The Darwin Salon

stephanie said...

...Anthropoligically speaking, we're hardwired to compete for mates - whether or not we already have a mate. It's why I gave up on female hairdressers.

This is quite possibly the most brilliant thing anyone has ever spelled out for me. Not only that, but it's quite timely.

Because Invisible Internet Friends, I have some news for you.

I have a mullet.

Let me say that again. Because it bears repeating because it's a mullet.

I have a mullet.

How does one get a mullet, you ask? How do the forces of evil and nature and hilarity conspire against a reasonably aware and un-mullet-friendly 31-year-old who is just trying to get to the point of being able to walk down the street and not feel like she should be wearing a canvas sack to cover her enormous body, let alone her mullet-ed head, too?

Because I will tell you one thing: I may be "spirited" and "interesting" and all, but I am not so well advanced in my interesting-ness that I think I should voluntarily sport a mullet.

Here is what happened:

I have once or twice mentioned my hairdresser, whose name is Emily, here before. Because she is awesome and hysterical and reasonably priced and knows me and we have good chats. The color she gives me is usually pretty good, too.


But you notice how up there, where I praise my hairdresser, I do not actually mention anything about loving her for giving me good haircuts?

So let me go back a step.

The best cut and color I have ever had in San Francisco was administered by a hairdresser I was afraid of. She had a bleached blond MOHAWK and I am not in any way kidding about that.

I am also not kidding when I say the mohawk wasn't the reason I stopped seeing her. Even though it was a TALL and SPIKED mohawk.

It's that she used to have me help her with my color. I had to hold up a board against my head so she could paint on the highlights allllllllll the way down to the roots. She insisted that it was the best way to get the color onto the roots, and I believed her, except what I really wanted to tell her was that it was not my idea of a good time.

I don't actually like going to a salon and being forced hand over gobs of my salary just for the privelege of GETTING TO DO MY OWN HAIR.

Plus, it's not like sitting in the chair with the apron on that makes you look even fatter than you already do with your hair teased out in aluminum foil makes you feel glamorous, exactly.

Foiled Again!
(um, this is not me, but i felt like including a picture. i hijacked it from another blog. so there.)

And you know? Holding some sort of board to your head while a very determined and brusque lady with a mohawk jabs at your scalp with a paintbrush of toxic chemicals DOES NOT MAKE IT BETTER.

But I was too afraid of her to tell her this.

So rather than be confrontational in any way ("Um, it's really okay if you don't manage to access that 0.000016" of roots there at the surface of my scalp. I don't think anyone will notice. I won't even notice, to be perfectly honest with you. And also? My arm is tired and cramping, and you don't know me very well but I should not be trusted to hold anything near a reasonably dangerous substance because if I'm left unattended I might cause an explosion of some sort."), I did the only reasonable thing.

I found a new salon.

Enter Emily, and the funny things she says. Hurrah! for not being afraid of my hairdresser.

On the downside, "can I have some layers" never quite translated to what I hoped. In the three years I've been going to Emily, "layers" always seemed to result in the same thing: one long layer, with one shorter layer on top. A la mushroomhead.

No matter how I would try and clarify that "layerS" meant more than ONE, my hair always came out the same.

So finally, one day last week, I decided my hair'd been growing for too long and it was time to get it cut and
[I made a deal with myself a long time ago. I would grow my hair out and long and would not revert to cutting it shorter (above the shoulders) again until I have lost the weight I want to. I don't have a goal weight for this, but I am not allowed to significantly shorten my hair until I'm happy with my body. Just one of those things. Issues. You know.]

thought maybe it was time to let liking my haircut be a more important criterion in selecting a salon than liking my stylist.

Especially now, since my hair's getting kind of long and heavy and stringy and it needs professional help. It needs more than one layer. Thus, I bit the bullet and went to a new place. To a new hairdresser.

Her name is Emily.

When I arrived, she told me to look at pictures and tell her what I wanted. We discussed, at great length (har, har) what I was going for and what I didn't like about my current look.

I was excited. She clearly understood where I was coming from. She clearly had excellent training and schooling and spoke with all sorts of precision and technical jargon and was nice and sweet and then she started cutting.

Remember the Rachel haircut?
Styling my hair like this was the best it's ever looked. I don't care if it's outdated now, it's just the best shape for my face ever. I always ask for it. I never get it.

Somewhere about 5/8 of the way through this session, my hair looked great: thicker and fuller and shaped and perfect. She's done a great job, I thought.

And then she kept going.

You know that feeling. I know you know that feeling. That feeling where you're in the chair and you feel the scissors and you think, "she's not really cutting THAT much is she?" but you don't look down on the floor because you know. You know you will look down and there, on the floor, will lie a massive heap of hair, representing months of strife and "growing out" and remnants of previous colors and what is it doing there? On the floor? And not on your head? And you know if you see it your stomach will lurch and it won't be good. So you pretend.

