Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.


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Wednesday, June 23, 2004  

Too late.

I meant to get around to writing a paean on the joys of a fabulous haircut. Really I did, but other things crowded it out and now my own perfect cut has grown beyond perfect into merely nice and a news flash this morning warns the haircut trolls have already escaped confinement in Florida. I am sure that within 10 days, when my next haircut is scheduled, they’ll have crept north into Virginia. This is not a happy thought.

So what is it about a haircut? Why does it loom so darkly on the monthly horizon of so many women? Why does hair have to grow anyway? Why can’t we have a dial to set, a button to push, so that when our hair is at that moment of perfection, we can freeze it there till we’re ready for a change.

Of course, the face is the place people go, look, focus, when they want to deal with the person of you, not just your function. That’s where your eyes are, where your expression sends out all the secret animal messages people need, to be able cooperate with you. It is the portrait of you. And like any good picture, it requires an equally appropriate frame.

Alas, I venture to say there are more good frame shops than beauticians. (We still say Beauty Parlor, here in T-town.) And why is it so difficult to communicate with the wielder of scissors? Why is there, not only secret haircut language, but also generational haircut language. Did you know that asking for layers is not the same thing as asking for a stack? Even though in both cases some hair is cut shorter than the rest? Did you know that a stack from a 50 year old hairdresser won’t be the same thing her 28 year old sister will give you?

It does seem to me that most folk cut other people’s hair the way they want their hair to be cut. And since most haircutters have thick, sometimes coarse, or curly hair, and I have only a few limp wisps of stick straight stuff, we are start out at a verbal impasse. Perhaps it is because the wispy haired among us are already bummed out enough about our own hair. We choose between two defense moves; either cut it all off in some quasi guy’s haircut, look like a gym teacher and say blithely “It’s so easy to care for” (well, ugly is always easy) OR if we are lucky, we find that one haircut that looks okay (or if we’re really lucky, actually looks good) and never ever ever change it. For sure, we don’t go into the haircutting business, where we’re forced to care about hair. That’s why we so seldom find anybody who understands what it is we want.

All this ranting may sound like so much empty vanity. Puffery; fluff; silly womanish clutter to occupy a weak mind. It is not. The subject here isn’t about vanity, but about armor. Or if one dislikes the military reference, it is about being prepared to get down to business. When one’s hair, like any other physical part of one’s life, is in order, one can free one’s mind for weightier topics. When one’s hair is well cut, one looks capable, efficient, trustworthy. When one has a dumpy, dowdy, cutsie, juvenile, or just plain ugly haircut, others immediately categorize that one as incapable. And of course, there’s some truth in the assumption. After all, it is obvious that one is, at the least, incapable of finding an decent barber and then capably communicating with him. I mean, if you can’t even ask for an appropriate haircut, how can I trust you to get the contract in on time, negotiate the lease for a good price or defend me from that shark over there with the great haircut? Can you find out who does her hair for me?

In my little town, if you like to have your hair cut on a regular schedule, you don’t shop around for hairdressers much. You pretty much stick with the one your mother first took you to. In my case I have been fairly lucky with the gal who cuts my hair. I’ve had the same haircut for about 10 years. Each month we have the same conversation, when I remind her that I want it as short in the back as she can take it, with a fairly high stack, but I want it as long on the sides as she can make it. And she always says “well, you know I can’t take the back too short because your hairline is so low, and if I leave the sides too long there won’t be a nice line between the sides and the back.” And I always answer “yeah, I know, but go as short in back as you can”. This is how I remind her to put the stack in the back, because the previous 10 years she cut my hair in a straight bob across the back and I don’t want her to forget and revert to that earlier cut. This is experience talking. Besides, her hair is thick and full of body and she spends a good bit of time trying to depress its natural sproing. When she gets a head like mine, with stick straight falling down stuff, it’s hard for her to believe I want it to sproing a little.

Once reminded, she will put the stack in. My hair always looks within a parameter of acceptability. And to give her all the credit she is due, now and then, including this last time, she cuts my hair into a perfect shape. I walk out of the building feeling like Jose Eber just told me to "shake my haid, dahling." And I do - shake my head, that is. And feel great for weeks, while my hair just sits there, doing nothing, being the perfectly polite, self-enhancing frame it was meant to be. There really is nothing quite so uplifting as a perfect haircut. Since we get so few of them, I suppose the only thing we can do is appreciate them when they come - and get our photo taken.

And that is my fiber talk for today.

posted by Bess | 6:47 AM