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I had to get a haircut last week. I know, this doesn’t sound like an Interesting Event, but let me tell you: it was traumatic nonetheless.

Thing is, I hate getting my hair cut. If I could get it done at an old man’s barber shop, I would, but they won’t do women’s hair. Never mind that my haircut is essentially the same as a five-year-old boys’ bowl cut, it’s not happening.

So, I went into the nearest place one day at lunch and announced that I would like a haircut. The person on the desk got out the big diary and started flipping through the pages.

“When would you like to book in?” I was asked.

“Now would be good.”

This was met with a look that told me in no uncertain terms that I was an insane person. It’s the week before Christmas and I think I can just waltz in and someone can deal with me then and there? It’s as if I’d walked in and asked for Santa, a unicorn, and a magic wand for a tenner, immediately.

I managed to convince them that they could fit me in the next day at lunch. They gave me their card so that next time I could call in advance or even set up a monthly date where we would agree in advance that it was time for me to get a hair cut. I did not laugh at them in the salon; I knew to save that for later. I do not have the advanced planning skills to know that I’ll be in the mood to cope with a haircut in the future. I can only cope with it in the very immediate sense.

Anyhow. I present myself at the correct time, and am offered a drink. I decline. Because it’s not a cafe, and I don’t want a drink. I want a haircut.

I sit and wait in the reception area until the woman who will cut my hair arrives and offers me a drink. I decline again.

She leads me to her chair and asks what I want done.

“See this?” I say pulling at my hair. “Less of this, please.”

“Do you want some layers here? Maybe a fringe?”

“I don’t know. I just want less of this.”

The hairdresser doesn’t really know what to make of me. So I try to be reassuring.

“Look,” I say. “Here’s the thing. One, it’s hair, if I really don’t like it, we can shave it all off and start again. It’ll grow back. Two, you’re the hairdresser, thus the expert. Just make it nice.”

The woman’s face at this point is confused, but bless her, she’s willing to go with it.

We’re about to get to the bit where she washes my hair, but before that she puts some oil on her hands and starts rubbing it in, explaining that some treatment or another is about to begin that involves giving me a head and neck massage.

“No!” I shriek. “No things! No products, no sprays, no scents, no smells, no touching.” I believe I look terrified at this moment, but can’t tell for sure as she’s removed my glasses.

She’s taken aback, but is willing to go along with my request for none of the things. I don’t understand why salons do this. If I want a massage, I will go to a masseuse. If I want a drink, I will go to a cafe. I want a hair cut thus I am at the hairdresser’s. It’s times like this that I wonder if I’m the only one who understands what hair cut means.

Off we go to the hairwashing area. For reasons unclear to me, my hair is washed and rinsed three times. Now, I don’t often wash my hair, but I did on this morning because I was getting a hair cut and didn’t want to be gross.

Apparently, my hair was very dry and needed a special treatment. This miracle product, which smelled funny, was offered to me for the mere price of about thirty quid. I declined.

So finally, after twenty minutes, the scissors come out and we get moving. Normally, it takes, from beginning to end, half an hour to wash, cut and dry my hair. Why it takes so long at a salon is unclear to me.

More questions ensue: how do you want it parted, do you want it over the ears or not, what about the back? To which I answer: old man comb-over, don’t know, don’t care, can’t see the back, so again don’t care.

These are not the answers the woman is expecting, but she soldiers on.

Someone comes up to me again, offering a drink, which leads me to wonder if I look at risk of expiring from sever dehydration. Then someone offers me a hand massage, which I decline as well. You can’t get the smell of their creams off for days, no matter how much hand washing you do, and for someone with arthritis, the idea of another person massaging you hands is like torture.

Finally, the hair is cut, there is less of it, and thus I am happy. But now we embark upon the drying. Which involves a lot of hair brushes with horrible, wire scrape-y bristles. I do not brush my hair because I really hate it. I hate the scraping feeling on my head, my hair is a mess of knots and tangles, and the whole thing is so miserable it makes me avoid getting my hair cut like the plague.

But because I have said that I don’t want any product, body must be added to my hair which involves the brushes and the hair dryer and about forty-five minutes. Which I do not have because I’m on my lunch break in a day filled with back-to-back meetings. After about ten minutes of this drying routine, when a tenth of my hair is dry, I have to stop her and say:” I’m going to be late, can we just please dry it and be done with it?”

Now, I know I am a nightmare. I know I am not participating correctly in universally agreed things people like. I know this. Which is why I tip well. I am overly generous to make up for my grumpy behaviour. I do not want to chat, I do not want my hairdresser to by my therapist, because, again, if I wanted a therapist I’d go bloody see a therapist. I want one thing done and that is all.

But this is unusual and so I offer money in lieu of accepting services offered that I do not want. Yes, I will pay more for less.

As usual, I do not have cash on me. I pay with card. But I cannot put a tip on the card and do not have time to go to the cash machine, so now I have to go back to the salon in the next three days, and leave the hairdresser the tip I couldn’t give her before.

Honestly, this is ridiculous. This takes so much time that I am never getting back and is on the whole a loathsome experience. The hair cut looks great. But I do wish there was a choice offered at the beginning: the basic or the premium. I would take the basic every time.

The Mom is always embarrassed when I do things like this. But then she enjoys that sort of pampering fuss.

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