>My Hairdresser

>What is it with women and their loyalty to their hairdresser?

I have been going to my hairdresser for about ten years. I met Leslie when she was working as a teacher at a nearby beauty school. I went to the beauty school because my friend George needed a guinea pig. He did not say he needed a guinea pig, he said he needed a model. To be asked to be a model put stars in my eyes and I said yes.

George was fifty when he decided to go to beauty school. He is a happily married Catholic man. Totally not what one would envision when one hears ‘male hairdresser’. It was kind of comical to see George cutting hair amongst all his fellow classmates. All twenty something women with wild hairdos and wilder hair colors and George. George is a bit over weight and six feet tall with a buzz cut. Like a giant among the fairies. (Fairies-again, not talking about your typical male hairdresser.)

As I sat down it was apparent that George was a little nervous. He helped calm me right down by confessing that he had no intention of ever cutting a woman’s hair once he had his license and he was only doing this because it was required to get his certificate. He also appeased my fears by saying the owner of the school was in today and she was especially hard on him and he was so nervous he was shaking a little bit. Thanks George.

Much to my relief Leslie realized all this about George and kept close during the entire ordeal…er…cut. As a matter of fact, she did most of it. It was a great cut. George got kudos from all the little fairies and the wicked school owner was also impressed. He got his license and has happily been doing men’s hair in a little shed in his backyard for the last ten years. He converted the shed into a small shop, by himself, except for the plumbing. Again, breaking the ‘male hairdresser’ mold.

I got Leslie’s card before I left and have been going to her for cut and color for the same ten years.

But.

Leslie is good. She opened her own shop. Her new shop was closer to a larger town which meant I had to drive about thirty minutes to get there. As a successful and in demand hairdresser she is allowed to charge outrageous prices. Cut and color was over one hundred bucks. But I couldn’t leave because I was pretty sure a new girl would never ever be able to do my hair the way I liked it. The way Leslie did it.

About three months ago Leslie moved her shop even further away. It was too far for me. I could not go back, the cost of gas plus the cut and color, it’s money I couldn’t justify spending anymore. I was going to have to buck up and find a new hairdresser.

It had been three months since my last hair cut. I have very short hair, I started to look like a ragamuffin. A girlfriend suggested I try a shop right in town. She goes there. She has cute hair. I’ll try it. The sign says walk ins welcome. They could take me right away and I won’t have time to chicken out and will have a new hair cut for better or worse in an hour or less.

I walk in. There are two hairdressers, both older than me. There are three customers…all much older than me. I have a sinking feeling. This is an old lady salon! Fortunately they don’t have an opening right now. So I make the appointment for a week later . Cut and color because I have no intention of coming back. But she asks for my phone number. I cannot think fast enough to give her the wrong number.

I leave with a feeling of doom hanging over my head. I am going to have to get my hair cut at the old lady salon. Everyone knows old lady stylists only know how to cut old lady hair, I did not want an old lady haircut!

I spent the entire week in various states of panic but my out of control hair got the best of me. People were starting to wonder if I was going back to my natural color (brown with a lot of gray). I have to try someone new sooner or later. When I show up it is the same two hairdressers and no one else. It was 1:30 in the afternoon for crying out loud, where are the other customers? I am now thinking this place is so bad they don’t have customers. But I suck it up and go sit in the chair. I show her pictures of me from three months earlier so she could see how my hair is supposed to look.

We do color first. I am okay with this. I can deal with bad color, you just color over it. As I am under the dryer I have my eyes closed. My new stylist checks the color and says ‘I see you are enjoying some nice quiet time.’ I did not tell her I had my eyes closed because I was earnestly praying that my hair wouldn’t be horrible when I left there.

She pulls me out from under the dryer and as I sit in the chair again I see the color is fabulous. She put in more high lights than I normally get but I really liked them. She also added a bit more red…which I had been thinking about doing for the last three months. Hmmm…this might be okay.

I only had one moment of panic, she took off about three inches of hair, she was cutting the back REALLY short and I realized there was no going back now. I had visions of old lady hair on my head. I couldn’t breathe for a minute. My heart was racing. I thought about bolting to the front door. My legs don’t work. I am stuck in the chair. Frozen with fear.

I got through it.

She finished. I loved it. It’s a wee bit shorter than I usually wear it, but a good cut. I left paying about fifty dollars less than I would have spent with Leslie. I am very relieved. I even scheduled my next appointment.

Sitting in the chair with Leslie we didn’t talk too much. After the normal pleasantries were exchanged it was mostly her talking to the other young stylists in the salon about their partying weekends. They had no children, they had puppies. They had long weekends in a hotel in Chicago with a bunch of friends. Their banter often made me feel uncool and old.

I realized as I sat comfortably chatting away with my new stylist that I had calmed down and was enjoying our conversation. This woman and I had children around the same age, life experiences that were similar and we both loved the food network. We had a lot in common.

Earlier I wrote that I feared this was an ‘old lady salon’. I think it is a ‘ happy, satisfied, lived life with gusto, food network watching, glad the kids are older, mature woman’ salon.

And I fit right in.

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