Eileen

I was in a state of nervosity. Standing just opposite to the salon, I could barely make out which of the salon’s stylists were present today, and I wished to spot Eileen amongst them.

A month ago, I had daringly made the dive to switch hairdressers after the one I had stuck with for more than a year had left to join a neighbourhood salon on the other side of the island. I never really understood why, considering the current salon was pretty upscale and set in a mall.

With no other stylists in mind to turn to, I had decided to visit the previous salon my original stylist was situated at. I turned up appointment-free, hoping to get someone good for the job. At the reception counter, a demure lady greeted me and inquired whether I was here for a haircut. Momentarily mesmerised, I could barely make out an answer, but just nodded to her question.

I thought I had hit the jackpot. That she was going to be the one cutting my hair, as she smiled and led me to a chair in the almost full-house salon. She asked if I needed a drink graciously, and I humbly accepted the offer. After serving me a glass of iced water, she left to attend to another customer nearby. I was perplexed.

Everything became clear as a male stylist came behind me after some time, and began to ask how I would like my hair done. The remaining process was a bore, especially since I have absolutely no trust in male stylists after previous experiences.

Ever since that day, I prepared for my next haircut by searching up the Internet for that lady’s name. I searched repeatedly, but eventually to no avail. The salon brand had relatively few outlets and there were not many reviews available online.

One day, it worked out as the salon posted an image of her with a celebrity customer on their Facebook page. I was delighted to find out that her name was Eileen. She looked as beautiful in the picture as she was in real.

A month passed by then and my undercut had reasonably grown, a sign for another haircut. By now, I knew that Eileen was going to be the one to do it, but the question was how?

I baffled a couple of times over it, before coming up with a plot. I would walk in to the salon, with hopes that she would be working that day, and explain that I was recommended by a friend to Eileen. Short and sweet.

Back to the part where I stood opposite to the salon, I bucked up my courage and paced towards the salon entrance. As I entered, the same male stylist was the one who hooked up the conversation first. I certainly hoped he didn’t remember who I was.

It was fortunate that he didn’t seem to remember, as he asked if I was looking for any stylist in particular. I brought out the story that I had plotted, that I was recommended by a friend to Eileen, but did not mention specifically who the friend was, in fear that the plot would be exposed.

Fear loomed as he replied with an apologetic face that Eileen wasn’t working for that day. Reluctantly, I told him that any present stylist would do then. He led me to take a seat at one of the salon chairs, before going back to work on his existing customer.

When all hope seemed lost, he went to pick up a phone call at the reception counter briefly, before walking up to me. ‘Eileen will be here at about 2.30PM, would you like to wait for her?’ he said. I checked the clock on my phone, and it reads 1.47PM. Wonderful. I accepted his offer and made my way out to linger around the mall in the meantime.

I walked repetitively around the modestly sized mall, checking for the time often to know how much longer it was going to take before 2.30PM. I situated myself a floor above, and just observed the salon from afar. 2.17PM was the breaking moment as I saw Eileen emerge from a lift nearby to the salon, and walked in. This was it.

I didn’t want to look desperate, so I waited until 2.28PM near to the salon, before strolling over. As I entered, Eileen was already sitting by the counter with a fellow stylist. I acted as if I didn’t know she was Eileen, since the story was that she was recommended by my friend. I told her so and she politely led me to a chair.

She placed a towel around my neck, and secured it in place with a large clip. A female assistant then came in and led me to wash my hair at the back area.

After a good rinse and wash by the assistant, I was led back to the chair, where the assistant threw a large, plain white cape over me, and fastened it loosely around my neck. It was something different, because the salon usually used product-branded capes that were smaller in size. The cape used by the assistant was much larger, and covered all the way till my ankles, exposing only my feet.

After wiping my hair slightly to remove any excess moisture, she excused herself as I saw Eileen push a cart full of tools towards the chair I sat on. Seeing that the cape was quite loose, she refastened it, but tighter this time.

She looked to be quite silent, but certainly friendly still. This was not to mention that her hairdressing skills were top-notch, as she managed to make out the hairstyle I sported before even making out a single word. I had originally wanted to chemically straighten my hair as I had naturally mixed hair textures, inclusive of kinky hair. She advised otherwise that it could last one or two more cuts. I took her advice.

‘So, would you like to keep your current hairstyle?’ she asked as she continued to analyse my hair. I nodded and she recommended me to touch-up on my hair colour as well, since the previous dye was too bright and my whites were appearing. I politely rejected so that I could use it as an excuse for a follow-up appointment.

With that said, Eileen got straight to work. She reached from the cart several long hairpins, which she used to section my top and crown area away from the sides and back. One more hairpin was also used to pin up my long fringe that reached as far as my nose if pulled straight down.

The shearing followed. What amazed me here about Eileen was her impressive skill in haircutting. She comfortably handled a trimmer and a pair of scissors on one hand, whereas the comb lied in the other. With a regular pair of haircutting scissors, she quickly used the scissors-over-comb technique to trim hair on my left side as short as possible. The trimmer followed as she ran it over the clippers for a uniform cut.

I observed carefully as this was my first time with Eileen. She was meticulous, as she took probably over ten minutes just to finish up one side. My left side was gently tapered, which gradually lengthened to about one-fourth of an inch.

I normally left a V-section at the crown area close to my back, so Eileen worked her way below the section, connecting the length from the left side. She then sectioned again the parting between the top and the right side, ensuring that the section is clean. The scissors appeared again as she rapidly sheared off the excess length, and went it over with the trimmer.

As she unpinned the long hairpins, I reached out of the cape to touch the stubble around the sides and back. It was shorter than how I normally had it, but it felt great to caress.

Without the long hairpins in place, the top and crown sections of hair laid down once again. It had grown unruly over the months, and reached as far as my nose straight down. Eileen drew out vertical sections and trimmed off a couple of inches with the shears, sending a continuous rain of loose hairs right in front of my face. As she completed all the sections, she reached from the cart a pair of thinning scissors.

After several combs through the top, she lifted out section by section, each time plunging the thinning scissors in, and cutting off multiple times. I was shocked by how much hair she was taking off. When she was done with thinning out the top and combed through to get rid of the cut hair, a huge pile of locks that were around my actual hair length cascaded off the comb, onto the cape.

It was a total disaster. I had multiple different hair textures, and it included curly and kinky textures. As the thinning shears had taken off a reasonable amount of length and weight from the top, these curly and kinky strands could no longer lay down flat to blend in with the rest of the hair. They looked awkward, standing up stubbornly against the rest of my hair, which were mostly straight.

Despite the fact that Eileen had tried to salvage the situation by making use of some hair clay with strong hold to weigh the strands down, the effect was minimal, and the look wasn’t satisfactory. Unknowingly, she unfastened the cape, and brought me to the counter for payment before greeting me farewell.

Whilst I wasn’t elated to see that the haircut turned out quite terribly, Eileen had been an eyecandy, and I look forward to my next appointment with her.

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