Wednesday, August 24, 2011

the one where green girl is a snob

We all have prejudicial attitudes about where we'll indulge a little more. We opt for brand name peanut butter instead of store brand. Driving through Starbucks instead of going into a convenience store for a cup of coffee. Tanqueray gin instead of Heaven Hill. Simon's cheese instead of Velveeta (a cheese product). Real butter, never ever ever margarine. You know what I'm talking about, right?


No? Maybe it's just me...

In last week's post about how I spend below the average on school shopping, I mentioned $70 (incl. tip) on haircuts. A number of people commented on the haircut expense, seems like most people rely on razors to buzz little boys and send them back into battle. Believe me, I've thought about this. It's ridiculous to pay someone to run a razor across Team Testosterone's skulls, the amount we spend on 3 buzz cuts would pay for a razor kit at Target. I get it.

But here's the thing, Mr. D and I grew up on the cheap end of hair care. Mr. D had his hair cut by his mom--we've got nearly two decades' worth of photographic proof that my MIL had no business wielding a scissors on her son's fine, flyaway blonde locks. Mr. D looks like hell in most of those photos. Everyone looking at him knew right off the bat he had his hair cut at home. On a stool in the kitchen. With a bowl over his head to mark the scissors' path. Home haircuts were also a clear mark of not having enough cash for a trip to the barber shop.

Likewise, my dad perched me on a stool in our basement, marked my bangs with Scotch tape and clipped across that straight line before heading around to trim the back. Then he used his shop vac to clean up the scraps. My first permanent wave took place at a beauty college when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. So did my first "real haircut." Except for when my hair was one length and long, my photographic history is a testimony to bad hair care, too. (Mullets, too-short bangs, heavy wings--you name it, my head sported it.) Horrible, terrible hair cuts given by women who possessed paperwork but no talent or real skill for cutting hair.

I hated my hair for years--whether feathered, spiral-permed, flipped or layered, it never did what I wanted it to and it required gallons of hairspray and gel to stay put. Even on my wedding day I returned to the beauty shop that had tended me through high school and college. I walked out that day with an up-do resembling a football helmet--and with enough lacquer to make it just as tough. Tears streaked my cheeks.

(I should have known better--D had worn her hair the same way for the past 10 years--possibly longer--she knew one cut and style and was committed to it. The lesson I learned is your hairdresser's appearance provides good insight into their ability to stay up with trends and listen to their clients' preferences.)

The cost of bad hair cuts really piled up, too. Countless hours spent trying to "fix" my hair. Hundreds of dollars invested in products and tools (gel, mousse, hairspray, conditioner, clips, curling irons, flatirons, dryers, barrettes). The emotional turmoil of hating how I looked, constantly checking my reflection as I passed mirrors, windows, clean cars--heck, any reflective surface. I avoided hats (fear of flattening), open windows (wind) and water sports many times because I'd gotten my hair to cooperate and nothing would wreck it! My insecurity and discontent ran deep.

Years later a former student of mine graduated from beauty school. I decided to visit her chair in a show of support and I was amazed by the results. Instead of "giving me a hair cut," K cut my hair. I looked fine leaving the salon, but two days later when I washed my hair I was shocked to discover it looked fine after it dried. K knew how to cut hair. The difference between the hair cut she gave me and the cuts I'd gotten before going to her were as vivid as the difference between Bradley Cooper and Nick Nolte. I learned a lesson about finding that rare stylist who can give a quality cut. I've never gone anywhere else since that day. (In fact, I have such faith in K that I brought my MIL to her once while she was visiting--and my MIL also experienced K's genius, walking out with the best haircut of her life. She's since converted to my school of thinking and has found someone down in Iowa to take over where K left off.)

Good. Very good.

K cuts my hair, MY hair, not the hair in a photograph or on a celebrity's head. She cuts it to spec, aware of its unique texture, the cowlicks, the tendency to flip out by my right ear. She knows I'm lazy and cuts it to wash and wear. She advises me on bangs or not (NOT!) and length. She doesn't hard sell me on getting highlights, lowlights or feathers. Heck, thanks to K, I can wake up and get moving without looking like I've got bed head--she's given me wash and WAKE and wear hair!