But things got undeniably short when we got to my bangs. Do you want your bangs a little shorter than they are now? she asked. And my thought was, I have bangs now? So I said yes, a little.

But IIFs, we all know that "a little" never means what we non-scissor-wielding people think it does.

When all was said and done, I walked out of the salon feeling fine. I hadn't gotten any coloring (I'm taking a break on highlights for now; I haven't NOT had to worry about roots in 15 years, which is freeing; plus damn! are they ever expensive), but with so much of my previously lightened hair cut off, it looked darker. And sure, my bangs were shorter than I wanted, but they were styled cutely so I didn't really notice.

Except. As the afternoon wore on, and I started playing with my hair and trying new looks, I realized it: she gave me the "now it will grow out much better" cut. Which is what I wanted. And asked for.

But it didn't occur to me what that actually meant.

Translation: your hair will look better in 3-6 months. For now? Ahahahahahahaahahahahaaaaah!

So the next day when I showed my hair to my friend -- yes, that's right, my friend EMILY -- and said I'm not happy with it, that I will be happy with it, but I'm not now, because the layers are great but so much shorter than I'm used to, especially the ones on top and yes, the back is still long and what is that face you're making? it all came into focus.

Yeah, she said, pretty much trying not to laugh at me, you kind of have a mullet!

At which point Ish could not contain himself. Joe Dirt! JOE DIRT! he exclaimed in a white trash accent, while pointing at my head and snorting with laughter.


All I can say is, Hairdresser Emily II has no idea what kind of mate she's competing for.


  1. Kittah, I accidentally erased your comment becuase for some reason, blogger posted this twice and I deleted the wrong one. Sorry! You wrote:

    I just have to say I have been going to a (straight) female hairdresser for about a year and my hair is by far the best it's been in my adult life. I usually had men before that (gay or straight). She is so, so awesome - friendly and down to earth and she actually listens to what I tell her. Like, if I say, "Cut it only half an inch and keep in mind I'm trying to grow out my layers" - she does exactly that. And if I ask her for something she doesn't think will work with my hair, she tells me so, honestly, and suggests alternatives, instead of just ignoring me and doing what she wants to do anyway. She will opinions if I want them, but I never feel pushed, and I get so many compliments. It's great for me because sometimes stylists have this attitude that makes it hard for me to insist on what I want and I used to frequently end up paying way too much money for hair that I didn't really like, but with her that never happens. Her prices are I guess mid range - not dirt cheap, but less than the fancy salons charge. The reason I'm telling you all this is that she's in San Francisco, at the Pure Beauty on Haight Street - her name is Shelley and I wish I'd found her YEARS ago. So before you totally give up on women as hairdressers, you might just try her.
    Also, my sympathy on the mullet - ouch :)

  2. For the record, prior to yelling "JOE DIRT!" at you, I think I preceded it with a "Kentucky Waterfall" reference, a "business in the front, party in the back," reference, and one or two throaty "giterdones!"

    I'm glad we could clarify this, so that your IIFs will know that you are dating a man who acts like a 9 year-old.

    PS- I think you should also know I find you a little bit hot, and your new 'do has not altered my assessment.

  3. I hate getting my haircut unless I'm in Denver and can have my sister do it. I suppose if I was willing to shell out more than the $11 plus tip I give my barber and go to an actual stylist, I might like the results better. But I'm cheap and Carolyn has, apparently, low standards as to how her husband should look.

    And Ish -- don't ALL men act like 9 year olds, whenever we can get away with it? I know I do.

  4. the mike douglas show.

  5. I started going to my straight female hairdresser for no other reason than the salon was 3 doors down from the bar. I have maybe not the best priorities. I love what she does with my hair, but then again I love having spikes in arresting shades of green or magenta, so perhaps she just realizes she doesn't need to compete with me: I can dig my own hole. The only thing we've ever argued about is that she refuses to dye it black because she is the one "who will have to try to bleach it out when you get bored with it next month". (which is perfectly accurate)

  6. Dude. You should've ASKED. Paul at Festoon has never steered me wrong. Plus, he's awfully fun to talk to.

    The last time I was in, he was fondling my hair, as hairdressers are wont to do, and noticed how much thicker it grows in the back than on the tops and sides. I GROW A NATURAL MULLET. He understands my aversion to this biological result of white trash on both sides of the family and works hard to steer clear of that particular party-in-the-back look.

    And he gives great layerS.

    Unrelated: I hate Top Chef.

