Posted by: haircutsrevisited | March 5, 2010

Clara’s Story

Clara’s Story
By Tammy

Foreword: As a hairdresser one of my biggest peeves is the old school beauty salon. My grandmother used to have one so I had many haircuts in hers when I was a kid. Today they are so out-of-place that it does happen on occasion that someone visits one to save money and ends up with a really bad haircut. I’ve had to fix a few people’s hair over the years from experiences like this.

I went home for the weekend to visit my parents in the small town I grew up in. I have one brother but he wasn’t around this weekend as he is away at college now. I live in Chicago and I only get the chance to come home for a visit a few times a year.

I was bored as the house was quiet without my brother around so I decided to go for a walk. I found myself strolling around our main street in town doing some window-shopping. That was when I came across the old hair salon. It was an old beauty salon that looked like it was from the 1970’s.

It had its very dated décor and pictures of people on the walls showing off different haircuts, all of them out of style now. I remembered having all of my haircuts in there when I was a kid. This was the place my mom used to take me. Mom still goes there now as she always had her haircuts in there. Seeing the place sent a flash of memories running through my head.

My mom used to take me for a haircut once a year, and always in the early summer. She would take me in there and tell them to give me a good haircut. They would take all of my length off leaving me with a very short bob. This was her way of saving money on haircuts. The haircuts where cheap, about $8 and I only got one haircut a year.

My hair is quite long now, just past my bra strap in length. That was the one thing I did when I moved to Chicago was I grew my hair out as long as I could. Mostly I was curious how long I could get it. I liked it long but I’ve had it this way for a few years now. So I felt the novelty of it has worn off for me.

I stood there in front of the shop and thought really hard about going in for a good haircut. You know, a spur of the moment kind of thing. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach hitting me as I thought about it.

I remembered that feeling of my new, fresh haircuts when I was young and how light it felt afterwards. I loved the way my hair would bounce just after a haircut. I felt a strange urge for that feeling once again…this feeling was exhilarating…

So I took a deep breath, I reached for the door, and I entered the shop.

“Hello” the owner greeted me as I walked in.

She was sitting in the front of the shop all by herself. It was the same owner from all those years ago, only she was looking a little older now. She is a very cheerful woman but was always right down to business when it came to haircutting. I used to get really nervous sitting in her chair and found those same nerves creeping inside of me again after all these years.

 “Can I help you?” she asked me.

“Yes, I um…I was thinking about getting a haircut.” I said nervously.

“Of course,” she said, “Come right in and take a seat.”

She got up and walked over to the first station and spun the chair to face me.

“You can take a seat right here young lady.” She told me standing behind the chair.

I slid up into the chair and she spun me to face the mirror.

“So what were you thinking my dear?” she asked.

“Well, I used to get my haircut in here when I was a kid. You used to give me those bob haircuts.” I told her.

“Of course,” she said, “Your Shirley’s girl aren’t you. I haven’t seen you for years.”

“I know, I moved to Chicago now and I am just in town for a visit this weekend.” I told her.

“Well it is good to see you again, and all grown up now I see.” She said.

“Thanks.” I told her

“So what are we doing today sweetie?” She asked me again to get back on track.

“I was thinking about cutting it short again.” I told her. “You know, like how you used to cut it for me.”

“I can cut it short for you but you know you’re not a kid anymore.” She told me. “I think we could do something a little more age appropriate for ya now that you’re all grown up. How about taken it a little bit shorter for ya this time and give you a nice, new style?”

I took a moment to think about it. I had long hair for a while now and I really did want to do something different with it. I think I was also caught up in the moment as well. So…

 “OK” I said with a smile. I was really nervous but for some reason I trusted her. She had been cutting my hair for me for most of my life anyways.

She flung the cape up over me in the air and it settled over my shoulders and into my lap. She pulled my long hair out from underneath it fastening the cape snug around my neck. She grabbed a hairbrush and started brushing my hair back into a ponytail and fastened it.

She reached for a large pair of scissors from the shelf in front of me and came back behind me holding them up to my ponytail.

“Ready?” She said.

I was trembling but I gave a weak nod and I bit my lower lip.

I heard the scissors close with a sawing motion as they hacked into my hair. Freshly shorn locks of my hair fell loose and settled around my jaw line in the front. In a moment the cutting stopped and she held my ponytail up for me to see it through the mirror. I completely tensed up. She placed my ponytail and her scissors back on the shelf in front of me so I could see it. I couldn’t believe how long the ponytail was. I shook my head and took a good looked at myself in the mirror.

