Ask any woman What is one relationship you’d likely sword fight to the death over before giving up? and somewhere in the top three would likely be her hairdresser.
Ask any man What’s the difference between a $200 and a $20 haircut? and they will likely answer “24 hours.”
Maybe it’s simply the case of ‘Mars & Venus.’
Maybe it’s incredibly effective marketing campaigns.
Maybe all men have cataracts.
The jury is out, but in this household, a quarterly pilgrimage is made from the sticky, drawling, verdant Virginia up toward the wilds of Washington, D.C. I face unruly traffic, road rage, a state police force determined to spoil a few days, and several potentially awful audio book selections in order to find myself firmly ensconced in a chair where magic happens on an hourly basis. And I’ve been doing it for the last fifteen years.
The experience is much the same each time–and obviously, one worth repeating.
I am greeted as if I was the one millionth lucky customer to walk through the storefront door, whisked to the closet where a winsome, black plastic drop cloth is draped around my shoulders and ushered into a soft, leather swivel chair where my guru will assess, with a keen and critical eye, the damage done to my previous do. He will agree and nod knowingly to my list of excuses.
– My hairbrush was stolen and all I’ve had available is the old pelt of a porcupine.
– My ancient hair dryer blew out and I’m now left with hanging my wet head out the car window like a drooling golden retriever.
– Our pool water is rancid/our tap water has a dead plumber floating in it/acid rain falls directly over our house.
– The thousands of dollars I’ve spent on hair products have failed to deliver stellar and promised results, although I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with the fact that they’re all at least a decade old. Shampoo that’s turned the color of meatloaf and smells like turpentine surely still has some benefits in it, right?
-I’m guessing my pillow is likely hooked up to some sort of anti-gravity device hell-bent on creating some wonky cowlick.
– I recently had to fire my longtime chamber maid–the one whose sole job was to simply complete the 1000 daily strokes my hair requires for luster and shine.
Most women will know what I’m talking about. Most men will assume I’m in need of psychiatric treatment.
He will then reassure me that my explanations are justifiable, my absence felt, but forgiven and my fears unfounded. Life is cruel to all of us. Of course, our schedules are grueling. And yes, he will return me to my former self, only better. Just wait and see.
Who in their right mind would NOT pay a measly $200 dollars for absolution and the promise of some kick-ass magic?
Now, I’m plied with restorative drinks and a selection of the dishiest gossip rags available in print. My wizard returns with a large vat of bleach, a roll of tin foil and some spackling tools. “Try not to make direct eye contact with any of the equipment, darling. This is not for the faint of heart and ignoring my advice may put you in therapy.”
I learned this early on. No woman wants to see herself turned into a cell phone reception tower. And it’s traumatizing when you realize that your hairdresser has a backup team hovering on the periphery. They’re quiet, they’re good at slight of hand and they can impressively suture and staple anything that can’t be glued back on.
There is a great flurry of hands, mostly used to aid conversation. There is diabolical laughter when speaking of our enemies, reverent tones when touching upon our idols. To accompany it all is the requisite sharp intake of breath, peppered at agreed upon intervals. We are aghast, delighted, disturbed, moved, enthralled. We create our own Oscar-worthy dialogue.
Foil is flung aside, bleach is hosed off, scissors are sharpened on a whetting stone, old tresses fall in small nests to the floor and hot air is purposefully and artfully directed in areas researched and studied. Gel, wax, oil and unsalted butter is spread and warmed between expert palms and decidedly placed onto individual locks. Hairspray or non-stick Pam is the last device used to shellac everything into its place.
The moment of unveiling arrives after 120 minutes fly by. There is the flourish of black cloth, the spinning of a chair, a gasp from onlookers in nearby seats, and an enthusiastic round of applause from everyone in the theater … I mean salon.
The room is saturated with the sounds of a thousand air kisses, like a giant sink sucking the last swirl of water down its enormous drain.
I dash off my signature and leave in a spotlight of admiration and envy. Everyone wants my hair. I get in my car, fight traffic for three ungodly hours and finally pull into my garage at home.
I step out of my car, gaze at my reflection in the car’s back window and then hop up on the tractor and pull my John Deere cap over my head.
That was fun, but I’ve got sheep stalls to muck out.