As a member of the UK’s middle class, I get my hair cut at a professional hairdressers. I wish I didn’t.
The hell starts as soon as you open the door. A little bell above the door rings. Two elderly ladies loudly have their incredibly racist conversation. An attractive girl in the queue in front of you takes forever talking to the receptionist because they’re clearly friends, but you don’t want to say anything as she’s attractive and the chances of anything happening between you and her are already incredibly slim without you opening your mouth.
Finally the attractive girl leaves to have a manicure or whatever attractive girls do, and you approach the counter. “It’s Jack, for ___”. This is a key moment, because the gender of the person cutting your hair greatly determines the hell you are bracing yourself for. Today, it’s a woman. I prefer women. I’m not reaffirming my already very established heterosexuality, purely stating that I don’t give a fuck whether Joe Cole was staying in position or whether David Luiz was a good purchase (it later became apparent that these were football players).
“Can I take your coat?” “What? No! It’s my coat!”, you think after snapping out of your inner tantrum about football talk. It’s not my fault if I considerably misunderstand the thoughtful request put before me. I feel bad if I don’t trust them with my coat, it’s the least I could do, even though I spend the rest of the time there shivering. Of course, they insist that I get my hair washed. Even though I’ve usually washed it in the few hours beforehand, paranoid that it might be dirty before they wash it. It is incredibly important what the trainee who washes my hair thinks of me, because they are usually my age, attractive, and large-breasted.
However, the last part causes a significant problem, and I am starting to think that this is part of a sinister plot against men who go to hairdressers. As you sit, with your head in the sink, you enjoy the warm water running through your hair. But that’s when the two large breasts start grazing the side of your head, mostly obscuring your vision. This leaves you with two choices: the first of which is to admit defeat and just to look, whereas the second of which is to stubbornly look at the ceiling fan, as if it is the most interesting thing that you have seen in the past few months.
I can tell you a lot about this ceiling fan. It is chrome-coloured. It has 15 screws visible from the outside. It should have 16, but one is missing. Four screws are at the top. The rest hold the fan’s blades to the central structure. If you look at just the right angle, you can see the Sainsbury’s across the street in the reflection, but this only applies to one of the three hair-washing stations. I could go on, but I fear I’ve made my point already.
The hair washing finishes, and you struggle up, disorientated and dazed. As if to rub it in, the trainee sweetly smiles at you as she dries your hair as vigorously as humanly possible. For a second you think she might be interested in you, but then you realise that you’re an arsehole. The hairdresser comes back over, and offers you a drink. You quickly say, “No, thanks.” and smile, before realising that you’ve never been so thirsty.
“So how would you like your haircut today, Jack?” Erm, shorter, stupid bitch. You smile sweetly at her and best describe in detail your dream hair, which, surprise surprise, seems to be exactly the same as your current hair, only shorter. And so the long journey begins, in which your head gets slowly less hairy, and the attempts at conversation get more and more desperate. The hairdresser always asks about my plans for the weekend. I never have any particularly interesting plans, so I quickly think some up. They usually involve drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll. Then I chicken out and tell her I’m just having some friends over, which is usually the truth.
Finally the hair is sufficiently short, and the mirror comes out. You look at the back of your head for the first time since you last had your haircut, before smiling and nodding, saying it looks nice. It rarely looks nice; it’s the back of my head. Eager to escape, you move over to the counter to pay. The computer is old enough to run Windows 98, and as such, you wait a long time for something to load. It finally does, and they tell you the price, which you knew already. You shove the money in their hands, and repeat, with a tip, because that’s just the thing people do, apparently.
You run out the shop, on the verge of a mental breakdown.