Monday, May 21, 2012

It's a snip

The last time I had my hair cut short short it was a couple of days before I had to have my photo taken for a magazine (tragically the first and last time my face I ever appeared in a woman's glossy and, yes, I believe the world is still in mourning the loss).  This was years ago when I was living in London, still quite fresh out of uni and wondering what the hell I was going to do with an English honours degree and a thesis on the short stories of Philip K Dick. In hindsight this was, perhaps an unwise time in my life to be making bold hair decisions but at the time it felt right. This shoot – and the magazine gig that came with it – would, I felt sure, the start of something and so it seemed appropriate to have a New Kate to present to the world, as if the world actually gave two shits.

As it turned out I was both right and wrong. The gig DID prove to be the start of my journalism career and I’m forever grateful to the mag in question. As for the New Kate Haircut it was... well, okay, so again with the benefit of hindsight I have no idea why I chose to go to the random hairdressing salon whose sole virtue was its proximity to my East Sheen home - about 10 metres from the front door - and absolutely nothing else. I never saw another customer going in or out of that place during the year I lived there. But in fairness to my hairdresser I didn't half mind the cut until I got to the photo shoot and met my hair and make-up lady. Slapping on more make-up than seemed feasibly able to fit on my face and enough mascara to hold up a bridge she didn't say an awful lot until it got to my hair.

"This is... not a good haircut," she said. "It's uneven." And she pulled on different parts of my hair to... I don't know, presumably show me how uneven it was. I said nothing. I was embarrassed. I didn't know what to say except maybe "fuck you, Lady" which didn't occur to me until much later. In case I had missed the salient point she offered me a summary: "You're a pretty girl and this haircut does nothing for you." If she hadn't softened it up with the "pretty girl" bit I might have burst into tears right then. Instead I smiled for the camera, buried the photo deep in a desk drawer somewhere and never cut my hair short again.

Until this weekend when I finally lopped it all off. Tempting fate I thought it would be greeeeat fun to get it cut in Milan, bearing in mind that my Italian vocabulary is limited to asking for a table for two and/or a hot chocolate with cream please and sometimes I can't even handle that much and forget to ask for the cream (repeat after me: "con panna").

I had nothing to worry about, at least not on the language front. My hairdresser, Valentina, was both a peach and spoke extremely good English. More importantly she looked cute and tough, which is exactly the kind of person I want to cut my hair in the hope that a bit of that will rub off on me and somehow translate into my haircut. I told Valentina I didn't really know what I wanted, she assured me that she knew exactly what I wanted, gave me a pretty stellar head massage and we were off. I couldn't understand any of the Italian magazines available for reading, which was a bummer, but I amused myself by watching in the mirror as one handsome dude gave another handsome dude a haircut and, you know, day dreaming just a little bit about said handsome dudes. Valentina did a pretty good job, I think, and I was very happy right up until this bit that happened at the end.

Valentina: How do you want it blow-dried? Straight or wavy?
Me: Hmm, uh, what do you think?
Valentina: I like your natural wave, I think is great.
Me: Okay, that sounds fine.
Valentina: We'll make you look like... Betty Boop!
Me: Uh....

Have you ever seen Betty Boop after she's stuck her finger in an electrical outlet? I have. I saw her in the mirror that day. When Valentina turned me around in the chair to face the mirror (having held my head upside for the past ten minutes so she could blow-dry ten types of crap out of it) I actually laughed, which seems rude now but at the time I thought she can't be serious. This is just Step One in a series of steps to have me looking nice - it has to be. There was no Step Two and she was serious, a point she underlined by saying very sweetly and untruthfully "you look greeeeeat". 

Another person might have asked very nicely, if perhaps my hair could be styled a little less nuts so that I might walk on the streets of Milan without fear of ridicule. A more, confident, functioning member of society might have suggested that the fact my hair felt crispy to the touch may mean she'd applied a smidgen too much hairspray. It will come as a surprise to absolutely nobody who knows me to learn I am not that person. I am a wimp. I am a pussy. I have never even come close to sending back food at a restaurant and I once found a hair on my muffin in one of my favourite cafes. So I smiled, determinedly avoiding my own reflection in the mirror, nodded and said "I really like it" several times in a weird high voice that wasn't entirely mine but felt like it maybe suited the girl in the mirror with her weird high hair and fast-reddening cheeks. Then I paid up, got out of there, put on my Persols and tried to get lost in the Milanese crowds.

1 comment:

JB said...

Hm get married, cut hair to something short and low maintenance, next thing you'll have twin babies. You're well on your way Kate!