Sunday, January 10, 2010

Devil's Haircut

Most people that I know (especially women) have a regular hairdresser. Or a "stylist" or a barber, or whatever is the PC thing to call the person who cuts the mangled mess of tresses on the top of your head. It's kind of like your dental hygienist or optometrist. You usually know this person by their first name and you know a little about them as a person. Or in the case of hairdressers, you may know A LOT about them personally. More than you ever wanted to know. Well, not me. I don't have a hairdresser. I am rather ambivalent towards my crazy hair, in general. And I think hairdressers sense this.

You have to understand where I am coming from. I grew up in a house where my dad cut his own hair. Still does. When we were little kids, and we needed to have our hair cut, my sister and I used to be dragged forcefully down the street to this old guy named Frank Ruggieri. He and his wife, Laura, were hairdressers, or at least that's what our mom told us. This is the mid- to late-1970s that I'm talking about, and these folks --- though lovely, sweet people --- had to be in their 80s; I swear. One spin around their salon and you felt as if you were transported back to those nifty days when Warren G. Harding was president and the US was giving birth to the jazz age. Everyone! Crank up the Victrola and get down with some Irving Berlin! In retrospect, the salon also had the sort of eerily silent, unused, sad air about it, kind of like Ms. Havisham's house from Great Expectations. They had this one dust-covered, little, adorable, gilt birdcage hanging from the ceiling, with a fake bird in it. Almost exactly like the one pictured here. I'm sure that thing must be worth a small fortune today. And I'm right. That one in the picture? $2000-$3000. Saw it on the internet today.

Anyway, Frank --- as I recall him--- was a tall, thin man with white hair and very bushy eyebrows. He wore a white shirt almost always and suspenders with gray pants. If poor Abe Lincoln had the opportunity to get old and silver-haired, he would have looked like Frank. The main thing I remember about Frank was that he had tremors, possibly Parkinson's Disease. How did I know this? Well, whenever the comb (probably made from 100% elephant ivory) rested on my head it felt like someone was aggressively tapping their fingertips across my scalp. What is supremely funny is that he would say, in a rather perturbed Italian-accented tone, "Stand still!" As if it was somehow my fault that the comb was hammering into my skull. How did my mom let this man come within 40 feet of me or my sister with a pair of scissors? You can imagine what our hair looked like. Is it any wonder kids made fun of us? Or that I really don't give a rat's ass about my hair now in 2010? Sigh.

I'd also like to note that the Ruggieris sold old-school candy in the back of their salon until sometime in the early 1980s. We all had bad haircuts; red, gummy teeth from the Swedish Fish, and multicolored, sticky necks from the candy necklaces. Nice.

I don't recall much of any conversation that might have occurred while sitting in Frank's salon and getting my hair cut. I was too busy wailing and screaming. I was terrified of having my hair washed in those salon sinks. Actually, I was pretty much terrified of having my hair washed at all. (This is a whole 'nother story.) To this day, the sensation of water all around my head freaks me out, IF I am not the one who's doing it. This is probably why I can never learn to swim.

Anyway, after Frank, I don't recall ever having a regular hairdresser. To this day, there isn't one that I particularly seek out. And ever since the dawn of institutions like the Hair Cuttery and Super Cuts, it's been nearly impossible for me to get that hair-dresser/patron relationship that seems to be a staple in so many other people's lives.

I've been to Hair Cuttery a lot, ever since a couple of them opened up fairly near to me in South Philly back when I was about 14. In the time before I moved to DE, I only went to the Hair Cuttery. Not because it was great, or because I had that "relationship" I mentioned, but because it was cheap. Ten dollars for a haircut; how could you beat that? I don't even get my hair cut very often because I am both cheap and lazy. In all the years since first going to Hair Cuttery I don't think I ever had the same hairdresser more than twice. Sure, they give you a card, with their name handwritten on it (usually with a heart dotting any "i" that might appear in their name), with the alleged hours that they appear in the salon. But it was (and still is) all lies. LIES, I tell you! They retire, move, open their own shops, leave the profession entirely, etc.

Todd and I both go to Super Cuts now, because it's the closest of the hair "chop shops," as I like to call them, to our house. But I still hate going there. It's the same story as Hair Cuttery, but with an added flair for the dramatic. Maybe I was too young to realize it or pay attention in my teens and 20s, but there is WAY DRAMA going on at any given time in a salon collective such as Super Cuts/Hair Cuttery.

Scene: Todd and I finally get our butts into Super Cuts one day. There are like 11 people waiting there, all the salon chairs already filled with patrons. Thankfully, we remembered to "call ahead," which they recommend. This means that you call them on any given day and they add your name to a secret list. No it's not an appointment! How dare you say that?! It's a walk-in salon! So, no matter when you show up, if you are on that list, you get bumped up to "next." I find this practice infuriating. I mean ostensibly, you could call them at 9:00 am when they open, then wait until 6:00 in the evening to show up and you'd still get preferential treatment. Wrong. They should just take frickin' appointments. Period.

So anyway, we got bumped up to practically "next," lucky us. There was one guy waiting ahead of us. He called ahead too. Only, the stylist that was supposed to work on us never showed up for work. So they made a hasty call to a couple of people (they tried to be super secret, but I knew what was going down) and finally came up with someone to come in and cover. About 15 minutes later a very ANGRY young woman shows up with a fitted blouse that was so tight it literally popped a button at the bust. She threw her stuff into a chair and slammed some supplies and implements around as she mumbled under her breath, trying to contain her blistering fury.

