on orange hair, a mirror and the confidences of hairstylists

Today I decided I was due a visit to the hairdressers. I can never book in advance for these visits, on the odd occasion I have tried to do this I always end up cancelling or forgetting the appointment.  For me, it is when I look in the mirror and have the, ‘oh my goodness, is that really me’ moment that provokes the appointment making.

To be honest I should go more than I do, as the great orange hair incident of last Christmas will prove.  I know I should have booked an appointment, but I hadn’t, then we were going out, somewhere nice, with nice people, I looked in the mirror and an older version of my Mother looked back.   At the time, with the hairdressers fully booked, by more organised people who knew they were going to be out and about, it was Christmas for goodness sake, I was out of options.  There was only 2 hours before going out, so I opted to use a home colour kit.  I have used these before, I know what I am doing.  It has always been fine.  It was not fine this time.  Suffice to say the bright orange of the first application did not go darker, the promise of mahogany brown locks on the box morphed into a rust coloured head that any circus clown would have been proud of.  With now only an hour to the party, daughter and husband set off to buy more colour from the supermarket, when I knew I should have been getting out a hat and ringing for help.  Several coats of dark brown later, and with only the hint of bright rust roots, half an hour late, but still in time for dinner, we went to the party.  It was fine.  I think.

I should make the appointments because I really like going to have my hair cut and styled. I especially enjoy the salon atmosphere, there are always lots of comings and goings, and the way everyone goes out looking better  than when they came in. Well, when I say everyone, I have had my moments in hairdressers.  I will never forget taking my daughter for a trim, aged 9 she was very fussy about her looks, she still is now, anyway I watched as the scissors clipped and the comb was racing through her hair.  The final flourish, the cape removed and she burst into tears!!  A boy she was not, and a boy is how she looked.  Even to me, her Mum, who made all the right noises. I paid bill, thanked the hairdresser, and got her out of the shop.  The tears fell, we walked to my friends house, she took one look at the pair of us and reached for the gin bottle, we eventually distracted and persuaded said daughter that her hair would grow and she disappeared to play with her pal while we opened the bottle.  At least she wasn’t orange.

My current hairdresser is fab, she is patient and calm and always manages to make me look the best I can.  We were chatting, like you do, our relationship has developed over the years from the standard have you booked your holiday? talk and I feel we know each other well.  She is younger than some of my children, which doesn’t matter at all, she is interesting and skilled at her job.  We got talking about how people chat when having their hair done.  She said some people talk so much they suddenly realise that they have said more that they planned.  People tell her things they haven’t told anyone else.  We pondered why that might be.  We decided that it is communicating through a mirror.  No one is looking directly at the other.  There is a void, a gap, a space between the vision and the conversation which is quite comforting. Everything appears back to front, and perhaps not quite real.  I think it is this space that builds confidence, the other worldly effect of the discussion, be it about health, wealth or what is on offer in the local shops.  the space in the mirror lends us all the feeling of safety and of intimacy at the same time.

So, hair all done and look good, well as good as it gets, and definitely not orange, I make my way home, still thinking of the relationships developed in the name of looking good. In the salon this morning in two hours, I saw elderly woman, some in their eighth decade having white curls gently pushed into place, I saw a twenty something having foils twisted into her long blonde hair, perhaps to make it even blonder. I saw young men in their early twenties having their dark hair clippered and shaved and cropped.  Everyone wants to look their best.  The salon is the place to be.

The phrase ‘just a hairdresser’ is seldom looked upon as a compliment. Well I think hairdressers have it all going on.  They cheer, they curl, they dye and they cut, they listen, they laugh, they support and befriend.  Wherever we go in the world people have hair and people need hairdressers.  I think that they are all awesome.

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