Saturday, June 7, 2008

It Ain't Easy Being Blue

About six months ago I happened to be in Kenosha, Wisconsin (I say “happened” even though I spend an abundance of time there) and waltzed into a hair salon to get a trim. My former, long-time stylist had, six months prior, given me a Mrs. Brady shag hair-do that I hated-hated-hated, and I waited a half-year before I was willing to let anyone else touch my locks. Finally I was so frustrated with the overgrown bush that sat atop my head that I didn’t care who cut it, but I needed it cut. And what happened? I fell a little in love with the lady who cut my hair. Now she’s the only one I’ll allow to touch my noggin and I have to go all the way to f’ing Kenosha whenever I need my hair cut or dyed.

If you live anywhere in Illinois or Wisconsin (perhaps even Iowa or Michigan), you are aware that there was psychotic weather that blasted through Kenosha today, with three tornados that had been spotted around 3 pm.

At about 3 pm, I was leaning back in the chair at the sink, having the blue dye rinsed out so that she could finally give me her artistic cut, when someone came running into the building and announced that the tornado sirens were going off.

I fully expected her to stop what she was doing and assume whatever position she was trained to assume during an emergency, but she just shrugged and said, “I’m busy.”

Have I mentioned that I love my stylist?

No one stopped doing hair. No one ran out into the street to check out the sky. No one turned on a radio or checked the weather. It was business as usual.

I said, “I’m so glad the storm held off until my hair was blue again. I don’t care what happens now, if I’m flying through the air for miles, as long as I have blue hair again.” I was kidding, of course, but I was relieved that I was blue before any tragedy would hit. Is that vanity or is that just good time management?

She said, “See? That’s why you’re one of my favorite people!”

Really? Oh gee!

I thought she only liked me because I tip her $20 whenever she does my hair. I feel so awful for her because I watch the schmucks who go in and get a $30 haircut and tip her a few singles. Even the women who get elaborate dye jobs tip $5. It makes me a little sick. I did the math and realized that in the three hours it takes her to bleach, dye, cut and style my hair, she likely could have cut and shampooed six people, and if they each tipped her $3 (which is low, but typical), she’d have gotten $18 in tips in the time it took to do my hair, and for me to give her $5-10 seemed unfair. She always acts like I hand her a diamond tennis bracelet when I give her the twenty, but it only seems right to me. Even if the entire cost charged to me for the three hours of work only totaled $60, I don’t base it on a percentage of the total charge but what I think her time should have been worth, and then I feel guilty for only giving her $20.

While I was there, I witnessed a slew of personal tragedies, without even considering that we were working through a tornado warning.

There was a terrible car accident where a deliveryman had crashed into the car of one of the stylists, so the police were called and a huge to-do was ongoing because this was the second time this deliveryman had hit a car belonging to one of the stylist’s, and he continually blamed them for parking in the parking spaces where they were supposed to. Uh-huh. That made no sense to the police, either.

A teenage girl came in and there was a collective gasp when the stylists saw her. She had that horrendous orange tan that announced loudly to the world that she spends an abundance of time in a tanning bed or swimming in sweet potatoes. But the most shocking thing was that she had clearly bleached her own hair, which was naturally dark, and it had taken on that nauseating orange-yellow color that’s as unnatural as her tan. Her hair looked downright scary. And what was even worse was the bleach hadn’t been evenly applied, so she had dark spots like a jaguar all over her head.

I’ve seen some freakish people before. Hell, some I see almost everyday, but I could not stop myself from gawking at this mess. The stylist who drew the short straw and was responsible for giving her a real hair color again was so terrified of this girl’s hair that they had to have a mini-meeting in the back to discuss what could be done and what colors might actually give her the blonde hair she was looking for.

Once we were out of earshot, my stylist, who is probably only about 25 herself, laughed quietly at the teenager and said that her friends liked to call people like her a rotisserie chicken because of the all-over orange look they seem to think looks good. I giggled. What is it about the beta-carotene look that is appealing to them? I liked the rotisserie chicken reference, too, but it made me hungry.

A family came in and I realized something quickly: it’s summer. Part of why I hate summer is because there are more kids out and about, raising hell and wreaking havoc wherever I go.

There were two boys between 6 and 8 years old, a younger girl of about 4 or 5, and an older girl of about 9 or 10. The girls got their hair cut first, and the guy cutting their hair was not having any of their nonsense. The boys grew impatient and began running around the salon side-kicking things, including hair dryers, women’s purses, chairs, and their own mother’s legs. She, of course, did nothing.

My entire body was tensing up, and I glared at the boys as if my Librarian Stare of Death had any kind of strength this far from my power source. It did not. They ignored me.

Finally, the stylist who was working on their sisters had enough. After the boys grew bored kicking things, they began bombarding him with rapid-fire personal questions and I think this was just too much.

He said, “HEY! You don’t get to talk! I get to do all the talking. You’re paying for my time – I’m not paying for your time. You don’t get to ask questions. You don’t get to do anything. You’re here to get your hair cut and that requires you to sit still and shut up.”

Dude! If he wasn’t gay, I’d kidnap him, marry him, and have no children with him for many happy years.

The mom took the boys out to the car to wait their turn and the girls didn’t make a peep for the entire rest of the time they were in there.

Usually this is a busy but quiet salon and I’m not sure that summer is going to be good to them.

My intention when I went there today was to get blue hair again and sorrowfully announce that this would be my last blue. The cost is just too much, and I have been unsuccessful doing the re-dye between seeing my stylist every 6 - 8 weeks. It was going to be sad, but I need to pay some bills off rather than make my hair blue.

But, as with all my good intentions, I not only didn’t make this announcement to my stylist, but I committed to a future appointment. AND, as if that’s not enough, we totally bonded today and I actually think we’re friends now. We laughed, we cried, we shared deep, dark secrets, and when I left, there was this awkward thanking of one another for being so wonderful, and I thought she was going to hug me. I probably would’ve hugged her back, too. I almost invited her to our Kool Kids gathering this evening, but it was a long drive for her and she worked until 9. It’s too bad. I think the girls would’ve liked her. She’s this extremely tall, extremely thin, absolutely drop-dead gorgeous girl who spends her time reading and hanging out with friends. Sounds familiar. You know, because we’re all tall, thin, drop-dead gorgeous chicks. (Ahem! *cough* *gag*) Whatever. We read, too! So, now that we’ve bonded and made plans for my next visit, I couldn’t bear to tell her that I can’t afford her anymore.

Eh, what’s more important? Having awesomely blue hair and a stylist who makes me cry, or paying my car insurance? CLEARLY the car insurance will be sacrificed! I mean, really, was that a choice at all?


Bobby said...

you always crack me up, and now that I am back in tornado alley, the people here are the same way.

the "test sirens" went off the other day, (I think they should mention those in the 'welcome to town" pamphlets) and no one even noticed until I asked.

Bobby said...

oh, and my hair is now going to be blue. :)