  7. I should additionally note that there are two Festoon locations, and I go to the one that's just off Union Square.

  8. Ericha2@yahoo.com4:12 PM, January 25, 2007

    I have been to gay guys, straight guys, gay girls and straight girls. My hair is very thin and flat and doesn't want to do a damn thing...ever.

    I have found a wonderful stylist in San Jose at the Santana Row Aveda. Marissa is young and hip and just learning color...I can't wait till she can color my hair, but she's a whiz with the scissors. She's the only one who's ever been able to get my hair "big" without TONS of product. She's reasonably priced considering where she's located and she gives a great complimentary neck and shoulder massage to start the service.

    I think we get on so well because we've both already found our mates. Mine goes to her for haircuts, too. It took a long time but I've finally found a good one.

  9. Yay, ericha!

    Beth - thanks for the advice. And yes. Top Chef hatred is running rampant in my household today.

  10. if you're willing to take a little drive north, to petaluma (it's honestly only about 35-40 minutes most saturdays, which is when i downtown petaluma -- so cute!) i have an excellent stylist to recommend...

    and she's affordable! cut, color AND highlights (because i have to cover all the goddamned gray before i can do highlights): about $150.

  11. Oh, Please, please, please post a picture. I have had many a bad haircut, and I feel your pain. We promise we won't laugh...loudly...

  12. LOL ... I know I shouldn't laugh but the exact same thing happened to me about 2 years ago. Once I finished crying I culdn't stop laughing. I then got some mulletude and took to preening it in the washrrom at work, much to my cowrokers delight.

    Embrace the mullet. Love the mullet.

    By the way, mullets grow out really fast (so it will be gone before you know it) which gave me a whole new appreciation to those sporting mullets and the work they must do to keep it mullet mullety.

  13. So you'll post a picture of your bare bruised butt, but not of a mullet? Come on now!

    And look at it this way...nothing shows the world you have gotten all the Fairfield County muck out of you better than proudly sporting a mullet!

  14. My problem with hairdressers is the superlong bangs. I want bangs. Not crazy, straight-across-the-forhead bangs, but long, soft, layered bangs that give some shape to my round face. Every stylist I go to interprets this as "bangs so long you can tuck them behind your ears." Which I do. Not intentionally, but that's what happens with hair so long it can get into my mouth - it gets pushed back, out of my face. And as much as I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to look like Penelope Cruz in Volver, if I had that cut, it would all be tucked behind my ear and look exactly as if I had no bangs at all. Just like I do now.

  15. photo, pleeeeeeaze!!!

  16. Until a few weeks ago, I would have said you should go see Ally, the stylist who gave me my second-to-last harcut, which I loved. You saw it. Everyone liked it. Time went by, I needed a refresher. I went back to Ally. "Cut it just like you did before", I said.

    She didn't.

    It's kind of the same, but not really. For example, I walked in with a side part and walked out with a middle part. What's up with that? At the time I thought she'd just styled it that way for fun, but when I got home I realized that she'd cut my hair so that I couldn't really part it any other way. Also, my bangs were so long I couldn't see.

    So I went back and asked her to fix the bangs. She spent maybe a minute and a half with me. Now I can see, but my bangs are too short and look stupid. And they still don't want to part on the side.

    Maybe it will look better when it grows out.

  17. Christina at Cinta Salon on Grant Street (off Market) is good. 415-989-1000.

  18. I've had a mullet, too. Once you've had a haircut that makes you cry, it makes you wary of any new stylist. For three years, only I trimmed my hair. Eventually I started going back to professionals, but after paying a wench $50 to make my hair make me cry, I *refuse* to pay high salon prices anymore. So now I go to one of the two cheap places in the upper Haight - one is called Trimmers, I think, and the other, I forget the name of. My philosophy is this: if there's the chance that someone is going to do something to me that is going to make my hair look like CRAP for the next 6 months, well, at least I can say "I only paid them $18 + tip"

    Because telling someone you paid $50 for a mullet is just too much to bear.

    So last time I didn't get the haircut *I* wanted because the one guy I've seen most often in the last couple of years wasn't there. But everyone else loves it, so eh.

    And I only paid $18 + tip! (plus I like the freedom of not having to make an appointment)

  19. I just posted about my bad haircut! A mullet is pretty bad, but maybe you can be thankful that you don't have a . . . Joey Lawrence! :(

  20. I humbly admit that my statemetnt about female hairdressers was a generalization - but I really did give up on them for that reason. Second best haircut I ever had was from Yosh. I'm sure you know where it is. Arm and a leg, but worth it. (Yes, it was a woman.) It was ten years ago. Best haircut I ever had was last year when I visited George (he and his partner just adopted a baby girl! YAY!) a couple days before my appt. and showed him how I was wearing my hair. I need to do that again. I'm in GA or I'd tell you to go see him.


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