You may have noticed that the Princess is bald. Go on, have a look at the photos. This comes from me. I was bald for ages. I was on the phone to my mother the other day and I asked her when I got hair and she said pensively “well, you certainly had hair by the time you were four”. Not really as comforting as it might be.
And my hair grows very slowly. I had my first haircut when I was 12 and it only just reached my shoulders. This is true. No really. Even now, I only get my hair cut three times a year. This is partly because my hair grows slowly and partly because each visit to the hairdresser’s is fraught with trauma. The following are my fears in order of priority:
My hair will look dreadful when I emerge blinking in the sunlight (almost always realised)
Someone will see me sitting in the window of the hairdressers wearing a stupid overall and with my wet hair pulled back from my face looking like death warmed up (funnily enough, never realised, not even when I was living in Cork and stepping out the door normally entailed running into a dozen of my mother’s closest friends).
I will have to chat to the hairdresser (almost always realised – not you might think, an enormous problem for a talker like me, but for reasons I cannot really explain, I always end up lying to them: when I was working, I felt that they wouldn’t be interested in my job (or worse, be too interested and want something explained or sorted) so I pretended to be between jobs and now that I’m unemployed, I feel that they might think that I’m the wife of a rich businessman living it high on the hog with no obligations so I sort of invent occupations for myself; I then spend the time in the chair in an advanced state of tension trying both to keep my story consistent and to see what the back of my head looks like).
How will I hand over my tip (I mean to give it to this person for whom I have gone to the trouble of fabricating a whole false existence and with whose wedding plans I am now very familiar seems insulting, like tipping a friend of a friend; however not to tip is, I know, an even greater insult so I hand over my tip at the cash desk and mutter “that’s for x who cut my hair” and feel nervously that I’m doing the wrong thing).
It will cost a small fortune (almost always realised except for the time I got my head shaved. That only cost a fiver but the effect was not happy. I remember going to the pub that night with my then boyfriend: I had no hair and a rotten cold so I looked marvellous – bald and snuffly. I said “I look terrible”. “No, no” he said reassuringly “you look really cool – with the hair and the sniff, you could be a drug dealer”. Fantastic, that relationship was clearly doomed. It was also sporting that haircut that I went out with three friends of mine who were sisters. We bumped into a friend of their’s who said “finally, I get to meet your little brother”. “Um, no actually I’m a GIRL, unrelated and finished school” I said bitterly).
So today, I went to get my hair cut. I haven’t had it cut since December so, sadly, I realised it was time. I went to this place my friend F recommended. She said that this place was good if you want to look like a bourgeois Belgian “you know, shortish, blondish”. In my heart of hearts, I really do want to look like a bourgeois Belgian so I took myself off to Olivier Dachkin on the Rue de Tongres which apparently is the original branch of the chain where the great Olivier himself snips from time to time.
When I arrived, this very nice male hairdresser came up and discussed what style I might go for, it was all going suspiciously well. “And of course” said he “you will need highlights”. “Um no, I wasn’t really thinking of highlights” “But you must, it will look wonderful”. He was kind of convincing, I was weak, I said ok and sat for half an hour with tin foil on my hair. The girl who did them said “it’s very original that you’ve gone for these wide streaks”. My heart sank, “original”, does that sound bourgeois Belgian to you?
Downstairs, I saw that my nice male hairdresser appeared to be working exclusively on little old ladies, I further noticed that unlike all the other hairdressers, he was not wearing a red shirt with Olivier Dachkin on it and he was bossing people around. Could it be that he was the great Olivier himself? Well whoever he was he abandoned me and consigned me to a woman who gave me an alright haircut, I confess, but I wasn’t really in the mood to appreciate the quality of the cut because I was transfixed by the zebra stripes on my head. The man who may or may not be the great Olivier came over and ruffled my hair and said “isn’t it fabulous?” I smiled cravenly.
Tonight I asked Mr. Waffle what he thought. “Very nice” he said without hesitation. “What makes you say that?” I asked. “Fear”. I see. Oh well, it’s all over until August, though I suspect that those highlights will grow out in a very exciting fashion.