I've learned there is no substitute for a great hair stylist.

I also know I'm not a hair stylist. I attempted to trim Mr. T's hair back in the day. He's a little kid, it doesn't matter, right? But little boys have complicated hair, short around the neck, ears, face. Regardless of the tools I bribed him with (popsicles, suckers, M&Ms) or where I cut his hair (kitchen, back patio, bathtub), he came out looking like what he truly was: the victim of a home hack job.

In my view it's totally worth the money to bring Team Testosterone to a properly certified hair stylist to get their quarterly trim. I know they're little boys, but in this one area I am a stickler for quality grooming. If they want "long on top so it can look spiky" or buzzed a centimeter long, it doesn't matter to me because the person wielding the sharp objects can do it. And when Mr. T declared he wanted to grow his hair long, I brought him to K this time around--I'm all for my kids wearing their hair the way they want to. And I never want my sons to leave the salon chair in tears (like I had experienced for so many years) because they hated their hair.

My silly prejudice: good, professional hair cuts. For everyone in my house.


  1. Yes!!! I totally understand. I have had to many bad cuts and suffered every day until it was time to get another one.

    I've been with the same guy for 10 years. Have followed him to four or five locations -- he kept opening his own shop, moving, etc. etc. I don't care. He tends to run late. I don't care. He cuts my hair perfectly and I don't worry about it for six or seven weeks (it's short) until it's time for another cut.

    Worth every penny.

  2. I so get it. My mom cut my hair all the way into high school. The one good cut I got was in third grade when my grandmother took me to a salon and had my hair done. Then there were the years of Supercuts. I finally splurged on a hairdresser when my husband and I (finally) finished graduate school. I've never gone back. It is a amazing what a good hair cut can do. Now if only I could convince my husband...

  3. LOL. I'm a bad mom. My boys get the home spun clippers ;-) They're young now. If they launch a revolt when they get a little older I'll reconsider!

  4. A good hair cut is easily worth the extra money you pay because our hair makes such a difference in how we feel with ourselves on a day-to-day basis. Since I moved to OK I haven't had a hair cut because I don't trust anyone around here, seeing only little old lady do's from the 50's. I guess I'm going to have to bite the bullet and head for the city. :)

  5. This one made me laugh. You should spend your money however you please.
    But poor Nick. To publish THAT picture of Nick Nolte is just plain mean! ;-)

  6. Amazing how childhood trauma lingers on, doesn't it?

  7. I agree with you 100%. I drive 35 miles to get the best haircut ever.

  8. I totally agree!!!

    I'll zip the boys with clippers...but if they want anything other than the standard cut, we head to the stylist. Riley is growing out his beautiful baby fine kept falling in his eyes so I took him on a whim I to the local $10 buck place (duh, my lady charges $12 for kids, but we were in a hurry..lesson learned!) I chose the girl with the coolest hair (purple highlights), figuring she'd be in the know on decent little boy styles. Yeah, he looked like the guys from Dumb and Dumber! My little sister asked if I had cut, it would have looked better! Thank God his hair grows fast and after a week he's back to being almost cute ;)

  9. aww now, don't be hard on yerself girlie...there is a difference between a "prejudice" and a preference. Nothing at all wrong with the second one.
    * ; )

    I love that story. And it is nice that you pay a professional for that service! *heehee! finding a good hair person is like striking GOLD. serio.

  10. Yep, completely agree with you! I have very fine, straight hair, and it has been butchered so many times. When I moved here 16 years ago for my job, I stumbled on a guy who is a hair stylist. Each cut is great, and although his price is high, I pay it because how my hair looks and feels can easily make or break my day. I've followed him to several new locations so far.

    The other things I'll pay big bucks for? Good chocolate and coffee. Totally worth it. I don't care what kind of car I drive, and I don't care about clothes, but my chocolate and coffee have to be GOOD!

