A Fresh Idea

            When it comes to getting my hair done, I’m an avowed cheapskate. As far back as I can remember, my hairdos were monitored and maintained by my mom. She cut it, permed it and styled it, all using home care products that were unpredictable at best.

My hair hung well below my hips until I was nine. At that point, after tiring of my cries of pain, my mom decided to cut my hair. We walked to a bus stop, then rode from the country into Dayton, Ohio. There, at a shop, I got my first professional cut and perm.

I loved the feeling when someone else shampooed my hair and ran a comb through it. I was entranced by the parting and snipping that shortened my hair to shoulder–length. I hate the perm. Long rods were wound into my hair, rods which were attached to an electrified pole.

My dad hated it. In fact, his words were so hurtful that it was a long, long time before I allowed my mom to cut my hair again.

After college it became popular to have an Afro style. I loved it. My hair was very short, easy to take care of, and required minimum care. The one downfall was that my hair did not take to the perm chemicals naturally, and so I had to have second and third dousing in order to get tightly wound curls.

I kept this “do” into my marriage.

Then I discovered the joys of going to the beauty college, where I could get my hair cut for free. Yes, it took a long time. Often hours. Every step along the way a supervisor had to come over and approve. But it was free! And inconsistent.

After months of this, I graduated to the next stage, which still required hours, but the skills of the operators were much better. For this I had to pay a minimum fee, I think five dollars. Quality varied, and I had to be flexible in terms of the final product.

When this program was terminated, I moved to the floor of the school, where my care was still monitored,  but not as closely. I was still getting perms, but only enough to put some life in my normally straight hair.

After I went back to work and was making a little more money, I found a local shop that only cost eight dollars. Perms were now out of style, so all I needed was a trim now and then.

I kept this up for years. Again, the quality varied. Sometimes I got a good cut, something that pleased me. But more and more often the operator cut my hair too short, making me look more male than female.

Three months ago my sister-in-law treated me to a cut at a salon that normally charges forty-five dollars! I was in shock, but, I have to admit, terribly pleased with the result.

That was the first time that I understood two main things: you get what you pay for and there is a difference between a cut and a style. I fell in love with style. Not that my “do” is fancy, because it isn’t. What I liked was having my hair cut evenly, the finished product a blend all the way around.

I would have returned to that shop even though it’s a long drive, but then I met someone local who called herself a stylist. The next time I needed a cut, I went to her. Once again, I loved the result. So I returned and will continue to go to her as long as she is local.

Now my cuts cost actual dollars. It pains me to pay so much for a cut, as I am still an avowed cheapskate, but I love the end result. It is well worth it to pay more if, when you walk out of the shop, you feel pleased.

About Terry Connelly

Terry Connelly is a retired high school English teacher. She earned her BA and Single Subject Teaching credential from California State University of the East Bay, in Hayward, California. She taught for 18 years at Newark Memorial High School in Newark, California. She was gifted to work with both College Prep students and those with learning disabilities.
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One Response to A Fresh Idea

  1. Marion says:

    I laughed when I read, “But it was free! And inconsistent.”

    What a nice memoir of the trials we endure for our hair!

    Like

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