The Magic of the Salon

“How big a birthday? You mean you’re turning 85?” My hairdresser…for a slight moment there, I thought I should use a more current term like stylist or whatever and then I quick Googled hairdresser and this is what Wikipedia says:

Hairdresser is a term referring to anyone whose occupation is to cut or style hair in order to change or maintain a person’s image and, oh man, is that ever what she does for me. So hairdresser it is.

Anyway, my hairdresser, in her characteristic black wraparound dress and black boots, big blond hair, holding her shears in one hand and a comb in the other, looks at me in the mirror and says, “So everybody has birthdays they can’t stand. When I turned 37, it bothered me so much I had my husband call off the surprise party.”

“This isn’t 37. This is really a significant birthday.” I like my hairdresser. She has been cutting my hair and listening to me for 13 years. I know about her family and her business and vice versa. I would have to be drugged and taken to another country to have my hair cut by anyone else. It is inconceivable, utterly. She will be trimming me up for the last call, mark my words.

She starts in again. “Look, I have a 92-year old customer. Although she hates anyone knowing her age. She walks in here, no walker or anything, straight as an arrow, always put together, never leaves the house without her hair being just right and her face on. She’s gorgeous.”

I almost can’t believe that a 92-year old woman has become my new inspiration.

She continues. “Of course she’s got great genes. She looks, oh gee, easily twenty years younger. Not a line in her face.”

That would not be me. My face is a wreck. It has character, sort of in the way Tommy Lee Jones’ face has character. Maybe I can sell Ameriprise, too. There’s opportunity everywhere.

I tell her my new theory that cutting my hair so short makes it look grayer, that I love the style but somebody at a party last week casually said my hair was turning white and it freaked me out. She opined, “If your hair is longer, it has more opportunity to reflect the light. Your hair isn’t getting grayer, it’s just when it’s so short, there’s less variation in the color.” She sounded like she should be wearing a lab coat.

She went on, “If what you’re asking me is – should we color your hair – not yet. I could never replicate the amazing color you have. Honestly, you have the most incredible hair.”

How could I argue? Her assessment was so perfectly right. So carefully considered. So very good for me. So she cut my hair a little longer this time so, you know, so the light could catch more of it and show all the fabulous color. And I paid the tab and considered buying yet another pomegranate candle, took two Hersey’s kisses, made an appointment for next month and walked to my car like I was riding in the arms of the angels – beautiful, confident, and above it all. Birthday? What birthday?

Maybe you hassle with your health insurance company so you can get the therapy you need to stay firmly on the beam from month to month. I go to the salon. I walk in feeling rough around many edges and walk out feeling like a million bucks. Every time. No joke.

Bless the salon, my friends. Bless the salon.

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