“Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog’s face, he gets mad at you? But when you take him in a car, he sticks his head out the window.” Steve Bluestone
Anybody who says, you’re going to be my eighth hairdresser, you know they are very hard to please, and probably nuts, besides.
Not too many guys come in for a consultation before their first haircut. Basically, no guys do that. But many women do. They come in before their first color and cut. It’s not a bad thing, either. They come in, spend some time with me, show me what they want, what they like and what they don’t like. It puts us on the same page.
The woman with screwed up colors and too many hairdressers freaked me out from the get-go. She went to Bay High School, like me, but was three grades younger than me. Someone mentioned me to her, that I worked at Kameryn Rose, and the next thing I knew she was scheduling a consultation with me.
Brian walked into the salon the afternoon she came in. She was waiting in the lobby. Brian saw her, recognized her, stepped over to my chair, and in a quiet singsong voice said, “Crazy, you know, crazy.”
He need not have bothered. I could already tell she was neurotic.
When she sat down in my chair, she got even crazier.
She had come in to get her hair done for her 30th high school class reunion. Back in the day, back in the 80s, Bay High School was known as Glenbeigh High, because everyone had drug and alcohol problems. I was a Rockette, a good girl, but I knew what was going on.
Before she came in, she had called me about twenty times. I know because I told the receptionist the last fifteen times to tell her I was busy, her appointment was confirmed, and I would see her on the appointed day.
The first thing she said when she sat down was, “I’ve been sober for five years now.”
I barely knew her, hadn’t seen her in about thirty years, but now I knew she had been an alcoholic. Even though she was three or four years younger than me, she looked twenty years older than me. It must have been some hard drinking she had been doing.
Her hair was a mess. She looked like a messed-up game show host. She had been moving among stylists, even though most people stay with the same stylist year after year, looking for some fanfare that wasn’t going to happen.
I wasn’t going to have to worry about screwing up, trying to fix anything in the backwash. What I was going to have to worry about was her talking too much. A lot of clients talk about their family, their jobs, their problems, their personal lives, and their health, among other things. I was worried that she might talk about all of it, everything.
“You’re going to be my eighth hairdresser,” she said.
My first thought was, number nine is right on the horizon.
“I had another appointment with another one, but I think I’m going to try you,” she said. “Because we both went to Bay.”
She was looking through swatches when she pulled out a color.
“I want that one,” she said.
I looked at it.
“I don’t even know where you got that color,” I said. “It just says ‘Gray.’”
“I want gray hair,” she said.
“You want gray hair?”
Even though she was sitting down, I sat her down.
“I know you probably like ash, not gray, exactly, but part of your hair is bleached out white, part of it is highlighted, and if I were to put ash color in your hair, like you want, your hair would turn to green mud. I am going to have to put a red base in your blond, which is what your hair is lacking. You’ve got a yellow green base. I have to add red to make it happen.”
“I don’t want red,” she said.
“Well, you know what, right now you don’t have a whole lot of choice.”
“I want the top of my hair blonde and the underneath dark,” she said suddenly.
“Hold down,’ I said, “because that is a whole new thing you just said. What do you mean you want the top all blonde and the bottom dark?”
“I want to see it a little darker underneath and a little more platinum on top,” she said.
“Oh, so underneath the crown of your head you want to see some dark?”
“OK, but that is not going to happen the first time, or anytime fast. You have spent years bleaching it out and now it looks like a crooked toupee. It’s going to take a lot of hair cutting and depositing color to get you what you want.”
It is called color correction. It takes a bucketful of money. Many people will wear old clothes, drive old cars, but they won’t skimp on their hair. She liked what I had to say. She was on board for it.
“Thank you thank you thank you,” she said.
I hadn’t even touched her head, yet.
I see drama on the street, I’ll look to see what’s going on. Crazy me, I will try to break up a fight if I walk up to one. I’ll jump right in. Crazy me, I was willing to jump right in on her wrecked head of hair.
Hairdressers aren’t miracle workers, not the first one or the last one or any of them in between. Some are definitely better than others. I’m one of the better ones, especially when it comes to color.
In the end she liked how it came out. She looked good and I’m sure she looked good at her reunion, although how she’s going to look whenever her ninth hairdresser gets done with her, that’s anybody’s guess.
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.