Friday, April 20, 2007

What my haircut taught me

Since I live so close to Larchmont, the fancy little street in the middle of the city where all the cool rich people go to chill, I decided to get my hair done at HAS, the fanciest salon on the street. There's a Supercuts a few stores down, but seriously, who wants their highlights done at Supercuts?

They gave me something to drink and there were candles and fashionably dressed hair stylists and bamboo plants and all in all a general fanciness. I was prepared to spend over $100 because I was getting highlights and a cut and maybe a style since I'm going out tonight. I never asked about the cost because I wanted to pretend I was truly a fancy lady who lunches. I was there for over three hours. Fortunately my stylist was an absolute delight and we talked about the state of California public schools which her child is just beginning to discover as he lives very near the students I teach.

As I sat in the dryer with my head all covered in tinfoil I looked around me. There were fancy people all around, completely unaware they sat within mere feet of a lowly public servant who, quite honestly, had no right getting her hair done anywhere other than Supercuts.

I plan to go back there as soon as I find a way to mortgage my apartment. Want to see what $215 worth of hair looks like?

In a camera pan of the hair dryers and sinks this is what you would have seen: A Britney Spears doppleganger reading some sort of Us Weekly style magazine(apparently Prince William has split up with his girlfriend. A true international tragedy), a very old lady with liver spots perusing Lucky but holding a copy of Vogue in case the first magazine didn't hold her attention, a tall blond Germanic looking woman who easily could be a former supermodel turned trophy wife flipping through the latest copy of In Style, and little old me, sans makeup and deeply engrossed in A.J. Liebling's The Sweet Science which has a picture on the cover of the back end of a strong blow between Sugar Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta.

One thing I have learned from spending time with actors is how much they love to play on opposites - like getting quiet when your character is in a rage or laughing when you're terrified. But it's also about your personal habits and interests.

A book about boxing does not belong in the fanciest salon on Larchmont any more than I belonged there. But there I was, nonetheless, acting as if I'd done this every day of my life. It made me think about my current script and how I hadn't done enough to give my characters those kinds of quirks. I usually do a very loose bio of my characters and figure out who they are as I go through the first draft. Before I start my first revision I usually go back through and figure out what little touches I can find to add to the backstories now that I know who these people are and what they're planning to do.

Today I remembered that I also need to give every single character a personality trait that is in direct opposition to his supposed stereotype, even if I never actually use it in the story. That will make everybody just a little more interesting and more real, but it's something I've been neglecting. Because it doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, you will always have a part of you that doesn't quite belong to the rest of you.

But it was also a reminder that places are imbued with that same kind of quirkiness. Even if the characters don't all show their opposites, maybe your locations can. Because you never know when you'll find a kickboxing schoolteacher in a fancy hair salon on Larchmont.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I know nothing about hair, but I know what I like. And I like it. It looks good. Where's the before picture?

    I didn't know they charged mere mortals $200+ for a haircut.

    Can't wait to hear what your kids think...

  3. Holy Sh@t!

    I just got my haircut here in Beijing for 20 bucks and felt like I got taken. Usually its only about 6 - and that's with an hour of shampooing and head massage.

    200 bucks!

    Welcome to LA...

  4. It's the higlights that are expensive. They take hours and lots of work, although I've never paid this much before. I've also never had them look this good before.

  5. Oh my gosh, that looks fantastic!!! I think everyone should have a truly amazing professional hair experience at least once.

    And I say you got a bargain because you got:

    a) That awesome haircut and highlights. (GORGEOUS!)

    b) A terrific insight into writing characters that will last you the REST OF YOUR LIFE.

    c) An experience that now you can always draw on to write about.

    Plus you gave me that character insight too so I owe you insight residuals. Every time I use it, I'll send you a check!

  6. New Haircut Emily RULES.

    +3 sexy points.

  7. Anonymous7:34 PM

    It was WORTH IT.


  8. Hey, thanks everybody. That does make me feel a little better about spending my grocery money on my head. Who needs food when you look this fabulous?


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