J.C. once went three years or so without a haircut just to avoid having to talk to the women who would cut her hair. I, on the other hand, have always enjoyed conversations with these women--until about two years ago. Once I turned twenty-eight the women stopped talking to me. Sometimes, toward the end of the process, one would say, "So, are you from Galesburg?" and I would answer her, but that would be about it. I still tip well, but I've started to wonder if they think I appreciate their silence and consider the tip hush money.

My hair had been getting shaggy during this busy term o' mine until Sunday, when I went to the mall for a haircut. I listened to the clippers, the scissors. I stared out of fuzzy eyes at the black cape draped over me. I noticed, though, while staring at my cape, a number of gray hairs. I'd seen them before, random flashes of silver near my temples, but there were usually just two or three of them. While not talking to the woman cutting my hair, however, it seemed there were more gray hairs falling onto my cape than dark ones.

At the end of the haircut, while the woman was swiping at my neck with that stubby little brush, I broke our silence, asked her, "Is my hair turning gray?" I figured that this was her area of expertise--hair. Back when I used to talk to the women cutting my hair, I would ask as many questions as I could that involved their expertise: I would ask about cosmetology school, or carpal tunnel, or those little hairs that once snipped end up re-rooting along my trapezoids.

When I asked this woman if my hair was turning gray, she said, "How old are you?"

I told her I was thirty, guessing that she had some numbers stored away in her head about aging and graying.

"Well, I'm twenty-five," she said. "And I think your hair's just ashy. People of our generation, we just have this naturally ashy hair."

When she finished speaking, she bent over and spread her hair for me at the part. "See my roots?" she said. I did. Her roots were the color of Hershey bars; the rest of her hair was platinum striated with that same chocolate color. "My roots have that same natural ashiness." And then she reiterated: "It's just something people from our generation have."

There was a male stylist standing behind us, and I think I actually heard his head turn when she said this for the second time.

And then I was kind of stuck. Should I just let the comment go, and have this guy think I actually believe her about generational hair ashiness? Or should I say, "Really? You think so?"

The guy, I could tell, was waiting.

"Well," I said, "I guess it's good to know I'm not going prematurely gray or anything." And then I walked over to the register, paid, tipped the stylist twenty-five percent and left a little sad that she hadn't been sharing any other theories with me during the rest of the haircut.


fringes said...

Too funny! I'm still giggling.

Lisa said...

Usually I love talking to the stylist. It's kind of exhilarating to gossip about your lives when you don't know each other and don't care, and you know nothing's going to come of it. Like having an affair!

Glad to hear you're not going prematurely gray.