For reasons which will become obvious as this story progresses I’m using fictitious names to protect and preserve the relationship my wife and one of her girlfriends have with their hairdressers.
Last week my wife, I’ll call her “Sue,” and I were out with our good friends, “Allen” and “Ellen.” I should point out that Allen isn’t worried about preserving a relationship with his barber because all their relationship consists of is “cut hair and pay bill,” but to avoid any risk of Ellen being identified by her hairdresser through the use of Allen’s real name I’ll stick with an alias for him too.
We were riding along in the car when Sue reached over and touched my knee, then gave me a little wink and said, “Ray, you need a haircut.” (Note: I hope the editor remembers to use the photo I provided to use with the penname I’m using for this column, Ray Charles. Using a penname will help protect Sue’s true identity; plus, unlike Allen, I am concerned about protecting the relationship I have with my hairdresser – a point I will return to later.)
Getting back to the story – I smiled back at Sue and replied, “Okay, I’ll call her later today.”
Then Sue said to me, “When we stop I want you to use your phone to take a picture of the back of Ellen’s head so I can show it to my hairdresser” (Let’s call Sue’s hairdresser, Martha). “I really like the way Ellen’s hair is done and I want Martha to do mine like that.”
“Why don’t you just… ,” but before I could finish my comment Sue interrupted and asked Ellen, “Who does your hair, Ellen?”
Ellen replied, “Her name is Patti” (a suitable alias for Ellen’s hairdresser.) Ellen went on to explain how much she loves Patti, where her salon is located, the reasonableness of her fees, how many children she has, which schools they attend, plus a litany of other personal information about Patti that I would have expected only her husband, or possibly her psychiatrist, would have known.
This was followed by Sue providing a similar life profile about Martha – 30ish, cute, petite, secret tattoo, boyfriend’s occupation, and so on. Sue and Ellen spent the next half hour exchanging additional information about Martha and Patti’s lives, and the nuances of their professional skills, including a detailed discussion about how well Patti does the back of Ellen’s hair.
Okay, I admit Sue and Ellen’s conversation didn’t really last a full half hour, but it was long enough for Allen to doze off. As the designated driver I didn’t have that luxury so I patiently waited for a pause in their conversation, thinking I might be able to change the subject. But when the opportunity finally arrived I foolishly repeated my earlier unfinished comment, “Why don’t you just have Patti do your hair?” I suggested to Sue.
You’d have thought I had just suggested that Sue commit an unpardonable sin, and apparently I had because Sue and Ellen both let out a gasp that was so deep and lasted so long I thought they were both going to pass out.
Their gasping sounds awakened Allen and I was about to pull over so he and I could begin mouth to mouth resuscitation (on Sue and Ellen, not each other) when, thank heavens, both ladies started breathing again.
Sue finally caught her breath enough to speak, “Oh, I could never do that. Martha would take one look at the back of my head and know someone else had done my hair. I could never do that to her.”
And with much approbation Ellen chimed in agreeing that she too would never do such a thing to Patti.
Sue looked at me and said, “You don’t understand the relationship between women and their hairdressers. It’s entirely different than a man going to the barber for a haircut.”
I won’t try to repeat all that was said in the lecture that ensued, but here is the gist of it. As it turns out a woman’s hairdresser is something akin to a genetic mutation of her mother, sister, best female friend, therapist, and Hairdressius, the Goddess of Sacred Secrets.
What surprised me even more was learning that the symbiotic relationship between a woman and her hairdresser has more to do with the communication that occurs during that sacred hour a woman occupies her hairdresser’s chair than the actual styling of the hair.
The secrecy of the communication that transpires during this sacred hour is not unlike the secret communication that occurs within the inner sanctum at a meeting of the Royal Order of Freemason, even though their conversation is only about the pancake breakfast to be served on Saturday morning.
By the time Sue had completed her lecture – with a few amens interspersed by Ellen – we had arrived at our destination. As instructed, I took a picture of the back of Ellen’s head, capturing the living sculpture of Patti’s handiwork, which I later printed for Sue to take to Martha to replicate on the back of Sue’s head.
Well, that is the end of the story, except I did mention I would return to the subject of the relationship I have with my hairdresser.
The truth is we are having an affair. Our relationship started out innocently enough but one thing led to another and…well…, it happened liked this.
After retiring a little over a year ago I decided I could save a few dollars by having a lady cut my hair that does so in her home. The first couple of times she cut my hair were routine but on the third occasion I thought I felt her softly blowing on the back of my neck. At first I thought she was just blowing some hairs off my neck, but then I felt her lips press against my neck and she suggested I take my shirt off to avoid getting hair on it. Well, to move this along, I wound up staying the night and she quit charging me for haircuts.
I hope you can understand this is a relationship I want to preserve. As to her identity I’ll just say, “Only my hairdresser knows for sure.”
George Brown is a freelance writer. He lives in Jackson Township.