area, she walked towards me and I knew that this was Chris. I tried to push away the panic washing over me, assure myself that I was being silly. It was just a trim.

I settled into Chris’ chair and she asked what I wanted to do with my shoulder length hair. “Just a little trim,” I said. “Maybe an inch.” It felt like this was a safe request.

A few snips in and I knew I should have trusted my instincts. As the scissors grazed my upper cheek, I nearly jumped from the seat. I felt the eyes of the other stylists stealing glances. Did they see what was happening? Too polite and avoidant of confrontation, I silently begged them to save me.

As Chris prepared to move to the other side of my head, I asked, “Will I still be able to get this into a ponytail?”

“Oh, sure,” she said, clearly not noticing the fear in my voice.

I sat in shock, watching as Chris continued chopping away at my now chin length hair. I silently assessed all of the layers, the shortest barely reaching my ear.

When Chris reached for the blow drier, my flight instincts kicked in. “No need to dry it,” I said. “I’ll just do that when I get home.”

“Are you sure?” she asked. “It’s not big deal.

“Totally fine,” I said bounding for the front desk where I paid and retreated to my car. Sitting in the parking lot, I took deep breaths, trying to figure out how things had gone so wrong so quickly.

Back at home, I ran to the bathroom and pulled out the hair drier, ready to see the damage up close. I cried as I stared back at my semi mullet. I quickly pulled what I could into a low ponytail and used bobby pins to pin back the rest. This would be my only option for the next two to four months I reasoned with myself after consulting Google and the results for my “how fast does hair grow” search.

I remember being in the bathroom while at the Coaching Institute, washing my hands and avoiding looking at my reflection in the mirror. The weight of the bobby pins holding my hair in place felt like a nagging reminder of the terrible mess of what was left  of the hair on my head. My plan for a little pick me up had backfired tremendously and I was left feeling even more like a stranger in my own body.

About two weeks after that cut, my sister convinced me to visit a stylist she had gone to hair dressing school with- to try to “fix” the cut. She had to cut my hair even more, taking away the security of my makeshift ponytail. Leaving her chair, she told me it would take several haircuts to fix all of the issues still going on with my hair.

Now, two and a half years later, when I look in the mirror, my hair is pretty much back to the way it was on the morning of the now infamous haircut…It might be time for a trim!

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14 thoughts on “The haircut.

  1. What detail you remember from this dreadful day! The moment when you tell Chris there is no need to dry it, I felt the anxiety and the incredible rush to just get out of the chair! The ending wraps the slice up perfectly! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Oh my! What an episode so carefully told. Even after two years, the detail and emotion you include feels every bit as raw and disconcerting as if it happened yesterday. Sounds like you may still have nightmares about it.

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  3. Well that was unexpected. I was settling in for a pleasant surprise at the end, thinking that “more than you bargained for” was going to have a positive spin. Imagine my surprise. That sounds frightening. Hopefully Chris is back in landscaping.

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  4. Oh boy! The bad haircut is the worst, especially when one is feeling blue to begin with. Now, when you go to get that trim…

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  5. Oh! Terrible! Your description is so vivid that it flashed me back to some of my own experiences. Luckily none has been so bad as this – poor you! Glad it’s grown out after all this time.

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  6. Oh, no! I’m so glad this experience is far behind you. Trying a new stylist is the hardest thing to do… I always tell people my hair is my daily, permanent “accessory” so I totally get it. Hopefully, now you can look back and (maybe) laugh about it just a little.

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  7. I too thought there would be a positive ending. I can also totally relate! So many times they don’t listen and I watch without saying a word. Then rush home with wet hair hoping to fix the disaster.

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  8. I kept reading thinking that you were going to like it and that there’d be a happy ending that didn’t take two years! I have had three hairdressers in my life, so I was tense just with the idea that you were heading into the great unknown on a whim. You set up the tension and the sort of unfunny humor really well. I loved your husband’s comment in the beginning– “are you sure about this?”

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