I was standing in one of the ever-present queues there are in lady’s toilets, despairing (and not for the first time) my lack of winkie in this (and only this) situation. There was one other girl in what I insist on calling “the bathroom” (even though He Who Only… insists on pointing out that these facilities, at least in public places, don’t usually feature a bath) and this girl was spending an inordinate amount of time checking out her appearance. She was lifting up her top to fix the arrangement of the top of her trousers. She was straightening down her sleeves. She was fixing up her makeup. More than anything else, she was worrying her hair an inappropriate amount. “Yes lady, we get it, you’re a very pretty person,” I thought to myself in that bitter way that I have. “Get over yourself woman, and give us all some space to breathe, please.” Just as I was beginning to enjoy my jealous character condemnation, she turned to me and apologising for asking even before the question was out, enquired whether she should wear her hair “open or closed”, indicating as she did that she meant with or without hair tie. I thought for mere moments about this – along with a great everything else, this lady had a good big head of hair – and told her that she should wear it down. She made a face, and I then realised that the reason she had spent so long in front of the mirror up to that point is because she was having an ugly day. “I never brush my hair” she advised conspiratorially. I told her she should do whatever she felt most comfortable with, and she nodded thoughtfully and carried on staring at her reflection, which to me only revealed irritatingly perfect beauty but to her obviously contained an almost unbearable number of flaws.
When I came out of the bathroom (yes, bathroom) I noted that she had gone with hair down, and silently applauded her bravery – it’s funny how, even though probably no one else at her table would notice that she had changed the way she was wearing her hair, it would make the world of difference to her mood and therefore to the success of her night. Ten minutes later, she had reverted to tieing it back again.