Wallace & Gromit Would Call This "The Bad Haircut"
I have short hair.
It wasn’t intentional.
You know you’re in trouble when you walk into a salon dreaming of a slight trim to someday attain those sexy long waves you sported not long ago, and the stylist shares with you his visions of a Shiitake mushroom.
I believe there are two types of people who can pull off a mushroom cut: Those who are paid an exorbitant amount to trounce down a runway with geometric hair and those dressed for Halloween. And I have to admit, a Bassett hound on YouTube had a pink wedge wig that was becoming but I’m drawing the line there.
What about my long, slender face and sinewy skin made this guy dream of molding me into a Shroom? Maybe he was on some. Or he saw me and wished he was. Or I could blame the heat. It was warm for March and he was heavy for someone big-boned.
But I won’t blame him entirely. I'm responsible too. Here’s what I did wrong:
First, I took one person’s advice. Don’t ever do that. Haircuts are only as good as the stylist’s mood. I’d recommend completing a survey, hiring a marketing firm, researching the internet, interviewing stylists, and paying for a consultation before making an appointment.
Second, hold the best you find hostage until they agree to take you as a client.
Third, be patient. If my experience is any indication, don’t make an appointment until you have plenty of hair to compensate for a stylist’s bad day.
Fourth, don’t share that you heard he’s good at cutting your type of hair—in my case curly. That only opens the door for hearing reinforcement to this end. Obviously, from the result I got, he’s good at cutting curly hair because he believes it hides flaws.
I didn’t make that up. He actually told me so.
After whining to no end about my failed quest for a decent haircut and the atrocious ones both my husband and I have moronically paid for, I claimed a resulting niche for fixing them. That’s when this guy said, to the defense of all barbers, “Cutting men’s hair is harder because it’s short and you have to be accurate. I can hide a lot in curly hair like this.”
It gets worse. He said that as he’s running his fingers through the mess he’s carving into the back of my head to see what he can hide when he scrunches.
It gets worse. He never cut a strand forward of my ears. Probably because he didn’t want me to see what he was doing. Or not doing.
It gets worse. He snipped randomly in my blind spot while the other two-thirds of my hair was combed forward, drying to a snarly frizz. Out of nowhere, he put down his scissors and started his blow dryer. And he dried, and dried, scrunching the back of my head into tight curls because if you’re not already self-conscious about your hair spontaneously contracting into a nappy nest, you will be after you pay a professional to style it that way.
It gets worse. When he’d designed a weed garden, he stowed his dryer, picked up a can of something, misted it over my head, and spun me to face his creation in the mirror. My lungs shrunk up into my neck. He was done! I couldn’t get air. The curls I have cursed since birth sat unattended in a blob atop my head like an amateur had iced a cake. Then he picked up a mirror so I could admire the back. The tight curls he’d perfected were supporting the roof of hair in an obtruded mound like an avalanche threatening to fall.
It gets worse. The apprentice to my right looked over and said, “That’s beautiful!” My jaw dropped so fast and wide, I could have swallowed a rodent.
It gets worse. Off the left side of my do, above my ear, is an unruly tendril that made my mushroom elegance look symmetrically imperfect. So he picked up a scissors and just hacked if off. That’s right – trimmed me like a hedge. My husband called it the “Chia cut.”
I can’t make this shit up.
My soul left.
My muscles seized.
It gets worse. He stripped away the apron, exposing me to the reality that time was up. He was finished. His masterpiece was complete without as much as a spell check. To add to the humility, when I walked to the desk in a trance, he whispered, “That’s ninety.”
I didn’t know what he meant. In his defense this included a single process. (That’s color for those of you who have nothing to hide.)
I slipped bills from my wallet in a fog. I don’t know what I gave him. It might have been my dry cleaning ticket. Even that was too much.
“Would you like to make your next appointment?” I hear.
A voice answered, “I’ll just call. Thanks.”
It was mine. Why was I nice? What’s the worst thing I could do—sit back down and ask him to “fix” it?
I’m sure I’m not the first or last person to get a really bad haircut from someone who comes highly recommended. Hell, he’d styled on movie sets. A certain star used to look him up when he was in town. But there I was, walking down the street knowing if my wrinkles and reduced youth didn’t turn heads, my bad hairdo certainly would.
Thank God I’m not from here.
Now, I haven’t cried about a hair cut since eighth grade. And I wouldn’t cry about this one because it was bad, I’d cry because it’s sad. It’s sad that a professional thought this was acceptable. Right off the bat, I told him the mushroom cut wouldn’t work for me, yet when he tagged out on mine, he said, confidently, “I’ll get you there.”
It gets worse. I left my car in a parking garage. That’s right, I paid to park for this. There’s a country song in there somewhere. I vowed to hold back every precursor to a tear until I passed the attendant.
It gets worse. I had to drive home to meet three kids who were waiting impatiently for my return. That gave me twenty minutes to get it out—twenty whole minutes to expunge my sadness over all the stylists I’ve had who weren’t in the mood, or didn’t feel well, or know you’re not a hotty so what the fuck. Twenty whole minutes to realize that every stylist I’ve gone to, barring one man, looked my way when I walked in and thought, “I hope she’s not here for me.”
All I wanted was a trim. An even layer cut.
I don’t have layers, I have levels. If you so desired, you could scale my head like a rock climber. He was even kind enough to leave the last few inches in the back in the form of a mullet.
I don’t have a hair style, I have a sample patch.
For twenty minutes, I let my frustration flow and ran my fingers through my hair almost a thousand times to free it from the demeaning coif. Twenty minutes later I walked into the house with a trepid smile and spoke to a child who was born authentic. I wanted the truth, uncensored.
“How do you like my hair cut?”
The scrunched nose answered, but he qualified anyway. “It looks like he cut your hair to look like the 70’s.”
This child wasn’t even born then but he knows if you want to criticize something, you call it old. To his sister’s dismay, I asked her the same question. She grasped for words, “Well….?”
“Don’t worry,” I said with a wink. “We’ll be in riding helmets for the next two hours so you won’t have to look at it.”
Sadly, this type of interaction isn’t rare in my home. My husband came back from a salon once, took off his cap and said, “What do you think?”
“Was she drunk?” Perhaps that was harsh.
“I told her to stop cutting,” he said.
“I told her to stop cutting. She was snipping randomly and I knew she was making a big mess so I told her to stop. Can you fix it?”
“Yeah.” And I did. Because learning to cut hair is simply perfecting a habit. But doing it well requires effort. Unfortunately I’ve had many opportunities to build a habit and professional ineptitude required I learn effort.
Here’s the moral: If you’re a stylist and you either don’t like cutting hair, don’t like cutting curly hair, don’t like cutting hair evenly, think the customer who just sat in your chair is yucky, or believe effort isn’t what people are paying for, please do me a favor and stop. Just stop. You’re not fooling anyone.
So again, I paid for the opportunity to come home and fix my cut. And three years after I tried to re-grow what was scorched off by a bad color job, I still have short hair.
In retrospect I should have marched back in and got my money back. It would at least bought a few cool hats.
Look on the bright side. Victoria’s Secret makes Phillies gear. I could get a sexy pair of panties and finally have something classy to wear on my head.
Hey, if I’m turning heads, I’d rather people thought I was crazy and not just ugly.