I can’t hear you over the blowdryer

March 12, 2008


I feel bad for the people who have to cut my hair. Not because of the quirky way my ridiculously thick hair is crazy curly on top, limp on the bottom. I feel for them, because I am the world’s most awkward stylee. I never hear them when they ask if I want something to drink. I never quite know where they want me to go. I always move my head to the exact place it needs not to be while there are scissors very close to my eyes, and I have no idea what kinds of conversations I’m supposed to get into with hairstylists.

In middle school, I went with my mom and sister to a stylist we all loved for years, thus we all could have one big, unending conversation together. In high school, I had a stylist who I barely spoke to despite how often I saw her, which to me was a very special kind of balance between awkward and silent understanding. Lately, however, with all the moving, I’ve been going to someone new each time I get my hair done. Thus, after I initially explain what I want done to my hair, I become socially inept. Usually, I can waste a few minutes explaining why I came to their salon, where my family is from, what I’m in school for, but then I lose it. Do I need to ask the stylist questions about their life? Is it prying to ask about their family? Am I supposed to keep talking even when the blow dryer is going, despite it cutting my hearing ability in half? Usually, I go for silence. This may be awkward, but at least I’m not over sharing.

Today, however, I am not shouldering the blame for the awkwardness. Today, I went on my first foray into the LA hair styling world. It started off better than expected. I began thinking, perhaps I’d finally figured this thing out. I had a great conversation with the colorist about San Diego, the merits of going to Disneyland on weekdays, and learning to surf. It was impersonal, but interesting. I felt fabulously cool and calm.

Then I moved over to the hairstylist, who came very highly recommended. I’d had a few awkward talks with her on the phone, mainly awkward because she was so friendly, and I had no clue what to say when she told me she had to go out of town because her father was very sick. I should have known where this was headed. As my hair cut began, we discussed my styling techniques before taking a sharp left turn into discussing religion, selling her father’s mobile home, and her acting career. I could barely comprehend where this conversation was going. Couldn’t we just discuss a movie you just saw or maybe my bangs? The problem was, she was so nice that I felt I had to actively participate in these conversations I knew nothing about, adding vague positive comments here, nudging the conversation along there, but in my mind I just kept thinking, this is not appropriate client stylist conversation, unless you have been going to the same corner salon for the past 15 years and attended this stylist’s wedding or kid’s graduation. I was reassuring her about taking control of her father’s medical care, for pete’s sake. I don’t know anything about retirement communities. I just wanted to know if you thought I should take off one inch or two.

Luckily, my hair turned out fabulously – seriously, amazing cut, perfect color, just fabulous – and all for the low low cost of $200……Sorry, had to take a moment to stop the gagging reflex. Transitioning from Ohio salon prices to LA salon prices pains me a bit at times. Plus, the entire encounter ended with her hugging me good-bye. That seemed apropriate for the amount of information I had just learned about her life.

Sadly, I had to run by work in the BULA office after my beauty tryst, and when I got home I felt like I had run a marathon. I guess that’s what comes after leaving the house for the first time in three days. Now I’m just counting down the minutes until my double header of Top Model and Top Chef – Welcome back, Tom Calicio! How I’ve missed you, Padma! – and contemplating whether this haircutting experience should count as a pro or con in the LA tally.



  1. $200 for a haircut? I live in DC where life isn’t cheap, but I just about fell over reading that!

  2. I hate going to get my hair cut, one because I am a total sissy about my hair. and two because i hate the small talk!

    Yay for Top Chef! So glad it’s back and in Chicago this time too!

  3. I similarly got a haircut today…except mine was in silence. And then I misinterpreted the question “how do you like your bangs?”

    Several “uh uh..uh”s later, she suggested eyebrow-length.

    Oh, life. Please update your facebook with a picture of this new hair!

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