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.)
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.