I Was Humiliated at Vidal Sassoon in London
This story is inspired by Jonathan Greene’s mortifying 8th grade story.
Blessedly, I do not have any urinary anecdotes, but his story reminded me of my own most embarrassing tale from many years ago. Granted, it’s all quite #firstworldproblems. Nonetheless, it was incredibly humiliating.
The fall semester of my junior year at Florida State I studied in London. My best friend, Joanna, was my roommate as well as a super cool girl, Robbie, from Tampa.
About midway through the semester Robbie decided to get a haircut at the Vidal Sassoon training salon in the heart of London. For just 5 British pounds (under $10), a trainee cut her bob into a new shorter, hipper ‘do.
Joanna had always been more daring than I with her fashion and hair choices. As soon as she saw Robbie’s new haircut, she ventured to the salon for a new shorter ‘do as well.
Within a few days Joanna’s cousin, Julia, came to visit us. Julia, the epitome of a Southern belle, had gorgeous long wavy blonde hair.
She and I decided to head over to the salon for a trim.
Now. I have to admit that I was very nervous about anyone touching my hair. My hair got hacked at the end of kindergarten and short hair did NOT suit me. I grew it out from the time I was in the second grade and never looked back.
My hair remains my most complimented feature.
If that makes me vain, so be it. I’m just setting the scene for you:
I only wanted a trim to maintain healthy hair. I did not want a new hairstyle.
Before we headed to the salon, I made the decision to trim my bangs a bit. I acknowledge that I might have been…overzealous. In my mind I was attempting to cut them short enough so that whoever cut my hair would just leave them alone and trim the rest of my hair.
So I headed over to the Vidal Sassoon salon with bangs that were, admittedly, too short. With my best friend’s cousin who is one of the prettiest girls I have ever known.
We walked into the salon and were led down to a room with a dozen stations. Five or six apprentices (a mixture of chic men and women) were clustered at one end of the room chatting casually. No one else was in the room aside from me and Julia. We were the only customers.
A French woman took me to a brightly-lit station. I sat nervously in the chair and explained to her that I only wanted a trim.
She was not happy.
Eventually she told me that I was wasting her time if I only wanted a trim.
She then took my hacked bangs and with the tips of her fingers pulled them together away from my head.
She sputtered loudly in her French accent so that everyone in the room could hear her:
“I…I…I cannot do anything with this. You! You…you look like…a porcupine!”
I. was. mortified!
Very quickly I apologized to her for wasting her time. I blurted out that it was obvious I needed to leave so that I wouldn’t trouble her anymore.
I can’t remember if I had already paid my 5 British pounds or not. I might have left the money on the station or I might have simply rushed out, bright red and ashamed.
I still remember walking home as fast as I possibly could. Dashing to the Tube. Telling myself to hold on until I could get to the flat. Fighting back tears until I was alone.
When I got home Joanna and Robbie were there. They wanted to know how the appointment went.
I only remember telling them that I needed to take a shower.
I turned the water on. It was the only way I could sob without anyone hearing me.
I cried and cried under the warm water.
I’ve always been introverted. It was very intimidating to be in that salon with sophisticated, svelte, black-clad Europeans.
To then be humiliated in front of this group of cosmopolitan, fashionable strangers (and Julia) was too much for my shy self.
Certainly had I known that they only wanted customers looking for more dramatic haircuts, I would have never gone!
I will add that I was also perturbed because I didn’t understand how I was wasting her time. (1) There were NO other customers. She was just standing around. (2) Lots of people want a trim without a drastic change. Practicing trimming someone’s hair without insulting them seems like a piece of training, too.
Poor Julia found her way back to our flat on her own. And was sympathetic to how I’d been treated.
Her hair was still long and gorgeous.
I presume she was not called a marsupial.
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