My $20 haircut

It was the sign that got me. “First haircut $20!”

In L.A. where haircuts can easily run five times that, this was the equivalent of “calorie-free cookies that don’t taste like ass” or perhaps “universal healthcare!” In other words, too good to be true, but let’s face it, I was weak.

The day before I’d been out thrift shopping for a work wardrobe that didn’t make me look like I’d been digging through Hillary Clinton’s give-to-Goodwill pile, and my hair, which I stared at in three-way mirrors all day under fluorescent lighting, was doing its Bride of Frankenstein thing. All women have been in that place, and we all understand why Britney shaved her head. I was ripe for the $20 picking.

In my own defense, I Googled the salon, which had good reviews, and when I called with that desperate tone in my voice, I did ask if they had anyone who specialized in curly hair. They said they did. They could have been lying. I booked it anyway.

Due to the laws of traffic and parking, which only fellow Angelenos will understand, I arrived half an hour early and had to sit on a hard bench regretting my decision. One doesn’t want to be rash with hair, and I had been rash in making the appointment. I didn’t know these people. I had a stylist – albeit one with whom I was becoming more and more disillusioned. But she knew me! She’d known me for years! Together we had traversed that unfortunate surfer blonde phase.

But I was there. I’d checked in, and the receptionist had poured me an unusually large glass of Cabernet. One could only hope my stylist wasn’t drinking a similar amount. Sneaking out the back would’ve been uncouth.

When my beautician finally arrived, I was tipsy and developing a nervous sweat. She didn’t help things. It wasn’t her fault, of course. We don’t choose when we’re born, and it isn’t nice to discriminate against teenagers.

Cabernet give me courage.

She was, it must be said, very beautiful in the way that all model/actresses who come to L.A. from every small town in American are beautiful. (She is. She did.) She had big, Bambi eyes and a tan and earnestly told me of her desire to “be in front of the camera.”

(Let us all take a moment to pray for her.)

I followed Bambi to her station and explained my problem. “Hair bad. Frankenstein. Help.”

It’s possible I wasn’t coherent. She looked a little confused but soldiered on bravely, restating my problem in whole sentences.

“You would like your hair to look less like it has been styled with an electric egg beater.”


“Righty-o!” (She is the sort of sweet, young thing who says that.)

Then she pulled out the scissors. “I’m going to cut it dry,” she said, “so I can see how the curls will look.”

No one had ever cut my hair dry before, but hey, “In for a penny, drink a vat of Cabernet.”

Bambi went to work, and it was like a scene from Edward Scissorhands. We had agreed to leave the length more or less where it was – just below my shoulders – but she went about hacking out enough hair in between to make my own muppet. There was – I am not kidding – as much hair on the floor as on my head. A sober person would’ve been more worried about that.

I was then washed – hello, scalp massage, I love you – and squirted with salt water. (I don’t know either.)

I paid my $20 plus tip, tried not to think too much about it and went home.

That was yesterday. Today I’ve been dancing around my living room, shaking my awesome new haircut to The Cataracs. (Yes, it’s spelled that way because they are cool – like my hair.) Apparently, I’d been slipping into boring, conservative, old person head and not even knowing it. Bambi inserted “uneven, chunky layers,” which sounds very scary to my sober self, but let me tell you, it will take years off your old person head.

Death to old person head!

Bambi, I love you.






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