It had been several years since I had had my long hair brutally cut short. I still did the ballroom dancing and had to continue wearing a wig as my hair was so short.
After 4 years my Mother was persuaded, very reluctantly, to let my hair grow. (I think the cost of a new wig each year was a factor.) However, until it was long enough the wig still had to be worn. The wig was extremely uncomfortable in winter and itchy and sweaty in summer.
Almost a year later my hair was long enough to be styled! It was now just about chin level. I hoped that I would be allowed to grow it out into a long bob, but wisely never said anything.
I noticed that my Mother had been bringing home some of the stylist magazines from the hair salon and after supper she used to sit at the kitchen table perusing them for hours.
Without warning one Saturday morning she informed me that I had an appointment at the salon in one hour’s time. I meekly agreed as I already knew to disagree would only make my Mother very angry.
We rode on the bus to the salon. I knew the place well and hated visiting it. It was still the last shop on the parade and now next door to a recently opened Chinese takeaway.
My Mother pushed me in front of her and I had no choice but to enter the salon. There had been no changes over the years except it looked grubbier. The hairdresser also had not changed and even smirked at me as I entered. She had always seemed to enjoy shearing me of what little stubble had been on my head.
“Ah! Tracy! On time as usual! I am ready for you.” She quickly relieved me of my coat and marched me to the chair. I was still short for my size and the wooden plank was already laid across the arms awaiting my arrival. I climbed up and sat facing the mirror and observing my reflection with the view of the other mirror behind me.
“I will be back in a couple of hours,” my Mother said as she turned and left the salon. I was now alone and totally at the mercy of the hairdresser.
“You’re Mother has told me what needs doing, although I think the crew cut suited you far better!” I was horrified and was fearful that I would start crying.
The hairdresser fetched the same large flowery drape and quickly enclosed me in it. She picked up a towel and forcefully tucked it into the drape around my neck. Next followed the shaving collar. She picked up a comb and scissors and quickly started cutting. I gasped as 2 inches of hair ceremoniously landed in my lap. Tears started to form in my eyes and the hairdresser sneered at the sight of them. Within minutes my hair had been hacked off and my hair was sticking out in all directions. “Now I can start getting you sorted out” said the hairdresser. “Started out?” “Yes!” With that one word she turned and walked to the sink and told me to get over there now.
I obeyed as quickly as the large drape would allow me. She had me kneel over the sink and quickly shampooed my shorn hair.
Back in the chair facing the mirror I really noticed how short it was. It was not a crew cut, but it was also never going to be a bob. Whilst I returned to the chair the hairdresser had collected a trolley filled with thin curlers with elastic, papers and a comb with a pointed handle. She handed me the papers and said “One at a time when I say.”
My hair was quickly curled up with the hair covered with a paper and then rolled around the curler with the elastic to hold the hair in place. The hairdresser pulled each length of hair tightly and my head was hurting from all the pulling. Once finished a length of cotton wool was laid around my head protecting the skin. She then went into the back of the salon as I stared at my head now covered entirely in the curlers. She returned with a bottle which she proceeded to pour over my head of curlers. I tried to wriggle out of the way, but a strong hand held my head in place. A plastic head scarf was placed over my hair and I was now told to go over to the dryer. I got up and whilst I was moving over she quickly transferred the wooden plank to the chair under the dryer. Once I was correctly positioned I was told “Sit still whilst you cook. No messing or I will tell your Mother!”
I sat, for what seemed like hours, under the dryer with sweat pouring down my face. I was crying as my hair was really hurting now and I wanted to get out from underneath it. I almost tried, but the hairdresser had been watching closely and came over, repositioned me and told me that the cooking time would be a little longer.
At last, she came over and switched the dryer off and told me to move over to the wash sink. Along came the wooden plank this time. I sat back with my head awkwardly resting in the sink. The curlers were rinsed thoroughly and then a cold, strong smelling solution was applied. I heard the hairdresser move away and there I was lying uncomfortably staring at the stained ceiling of the salon.
Eventually she returned and again rinsed the curlers and then my hair was shampooed again. After sitting forward a towel was wrapped around my head and back to the chair again. Once seated the towel was rubbed briskly over my hair and then laid on the shelf in front of the mirror. I looked at my reflection and my head was a mass of tight curls. I started crying, but the hairdresser took no notice as she again placed the shaving collar around my neck. The scissors snipped at each curl until the hairdresser was happy. She then replaced them with the clippers and ordered me to put my chin on my chest. The clippers run up the back of my neck taking some of the lower curls with them.
The door bell rang as the salon door opened and the hairdresser looked up and said, “She won’t be long now.” My Mother had returned. Mother came and stood beside the hairdresser and looked at my curls. She looked disappointed.
“I had thought it would look more formal than this?” “Don’t worry! I have yet to set it!” In a blink of an eye my hair was wrapped in curlers, covered in a setting solution and covered with a net scarf. Large foam pads were placed over my ears. Another period was spent under the dryer and I watched as my Mother and the hairdresser conversed together. They kept looking at me and I was sure that my tears and fidgeting under the dryer was being reported.
At last I was sat back on the plank on the chair as all the curlers were removed. My hair now had well defined curls the type my grandmother had favoured. My Mother critically looked at it from every angle before smirking at me in the mirror. “It is too long all over and I would like the neck shaved up higher, please,” she said to the hairdresser. The hairdresser merely smiled in agreement, picked up the collar and placed it again in position.
Picking up a curl on the crown she drew it out to its current length between 2 fingers and asked, “How much shorter?” My Mother said half of its length. “With pleasure!” Working slowly and deliberately the hairdresser raised each curl and looking at me cut each one. I was numb.
The clippers were picked up and my head was forcibly shoved onto my chest. “How high?” My Mother placed her hand high on the back of my head with her arm grazing my ear. I knew to expect the worst. The clippers were moved up the back of my neck from ear to ear. I sat back up straight and looked at my reflection. I now sported a bubble cut with a very high neckline. The hairdresser found some shaving foam and a razor and quickly cleared any likely stubble from the clippered area.
“All done!” “Thank you! It is a vast improvement, and I know what to do if she misbehaves!”” “She will need to come every week for a wash and set and I will clean her neck up for free each time.” I actually felt that I would have preferred to have kept the crew cut despite how awful I looked. Now I looked like an old woman in a young person’s body. I also knew that I would have to suffer the weekly wash and sets and the shaved neck.
Yet again I was to be regularly humiliated.
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