I’m not a “girly-girl”. I can count on one finger the number of times I’ve had a manicure and the number of times I’ve had a pedicure (which was such a terrific disaster involving blood – my blood – that my friends now know better than to even suggest it). I’ve never had a massage, a hot rock treatment or had anything made out of vegetables smeared over my face to clog my pores … I mean cleanse, of course I mean cleanse (unless it was an eating accident). My idea of pampering, with my limited world experience, would involve sitting in Washington Square with a slice of pizza while chatting and people watching. In fact, in this moment, I’m there right now; it’s like my own personal brain massage.

The one exception is when it comes to my hair. I LOVE hair day. All capital letters kind of love. I love going. I love blabbing. I love the bad magazines. I love the new cuts and I LOVE LOVE LOVE hair products. In fact, a great day for me would be getting the perfect cut, having it styled just so and walking out with some obscenely priced shampoo or coconut curl activator (the smell is heaven) or clear mousse that if I wanted I could make my hair stand straight up. My best Saturdays are spent this way and as a reward for having a good day, I’ve taken to swinging by Mangia’s Pizza. I get home and sit with pizza in hand and just veg the rest of the day in my post-hair, happy tummy trance.

I should also mention that I love my hair dresser, Kim. I know several people that go to her each one of them comes out with a cute/great cut that really suits them. And every six weeks for two hours, it’s my turn to sit in her chair and monopolize her time. We chat, I catch up on her stories (as you all know I live for a good story) and I read all of the magazines I’m too embarrassed to buy from the store.

This weekend I cheated. My time with my hairdresser wasn’t working out and I was telling myself it was time for a change. I’d find some place closer, someone who could meet on my schedule, maybe entertain me MORE if there could be a more.

Now let me tell you what my ideal salon would look like based on my favorite salon, Daya. It would have natural lighting, tropical plants, dark paneling, soft music and a water feature of some sort that bubbled. In it is someone whose paid to be a professional shampooer who also happens to be a massage therapist and they rub my head until it feels mushy and I’m on the edge of sleep. Did I say Washington Square? I’m sorry, I meant to say Daya.

Anyway, to the cheating. I chose a place across from my office which was in a sort of upscale shopping area – well, at least it’s desperately trying to be upscale, but I digress. I head into the salon ready for my new experience and the first thing that hit me was “Wow, this is BRIGHT” followed by “Wow, this is really LOUD!” Sure, none of the stylists had a decent hair cut, but hey, I can’t rate their skill based on their taste. I sit down and the first gal makes some suggestions about the color. “Sure!” I say, it all seemed reasonable. “Great! I’ll mix that up and send over your stylist.” Umm… ok, so they work in tandem. I’m ok with that; it’s a new place – a new experience. The stylist and I discuss my hair, she insults Kim’s cut (mind you, Kim falls under my loyalty umbrella and insulting Kim’s cut is similar to spitting on me, so she’s walking on very thin ice). She instantly redeems herself by whipping out a picture, it’s exactly what I’m trying to describe and she runs off. So far, this is looking a little promising.

Two plus hours of coloring later, I’m still ok. Sure, that process took forever – longer than Kim would have done it (in fact, I would be out of the door by now), but she’s very precise and those little foils were certainly perfectly folded if not a little on the OCD side of things. The gal told GREAT stories; she’s hysterical. I tried to remember them so I could share them (good stories should be passed around). I asked how they got started and she said they’d been at a corporate run chain salon. Now, maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking Super Cuts, Cost Cutters, Visible Changes… you see where I’m going with this.

Then I’m shuttled on to the stylist. Now mind you this is 2+ hours into the whole too loud, too bright, too sterile and too muchness of the whole experience. She’s got issues, big issues and apparently most of them would be solved if the state would not penalize you for beating your kids. “Don’t you agree?” Ummm… I don’t get into it, but for the record my Dad is a social worker and was a child protective services worker for years, removing kids from bad situations when needed. I’m aghast, but it doesn’t stop her from carrying on about how beating is just another acceptable form of child rearing. The whole time she’s rubbing her belly on me and it was more than a belly, it was “belleh”. Belleh was slowly squished against the length of my arm, around my back and down the other arm only to trace its path back again – never ending belleh. You know that hugging thing? Its got nothing on belleh. Thirty minutes of belleh. Belleh all over me. Belleh. I still twitch. With each pass of belleh, she’s also pulling out my hair and I feel it ripping from my skull with each stroke as the bristles set every last nerve endings on my scalp on fire. I stopped speaking. At some point I agreed that I had sister with children (I’m an only child). I don’t know why. I just wanted to leave and wasn’t up to clarifying anything about my life. OUCH! The curling iron gets thrust into the bottom of my eye socket. Finally she slaps something on my hair that causes each remaining strand to stick to my head. The colorist and stylist practically cheer, “this is a GREAT look! IT’S A TRANSFORMATION!” then practically high five each other while I’m just silently shuddering while thinking “a transformation into what?” I ask myself, “what would Anna do?” Say something. “What would Rita do?” Say something. “What would Beth do?” Not cause ripples and get out of there as quickly as possible.

We’re over the three hour mark when I go to pay. The price tag is $100 MORE than what I pay for my stylist. Without getting into how much I pay in general, let me say that $100 MORE is a lot of money – like, I could buy a small TV lot of money. Like, I could take my tap classes for almost half a year ever single week lot of money. Like, I could walk out and start shaking because I want to vomit out my insides lot of money. OR like I could have gotten almost half a year of Super Cuts haircuts kind of money. And my hair, the hair that’s left that wasn’t unceremoniously jerked from my head, is just sticking to my face and I did the only thing I could do, I FREAKED OUT. Granted, it was a quiet freak out and I contained it in the car, but I couldn’t stop (or drive) for a long time while I tried to pull my shit together over a haircut.

What I learned? To be more flexible in working out my schedule with Kim. Going in another day at a different time is OK.

What I developed? A new and serious belleh phobia.


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