The inability to go to a barbers or hair salon was one of the frustrations experienced during the first COVID lockdown of March 2020. Here we are in lockdown 2021, unable again to get a professional haircut. This is an article I wrote for the Evening Echo about my own experience …

How many months now?  More than two since lockdown started and the hankering for haircuts is driving us to dire straits. Who would have thought that a visit to the barber/ hairdresser would take precedence on a ‘What I miss most’ or ‘First thing I’ll do’ list when the loosening up of lockdown is phased in?

In a house of six adults cooped up together since March 13th – we parents, daughter and her boyfriend busy with their online university exams, and our two sons – a 19 year-old temporarily laid off due to Covid and an 18 year-old Leaving Cert currently in limbo about the state exam, we were bound to crack.

What happened to rocking the Rory Gallagher long haired look?  This Covid incarceration is a once-off (hopefully) when people can literally let their hair down, since we’re mostly confined to home. No one sees us bar our neighbours when we’re walking the dog or going to the local shop, or friends logging on for an occasional Zoom call. It didn’t bother me that I couldn’t get my usual cut or colour if it kept this pandemic from our door. I was therefore surprised when the rest of the household began to talk longingly of haircuts. 

Husband was the first to show concern. In early April, a mere three weeks into national shutdown, he unearthed a hair clippers. “Will you trim the back of my head?” he asked.  Now, I have a poor track record for cutting hair. When daughter was a little one in primary school and came home with head lice, I thought it would be a good idea to shorten her hair after initially failing to eradicate those nits. One jagged fringe and lopsided coiffure later, I had no option but to bring my distraught child to the hairdresser who rectified the mess. Daughter maintains that it’s scarred her for life, so there was no way that I would be responsible for another chop horror.  Much to his credit, husband managed the hair maintenance himself.     

Although I don’t mind too much about patchy colour and dark roots, I have to admit being appalled at the sight of myself on a little onscreen box for my first Zoom call. The good thing was, I wasn’t alone.  The assembled gang of gal pals displayed similarly varying lengths, streaks and tones.  Some tied their tresses back with slides and bandanas.  Another gripped her fringe between her fingers, and showed how long it had grown, dipping below her nose.  “Come July 20th it’ll be down to my chin,” she shrieked, “I’ll be like a bullet to be first in the queue outside the hairdresser’s door when they reopen!”

Then I heard daughter reassuring her boyfriend that she could cut his hair.  She sat him on the toilet seat wielding kitchen scissors and snipped nonstop until the bathroom floor was covered with dark curls.  The boyfriend was happy and I kept my mouth shut.  Chatting to my friend about it afterwards, she confessed that she didn’t go to a hair salon until she was sixteen as her mother used to style her hair, but cautioned “Mum used professional scissors, not the kitchen shears!”

You know the old adage “Be careful what you wish for?” For the last six years of my son’s secondary education (he’s one of the thousands now in limbo about the 2020 Leaving Cert), he had been told in no uncertain terms by teachers to cut his hair. As a mammy not wanting to rock the boat and keep the educators happy, I had many discussions about the school ethos of looking smart. Long hair and shirt hanging out wasn’t a look they were happy with. Mind you, shaved heads and buzz cuts seemed to be equally offensive. However, after years of being hauled aside, the message finally got through and Junior started going to the barbers of his own accord. I like his hair long. In fact, I was looking forward to it growing again now that there was no school or summer job in the offing. If he could get to college in the autumn, no one would care about his hippie hairstyle. Imagine my horror, then when he asked daughter to cut it. “Please don’t!” I pleaded. “I’m sick of it falling into my eyes,” he said, “It’ll be a nightmare in hot weather.” Daughter again obliged.   

Business should certainly boom for barbers and hairdressers when the current restrictions are lifted.  Even then, it may take weeks to snag a coveted hair appointment.  Thank goodness we have so far escaped the worst of this Covid pandemic.  Being plagued by bad haircuts is little to complain about!

© Maeve O’Keeffe

The Frazzled Mammy

Illustrator / Art Classes

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