What do you do when a friend shows off a haircut that cost $300?

I nearly fainted. Three hundred dollars for a haircut? Yeah, it’s a fantastic haircut, but who on Earth gets away with charging that much cabbage? I’ll tell you who: John Frieda Hair Salon on Melrose Place, the salon of the stars.

Ladies and gentlemen, I can’t think of a better example of our state’s vanity and obsession with celebrity than this – except maybe calf implants. Not satisfied with merely looking hot, West Los Angeles must strive for looking hawt. And what, you may be asking, is the difference between hot and hawt? Hotties want haircuts that look sexy. Hawties want the same scissors being used on their heads as on the perfectly-coiffed ‘do of Iman in a salon located next to the Beverly Center, which then gives easy access to the same Dior and Dolce & Gabbana outlets where some chick from “Grey’s Anatomy” probably shopped the other day. The logic here seems to be, if it works on a celeb, it must be worth more than ten times the price at Supercuts.

Needless to say, I’ve never really understood West L.A.’s compulsion for hawtness. I can understand that celebrities and figures in the entertainment industry have to look good, but what about the old man running the furniture store? He is forty years my senior – why does he have less wrinkles on his face than me? It’s as if everyone bounded between the 101 and the 10 freeways thinks that tomorrow’s going to be the day when they’re finally discovered.

But perhaps West L.A. feels it has a reputation to live up to. It is, after all, the epicenter of a culture recognized around the world, or at least any place with Life & Style on the magazine rack. Santa Monica and Beverly Hills are supposed to be beautiful places filled with beautiful stars and luxuries ornate and frivolous enough to put the kids on “My Super Sweet 16” to shame. Maybe in that sense the people aren’t hoping to perform, but continuously performing?

If you think about it, they do a good job. There are really good looking people sipping their pomegranate lemonade at the Beverly Center food court. Whatever stylist or plastic surgeon they’re visiting has talent. You make the conjecture, in fact, that they probably do modeling gigs or television spots. And do they? It’s possible, but they likely just know somebody who does, or have been trying and failing for the past two years to do it. The fact that they look star-quality, though, makes them even more attractive than they already are, because we put celebrities on such a pedestal – but that’s another column.

So now I’m curious: is the John Frieda Salon asking for more than the price of a Nintendo Wii because hawties are gullible? Or are they genuinely fantastic, mind-blowing haircuts that make customers look like Hollywood royalty? Despite having myself lived in West L.A. for a little while, rarely, if ever, had I ventured into the strange fantasy-land surrounding Melrose Place. Places like John Frieda were a mystery to me. So I made an appointment.

The salon itself is enough of a head-trip to at least merit a hundred of those dollars, I conclude, although I’m not sure which part I like the best. Is it the crystal chandelier at the entrance? Could it be the swimming pool in the middle of the salon, apparently there solely for decorative purposes? Or, perhaps, might it be the hairstylist wearing an extravagant fur coat and red bandanna, like he’s a pirate Cruella de Vil? Pure entertainment.

But the haircut? Well, I end up looking like I belong in 30 Seconds to Mars. Whoopee. Hawt? It might very well be, but it just reminds me of something Robin Williams once said: this is God’s way of telling you that you’ve made too much money. Life, liberty and the pursuit of hawtness are fine and dandy for West L.A., but in the end you’ve still spent three hundred dollars on a haircut.