*Note: this post is part of a 20-day writing prompt 101 program I’m participating in. Today’s Prompt: “Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year? Turn your post into a character study”
It was supposed to be a simple Costco run. Until I hit the shampoo aisle. A ten-year’s supply for five bucks! Tempting, but no. The screaming deal staring back at me from the warehouse shelf did get me thinking about all the relationships associated with 3+ decades of hair maintenance, however.
Because every six weeks, from the time I first discovered the glories of highlights, and layers, and most recently – Keratin straightening treatment – I’ve sat in someone’s chair. The supportive pseudo-aunt who assured me I was beautiful in spite of dealing with an embarrassing bout of teenage acne; the hot shit celebrity future stylist-to-the-stars Greek God who insisted his innate knowledge of my bone structure justified his half-month’s worth of rent price for a haircut; the adorable Chestnut-locked beauty half my age who gave me all kinds of how-not-to-look-like-an-80s-throwback fashion tips.
And most recently, a fabulous stylist in Philly, exactly my age who shared a passion for rescue dogs, yoga, and got me in and out of her chair – perfectly coiffed – in under two hours. Every six weeks. Then I moved to Boston. Six weeks came, then seven, then eight. Time to find a new chair.
Yelping my way through endless reviews, I settled on a ’boutique’ salon nearby. Pricey. Swanky. Guaranteed lovely locks. I got the lovely locks, but struggled in the chair. And the shampoo bowl. And the reception area. My purple-haired, snail-paced stylist wove in two clients during my appointment, taking me through a circuit of waiting areas: staring into track lighting as my neck rested on the hard, ceramic bowl; shivering in the reception area with a towel on my head; gorging on complimentary breath mints as my stomach grumbled four hours into this marathon appointment.
So upon leaving Costco, I spontaneously walked over to the chain beauty store in the adjacent strip mall. At the least, maybe I’d find a cheaper alternative to my pricey sulfate-free shampoo, so I could save up for the next attempt to endure another hair salon trial experiment.
“Hi! Can I help?” I looked up tentatively, as I always do when surfing the lowest shelf for the cheapest deal (I kind of assume bottom shelf surfing is synonymous with DIY). But her smile and easy nature drew me in: “yeah, I just moved here. I need some decent shampoo – preferably a third less than what I’m shelling out now.”
“May I?” I nodded, and she ran her fingers through my hair, did a quick assessment of what I needed, and selected a perfect pair of products in my price range. I loved her. On the spot. A hair taller than me, and a little bit awkward (in that just-enough way to not be disarmed by her natural beauty) I loved the simplicity of her look – black tee, faded black jeans, slightly scuffed black boots, long black hair and bangs. “They’re extensions!” she quickly qualified as I complimented her silky locks. And there it was – the honesty, from one girl to another, that won me over. I had to give her a shot.
In spite of the low-profile, somewhat disheveled salon area in the back of the store. In spite of needing to ask for a key to use the bathroom. In spite of the chirpy, unfiltered shop-talk between stylists. In spite of the occasional interruptions from shoppers mid-blow dry, I had to sit in this girl’s chair.
And I have. Twice now. For half the price, and double the joy.
And I’ll be back again.
In six weeks.
*image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net