I visited a hairdressing salon today, as a special treat to myself. It's not something I do very often - I'm still not over the humiliation of accidentally asking for a cut and blow-job when I was younger - but the barnet was out of control, and there are only so many times you can trim your own fringe and 'mend' your split ends before you start to resemble Edward Scissorhands on an off day. (Having scissors for hands, you'd have thought his hair would have been a bit tidier, but hey-ho). Anyway, it was all very pleasant, although the stylist did have a habit of using the royal "we."
"What do we want?" she asked, when I walked in, fingering my locks as if they were oily rags.
I felt like saying, "Well I don't know about you, love, but I want a lottery win, a published novel in Waterstones...and world peace."
Anyway, it was all very pleasant, and one of the assistants made me a nice cup of tea, which would have been nicer without the little hairs that materialised on the surface within four seconds, but it wasn't long before the stylist pitched up at the inevitable question.
Her (snipping vigorously) - "So. What do you do for a living?"
Me (looking shifty) - "Um. Well, I work in a library, part-time and, er, I'm...well I'm a bit of a writer. Sometimes."
A bit of a writer??? What the heck...? I think I meant to say I do a bit of writing sometimes, but it came out wrong. The thing is, I don't really think of myself as a writer, yet, so the words tend to stick in my throat. In fact, I don't normally mention it at all these days, as such a bold claim (not that it was bold on this occasion), always leads to that vexing question "ooh, what do you write?" to which the only acceptable answer, really, is, "Oh, you know...best-selling novels that top the charts and get made into films or television dramas." Rather than "oh, you know. A feature here and there. Book review in the local paper (actually, that statement does lend a tiny bit of gravitas), plus I'm working on a novel..." which naturally leads to the response, "ooh, what kind of novel?" Groan. It's at that point I long to change tactics and say that, actually, I made the whole thing up, because I'm really an astronaut or a spy or something I can't really talk about in public, because people are listening.
The cringiness of the conversation, which soon stuttered to a halt, I can tell you, did give me an idea for a story, though. Imagine a character making up something extravagant like that, at the hairdressers, or a party, and saying something like, "I used to be a glamour model. Oh yes, I've worked with all the greats..." and the person she's talking to says, "Oh god, I thought I recognised you. You were in that film too, weren't you, with Brad Pitt? Didn't you have a fling with that photographer, who went on to shoot the Queen (in a manner of speaking)..." and before she knows it the heroine is up to her eyes in all sorts of high jinks. Interesting. Maybe.
It must have been my lucky day though, because as well as a nice haircut (still long, but humanized), it was half-price, as a special New Year offer!
Now I just need that stylist to call round every morning and maintain my shiny, swishy, ever-so-slightly wig-like, new locks for me, or come the weekend I'll look like a rat peeping through a hedge again...