HAIR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW


Monogamy? No problem. Fidelity? Not an issue. When it comes to men, that is. But when it comes to hairdressers I play it fast and loose. I am a haircut slut.

I find it almost impossible to stick to one stylist. I’ve been known to betray one within weeks of starting a relationship. Once I saw two in a day. I can’t help myself. No matter how good they are there’s always that nagging feeling that the next one might just be The One: the one who will give me The Perfect Hair.

The Perfect Hair will shine and shimmer. It will look good in the morning when I wake. It will look good when I’m dancing in a sweaty club at 3am. I will not look like an alien when I get soaked in the rain. The Perfect Hair will complement my features and require minimal styling. It will not disobey me. Ever.

My hair is short (which is hardly surprising, as you'll see) and my friends say it always looks the same no matter what I do with it. But they are quite clearly wrong. My hair’s permutations are endless, and how good or, more usually, bad I look depends on how it’s sitting. After all, my face rarely does anything really unexpected. It’s not given to sticking out at a rakish angle, for example, or lying unusually flat. I don’t particularly like my face, but I don’t want anyone taking a pair of scissors to it, thank you.

Besides, I love getting my hair cut. I love the sensual nature of the whole experience – the tingly suds, the fluffy towels, the fingertips on my scalp, the click-click of the scissors, the hot air on my neck, the shiny, gooey hands, shaping and teasing. I feel the same way about having my hair done that I think other women feel about shoes. (I don’t give a fig about shoes. I wear one pair at a time until they die, then buy the same pair again. I do, however, have a collection of gels, putties and waxes that would make Imelda Marcos burst into spontaneous applause.)

Sometimes I manage to make it to six weeks sans snip, but that’s quite unusual. My most pressing premenstrual urge, apart from crying at adverts, is not to buy a pair of sling-backs but to hotfoot it to the nearest hair emporium. Once my locks have had a jolly good seeing-to I feel like a new woman: younger, cleaner, lighter, with a definite post-coiffure glow.

My longest-term hairdresser Simon (and the love of my life, hair-wise) knew all my little ways. Turning up just three weeks after having it cut, looking spotty and wailing “I don’t know, just DO something with it!” he’d know it was a hormonal thing and all he had to do was ruffle it a bit and make snipping noises and I’d be happy. A "psychological haircut", he called it. And he only charged me the man’s rate, bless him. He even flirted with me a little, but not too much. He was in fact the perfect hairdresser.

The first time I cheated on Simon I was on holiday. It was just a fling, and I really regretted it afterwards, mainly because I looked like Sinead O’Connor’s evil hatchet-faced twin. When it had grown back to something that you could actually hold between two fingers, I went back to him, sheepish and apologetic. He welcomed me back with open scissors, and fixed me. And I was so grateful I stuck with him for several happy months. Then one day I rang for an appointment and he was off on holiday. And the whole sorry saga began again. Once I dallied with a rival snipper when Simon’s salon was closed for a few days for refurbishment, an unforgivable act which he forgave, and fixed me. Another time, I’d looked at a colleague’s great hair and coveted it - even though it was blonde, shoulder-length and curly and would never be mine - and went to her hairdresser who gave me a hideous mullet, which I fully deserved.

Even though these others could not make me beautiful, even though I was practically penniless, even though I realised how vain and fatuous I was to spend all this time on my barnet when there were so much more important things in life… I was addicted. I had to try them all: top celebrity stylists, backstreet barbers, men, women, it made no difference. After the initial euphoria would always come disappointment, and I would go back a few weeks later shame-faced to Simon to be fixed. Why couldn’t I just admit that I would never find anyone better than him? Why couldn’t I commit?

Eventually, work took me away to another city and after many years my on-off relationship with the long-suffering Simon was dealt the final blow. Sometimes when I was home for a visit I scheduled an appointment. But the old chemistry had gone. I’d been round the block one time too often. I had lost him for good. Now I have just moved to yet another city and the search has begun again. I thought I was ready to settle down, but my old behavioural patterns have emerged. I found a lovely hairdresser who gave me a really nice haircut. I left that salon happy and determined I would go back to him. Always. That I wouldn’t ever need to see anyone else again. Alas, within three weeks I had decided my hair was rotten and found another man. He gave me a really nice haircut. And I’ve promised myself that I’ll stick with him. Always.

Who knows, maybe this one will be The One. But I know this for sure: I may unswervingly love my lover ‘til I die, but I will never EVER have long hair.


copyright Kathy Clugston 2006