Monday, June 14, 2010

Shear Joy: Sometimes It’s About More Than What You Take Off

I got a haircut.

I Got. A. Haircut.

Yep, you read that right.

Mom's salon was having a sale—only $9. And, with the impending reunion just weeks away Mom amped up the pressure. (Remember when she said my hair was making her look old?). Finally, in a move reminiscent of "Godfather Don", she upped the ante, making me an offer I couldn't refuse: $12 for a haircut and tip.

This haircut made me absurdly happy. I've never had a haircut quite like it. I, quite frankly, felt like a purring kitten rolling on her back afterwards.

Is it possible to get this much pleasure out of such a mundane activity as a haircut? You betcha. Shear joy: now showing at your local salon for a mere nine bucks.

Still, a cut at this salon took some effort. I made the mistake of going on a Saturday. It's one of those no-appointment-necessary-strip-mall salons. Translation: hordes of waiting masses—many of them young and squirmy.

I entered the salon with trepidation. I've gone to the same salon for over a decade. And to the same hairdresser since the previous one decided to be a fishing boat captain (but, that's a whole other story).

I. Do. Not. Like. Going. To. New. Hairdressers.

Scissors in the hands of a stranger standing behind my back make me nervous.

But . . . back to the salon. It was clean and neat, although not hip like the old one. They didn't offer me a beverage. There were straight-back benches instead of the old salon's comfy wicker chairs. And, there were three customers already waiting for Mom's stylist. It would be a long wait.

So what if I spent a little time waiting? It wasn't like I had double-booked a couple of power lunches. I had the time, and I could get five cuts here for what one cost at my old salon.

With a sign featuring Gilles Marini staring at me from above the styling products rack, I figured it just might be an enjoyable wait. My old salon didn't have that view.

Two hours later, Shakira had snipped through three head's worth of tresses and was ready to start my haircut.

"What do you want done?" she asked politely.

During the wait, I had learned the salon charges different prices according to what is done. The $9 cut includes only a spritz of water and the cut—no shampoo, no blow dry, no styling.

"Whatever comes on the $9 deal," I stated. Mom had given me only enough for a cut and a tip.

A little boy giggled and loudly parroted in a mocking voice, "Whatever comes on the $9 deal."

A quick trip to the ladies' room ensured no one else saw my red-faced embarrassment.

"I'm going to give you a complimentary shampoo and blow dry because you waited so long," Shakira told me when I returned.

Bless you, I thought. I'm going to love this woman. Mom had told her about my joblessness and that I was coming in for a cut. Shakira was sweet enough to give me something extra with this cut and, at the same time, kind enough not to make it feel like charity.

I sat down at the sink. The water gushed out. I don't know when I've felt anything as delicious as that water hitting my head. Why does it feel so good to have someone else wash your hair? It never feels this great when I wash it myself.

There was no scalp massage like at the old salon, but that water and shampoo made me feel like a new person. It seemed that every worry I had for the last eight months began to flow down that salon drain.

And Shakira even threw in the twelve-dollars-extra scalp treatment for free. You've made my all-time top ten list of favorite people, Shakira!
She had her work cut out for her in brushing out the long, wet tresses. In that chair, somehow they looked longer and more unruly than ever. After hearing I wanted five inches off she began to snip.

Is it possible to feel as if a burden has been lifted by a mere haircut?

That's exactly how it felt. As each wet, curling strand fell onto the cape and then to the floor below, I felt freer.

I felt new.

I felt the old slipping away.

And quite literally it was: the sodden hair hitting the floor had been with me since the last stressful year of the old job. It may have actually held within it the worry and panic that weighed on my mind during the transition that resulted in job loss. It held memories of a life I no longer had.

I was so giddy with this new feeling that I told Shakira to cut off another two inches. And she did. I was quite tempted to ask for a new short 'do, but decided I shouldn't get carried away.

And then she began to blow it dry. As I saw my fashionable coiffure return, I felt my confidence return also. Gone were the tired-looking tresses that made me feel frumpy and dumpy.
I cannot adequately describe the soul-filling joy I felt when I saw the completed style. Have I already said how much I now adore Shakira? I could've danced out of that salon. I wanted to break into song. Heck, I wanted to scream a little, too.

Feeling a bit giddy, I even threw in one of my own scarce dollar bills to plump up the tip. Shakira had more than earned that 44% tip.

Filled with excitement, I stopped by my parents' house to show off the new 'do. All the way home, I tossed my hair like some crazed shampoo-commercial model.

Why did this cut give me such ridiculous over-the-top delirious joy?

Once again, the Joy of The Treat had returned to douse me in a ray of light. I'd never given a haircut much thought before, but days later, I still recall this experience with pleasure. And, I still feel changed by it.

For the past eight months, I have hidden my greying, damaged, too-long hair in ponytails. But, something about this new cut changed me in ways I don't fully understand. Is it possible I've fallen in love with my grey? Gone is the excessive hairspray that plastered those much-too-long locks. I'm wearing my hair free and natural—and sometimes (dare I say it?)—even curly (translation: really natural).

That haircut was more than just a cut. With every passing day away from the old life, I'm becoming like my hair—freer and more natural—in touch with who I am and what I want for my new life. The old life had its perks—mostly material, I now realize—but my current on-the-dole situation may just be transforming me into the woman I was meant to be.

And, I think I like her a whole lot better. 
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Just for Fun: And, Speaking of The Joy of the Treat: Watch Gilles Marini Dance the Paso Doble on "Dancing with the Stars"

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Photos Courtesy of:
Long-haired Woman:


Edith F. Kilgo said...

Nice hairdo, Sweetie. I'm glad you are not making your mother look old any more. :-)

Modern Military Mother said...

A change is as good as a rest. Less is more - All you need is love, la, la, la. Love is a very splendid thing. Good luck with your re-connection - time without money is tough but you are doing great. Maybe you could ask the universe to help...

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