by Laura

I went to have my hair done this weekend and I sat there processing when my phone died. GASP. I had thirty (30) minutes of unconnected time without Pinterest, Twitter, the Google. I glanced at the 3-month old stack of magazines and declined to read SHAPE (I don’t need a magazine to tell me a new way to do 100 crunches. I didn’t do one the old way.) I decided to people watch. I do this a lot I’ve noticed, but I like to know who I’m sharing my air with.

My first thought was how much younger I was then them, but then I realized I really wasn’t. I am middle-aged. WTF? When did this happen? When did another generation come along and usurp my territory for being young and hip. {Side note, this is laughable because while I was young once, I was never hip.}

The beauty parlor, as old people call it, is filled with women and a few odd men at their worst. Women in ill-fitting yoga pants, flip flops, a top it’s okay to get hair color on, and on their way in a tragically bedazzled hat. There were a couple of ancient adorable women there for their weekly curl and set. There was millennial (said with dripping disdain) discussing with a stylist how to make her roots smoky, the bulk of her long hair platinum, and accentuate the green and fuchsia tips. Um…..

I switched my watching to the stylists. The owner of the salon dresses impeccably and must be quite comfortable in her work because she is brave enough to wear white linen while coloring a brunette. Most are in the ‘normal’ category in that they have traditional hair and makeup with comfortable shoes; the ‘other’ category has some wild hair (my old stylist loved purple streaks; one of them had orange hair because her experiment went wrong) and some serious ink. In a professional setting, these ‘others’ might not fit in, but here it works. It takes a great deal of creativity and some hutzpah to see a head of hair in various modes (dry, thin, thick, fine, etc.) and create art or just comfort.

A relationship with a stylist is also its own dance. By stereotype they are a chatty group, but they ask what you’d like and then interpret your desire. They have the power to make you feel pretty or cry for weeks with just a snip of the scissor and swish of the brush. They know your secrets, your natural color, your health, your weaknesses. Finding a stylist is almost as tricky as finding a mate!

I realized siting there that I should give all these women a medal of honor for courage. Where else in the world can you sit somewhere in your ‘natural state’ and have a stranger smile at you? It’s a secret club; we all silently acknowledge that we are at the furthest from our best and no one speaks of the foil in our head, the smear of color on the ear, or the reek of perm solution. We enjoy the pampering and feeling of a sense of beauty when we walk out the door.

So I closed my eyes and stopped gawking at strangers. Who am I to judge the platinum hair with green tips (no really, I still judge, but not in the sanctuary of the salon) or the bedazzled hat (okay still judging, but hopefully it is her bed head gear, and not a constant companion). I shared the secrets of my real hair color and bared my soul to the room and sat quietly. No one said a word about my state; just pleasant conversation on the road trip to beauty.


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