Yesterday I ventured out with the trusty, ever-fashionable Jessie to get my hair trimmed. She decided that the guy that did my last haircut wasn't satisfactory (although I thought he was fine), so she called around and found someone who has "a lot of experience cutting foreigners' hair." Puzzling, in a town where very few foreigners settle long enough to ever need a haircut, but it turns out he did cut a few of the American teachers' hair last year.
This stylist was a young guy with a Chinese-style afro, whom Jessie described as "a little eccentric."
I told him what I wanted: My same hairstyle, but about an inch shorter.
Throughout the haircut, he kept suggesting small changes: How about we angle the front up a little toward your chin? How about we add a few layers here? Is this too short? I went along with each suggestion and pretty soon had a different haircut altogether, about 2 or 3 inches shorter than the original. At the end of the cut, he revealed a picture of a cute Asian girl with exactly the same cut.
He knew all along where he was going, but for some reason never showed me the picture in the first place. The artiste was making his vision a reality without needing to ask or inform the customer in advance. He instructed me that I must come back every month and he will consult with me about my hair and help me find some new styles.
There is actually a cultural nugget in here. In China, you are the expert of your own field and take it upon yourself to advise others freely. For example, I have friends whose cleaning helper will not change the pillowcases weekly, as requested, because in her experience she does not think they need to be changed so often. Everyone's an expert in something!
- My stylist kept one of his blow dryers on the floor.
- He occasionally stored his comb in his China-fro when not using in on my hair.
- I kept getting chided to sit up straighter and stop moving.
- It only cost 10 RMB. Less than $2.