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I’m going under the knife.

Well, okay it’s probably scissors.  Not that scissors are any less scary.

I made an appointment today to get my hair cut on Wednesday.  So yes, I am currently shaking in my boots, as you do.

Or, at least, as I do.

I am a hairdressing chicken.

A coiffure coward.

A feminine frills fraidy-cat.

Dress it up with any amount of annoying alliteration, the reality is that no matter what you call it, I am just plain afraid of the hair salon.

My grandma Verna (who, at age 88, is still much fancier than I will ever, ever be) regularly visits her hair stylist for pampering and a perm. She comes from an era–a lovely, vintage era, in my mind–where women didn’t do their own hair.  They had a weekly appointment at a salon and the rest of the time, they wrapped their heads in toilet paper between visits, to sleep.

My kingdom for a victory roll and some toilet paper!

Me and my hair have a long and sketchy history.  I’m still traumatized from childhood when I remember sleeping in curlers, a lot.

pink foam rollers from the 70s

photo credit:


Boy oh boy, did my mother like my hair curled all up for birthday parties, school pictures and the like.  There are lots of similar pictures of me as a child:  be-kerchiefed and ready to magically turn into Christine the curly-haired, overnight.

Me as a child with curly hair

To be fair, she did it to herself too.

Me and my mom, circa 1973

The problem was, my mom often ran out of the softer pink foam curlers by the end of her ministrations, so although my whole head was lumpy, it was my forehead that had to endure the evil, prickly, silvery-black curlers while I slept.

black, wire curlers

photo credit: Pinterest

Poke, poke, scratch, scratch.

Right then, I knew that suffering for beauty was not going to be my thing.

Oh, I know there are people who laugh at my fear.  In fact, there are people who actually look forward to going to an establishment with chairs that pump up and down and the sweet smell of chemicals in the air, just so they can get:

  • the lovely hair washing in the tilt-your-head-back sink thingy
  • the lovely hand massage while you’re in the tilt-your-head-back sink thingy
  • the lovely shiatsu head massage while you’re in the tilt-your-head-back sink thingy
  • the lovely aromatherapy while you’re in the tilt-your-head-back sink thingy
  • the would-you-like-a-lovely-magazine-with-pictures-of-hunky-hollywood-types-in-it while you’re in the tilt-your-head-back thingy

and so on and so forth.

I am totally deprived at the hair salon due to my inability to bond with the tilt-your-head-back sink thingy.  It gave me horrific vertigo a few years ago and I’ve been advised to avoid the lovely tilt-your-head-back sink thingy ever since.

To my dismay, I now have to skip the whole sink thingy extravaganza and head straight for the CHAIR OF DOOM.

hairdresser chair

photo credit:

And, I don’t even get a discount.

When I was growing up, I had to remove my glasses for a hair cut so the entire procedure would be a complete mystery until, ta-da! I was revealed looking like Einstein had stuck his finger in an electric socket or Paul McCartney had put a bowl on his head and cut around it.

Or worse:  my mother.

(No one really wants to look like one’s mother, no matter how beautiful she is.)

Nowadays, I wear contact lenses so, at least I can see what’s happening, while it’s happening.

Oh, the terror!

As soon as my posterior hits the pleather, my barely-disguised inner wallflower/social misfit rears its ugly head (a head which somehow seems to be wearing thick glasses, braces and a face full of acne).  Before I can recover my straightened teeth and contact lenses zen, one of the popular crowd (aka the hair stylist) approaches and I immediately become tongue-tied or prone to using multi-syllabic words that reveal me as “a brain” and a member of the super un-cool.

It’s like grade 6 through high school (and some present-day interactions with my student staff) all over again.

I’m afraid to ask for what I want from the obvious icon of fashion and plentiful high school dates who hovers near me with the scissors and I can’t adequately convey my ineptitude with styling products and all the flattening/straightening/curling/burning appliances.  My refusal to dye my hair only further marks me as one who “lets herself go” or is a middle-aged, makeover-in-waiting.  And, although I often toy with the idea of adding an electric blue streak to my locks, within seconds of landing in the CHAIR OF DOOM, I find myself cowering under my synthetic smock.   I bleat out one pitiful request and count down the minutes until I can pay an exorbitant sum for a trim (and no pampering from the tilt-your-head-back sink thingy), not to mention a tip, as if I can buy my way into the cool people crowd.

Even when I finally work up the nerve to peer at myself in the rear-view mirror in the car, I am not comforted.  If the haircut is lovely, I know there’s no toilet paper bedtime regime to preserve it.  If it’s horrible, I wouldn’t know where to start to make even pink curlers and pokey black curlers transform me overnight.

But then, I remember something that soothes all my wayward cowlicks.

The one pitiful request I had managed to bleat out while in the CHAIR OF DOOM was:

“please make it a style that works with hats”.

So, bring it on Wednesday, I’m ready.

me in a black hat

Me, captured on a particularly good hair/hat day.


Copyright Christine Fader, 2014.  Did you enjoy this post from A Vintage Life?    Share on Facebook       Tweet         You might also like my book.