“There is a reason for dressing well, namely that your dogs respect it, and will not attack you in good clothes.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
The first time I ever cut anyone while cutting their hair was on the first day of beauty school just after I got home.
“Wow, you’re a hairdresser,” my little brother said.
“Technically, not yet,” I said.
“Come on, cut my hair,” he said.
“Brad, I haven’t even taken a class yet. All we got was our stuff today, our kit, that’s all.”
“Come on,” he said, following me around the house like a dog.
I set him up, got my scissors, and before I knew it took the top of his ear off. He yelped and shouted and chased me around until he caught me and sat heavy on me.
I don’t know why he cried so much. I’ve cut myself worse since then, so much so that I’ve needed stitches. I’ve learned to pull ears out of the way. I bend them so I won’t cut them. Sometimes, though, when you’re cutting around any ear, you can get a little skin on the tip. A little nip is what it is. It’s not great, but it happens.
I don’t do it often, but when it happens, I clean it up and continue cutting.
The worst mistake I ever made was at the end of a long, long day. It happened when I mixed up my straight edge shears with my texture shears. Since I accidentally cut out a big clump of hair when I did it, ever since then I always look to make sure what pair of shears I have in my hand.
Texture shears cut the hair, but they don’t cut all your hair. It’s a thinning, blending technique. I grabbed the wrong shears. It was at the end of the night, we were talking, and I wasn’t paying attention. There wasn’t anything I could do or say. I fucked up. There’s nothing to be said after that.
As soon as I went to texturize her hair, and instead cut out a chunk of her hair, I said, “Oh, my God,” but there wasn’t really anything to say by way of explanation. I knew and she knew what had just happened. She looked at me and I was, “Yeah, that just happened.”
There’s no fixing a big clump of hair missing from the top of your head.
What could I say? I’m a brutally honest person. “I cut your hair off. There’s no denying it. This one’s on me,” I said.
She didn’t say anything, just glared.
“You don’t have to pay me. I’ll probably never see you again, anyway.”
I apologized again. She got up and left. I never saw her again.
There was no fixing it, not by me or anybody else, although I do a lot of fixing in other ways. People are always buying their Madison Reed, going down the road of we’re never going to salons anymore for hair color. That’s fine, but every other hairdresser and myself are saying, go ahead, see where it gets you.
“We’ll see you sooner or later,” we all say.
Girls see the ads on Facebook, believe every word of them, God knows why, go to the drugstore, put it in their hair, and end up with gorilla black. They act surprised and think it can be taken care of presto change-o.
“I want to go back to blonde,” they say.
“That’s not going to happen anytime soon,” I say.
“We’re going to have to go light brown, and in the process I’m going to damage the fuck out of your hair, and you’re going to have to work to maintain it. It’s a whole process.”
They have to spend the whole day at the salon to get the repairs done, have lunch, have dinner, bring something to read, because I’ve got to bust through the store bought stuff, the gorilla black they poured on their heads, because now you wish it was back to normal.
I’m sorry for their loss, for the golden color that’s gone, but they are going to be black for a while. What were you thinking of in the first place?
Sometimes people bring me pictures of what they want to look like. And sometimes I have to tell them it isn’t going to happen.
“You have frog fur for hair,” I say. “You have three or four hairs on your head and you want me to make you look like the full voluptuous head of Kardashian? What color in the sky do you think it is that you think this is going to happen to you today?”
Sometimes it hurts to hear me, but brutally honest is the way I am.
The most blood I ever drew was almost no blood at all, which was how Barry became known as Barry the Bleeder. His sister and mom still come to the Kameryn Rose Salon to get their hair cut, but Barry moved to Florida. They love me and I love them, but Barry passed out once when I was cutting his hair when we all worked at the Revelations Salon.
I was doing a snip around his ear, and I pinched it a bit. He didn’t even feel it at first. I went over to the other side of his head, came back, and saw there was a little trickle of blood.
“Oh, I gave you a little nip,” I said.
I wiped it up with my hand towel. He looked at the blood on the towel. He stood up, all six feet of him, took another look, and went down. He fainted.
“Oh, for God’s sake, get up,’ said his mother, who is a nurse, and who was sitting beside us.
“I’m so sorry,” I said. “I hope he’s OK. I don’t think I can pick him up.”
He was a teenager, but he was a big kid.
“I’m so embarrassed,” she said. “Get up, get up!”
“Oh, my God, I just made your kid faint and you’re embarrassed?”
“He’s ridiculous,” she said. “Just ridiculous.”
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.