“WOW.” I said out loud reaching around to feel where she had cut my hair. “No turning back now I guess.”

“Don’t you worry sweetie, you’re in good hands.” She said as she placed her hand on my shoulder. “Come-on over to the sink and I’ll wash it for ya.” So I followed her over to the sink.

She put a towel over my shoulders and tilted me back into the sink. I closed my eyes as the warm water rushed through my hair. The water stopped and she pumped some shampoo in her hand and lathered it through my hair. She had very strong fingers and gave a good scalp massage. She rinsed the shampoo and applied some conditioner. She rinsed that off and tilted me up scooping my hair into the towel.

I got up and followed her back to the station. I took a seat back in the chair as she was reaching for the scissors and comb off the shelf. She came back around behind me and started combing my hair straight back.

“So I see your mother at Bridge every Thursday night.” She started in with the gossip as she combed my hair out. “We play over at the church hall ya know.”

She stood over me and combed out a section of my hair on top of my head as she talked. She held a section of hair between her two fingers about 2” above my scalp and moved in with the scissors. I clinched the arms of the chair tight as they closed in…SNIP SNIP SNIP. She cut my hair off leaving about 2” of length behind. My eyes nearly popped out of my head seeing how short she was cutting it. I wasn’t expecting it to be this short.

She was gossiping away about my mom and the bridge club as she cut away at my hair. It was a very surreal experience and I zoned out of the conversation. I was in shock but I didn’t say anything. I just sat there and watched as she sectioned another section on top of my head and cut that off as well. She did this across the top of my head section after section taking the length down to 2” all over. I watched as lock after lock rained down onto the cape in front of me, and piled up on my lap.

She then stopped for a moment

“Huh” I said as I came too.

“I asked you if you are going to go to see the theatre group perform this weekend?” She said louder to get my attention.

“Oh,” I said, “I didn’t know they were performing.” I told her as I came back to reality.

She tilted my head over to the left and combed out a section right over my right ear holding my hair between her fingers.

“Oh well you should sweetie” she said as she dove in with the scissors cutting my hair off over my ear.

 “They are performing a comedy called ‘When in Rome.” She said cheerfully emphasizing the title of the play.

She came around behind me and tilted my head straight down towards my chest. She continued talking about the theatre group as she held another section in the back and cut it off section after section before moving over to my left side. She finished up the left side cutting the last of my hair over my ear and I watched as it tumbled down my shoulder and onto my lap. 

“Well that is the last of that taken care of.” She announced as she finished cutting all of my hair off. “Will just neaten this up for ya.” She said as she approached again with the scissors and comb.

She went over the sides and back running the comb up my hair and cutting my hair with the scissors over the comb around my ears and my back making it shorter over my ears and gradually longer towards the top. I sat there mesmerized watching her shape my new haircut. She talked away as she worked showing no regard for me whatsoever.

She went over the top one more time blending it with the sides but leaving it about 2” long on top, it was slightly shorter in the sides and back and neatly cut around my ears. She combed my bangs straightforward and ran the scissors straight across my forehead, leaving me with bangs that sat just above my eyebrows. My new bangs made my face look so different.

She finally finished with the scissors and she took a hairdryer and blow-dried it off with a hairbrush. She reached over and turned on a curling iron as she was blow-drying it. I guess that meant she was going to curl it as well.

She put the hairdryer down and grabbed the curling iron and a tail comb coming back around me again.

“Not done yet sweetie, I just need to put the finishing touches on it for ya.” She said as she started sectioning my hair with the comb.

“You will need a good curling iron at home to keep up this style so I’ll show you how to do it.” She explained as she worked. “Your mom can give you a hand with it as well.”

She stood over me and sectioned out a section of my hair on top. She went in with the curling iron and curled it back holding my hair in the iron for a moment before releasing it. She did this all over the top of my head section after section. She was still talking away to me about how to keep up the style while she worked. When she finished my hair was sitting in neat tight curls all over the top and the sides of my head.

She put the curling iron down and took a hairbrush and came back over to me. She started brushing it back and the curls loosened into a puffy coif on top of my head. She took her comb and teased it all over. Then she grabbed a huge bottle of hairspray and a clear facemask with a handle on the bottom of it.

“Here, hold this up to your face sweetie so I don’t get the hairspray in your eyes.” She said as she handed me the facemask. I held it over my face and she started to spray a massive amount of hairspray into my hair.

