While walking around the neighborhood as a form of unqualified exercise yesterday, I saw a boy of about ten to twelve years of age cutting hair for his father. They do look alike, or is it my imagination, and I assumed they are father and son. The boy looked rather skilled and showed remarkable composure. Either he’s a born hairdresser or he’s had plenty of practice. Both are rare. The father was sitting on a chair placed at the end of the drive way close to the sidewalk, his body covered in what I guessed to be a bedsheet. He was facing the road and was almost ready to greet passersby–a newly developed trait in the homeowners of the surrounding area that they tend to be more friendly to pedestrians than usual. Some of them even sit in their porch and say hi to every soul walking past as a form of entertainment in the era of limited social interaction.

I’ve never felt comfortable in a hair salon. Sitting in their chair, I feel myself ridiculous, my life absurd, my hair so different from those luxuriant hair in advertisement that I might be disqualified as a human woman. The apron I have to wear makes me feel the most absurd of all; having my hair washed half lying down makes me feel like an invalid. And the word “invalid” really brings me to the point I want to express that I feel completely helpless and the hairdresser completely takes over, controlling how I will look and what I should do–mostly being forced to sit motionless, occasionally leaning forward or facing upward.

My mother used to enjoy her trips to the hair salon she frequented. She talked with the hairdresser effusively and the two gradually became friends. She was happy to talk about her own hair. She had hair so thick and so numerous and so black that one felt that one’s fingers could be snared and entangled in it. Not that I’ve ever touched her hair. She wouldn’t like that, except she liked it when the hairdresser touched it. They discussed the current fashion, which at the time before the “Korean Wave” was very much following the trend set by Japanese actresses; they debated how each of the hair style would look on my mother; they lamented the toughness of my mother’s hair in a way as if they were both proud of it. The hairdresser, whose name I have totally forgotten by now, is a clever business woman. She paid a lot of attention to my mother, but none to me since she soon realized that she couldn’t persuade my mother to spend much money on my hair other than the most basic way of cutting it short. I was rather grateful to her. It would be the death of me to converse with her about the quality of my hair and which actresses I wanted to emulate. I’m too awkward a girl for a beauty conversation and I have never had the aspiration to be beautiful. Such a disappointment to my mother.

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