I stare at my hairdresser in the mirror. He is waiting for my answer. Feeling myself getting hot, I stop scrolling on Google Images. The smock around my neck is caught under his hands, which lean against the back of the cushy salon chair. It is the only barrier keeping me from sliding from the chair and convulsing on the floor. My own straight jacket,
I put my phone down and look around at the other clients for inspiration. They are all getting one of two versions of the same cut or color. I get nothing. I breathe heavier and heavier. My hairdresser walks backward preparing to call someone over. I pull out of my pocket the small picture of a woman with a mid-length bob I had just torn out of the Fall 2017 Vogue magazine sitting in the waiting area. Through beaded sweet, shaking hands, and sudden growling, I crumble it up and eat it.
He gasps, clutching a hairbrush in his hand.
I swivel my smock around my neck until it becomes a cape. I grip the armrests at my sides, lift my body, and place my feet onto the chair, landing in a hawk’s stance.
My hairdresser shrieks.
Half bird, half human, I whale. “I want a haircut that will simultaneously erase my past life and grant me a new one, a better one! I want this haircut to say, ‘This girl is the hottest human being on this earth and deserves to be loved unconditionally because of it, because of how hot she is.’ Remove my childhood, Hairdresser, relieve me of middle school, eradicate high school, college, and these last few weeks since graduation. I want to remember one family vacation to Colorado Springs, but that’s it.”
“I want my mother to call me and tell me that she forgives me. I want my college roommate to regret she ever let her soups explode in our microwave. My hair should scream, ‘Fuck you, Shaun! You messed up so bad. You should have never broken up with this flaming hot sex storm.’”
“My haircut needs to radiate sunshine, to make me happy for the first time in years, but it also needs to place an immediate and lifelong curse on anyone I choose. Can you do that, Hairdresser? Can you?”
My hairdresser is cuddled on the counter two rows behind mine. His hands appear around the sides of the mirror in front of him. He slowly rises. Everyone else is outside. The other clients, with wet and half-cut hair, press their faces against the window.
He walks toward me steadily. “Yes, I can.”
He raises his brush in the air. A lightning bolt reaches down from the sky, through the ceiling, illuminating his body.
“First, we strip all the color from your hair from root to tip. Then, we dye it white blonde. We dip the tips in hot pink dye, cut two inches, and give you bangs.”
“Then, we make your hair entirely midnight black from dye we’ll get across the street at CVS. We apply 10-inch extensions that we will buy from Walgreens on the other side of the street, cut 12 inches, and shave your head.”
“Finally, we give you a clown wig, take it off, replace it with a Victoria Beckham wig circa 2009, take it off, replace it with Miley Cyrus’s exact wig from Hannah Montana.”
He lowers his brush. I fix my position on the chair. The mirror reflects a person who has just seen the sun for the first time.
“Let’s do it,” I proclaim, thrilled to cross this gateway into my future. Hopeful.