My friend’s roommate, Annika, was attending school at the Vidal Sassoon Academy. For ten straight months school was in session forty hours a week with lessons on how to cut, color and style hair. I was incredulous to this. Couldn’t you learn in a week how to cut someone’s hair?
“No, you have to learn the different shapes of a person’s head. You can come see. We need hair models for Friday.” I thought I had wrapped up my modeling career when I refused to wax my body for the Speedo bathing suit catalog, but for the sake of investigative journalism I allowed myself to be pulled back in.
The last several years I got my hair cut at a beauty salon that advertised ten dollar haircuts. I thought at some point inflation would force me to pay more, but magically the price went down to free.
The Vidal Sassoon Academy was directly above the Santa Monica Hooters restaurant which was not serving breakfast at 9:30 in the morning. I invited Justin and John along to freeload their way to style too. John’s hair was close cropped so it seemed silly for him to get a haircut. Justin had a bird’s nest on his head. I was considered a full fledged fashion disaster. My sideburns were bushy. My hair long and so full of build up that I was told I was needed to be given a Malibu. Unfortunately, a Malibu isn’t a fruity mixed drink. A Malibu was a thorough cleansing of the hair to get all the chlorine and other nonsense out of me.
The positive aspect of the calamity known as my hair was that all of the students were fighting over the chance to make something out of nothing. It had been almost a week since so many women fought over the chance to caress my hair. As Annika knew me the longest, she won the honor.
After my trip to Malibu I was plopped in the barber chair. Their instructor was a tiny Brazilian dude with massive biceps who went from one model to the next asking how we wanted our hair. I never know how to answer that question. I used to say “I want to look like a model.” Then that Lithuanian hairdresser gave me a mullet. So I’ve since said, “Make me look like a businessman.”
The instructor was disappointed with that answer. “When’s the last time you got a haircut?”
“November? November 2007?” he asked. “Why have you waited so long?”
“Exactly.” He told Annika. “He won’t get it touched up if you give him a short haircut. Give him something fun and shaggy.”
He put his fingers through my hair and showed her the length she should be cutting it. She followed his directions to a tee. The Brazilian instructor would constantly make his rounds through the room. Cutting each models hair with quickness and precision. John claimed the instructor did most of the cutting of his hair. His hairdresser was a fitness model who was once a cheerleader for the Raiders when they played in Los Angeles. She seemed quite confident when speaking, but apparently she was tentative when messing with John’s tresses.
Annika and I chitchatted as she trimmed in a thorough and deliberate manner. I asked her where the Vajayjays were. She told me about the Vajayjays the week before. They were scandalous twenty year old students who came scantily clad to school. Students must dress only in black at Vidal Sassoon Academy and apparently they found ways to be creative within the dress code. One of their favorite outfits was to wear a t-shirt that barely covered their privates with a belt around their waist. They were coloring that day so I never got a chance to see them in action.
At a certain point the guy next to me got antsy which got me antsy. Playing poker and writing conditioned me to sit for long periods of time, but when I found out it was noon I needed to stretch and jump around. She still hadn’t gotten to the back of my head. The instructor told Annika she wasn’t following my corners. She admitted to not being able to see the corner on the left side of my scalp. She was told to look at paintings and portraits in her friends’ homes. See the symmetry of the haircuts. The compliments I had received about my well shaped scalp didn’t make me feel any less inferior now that I learned I should have paintings in my house.
Although they claimed they don’t generally use razors at Vidal Sassoon, my sideburns were volatile enough that heavy equipment was necessary. The finishing touch was some gel sculpted into my hair. Annika started messing around with it. “You should wear this look at school.” She said.
“I do. Often times I go to work straight out of bed.”
The young, pretty hairdresser next to her said, “Are you the naughty professor? I bet all the girls flirt with you.”
She asked me in a playful, flirty manner, but I’ll never know the right way to answer this question people have asked me since I started teaching. I went the arrogant route. “It’s not just school. Everywhere I go people have crushes on me. It’s going to be even worse now that I’ve got a fancy haircut.” The instructor approved of Annika’s work and four hours after our arrival we were free to roam around the Santa Monica promenade and feel the cool breeze against our bare necks.
“I’m feeling presidential.” Justin said.
As did I. I’m glad he came along because I’m unsure I can associate with anyone who spends less than an hour on their hair any more.