The Most Awkward Thing

I know I’m a bit of a freak, but there aren’t many things in life that I find more awkward than getting my hair cut.  Awkward.  Awkward.  Awkward.

I went last week to get it cut.  It had been 19 months since I’d been to the hairdresser.  That’s over a year and a half.  I know, because (well, obviously, my hair looked horrible) I hadn’t been since my third child was born.  She’s walking now.  And pulling long hair.  It was time.  (But give me credit for putting off what I didn’t want to do for so long that I didn’t even remember how to make an appointment.  That’s some majorly talented avoidance skills you’re looking at.)

So my question is, how do all the normal people out there handle all this hair cutting?  Here are my problems with it and I’d really like some advice on how to get through it a little more non-challantly and a little more often than every year and a half.

1. The big huge mirror you’re forced to look at the whole time.  First of all, I hate looking at myself in public.  I have a fairly short memory. (What was I talking about just now?) So I can generally be out among humanity with no recollection of the image I’m portraying to the crowds around me.  Good thing.  But that mirror there, making me look wider and older than my nice mirror at home, stinks. The wet head isn’t too flattering either.  And am I supposed to keep looking?  Check out all the other things in the salon through the reflection?  Watch how the cutting is going with a critical eye?

2. The washing and drying.  These both feel so good that I just want to close my eyes and fall asleep.  Probably not acceptable, right?  It’s so relaxing, which makes it even more awkward.  I’m about to fall asleep while this stranger rinses the shampoo out of my own hair for me.  “Thanks, buddy.  Can you get the sock lint out of my toes after you massage them, too?  Appreciate it.  Just wake me up when you’re done.”

3. The “what I want done” discussion.  I think long and hard, scour the internet, and fold my hair under to visualize different cuts before I go in. This is my big chance (because it comes only every other year or so) to change my identity, my image.  Well, half the time, they don’t even ask what I’d like, and the other half of the time I chicken out and don’t tell them much because I don’t want to be bossy.  I know, it’s my hair.  But it’s their job.  They are the experts.  But I have to live with it.  I go back and forth.  Who’s in charge of my hair?

4. The conversation.  Oh, I would love to be chatty.  It takes just the right combination of weather, sleep, and traffic for me to be chatty.  And I’ve been told (many times) that my natural face devoid of expression looks intense/angry/snobby. (I am none of these, just in case you see me and I’m not laughing.) So I have to keep my face animated but I don’t know how to chat.  What do you chat with the hairdresser about?  In Czech?

5. The hair in the face.  Sometimes in the process some hair gets thrown in your face to be out of the way for a few minutes.  That’s clear.  What’s not clear is what I’m supposed to do while the hair is in my face.  Shut my eyes?  Peer through the wet locks to keep watching every snip or staring at my awkward face in the mirror?  Talk through the wall of hair?

6. Hands under the drape.  Or whatever that big thing they throw around you is called.  Are your hands supposed to stay under there, protected, out of the way?  What if you have an itch on your nose?  A drop of water tickling your ear?  I usually suffer in silence, determined not to be the hairdresser’s story over dinner at home, “Then today I had The. Squirmiest.Lady.Ever.  She just kept taking her hands out to adjust and getting in my way.  It was so annoying.  Serves her right that she got her own hair all over her shirt.”  This last time I was in, I had something in my eye.  It was watering and I could barely keep my eye open.  It hurt like crazy and then the watering turned into teardrops that slowly trickled down my cheek.  But oh, I sat so still.

7. The after-cut “How’s My Cutting” routine.  The stylist just spent all this time working on something and now you’re supposed to have a look and see if you approve.  Maybe I’m too much of a people-pleaser, but I have a hard time saying anything except, “Wow, that’s an improvement!” (Which after a year and a half, pretty much any hack job is going to be.)

8. The tip.  Partly lack of experience (did I mention I don’t do this often?) and partly cultural ignorance here, but I don’t have the faintest clue with this.  I usually round up to the next number I can easily pronounce in Czech or the denomination of bill that I have on hand. This time that ended up being a $9 tip and I got big wide eyes and a “But you only owe me such and such!”  I don’t even know how to say “tip” in Czech so after floundering for a few moments and pushing away the change, I ended the whole thing with the international word, “Stop.” So classy.

Awkward. Awkward. Awkward. And in the end?  I’m not even sure it was worth it.  Oh well, I’ll try again next cut

6 thoughts on “The Most Awkward Thing

  1. Ok. So can’t really help with #1 & #2. As far as #3 goes… You are in charge, it’s your hair. My best advice is, find what you want online and print out a pic. My mother in law is a hairdresser and I can promise you that they would like some direction. About #5 & #6, be comfortable. They don’t want you sitting there hurting. And so what if they talk about you later…. It’s not like they know you or will even see you gain soon 🙂

    • “So what if they talk about you later”?? You are obviously more mature than I am. Most of my public actions are designed to avoid being thought of again. I definitely have shyness issues.

  2. Point 3 gave me a chuckle. I live in South Korea, and though my Korean is decent, explaining to a hairdresser what you want done is something I’ve never encountered in any language course or text, and it only comes up rarely enough in real life to make it easy to ignore or forget. (But when it does become important, like when you’re sitting in the chair with scissors dangling over you, it becomes REALLY important, right?) I used to root through the magazines they always have laying around and point to the hairstyle that look closest to what I want. That mostly works, but the problem is that Korean youth magazines are full of boy band singers and Idol types, and the hairstyles can be – how to say this? – novel. The thing that gets me through it finally is the reassuring knowledge that hair grows back quickly. Thanks for the post.

  3. I’m one of the “lucky” people on this Earth who really don’t need to go to hairdresser so in my 28 years long life experience I’ve been there may be 5 times, but may be I could give you some tips anyway in the Czech/European context. Hairdressers as well as cosmeticians are usually (not every time but in most cases) very nice and open people who are use to talk. So even if you feel shy yourself, nothing is simpler than ask her few questions about her/him: ex. How long have you been doing this? Was it your dream? What do you like about it? Most of hairdressers are pretty chatty, and if she is older usually they like to talk about family and these staff, so that’s pretty convenient for you, b/c you have a family!

    You should definitly feel confortable, so don’t feel strange if you want to close your eyes while she is washing your her. I remember that once I actually did fall asleep because I was very tired. It didn’t bother, she woke me up and we just had a reason to LOL together.

    In CZ I think people aren’t use to get tips for services that they are already charging in the amount that they ask you, is like in supermarket you won’t pay more than what you have on the ticket. I think it can make her uncomfortable if you insist, that’s why she was handling you the money back. But what is done is done, so don’t worry about that. Czech in general find prices for hairdresser quite expensive so they don’t even think much about the tip. Hairdresser gets payed for his job and that’s it. It’s up to her to give you the price she thinks suites her. That’s why most of the women in CZ looks for hairdresser who does good job but doesn’t charge to much for something that you know someone else wouldn’t dare to charge, but all this depense all on the experience of hairdresser.

    Hope I was helpful a little bit 🙂 Your hair looks great!

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