There are two kinds of hairdressers – those who do what you want … and those who don’t.
Hairdressers are artists, and a good beautician is one who makes you happy. You may not like their dress sense, you may not like their attitude, you may not even like their name.
You may not like the way they yank your head back and forth, or the way they talk about clients, or how they patronise you and your salon-mates, or their dismissive tone when they tell your sister ‘Please stop distracting her, I’m trying to work here’ [and swiftly banish said sister to the corner with a two-year-old Cosmo right in the middle of some juicy family gossip].
But when they are finished with your hair, you will be grinning ear to ear.
Now, salon-ing, like all other arts, requires talent. Some coiffeurs have it naturally, others learn by aping, others went to Pivot Point, others plaited grass, bought a blow-drier and rented a room.
But the true hair expert is the one that can think. They can look at your head and decide what suits it best. And even better, they can take your ridiculous suggestion, tweak it here and there, and make it work.
For a while now, I’ve wanted to cut my hair. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea; most girls would kill for what grows on my head.
Let me explain. I have seven-year-old dreads.
First, they aren’t quite seven years old, because somewhere around year three, I had to shave them clean for a KQ interview. And second, my hair is very springy, so instead, it looks four years long. Two years actually, since it is four years long. A neighbour started growing hers in my second year, and … well … hers are now twice as long as mine, so yeah.
Also, my hair is coarse and thick, which means it’s useless for anything else. I caused hairdressers grief for years spending four hours with TCB, World of Curls, Dark and Lovely and Revlon on my head … with no visible results. But when I grow my dreads, they matt in three weeks or less.
So anyway, I decided to cut my dreads. I missed the punkish boy look from the days they were starting out.
Three successive salon-ists refused to shave me. The first claimed to be a nazirite and could not touch razors. The second stood at the back of my head and snipped a little, then tucked the hair into a bob to make it look short. The third simply refused to cut such luxurious hair.
But yesterday I tried a new salon on a friend’s recommendation, and even though she was mortified, the lady agreed to cut my hair.
I expected it to be a long, tedious process as she made a layered cut or whatever they call that hairdo.
Instead she looked at my head, viewed the different angles, then grabbed five tufts of hair and snipped it. I was a bit confused … it didn’t seem very … professional. Plus, she placed the bits of hair in front of me saying ‘Imagine, that’s your hair! Yaani I feel pain cutting it.’
I closed my eyes for a few seconds and only opened them when she was done.
Then I smiled.
In just two minutes, she had produced the exact look I wanted! All I had said was ‘I want it as short as possible’. That’s it, no further instructions. And she had made it look so easy! She wasn’t happy about it, but I was ecstatic! I couldn’t stop grinning.
Of course the cut was done before retwisting, and it produced an entirely different look once the hair was done. The salonists seemed a little worried because it looked so … different. They were half afraid would cry, or throw a bitchfit, or worse.
Instead, I let her fold the hair into a Beatles cut. Then I tugged it with my fingers to change the shape and tucked a few behind my ears. I could see their faces light up as the hair took form.
I left that salon a very happy girl, with my hair all tiny, frazzled and tomboyish; and the hairdressers were pleased that I spoke so highly of them. Frankly, I was just glad they’d taken my bad idea and made it look so pretty.
Two lessons I have learnt today. One, I will always, always, always go to Exposé.
And two, I will never, ever, ever cut my hair again.
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Crystal Ading' is a professional author, editor, rock lover and mother. Her work is available through threeceebee.com.