So the other day I got my hair cut. I’d been putting it off because I didn’t want to spend the kind of money a good haircut usually costs me. I had tried a strip-mall chain place a few months ago for a trim, and the entire experience was schmeh. And it still cost me $30. That is unacceptable. This time I tried Tony and Guy’s, another chain, but this time without horrible bright orange plastic chairs and year-old magazines in the waiting room.
I will preface the following discussion with the following: The guy who cut my hair did a fantastic job. Very likely the best haircut I’ve had. He was friendly, listened to what I wanted, and made some suggestions informed by his hair expertise. He wasn’t off-the-wall expensive, and I will make another appointment with him in the future.
But this place — I was obviously not cool enough to be there.
I show up in my Reefs and old jeans and University of Edinburgh tee-shirt, sweating profusely because I’ve run through the mall, very late because the parking deck was full of sixteen-year-old yuppie spawn driving Humvees.* No one in the salon had hair of a natural color. Most were wearing belts made of some sort of barbed wire or chain link. The girl in the chair next to me came in with a platinum blonde Rapunzel-length wig and asked her stylist to put it on and cut it Gwen Stefani-style, which inspired many around me to ask “where she was partyin’ that night.” There were ripped tee-shirts and talk of bands I’ve never heard of. And, because it’s the Galleria, there were a lot of Coach handbags with metallic trim.
Now, I generally dislike talking to someone who is cutting my hair. I want them to concentrate on the task at hand. But it’s even less appealing when I’m tasked with talking about graduate school in this atmosphere. And talking about graduate school to someone who obviously has no idea how graduate school works. Hence the following conversation. My stylist will be played by Freddy Prinze, Jr. I will be played by Danny Devito:
Freddy as Stylist: So, you’re in graduate school. Do you like it?
Devito as Me: Sure.
Freddy: Do you live in the dorms?
Devito: No, there are graduate apartments, but I live in my own apartment with my husband.
Freddy: Whoa, you’re married? While you’re in college?
Devito: Well, I already graduated from college. I went to a school in DC. Now I’m in graduate school.
Freddy: So wait, this is your second college?
Devito: Um, yes. (Trying to end this painful conversation with a stony silence).
Freddy: That must be expensive.
Devito: Well, Rice, like a lot of other schools, waives tuition for grad students and gives them money for rent and other expenses.
Freddy: Cool. You’re probably going to make mad money when you graduate, huh?
Devito: [Remains silent, unwilling to crush the illusions of academic grandeur.]
Freddy: What are you working on now?
Devito: Well, I just finished all my classes, and I have two years to write my dissertation.
Freddy: You get two years to write a paper?
This is the point where I realize further explanation is useless. We start talking about hair instead, and I amaze him with my naivite regarding hair products and appliances. He calls me a “schoolgirl” when he discovers that I never really use a straightening iron at home. (I have since bought low-end one at Target, as my new haircut looks better when I use one — probably because I can’t do anything with a hairdryer except dry my hair with my head upside down. The straightening iron, I have found, is a wonderful invention and makes my life easier and my hair shinier.) I mildly insult him when I say that I don’t really like the smell of Bed Head products, which remind me faintly of what strawberry poop would smell like if berries had working digestive systems.
I go home and read Mary Cowden Clarke. He goes home, gets dolled up, and goes out to party with Stefani-girl, who has shared the address of that night’s hot spot.
* I’m not anti-SUV and generally take other people’s vehicular decisions with a grain of salt, but there is something about the Hummer that makes me irrationally angry. I don’t care if it’s the smaller version. It’s still the size of a redwood tree. It is pretentious and ridiculous and all that is wrong with the universe. When I see them on the road I roll down my window and yell “Your Hummer looks stupid.” This is the truth. Ask Danny. He has to deal with the madness.