Monday, June 16, 2008

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Last weekend I broke up with my hairdresser.

It was kind of unexpected in the sense that I didn't expect it to happen so soon. I certainly didn't expect to be as upset about it as I was, given that I wasn't totally thrilled with my last couple of haircuts. But this was an emergency situation--I needed a haircut, badly, and my regular salon was closed. And I was tired of doing the ponytail thing every day, and dreaded having to do it for another week.

I had to go to the mall, anyway, so I called the Regis Salon and made an appointment.

Now picture this: my hair is very dark brown, thick, and naturally curly. Naturally curly hair can be both a blessing and a curse. At this time of year, it is more curse than blessing. I woke up every day last week to a messy, straw-like frizz ball. And the products I put in to control the frizz made it look worse. So I just said, "Screw it," and pulled it up every day last week.

I tried to do variations on the pony: twisted up into a hair clip; half up, half down; messy bun; and, when I was tired of using bobby pins to pull up the strays, put my hair up with a pencil. While the pencil 'do is not such a bad look, it can only work under certain circumstances. I work in academia, so this was OK for a day.

But my 'do was in desperate need of freshening up. When I was getting ready to go out Saturday morning, I looked in the mirror and I just knew.

It was time.

Women always know when it's time to get a haircut.

I walked into the Regis Salon, announced my name, and was immediately led to a chair. My old hairdresser usually ran late--not always a bad thing, but there were days when I didn't have any minutes to spare.

My new hairdresser led me to her chair, and I took out my messy, mousy bun. My naturally curly hair had been straightened into a greasy mess as a result of humidity and being pulled back for so many consecutive days.

"What do you want to do with it?" she asked.

"Take two inches off the bottom and relayer it," I replied.

"Are you sure you want it relayered? Your hair's kind of stringy now, and the layers aren't really growing out that well."

I thought about it. And was surprised by my answer, given that I had just met this girl. I proclaimed two words that many women would not say to a hairdresser they were visiting for the first time.

"Surprise me."

I don't know what made me say it, but I immediately trusted this girl. She smiled, led me to the sink, and started to wash my hair.

Then she noticed my brows and asked if I wanted a wax. I thanked her and accepted her offer. The brows needed some freshening up, too; if I let 'em go for too long I wind up looking like Michael Dukakis or Andy Rooney.

After a refreshing wash and brow grooming, I was escorted back to the mirror. We started talking about The Secret; she had a copy at her station and we compared notes. It turned out she had family in the town where I worked, and I knew of them.

Could this be fate? Is this a sign that I should take this girl in as my new shampoo gal?

Within half an hour, I was cut, waxed, and blow dried. She totally reshaped my do. It's a lot shorter than usual (it doesn't go past my earlobes), but it's layered and shaped a whole lot better. She gave me bangs that look really cute swept to the side. I could run my fingers through my hair without getting it tangled.

Most importantly, my curl had returned--with a vengeance.

And it looks really good!

Today it was curlier than usual, what with the humidity and impending thunderstorms here on the eastern seaboard, but I was happy with it because it didn't frizz as much. AND I got a LOT of compliments on my hair. I hadn't done so in a long time.

However, every time I received a compliment, I had to tell the story about parting with my old hairdresser. I kept thinking, "If I like my new hair so much, why do I feel so guilty about switching hairdressers? Why do I feel the need to tell my story?"

My friend Cindy put it perfectly. "Breaking up with your hairdresser is worse than breaking up with a boyfriend," she explained. "There's always that chance you'll bump into your hairdresser and have to explain things."

My girlfriends understood, but my male friends did not. Men do not have this problem with barbers. They have loyalty towards their barbers, but little to no emotional attachment. And as they lose their hair, they don't go as often. My dad went to Louie the Barber for years to get his comb-over perfected, but now that he no longer has that, my mom cuts his hair.

I know the guilt about switching hairdressers will eventually go away. I'm happier with the way I look, and my new girl seems nice. Plus, she's at the mall, and the mall has a Borders...all the more incentive to keep seeing this new shampoo gal of mine!

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