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Monday 23 October 2017

What Katie Did Next: In which I finally have a good hair day

I often wonder what I'm missing out on by not having a hairdresser, or rather a go-to person who knows that I need a shade 5.35, take two sugars in my tea and will probably be 20 minutes late for my appointment.

There are of course the salons I frequent when I need a blow-dry - Brown Sugar because they give the best head rubs when they're washing your hair and Herman's because they don't take appointments - but I have yet to get past the "are you heading out tonight?" conversational stage with a stylist.

I suppose you could say that I haven't found The One. This is partly because I'm commitment-phobic, ergo the idea of visiting the same stylist for the same hairstyle every three weeks sounds too much like a long-term, missionary position relationship to me.

Commitment-phobes spend their lives in pursuit of the illusion of perfection: the ideal partner, the 'dream' job and, in my case anyway, the ultimate fringe, more of which anon.

emphatic

Commitment-phobes also go looking for faults to validate their behaviour. Despite my emphatic, enthusiastic declarations of delight - and tips of a tenner - I always leave hair salons disappointed and grieving for the hair I once had (a touch melodramatic given that I rarely let them chop off more than half an inch).

And so I move from hairdresser to hairdresser like a Nomad, ritually subjecting myself to that humiliating moment when they purse their lips, run their fingers through my bedraggled hair and ask "when was the last time you had it cut?"

Perhaps I'm being hyper-sensitive but the subtext of this question always sounds like "Have you no self-respect?"

Of course I always lie and tell them that I had it cut only two weeks ago - and the cheque is in the post and I'll produce my tax disc at the local garda station…

And of course they always know I'm lying, which doesn't bode well for our fledgling relationship.

I tell lies inadvertently too. Communication lines often get muffled by the whir of the hairdryer and the sound of a woman singing about "feeling real good" or "getting ready for the weekend" coming from the deep house mix pumping out of the stereo.

So when they ask me "If I have any holidays planned?" and I tell them "I'm visiting a friend in Enniskerry", I really couldn't be arsed correcting them when they start enthusing about how much they love Killarney.

This is also how I ended up telling a hairdresser in Barcelona that I was an artist, specialising in oil painting. It happened when she pulled what she thought was a paintbrush out of my hair and exclaimed "Ah, you are a painter?"

I didn't have the patience - or the Catalonian vocabulary - to tell her that I had woken up just five minutes before my allocated appointment slot, and had scraped my hair into a bun using the first thing I could find - a Bobbi Brown eyeshadow brush. So yes, I was a painter.

It was just my luck that she was too. And so I was subjected to photographs of all her work and a floor-by-floor run through of the Picasso Museum.

As you can imagine, incidents like this have made me wary of getting too close to hairstylists. I tend to just bury my head in a book or close my eyes and try to doze off. But every so often there is a spark, a glint in the eye, which suggests that this hairstylist could be The One who will finally understand the type of fringe I want.

Hairdressing is 90pc telepathy. We rarely have the language to convey the abstract styles we want them to create. All we can come up with is a series of statements punctuated by a conjunction. "Straight but not poker straight." "Wavy but not curly." "Blonde but not white-blonde."

jib

The fringe I've always wanted is the preferred style of French actresses and contemporary dancers. The only way to describe it is the "just out of the sanitarium look" which is exactly how I put it to the hairdresser last weekend. I liked the cut of her jib and I had a feeling she'd get it. I was right. "I kinda like that look myself," she confided in a conspiratorial tone.

Was this really happening? To be sure, I produced my iPhone and began to flick through my collection of desired fringes. I felt a little braver when she gave the Audrey Tautou fringe the thumbs-up and so I continued flicking through the archive.

Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element - "Yeah, great."

Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted - "Okay, I see where you're coming from."

Storm in X-Men. "Oh... "

And off she went, hacking away with abandon until I was left with a fringe that looked like it was styled by a six-year-old using a nail clippers.

At long last I've found a hairdresser that understands me.

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