X-Files Red, Not Lohan Red: A Haircut Trauma
by Kathleen Laux
I dread getting my hair cut. Actually, I dread getting all of them cut.
The reason is three-fold. I hate small talk, I hate people touching my head, and I hate being hovered over — especially when that person is above and behind me. I’m positive that in a past life I was killed suddenly, from behind, and that it was mob-related.
Anyway, haircuts, for this reason, are traumatizing. I avoid getting them until my hair starts to feel like chainmail and starts talking to me. That’s when I know it’s time.
I can’t make an appointment like a normal person, so my method is this: I walk down random streets until I see the first establishment that offers hair-cutting as a service. I then go to that place, no matter what that place may be. This means that in the past I have ended up at super expensive salons, and places that are basically kitchens in someone’s apartment. I never go to the same place twice. Once, I walked into an all-male barbershop. When I walked through the door about 20 black men turned to look at me at the same time. A record screeched to a halt and we stared in silence. Someone did end up cutting my hair there, all the while laughing and saying “white girl hair…” over and over and over. It cost me $20.
In 35 years, it was the best haircut I’ve ever gotten.
Today was the day I could avoid no longer. It happens to be the first beautiful, spring-like day in South Slope, Brooklyn, and the baby strollers were out in full force, like a cavalcade of drool. I walked in the sun, unable to enjoy the weather because I knew what was coming.
And there it was: the first establishment that cut human hair, in front of my face.
It mentioned in large letters on the windows that it also cut kid’s hair, so basically I knew at that point that I was sabotaging myself. I forged ahead anyway. These are the rules, and the rules must be followed.
Taylor Dayne’s twin greeted me (if you are too young to know who Taylor Dayne is, imagine a busted Fergie) wearing leather pants, laced-up leather boots that went to mid-thigh, and a shirt. The front of this shirt had a beach scene, the back of this shirt was nothing but black lace. It was a great shirt. She was chewing gum. Her hair was a mustard yellow color and, if this is possible, looked not to be made of individual hairs but instead was one large strand that had been split by razors, forming crispy bangs that never moved. She looked like if John Leguizamo morphed with Big Bird. Her voice was identical to Melanie Griffith in Working Girl. She smelled like Dimetapp.
She fell in love with me instantly; I could feel it.
I asked for my usual: shampoo, chop two inches off my head, blow-dry. Easy. Breezy. Beautiful. Covergirl. I knew that she’d ask: “layers?” to which I’d reply, “sure, you’re the professional, do whatever.”
These are the rules.
And so we danced.
She washed my hair, which always makes me feel like a dog. The moving from the shampoo thingy to “her” chair was awkward, I flicked water on some old man’s pants. In hindsight I think it might have been Steve Buscemi.
And then, lo and behold — what a shock — she wanted to consult with me on what our collective vision was for my head. Again, my main motivation is to get the fuck out of there as quickly as possible, as I’ve been known to tip 100% to people who a.) do not speak to me and b.) are quick, like bunnies.
Taylor Dayne, clearly, was not going to get a 100% tip. As she was groping my wet head and we’re both staring at me in the mirror, her fake coral lips opened into a scream and she yelled: “OH MY GOOOWAD, HAVE YOU EVAH BEEN A REDHEAD?!!”
“Maybe. In college.” I said.
“YOU HAVE TO. YOU HAVE TO. YOOWAH SKIN AND YOOWAH EYES. YOU NEED TO BE RED. REGINA!! WE NEED TO MAKE HER RED.”
I began to panic. I did not want to be red. I did not want Regina to make me red.
“Ha, no, no thanks — just the haircut today…”
“NOT LOHAN RED. X-FILES RED, NOT LOHAN RED. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
Scully. The X-Files. I did understand. I still said no.
“YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN BOOWAN A REDHEAD.”
At that moment, other hairdressers walked away from their clients and toward me, circling my chair like zombies. They began to poke me. At one point, Taylor Dayne even told me that they wouldn’t charge me: that is how convinced they all were that I needed to be a redhead and that I could not be allowed to escape with my current brunette-ness intact.
I grabbed for my purse and jumped through the window into the sunny Brooklyn street, glass falling upon all of the strollers in my midst.
Just kidding, I did not do that. I sat there, petrified.
“AND AFTER WE DO IT X-FILES RED WE’LL GIVE IT A CURL LIKE JESSICA RABBIT. SHE’S A HAIRDRESSAH’S DREAM.”
Oh my God.
I decided to strike a deal with Taylor Dayne: stop talking about red and I’d let her curl my hair or whatever she needed to do to turn me into a rabbit.
And that is what she did, snapping her gum and shaking her head and muttering “red” under her breath.
I escaped, un-red, already dreading the next time I have to live through this.
I’m thinking of buying a Flowbee.
Previously: … Or Any “-Ism,” for That Matter
Kathleen Laux has moved around quite a bit but is currently a Brooklynite who enjoys dogs, naps, taking pictures of garbage, and Marshmallow Fluff.