I got my hair done recently. The day of the graduation, actually. And getting your hair done, if you’re a girl, is this long, physically and emotionally draining process that must happen – at the least – twice a year.
I usually leech off my mom when she goes. So the visit goes something like this.
My mom and I enter. Stylist smiles and greets my mom, then gives me a little cocked glance of “oh you‘re back.” I smile awkwardly from the side lines.
My mom and I then sit at the front because her stylist is always running behind, then the receptionist/hairstylist/girl-who-sits-near-the-front-playing-on-her-phone asks us if we want something to drink. Soda, coffee, water, beer?
I usually decline, but this time I go for the water, which comes in a chilled foggy glass, and after my second sip, I realize there are two black things floating in it.
My mom waits for the receptionist to go to the bathroom before running outside and dumping the water in the parking lot. She almost dumped it in a plant by the door, but luckily noticed it was fake before she flooded the little thing.
Soon we’re taken back and my mom gets in the chair first as I swivel around on the one next to her, watching as the Stylist does the ceremonial chatting before going to a back room and getting her color.
I’ve learned from watching every other girl in the salon that you never go to the salon without your phone. Your only companion. You’ll be sitting there lonely and bored the whole time if you don’t have your phone. Or people will be giving you “you’re a creeper” looks, when they catch you staring at them in the mirror as they get their hair done.
My mom and I had been watching a woman get her hair braided tight to her head in this huge spiral and then have a smooth black wig sewn against the braids, it was very interesting. And long. Though she didn’t seem to mind that we were staring as much.
The beauty salon always cracked me up for it’s name. Beauty salon. You walk in there and women look… horrible. Their absolute least prettiest while they’re in there.
They’re grabbing their eyeballs as a woman stands over them, hacking at their eyebrows with a string. They’re walking around like antennas with foil stuck in their fluffed up hair. They’re sitting around, trying to look nonchalant with stinking curlers encircling their skulls in a perm.
It gets ugly before it gets pretty.
I got my first highlights last year as a Christmas present. I went with Julie and her version of the story is, “I sat there and watched as Rebekah got more and more depressed.”
I was not loving how chunky the highlights turned out on top. I loved the way the Stylist curled my hair though, and tried to focus on that as I politely smiled and told her how much I liked the back.
Over time, they seemed to thin out and merge with the rest of my hair so I love it now. I told the Stylist that they were getting more blond, though, and she said she could darken them a shade or two.
My least favorite part of the Beauty Salon are those horrible head sinks. They kill my neck.
I never know whether to close my eyes, or start conversation, or stare that ceiling. It’s all really awkward and foreign to me. I figure the natural response is to close my eyes as she washes my hair, especially when she starts to spray water into them.
She leaves me at the sink to die, or, I guess to let the darkening stuff seep in, and I sit, awkwardly reclined, staring at the ceiling. This time there’s a girl at a sink next to mine in the same horrible position. I wonder what she’s doing with herself. Thinking deeply? Or sleeping. I stare at the pin pricks in the ceiling, pretend I don’t see hair stylists looking at me as they walk past, and listen to their conversations.
Soon I’m released from the sink and the Stylists takes me to the chair and starts my “scalp exfoliation.” Scrubbing in leave in conditioner with her rough fingertips, then hacking at it with a hardwood red toothed comb that gives my head a mean yank whenever it finds a knot.
“This all has to go,” the Stylist says, holding up the ends of my hair where a bundle of knots has collected. I had told her how my hair got beat up from the trip. She said it was probably from so many different waters.
The comb rakes through my hair so many times, my head feels tingly and raw by the time she’s satisfied. A few years ago, all I could think about was, all my dandruff is in my hair now.. And it was horrible.
The hair cutting process is usually the most stressful for me. I know the Stylist likes short hair. She’s really good at giving my mom that short sophisticated look. But my hair is long and I like to keep it that way, which requires I keep a close eye on her.
This time, though, I figure my hair is pretty wrecked. And it’s summer. As long as she doesn’t get crazy, I can do to about mid-back. I got so lenient though, that I suddenly had bangs that I wasn’t prepared for.
She styles my hair by straightening the bangs and the little pieces in front and curling the rest in these big barrel curls before starting on my mom. She does this every time. And every time, I mess with the bangs. They’re in my face. I don’t like that. And when she’s straightening, sometimes hot locks fall on my eyes. I really don’t like that.
I sit there moving and pushing them back, and away, and to the side, fidgeting like a little kid. So much so, the Stylist comes by and slaps my hand.
But after all the humiliation, and pain, and discomfort, and awkward obligatory conversation, we do surface half more beautiful than when we walked in.
Then we go home and style it ourselves.