While Charlie was staying with us between stages of her post-Korea travels, she said that she wanted to go and get a haircut. She and Habiba suggested that I should go with her and get one too. I said I would if Habiba ‘went to Brazil’. Well, she said OK and so I ended up going to Myeongdong with her and Charlie to a fancy hairdressing salon.
I’ve had long hair for a long time – since I was about seventeen, I think – and that’s about sixteen years. There are many reasons – laziness, fear of getting a haircut (this needs some explanation. My grandmother once gave me a haircut, and she clipped my ear with the scissors – with the handle end, I’m sure – I wasn’t injured. But it hurt me and upset me a lot. I was traumatised by it for a while. Also, as a teenager I was scared of pretty much everything; I used to have mini panic attacks getting on a bus. So going to a barber’s was something I could very much do without), love of Metallica, the fact that long hair looks great, it has positive associations – music, naturalness, masculinity, rebellion – and short hair has negative connotations – boringness, conventionality, and a certain degree of effeminacy (maybe that just comes from living in Korea, where young men are more feminine than your average western woman).
But I’m not against a change of image every now and then, so, yes, I sat in the chair and let a woman cut it all away stage by stage. Habiba watched and took photos with Charlie’s camera (Charlie hasn’t given us the photos yet, and she’s travelling, so don’t hold out much hope of seeing them any time soon). We laughed about it. It was certainly a bizarre experience.
Habiba was made up by the whole thing. I enjoyed the novelty of it and I certainly looked good (but I looked good with long hair, too). A couple of days after I had the haircut I had a full shave – long hair, goatee and sideburns, all gone. I looked like a different person.
Over the following days everyone I met that knew commented on it – how could they not? And, of course, all the comments were positive – from the typical, ‘Oh – handsome guy!’ of the Koreans to the rather more imaginitive comments of Eric from roleplaying – he said he could imagine me in a porno, or something – and Ksan – who said she wanted to rape me (she said it in front of Habiba, I should add).
Things I’ve noticed about having shorter hair are the feel of the wind in it – I was quite sensitive to the ruffling sensation for a while. It takes up a lot less time in the morning – I only have to towel my hair the once and combing it is obviously a much simpler matter. After a month of it now, I still, when I put on a top or coat, reflexively flip my right hand at the back of my neck to pull my hair out of my clothing. But it’s no longer necessary.
Obviously, being told I’m good-looking is pleasing to my ego, but it also irritates me – and continues to irritate me as people keep harping on about it. I don’t mean to sound negative – I’ve enjoyed the experience, and, yes, I look good with short hair – but I can’t quite accept that it’s me. Still, it gives me an opportunity to experiment with different styles. I think I’m going to go really short for a while – that’s a hairstyle I admire. But in the long term I’m glad that hair grows.
Hair today, gone tomorrow, but back again in a couple of years. (Yes, that pun was so bad it needed repeating.)
Oh yes, and Habiba lived up to her end of the bargain. Mmm – nice.