Everyone has their own technique when completing a ‘hair-cut’ task. Mine, I have recently discovered, is a bit haphazard. After traipsing round Spitalfields Market one rainy Sunday for 2 hours; short ‘one appointment’ and long ‘suede shoes’ (now wet) I could not understand why, when I wanted my hair cut immediately, every single hair-dresser was suggesting times next week.
Several times repeating the same scenario (ending in me not getting a hair cut) left me despondent and alone in the rain; my split ends weighing heavy in my heart. As I started the journey home, a sole beacon of light appeared on the horizon. A mirage. It looked like a bar, but was called ‘Taylor Taylor’. Being a big fan of puns, I put 2 and 2 together… Could it be…?
It was. I entered and, for the hundredth time that day asked the soul-searching question: “Can someone cut my hair please, like, now?” Military-style negotiations resulted in a ten minute wait, which would, I was about to find out, work in my favour.
The receptionist made his way over to the bar in the centre of the foyer and nodded at me.
Would I like a drink?
Would I like a champagne cocktail?
Booze grasped tightly in my hands, I peered out of the window at the passers by in the rain and waited for my cue.
I was summoned by a stranger to come over to the stairs. I could sense it was about to begin. Nic* was my hairdresser. Lovely, handsome, Italian Nic. We descended to the basement, away from prying eyes, and he sat me down gently. Nic looked (via the mirror) deep into my eyes, and asked:
“How would you like it done?”
Overwhelmed, I broke our gaze and mumbled something about perhaps a fringe, stuttering that he was the professional so I was at his mercy, meanwhile wondering if I was flexible enough kick myself in the back of the head and, if so, would that be the right action to take.
He lightly touched my hair, stroking it and letting in run through his fingers. I could feel myself relax as he lifted up a section of my hair and draped it over my face in an attempt to emulate a fringe.
“Yeah, that should be fine” he murmured in his lilting voice.
At this point I was nervous: I could feel the butterflies in my stomach; the jolt of electricity every time his fingers brushed lightly against my cheek. Sparks were flying. The apprehension was almost too much. We were about to throw all caution to the wind and embark on the journey together. Was it sensible? I mean, I hardly knew this guy (lovely, handsome, Italian Nic). Was it the right thing to do? Not least of the worries currently nagging in my mind was the thought that his fringe impersonation, perhaps, looked a bit shit.
The champagne part of my brain drowned out my attempts to be all British and, safe in the company of Nic, I bravely said:
“Yeah, let’s do it. What’s the worst that could happen?”
Committed to this now, in body and in soul, I walked over to the sinks and took my place in the golden room with dim lights and relaxing music. I couldn’t take my mind of Nic and what he was going to do. I could barely concentrate on the polite holiday conversation going on around me.
With clean hair and dressed only in a towel-turban (in addition to the outfit I was wearing before), I bashfully stepped back into the salon. Catching Nic’s eye, I made my way over to the chair. He slowly sat my down and reached into his belt for his tool.
The pair of scissors made their first cut. My eyes were transfixed on them, snipping faster than I thought I could handle.. Nic was gentle but firm. Nothing came in between us and, in that moment, I felt safe with him. He had the demeanour of a man that had done this a thousand times before, but rather than feeling like I was paying for his service, he made me feel special. I could see in his eyes he enjoyed it as much as I did.
I was in agreement with Nic’s suggestion of a climactic blow-dry and by the time we had reached the end of it I was exhilarated. Nic asked me if I was satisfied. Speechless, I nodded, much to his enjoyment. He smiled, not breaking eye contact (through the mirror) he stroked my hair again, almost as if he were admiring his handiwork. I wasn’t ready to move so I remained seated and enjoyed being in the moment listening to Nic whisper into my ear phrases such as:
“You have really swingy hair”
“Do you want to buy any product”
Eventually it was time to leave. I collected my belongings and slowly made my way to the door, sipping on the remaining champagne and making small talk. As I ascended the stairs I knew the memories of this would stay with me for a very long time. In a dream-like state I paid the receptionist and thanked him for his help.
Just as I was leaving I heard someone call “Sara”
I looked round expectantly and saw Nic approaching me. He slipped his card into my hand and said to me:
“Please come back in 6 weeks for a trim”
I knew what he meant. When you share something like that together it creates a deep, lasting bond and he didn’t need to say out loud what I knew he felt in his heart.
*(names have been changed to protect the innocent).