Friday, October 29, 2010
Believe me, I never feel comfortable going to the hairdressers. It's no problem in Santa Fe, where Edward runs a one-man salon - but heading off to Princeton, I feel like some kind of battery hen, in an establishment where I am clearly the Wrong Kind of Woman - the rest all come clutching their Danielle Steele novels or their small children who are still in their Hallowe'en costume from school that day. There was, indeed, one woman wearing a very bright vermillion wig, which she was having primped and coiffeured for its own Hallowe'en appearance. At least these days they don't plug us all in under huge electric teacosies, as they did to my mother when I used to accompany her.
I think my apprehension about hairdressers goes back to when I was around fourteen or fifteen, and first had an allowance. Before then I'd been to the hairdresser precisely once, when I was ten, to have my long pigtails chopped off to around shoulder length, and made do, after that, with the dressmaking scissors. But I thought ... maybe ... I should do something about my hair. So ... I wasn't going to go where my mother went, in Wimbledon Village. And the only other hairdressers that I'd heard of was Vidal Sassoon. So I went, as a walk-in, to Vidal Sassoon's in Knightsbridge, where I clearly was the entertainment of the afternoon for the couple of gay boys who pounced on my meek brown hair. Did I - asked one of them, when I was inverted, having my hair washed in a basin - did I think that all hairdressers were homosexuals?
Now - for a polite fourteen-year old - what's the right answer? It was, after all, a topic I hadn't thought about. I hadn't even imbibed much by way of cultural stereotypes. "Not necessarily" - or something like it - I said, cautiously. But oh, the awkwardness. I was, in any case, as nervous as if I were at the dentist's: they had to tell me to relax so that they could make me bend my neck, turn my head - it was as rigid as Lot's wife turning to a pillar of salt. I don't think I've felt at ease in a hairdressing salon since ...