Haircuts. For most, an unremarkable factor of modern life. For some, a terrifying ordeal fraught with anxiety, horror and potential life-ruining. Well ok, for me.
You'd think that, as a girl who knows her way around a make-up bag (indeed, a girl who once successfully applied liquid eyeliner standing up on the 73 bus), I'd like getting haircuts. Aren't they, after all, the pinnacle of our "pampering" routines? More than that, don't they help us discover who we are as a PERSON? As the holy trinity of female propaganda (magazines; telly; people you overhear in changing rooms) will have you believe, a girl's hairdresser is meant to occupy a special place in your life that no on else can. They laugh with you, cry with you, they can turn you from Brillo pad to brilliant in a few swift flicks of a tailcomb. Thus goes the legend.
I wouldn't know - I haven't been to a hairdresser since December 28th, 2003. The date is scorched onto my memory like a GHD straightening wound. On that day, leaving with yet another cut that looked vaguely like something an angry six year old might do to a Barbie, I vowed never to return.
In my 15 years of experience, I had learned the following about hairdressers: They will give you the haircut they want to give you, not the one in the photo. They will give you haircuts that require a full-scale military operation of blowdrying, tonging, swooshing and spritzing every morning to look anything like they did on leaving the salon. When you say "loose waves'" they hear "corkscrew curls".
And worst of all, they like to lecture you on mistreatment of your hair as though they are social services quizzing an unfit mother. They tut, and tsk, and peer at your split ends, and berate you for doing anything with your hair other than stroking it gently while a Brahms lullaby plays in the background. As far as I can tell, things you're not meant to do with your hair include: straighten it, curl it, dry it, wash it, colour it, tie it up, leave it down, or take it on holiday. Yet, by Jove, these are all the things the hair industry is built on! Where is the humanity?
So I took matters, and scissors, into my own hands and started doing my own. For seven years, I was barnet self-sufficient, like the Barbara Good of beauty (with less good hair). There were a few mishaps, yes, and a few days that necessitated a Very Big Hat, but by and large I got by ok. My hair remained firmly attached to my follicles, and nobody threw things at me in the street.
But now I fear the time may have come to skulk back to the salon. For one thing, once you're out of your teens, cutting your own hair becomes a bit like tie-dying your bedspread or putting kooky coloured laces in your Doc Martens. It looks like purposeful kookiness, heaven forbid. Also, to be a grown woman afraid of the hairdressers is stupid.
And finally, because after seven years of ad-hoc trimming with blunt scissors two minutes before leaving the house, I have created a fringe monster. My fringe has more power over my face than I do. Entire days have been ruined because my fringe has refused to play ball. So if it's a toss-up between being bossed around by a hairdresser or bossed around by an inanimate three inch pelt at the top of my forehead, I know which I'm going to choose.