I had a haircut today

Nov 15 2001 Kelly Norton
I had a haircut today and it was none too soon as I'd been putting it off for two weeks. If I had under utilized my shirt buttons and given over to not wearing under shirts, I could have passed for a late 70's character. Atlanta hair salons make me nervous, and I never know how to answer the question: "How would you like your hair today?" And trust me, a scissor wielding overweight woman with Gloria tattooed on her arm cannot possibly find humor in a flippant response like "Cut, please." In Cordele, the same woman cut my hair most of my life. She knew the entire history of my hair, and I could give some absurd directive like, "remember last summer when you cut my hair short and we found out that I had a cowlick that stuck straight off the back of my neck? Can you cut it short, but not that short," and before I could finish she was already at work giving me the haircut I had visualized but poorly articulated. But in Atlanta, you have to know the code. There is a salon dialect that, unfortunately, can only be learned through experience. One has little choice but to steal someone else's secret phrase and hope for the best. If you are lucky, the stylist will recognize your naïveté and question your request for a "number 2 all over." Hopefully, she'll chuckle and say,

"Honey, you don't want to lose that much hair do you?"

"Probably not, is that short?"

"Not if you join the Army."

"Hm, better try another number then."

I've made it through that stage, now, I have honed my phrase down and now it's starting to grow again; I'm becoming a true champion of the impersonal salon. When she asks, "How would you like your hair today?" I reply, "Number 3 on the sides, a little longer on the top, and then blend it down." I keep that phrase on my little keychain of phrases to be used around town to show that I am not, in fact, a neophyte of the big city, but a seasoned veteran who can deliver the appropriate lines with adequate disinterest. One word of caution, though, never ever get your phrases crossed, because a "number 3" at The Varsity will probably not be pleasant and a "naked dog" in a salon will only get you laughed at.