The instant I open the door, I start to feel tense. It’s really loud and and it smells like strawberries and I don’t know what to do. Someone with a pompadour comes over and asks if I have an appointment and I tell them that, yes, I do, one at 12pm with Becky. I then sit and pretend to read a very old copy of OK! magazine with Peter Andre on the cover whilst trying to mentally calm myself down. YES, I’m spending my lunch break at the hairdressers, a place that would absolutely feature on my list of Top 10 Places I Hate The Most, if I had one.
At 12.05pm, Becky comes over and takes me through for my consultation, a word which both confuses me and fills me with visions of hospitals until I realise this is a set time to discuss my hair-related hopes. What am I wanting to have? What kind of thing am I thinking of? By this point I am struck by how boring my idea is (“…a trim?”) and how greasy my hair looks (it really could’ve done with a wash this morning but why bother with two hair washes in a day?) and I attempt a little joke about how infrequently I have my hair cut, in a light-hearted attempt to excuse my impressive collection of split ends. I can now see poor Becky visibly judging me. She’s trying not to, but it’s evident she spent about four hours on her hair this morning and I squirm uncomfortably as she touches my un-styled spray-free mop, trying to remember the last time I felt less attractive.
When we’ve chatted to our hearts’ content about my imminent new hairstyle, I am handed a robe, which I can almost never remember how to put on properly. Does the Velcro go at the front or at the back, I wonder frantically. “Would you like to see our drinks menu?” I am asked, and I think quickly. A thousand questions fill my head. WOULD I? Will I have to pay for this drink? Why is there a menu? Normally opting for “No thanks, I just had one!”, I uncomfortably gather up my belongings and plop myself down onto the chair in front of the sink. This is stressful in itself. Am I sitting far back enough, I puzzle, whilst sliding up and down trying to find a good place for my neck to go (clue: THERE ISN’T ONE). “Is the water okay?” asks Becky. “Yes!” I say cheerily without having actually paid attention (the curse of the eager-to-please) and feel relieved when the water doesn’t burn my ears.
The next part is the shampoo/conditioner session, which I think I could possibly enjoy if I wasn’t straining everything from the shoulders upwards. It is, after all, more or less a free head massage. Just as I start to relax as well as I can, another issue arises. I haven’t been paying attention. Has my hair been conditioned? Has it been conditioned TWICE?! I wonder what they use. Maybe some of that argan oil stuff. Maybe I’ll ask. WHERE HAS BECKY GONE? Should I be getting up?
Whatever I decide to do in this situation, I am wrong: if I start to move my head, as if to leave my chair, Becky says “Just pop your head back for me” and I am re-conditioned. If I stay tilted back, I hear a confused “Hello?” and look up to see Becky, clearly ready to go, whilst I am lying oblivious with my head stuck in a sink. Cue the awkward towel-around-the-shoulders move and off we go, Becky gliding across the salon with her blonde mane effortlessly swinging from side to side, whilst I follow behind, looking like a drowned rat in a Hogwarts robe.
Once I am settled safely in my seat, the main event can begin. Becky always starts trimming my hair at the back, and whilst we are chatting about what we did yesterday (I always lie upon remembering I didn’t do a whole lot), I notice the front of my hair starting to curl awkwardly. Too embarrassed to tell her that if it’s not pounced upon the second after it’s been washed it WILL NOT DRY FORMING ANY SEMBLANCE OF AN ACTUAL STYLE, I attempt to tuck it behind my ears. When Becky reaches the front, it is beyond even her help. She dries it and sprays stuff on it and straightens it and I still look like Peggy Olson circa Mad Men season one, so we unspokenly decide never to mention it again.
Then comes the question: “Do you want any product in it?”. Unsure of exactly which product Becky means, I nod. Why the heck not? It all smells nice and I’m paying enough. So I am sprayed and coiffed and before I know it Becky is doing that thing where she shows me my hair in the mirror whilst using another mirror. “Great!” I say automatically, but then I stop. It does actually look okay. Maybe going to the hairdressers isn’t so bad? It’s nicely wavy for once and hasn’t done that greasy-five-minutes-later thing it does when I wash it…
So I say goodbye to Becky, head to the tills to pay someone else (which always confuses me) and worry about whether or not to leave a tip. I want to…but I also kind of don’t…but is it rude not to?…but that is literally all I have to buy lunch with…is a pound too stingy? Usually deciding that, yes, a pound is too stingy, I bid the salon farewell and carry out my new loyalty card, customer recommendations that I am instructed to give to any and all of my friends, and a sense that maybe, just maybe, that wasn’t as terrible as first expected. That is, until I wake up the next morning and realise I must recreate Becky’s masterpiece with my 99p Alberto Balsalm shampoo and a hairdryer without a working ‘heat’ button.