Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Daring to dare

"You need a haircut."

My aunt said this to me, my friend Jo said this to me. Thing was, the last time I visited my salon, I paid a pretty price for what amounted to nothing special. Even before the stylist unpinned me from the chair, I was contemplating how, next time, I'd try somewhere else.

But how to find somewhere else? A problem. I wanted some place close to home (carbon footprint) but the phone book ads for my neighborhood were decidedly unhelpful.

I cogitated the issue, until one morning, feeling especially shaggy, I came up with the bright idea of shopping for a new hair salon by driving around. You know, case the neighborhood for beauty shops, check out what they had to offer. You should have seen the looks I got from the receptionists ... "Excuse me? Just looking?!?"

Seriously, "browsing" beauty salons can reveal more than you might think. All I had to do was peer in the windows to see that Dooz was just for kids. The tip off? Airplane chairs and party balloons. Nor did I have to go inside my second stop, located in the crumbling 1940's office building -- I made a snap judgment based on two white-haired ladies perambulating through the parking lot with perfect perms. Stop #3: the receptionist wore a bad wig, and the sweep-up lady's hair porcupined out in a variety of tints. The customers all sat under hair dryers getting manicures as if it were the 1950s. Stop #4: a salon in a new condo complex with New Age music piped in and -- you guessed it -- a staggering price list.

I went home and surfed the web. (After all, I can take the bus into town.) Customer Reviews were key -- they sent me to Jeff. Half my age, tattooed forearms.

"So what are we looking for?" he asked.

"I'm trying to be a writer, so I want to look like I know what I'm talking about," I babbled. Then: "I don't know what I want, but I do know what I don't want -- a bob, or anything short in the back." After these two flashes of brilliance, I threw in: "By the way, I have a cowlick."

Though hair perplexes me, it doesn't seem to perplex Jeff. He ran his fingers through my hair a few times, pulled up his palette of blond to bronze, and started to paint.

"It's scary," I ventured.

He spun around the chair so I faced him. The psychotherapist is IN. "What's scary?"

"Saying you want something new, but not entirely sure you mean it."

"Trust me, I get new clients all the time who wait 3 or 4 haircuts before they confess they were hoping for a change. Better to speak up."

I trusted him. Jeff turned me upside down, made my gray highlights into lowlights, perked up my sidelocks with some tawny blondes, dared me to dare. I'm lovin' it.