About every three months or so, I get a haircut. I figure my hair grows about an inch in that time. So, to get things back to where they were the last time I was in a stylist’s chair, I ask that they remove one inch of hair. Before I go, I pull at the ends of my hair and imagine what it would look like if one inch was removed. An inch seems about right from this point of view. Removing an inch would still leave me with plenty.
And every time I am done with my haircut, I am left with a sparsely covered head. This always happens.
So for the next few weeks I’ll be made to walk around with hair that is far too short and I’ll have to answer the oh-so-inane question: “Did you get a hair cut?”
I’ll say things like: “Yes. This weekend” and “Good thing this stuff grows back” and “I didn’t mean for them to cut so much. I just asked for them to cut of an inch and instead they took two.”
Really, I don’t know how this happens. My best guess is that stylists are apt to cut off more hair if you don’t talk to them. I don’t like talking to stylists. The conversations we have seem wooden and I never know what to say next, how to keep the conversational volley. And if I have a particularly quiet stylist, like I did yesterday, I don’t know how to begin the conversation. Should I say “So, how did you get into this whole hair cutting thing?” or “Do you like what you do?” I don’t feel quite right asking the questions that people are usually pondering themselves. I’d hate to send a stylist into a stream of self doubt. And I’d hate to send them into a stream of banter that suggests that everything in their life is absolutely perfect. They chose the right job. They love their life. And what about you? How’s your life? Please.
So I sit quiety and when they tell me things like how the hair on the left side of my head grows in thicker than on the right, I act surprised and ask “How can this be?” only to find it’s one of life’s mysteries.
And here’s where I think I get into trouble. Somehow, it seems this might be the place for us to have those existential chats, the kind where we ponder how it is that we came to be together on this particular day, at this particular time, thinking about how hair grows differently on one side of the head than the other.
Instead, I’m quiet. I let the mystery tuck itself back in and I sink into something near slumber as the stylist, apparently unsure of what to say next, cuts away. First one inch, then another. I imagine she’s pondering these things, that it’s a Zen like moment for her. The more she thinks, the more she cuts. The more she cuts, the more she thinks.
Then, suddenly, she’s faced with a client without much hair left. Panicked, she stops. She sends me off to the cashier as she sweeps up the mess of hair she just removed, wondering even more where this stuff comes from, how it never ends, how I’ll be back in about three months and the cycle will repeat itself. First one inch, and then another.