I don’t know why it is, but in my experience with hair stylists, I’m unable to get a good cut after more than a year. Around that time, the cuts I get range from not-so-hot to down right bad. Eventually I give up and have to move on to someone else. It frustrates me to no end because I usually get a really great cut at the start of the relationship and I have to wonder what makes it go sour? Well, after my last haircut, it looks like I’m at that point again. What started out great is now as sour as curdled milk.
It’s at times like this that I wish I had hair like George Clooney. His hair style is more conservative than mine and it looks as if a barber cut it, but Clooney’s hair always looks great. If I could get away with that look, I’d run to a barber in a New York second. Unfortunately my hair is a bit too fine in texture and Clooney’s look wouldn’t translate to my head. In fact, I haven’t been to a barber since I was a child. The moment that I wanted to have my hair “feathered” back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, it was off to a hair stylist and I’ve been with one ever since.
The first time I meet a new stylist, I talk about what I’d like to do with my hair, and all the caveats that go with cutting it. They listen attentively, make a few suggestion and explain what they would do and then give it a cut. Normally, I like what I see and over the next three or four months things are great. I get my hair cut about once a month and so by the fourth cut, I’m really happy and lauding their abilities to anyone who asks. Then around month 8 or so things start to go downhill. The cut isn’t as good as it was, the style is off, or not what I asked for. Eventually, usually by the 12th cut, I’m so discouraged by how my hair looks that I stop going and look for someone else.
That’s what happened with my last appointment. I hated my previous cut, but I figured it was because we were growing it out that I had so much trouble with it. I liked the length, but it was a bit heavy and hard to style. So I brought in photos of hair that I liked to try and illustrate my thoughts and ideas. All the photos I showed were of men with long hair. What I got was a short piecey cut that when styled looked like pixie meets frankenstein. So glad I spent two months growing it out only to have it lopped off.
I didn’t voice my disappointment in how my hair turned out, but I did mention how I didn’t like how one bang was styled, and he reached for the razor and cut it off. I guess I offended him, I don’t know. I tried to mask my disappointment and I probably overcompensated and gave the impression that I liked it. Fact is, I hate it. I had bangs that had grown past my nose and now they don’t even reach my eyebrows. Why did I walk around with a freakin’ mop on my head for the past month if all we were going to do is go back to a short cut? ARGH! I was so angry as I drove away from the salon.
As I made my way back to the house, I kept running through everything I said trying to figure out if I had ticked him off, or said something that offended him. Although I had said that I wasn’t wild about how heavy my hair was and how hard it had been to style after the last cut, I did so in a very nice way. In fact, I even said the words “It’s not your cut, it’s me”, so if I rubbed him the wrong way, I don’t see how. Yet, when I look in the mirror I have to ask, “Why would he do this to me?” Is he bored with my hair? Is he in a creative rut? Is he tired of my voice, because you know I talk a lot. Have I offended his artistic talent by not liking something he did? Or is he only good at a handful of hair styles? I don’t know, but I’m not spending another $40 to find out. He does a fantastic job on Holly’s hair, but I’m not blessed with the Cinderella hair that my wife has. 😉
So the thrill is gone and I’m now on the hunt for a new stylist. As frustrated as I am right now, it’s lead me to think about what the “dream stylist” would be. The answer is easy, I want Alton Brown. That’s right, I want the “Alton Brown of hair” to be my stylist. Why? Because I want someone that can explain to me what it is I’m asking for and what it is we’re trying to do.
I come into the salon once a month with a bunch of ideas about what I want to do with my hair and I’m using all kinds of non-stylist language. What I’d love is for a stylist to explain to me what it is that I’m really asking for in stylist terms. Explain to me what it is he/she is going to do and then tell what it will take to style my hair like I want when I get home. If you think about it, what I’m really asking for is nothing other than for the stylist to manage my expectations.
When I work with a client on their web site, that’s exactly what I do. The client brings all sorts of ideas to the table and it’s my job to interpret those needs and goals and to turn them into a web site. One of the key aspects of my job is to explain to the client what we’re doing and why. Sometimes I can’t exactly meet a client’s vision, but at least they know why and we often find a middle ground that works just as well. Sometimes technology can’t do exactly what you want it to do, but if you understand why, then you can work around it.
The same thing applies to my hair. I know that due to my DNA, I’m not going to be able to pull off the same hair style that Brad Pitt can. OK, but tell me why something won’t work and then we can find a way to work around it. Don’t just go a different direction and give me something completely different from what I asked for. Before my last haircut, I pulled my stylist outside to a corner coffee shop to point someone out. My exact words were, “I like that guy’s hair”. Well, I didn’t get that guy’s hair, I got FrankenPixie.
The best thing a stylist ever did for me was to tell me “no”. It was around 1985 and I went to a stylist with a picture of Nick Rhodes in tow. When I showed her the photo and asked her if I could have his exact hairstyle, she simply told me “No.” When I asked why, she spelled out all the reasons that my hair would not look like that, including “you don’t have a full-time stylist that will keep it looking that way.” I was disappointed, sure, but was also glad to at least know why I would never achieve that look and happy to try something else.
So if anyone in the Greater Nashville area has any recommendations for stylists I’m all ears. If you know of an Alton Brownesque personality that is good with men’s hair and good with hair that is fine in texture, please contact me, or post a comment to this article.
All that being said, there’s a part of me that looks over this article and thinks, “What the hell? All this hub bub over hair?” Maybe I’ve been watching too much Project Runway and Design Star. Perhaps instead of going down the stylist road again, I should venture out and just try a barber. Maybe I could find a book of hairstyles and just ask for the “Number 12” and be done with it.
I wish it were that easy. 🙂