I went to get a haircut today. Getting a haircut can be a traumatic experience for me for a couple of reasons.
1. My hair is halfway between curly and straight so if it is not cut properly it gets frizzy and I look like a mushroom head.
2. I really dislike making small talk with stylists. When they (inevitably) ask me what I do, they respond in one of two ways. Either utter discomfort at having no idea what a physicist actually does or asking completely arcane metaphysical questions because they have no idea what a physicist actually does.
The only person I've met in Florida who knows exactly how to cut my hair is Allie who is all the way in St. Petersburg, about an hour from my apartment. I simply haven't had the time to go all the way over there for a haircut, so the past two times I have experimented with different salons.
The last time I got my hair cut I went to a salon that I had visited shortly after moving down here. It wasn't fantastic, but I had had worse so I decided to give it another shot. In the three years since I had visited, the clientele had changed dramatically. Living in the South I have gotten used to situations in which I am in the racial minority. But I truly think that a salon has so much cultural association that some gaps just cannot be bridged. Quite bluntly, a nerdy White girl just shouldn't get her hair cut in a Black salon. Wanda was very nice and professional but she just didn't really know what to do with me.
Today I tried something new yet again. Thinking I had to be safe going to Regis, a chain that was still a step up from Great Clips, I made an appointment there. The woman who was assigned to cut my hair barely said hi to me. I took this as a sign that maybe she wasn't into smalltalk, which is more than okay with me. She completely abused my head. Scalding hot water, tugging at my curls, scraping my scalp with her needlelike comb. That wasn't the worst of it. Besides completely annihiliating any length I tried to grow over the last six months, she apparently also didn't hear me when I requested some texturing and shaping. When I was about ask her exactly why she seemed to hate people so much, she asked me a question.
"Are you humphphmph?"
"Are you a student?" She was extremely quiet and mumbled horribly.
"Oh. Um, yeah. I'm actually a grad student."
"Physics." I totally guessed at that one. It was the only logical follow up.
"Oh! Do you humphphph mumphphph?" I had no clue.
"Really?!" Uh oh. "I don't know how you can even do that. I hated it in high school when they made us cut up frogs. They were so slimy and gross."
Oh my God. Did she really ask me if I cut up frogs at my job? I don't know anything about frogs. Cutting them up or otherwise and I'd probably vomit if I had to do it.
"Oh, it's really not that bad," I lied.
"I mean, why didn't they make us cut up chickens? At least I know how to cut up a chicken. And they're not as slimy as frogs. Cutting up frogs is just gross."
This bizarre conversation continued despite my agony until all my hair was cut way too short. I've been asked some weird questions about my work, but this takes the cake.
I'm thinking the hour drive to go see Allie is worth it.