To the second most important man in every Egyptian girl's life.
Dear Hairdressers of Egypt,
Your profession is a noble one; you make women nationwide look much better than God intended them to. A trip to your place of employment has women leaving looking like renewed, shinier, faker versions of themselves, in a world where that’s considered better. But for all your glamazoning of what I think we can all agree is a decently unattractive population pre-trip to salon, there are also a few drawbacks to said visit.
When getting a haircut, every time, without fail, you ask me who's cut my hair before. Whoever my answer is, you'll proceed to tsk tsk tsk, and complain about what a bad job was done. And then you'll proceed to do an even worse job and butcher my poor locks. It seems to be a disease common amongst the hairdressers of our nation, this cross-country misunderstanding of the word trim. Trim means I want all of three centimeters taken off the ends of my hair; not to see the majority of it sadly piled on the floor around my feet like corpses of the dead after a war, while I sit there helpless, holding back tears. I smile and nod when you're done and you ask if I like it, but then I go home and sink into a depression for a minimum of two weeks. For at least a full month, I have to constantly put my hair in a bun before I exit the confines of my home so no one can detect how short and ugly it's become. In fact, I put it in a bun around the house as well in case I catch a glimpse of myself on a reflective surface and feel a sudden urge to hang myself.
I go to a hair salon for the sole and specific purpose of receiving some kind of service related to my hair. You seem to be somewhat confused as to what your role in this situation is. It's to do my hair, not to make friends. I don’t want to chat. I'm not here for a gossip sesh with an old pal. Maybe I'm an antisocial bitch, and your other customers seem less resistant to this chatting, nay, even enjoy it, but I have done my very best to display all possible signs that I do not want to engage in conversation beyond "what do you want done to your hair?" Let's reiterate; I do not want to chat. I SPECIFICALLY bring a book or magazine which I attempt/pretend to read, or I keep my iPod's earphones firmly implanted in my ears even though I know it makes your job harder trying to navigate between my hair and the wires but I do it anyway in the hopes that you will get the message. When these options fail, I sit and fiddle with my phone, trying to seem incredibly busy, or I give you short one-word answers, or point at my ears and say I can't hear over the blow dryer which is working like six rooms away. None of this deters you. Sometimes in a final attempt I just close my eyes and pretend to be resting. After all my efforts, I assume that you will get the fucking hint that I am clearly not of the chatty ladies-who-salon variety. Somehow, my point never seems to get across. Lost in translation, you might say. Next time, I'll pretend to be mute.
Speaking of speaking; don’t repeat other people's news and gossip, as is the custom of many a woman working in a hair salon.
When it comes to having to wash my hair before a cut/do, this is possibly the part I dread the most. First off, just so you know, tilting your head back into that sink contraption is incredibly painful – I can physically feel the ceramic edge of it forming a bruise on the back of my neck and it HURTS SO MUCH. And why do we need to wash my hair twice? Is it really that dirty? I mean, I just washed it yesterday. I excitedly come to pull my head back up after two Lather-Rinse-Repeats at which point you yank it back down much to my horror and dismay. It turns out you did two shampoo cycles and just now the conditioner is happening. I can almost feel a disc slipping out of place in my neck. I can see my life flashing before my eyes as the excruciating pain takes over. When does that alleged shock kick in? My neck hurts desperately and I want to cry but I think just be tough, suck it up. Don’t be a pussy. Crying is a sign of weakness. It means the hairwasher person wins. It'll be over soon.
More than once I've asked you to do my hair, making it look pretty much exactly like my real hair, but without the imperfections. This is the entire reason I insist on seeing the hairdresser before the separate hair washer person (seriously, what do I refer to this person as?). So they can see what it looks like in its natural state. And then replicate it, in a more perfect manner. Does this happen? Fuck no. You then proceed to ignore me entirely and create a series of unnatural ringlets, reminiscent of a cross between Goldilocks and Queen Victoria. More than once I've headed straight home and doused my hair in water to undo the effects of your crappy hair job. Imagine. Imagine the degree of displeasure with your shitty work if someone goes home and actively ruins their hairdo just to undo what you've done. And listen, if you don’t have good smelling hairspray, then don’t put any damn hairspray on my head. I do not want to walk around for the rest of the day, let alone attend a wedding (which is generally the only time I go and get my hair done), smelling like a dog just died on my head after rolling around in a mixture of its own vomit and Eau de Sisi.
When I'm getting a mani pedi, it is my inherent right as a human to choose the colour I want and your job here is to say okay and paint it. No, I don’t want a coat of glitter atop my nails. It's not 1994, I'm not 12-years old. Do you just accept my simple "ohh, no thanks"? No. You continue to insist that adding a little glitter will be "gameel gidan." I didn't ask your opinion. It's bee2a neik, and I don’t want it! And it really frustrates me when I ruin my nails and you tut tut tut. The reason I have ruined my nails is because I was fishing around my bag for money to PAY YOU for your services and then once again to tip you. How can I be expected to keep my manicure intact when doing this? And while we're on the subject, I am getting a manicure, this is not surgery. There's no need to slice off half of my flesh as you 'perfect' my cuticles.
I stopped doing my eyebrows many, many years ago, much to the dismay and horror of my mother, but largely because it is an unbelievably painful process and I also have this paralysing fear that you'll rip off my eyelashes and possibly the edge of my eyelids as well with that criss-crossy cutting technique thing you do with the kheit. It. Is. Terrifying. I mean, I don’t understand how other people endure this. I don’t want to have bald or bleeding eyelids. Granted, you’ve never actually done that, but I think it’s a legitimate fear nonetheless and I don’t understand what the problem is with good old-fashioned tweezers.
Having said all this, it seems women nationwide still love going to you so…as you were.
A Random Egyptian Girl