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Over the past, oh 20 years or so, I’ve fallen into the habit of getting my hair cut only about twice a year, sometimes less. At first I like it, then I get sick of it, then I decide to grow it out, then I decide I look frumpy, then I get it cut again. That’s because no matter what I do to it, by the end of the day it looks the same. It will always be curly. It looks best medium length, with some layers. It’s boring. I buy mousse and shampoos marketed at curly hair, and I believe they make a difference although my husband, who is bald, is not convinced.

My last visit to the coiffeuse was in June, so my hair had gotten quite long. And by long I mean past my shoulders by a few inches. Remember, curly. Yeah. But since it was a grow-out of a shorter cut, it needed to be shaped and trimmed, I felt.

I pondered my hair at odd times. I was in a taxi on my way downtown, sitting next to the taxi driver, “When I Need You” playing on the radio station that plays obscure English songs. Incredibly, the taxi driver started singing along.

Should I go back to Madame and her little local salon, where it’s less expensive but seems somewhat limited? Or should I splurge and go to a more Westernized place, in hope of getting something different than the standard cut? “Wen I neeeeed luf! I just close mi EEEYYYYYEEESSS…” warbles the taxi driver, like he’s trying to be the Rabat version of a Venetian gondolier. I decide to try the more Westernized salon, for a change.

Since I go so rarely, I tend to forget the vocabulary, so I spent some time doing research ahead of time. I reminded myself of the word for layers, and how to explain how much my hair shrinks when dry, and how to explain that if my hair is all one length it will form a sort of tangled triangle.

I show up on time, and the woman looks vague but then remembers my appointment. “Madame Jeness?” she says. I nod. One of the fun things about taking a common name like Jones overseas is that it becomes exotic. My kids used to be so amazed, reading books, when the lady down the street was named Mrs. Jones. “Like us!” they used to exclaim in excitement, while I would roll my eyes.

I had specifically asked for just a shampoo and cut, declining to pay extra for the dubious pleasure of having my hair styled and sprayed into a stiff bouffant version of its former self that would only last till the next day anyway. I carefully explained what I wanted, using all my new-found vocabulary strength.

She shampooed my hair, settled me in a chair and away she went! About half way through, I knew that this was not what I had asked for. Moments like this leave me puzzled. Is it that my French is just not understandable? Was I having an off day? Or did she not really listen? Or, even, was this just her version of the standard cut?

At the end, she re-shampooed my hair (not sure why) and blew it dry so that I wouldn’t have to catch my death of pneumonia by daring to walk outside on a 70-degree day with damp hair. It was kind of her. I liked her. She added a bit of gel to give the curls a bit of definition, and we were done.

She did a good job, I’ll give her that. And it’s not the same cut that Madame does, I’ll give her that too. It was professionally done, nicely thinned, the shrinkage of the curl allowed for. I even like it. It looks fine.

But it’s not what I asked for.

April 2010

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A Perfect Post – January 2007

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