I eyed the hairdresser with a foreboding lurking in the back of my mind. She was large, and her arms and hands told of no little strength. Even more unnerving was that she was a student of hair design. If she had not yet learned the fine and gentle art of cutting hair, I was in for an experience. Cheap prices had lured me, a relatively poor college student, to the dirty and disorganized school of hair design nestled next to the tattoo parlor. The state of her own hair was no testament of consolation, either. The back of her head was bleach blonde, and the front hemisphere was her natural hispanic black. As I sat in the swiveling chair, she swathed me in a white tissue neckwrap and a black sheet, making me look like some sort of priest. At least, I was praying. Her meaty hand engulfed the clippers. She selected a garishly coloured blade guard and went for the kill.
The points of the guard clawed into my scalp. Escape was impossible, one powerful hand driving her shearing machine and the other clamped inexorably on my head, keeping it still. It wouldn’t have changed anything, though, even if I had broken her grip and wriggled free: her slash and burn method of cutting my hair laid waste to my follicles like Attila’s armies, no doubt, had razed the villages of Europe. Presumably the peasants were as piqued as I was. A biblical passage came floating by in my motionless misery. “My enemies have plowed upon my back: they make long their furrows…” If the Psalmist had only said ‘scalp,’ it would have been nearly right. The scalping stopped for a moment while she selected another garish blade guard. This time, she ground the clippers against my head, giving it enthusiastic amounts of wrist and muscle. It was as if she thought she could frighten the hair back under the skin, chase it away rather than cut it.
Finally, satisfied with my hair’s unconditional surrender and full retreat, Attila retired from the field in triumph. I looked in the mirror at my surprisingly bloodless hairdo, and the new and apparently permanent pained facial contortion that came as a free extra. Unswathed from my cleric’s garb (much sanctuary that brought me), I tottered to the front desk to pay. She swiped my card and then looked up at me expectantly. “And will you be leaving a tip today?”
I paused, and repressed some proletariat sentences vying for freedom of speech.
“No,” I said. “No, I don’t think so.”