The buzzing razor is loud. A mist of salt and pepper hair floats onto my face. I stopped dyeing it years ago but when it grows beyond a certain length I start to look like my grandmother. A woman of a certain age cannot afford to look like her grandmother not if she wants to survive the Coronaverse. My hairdresser is shut, and with strict social distancing the new norm what is a girl to do?
I close my eyes and let the man buzz away. My heart is a bongo drum in my chest. The man is close and utterly gorgeous. I feel naughty yet relaxed in a way I haven’t been for weeks. Lulled by his closeness my mind wanders as a radio presenter drones in the background of our makeshift salon.
‘Emergency powers...’ Make Shepperd’s Pie for lunch. ‘Trump roles back clean car rules…’ Dust the furniture. ‘1.3 million infected… 60,000 dead…’ Work on a new business plan. Does the new business stand a chance post virus? ‘Anthropocene...’ Must exercise. Should read more. ‘Corona Virus coup in Hungary...’ Is it Sunday? ‘Duterte says to shoot them dead...’ It could be Wednesday. ‘Who has the power to do what to whom?’ Why have the winds of March given in to hotter squalls in April? ‘Essential workers are the backbone of society...’ Security or freedom? ‘The end of normal has already happened...’
It’s the umpteenth week of lockdown and my head is spinning. Like most women, I know the power of having a haircut. It’s a renewal. An empowerment of sorts. A new better me is supposed to emerge after the cut but if the Coronaverse is showing me anything it is that life can turn on a dime. We all know it can but we usually only see that instantaneous and momentous turn in hindsight. But what do we do when life overturns our expectations of the path we set ourselves? I have always believed that the stories we tell, about ourselves, are tightly wrapped-up with the meaning we make of our lives. So what do we do when we’re put in a situation where our stories don’t make sense anymore? Do we still have agency over our lives when circumstances like Corona are so far out of our control?
“You nipped my ear,” I say jolted out of my reverie. I hear him chuckling and then rubbing, soothing the pain away with a kiss. Hmmm, there are advantages to a Corona era hairdresser. As he turns my head this way and that, full face and profile, I begin to realise that it is right here, right now, in this chair, with this man, in our makeshift hairdressing salon, that my story is being written anew.
“I’m hungry,” he says wiping the last traces of hair off my face. My man, an artist and a sculptor and not a hairdresser by trade, has made me feel beautiful again and I am going to cook the best Shepperd’s Pie a wife can make. Whatever else the turn-of-the Corona dime will bring, those overarching existential questions can wait.