Change It Up Challenge

Change It Up Challenge: Grown-Up Hair Salons

It was the above picture at my former roommate’s wedding that finally did it–it was the last straw on the camel’s back, the last calorie to make me gain the pound, the last little shopping cart race that gets you kicked out of Walmart…basically, it was what made me say, “This hair’s history. Whether you like it or not” as Matt stared at me, trying to decipher the sudden outburst and whether or not he should respond to it. Poor chap.

Then, as we sat in the back of Kayla’s car as we made the three hour drive back home from the wedding, came the stewing…the stirring and swirling and steaming in my head of different hair possibilities–a perky A-line that I’ll have to cut every 6 weeks? A rounded bob that will bring me back to the end of 9th grade, when a drastic new look was my key to a new high school identity? A splurge on highlights that would be drawn out more and more with all of my time spent in the sun (ha ha)? But, as any haircut-junkie knows, all that simmering in the head is just a cover-up–a neatly packaged red herring for the fear that grips the heart at the first hint of the word “haircut.” All that sauteeing of styles and chops only an excuse while the scared 2-year-old in all of us kicks its chubby feet and pounds its balled-up fingers as a hand with a pair of scissors in it gets a little too close…

Basically what happens is that whenever I’ve convinced myself to get a haircut, all of a sudden my hair starts acting like a potty-trained puppy that just seconds earlier was out pooping in the neighbor’s daffodils…all of a sudden I had more good hair moments than I knew what to do with. And then the little voice…You don’t have to cut it…Look how great it’s looking…See how magically it swooshes around in the breeze?

But I am trained in these sorts of mind games. My heart is steel and glass from years of unexpected slaughterings of my strands and surprising blunt choppages of two years of hard-earned hair. So I was prepared to do it—to take it all off, at least to just below my chin. Then I made the mistake of asking opinions on it. Then I made the mistake of mentioning that I wanted to go to my tried-and-true salon of choice: Fantastic Sam’s.

Now, before I go further, I must clarify: I love Fantastic Sam’s. Always have, always will. Even though I’ve had multiple so-so haircuts and scary coloring jobs, they’ve also given me brilliant up-dos, breathtaking bangs, and a bodacious hue or two as well. Plus, I’ve always been one to be willing to take a chance or two (if in doubt, read all of my previous Change It Up posts, please). And with great risk comes, well, a loss or two here and there. And since my hair grows upwards of 1/2 inch per month, I can afford to be riskier than most. Plus I’m just cheap.

But I somehow came to find myself wandering into Salon 170 today around high noon, asking if they took walk-ins. People have been telling me for years it seems how much of a difference “real” salons offer in place of your typical chain salons–and, seeing some of my friends’ and coworkers’ hair and doing a quick comparison to my own, I’d probably have to agree. But a $30 cut? It’s a tough hairball to swallow (no pun intended) when you’ve just been jobless for over a month. But with high hopes and a wary heart, I set up an appointment (they said they took walk-ins, but it was probably just a pretense), and I plopped myself down on one of the cushy armchairs to read through some celebrity gossip magazines to kill time. Well, I could see at least one improvement—better chairs. Plus the guy working the register offered me a drink (twice!) while I waited. Now that’s good service.

When my stylist finally meandered in, I was ready to about chop off my entire braid, but I made myself smile and make small talk as she lifted up my ends to see how bad they were (I’ve always hated the little salon chatter they make at me while snipping away at my strands–just leave me to mourn my hair in peace). When I told her my ultimatum, which consisted of this–My long hair’s got one chance to look good or it’s gone–so if this is a bad haircut, it’s all going, she just smiled and pulled out her scissors.

(P.S. Yes, I actually did say that to her. I’m so charming.)

So while she went about cutting off my hair in the oddest way possible (I’ve never had ALL of my hair cut off by a razor before), we hit on the common interest of books and the time passed by pleasantly enough, aside from the fact that I’d drunk too much water right before and was about to explode all over her leopard-print drape. I found myself scrutinizing each snip (actually, it was more like with each rip, considering she was just using the razor) with the utmost criticism, expecting to hate it (as I tend to always hate haircuts until I’ve had a chance to play around with them). But when she finally got around to blow-drying and styling it (another perk of a fancy, grown-up salon–no hair dripping down your back at the end that leaves you with no other option than to go home and survey the damage), I had to admit, it didn’t look half bad. In fact, if I tossed my hair a little this way and that, I kind of looked like one of those horses they feature at those hick-country horse shows, the one with its mane all shiny and curled. The one with the blue ribbon on its chest.

Anyway, when she asked me if I liked it, I honestly said, “Well, it looks better than it did before. No complaints there.” (Did I mention how charming I am?) So I popped out of the chair, popped out the $30, and popped around my hair a few more times in the car before driving home. All in all? I’d have to say it looks pretty good. Actually, I’d have to say it looks really good. I wonder where a $50 haircut would get me…

Change It Up Successful? You tell me.

I will say one thing though—when I went home to show Matt, the first thing out of his mouth? “It doesn’t really look that different.”


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