  11. Sometimes it's worth it to spluge. And it's horrible to be a kid and have other people make fun of your hair. My mom had some notion that I ought to look like Mary Martin Peter Pan and forced ghastly pixie cuts on me that I hated. I used to get teased for looking like a boy and my main ambition for the first 8 years of my life was to be able to do what I wanted with my hair.

    Clearly it's an issue that is important to a lot of people.

  12. makes complete sense to me!

    i must have butter, never magarine.

    real milk, never powdered.

    but hair? i haven't had my hair cut since the 1980s. nobody knows what to do with my hair. including me. so i just leave it alone....

  13. one word for boy cuts... buzz...

    that's all my boys wanted growing up. all that my husband wants. so, that's what they got/get.

    i have scores of pictures that prove my mom was no stylist, either. {sigh}

  14. Well said! I would rather pay to have it cut too, though I totally understand that there are kids out there that could care less about who cuts it.

    I don't dictate how my kids wear their hair either - it's a form of self-expression and gives them control over something in their life.

  15. I do my boys' hair myself (even my husband's). Hubs hates waiting for a hair cut, he likes that he can get one at 8 p.m. on a Sunday in his own home. I wanted to be a hair stylist until my high school guidance counselor talked me out of it so about once a month I get to pretend I am. If any of them wanted to go some where else I'd be OK with it. Now for me, I have a great stylist and I'd never go anywhere else or cut my own hair.

  16. I totally get it. And, to make you feel better, I'll confess here that I take my girls to see Richard the Hair God and that for just those two heads of hair, it cost more than you spent on your three boys. Totally worth it.

  17. I take back my offer to cut the Men's hair. I totally understand, having had a childhood of auntie-done home perms. Ghastly...and with pictures to prove it!

    I have found a great hairdresser (not that I'm capable of DOING my hair, but I look good when I leave the salon), and I would follow her to the ends of the earth so she will cut it.

  18. You're allowed :) I'm totally sure you make up for it in other ways....Personally, I cut all my boys hair, but my aunt who's done hair for 45 years can't even we use the savings to go for pizza :)

  19. I guess I was lucky - Mom had her own beauty shop

  20. I have had my hair cut at a hairdressers something like 4 or 5 times in the last husband cuts my hair or more recently my youngest daughter........although I will not let my husband near my hair if he is either drunk or stone cold sober, he will do a better job if he has had a couple of wines.....

  21. I completely understand. My mom cut my hair for the first (almost) sixteen years of my life. Of course, she used to be a beautician, but still that was a LONG time ago. Then I began cutting my hair by myself. It actually looked decent too. But of course, now I would never cut my own hair. I like to actually have a style. ;)

    As for my boys, my mom taught me the basics so I feel comfortable with it. But little boys' hair can be complicated. Especially if they have straight hair like my Tommy's. Much harder than the curly hair my other two boys have that just falls in place. Anyway, as they get older and have their own opinions as to how their hair should look (right now they just want is SHORT) I will probably take them somewhere too. Course, my hubby still goes to a barber where it only costs $12 for men and $10 for kids. Bonus! ;)

  22. I so agree, a good haircut is definitely important. My hair is curly and it took me years to finally find a hair dresser and style that will work everyday. He's pricey but worth it.

  23. My heart breaks for you and Mr. D! You're both scarred from childhood hair trauma.

    Yay for Team Testosterone and their professional hair care!

  24. You saved enough on the other back to school items that you deserve to splurge on this. You have to wear your hair every day: get it done right.

  25. I absolutely get you! And I'm the one that made the clippers at Target comment.

    My thing was bikes--I never had one until I was 9 and then it was a hand-me-down. My kids peddled in style from the very beginning.

    My (very difficult, very fine) hair is important to me. I don't even want to say how much I pay for it--and every 6 weeks, too. For my son that does the basic buzz, I do that--but the ones that want a decent haircut get that, too.


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