May 26, 2020 — I wear my hair short, in the same Pixie cut I wore as a toddler. My hair is unreasonably thick and unruly, and five cowlicks means it goes where it wants to go. My hair doesn’t grow longer, just wider. My mother — God rest her soul — tried taming it by sending me to her beautician frequently in my childhood, only for hilarious results after a permanent (which thankfully did not live it to its word.) For me, the key is getting my hair cut every three to four weeks. And keeping it in that darned Pixie cut. Hey, it worked out for Julie Andrews.
The last time I had my hair cut was the end of February. I’ve looked like a Chia Pet for about two months.
Having read about all the safety features in place at my walk-in salon, I decided today would be the day. In discussing my intentions with a friend yesterday, she suggested it’s a good time before the state moves into less restrictive requirements for salons. At that point, other customers might not be masked and the salon might be full again.
I arrived 30 minutes before the doors opened. Although the shop has an app for scheduling, the app wasn’t live yet. But, I staked my place as first in line. Three women with obviously gnarly toes (I’m just making that up) waited in line for the nail salon next door. The door featured signs outlining the rules of the salon, mainly, without a mask no one would be served. There was discussion and grumbling from the other people waiting at the door. One man, who said his wife was a nurse, got into an argument about gloves with another person in line. “They don’t do any good at all,” the man said. “Ask my wife.” He wasn’t wearing a mask, but to get inside the salon he had no choice. And there was no requirement for gloves, but I was wearing them. (I realize I am not a surgeon, but what I do is wear them, try very hard not to touch my face, and douse the gloves liberally with hand sanitizer when I get back in the car. Having been unable to purchase hand sanitizer, I made my own with rubbing alcohol and aloe gel. It smells like hell, so now my car smells antiseptic and funky.)
At precisely 9 a.m., the door opened and out came a masked woman carrying an I-pad. She registered me and the four people behind me by our phone number. I was immediately taken inside past a table with hand sanitizer and masks. She told me that no one was allowed in the salon without a mask, and the salon was happy to give one to clients. The room had been transformed since my last visit. The check-out area had plastic barriers between the multiple registers and where clients stand. Half the chairs had been removed.
As I started to walk to the back when the shampoo bowls are, the stylist told me, “We can’t wash any hair. It’s gets us too close to the face.”
This face was directed to her chair. I asked her if I needed to take my mask off, and hold it on with my hands. She said, “No, I’ve been trained to work around the ears.” She was all business. There was no conversation. As soon as I sat down, the started cutting. I’ve gone there for four years, so almost everyone there knows me and how I like my hair (the simple Pixie cut).
In less than five minutes she was finished. She handed me the mirror to check it it, and it was fine. Yes, it was a little shorter than usual. Okay, I looked like I had just been buzzed by an irritated corporal at Fort Benning before deploying to World War I. I tipped her well and
returned home. It didn’t help that when I arrived, Herman began singing “Over There.”
My hair is not a huge problem. The longer version of it didn’t make me hungry, or in poverty, or losing my house because I missed a mortgage payment. It was a minor irritant, and thanks to the magic of quarantine, I won’t be seeing another human except for Herman.
I wish you all peace and comfort. And if you aren’t a frontline worker, you can support them or others. Send a note, send an email, call an old friend, and donate to your local food bank.