Having had a stressful few weeks, I was in need of some change. Whacking my hair off seemed a good option.
So, this morning I went to a salon where they speak only Chinese (relax, I had Beth with me), and had a wonderfully relaxing head massage as they washed my hair (oh, I do so LOVE Asia!). Then, using a mixture of charades, Chinese, Chinglish, and some help from a guy who turned out to speak excellent English, Beth and I managed to communicate that I wanted my hair cut to my shoulders, with layers and face framing. The man came who was to cut my hair . . . and within a moment, I knew that I was in the hands of The Artist (you should pronounce that word with an accent in your head in order to have the proper effect).
He was a very trendy fellow. Chinese, with blond, "pretty boy" hair, tight red pants, shirt stylishly unbuttoned just the "correct" amount, and a demeanor that bespoke dedication to Hair (capitalization essential). He examined. He unsheathed his scissors in a way I have only seen in sitcoms. Never have I witnessed such dedication to craft -- it was as though my head were a canvas, and he was da Vinci. Every individual strand of hair received his personal attention. He molded, he shaped . . . in his capable hands, my hair yielded to a master and actually behaved.
This grand production, "Mysterious Foreigner in the Hands of The Artist," naturally, attracted a fair amount of attention. Soon, we had a crowd of about ten Chinese people gathered around us: five employees of the salon, three customers, and two people that I honestly believe just came in off the street to observe the show. There was considered conversation, all in low, hushed voices, as the masses of hair continued to plummet to the floor. It was a little unnerving for the foreigner, who rapidly became aware that she was losing a bit more hair than she had intended. As The Artist worked, however, I began to see something -- an incredibly cute, flattering hairstyle -- emerging, and I realized that I had nothing to fear.
The production continued after the cutting, thinning, and such was done. The Artist stepped back and an underling (I assume, from the respective demeanors of both parties) came forward to handle the mundane process of drying my hair. When it was, I thought, done, The Artist returned. A few strands troubled him, and were immediately trimmed. Other flaws that I could not discern were likewise fixed. Then, The Artist finished drying every single individual strand of my hair, molding each of them to face the right direction. I have never in my life received such attention at a hair salon -- it was $500 service, for the equivalent of $10. Wow; somedays I really, really love China even more than usual.
To make the whole thing even more theatrical, the group around us actually applauded when it was over!
Here's a "before" photo of my shaggy long hair, which had managed to grow three inches since I came to China (honestly, my hair and nails have never in my life grown as fast as they do here):
And, here's the New Look, courtesy of The Artist (the photos do not do it justice; I had gotten a bit windblown from going grocery shopping, pearl-shopping at Jimolu, and two taxi rides with the window down):