“You know you can never have too much hairspray.” She said as she unloaded it into my hair. A huge cloud of hairspray gathered over top of me and the smell of it filled the room.

She stopped spraying and I held the mask away from my face to have a look at my hair. I was in shock looking at my reflection. She made me look exactly like my mother. I felt 30 years older and not like a 22-year-old girl anymore. I couldn’t believe this looking at myself.

“Voila.” She said out loud. “Now you look like a whole new person.” She told me cheerfully. “Like a respectable young woman now.”

She took the facemask from my hand and unfastened the cape and slipped it off of me. She put the mask down and hung the cape back on its pole. She grabbed a hand mirror and came back behind me to show me my new hair in the mirror.

“There you go sweetie,” She said. “That looks much better on ya now, don’t you think?”

I worked up the courage to give a smile and gave her a nod like I approved. I was really trying hard to fight back my tears but kept on a brave face. I got up and said “Thank-you”

“That will be $16.” She told me.

I handed her a twenty and said, “Keep the change.”

“Oh, thank-you so much sweetie, and enjoy your new hair.”

“Thanks.” I told her as I was trying to be polite.

“And remember what I said about the festival this weekend, hope to see you there.” She said in her cheery tone.

I nodded and smiled and turned for the door. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I got out to the street and took a deep breath of fresh air as I was trying to calm my nerves. I reached up to feel my hair for the first time and I was shocked at how short it was. It had so much hairspray in it that it felt like a helmet on top of my head. I never thought she was going to do anything like this to me, not in a million years. I walked for home hoping not to bump into anyone I knew.

My town was far too small for that though. Before long I bumped into an old acquaintance from high school. It was a girl I never really got along with as well. ‘Oh great’ I thought to myself.

“Clara,” She said as she approached.

I smiled “Hi.” I answered politely.

“Look at you.” She said cheerfully. I could hardly recognize you.”

“Yep, it’s me.” I said.

“Wow” she said taking another double take on me. I was freaking out on the inside.

“You changed your hair.” She said.

“I just got it done today actually.” I said in a low tone.

“Heh.” She responded, as she was looking it over. “That’s some different.”

We got caught up but I just wanted to get home as quickly as I could to recover whatever I can out of my haircut. As I walked home I bumped into some more of our neighbors who noticed my new hair as well. They couldn’t help but comment on it as well. I was so embarrassed.

I finally got home and mom was in the kitchen.

“Clara.” She called out when I entered the house.

I entered the kitchen and answered, “Yah mum.”

“Clara I need a hand with the…OH MY GOODNESS!!! What did you do to your hair?” she said.

Right then I finally burst into tears.

“Oh Clara.” She responded coming over to give me a big hug. “What happened?”

I told her the story about going to the salon and what she did to me. Mom started to chuckle a little.

“Oh honey it’s ok,” She said. “You know that’s were I go to get my haircut.”

“I know.” I told her.

“She gave you the same haircut she gives me.” She told me.

“I know.” I said.

“You know I think she gives that same haircut to just about everyone I know.” She said and started to laugh.

“It’s not funny.” I told her.

“OH, it’s not that bad darling.” She said as she reached up to feel my hair. “She just uses too much hairspray is all.”

I stopped crying and wiped my tears. “OK, I guess it is kind of funny,” I told her.

“Go take a shower and you will feel much better after. She always goes overboard with all that hairspray. Go and wash that off and you will feel much better, I promise.”

I took a shower and shampooed out all of the hairspray. After I blow-dried my hair with my fingers ruffling it and making it look kind of messy. I found some of my brother’s hair gel and ruffled it into my hair. I felt a lot better now that I styled it different. It was shorter than I wanted it, but it did look good with it messed up with some gel.

I went back to the kitchen to show my mom.

“So what do you think?” I told her

“That looks much better.” She said.

“You think so?” I asked.

“Yes I really do.” She said. “I like you with short hair. It makes you look more um…Professional.” She said with a smile. Do you like it?” she asked.

“I do. I like it a lot better now without all that hairspray.” I said.

It took me a few days to get used to it being short but I had a lot of fun finding different ways to style it. When I got back to Chicago I found a great salon with a really cool hairstylist that does amazing short haircuts for me. She does something different for me every time I go to get my haircut. Now I get really excited about getting my haircuts and love my short hair. I won’t be growing it out anytime soon.

Thanks for reading,

Tammy

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