Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks for Bleach and Shears

In addition to my phobia about having my blood pressure taken  -- or being asked to offer a prayer at the Thanksgiving table -- I can now add Salon Anxiety.

Most salon phobics are recovering from a bad experience:  some madcap moment involving gin and a walk-in special where they sweep in, slap a 50 in the stylist’s palm and announce, “I am Ronga. I like gin and high adventure.  Please change me so when I look in the mirror, I will scream very loud.”

In the Bad Experience scenario, you could say anything to a stylist.  “Wax my navel.”  “Shave my forehead.”  “Save the whales.”  It won’t matter.  Stylists will do what they want.

Yesterday, I went to my salon and said, “I need some subtle, festive 'freshening' for Thanksgiving."

What my stylist heard was, “Thanksgiving does not bring me enough stress.” 

Luckily, I can now enjoy ‘misadventure by bleach and shears.’

In fairness, it wasn’t that she did not want to ‘trim’ or ‘color’ my hair.  It’s that she fancied herself to be psychic.  “Oh I know just the look you want!” she gushed, lining my head up with her thumb.  “You’re gonna LOVE this.  Have a seat.”

I’m not sure why I sat down.  Perhaps I wanted to believe my stylist held the power to realize my private fantasy: to make me a calorie-deficient, forever-blonde with mile-high breasts and a career modeling pearls.

So there I sat, knowing I was going to love this … not daring to ask what “this” was.

In fact I never asked.  Not when my stylist mixed up a cauldron of goo that smelled like Tilex.  Not when she painted fat chunks of hair with the goo, then started ‘timing’ the chunks with a stopwatch, looking around nervously.

And certainly not when the goo started emitting sparks and clouds of gas.

Eventually the stylist neutralized the goo with stuff that smelled like Pledge and gasped, “Oh, now THIS is GORGEOUS.”

THEN I asked.

“Excuse me, but WHAT is gorgeous?”
“Why, your highlights, of course.”
“I have highlights?”
“Yes. And they are perfect.  Just a little shimmer to catch the sunlight and bring out your natural tones.”
“What color are my natural tones?”
“They are a lovely maple-honey gold.  The color … of a sunset!”
“Oh quick!  Let me see!”
“Not yet.  First we have to ‘lighten you up.’  A pretty girl like you doesn’t want to be weighted down with all that hair.  Boris, hand me the loppers.”

I continued to sit there, fanned by wafting bombs of Hair Fallout, feeling a secret thrill about the look she knew I wanted.

Several times I tried to crane my neck for a peek. But my stylist had lowered the hydraulic chair beneath the enchanted mirror-line, so all I saw was a poster of a dark-haired Adonis with a jar of Ultra-Sheen.

And I saw his violet eyes.  They burned with desire.  “Your hair makes me want you as I have wanted no other, “ they said.

I was giddy with the rapture and the fumes of this hour.

By the fourth hour, my neck was stiff, my vision blurred, and I wanted to go home.

This was all part of the Maple Honey Plan.

When my hair was unveiled and my stylist pumped me back up to the mirror, I could hardly believe my eyes.  There were three heads staring back at me, all surrounded by honey halos.

“I LOVE it!  Please guide me to my car.”
“But first we need to give you your Color Care Instructions, so listen closely.  Your hair may not be teased, sprayed, shampoo’d or touched for at least 24 hours or it could explode.  If you go in a chlorine pool, it may turn the color of fungus and attract wild birds.  If this color isn’t exactly right, just come back and we’ll comb in some toner.”

As I tried to exit, a network of area stylists appeared from nowhere to marvel at my hair.

“This is the color EVERYONE wants but so few ever achieve.  Don’t you ENVY her?”
“I DO. I’m positively green.”
“Me, too.  I’d kill myself now but I’d never get to see strangers in the parking lot PANT when they see her look.”
“It’s so subtle.”
“Her friends won’t realize it’s her hair. They’ll say, ‘Have you just returned from an autumn vacance at some tropical paradise?’”
“They might wonder if she’s taken a lover!”
“They’ll never know WHAT gives her that radiant, honey glow!”

“Am I done? I feel dizzy.”

“That will be $189.99”

Subtle.  For a trim.

After handing over my credit card, I left for the grocery store with my feast-list in tow. What was my surprise to find a gaggle of high school girls I had once taught in seventh grade outside the store, soliciting for charity.  When they spotted me, their chins dropped to their knees. 

“Woe, what happened to her?”
“Maybe she’s been exposed to radioactivity.”
“A butcher. She’s been exposed to a butcher.  Probably the stylist on Fifth and Third.”
“Sari, shhh, she’ll hear you.”

“Hello, ladies! Happy Thanksgiving!”

“Hi, Mrs. Given.  Um – you look—nice.”
“Yeah, nice.”
“Nice. That’s it.”

“Thank you, girls.”

 “Mrs. Given (pause), may we be honest? The asymmetrical spiking tufts are funky. But we think your Colorist mixed platinum up with plutonium. We think you should sue.”
“Yeah, sue.”
“Totes, that’s it.”
(longer pause)

“Actually, ladies (sigh) I am experiencing a Radiant Honey Glow.  I got it from my paramour at this tropical paradise.  And when strangers in parking lots see me they try to KILL themselves cuz they WANT my glow and can’t have it. They can only be green – a wild strain of fungal-green.  I will have you know, girls, that all this radiance cost more than pumping my septic tank for a year so why don’t you BACK OFF and let me at that produce aisle and those r a z o r – s h a r p   p a r s n i p s.”

They dropped away and let me pass.

The color may not be holiday-subtle, but it’s given me the self-confidence I need to slap a few stylists around if they try to get psychic with me again.  In fact, I’m feeling so buff, I’m re-dying my head nuclear-winter-white then I’m taking on Christmas, early.

That’s right.