For the past five years an old Russian woman has cut my hair. She's talented, and she works in one of those chain salons that don't charge very much. The problem is that it's in another city two hundred and fifty miles away. My family has a small home there. It's quiet, a great place to write, and I end up spending about a week each month there. Getting a haircut while I'm in town has always been easy. But this summer has been so busy, finishing a new novel and releasing an audiobook for THE DEAD ROOM, I haven't been able to travel. Every morning I'd shave and look at myself in the mirror. I thought I could see my hair moving, I could see it growing without the need of time-lapse photography. This past Saturday I couldn't take it anymore, so I just decided to get a haircut.
I went to a salon not much different than one I normally go to. You may know the chain I'm talking about because they advertise that after every haircut you receive a moist warm towel just like sushi. The salon is in a shopping center right between a pet shop and the grocery store I like to go to because they have the best produce in town. Even better, when I walked into the salon, the place was packed. How bad could it be?
I waited less than five minutes. The young woman who picked my name smiled and seemed glad to see me. When I sat down, she asked me what I wanted in a fresh clear voice. I told her that I'd like to keep it longer in the back and sides and shorter on top. Unless my hair's really long, it gets curly when I sweat and begins to stand on end, like just maybe I put my finger in an electrical outlet because I needed a jolt. The stylist listened to what I said, gave me a nod and said, "Got it."
Hey, this is great, I was thinking to myself, unbelievable, and so convenient -- though I'd just noticed that three people had left their chairs and hadn't been given a moist warm towel as advertised ...
I shrugged it off and looked in the mirror. My stylist likes to work fast, I noticed. A quick, but knowing clip. Snap, snap, snap. Over here and over there. And we're having a pleasant conversation, laughing about what we may or may not have done on Friday night. Snap, snap, snap. Boom, boom, boom. And then the hairdryer came out and it was over. I checked the mirror, and ran my fingers through my hair. I'd asked to keep it longer in the back and sides, and shorter on top. What I got, was short on the sides, shaved in the back, and long on top.
What did I do? How did I react?
I laughed and gave her a big tip. As I got in the car, however, a thought surfaced. It sure would've been nice to get a moist warm towel.