I like to think I’m careful when using epoxy. But what with the stress of a pot of mixed resin suddenly curing, the sweating caused by all the protective gear and the gas mask I unthinkingly scratched my head with a sticky, gloved hand. The result, I found out while cleaning up later, was a dice-sized lump of wood welded to my locks. I tugged at it but quickly realized that it was scissor job. I cut it out and found that it left such a dent in my hair that there seemed nothing for it but to get the lot chopped.
I chose a bright, light salon with white clad girls busily working on heads of hair. I asked for a short cut and pointed to the dent and a young girl led me straight to the hair-washing sinks. It was only when sitting with my head back, waiting for her to start that I noticed a sign declaring, ‘Hairdressing school, please bear in mind that we are learning.’ Then I saw that the heads being busily worked on by the other girls were dummies. I was the only live customer. I rose to bolt just as the girl opened the tap and filled my right ear with freezing water. Before I could recover she adjusted the temperature and filled the left ear with boiling water. Then, for good measure, she dropped a glob of shampoo on my forehead that slowly ran down to my eye. By the time she’d finished lacerating my scalp with her long nails my ears were so full of water that I could hear whale songs. In an aquatic world I was led to a chair. I sat down just as she trod on the height adjuster pedal. The chair shot to the floor.
I looked at my forehead in the mirror. Then she started to pump the pedal and the chair rose up. My face came into view, my shoulders and torso but the chair would go no higher for my knees were trapped under a shelf. ‘Stop!’ I must have shouted though to me the voice was no more than a faraway watery echo. ‘aytechodaño’ she chirped from a distance and pressed the pedal that sent me whizzing to the ground. She pumped me up again and started to comb my hair, then she combed it some more, and a bit more, and then she combed the front. Satisfied, she looked at me as if to ask, ‘Is that to your liking, sir?’
I could see that the fundamental concepts of hairdressing were bizarrely foreign to this school. I asked her to cut it shorter please, half its present length, or as short as that spiky tuft on my crown. She combed the sides. The comb banging on my ears interfered with the whale song. I wasn’t getting my ideas across. Maybe they only taught as far as combing. Or was it the language? ‘Más corto,’ (shorter) Well that was Spanish alright, but it didn’t make any difference. I tried again in Catalan, this time with a please, “Més curt, si us plau.” She gave me a look that said, “My scissors don’t do that sir.” And she was right. Tightly gripping a lock of my hair and the scissors between the fingers of her left hand and with the comb held in the other the transference of the tools of her trade to her right hand required more co-ordination than she could bring to bear and the scissors clattered to the floor. Thankfully she had to let go of my hair to retrieve them and when she stood up she went back to her comfort zone—combing.
The scissors did eventually make contact with my hair and the result was probably slightly worse than what I could have achieved myself.
More on epoxy another day.