Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cutting it close

If I'd walked through a different door that day, we might never have met. If we hadn't hit it off straight away, I might never have seen him again. It was 1996 and he arrived just a few months before I left. He's one of the few people I still know from those days, the only one I still know from the town I lived in then, the only reason I go back there now.

A lot has happened in the intervening years, but as I sit in the black leather chair, sipping on a mug of too hot, too strong coffee, it's as though no time at all has passed, though everything and nothing has changed.

He still remembers the day I dropped by on my way to a night out, wearing a sixties-style black and white dress. Every now and then he reminds me of how I looked and just for a moment we both stop and remember; and I feel as good as I ever did.

My hair was long in those days, and I could have played for Britain in the hair-flicking world championships. I'd got it down to a fine art, but that never impressed him - he never liked my hair long, never missed a chance to suggest it would look better short. And strangely, after a while I began to realise that he was right.

It was a huge leap of faith to trust him enough to go from long and girly, to short and sleek; but that's the thing about friends, you trust them. And so I did. I might have felt like crying as I watched my hair falling to the floor, but his confident assurance kept me from running out the door.

Last year, I tried growing it again; it got long enough to tie back and put up, but I knew he wouldn't approve, so I avoided him for months, until I'd got tired of it and knew it needed some drastic action. And like any proper friend, he didn't tell me I was stupid, moan about my neglect, or try to persuade me to do something I didn't want to. He just took control, as he always has and always will, and turned me back into the person I'd rather be.

I may only see him every six weeks or so, but I always feel better when I do, and that's not just because he tells the worst jokes in the world. He'll talk to me about my family, ask if Philip is still playing the banjo, tell me how my daughter has turned out a fine young lady and a credit to her mother; he'll let me know how protective he felt when one of his colleagues showed too keen an interest in her.

He'll untangle the knots in my neck and the tension in my brain with the most skilful of head massages, then he'll switch his attention to considering how my hair should be cut. It doesn't matter what I think, or want, he'll simply decide what I should look like next - and whatever he decides, I know I'll feel more able to face the world, more confident in who I am. And who could ask for more - from a hairdresser or a friend?


25 comments:

Philip said...

That is very fine indeed.

The Elephant's Child said...

Echoing Philip. That was lovely.

Dan German said...

That was great. You've highlighted the peculiarly intimate relationship everyone has with their hairdresser. And then how that grows into friendship. It's a strange relationship, and isn't often given much thought but I like how you've provoked that. Another great piece x

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Yes, very nice.

Nessa Roo said...

You're so lucky. I had a bad experience with a hairdresser when I was fifteen, and I'm afraid it's turned me against all of them for life.
Excellent writing, though.

anne said...

Who would have thought that a beautiful prose could be about a hairdresser? Beautiful...

Eryl said...

You have found the one by the sound of this. Lucky you. I think I may have, too, but it's too early to tell.

Starlight said...

It's good to have friends who are honest with you; I really appreciate honesty and I'm glad to have friends who tell me if a haircut doesn't fit me.

I loved this story so much that I've read it twice. It's perfectly written.

Dicky said...

Oh yes the hairdresser relationship is a very interesting one. I would be gutted if mine were to go off somewhere else. Its just so comfortable seeing the same face, who you know won't make a pigs ear of your hair. Lovely post as always Sharon and by the way; please tell me what the person 2 comments up from this one said - I can't quite decipher...

Sharon Longworth said...

Philip - thank you!

The Elephant's child - you too!

Dan German - well if anyone would know about a peculiarly intimate relationship with their hairdresser, it would be you! glad you liked this :)

Blissed-out Grandma - as ever -thank you

Sharon Longworth said...

Nessa Roo - yes, I know I'm lucky. I know I'm stuck too - I wouldn't dare try anyone else now.

Anne - I'm really glad you liked it - thank you.

Eryl - ooooh - I hope you have found the one! Fingers crossed!

Starlight - so true - honesty is the mark of a proper friend. I'm very flattered that you took the time to read this twice - thank you.

Dicky - as ever - thank you for your encouragement and support. As for my Chinese commenter - I'm afraid none of us will ever know now, but I have a feeling he may have been talking about extensions - and I don't mean of the hair variety...

Regina said...

The problem with moving so often is that I have to try and find new hairdressers. I've been known to drive up to 5 hours just to see my old hairdresser.... is that wrong? facing direction

Cle Reveries said...

You are lucky to have met him, real friends give us unaspected gifts

Rajnish said...

Beautiful...
www.rajnishonline.blogspot.com

Pat said...

But then again I had one for twenty years until about two years ago and he was uber posessiive of my hair - every last follicle and I was brain washed to do nothing to the colour or style - just the same old - same old. It took a lot of courage to leave him. Thank Heavens I did whilst there was still time to look reasonable.

Arwa said...

Beautiful! it instantly reminded me of a very dear friend...
I'm never gonna let him go! :)

Young at Heart said...

aah how lovely....I found my much hair dresser through the blog...a friend of the lovely Christina, late of Fashions' Most Wanted....she never fails me!!

Bill Dameron said...

Amazing how much our hair says about who we are. Letting someone touch your head and run their fingers through your hair is such an intimate act that we have to let them into our world.

Mals!! said...

addicted to your writing!

Hillary said...

You love surprising your readers with these short lovely pieces, and you always delight us.

I have never found that one true hairdresser. I cut my own hair or make my husband cut it, and only on occasion do I pay someone to cut it on the cheap. Although I wish I were brave enough to crop it short like you, I'm not. Your hairstyle suits you well, and I wish I could find that great personal hairstylist that could know at one look just what would suit me best. I'm glad you found yours and that you told us about him.

Shopgirl said...

So many good things in here. I've missed reading stories like this.

ND Mitchell said...

A lovely piece of writing. I don't think I've ever read anything from this point of view before-a very original look at this relationship. (Loved the section about growing your hair and therefore avoiding him) I've got to admit that I hate going to the hairdressers so I envy the obvious enjoyment you get out of it!

Новичок в Америке said...

Sadly, I had to leave my hairdresser behind as a toll for "a better life". 3 months ago I moved to the States from Odessa, Ukraine. Our 10 year-long relationship was full of trust and understanding, just as yours, on some subconscious level, words away. And I miss her dearly... Thank you for sharing your story - it made me feel a part of a very special circle of trust, known only to the lucky few

Jennifer Gleason said...

This was great. I love surprises in writing.

savannah said...

i've been remiss in my reading, sugar! but what a delight you are to come back to! xoxoxoxo

happy new year, sugarplum!