Saturday, February 7, 2009

Haircuts as a Multi-Cultural Experience

I've written about getting my haircut before. But this week, I decided not to go to "Beautiful" salon, and rather opted for the little shop around the corner where my Taiwan family goes for a trim.

For awhile now, I've had this silent sneaking suspicion that something else other than haircuts goes on upstairs. But my Taiwan family being friends with the shop owners was reason enough to choose to step through the doorway.

It's run by a young, cute, trendy couple in their 30's. They do all the cutting and styling. They have a girl that, for all I know, might live there, too. She acts as the assistant/front desk/shampoo girl. She also dresses stylish, and wears a fair amount of makeup - which is not something you see a lot here.

Besides her hipster appearance, she basically look like death. Tight-lipped and no emotion. No life in her eyes, and little acknowledgement that the world exists.

People like this typically fascinate me. And I always tend to subconsciously scheme ways to find out if there's anything underneath the surface. There usually is, if you know where to dig.

When it came time after the hair cut for me to hose off, the owner sent me to the back with little-miss-lifeless. She apparently decided I needed a shampoo, which cost me a hundred bucks. But after she started massaging my freshly exposed scalp, I didn't care at all.

I have to wonder if all shampoo sessions are this long. She went on for a solid 5 minutes. I think she wanted an excuse to chit-chat. I was surprised she started to open up - Little-Miss-Lifeless showed signs of vitals.

This is horrible, I know. But, going back to my sneaking suspicion perpetually held in the back of my mind, I thought at first she might have been soliciting me. After some post-salon research, I found out she was just asking me if I understand Chinese. (Apparently, I don't.)

But she didn't speak any English, except "Me, girl," so we kept the conversation to what Chinese I could understand. She asked if the girl I was walking around with last week was my girlfriend,
"No, she my American little sister," I managed to reply.
She asked if I have a girlfriend in Taiwan. I said I don't. And then I think she asked if I like her - which was just a strange inquiry all together. I fumbled to respond. I was going to tell her she should smile more, but I was distracted by the tingly sensation on my scalp and couldn't find the words.

Then she said she goes running everyday. I think. She was jogging in place. I was confused. Mostly because the scalp-massage stopped, and I didn't know why.


I'm sure I missed something. She smiled some when she talked, but there was still not much in her eyes for me to read. I have a lot more Mandarin homework to do...
At least my "sneaking suspicions" are calmed for the moment.

But back to the haircut. Before I came to Taiwan, a friend gave me a "Mandarin Chinese Dictionary" with a whole bunch of how-to-get-around phrases. I looked up how to say "I want it cut short."

When I botched that, the stylist switched to English. "You want it short?" I was grateful. Halfway through the cut, I could see where she was taking it, and told her to hack off the top-center before it gets too pointy.

She was trying to give me a faux-hawk. (I love that I just wikipedia'd "Faux Hawk") "You don't want it like that?!" she asked, shocked. I said, "Honey, I created the Faux-Hawk years ago." (No I didn't say that. Besides, Wikipedia credits David Beckham with that accolade.)

But I did tell her I've had that for many many years. (see here.)
"Change style" the stylist added knowingly.
"Yep. Change style."

I chose to cut it short because, well frankly, I know I'm not going to have hair forever. I might as well get used to looking at my own skull. I'm still getting used to not styling it in the morning... But it's growing on me. (did you see what I did there? "Growing...") I think I like it.

So here it is... the new me.

It's okay, say what you think. So far, everyone here hates it. And they haven't been shy to tell me. No reason you should either.

But that's fine. I didn't do it for them. Or You.


insomniaclolita said...

what I think?

ps. she so hit on you, didnt she?

Jon and Steph said...

It looks really good, (coming from a hairstylist) I think she did great.
It has to be so hard getting exactly what you want out of a haircut, in another country. That's why hubby helps me, he colors and cuts my hair!

Alisoney said...

I like it. but you know I always preferred that to the long, greasy, emo look.

But you're right. You didn't do it for any of us.

good work bro!

floreta said...

this was an enjoyable post to read. i love the encounter and your descriptions of trying to communicate with language barriers. it's cute. she totally liked you! i actually laughed trying to picture her running in place and stopping the massage because she couldn't do two at once..

your faux-hawk is totally hot as is your new haircut. you look completely different in your old picture.

Young Traveler said...

Do you, Chase. Do you.

Gavin said...

I think it suits you, i'm no fan of the faux hawk, anything fashionable sucks ass in my book.

And yes, she most definitely was hitting on you!

Welcome back.

Don said...

Your new haircut does nothing for me, but then neither did your old one. (Just thought you should know.) ;-) (I made myself laugh with that comment.)

Actually you look more main-stream and less hipster. (Now you'll get to see if people treat you differently, but then, hey, they already did.)

People are more interesting than fiction, and usually stranger. Have fun in your future work as a detective/psychologist/anthropologist.

Rachel Tamed said...

Aw Chase - you're such a cutie!

Katie McD said...

I'm proud of you Chase