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"The Lost"
by Daniel Mendelsohn

May 4, 2008

Judi Dench

“Make me look like Judi Dench,” I said as I settled into the chair at the beauty shop, clutching a sheaf of Judi Dench pictures that I had printed off of her web site on the internet. Of course most of them were taken on the red carpet as she went to an opening of one of her movies. I discount the fact that she probably had a stylist and people doing her hair and makeup. Her hair probably had help looking carelessly tousled. I want my hair to look like Judi Dench’s hair. She is a little older, is short and has short hair. Why can’t I look like Judi Dench? Of course I am ignoring the fact that my features are nothing like hers and she doesn’t seem to wear glasses. I think I should be able to look like Judi Dench.

The shop I go to is convenient for me, to say nothing about its reasonable prices. I had met the owner, Lisa, outside as I was on my way to Curves one day and we had a little chat. I liked her and I like to use local businesses. The first time I went, Lisa was there, as well as her husband, Vic. Anita was lined up to cut my hair. Something I wasn’t aware of at the time was that Anita doesn’t speak English and my Spanish is non-existant at best. So Lisa and Vic congregated around my chair too. I explained that I wanted to have a haircut like Judi Dench has in these pictures only a little longer in front and a little shorter in back. Lisa explained to Vic and Vic explained to Anita what I wanted. She nodded her head and went to work. Most Hispanics seem to like long hair evidently, so I kept saying, “Shorter, shorter!” Lisa said, “Shorter, shorter!” and Vic said, “Acortar!” or “Breve!” or whatever he said. Anita said, in a despairing way, “Macho!” but I said (understanding that she was saying I would look like a man), “No! Breve!” She rolled her eyes and continued.

Poor Anita! After she had shorn me quite close, she set about trying to curl what little hair I had left, despite my pleas that she leave it as is. Then she wanted to put, as they say, “product” on my hair. All products with fragrance or additives make me break out in hives – on my eyes! Not an attractive look. Poor Anita, again. No one would probably ever ask me, “Where do you get your hair done?” Then, of course, comes the obligatory viewing of the back of one’s head in a giant mirror. All four of us were worn out by the end of the session.

I had my hair cut again on Wednesday by a new girl. Her name was Mary. Lisa and Vic weren’t there so it was fortunate that she spoke English very well and she did just what I asked her to do. She cut it short enough. She didn’t try to curl it. She didn’t put “product” on it. She did however make me look at the back in the giant hand mirror and it looked good. But, alas, when I walked out the door I still didn’t look like Judi Dench, just like a little less shaggy me.

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