Getting one’s roots dyed properly is a lot like painting a room. Once you’ve got that done, suddenly everything else in the room is wrong and dingy and must be updated.
So now I can’t help but notice that I desperately need either a haircut, or a new face.
I’m lucky to have a good healthy head of hair, but right now it’s way too long–several inches past my shoulders. It’s starting to drag my face down and making me crave plastic surgery. Or at least several shots of botox and some duct tape. I’m starting to look like the face in that painting “the scream.”
My plan was not to get a haircut while I was here and let it grow six months until I get back to NYC and Joseph, my lovely, talented hair cutter. I haven’t had really long hair in ages and am hoping it will give me some sort Delilah like of power of attraction. And after the red roots disaster, I’m not going to consider getting a haircut which involves money and stress for such shallow reasons. And I can’t cheat on Joseph.
But all this hair is an incredible burden. It’s heavy. It’s giving me a headache. It’s so long and heavy I’m going to pull my neck out any minute now. I’m getting curvature of the neck from my hair. My health is suffering because of my hair. And the Delilah thing doesn’t seem to be happening. This can’t go on.
Dare I cut it myself? After all, I did color it better than that other coiffeur. After 20 years of watching great haircutters cut it, couldn’t I have picked some of it up? I’m sure that watching Brad all these years helped me do the color. In fact, I bet I could even do my dental work, if I had to. Of course I can’t cut my own hair. It would involve handling sharp objects. Not a good idea for a clod. Although it would be ironic if I accidentally cut off an earlobe.
I need a licensed hair dresser. I know if I try to find the “right one” I’ll make a production of it and it’ll be a nightmare. I’ll spend days and nights researching a bunch of places, anguish over the choice of cuts, go into Paris, get lost, never find my carefully chosen place, become desperate and go anywhere I can find, have a “my little goat moment” wind up with a hideous asymmetric cut and pay a fortune for it. Or worse, just end up getting a trim which won’t be worth the trauma and expense.
No, I’m not going to cut my hair. The risks are too high, financial and otherwise. My hair and sunglasses are pretty much all I’ve got going for myself and I’m due to lose the sunglasses any day now. Can’t risk the hair.
But on the train to Pontoise I catch my long, haggard refection in the window. Geez, I look like total hell. Maybe there’s something in the pharmacy to fix that.
But it’s August and a lot of places are ferme pour vacance. The pharmacy near the gare is one of them. And the truth is, deep in my heart, I know there’s nothing in the pharmacy that can solve my problem. I hike towards the center of town, which is clustered around a church on the hill. I pass two hair salons and am only mildly tempted. But my hair is gnawing at me. I’m sure it’s making it harder to climb this hill.
Then I see it in the semi-distance, like Oz shimmering over the poppy fields, a Jacques Dessange hair salon. Now, I know that one of the praises I’ve sung of France is its lack of chains. But this is a French chain, and it has a good reputation. Okay, hoity-toity reputation (even better). And it’s not like they’re on every corner. In fact, I’m shocked they’re in Pontoise. The benefit of Jacques Dessange is that the hairdressers have to be better at cutting my hair than I could or they wouldn’t be working there.
Hmmmm, maybe…But only if a haircut is under E50. I check the price list on the door. E48. Shoot. Maybe the place is a dump and they all look either suburban or trashy hipster. Nope. The place looks nice and clean and modern and the women inside look stylish but not too too. And I still look like an old hag. In fact, if I’m not mistaken, it’s worse than it was last time I checked, thirty seconds ago. I have no choice but to go in.
Once I get inside, I remember the language barrier. But I remain calm.
I tell them (in French, mind you) to pardon my French, but I want a cut. So I’d like to know what she’d do with my hair. Which comes out a lot longer in French. She tells me (in French) that my face is long and I need to bring it up shorter and put some layers around my face. Bingo. She passes the test.
I say d’accord and next thing you know she’s holding a razor to my head and there’s a pile of my hair on the floor.
I have two flashes of extreme anxiety during the cut and they aren’t hair related. I notice that one of my eyes seems swollen or something and fear a stroke or bell’s palsy or some disease that belies old age. The other flash of anxiety is when I know there’s something I should be sick with anxiety about, but for some reason, I’ve totally forgotten it.
I’m sure this would be funnier if it was traumatic and the haircut turned out awful. But it isn’t and it doesn’t. I get a nice head massage, a good cut and I understand more of what she’s saying than the hairdresser in Auvers. And the procedure isn’t complicated with worrying how much to tip the shampooer the assistant, the coat check person and the girl who does the blow dry…it’s all the same person. And unlike the shop in Auvers, the cost of the cut is actually the price quoted.
Of course, the true test of a good cut is how it comes out in the wash, so to speak. In a couple days, I could change my tune.
But right now I feel pretty good about my spontaneous haircut. I really do look better. And the truth be told, I kind of get a rush with the experimentation. Yes, even the fear. I feel like Evel Kneivel must have after jumping over the grand canyon without breaking anything (or whatever he jumped over without breaking anything). Trying new things is fun.
With that in mind, I keep my eye out for patisseries on my way back down the hill. And plastic surgeons.