I’m staring at Julianne’s boots.
They’re up past her knees, and her slim thighs emerge like stems. She’s recently told me I look skinnier, which I’m a little baffled by, but also flattered.
You must understand – Julianne is lovely. That, and her skill with scissors, must be why she’s inundated with clients. Julianne’s cutting my hair for the third time, and I’m not ashamed to say I have a little crush on her. I’m not alone…the last time I sat in her chair I watched all the men watching her as she floated around me, blades glinting.
She’s lovely in that effortless way some Korean women have – of dressing, letting their hair wave slightly, their complexions like the moon. I’ve had moments of feeling this way, but it’s not a skin I’m usually in. And that’s fine because I enjoy watching it, too.
Getting your haircut is a sensual experience. You’re washed, in public. Your head is handled carefully, warm water courses across your scalp. Fingers massage and usually, you keep your eyes closed. It’s like being a baby again.
Then you’re trundled into a comfy chair and get paid attention to.
I love getting my hair cut. I love getting my hair DRIED. Having someone blow dry and brush my hair renders me almost lunatic with relaxation. You could sell me anything.
Back to Julianne: she’s wearing two layers of thin cotton shirt, and a tailored black blazer with the sleeves rolled up. Her nail polish is dark and her jeans are dark and her boots are dark and everything fits very, very well. But remember – effortless.
What keeps her from floating away, I suppose, is that she’s also wearing braces. They’re clear, but they’re still a bit of an obstacle, and her lips pull around them with just a hint of self-consciousness. It’s utterly charming.
I blather on about work and how much I’ve missed my bangs (it’s true) and how no one’s touched my hair since her. Well, that’s not exactly true, I realize, mortified. The hair department for a tv show I just worked on had to give me a little trim. I confess as if it’s one of the seven deadly sins and watch Julianne’s mouth pull back in a small smile.
The entire time she works, Julianne is shadowed by an acolyte. The young woman doesn’t take her eyes off Julianne’s hands, and as she watches she twists her lips and crosses her arms. Her hair is pulled into a messy knot on the top of her head, and she wears a loose red sweatshirt.
Julianne ignores her completely, but there’s no sense of superiority. She’s just cutting my hair. At one point, a bit of hair flies into the green tea I’m holding, and the acolyte rushes to take it from me. No worries, I say.
When she’s not smiling or joking with the other ladies in Korean, Julianne keeps her lips carefully together. After giving my hair lovely waves with a curling iron, I ask how she does it so effortlessly.
That’s what I’m here for, she says, smiling.