need a haircut. It’s pretty embarrassing, actually; my bangs are so long that they become stuck under the frames of my glasses. While I would love to think that I can rock the Buddy-Holly-meets-Cousin-It look, I must be honest with myself. I’ve been begging my friends to cut my hair to no avail for the past week. (Does no one know how to use a pair of scissors anymore?) Things are getting desperate. I realize that I could just make an appointment at Karma and be done with it. But there’s a problem with that solution: I have an aversion to hairdressers.
More specifically, I hate the whole experience. I’ve never been great at salon smalltalk and it’s always impossible to hear what my stylist is saying over the roar of blow dryers. In fact, I’ve never been able to stick with the same hairdresser for more than a few years because I inevitably make things unbearably awkward or weird.
In my junior year of high school, I started going to this amazing hairdresser named Christina. The first time I saw her, she gave me the best haircut of my life. I left the salon determined not to mess things up with her. I scheduled a second appointment with her on the day of junior prom, knowing that she would work her magic and make me look fabulous for a fun-filled evening of The Backstreet Boys and all-girls line dancing (boys may have attended junior prom, but I don’t recall their presence).
Things in the salon started off badly. While she was washing my hair, Christina asked me what I had been up to lately. I was expecting this question and I had prepared a simple, tactful answer. I had just been in “Grease,” I explained, which was a lot of fun but the reason why I hadn’t been able to come get my hair cut in a while. With the water running right next to my ear, I didn’t quite catch what Christina said next. All I know is that for about five minutes, I politely nodded along with whatever she was mumbling, something about “how beautiful” and “that must have been so nice.” It was only after she started talking about the weather that I realized we were talking about two very different things. She thought, of course, that I meant Greece the country. It wasn’t until I had groped my way through a description of the Acropolis (I have never been to Greece and, in retrospect, realize that I probably described something closer to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis) that I realized I was in way over my head and needed to change the subject.
As soon as we made the move from sink to chair, I redirected the conversation to the topic of prom. Christina asked me a few perfunctory questions about my desired haircut before springing it on me: “So is this your senior prom?” Why I said yes, I will never know. It was very much not my senior prom. I was a junior and this was very clear. But I wasn’t about to go back and correct myself in front of Christina, I didn’t want her to think I was crazy or anything. I decided to go with the flow and see where I ended up.
The next thing Christina asked me, of course, was what my plans were after graduation. As a nervous junior, I had no idea. I came up with what I thought was a brilliant answer: “I’m taking a year off.” Christina really threw me for a loop when she asked me what I was planning on doing during my year off. Where my answer came form, I’ll never know: I managed to stammer that I was going to spend the entire year, a full twelve months, in rural Senegal.
The instant I said it, I knew that I had ruined everything. I couldn’t go to Christina for at a full year, because of course I was supposed to be in Senegal. My desperate attempts to avoid awkwardness had, in the end, only lead to an even more intensely awkward situation. Even after the year was up, I refused to go back to Christina for fear that she would ask me how Senegal was.
At least I learned from this experience, right? Don’t be afraid of awkwardness, get the facts straight the first time, ask for clarification if you can’t hear what someone is saying … all of these are things I could have taken away from the Senegal fiasco. And yet it seems that I will never learn. Just a few weeks ago, I met some new people en route from Dwight St. to Toad’s. I began talking with one of them and he offered to walk me home when I made the decision to go to sleep early. We started walking in the general direction of campus, and after a while it became apparent that my new acquaintance was under the impression that I was a sophomore. I am very much a freshman; anyone who knows me will tell you that. In a twist of fate, I had been given a chance to right the wrongs I committed in Christina’s salon chair.
But instead of politely correcting my friend or having him walk me back to Old Campus, where I actually live, I said goodnight and quietly swiped into a random entryway in Davenport. History repeats itself.
And yet lying to friends is different from lying to hairdressers — you can’t just stop seeing your friends. It was kind of awkward when the truth about my freshman status finally came out, though not nearly as awkward as I had imagined it would be. I think I’ve finally learned the lesson; no one cares half as much as you do about your social foibles, so don’t sweat it and admit your mistakes.
At least that’s what I tell myself.