“Dad, I’m off to the salon!”
“For what? You seem just fine.” My dad’s widow’s peak resurfaced from the Sunday newspaper for a wee second and drowned back in.
“I want to cut my hair. It’s been ten months since I styled them last. Plus, I want a new look for the new year!”
“Honey, your hair looks just fine. Don’t spoil it!” He didn’t even look up from his paper.
“Dad, you are ancient. What would you know about hairstyling? I’ll take care. Just know I will be using your credit card!” I grinned and left the house hurriedly.
Little did I know how correct my dad would be!
I walked lazily to the salon, browsing pictures of Jessica Alba and zeroing in on one particular hairstyle. My friend, who exclusively specialises in determining your face shape and matching it with a celebrity during her (ahem) free time, advised me to religiously study all of Alba’s pictures and spy her on Instagram. According to her, I had a complete portfolio to choose hairstyles, eye frames and makeup from and it was completely free!
Except that I am a ‘little’ bigger than her. You know, belly pouch, batwing arms and thunder thighs. And webs of acne on the cheeks. So yeah, Alba wasn’t helping me. But hey, something is better than nothing right?
I walked into the parlour casually in my PJs (Yes, Sundays are officially PJ days – no matter where) and I instantly tanked to the bottom of the receptionist’s “Posh – Handle with Care” Customer List.
“I need a haircut.” The statement ended more like a question thanks to her not-so-welcoming probing stare.
“Do you have an appointment?” She grunted.
Gosh! Is this place really so popular that an appointment was required?
She went inside and after what seemed like a whole hour (actually less than a minute), she announced they were willing to entitle me as their honoured customer.
As I went inside, I realised there was really no one else in the parlour, except for a lady and her five-year-old holding on to her lollipop dearly as they chopped off her hair.
So much for appointments.
Once I was seated on my throne, a lady came, plucked a few strands of my wispy hair apart, gasped in horror and ran out of the room as if she had found Frankenstein buried in my hair. I was left to stare at myself in the mirror sympathetically.
Soon, another lady was escorted by her and they both set to examine my hair. Their fingers felt like a broken lawn mower that jumped from place to place at will. Finally, they stopped and the other lady addressed me.
“You have a bad case of dandruff.”
“Yeah, I know that.”
“No, it is very bad. There are a lot of bloody spots on your scalp.” She stated matter-of-factly.
There, my ‘secret-disgusting-habit’ was out. I didn’t know what to do. I mean, whenever my scalp felt itchy, I would scratch the hell out of it. It kind of gave me a weird guilty pleasure. Yeah I know, it is disgusting.
“Okay. So?” I asked very timidly.
“You have damaged your scalp a bit. So we will have to repair that first. Try our intensive ‘Blast-Off Dandruff’ treatment.”
At this point, thanks to acute embarrassment, I couldn’t really distinguish between marketing gimmick and honest advice, so I decided to go for it. I didn’t even ask for the price. Anything to end the hopeless war against dandruff since 2006.
So, I was wheeled into a separate room and was placed in front of a mirror. This mirror was more fattening than flattering and I hated being in front of it. How did such a mirror even end up in a salon?
Soon, my hair was on their operating table and after two hours of serum application, massaging (ah, go on), shampooing, washing and steaming, my hair had apparently been treated for dandruff. Eleven years of a losing battle won in just two hours! I was pretty stumped!
“You will also need to buy this shampoo, ma’am. It will be required to maintain your hair dandruff-free.”
I just nodded. Anything that killed dandruff deserved a place in heaven.
Then came haircut time. Oh my Holy God.
I showed her a picture of Jessica Alba and told her I wanted the same haircut.
She took my phone and after a few seconds, she ran away again, trying to suppress her laughter. I admit I don’t look sexy like Alba but I’m beautiful in my own way!
She came back, completely pink with watery eyes.
“Ma’am, I am afraid that won’t look very good on you.”
I simply did not know how to respond. I just stared back at her.
“Well, what do you think will look good on me?”
“I’m not sure ma’am.”
I understand I am no Tyra Banks, but I am also no Quasimodo with breasts! I look like a normal human being, albeit the lumps of fat hanging here and there.
“Okay then. Just do whatever she has done.” I pointed to Alba’s photo (oh, how much I hated her right now) and tried to control my anger.
She began working on my hair half-heartedly and after a few snips in the front and a nip at the back, it was done.
I couldn’t believe it! How can someone cut so fast? I looked at myself in the mirror and honestly, I couldn’t see a lot of change. The only thing was, I looked worse than before! What with lumps of hair hanging limply in a haphazard manner, I looked more like a human cake dressed in blackberry-dark chocolate drizzle. And it wasn’t even as appetising as it sounds.
I was so done with them. I got up and asked her to get the bill ready.
When I saw the bill, I wanted to bury myself in that very spot. 5035 Rupees!
I obtained an itemised bill and this is what it read:
Hair – Cut ₹ 850
Blast-off Dandruff – Intensive Treatment ₹ 2400
S&P Intensive Care (I’m not in the ICU) Shampoo ₹ 1200
Taxes ₹ 585
“Ma’am, we would also advise you to buy our ‘S&P Intensive Care Hair Oil’ for better maintenance.” She said cheerfully, expecting me to fall for it again.
“No, thank you.” I snapped at her and opened my purse. Their proclivity towards customer-fleecing, especially a harmless, gullible soul like me, was extremely annoying.
I took out my dad’s credit card but then, replaced it. He didn’t deserve to be punished for my foolishness. So I took out mine. 5000 Bucks of my internship stipend, blown away, just like that (sob).
I walked back home, thinking of how I had gifted my dad the right to mock me for the rest of my life.
As I entered home, my dad looked up (yes, he was still reading his newspaper. I mean, what else do dads do?) and gave a smile.
And then, very seriously, he said, “You were right! You look great!”
“Shut up, dad. What would you know about hairstyling?” I uttered under my breath.