Lay Off the Caffeine

Last Sunday, I made an appointment with a brand new salon and a brand new hairstylist. I’m not one to be nervous about cutting my hair, so this was no big deal to me. But this stylist walked up, holding a cup of hot coffee in her hands.

Now, it’s not that unusual for people to drink coffee in the middle of the day. Everyone does it. This is America, after all, inventor of coffee-to-go and drive-thru Starbucks. However, when you are about to entrust your head to someone wielding a sharp pair of scissors, I feel like you would want their hands to be steady. Or at least not sleepy. Or jittery. Just steady.

She sits me down to wash my hair – forgets to put a towel around my neck – and then forgets to put a towel around my head after she was done. So I walked halfway through the salon to my chair, dripping with water the whole way, and she sits me down.

“What are we doing for you today?” she asks, sipping her coffee through the stir stick, tapping her foot. Her eyes are shifty.

“I want to get a pixie cut. Actually, it’s the same hair as the girl on the cover of your magazine,” I said. Literally, they have magazines displayed out at their store front, the cover of which has also been enlarged and is displayed in their windows.

“Um…what magazine…?” she says, still sipping her coffee. I point out the large display hanging in the window right beside her station. I also point out the magazine laying on the counter on the other side of her station.

I don’t mean to be quick to judge, but if you can manage to ignore a 5-foot poster hanging in the window three feet away from you, it’s not a positive indicator of attention to detail.

Anyways. She figures out the hairstyle, proceeds to tell me how cute she thinks it will look on me, and then gets ready to chop. Before she begins, I try to be helpful by warning her, “My hair is really springy. It’s poker-straight Asian hair. It will stand straight if you cut it too short.”

She gives me a blank stare and says, “What you do mean…too ‘springy’?”

Great. I’ve asked for a pixie cut and I will probably come out of this looking like Sonic the Hedgehog. What I want is something reminiscent of Ginnifer Goodwin’s cute short hair, and while I realize that it is virtually impossible for me to get the exact look, I certainly didn’t want to walk out of there looking like the Asian guy from Heroes.

It was too late to back out, so I let her go ahead and cut my hair. Then just as I was beginning to relax, it happened: the caffeine kicked in.

This girl was talking a mile a minute. You know how in movies, bartenders and hairstylists are often portrayed as being wise and easy-going? Not this girl. She gave me the run-down of her entire life from 2007 to present;  her engagement, her wedding plans in May, her fiance’s employment situation, the church they go to, her ex-boyfriend from Kamloops, the girl from Macy’s who gets a really weird mullet, and why she doesn’t have a passport. Ironically, she rounds off our session with a story about a girl who walked into the salon high on crack. She fit all this into a 20-minute haircut.

I was expecting the worst the whole time. I felt like I was on a 20-minute roller-coaster ride at Six Flags. So when the haircut turned out to be pretty close to what I was hoping for, I was ecstatic. Then I ended up tipping her way too much, probably because I was just so overjoyed that she didn’t end up botching my haircut in spite of her caffeine overload and oversharing.

Moral of the story: if you walk into a hair appointment with a new stylist and she happens to be wielding a cup of coffee, make sure you’re ready. It’s a terrifying experience, and you might come out of it needing a different kind of beverage.


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