Questions asked by hairdressers

I’ve always had trouble with hairdressers.

Some women see a trip to the salon as a treat.  For me, it’s been a necessary ordeal that I’ve realised I have to endure since the day I tried to cut my own waist-length hair into a bob. I was 18 and I had been drinking beer.

“Have you done this yourself?” is a question all hairdressers are trained to ask on the Hairdressing 101 course. It clearly applies when the client has drunkenly cut their waist-length hair into an unintentionally asymmetric bob, but also when you take a small child in for their first ‘proper’ cut, when you have DIY dyed your hair, when you have dared to trim your own fringe, and certainly if you were foolish enough to try one of those combs incorporating a razor back in the ‘80s.

The next question hairdressers are trained to ask is, “What are we doing for you today?” Then, whatever you say, the stock response is, “You don’t really have the right type of hair for that style.” I did once have a hairdresser who must have gone to a different training camp; her approach was always to say, “You can’t do that by cutting it. It’s what product you use.” For hairdressers, the word ‘product’ has taken on a whole new meaning, and if you want to get on with them you just need to accept it.

More set questions follow: At the wash basin, they are, “Is the water temperature ok?” (Yes, fine thanks) “Is that pressure ok?” as she massages my head, (Yes, fine thanks) “Would you like me to put some product on?” (Er, yes, fine thanks).

Back at the mirror it’s “Would you like something to drink?” (For many years I used to say “No, I’m fine thanks”, but now I say “Have you any hot chocolate?” I have learnt to say it like a precocious cockatiel. I’ve learnt that in fact, they do have hot chocolate, and if you are quick and don’t move your head (“Can you keep your head still for me?”), you can drink it before the surface is covered with snippings of hair from your fringe. ) Then (if you have to wait for hair to dry, or dye to dye, or product to take effect) it’s “Would you like something to read?” Seriously, I have ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ here in my hand, do you think I need a Hello Magazine?

In the final stages of the hairdo, questions turn to your social life. At the point where men used to be asked if they would like something for the weekend, women are asked if they are about to go anywhere nice. “Going anywhere nice?” they say. My reply always seems to be “No … I have to go back to work. “ On the one day I was having my hair done in preparation for a television interview, I could hardly wait for this query. I was agog for the moment. Strangely, my hairdresser seemed to have her mind on other things, and didn’t ask. “It’s a bit of a special occasion today,” I prompted. “I’m having my hair done for a special occasion.” Nothing. Par for the course really.

I’ve always had trouble with hairdressers.