THE BLOG

Overthinking It at the Hairdressers

08/08/2014 12:07 BST | Updated 07/10/2014 10:59 BST

I recently had my hair cut. It's an experience that is in theory very relaxing - an enforced hour of peace and quiet. Time spent reading magazines or Twitter, drinking coffee, and being looked after - being the centre of attention.

So a functional pampering - like going for a manicure or a facial, only less indulgent; it's necessary after all. A need rather than a want - guilt-free me-time. So what's not to love?

And I do enjoy a trip to the hairdressers, but it's not without its tribulations. Just little things. Like the having the gown put on me by the staff. Perhaps I have personal space issues, but I wish I could just put the gown on myself, instead of having it held up for me, trying to find the arm-holes, which I can't see behind my back, and usually miss on the first and second attempt. Then having the receptionist tie the ribbon just below my chin, hoping my breath smells fresh, casually looking into the middle distance.

Then there's the coffee question. On my recent trip, the nice guy from reception tied the bow of the gown under my chin, then sat me down and offered me coffee. I declined politely, then regretted it. Actually a coffee might be nice - why had I said no? The girl who was due to cut my hair came over to see what I wanted done, and she offered me a coffee. I accepted, then regretted it, as I saw her walk towards the receptionist. I imagined her telling him to get me a coffee, and possibly asking him why he hadn't offered already. And then he would throw me a dagger look for getting him in trouble with my bizarre fickleness. No doubt nothing like this happened, and yes, I was over-thinking it. But still.

Then there's the chat. I don't really like chatting at the hairdressers. By now I'm sure you're thinking I'm very anti-social, what with the personal-space-gown issue and now a dislike of talking. But believe me, under normal circumstances, I love talking. I talk to my husband all evening, no matter how often his eyes glaze over. And to friends, and family, and work colleagues. And to shop assistants (I enjoy the "that's lovely isn't it" sales conversation at the till and always play my part with gusto). And to mothers in the baby-changing room in shopping centres and mothers at the school-gate. And on the internet until way past bed-time.

So I do love chatting. But for some reason, not so much at the hairdressers. Maybe it's because it's a precious hour of me-time, and I want to hoover up as many magazine articles as I can. Or maybe it's because I don't want to be a burden to the person cutting my hair - she's probably not all that interested in how my six-year-old is getting on at school or the latest insult about my cooking from the five-year-old.

So, while I'm always friendly, I usually start reading my magazine after the first "So are you going anywhere nice tonight?" conversation is done. And then I worry a little that it seems odd that I don't want to talk. Over-thinking.

And then there's the tipping crisis. After years of haircuts, I still don't know how much to tip. So I usually err on the high side, rather than risking giving too little. And I'm never sure whether to hand it to the person who cut my hair or not, so I usually leave it with the person at reception. And I always think they give me a funny look - I'm either tipping too little or too much or breaking some serious etiquette rules by giving it to the receptionist. And yes, I know, I'm over-thinking.

But I'm doing it with (temporarily) nice hair.