Wednesday, October 6, 2004

The Bad Haircut

I haven't worked it out on paper yet, but I think there must be about a one-out-of-three ratio of bad haircuts to good haircuts; my last two haircuts were pretty good, so I guess I was due.

And it's not that bad of a haircut, it's just a little too short... actually, it's a lot too short, but I'm trying to keep a healthy perspective; it's essentially a crewcut with a duck-tuft on top, and it makes my face look huge; this is mostly due to my ignorance of what a #2 clipper attachment would do, along with the haircutter's ignorance of what precisely I meant by "short on the back and sides and a little longer on top." It's the exact same thing I told the last two women in the same Supercuts shop who correctly cut my hair before; but whenever you pay $13.85 for a walk-in haircut, you take your chances.

Aside from my own bad-luck ratios, my fatal predilection for low-cost hair and nail care, in conjunction with my location in a major center of third-world immigration, means there is always a language barrier to be dealt with. I can't remember the last time I had my hair cut by a person whose first or even second language was American English; and I have never had my nails done by anyone who was not a tiny Asian woman.

Communicating what I want to someone who doesn't grasp the finer details of an intensely complex language is always chancy... and I've never even tried to learn the Vietnamese or Laotian or Chinese words for "skosh" or "tad," or "shag texture" or "like a French manicure, but not such a sharp tip, more of a rounded square, if you know what I mean."

I'm never exactly sure, when I visit the same shop more than once, whether I'm getting the same tiny Asian woman as before, or a different tiny Asian woman who is related by blood to the last tiny Asian woman. I know it's a racist cliche, but Asian people do tend to look more like each other than Europeans... the differences in coloring and feature among types are more subtle, more difficult for a European (even one accustomed to living among Asians) to recognize after one meeting.

Furthermore, nail and hair salons run by tiny Asian women are usually family businesses, so one is quite often entering an environment occupied completely by aunts and sisters who all look at least somewhat alike... even among European types, I get large groups of sisters mixed up, and I even confuse my close relatives with each-other on first glance.

And then there's the whole name thing. I'm not good at remembering names to begin with; but then they all seem to have the same name... when I get my nails done, the manicurists' state cosmetology licenses almost always read "Tran," but they all call themselves some derivative of "Jennifer." I can understand that one wants an American-sounding name, especially since Americans tend to be pig-ignorant about foreign names, but why all the dog-piling on "Jennifer"? There is probably a perfectly logical cultural reason for this, but I find it terribly confusing.

Nevertheless, I don't think I can blame my bad-haircut and -manicure ratio on all the Tran/Jennifers who've been cutting my hair and doing my nails. I have a feeling that if I got my hair cut by a good old American hair-queen (and I know enough of them), I would still get a bad 'un every now and again. When I've gone back to the same third-generation Californians for thirty-dollar haircuts, I would usually get two great cuts and then a bad one, or else the stylist would disappear before the third haircut could be administered.

I have never even seen a manicurist who wasn't a tiny Asian woman, even in the more expensive salons... they must exist, the European- and African-American manicurists, but they hide themselves skillfully. And at least with my nails, I never got a bad job from the Jennifer who operates in a chi-chi salon up in Montclair, but I have to make appointments two weeks in advance and I never can remember to do it (plus she costs twice as much)... so it isn't a matter of language, but of skill — and skill costs a lot more, and has more clients.

Well, anyway... who could have guessed I could take up this much room bitching about a recurring bad haircut and a few half-assed acrylic fills? But then I find that the more idiotic a topic, the longer I can rattle on about it. So until my hair grows back and my nails start chipping, I guess I can consider the topic exhausted for the time being.

And speaking of exhausted, I certainly am... after a few hours of fairly demanding work here at the office, our new kitchen hutch arrived in the mail, so I abandoned my clerical labors and set about assembling it. I got most of the top half finished, with only the back and the doors to assemble and put on, before I became frustrated and had to step away from the project, and that much manual labor does a girl in. So off I go home to rest and have dinner and watch some movies or something.

À bientôt, my darlings, and may all your haircuts be good ones!

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