When I was about 13, I jumped on a bus to town, armed with about £20 (feeling very grown up and very rich) and visited a town centre hairdressers (I won’t name them but I later learnt that they’re not exactly renowned for excellence). I used my pocket money to have my hair cut by a ‘professional’ for one of the first times in my life.
This is an experience that would scar me for years to come and the sole reason I’d go on to cut and dye my own hair from then on until the age of about 20.
I won’t bore you with the details but, after having my hair pulled and hacked for about an hour, I was left scrambling to find some curby-grips in the bottom of my bag to pin back my new wonky fringe.
I never said anything to the hairdresser about not liking it because I was young and too embarrassed. I proceeded to nod and grin and say thank you over and over again as the hairdresser showed me my newly ruined hair using a second mirror (focusing on the back was always going to be better for her considering my fringe situation). I thought nothing about handing over my £20 at the end either and I even thanked the receptionist again on my way out. For as much as I wasn’t a brave 13 year-old, I was always polite.
The point of this? I thought the hairdressers would get easier as I got older but, while I’ve grown up since then, here’s why I find still find the whole experience super awkward.
Awkward Scenario #1 Reception
Hello? Hi? Hello, I’ve got an appointment at 9am? Should you wish to finish your private conversation with your colleague and acknowledge my presence. Yes, I’d love to take a seat, cheers and I’m glad you and your colourist had a good time on the town last night, please tell each other more about the cute guy that was at the bar and continue to ignore me. Hey, I’m only a customer about to spend a considerable amount of money with you. Pray tell, how funny was it when you bumped into Tom and Tony?
Awkward Scenario #2 The Gown
Once someone acknowledges you, you can proceed to sit for a few minutes in the waiting area where the receptionist can glance over and make sure you’re still feeling suitably awkward until the hairdresser takes you out of your misery. Here’s where it starts to get really tense though – the gown situation. I’ve been going to the same hairdressers for about four years now and I still always forget whether their gown goes on over the front or over the back (like a coat). Plus, I can’t cope with the struggle of taking my own coat off, trying to avoid getting tangled in my bag, not strangling myself with my scarf and then attempting to put the right arm in the right hole while the hairdressers awkwardly giggles or looks bemused that I’m so inelegant about the whole thing.
Awkward Scenario #3 Colour Choosing
I’m pretty indecisive about most things anyway but when it comes to my hair colour, it’s borderline ridiculous. After booking a hairdressers appointment, I always proceed to have an intensive Google-sesh the night before until I find the perfect shade of blonde (or whatever colour phase I’m in). Thing is, when I show the hairdresser, I should just leave it at that and let the picture do the talking. Instead, I manage to talk myself out of the colour I actually want and end up with something completely different by saying things like, ‘See, I love this colour but she’s got more olive skin than me so I don’t know if I can go that light? You think I could go that light? I like how ‘ashy’ that colour is so if you could do that please but not too ashy ’cause I’m really pale and I like those highlights but can you do mine a bit darker?’ Then I wonder why I emerge later looking less like Cara D and more like Vanessa Feltz.
Awkward Scenario #4 The Wash
Once you’ve survived the colourist, it’s time for the wash. This basically involves a 15 year old trainee awkwardly washing your hair ( in really intense silence) and then proceeding to give you an intense head massage that you neither asked for nor wanted. This seems to get increasingly awkward the older I get.
Awkward Scenario #5 The Toner
Now, I fully accept that I am probably guilty of talking myself into this on most trips to the hairdressers as I bang on about wanting ‘ashy’ tones in my hair too much but, is there really any need to leave me with my neck bent over a bowl backwards for what feels like a life-time (about 20 minutes)? Are you still stood behind me? Can I move my head yet? I can’t feel my neck. I don’t think I’ll be able to lift my head up ever again. Hello? Has everyone forgotten about me? Think I’m ‘ashy’ enough now…hello?
Awkward Scenario #6 The Cut
When someone eventually rescues you from the washing section and your neck is suitably stiff, you’ll be taken for the cut. Here you can sit and look at your-oh-so-attractive-self with wet hair and smudged eyebrows (cheers, apprentice hair-washer) for ages, while you talk yourself out of what you actually want and confuse the hairdresser into doing something you might semi-like at the end. In between that you can chat awkwardly about where you might go on holiday this year and what you’re doing over the weekend (my response is usually something like, ‘Not a lot,’ because I can’t be bothered fighting with the hairdryers for air space). If you want to up the anti on the awkwardness levels, you can ask for a coffee and then attempt to drink it by leaning forward every few minutes to get a sip whilst keeping your head perfectly still at the same time.
Awkward Scenario #7 The Blow Dry
Hang on in there – we’re nearly done! The blow dry is my favourite part of the hairdressers; you’ve nearly made it, conversation has diminished because there is a hairdryer being used in close proximity, your hair will soon be dry (and your ears covered once again, if you have ear insecurities like me) and you can finally see how ‘ashy’ 3 hours of toner and no sensation in your neck has made your hair. Not very.
Awkward Scenario #8 The End
Yes, I’d love to pay you £100 now I’ve had such a pleasant experience with you all and my hair looks no different apart from my fabulous bouncy blow dry. No, I would not like to book another appointment with you, I will do that online where I don’t have to talk to you as much. Thank you.