A hairy situation

Sitting in a chair, immobilized by a giant sheet strapped to my neck while a stranger wields sharp scissors by my head has never ranked among my favourite pastimes.

Sitting in a chair, immobilized by a giant sheet strapped to my neck while a stranger wields sharp scissors by my head has never ranked among my favourite pastimes. On my shopping trips to Whitehorse it is always easy to rationalize not getting a haircut – there simply is no time. But after years of snipping away at my hair with the kitchen scissors, professional intervention was sorely needed.

So while visiting my parents in the big metropolis back east, I decided to hike to the hairdresser. Used to daily exercise in the form of carrying water buckets, mucking out the chicken coop, gardening and walking the dogs, I was feeling more and more unbalanced. It was so hard to find time alone, to vent some of the stress brought on by the constant onslaught of noise, fast movements of traffic, blinking lights and the bustle of so many people.

Physical work helps a lot to get rid of excess energy and to counterbalance stress but in the daily life of my parents, there was no more heavy lifting, splitting and walking to be done. Instead, I chose to walk to stores, even if it took me hours. The bad air, noise and constant dodging of people on the sidewalk still got on my nerves, but at least I could use my leg muscles.

Electronic gadgets in nightmarish variety dangled from pedestrians’ ears and hands, beeping and chirping like a flock of electrons gone mad. Young men and women talked into space as they strode purposefully along, sometimes breaking out into laughter. It was like a scene from a psychiatry ward. I realized that I had no clue what most of these gadgets were. Some sort of berries and pads, i this and e that. Living remotely has apparently aged me well beyond my years.

At the hairdresser’s, the stylist soon had me ensnared in a chair. Only my head and feet still poked out unprotected into the cloying atmosphere of assorted shampoos and conditioners, creams and gels. I gripped the armrests.

“And what are we doing here today?” The young woman eyed my frumpy hair, then halfheartedly ran a comb through it.

“If you could just cut it so it looks a bit more uniform. It’s all different lengths everywhere. I haven’t had a real haircut in ages.”

“I see … What kind of style do you have in mind?”

“Style …?” I helplessly glanced at the hairdresser in the mirror. She did a good job of suppressing a sigh and tacked the kind of smile to her face that you use for communicating with people who are a tad slow. Should I confess that I don’t even own a comb or brush and that to dry my hair, I just bend down over the woodstove? Would this trendy, pierced and tattooed creature even know what a woodstove is? Better not admit to the eccentricities of my one solar panel and outhouse lifestyle.

We settled on a cut that would be easy to care for and I managed to dissuade her from camouflaging the sprinkling of grey hairs by means of colour and highlights. Although the tube of green hair colour reminded me with a pang of my teenage years when I had craved green streaks in my hair and never dared to dye it. Would my parents be more tolerant of a green-haired daughter today? I decided not to find out.

As snippets of hair fell to the ground, the stylist skillfully extracted the information from me that I was only visiting. From up North. The Yukon, actually. Indeed, I lived in a log cabin. No, we didn’t pan for gold. No, it wasn’t a Yukon hairdresser who had done the hatchet job on my hair, that had been me. Well yes, we sort of did know some bears and moose by their first names.

As I replied to all the usual questions on autopilot, I secretly marvelled at her exotic life, full of trends that must be followed or abandoned, painful adornments of select bodyparts (why a piercing in your lip but not on the back of your hand?), but mainly her resilience to withstand all the noise and pollution, to tolerate these millions of people living cheek to cheek with her – and to thrive.

When my hair was finally suitably coiffed, I emerged onto the street a woman transformed. Trailing a sweetish odour after me that put me in mind of bear bait, I giggled out loud and kept patting my smelly strands. A casual observer would have thought I was talking into my Bluetooth device. Or blueberry. Or whatever. Finally, I was adjusting.

Lisa Hasselbring is a writer who lives at the headwaters of

the Yukon River south of Whitehorse.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chloe Tatsumi dismounts the balance beam to cap her routine during the Yukon Championships at the Polarettes Gymnastics Club on May 1. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Gymnasts vie in 2021 Yukon Championships

In a year without competition because of COVID-19, the Polarettes Gymnastics Club hosted its Yukon Championships.

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Yukon Budget 2.0

If the banks that finance the Yukon’s growing debt were the only… Continue reading

Yukon Supreme Court Chief Justice Suzanne Duncan dismissed an application on May 3 seeking more transparity on the territory’s state of emergency declaration. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Supreme Court rules confidential memo can’t be used in challenge of state of emergency

Court upholds cabinet confidentiality after request to use internal government memo as evidence.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 7, 2021.… Continue reading

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Two young orienteers reach their first checkpoint near Shipyards Park during a Yukon Orienteering Association sprint race May 5. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Orienteers were back in action for the season’s first race

The Yukon Orienteering Association began its 2021 season with a sprint race beginning at Shipyards.

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its May 3 meeting and the upcoming 20-minute makeover.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland met with MP Larry Bagnell and representatives from the Tourism Industry Association via Zoom on May 4. (Facebook)
Deputy Prime Minister talks tourism in “virtual visit” to the Yukon

Tourism operators discussed the budget with Freeland

Polarity Brewing is giving people extra incentive to get their COVID vaccine by offering a ‘free beer’ within 24 hours of their first shot. John Tonin/Yukon News
Polarity Brewing giving out ‘free’ beer with first COVID vaccination

Within 24 hours of receiving your first COVID-19 vaccine, Polarity Brewing will give you a beer.

Most Read