She looks at the list and looks into the growing swarm of people waiting and throws her hands up and then on her hips and says, "Oh HELL no. There is NO WAY I am taking him. I cannot deal with that man today! I don't care...blargh de blagh de bippity boo!" She turned her back and started walking away to her station by that point. Now apparently, I was the only person that saw or heard this, even though it was so obvious and audible that people out in the parking lot could have understood her. So the poor guy that was "next" really wasn't "next." He didn't seem to notice or care.

Guess who was next? Me. Awesome. She didn't even offer to wash my hair, which they normally always do. She spritzes some water on my head and says, "How much off?" "About an inch?" I replied. NO other questions about style or anything. She got to work cutting. She said not one other word to me the entire time. I didn't think it was humanly possible for a hairdresser to go more than a minute without speaking. It was probably the fastest and most furious haircut I ever received in my entire life. Maybe 6-7 minutes tops. She then says, "Dry it?" I say, "Yes, my grand-" WHIRRRRRRRRRRRRR the dryer went on. I was about to make a funny little comment about how my grandmother always said, "Never go out with a wet head! You will catch pneumonia!" So much for my little witty ditty.

I was more than a little terrified. Visions of Frank's 1970s butchery went swimming through my head. For maybe the second time in my life (first being my wedding day) I actually cared about how my hair might look. The dryer went off. She paused briefly before unsnapping the neck of my hair cape thing. I assumed she wanted me to look. She didn't even offer to show me the back through a mirror.

To my shock and surprise it looked AWESOME. "Great!" I said. She released me from the chair. Todd was next. We were paying all together, so she took care of him before ringing us both up. She was more chatty with Todd, but not much. He, too, received a speedy and excellent haircut, if silent and moderately ticked-off. Still, we tipped her generously, and her mood skyrocketed as a result. She thanked us profusely for the tip and wished us both a good evening.

Maybe this is the key! Hire stylists with rage issues! Forget anger management courses, just let them cut hair! Needless to say, I am sure that my next visit to Super Cuts (which must be soon, unfortunately) will probably not be as interesting, dramatic or, frankly, good.


Sunday, January 03, 2010

2010 Resolutions

It's that time of year again. And while I don't usually think about resolutions, (probably because I know I'm terrible about sticking to them; then I have loads of guilt about that) well, I have several knitting resolutions that I should make. But I feel that once I vocalize a resolution (even just in my head), then I am doomed to never follow through on it! At the risk of completely destroying any hope of productivity in 2010, here are my knitting resolutions:

1) Finish my mom's kimono. It's the Komon kimono (on the cover) from the Knit Kimono book. I started this thing at least 2 years ago---maybe even 3 years ago. I make mention of "not being able to finish it by Christmas" back in 2007. So it's working its way to 3 years. I'm knitting it in a lovely red Malabrigo worsted, so it's not the yarn that's holding me back. I'm not sure what it is that's caused me to put this on the shelf for over 2 years. But anyway, I REALLY want to get this done for her. At this juncture, I should probably frog it and start over again. Maybe?

2) Finish the wedding shawl. Ever start a project and then wish you hadn't? Yeah. Over the summer, I got the brilliant idea of knitting a delicate bridal shawl for my future sister-in-law. She's a lovely person and certainly deserving of a nice, hand-knitted keepsake. I bought laceweight cashmere/silk yarn in ivory (to match her dress) and purchased gold Czech glass beads for the project, which is this one from (She's planning on accessorizing her gown with gold.) I got through maybe one pattern repeat and then just stopped. One problem is that the chart isn't very easy to follow. It MUST be printed in color, or else you will go batty trying to figure it out. Second, knitting with beads is quite possibly the most tedious thing I've ever done, and I've painted triple coats on window sashes, so I KNOW tedious. Also, the combination of intense chart concentration + bead knitting = I need several hours of uninterrupted time in order to knit 2-3 rows. Moreover, because the yarn is ivory and is silk and cashmere AND is for a bride, I have to keep my knitting environment as sterile as possible. You can all laugh out loud now. Oh and this all needs to be done fairly soon. The wedding is May 7, 2010. I certainly need it done by then, but I was hoping to have it finished by the time of her bridal shower, which is yet to be determined. But aren't most showers several weeks before the wedding? ACK.

3) Knitting more socks. I've already been told by my sisters-in-law and my brother-in-law's girlfriend that they want socks for Christmas. Sigh. Maybe he'll break up with her by then. LOL. Still leaves 2 pair for sisters-in-law. I have 1 sock done of a pair that I am knitting for my friend Jen, so I have to finish that and I am knitting a pair of socks that I designed myself for her husband Josh. I am about ready to turn the heel on the first sock in that pair. The resolution is to have both pair completed by the time we visit them around Valentine's Day. I think I can do this!

4) Knit a cardigan for me.

5) Continue the practice of keeping knitting purchases to a minimum. I've been pretty good about this since I started my self-induced austerity program back in August.

6) Continue the practice of knitting from my stash as much as possible.

I guess that's about it!