I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. Actually, I take that back. I mostly have always hated it. It’s fine, it’s thin(ning), and it always seems to want to do what it wants do. Namely, fall straight in front of my face.
I always had dreams of my hair looking like this:
(For you young folk, that’s Jaclyn Smith as Kelly Garrett, one of the original Charlie’s Angels)
Instead, my hair usually ended up looking like this:
So what’s a girl to do?
I learned the secret way back in 1995 when my friend Penny finally convinced me to go to her expensive salon in downtown Cleveland. I spent $40 on a haircut. WHAT?!? That was a lot of money back then and kind of is now too. It was a fru-fru place that had me put on a robe before I even got my hair cut.
And when I came out? MAGICAL.
I looked and felt so much better. My hair laid the way I always knew it was meant to lay. I knew right then and there that I would never set foot in the Hair Cuttery ever again.
(some of my best and worst hair through the decades)
Since that time, I am willing to pay for good hair. Shortly after my fabuloso haircut, I moved from Cleveland to Raleigh and was forced to find a good hair stylist. I found one and loved what she did to my hair. And then that fool girl up and moved so she could get married.
I moved around a bit always thinking that a good salon was an automatic guarantee of a good stylist. Not so, my friend. Just because you pay a lot doesn’t mean you get a lot.
I finally settled on a stylist recommended by a few people at work. His name was Ajido and I affectionately referred to him as the Hair Nazi. He had rules.
You can’t be late. Ever.
If he doesn’t like your attitude, he’ll refuse you as a client.
If you want something done to your hair that he doesn’t approve of, he won’t do it.
And did I tell you about the ego? He bragged about how he was a stylist in Paris for years. And he loved to tell me the story of the woman who’s daughter dyed her hair pink for the holidays. Somehow she expected to be able to wash it right out and return to her beautiful blond. Ajido told me she went to four different stylists and none of them could help her until… him. When he was finished and had successfully returned her hair to blond, he was sure to tell her that only two people could ever pull off that feat, “Me and Jesus.”
Oh yes, he was a character. Why did I put with it for four years? Because he really was that good. His coloring skills were amazing and my hair always looked fabulous. But it always looked the way he wanted it to look. Usually shorter (he said my face was too long for long hair) and with blond highlights. I think it looked good but after a while I just wanted something different. And if I was paying $50 for a haircut, I wanted to get it.
It wasn’t until he whispered in my ear one day that his prices had gone up to $65 per haircut that I knew our relationship was over.
I got laid off. I let my hair grow out. And I dyed it dark brown by myself AT HOME. I hope he never finds out.
After a while, I realized that I do still need hair maintenance. And then I found Michelle. My friend Jenna (whose hair I have always adored) convinced me to drive all the way out to the middle of nowhere (in my terms anyway) to a little salon in Johnston County (if you’re from this area, you can insert a Johnston County joke here).
I walked into the salon and as I was waiting to meet the specific stylist that Jenna uses, I was terrified. There were old ladies in there to get their short, permed ‘dos. There were firemen coming in for their buzzcuts. And even the sylists were saying things like “It’s fixin’ to storm. I better go get me some sweet tea.”
I’m exaggerating that last part but the stylists were definitely southern and definitely not my style.
Then Michelle walked out with tattoos on her arms, wearing a black apron, and really cute shoes. And I loved her hair. Since then, she’s taken care of me. I give her a little guidance and he exceeds my expectations. Some days, when I’m feeling dangerous, I tell her to just do what she wants. But short and blond are never in the cards.
As I hope and pray there is a move in the cards for us this year, I also stress about my hair. Who will understand my complicated history? Who will know exactly how to deal with my lovely thinning locks? I’m thinking I might have to make a quarterly visit back to Raleigh (well, Johnston County) to maintain my mane.