Monday, July 21, 2008

Ode to My Stylist

It seems ridiculous that I have been with my hairstylist long enough to be a "special" customer, but it's the truth. I was with her when I was Young, Broke, and Barely Legal--I got my second real haircut in T-Town from her--and as I matured into Old, Rich, and Upstanding Citizen, she got her own salon and took me with her as her customer, and then she got a bunch of other services at her salon and she and the aesthetician took me under their collective wing and made me the relatively well-turned-out girl I am today. She was the one who cut off my hair when I donated it; she was the one who convinced me to color it, she is the one whom, now, yells at me to get my highlights touched up more frequently and get in and see Jamie, the aesthetician. (She and Jamie are big believers in tough love, which I need.)

One fine Saturday morning I arrived at the salon maybe, slightly, hungover. Okay, let's rephrase. I was so hungover that a lit match around me would have burned blue--that much leftover alcohol was wafting from my skin. Tyson--my stylist--spent about five minutes with me before bringing me a juicebox. "Here," she said. "Drink this before you pass out."

A little while later Jamie came in and Tyson called to her. "You would not BELIEVE how hungover Aarwenn is," she chortled. "Come and yell at her."

I rolled my eyes. Jamie appeared, stroking my hair and sniffing. "Have we FED her?" she asked Tyson. Tyson rolled her eyes in return. "I gave her a juicebox," she said, with the air of washing her hands of the whole event. "And I wouldn't let her have coffee." Right after my cut and color, I went to meet with Jamie, who poked and prodded at my skin. "You see all these little bumps?" she said. "This is all the toxins you've been pouring into yourself coming out through your skin. This is PARTY skin."

"I know," I murmured, "and I've worked damn hard for it." She smacked me on the back of the head. "Well, now you get to pay for it," she said, and got out her extraction tools. (Note to the uninitiated: extraction of blackheads HURTS.)

I absolutely love them, all the women at that shop, and I love them more because of our different worlds. The salon is all women, and of course my daily environment is all men. I know nothing about beauty, and they know nothing about technology--of any kind--which means that sometimes my arrival at the salon is hailed by cries of delight. "Thank GOD you're here," Tyson will say, pulling me back into the break room. (A sign of true privilege.) "Our computer won't do so-and-so. Can you fix it?"

"Of COURSE I can fix it," I like to say with haughty grandeur, and I haven't been wrong yet. The littlest things amaze them--how fast I type, keyboard shortcuts, Alt-Tab, the fact that I know what a "cookie" is, and not the chocolate chip kind. We're learning from each other, even. At first I was worried that the flow of knowledge was going all one way, that my skin and hair were looking better and better but I hadn't contributed much beyond my IT services. I love the challenge of trying to break down what I do for the layperson, but I wasn't sure it was having any affect until Tyson said to me, with pride,

"Hey, you know how you were telling me what 'nano' was? We had a hella fancy shampoo company in here last week giving us their sales pitch, and they were going on and on about nano-this and nano-that and finally I raised my hand and said, 'Doesn't "nano" just mean "small"? I mean, seriously?'

I laughed. "Good for you! Did that send her down a peg or two?"

"OH my god, it was like I had kicked her puppy," Tyson said, pinning my hair up. "The entire sales pitch was based on how cool this 'nano' was, and they were going on and on about surface area and all kinds of technical jargon, and I just said, 'But doesn't it just mean "really small"'?"

"It does, and it ALSO has to do with surface area versus volume," I said, and, unable to let an opportunity for education go by, gave her the Reeses Cup Analogy. (Later post.) She listened attentively, but even if she hadn't, it didn't matter. I'm bringing nanotechnology understanding to the masses! Hooray!

And I have pretty hair, also Hooray.

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