World class salon.
What exactly does that mean, anyway?
Winner of Canadian Salon Business Excellence, Five Star Service. What does that mean?
Kinda thinking it means not very much after this appointment with Matina. Oh, Matina, you’re a nice lady. You’re a skilled conversationalist, and obviously you’ve been working in public service a long time because you have conversation down to a fine art. The listening part of the whole exchange? Not so much.
This is what I say when I come in, pointing to my wild thatch: Trim the ends, not too much off. Reshape the bangs. Cut in some more long layers. You nod. Fine, no problem, you hear this all the time, no doubt. Matina is a pro, I feel confident of this as we talk. We go to the back, and I sink into the sink chair. Water temperature’s perfect, subtle jasmine shampoo scent soothes. You massage my scalp and I melt, almost drift off. Then it’s back to the chair, draped in plastic, and while you comb and snip and comb and snip and comb and snip, we talk.
Oh, do we talk. Movies, relationships, current affairs, travel, books, the economy, the price of groceries, reality TV (my favourite oxymoron), breeds of dogs. You move with acrobatic daring from one topic to the next, faster than I can, and I’m a seasoned talker myself. Before I know it you’re done cutting, and I have forgotten to watch what you’re doing. You’ve succeeded in distracting me. For a second I see your eye flicker from the ends of my hair to my eyes, and I look, too. It looks pretty short. But then it’s supposed to look shorter right after you get it cut, no?
I see, as you blow dry it, that it is not what I asked for at all. It’s the same cut I saw on the lady walking out of here when I came in; it’s the same cut on the other lady you were finishing up with as I flipped through a magazine. It’s the ubiquitous shoulder length bob, it’s the same haircut you gave them. I’ll bet it’s the same damn haircut you give everyone. No, it’s not what I asked for at all.
But I am nothing if not a pragmatist. Hair, once cut, cannot be uncut. I know this to be true. Letting it grow back in is all there is for it. I am a pragmatist and I am also a Canadian. I thank you for the cut. I tip you. And despite my disappointment, I will more than likely, in the fullness of time, make another appointment with you. Because I enjoy good conversation. And because this is a World Class Salon, after all.
Lori Hahnel is the author of two novels, Love Minus Zero (Oberon, 2008) and After You’ve Gone (Thistledown, 2014), as well as a story collection, Nothing Sacred (Thistledown, 2009), which shortlisted for an Alberta Literary Award. Her work has been nominated for the Journey Prize three times and published in over thirty journals across North America and in the U.K.; her credits include CBC Radio, The Fiddlehead, Joyland and The Saturday Evening Post. Lori teaches creative writing at Mount Royal University and the Alexandra Writers’ Centre.
She can be found at www.lorihahnel.ca