In any other circumstances it would be considered weird to let an overly-friendly stranger massage chemicals into your scalp. But not at the hairdressers. I don’t know about you, but I never feel more out of place than when I’m sat on one of those spinny chairs (often on the Cushion of Shame reserved for fun-sized people who need a height boost), surrounded by glamorous hipsters floating around – because, let’s face it; if anyone could float it would be a hipster – in their natural habitat. Despite all their best endeavours to make one feel welcome, one can’t help but feel like an awkward potato amongst a rabble (yes, I did have to look that up) of butterflies. It is in places such as hairdressing salons that the British curse of awkward conversation kicks in: where other people might be comfortable sitting in silence while someone buzzes around them and cuts bits off their head, we find ourselves making tragic small talk, that often morphs into more of a monologue. Here’s a fairly recent example: “What even is hair? Bald people seem to manage just fine, so it can’t be essential. It’s just there really, isn’t it? Kind of like head fungus. But I think hairdresser sounds a whole lot nicer than head-fungus-dresser, don’t you? Head-fungus-dresser wouldn’t catch on very fast. I’m going to shut up now.” (This was clearly me in a philosophical mood, which never ends well for anyone involved.)
Something I’ll never understand is the thoughtlessness of offering beverages at the hairdresser. It seems like a good idea at first, but if you don’t down your peppermint tea fast enough, its surface will soon be coated in a little sea of hairs, and no-one wants to drink that. (Unless you’re one of those utter nutters who consciously chooses to buy the orange juice with bits instead of the smooth one. You know who you are…)
I somehow feel like I’m disappointing my hairdresser when they ask: “And what would you like done today?” and I reply apologetically with: “Just a trim.” They always look so unimpressed by this response – I’m not going to shave half my hair off and put the other half into neon pink dreads (although how awesome would that be?! Maybe I’ll try out this look during quarantine…) just so they like me! Even for a people-pleaser that’s at least 5 steps too far.
Furthermore, when I do decide to be adventurous and mix it up a bit I can never quite explain what I want, and because of this I often find myself watching my reflection in silence, too socially challenged to speak up as a haircut completely different to what I originally envisaged is inflicted upon me.
Any of this sounding familiar? Or even famili-hair? (I hate myself… Sorry you had to read that.) But, all this being said, I’m really doing to miss going to the aforementioned fungus-dresser over the next few months.