IT HAPPENED JUST a few days ago. I’d let my hair grow too long and I wanted to get it cut. My critical mistake: I was impatient.

The woman I usually went to was on vacation, so, rather than go to another stylist in her shop (I was for some reason worried that would offend her), I went to another place entirely — a fancy one in Clarendon that offers drinks and makes new customers fill out a form like a doctor’s office.

I slipped into the chair, gave what I thought were reasonable instructions and let the hair mistress work her magic. I almost escaped with a decent ‘do, but then she pulled out the thinning shears and slashed at my head like a rabid wolverine.

The result: I wound up looking like this. Or kinda like this. But definitely like the picture at right. The hair’s a little longer on top, but it’s so short that it all stands almost straight up — and not in a way that could even loosely be classified as hip.

It makes you feel incredibly vain to be bummed out by a bad haircut — it’s not like I was diagnosed with a deadly disease … or even a paper cut, really — but even those who are the most laissez faire about their looks have to feel at least a little put off when dealt this kind of cosmetic blow. I think this because my stages of grief followed a textbook model.

» Denial: “Of course I like it!” I cheerfully chirped to the woman who’d maimed me. “It’s so much shorter!”

» Anger: That guy who was wandering around Clarendon on Tuesday night compulsively looking at himself in reflective surfaces and cursing? That was me.

» Bargaining: “I’ve always wanted to wear more hats?”

» Depression: “Crap. I look stupid in hats.”

» Acceptance: After briefly considering whether I could ask the salon for the discarded hair to glue back onto my head, I finally gave up and resigned myself to let nature take its course.

The real winner here: the woman who usually cuts my hair. She’s in for some reliable repeat business.

Photo by William West/AFP/Getty Images