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Haircuts from Hell – Part 2

Stories of haircuts and hairstyles gone wrong – Part Two

In my whole life I’ve had only two to whom I committed my heart and hair. It’s a scary world when you bounce around from one hairdresser to the next, wondering if this may be The One, never knowing who to trust, never knowing where you’ll get your next cut.

I’ll never forget Derrick (not his real name). A sweet little guy with soft hands and soft voice and a biting kick to his humor. We were together from the mid-80’s to the early 90’s. Derrick didn’t just listen to my woes, but he shared his own futile search for the right man. I advised him that strip bars (gay or straight) may not bring out the best in a guy, and he should consider widening his search area. Derrick was able to follow my descriptions when I came in with references like, “I want to go for that cute hairstyle Holly Hunter wore in “Broadcast News”. Derrick would always tell me if my hair was too thin for some style or if it would make my face look fat. It was an honesty I relied on.

Haircut from Hell II

One day I entered the shop in a deep funk. Kid problems, health issues, not enough sex, dog messes, yaddayaddayadda…all had me worn down and vulnerable. Derrick could see my misery and asked how he could help. At last, someone who could actually do something. A perky new look would be a wonderful morale booster. I’d see a different woman in the mirror, confident, in control of her life, attractive even! So I put myself in his hands. I uttered these fateful words, “Just do whatever you want. I’m ready for a new look.” Do not ever say these words to your hairdresser!!!! I beg of you! You may think you know him and he knows you. But you do not know what creative ideas may lurk in that mind! And you probably don’t want to be the blank canvas on which they’ll be released!

A bad barbershop haircut

His first thought was to make my dark hair a shade of burgundy. Not that there haven’t been times I’ve been open to experimentation. But as a forty-ish woman who ran her own day care home, I thought the timing was off. Bad career move. Maybe that idea should have put me on alert, but I sank into a comfortable haze listening to Derrick’s home decorating plans for his new house and envying his freedom to make choices.

It should be noted that this occurred before the cataract surgery, which traded my myopic lenses for better ones. When I sat in Derrick’s salon chair with my glasses off, my vision extended about six inches from my face. The mirror was a blur of lights and colors. I could feel my shoulder-length hair falling around me, but I was getting psyched to see the new look. After all, Derrick knew my cardinal rule: No Short Bangs! I liked them fringy and touching my eyebrows. The rest was up for grabs. Or so I thought in my innocence.

My mood was improving with each snip, aided by Derrick’s cheerful demeanor. (Of course he was cheerful… a client who gives carte blanche is a hairdresser’s wet dream!) When he finally whipped the drape from my shoulders and handed me my glasses with a big Ta-DA, all the lights and colors in the mirror took on shape. I saw my own face fall from gleeful anticipation to horror. I can barely describe what I saw on my head, but it could have been road kill. Totally asymmetric. That’s no offense in itself. But short spiky little irregular-length hairs poked every which way on one side, and a mish-mash of oddly arranged lengths dangled and argued for space on the other, while a thin strand came to an angled point on one cheek! Where my bangs used to be stood a spiky crewcut. I have seen three-year olds take scissors to themselves and end up with a style that made more sense!

“Breathe. Breathe. Oh… My…God!” That’s what went through my mind right before the dam burst. Not silent embarrassed hidden tears. There was no holding this flood back. I cried openly and hard. At least the shop had emptied by then, but it would have made no difference. I was sobbing words about just wanting to look better and being so worn out and now…this. Poor confused Derrick. He lay his hand on my shoulder, and his brown eyes softened into empathetic sadness. In the gentlest tone, he crooned, “Hon… I don’t mean to pry… but are you on your period?” Aaaaarrrgghhh!

I chanted the Bad Haircut Mantra all the way home, “It’ll grow back.It’ll grow back.It’ll grow back.” When I went to my mother’s house to plead for help, she stood dumbfounded, studying the challenge. We were both used to my sister returning from her stylist in tears. She, too, would enter full of hope and anticipation with a wild mane of hair to be tamed, only to leave with a blonde Afro and the conviction that there is indeed a secret code among hairdressers that states, “Whatever the customer asks you to do, it’s wrong. Customers are basically idiots who don’t know what’s best for them. So whatever they tell you, ignore it and go with something you’ve been dying to try. If possible, take secret photos, so we can all have a good laugh at the next convention.” I now accepted her premise.

Mom had only one solution, “Well, Allene, all I know to do is cut it evenly all over and give you a home perm.” Oh, God, not the old Toni home perm from my childhood! It made me shudder to recall those tight hairdos to which every girl in the 50’s got subjected. But what recourse did I have? Skinhead isn’t my look. So I gave my hair once again into my mother’s hands. She did her level best, and I no longer resembled an aging punk who’d pulled an Edward Scissorhands on her own head during a bad trip. For the next few weeks I looked like those old pictures of the 1930’s schoolmarm with tight little pincurls plastered against her head and a look of constipation on her face. I count the Derrick-Do as Haircut from Hell II. (Mom’s Toni Solution was an improvement, or it could vie for III.)

And yes, I stuck with Derrick until he moved away, but I kept my glasses on whenever he cut my hair! Besides hair, Derrick had other valuable skills. For my sister’s naughty bridal shower, we hired Derrick to be the stripper. And he was superb! Who knew his time at the strip bars had practical application? After watching him shake his fine booty, I had to forgive his Haircut from Hell!

I will post Part Three soon.

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