It's Not Personal...It's Strictly Business

Am I the only person intimidated by hairstylists?  I don't know what it is, but whenever I go get my haircut I feel completely inadequate - like a bumbling fool.  I blame my mother for cutting our hair at home, and then taking us to Supercuts when she grew tired of doing it herself.  Thanks to her I was sheltered from the madness that is beauty-salon etiquette and hairdresser-sized egos.

Now that I'm a woman, I have this love-hate relationship with the beauty shop.  It's probably my fault because I like salons that are trendy and modern and filled with fashionista wannabe stylists who look like they know what they're doing.  My life is not as glamorous as I'd like, I guess, so I like to have some of their glitter and hairspray liven mine up.

I had a perfect salon in Miami.  My stylist was funny and hip and quite possibly gay (not that there's anything wrong with that).  But most importantly he always gave me a perfect cut, and I happily threw wads of dollar bills his way to work his magic.  That has to be where my reverence for hairstylists must have come from.

Now that I'm in Boston, I have yet to find a truly great stylist.  Believe I have tried.  Also, believe me when I tell you that I don't have challenging hair, not in the least.  My hair is straight and long and the color of a chocolate bar.  All I need is a pretty cut.  That's it.  I'm even game to have someone cut it real short, if they dare.  No one does.  Yet they manage, somehow, to make my long straight hair look matronly.  It drives me craaaazy! 

You would think I would be able to go back to my old Miami hairstylist since I go back there every few months, but he has never forgiven me for moving to Virginia for grad school.  When I went to him to have my hair cut during Christmas break he asked what had happened to me.  I told him about my move to Charlottesville.  He looked me up and down and said, "that explains it."

I had to break up with him.  Actually, he broke up with me, because he gave me a Campbell Soup Kid cut that day.  Why be so cruel?  So that I could fit in better in my new surroundings?

My current stylist is the owner of a hip salon that has been featured in Vogue and Allure so it is also very busy.  (I know that the way you get into those magazines is to sell a lot of high-end products but I still fall for it!  I can't help it!)  That would be intimidating enough, but he also looks exactly like Tony Soprano.  The cognitive dissonance that results from seeing a big balding stereotypically mafia looking man in charge of a girly-girl salon would be hilarious if not for the fact that he is usually holding very sharp and expensive scissors very close to my neck.  He also works in complete silence, which creeps me out.

He does a pretty decent job with my hair.  Unfortunately, he is always very busy and needs to be booked months in advance.  I am not the planning ahead type, and therefore I rarely manage to get my hair cut.

I was determined to get a cut this week.  "Tony Soprano" was busy, of course, so I impulsively booked one of the junior stylists.  I was extremely nervous so I hatched a plan as I walked to the salon.  I was going to go up to him as soon as I walked in and explain that I just simply had to go to the new girl because he was so busy and we would laugh about it because its no big deal, really, and everything would be perfect.  But when I got there he was in the middle of mediating a fight between two stylists.  So I kind of snuck in and the jr. stylist was already cutting my hair when "Tony" spotted me and went into the back room for what seemed like an eternity.  Eventually he came out and started frosting the hair of an expensive-looking older lady.  By now my cut was done, and I confessed to the Jr. stylist that I'm usually "Tony's" client.

"Really?"  She put down the dryer.

"Yes, but as you know he is always so busy!"

"That he is."  I didn't like the look on her face.  I think she was scared of Tony thinking that she was stealing his client.

"I'll go up to him and say hello.  When you're done."

"OK.  We're all done here!"  She couldn't push me out of the chair quickly enough.

I paid for my cut and tipped everyone (another thing that makes me crazy nervous!) and walked towards the changing room.  "Tony" refused to look at me.  I stopped right in front of him and waved so that he could not ignore me any more:


"Hi!" he said back, mock-cheerfully.

"You were so busy today, this being Saturday and all, and I have a trip coming up so I just decided to get a cut with Bee.  She's so nice!"

He smiled at me without showing any teeth.

"And did Bee do a good job for you?"

Was this a trick question?  The truth is, I didn't know.  I hadn't even looked in the mirror because I was keeping an eye on him the entire time.

"Yes!  She was great!"  I smiled.  I hope that was the right answer.  Stupid salons and their crazy rules!

"Good!"  He gave me a 1000-Watt smile that was as artic as February in Maine.

"OK-Bye!"  I had to get out of there.  Why all the drama?  Why do I care?  He should be apologizing to me - the customer!

All this and I hate my new cut.

I think I need a new salon.