You have permission to edit this article.

Planet Janet: Tonsorial time-travel

  • Updated
Janet Combs

Janet Combs

Time travel is possible, via your hairdresser’s chair.

Last week, I mustered up the courage to get my haircut, which is not a phrase I ever thought I would write. The pandemic has turned the routine into the extreme—I saw a chart with a hierarchy of ordinary activities and their associated risk factors during COVID-19, and going to a salon or barbershop was in the “moderate-to-high risk” category!

While I can’t say I have missed going to an amusement park or a concert with hundreds of people—activities in the highest-risk category—I certainly would regret putting off a haircut for so long that I turn into a wizened female version of Owen Wilson. Please join me in the hope that Owen Wilson has a clipping service and enjoys this reference.

So, I decided to throw caution to the wind and make a haircut appointment for Friday evening after work. A little after five, I locked up with alacrity and dashed to my car—this, other than daily trips to the office—was my only outing for the week. I looked forward to it with an unnatural excitement.

At a prior, pre-COVID-19 haircut appointment, I had spoken to my stylist about possibly getting my hair cut really short, the way I used to wear it—it used to be called a “pixie” cut. But we decided that might be too severe all at once and we settled on a slightly shorter, layered cut, which turned out fine. And fine is good enough for me—no matter how many photos of Hollywood trendsetters with cute, short haircuts I collect on my phone, I know I will never emerge from my hairdresser’s with any resemblance to any one of them. Unless one of them is Owen Wilson’s grandmother.

I arrived on time at my usual salon with my masked face for my regular haircut.

“You want it short, right?” my stylist asked.

“Yes,” I said, thinking that meant “the usual.” Short, as in “as short as last time.” Not necessarily as in “as short as Janet wore her hair in high school.”

Snip, snip!

Sign up for weekly roundups of our top stories, news and culture from the Myrtle Beach area. This newsletter is hand-curated by a member of our Myrtle Beach news staff.

A lot of hair fell on my cape—which, come to think of it, is appropriate wear for time-travel—but I said nothing, because I had confidence both in my stylist and her chair’s heretofore-untested temporal-shifting capabilities.

Snip, snip, snip!

My stylist may have been thinking of our prior conversation, or about how most people in a pandemic go long periods between haircuts and that she might not see me again for a while. I knew I was in for a dramatic change when she took out the clippers to trim the back of my neck. I kept my eyes closed, which also felt right for rocketing back in time.

Buzz, buzz!

It took her approximately 9 seconds to blow-dry my new do. She turned the chair to face the mirror and there I was, in 1977.

I saw a senior in high school, sporting octagonal wire-framed glasses and wearing a crocheted vest my mother made over a mock-turtleneck with bell-bottoms and platforms. I was flooded with weird memories—struggling to balance a rented violin on the front basket of the rickety bicycle I rode to school; eating a baloney sandwich on a Kaiser roll for lunch; wearing my first bikini to David Schoenfeld’s pool party, making everyone laugh in Science class with the paramecium song parodies I performed on lab days. Kind of an unusual girl, I suppose.

I hadn’t seen her in a while. But my new, old haircut reminded me she’s still here, burnished a bit by time.

I won’t have to brave the pandemic odds for another haircut for at least 8 weeks, maybe 10. Maybe my stylist’s chair will take me into the future next time. But for now, I’m going to enjoy my pixie cut, and make myself a baloney sandwich on a Kaiser roll.

Janet Combs is a freelance writer living in Georgetown County. Her column is published regularly in the Georgetown Times. Contact her at

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News

Columbia Breaking News

Greenville Breaking News

Myrtle Beach Breaking News

Aiken Breaking News