An Open Letter to Hair Cutter Ladies

Taking a break from my whole “Why” series, because this is bothering the shit out of me. I went to get a haircut about a month ago, and the woman did some stealth field bullshit that made me not realize she completely messed up my bangs.

Now, if you know me, then you know that hair is not a concern of mine. This should tell you that the error was quite egregious. When I look at myself in profile, and if I part my hair, my bangs shoot out a guddam inch. So: An open letter is called for.

Dear Hair Cutter Ladies,

I’m well aware that your title is “hair stylist” or whatever the hell they called you at the Nashville Institute For Using Scissors and Hair Trimmers, but look: You need to get some more skills.

Chief among these secondary skills should be the ability to read a person coming in the door. Body language, their dress, whether or not they’re high–all of that has a significant bearing on what makes them them, and, thus, what sort of hair cut they’d like.

Of course, yes, they’ll tell you. As well they should. However, you should realize that there is a vast and impressive array of individuals out there whose knowledge of hair terms is limited to “wet,” “long,” “short,” “very short,” “that kind of cut they have on Mad Men? You know what I mean?”

This group of people will be at a loss to tell you anything other than what they–like me–have scrawled on the back of their hand. For me, it’s “number 3 with a fade.” If I’m feeling like a Renegade, it’s “number 4 with a fade.”

That’s on the back of my hand because that, essentially, means nothing to me. The categorical imperative means something to me. Narrative framing means something to me. Plot means something to me. “Fade” and “number 3” in that context is Greek. Why is a 3 shorter than a 4? I don’t know. It confuses me. And because it confuses me, unless I have it written down, I’ll forget it, and go int0 your establishment and say something stupid like, “I want what I have, but shorter.”

(My brother is the one who told me what to say when I go into a hair cutting place. He’s much better at that whole public appearance thing. Kind of has to be, since a good portion of his job takes place in court.)

I mean, look, it’s pretty easy to see what my ilk is like. We shuffle, have our hands in our pockets most of the time, don’t make a lot of eye contact, and generally don’t know how to dress.

When I got my current haircut–which I can only assume was on purpose since it sort of resembles my nemesis’s, if I don’t part it or have a hat on–I was wearing a paint-covered Dropkick Murphys t-shirt and beer-stained jeans. I had a belt on, and that belt was from Old Navy, but that’s about as stylish as I get. Put succinctly, it should have been pretty obvious that I did not want a haircut that sort of–but not quite–resembles a faux-hawk.

Now, yes, I should probably assume some blame for not knowing quite what to say when you asked if I wanted you to cut my bangs, but, hear me out, I was in shock.

This was the first time in my entire twenty-four years of life that someone has asked me if I wanted my bangs cut.

Who does that?

Who gets their hair cut–short, mind you, essentially a damn buzz cut–and says, “Nope! Leave the bangs four inches long! I wanna look like a chav!”

(Well, I guess the answer to that would be “chavs.” However, as I am not a wearer of track suits, nor do I drink alcopop, I am not a chav, and, thus, would quite like my bangs cut.)

So, madame, my answer of “Er, half?” should have been another clue to you that I had no idea what I was talking about and you, being the person who has a fancy certificate proudly displayed by a mirror, should be able to figure out that “Er, half?” is a sign that a person doesn’t quite know what’s going on, but does want that portion of his hair cut.

Which brings me to another kvetching point: “Proportional” is apparently a difficult word. I tried using that after “Er, half?” and got a blank stare. “I’d like them cut proportional to the length of the hair you already cut.” I.e., don’t let it do what it’s doing now: shooting out by about two inches when I’ve trimmed my hair. That’s messed up, yo.

So, please, in the future, when you’ve got a person coming through your door at Great Clips, read them. Look at them. Observe. You’ve got the ability to make judgement calls. Do it. You’ll get a better tip and, probably, a return customer.

Of course, as everyone I tell all of this to says, “Just don’t go to Great Clips.”

Maybe they’re right. It’s not that much cheaper anymore, anyway.

Yours sincerely,

Aaron Simon