I sat in the rotating chair, facing the crinkle-cut, aluminum wainscoat and narrow, stainless-steel shelving hung waist-high along the wall like a border, spotted with hair products.
“Practical…” I thought. “and in this room, they’re going for an industrial theme.”
Hair dryers are suspended from high ceilings thoughtfully color-blocked with neutrals; there’s track lighting in strategic places, and huge, monotone canvases on the wall. This is how they view each of us- a blank canvas on which to create. Each station has a metal, diamond-plate floor mat underneath.
The petite hairdresser has the cutest figure, and I tell her so after she explains she was 25 lbs. heavier which was a lot for her height and build; just a straight blob, she said, no curves at all. Now, she’s a bombshell.
I hear the rustling of aluminum sheets on her work tray.
“I want blond highlights, Not brown. People always want to make me brown.”
“Oh, Absolutely,” she said.
I think back to my 20s and 30s when I viewed loyalty to natural hair color as some sort of virtue and how I missed out on creative hair opportunities. I would have made an awesome young blond.
She holds a grouping of my hair straight up between two fingers, then uses a skinny stick like a knitting needle to weave in and out- creating two bunches. She keeps one and ties up the other. the aluminum sheet crackles in my ear as it is placed underneath the hair. Afterward, brush strokes apply chemical. The sheet is folded to cover the hair- once left, once right- and upward. A gentle hand slaps it, securing it into place. Because she is so small, her mouth is almost parallel to my ear, and I hear her quiet voice singing along with Bohemian Rhapsody like a small child whispering away a secret:
“We will not let you go( let me go!)…….Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for me…”
She escorts me to another room where I sit underneath a dryer. I open my magazine eager to read an article advertised on the cover,but she’s full of questions:
“Would you like your jewelry cleaned?”
Would you like more coffee?”
“Would you like a hand massage?”
Yes, yes and awesome, yes!
She takes my hand, adds a few drops of oil. “Blend” she said, reading her lips. She smiles with head tilted, hands parallel and blending the air to demonstrate, in case I couldn’t hear.
She sat in front on me on a low, round chair reminding me of a mushroom. One hand cups my elbow, while the other slowly massages each finger and then with her thumb, she traces a circle in the palm of my hand. Who knew so much stress could build in such a small space?
Afterward, we go to the shampoo station,. which is framed floor to ceiling by curtains curved like mainsails. I sit back, inspect the wrought iron hardware that makes such a thing possible; I listen to her product promotions with no intention of buying. Throughout the whole appointment, I drifted between chit chat and a desire to steal away and relax.
while tweezing my eyebrows, my stylist begins to talk:
“My mom, she just can-not dress. She just doesn’t care, and she looks stupid!
She had a Pure Romance party, because…she just does them because she thinks they’re funny, that’s all. and you know what she wore? A white, Ralph Lauren Button -down shirt which I gave her, and a pair of white jogging pants! Mother! And you could see she was wearing pink panties underneath.
I hate to tell you this, mom, but no one who has had kids looks good wearing white. I am sorry, but it’s the truth.
Her friends told me “you shouldn’t talk to your mom like that!’
but I said- “look,I am being her friend. I am telling her the truth before someone says something rude to her.”
My mom, she just doesn’t have a clue, she doesn’t care how she looks, either. I try to help her, but… she just thinks it’s funny-
And isn’t it weird how people unintentionally coordinate clothes? Like me and my boyfriend getting ready for a date, and we both meet wearing the same color, and I don’t mean black either, which wouldn’t be that unusual. I mean something odd- like turquoise. How does that happen?
I was tempted to ask if the jogging pants had cuffs around the ankle, but I refrained.