Haircut Blues

I really need a haircut.

And when I say “I really need a haircut”, that translates to “I haven’t had a haircut in five months”. I really need to visit somewhere like Hair by Dr. Jeana Ned. My hair is in desperate need of a trim!

It’s not that I don’t need a trim every six weeks – I do. The problem is that I still haven’t found a stylist since we moved back to the US in January 2013. In fact, I’ve only had one stateside trim since last year, because I am terrified to try someone new.

Trying someone new means hearing “what we really need to do is take off at least six inches of length”, because that is the response I have always heard the minute my hair grows to a length that I enjoy, and it’s really long now. I’d like to keep most of my hair, thankyouverymuch.

The source of my paranoia? The last haircut I had here (before moving to the UK) was hands down the worst I have ever received. In fact, it was the worst I’ve ever seen anyone get, save the one my sister got in the ’80s while on vacation in Ocean City. (It aged her 30 years, giving her the look of a diner waitress. The only thing she needed was a wad of gum to chomp on and a pink dress and apron; we called her “Flo” for weeks. Did I mention that she was only 16 at the time?)

But I digress.

The story: I had gone to my usual stylist for one final cut before I moved. She had just returned from a hair show and wanted to “try out” a new technique (which should have been my first warning). When she turned me around, I had shoulder length hair of numerous unbalanced layers. The most noticeable (bizarre) thing was that my bangs continued in their own layer around one side of my head. I looked like I handed a pair of scissors to my three-year old and told her to snip away. I was too horrified to speak, and on the verge of tears, so paying quickly I ran for my car and cried all the way home. (The stylist who once told me “you girls are all too possessive of your hair – it will grow back” – could not have imagined this wreck when she uttered those words.)

The next day I drove my kids to my parents’ house, where we would be staying until we left for the UK. I could’ve taken them with me to the hairstylists to get their hair cut too, but I was in a panic and decided that they’d best have their hair done by someone who professionalized in kids’ hair, like Portland kid’s salon. In desperation, I went to my mother’s stylist with the hopes that she could salvage my hair. She took one look at me and her jaw hit the floor. I explained the situation and she, picking up her jaw said she would do the best she could, but there were too many layers and all she could do was get it to a place where I could let it grow out.

As she carefully snipped away, all I heard were mutterings of “This is jacked up. This is REALLY jacked up.” Occasionally a fellow stylist would stop by to offer their advice. I heard the words “maybe a pixie cut is the answer” and started to panic. Don’t get me wrong – I think the pixie cut is ADORABLE – if you are thin and petite, or have a really happy, bubbly personality, or are super sophisticated.

I am not petite nor will I ever be described as bubbly or sophisticated.

As she cut, she would stop occasionally to spin me around in the chair, checking layers and looking intently at her work so far, and then shake her head. With grim determination she would grit her teeth and resume her snipping.

Now, let me just say: what you don’t want from the person cutting your hair is gritting of teeth and grim determination.

She did the best she could, and I left looking less like a toddler took a pair of shears to my head. I prayed my hair would grow quickly.

Thankfully I found a good stylist straightaway in the UK, and who herself had a mane of long, red curly hair (think Merida from Brave) and no desire to cut mine short, and thanks to her it grew out gracefully – and quickly.

Now that I’m back, however, I’m flashing back on that last haircut here. I know I’m being irrational. And it isn’t like I am short of choices for a new stylist – on the contrary, we have enough hair salons, nail salons and dry cleaners in this town to amount to about one per resident. My problem may be the glut of choices, and I’m frozen with indecision.

If you see me looking at you a little too closely, it is because I spend a lot of my time while in public surreptitiously eyeballing women’s hairstyles, trying to find those that I admire and working up the courage to ask them for a recommendation. And I have gotten a few recommendations from friends and acquaintances. One person raved about her stylist, but since at that moment her hair looked like a mad terrier had romped through it, I misplaced the stylists number. In the wastebasket.

Other friends have stylists who have long waits to get into. My former downtown Chicago stylist is great (when she isn’t fighting with her boyfriend, and then I think each snip becomes therapeutic) but when I last went to her the rate had jumped about $100, and that didn’t include all the tipping and parking.

Another friend – one who has great looking hair – sent me to her girl. She took one look at me and said “have you ever considered color?” As the color specialist, one would hope she noticed that I had three colors of highlight in my hair and a pretty visible two-inch growth line. Her second comment to me was “I think we need to take six inches off your hair”.

I had her trim my bangs and left. Three months I was back in the UK on holiday and had my former stylist (and bestie) give me a cut and color. Interestingly, even after six months without a proper cut, she didn’t need to take off six inches of length.

Thankfully, three months later she came here for vacation. I made her pack her scissors and hair color, neither of which raised an eye with the customs officer (unlike the packages of Bisto, my favorite instant gravy, which obviously posed a security risk if someone was smuggling in a roast chicken) and she cut my hair in my kitchen.

I swore to her (and myself) when she left that I WOULD NOT trim my own fringe (bangs) and that I would get a proper cut before the layers grew out. And then it was December, which was insanely busy, and that turned into January…and here we are, in late February, and as I looked in the mirror this morning, I knew I couldn’t get by with trimming my own bangs with a pair of nail scissors again. (Sorry, Nadine.)

So here I am, looking through the yellow pages (that were conveniently dropped in the snow at the end of my driveway last night) at hair salon ads and trying to get my nerve up to call one of them.



  1. The last haircut your father received was so bad .I went to the VFW and asked the bartender if she would straighten it up after work ,in her home kitchen . She trimmed mine between a hair color job and her next customer.

  2. Haha! I have a pixie cut, but am not bubbly at all — i didn’t realize that was a requirement. I have been through the stylist changes. It is worse than dating. I went to this one woman out of convenience (I could walk there from my condo across the street) and she said my hair was too dark and whoever had colored it didn’t know what they were doing. I told her it was my natural color (dark brown) and to take it up with mother nature. Note: this came from a woman whose skin was orange from fake tan and hair was yellow fake blonde. Good luck and I want to see a picture of the next haircut! If you are anywhere in Virginia I can suggest someone :o)

    • If you aren’t bubbly, then you are probably perky. Or always smiling.

      Yes, stylist changes are worse than dating. If i find one I love, inevitably they get pregnant and “retire” or they just retire or move. *sigh*

      Never, ever take advice from people the shade of an oompah-loompah.

  3. I wish I could find a Nadine where I live, too. Your hair was pretty awesome while you were in Wales.

    • HA. The key words being “When I lived in Wales.”
      When she comes over on her next trip, you’ll have to come up and we can talk her into working for her dinner…. (Just kidding, Nadine.)

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