"Well, so ..."
The hairdresser stared, scissors poised.
OK, I hadn't thought this through.
When I'd sat down, I really did think my language skills were up to this. It was a basic trim. "Duan yi dian" — just a little shorter. There you have it! What else would a hair stylist need to know?
A lot more, I'm afraid.
This wasn't even as drastic as the major overhaul I'd done a few months ago.
Oh, did I not mention? In March, I cut my hair.
As in, removed the bulk of my hair from my head. We're talking about 15 inches or so.
Cue eye rolls over a "girl cuts her hair" column.
It was a big deal, though. This was something I'd wanted to do for a long time, but every time I'd book the appointment, I'd chicken out. I'd donate about 9 inches but never get the pixie cut of my dreams.
Having lived abroad for a while, it was becoming all too clear that fretting over what anyone else thought was a massive waste of time. So I started wearing what I liked. And do you know what? The less I cared about public opinion, the more I loved my own look.
So why was I toting around all these messy locks that got tangled up in Beijing's high winds, yanked at my scalp and clogged our shower drain? What was I waiting for?
This time around, I was waiting for a hair stylist who spoke English. I was petrified of trying to explain this drastically new look in a language I could barely order a sandwich in. Sure, I didn't care about others' opinions, but I still had to look at it.
Manfriend came to the rescue with his many connections. Within an hour, he'd found me a stylist who came at the right price and enough English to put my fears at ease. When I left that appointment, I felt lighter in every way.
A month or so later, it was time for a trim. But I wasn't about to fork over high prices for maintenance work. Surely a local shop could handle trimming off a centimeter.
I must have seemed terrified, stuttering over my words, watching every cut like a hawk. But once he'd dried it and I'd tousled things a bit, I knew he'd done a great job. It was just the look I'd wanted the first time around.
A week later, I was gawking at my reflection.
"Seriously, this haircut. It's so good!" I insisted, while Manfriend halfheartedly listened — he'd heard me raving about this all week.
"So what you're saying is, we spent 288RMB ($45) on a haircut that you like, then get it trimmed for 50RMB ($7.80) a month later, and you're in love?"
"That's about right!" I said, grinning like a fool.
I was stylish at a discount.
Well, maybe not exactly stylish. But darn happy.