I have issues with my hair. I see all of the latest styles in the magazines and would love to have some Hollywood-style help to figure out what to do with my hair sometimes. Other women have curls and waves but I don’t have either. Florene sets my hair with a nice time-out under the bonnet to dry, resulting in a lovely soft shape. The effect is temporary even with extra hair spray. The set slowly dissolves into my straight hair against my fantasy wishes. I confessed my exasperation with my hair to Mags. I didn’t want to sound overly narcissistic, so I pretended to be intellectually puzzled about the differences in nature’s gifts. I probably sounded like a whiny four year old.
Mags suggested that I skip Florene and see Monsieur Barney, her “mane” man. Granted, Mags has beautiful hair. The gently rolling black waves actually appear blue in some light. Mags believes that Monsieur has something to do with her natural waves. Mags said that Barney also gives her a neck massage after his assistant, the lovely Lisa, gently washes her hair. This much attention might be above my comfort level. I asked Mags to call the secret phone number she bragged about to make the appointment, and I called Florene to cancel my regular time.
When the big day arrived, I washed and let my hair dry naturally. I dressed carefully and applied more than my usual amount of make-up. I checked my wallet to insure that I had cash to give the lovely Lisa a tip. At Flo’s I always slipped an extra dollar into her hand when I paid for my set. I didn’t really know how much to give the lovely Lisa. I heard a cheery hello from behind the front desk when I arrived at Monsieur Barney’s. There was a giant spray of flowers on the desk that looked a little too funereal. A beautiful head of honey-blonde hair stood up. It was attached to a tiny body and introduced herself as Lisa. Lisa asked me to follow her, and we walked down a short hall past individually louvered-doors to a door marked “Private.” Lisa asked if I preferred coffee or tea. I wondered if a real drink might help calm my nerves better but politely declined. The lights were set dimly, I could smell a faint rose smell, and symphony music played quietly. Lisa offered me a seat and placed a black cape over my clothes. She wheeled me effortlessly over to a porcelain sink on the side of the room that held shelves of European-manufactured hair products. I did not recognize the names. Lisa gently leaned the chair back and wet my hair with a quiet spray of warm water. The cold spray at Flo’s usually shocks me awake and the sound of water is so loud in my ears that I can’t hear Flo’s questions. Lisa’s shampoo was more like a head massage with pleasantly-scented suds that she expertly rinsed. She applied another lotion that she deftly massaged into my scalp and temples before rinsing. My head was swathed in a cushy wrap and she rolled me back in front of a triple-mirrored vanity. Lisa asked me to lay back on a headrest that magically appeared and she wrapped my hands in eucalyptus-scented warm hand towels. She murmured quietly that Monsieur “would be right in.”
As the hand wraps started to cool, the man of the hour entered and raised the light level for his work. Barney smiled, introduced himself, and my nerves relaxed. Barney was decidedly not French, not even European. His hair was a little longish at the back and his eyes were brilliant green. He removed the hand and hair wrap and combed out my hair. He massaged the back of my neck with strong fingers and asked me about my “hair routine.” I wasn’t sure how to answer. I told him how often I washed and had my hair set. Barney asked about the reason for my visit. It took me a couple of seconds to answer, but I told him about my hair issues as if he was my hair therapist. He nodded but didn’t reply. He picked up a pair of scissors and began to cut. He didn’t cut very much off before he squirted some potion into his hands and swirled it through my hair. He placed the largest set of curlers I have ever seen in my hair, rolled a bonnet dryer over to the chair, dimmed the lights, and stepped out. I wanted to light up a cigarette but wasn’t sure of the combustibility factor with the chemicals in the room. Fifteen minutes later, Barney returned, delicately released the curlers from my hair, fluffed the waves with his fingers, and sprayed my hair. Gentle waves flowed from my head. It was quite a sight. I shook my head and marveled at the results. I’m sure that my face showed some shocked disbelief, because Barney sat quietly on a stool nearby with a pleased smile. It must be satisfying to make people look better for a living. Barney tapped out two cigarettes and offered me one. Not my brand, but I thanked him and let him light it for me. I couldn’t remember the last time that a man lit my cigarette for me and it seemed very gallant. We both sat quietly admiring my reflection in the mirror.
I thanked Barney for the cut and set and stopped at lovely Lisa’s desk to settle the bill. Lisa looked up and smiled genuinely at my new hairdo. I paid for my services and handed Lisa her tip also. She gave me Barney’s card with the coveted appointment number and told me to call anytime. I left but found myself brazenly checking out my reflection in the store windows while walking back to the car. I even stopped in the dress shop to pick up something new. This good hair feeling had an unexpected effect on me. I suddenly realized that I needed to do a little bit better maintenance on myself. I deserved it too.
Steve was very appreciative of my new do when he came home from work. He had a look on his face that I remembered from those early courting days when he looked just at me and didn’t seem to be lost in the thousand other thoughts that enter his head now. I thought the special moment was over when he asked about what I had made for dinner. I reminded him that the kids were both having dinner with their friends. He turned back to me, asked me “if I was busy,” and offered to take me out on a date. This hairdo had an effect on everyone! After dinner we shared a delicious dessert that gave me some inspiration for a version that I could make at home. We both sat back and I searched through my purse for my cigarettes. Steve gallantly leaned over from his seat and flicked his lighter to light it. I decided that there must be something in the hair product chemicals that produces this effect. I might have to switch brands.