Max Olijnyk



Every six weeks, my hair suddenly shifts from George Clooney to Alan Partridge overnight. I suppose it would be interesting to see which salt-and-pepper-haired screen icon it takes after next (Dumbledore?), but I’ve never been able to stick it out long enough to find out. When that fateful day rolls around, I text my friend Rosie and book in for her next available appointment.

Rosie works from a shop on the first floor of a boring looking building at the top of Gertrude Street. She splits the rent with a few other hairdressers, which seems like a very modern arrangement. They don’t call themselves anything; it’s just a place to get your hair cut. It’s nice up there – just a functional concrete- floored space with chairs, mirrors, some nice plants and pictures. It feels like a studio.

Rosie is funny. That’s my favourite thing about her, I think. Of course, she’s also really clever and cool and great at cutting hair (listen to me!), but I really like that her humour sort of shrouds everything that she does. With hairdressers of old, I’ve watched their techniques – the angle of the scissors, the rotation of the clipper attachments, shit like that – as if I’m taking notes to become a hairdresser myself one day. With Rosie, I just forget about that stuff and listen to her funny stories. It’s relaxing, because I know that we’re going to be hanging out for the next forty minutes, and neither of us can really do anything about that, so we may as well say some funny stuff. Or at least that’s how I see it. I guess it’s just work for her.

I ask her how her music is going (Rosie makes music, plus she makes bags). “Pretty good,” she tells me, “but I think my songs are too sad.” I ask her why she thinks this, and she tells me it’s because she played one of her songs to a friend one day in the park, and he burst into tears. “He’d just had a pretty big night though,” she says, and I spot a little smile for a second in the mirror, before she clicks back into standard deadpan mode. She tells me she played the same song to her ex-boyfriend and he thought it was too sad, too, but maybe that was because the song was kind of about him. I tell her that perhaps she’s playing the song to the wrong test audience, because a lot of people, like me, really like sad songs. She shrugs, then tells me it’s time to wash my hair. I like how she cuts my hair first, then washes it, so I don’t have to walk around afterwards with hair inside my ears and stuff.


“Maybe I just need to get a dog and get happy, then I’ll write happy songs,” she says as she rinses my hair with warm water. I tell her that I don’t think that will change anything, because even though my dog brings me a lot of joy, I am constantly terrified that she will die, or disappear, or get sick because I did something wrong. The point is, some people are meant to write sad songs. “I guess, but I don’t think I’d worry about that,” she says, pushing back her glasses, “because I’ve killed plenty of animals.” Hair washed, we walk back down to the mirror for the finishing touches.

As she dries my hair and chops little bits off, I ask her what animals she’s killed. “I killed my rabbit,” she tells me. “I left its hutch out in the sun, I was supposed to move it into the shade.” I ask her what she was doing while the rabbit was burning to death. “Probably watching Heartbreak High or something.” We laugh. What else? “Oh, I left some mice in an ice cream container.” Did she leave the lid on the container? She nods into the mirror. I say it sounds a bit like a gas chamber and she nods. “It was a bit. Then there was all the fish, but fish don’t really count. And lots of cats got run over, but that wasn’t my fault.”

“But anyway, now I want a dog. I never used to want a dog. I used to think all dog owners were…” …stupid? I offer, but she makes the L sign on her head, which comes out backwards in the mirror, “Losers.” I tell her I know what she means. Needy. We agree that some dog owners are like that, but not us. We’re good dog people. Rosie asks me what I’m doing now. I tell her my girlfriend is supposed to be making corn fritters for dinner, but she’s texted me to say we don’t have any eggs. I texted back that she should go and get some from the shop around the corner – I even added the chicken emoji. She responded with one word: ‘Sigh’. I tell Rosie this and she laughs. “What is she – Garfield?” She’s finished with my hair and I’m back in Clooney mode. I thank her and set off home. I’m good for another six weeks.

Get a haircut from Rosie:

This piece was published in Bite Me issue 2, 2014