top of page

When Jitters Become "Oops!"

Barnum & Bailey Circus Train wreck outside Potsdam, NY, August 22, 1889

One moment of high anxiety in my life has always been the job interview/first day at a job. A weak attempt at self-sabotage that does not quite ruin my prospects, perhaps? All I know is, when I am in the midst of it, I feel as helpless as those useless wheels no longer attached to that 1889 circus train.

About 20 years ago I got the idea of dying my hair right before going on a job interview. I was appalled to notice a dark dye spot that would not come off my right cheek. The time to leave the house was fast approaching. My girlfriend at the time, who was very practical, got a bit of gasoline on a rag and scrubbed away until it nearly disappeared. I ran out the door, deciding that I would just leave them wondering if I had found a new shade of blush. I got the job.

This Monday I started a new job that I love. I quit the old job last Wednesday. During this four-day hiatus, the needle on my anxious-o-meter had climbed all the way to the right and was threatening to break the imaginary glass.

In my antsiness, I started cutting my own hair. Granted, I needed a haircut desperately. No chance of a last-minute appointment....seething nervous anxiety beneath the surface....I grab the curved nail scissors and start whacking away at the back of my hair. I could quickly detect that I had cut a couple of hanks - right in the back where you want it full - very, very, very short.

As it was late on a Saturday night, I made a quick internet search of where I could go ASAP on Sunday morning to get a professional cut. The woman who took me at 9:00 am was a nervous talker, which made sense. One neurosis fixes another. I asked her if she could help me and she said had to give me a pixie cut to blend it. She promised she wouldn't cut it too short in the back so it wouldn't "look too masculine." I said, "I like it short in the back. I like to keep them guessing." She pondered that thought for a moment.

"Now you have me guessing," she replied, with a long laugh. Neither the gay man sitting next to me, the trans woman who was cutting someone else's hair, or I joined in. It appeared she was no stranger to awkward moments. For the rest of the cut I merely muttered unintelligible answers to all her questions. Fortunately, our interaction took no longer than five minutes. She was a brilliant haircutter.

She blow dried my hair and added "texture" especially designed for people with fine, thinning hair. "I use it myself," she assured me, as she sprinkled salt-and-pepper fibers like my hair was a side salad. She was right again. It looked fabulous! One last spritz of hairspray, and I was a new woman.

After rebuffing her attempts to send me home with product and to have me take down her number (a suggestion I ignored three times), I paid my bill, tipped her 20%, and went on my merry way.

I may go back to her, but I wanted to keep her guessing.


bottom of page