sitting in a salon chair is tricky business. you are vulnerable, oftentimes at the mercy of a complete stranger. the plot thickens further when you try to save a few bucks and get your hair done at a beauty school. when i first moved to d.c. i met two cute girls who attended graham webb international academy of hair. soon thereafter i chopped off my hair and eagerly became their “short hair model.” my crazy work hours worked perfectly with their schedules. every few weeks i’d get off work, walk over to their school and get my hair touched up for free.
after graduation my hair was still theirs and they topped the list of things i missed most when i arrived in seattle. but never fear, the gary manuel aveda institute has stepped in to fill that void. not that i cut my hair all that regularly – but still, let’s just say i’ve learned my lesson after not just one, but probably three really bad hair cuts at cheaper institutions.
so there i was, sitting in a chair, putting my ever-so-slowly-growing hair in someones very nicely manicured hands. at my last hair cut i was told my hair’s color was “ashy” – which, really doesn’t sound like a good thing. so after 2 1/2 years i decided to revisit highlighting. imagine me, explaining to side fohawk boy, that i was natural highlights, nothing drastic. in the heart of seattle’s capital hill “barely-there” highlights aren’t really the going look. despite my apprehension, and his insistence that two inches of damaged hair needed to be removed, we began the process.
it’s a funny thing to sit in a leg-pump chair, wearing a cape and to essentially be eavesdropping on everyone around you and their personal details – where they work, who they love, what they do, weekend plans… you almost feel like an intruder.
it is even stranger when you are sharing a four-hour conversation with someone continuously petting your hair. someone you will most likely never speak to again – but you learn about what his boyfriend reads, where he lives, where he grew up, his dreams and disappointments. i waited for 30 minutes with my hair all foiled up and read. not the stack of magazines in front of me, but my book i brought, the help. he came back to check on me.
- what are you reading? he asked.
- the help, i said. it’s about three women in the 60s – two black maids and a 23-year old white woman who returns home after college.
- oh! it’s like that movie, with scarlett johannson… what’s it called… diaries of a nanny? he trails off.
- the nanny diaries? i asked.
- that’s it! he lit up. your book sounds a lot like that!
no i haven’t seen the nanny diaries. but i’m pretty sure scarlett doesn’t address racial tensions of the 1960s in that romantic comedy. oh wait, she is a 20-something recent graduate who becomes a nanny. well, it’s just not quite the same. but maybe i was inhaling too many chemicals.