I am afraid of scissors.
Not just any scissors, though — only the kind of scissors found in the hand of an insecure, inexperienced hairdresser who pretends he knows how to cut curly hair until two hours later, when he comes back crying with an instructor over the mess he's obviously made.
Those kind of scissors, you know?
I also get irked when instructors pretend they know what they're doing, too, and refuse to admit that the mane of frizzy non-curls and the shelf-like excuse for layers looks like crap. And when, in response to my "Areyoukiddingmethislooksabsolutelyterrible!" gasp, they (yes, they, as in two separate supposedly competent instructors) advise me to "Just go wash it yourself and see if it looks okay, then come back tomorrow and we'll fix it."
I expected more from you, Toni & Guy Academy.
Maybe I should back up a little bit. I've been to this place twice before and received stellar service, which is a big deal because I've had some major Hair Trauma in my life¹. I decided to return even though the guy who did my hair those two times moved on to a real salon — I figured that asking for someone who has a lot of experience with curls, combined with instructors prowling around the floor, would land me at least something presentable.
I was wrong.
My stylist hardly spoke to me for two hours² and when he did, he mumbled. He asked me for advice on how to style my hair (and then proceeded to not take said advice). He cut haphazardly, and hair kept falling out of his fingers when he pulled it out to cut it. Five minutes in, my hair was already starting to dry. With curls? Not a good look. There was no hair product on it at all, and all the tiny curls began to expand. And expand. And expand.
I gave him the benefit of the doubt until he began to style it.
He brings out an on-its-deathbed bottle of styling cream, and when I say, "That looks almost empty," he looks at it and goes, "Huh." Then he squirts a pea-sized amount³ and proceeds to mess with the same (already dry) section of hair for the next thirty minutes. (For visual assistance here, you should know that the rest of my hair was twisted and clipped above my forehead, like a parched, frizzed out mane of horsehair.)
I start to get angry at about the time he pulls out his blow-dryer and asks, "So, do you normally just do a power blow on it?" When I say, "I have no idea what that means," he asks if I use the blow-dryer sans attachments. Okay, so I haven't had many haircuts in the past decade, but I know one thing: you don't blow-dry curly hair without a diffuser attachment. You just don't. I mention the diffuser, and he responds with a confident, "Uh...I think I have one of those here somewhere...?"
Long story not-so-short, he steps away and finally asks for help. The instructor comes over, unclips my horsehair mane, and foofs it just a bit. I couldn't believe it — this was how an instructor decides to fix the mess? It was an asymmetrical frizzed-out helmet of hair, a two-inch mane of ugly bordering my face and neck; the back was a two-tiered wall, with the one layer I saw looking more shelf-like than it should, bluntly hacked off only an inch higher than the longest part of my hair.
I'm not exaggerating.
After communicating my frustrations to a different instructor (to no avail), I headed for the closest real Toni & Guy.
I walked in the door. Everyone laughed. I cannot tell you how relieving it was to have a salon full of hairdressers laughing at my hair: finally, finally, some validation for how awful it was, some "What happened to you?" sort of empathy. Oh yeah, and a salon full of people who knew exactly how to fix it.
Forty-five minutes later (and about as many dollars), Lupe finished with me. He far surpassed my directive of "Fix this any way you want to, just help me not want to hide in the bathroom forever." It's sassy, semi-short, and looks pretty (as opposed to crap). Score for Lupe: return customer for life!
My favorite part of my post-traumatic-shock conversation, as Lupe transformed me from zombie nightmare to hair model: "Just imagine," he says, after I tell him about the novel I'm writing, "If you had a book signing today, and you had to go to it with hair like you came in with!" I know, Lupe, I know.
¹Incident #1: Two weeks before high school graduation, year 2000. Hair was thinned out on the bottom so much that I looked like a mushroom head with Medusa snakes slithering out from the bottom. It took about two years to grow out (two years of college). This scared and scarred me, and I did not get another haircut until last summer. (Yes, in 2009. Yes, I went almost the entire decade without scissors touching my hair. Surprisingly, it didn't look that bad.) Incident #2: In 2002, I was on a mission trip with my church, and we were building a front porch; silly me, I forgot to tie my hair back that day, and accidentally ended up getting a large chunk in the front caught in a thick drill. It ripped out. I never saw any fashion magazines setting trends for my look, incidentally. (When it grew back, it started as a strange sprig of hair that stuck straight up in miniature-unicorn-horn-like fashion.)
²Have I mentioned yet that it took two hours? Two hours. For something that made me want to lock myself in a bathroom.
³I typically use about two full pumps (i.e. about ten times the size of one pea) or else my hair will frizz out. I also have to do this when it's wet, or else it won't make any difference at all.
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