Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Ask a question, you'll generally get an answer. Depending on whom you pose your question to, you may or may not like the answer you get.

Ask a friend, "Does my hair look okay?" and 95% of the time they will reply favorably, even if doing so requires them to suspend disbelief for a moment or two whilst the dig deep for something kind to say. But pose that question to a stylist and the answer may cost you severely--in time, self-esteem and moolah.

I remember the days when I'd hit the salon every six months or so for a trim. I'd ask the same opening question every time. "Do I have enough gray to start coloring my hair yet?" I'd ask because I always loved the answer. A resounding, "Oh, no! You barely have any gray at all." I tipped her extra just for that.

I don't know when I turned the corner. It could have been after Tom's heart attack, or after my dad's passing. All I know is that one day I sat in that chair and posed my favorite question for the last time. Why? Because this was her answer. "Oh yeah. . . we really need to do something about this. . ." Sorrow. . . And thus we upped our client/stylist relationship to a whole new level.

Now here's the funny thing. In this relationship, as in all relationships, there are rules of trust. The rule of hair? It isn't just yours anymore. Oh no. It's hers. She knows it, and you know it. My daughter-in-law's friend gave me highlights once when I was out of town. The next time I saw my stylist she noted, "Nice color. . ." in a voice that begged further explanation. I felt as if I had given the promised half of my Snickers bar to someone else. I also remember the time I was going to be on a three-week book tour. My hair was fine that day, but I knew I might need a touch-up near the end, so I asked her for my coloring formula. Bad idea. . . She raised one eyebrow at me and stalled, a look of betrayal on her face. I could hear her silent condemnation. "Cheater! Hair cheater!!!! Babbling explanations began pouring out of me.

She does give a great cut and color, though I wonder how she really views me, since her consummate choice of styles for me lies somewhere between Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" and "What's Love Got to Do With It?" periods. Sometimes I sit in her chair and my eyes begin to stray to some dazzling highlights the new girl in the shop is giving a client off in a corner. I know I shouldn't stray . . . that I will suffering remorse and pain for my wanderings, but sometimes, I still do. In a moment of weakness, I swing my chair slightly and peek above the top of my Better Homes and Gardens to catch just one more hungry glimpse and then. when my stylist has turned me over to the protective custody of the shampoo girl, I bribe her with a Rolo in return for the other operator's name and schedule.

Does it all sound a little crazy? Ask any woman if I'm telling the truth. Hey! It's a tough hair world out there.

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