“I was thinking about you the other day.”
I was touched, even if it was just my hairstylist. She’d been “thinking” I was overdue for a touch up.
Angelina combed her hands through my nest. I watched her in the mirror and was reminded of our gerbils, the way they groom each other, though be it with their nubby little teeth.
She pressed down my hair so I could see the two inches of gray bordering my part. “You really shouldn’t wait this long.”
I do. I wait too long. Until the gray is this, a bar down the middle of my scalp. Trying to maintain a deceptively youthful appearance costs bucks, and I don’t care for sitting too long in front of a too-brightly lit mirror.
I do like that I’m often the youngest lady at the salon – a mere 49-year-old child! At least in comparison to the snow-white grandmothers shuffling in on walkers, wearing out-dated daisy-print blouses, polyester blue pants, and maybe an old rhinestone dragonfly brooch. These ladies are the salon’s most frequent patrons, escorted weekly by devoted daughters (distracted by the texting of their own most likely newly minted adult daughters) to have their thinning hair washed and set in pink rollers.
Being such regulars, one anecdote can be continued from week to week, and these anecdotes usually are precipitated by hair washing; something about craning your head back into a sink inspires the confessional. As about the negligent grandson who left his attaché case on the train given him after he graduated law school by Grandma; he forgot it “so he “claimed,” because “the wife” was calling about the broken laundry machine and he was so distracted, he left it on his seat; but Grandma gave into his other “claim” that he really did love the attaché case; so Grandma made her daughter drive her to the mall to find the exact same case but for fifty bucks less than at Christmas and isn’t it wonderful that “with just a few dollars you can make a problem go away.”
When the washing and rolling is done, so is the chatting, and these ladies are comfortably settled under dryers, to flip through home-decorating magazines, to doze off, or, in one case, to pass away:
“I did, I thought she’d just nodded off,” Angelina was telling me on one visit. “But when I went to check her hair, she was dead.”
Last time I’d sat under one of those dome dryers was when I could still squeak by with mere highlights to disguise the gray. But I remember that, enjoying the heat and hum, and thinking this is what it was like to be inside a fishbowl.
Rubber-gloved, smearing poo-colored goo into my hair, Angelina had gone on to tell me how they’d called an ambulance and the deceased lady was “wheeled out.” Then evidently, she’d moved on to her next customer.
I looked at her in her gilded gold-leaf mirror. Fake ivy trailered dustily down the frame. “You….didn’t close or anything?”
She actually chuckled, more of a phlegmy cough from 30 odd years of smoking. “Hon, what was I supposed to do, reschedule everyone for the next day when I was already booked?”
She set the timer and walked away.
I had only myself to look at in the gilded mirror, my head a matted gooey mess.
After what seemed hours of my trying to focus on my Kindle without overhearing more sink confessionals, the timer finally went off.
Then it was my turn to crane my head back into the sink for my own little therapeutic session.
Deb, the hair washer, started hosing the goo out of my hair, asking, “So how ya been?”
Well, I thought about this. I could spew the saga about my mother driving into the wall of a carpet store, then taking a mandatory road test only to fail and lose her license. Or I could tell her about how my eight year old worried he looked like a girl. That my basement flooded because a sock got stuck in the drainage hose. That recently I discovered my first wrinkle that is no frown or laugh line, which, from the hair washer’s vantage point, she could probably see for herself, as well as probable nose hairs.
I couldn’t pick or choose one thing so I just closed my eyes and said, “Oh, great. I’ve been great.”
And I will persevere with the blond until I succumb to a turkey neck. Honestly, a small (minute) fraction of my 49-year-old youthfulness looks forward to that surrendering to the snow-white. And if I cannot spend my last moments breathing in salty air at the edge of the sea, I would opt for that, dying in my sleep under a hair dryer.