When my stylist unexpectedly shut down her salon, I had to dive back into the frightening abyss of unknown cutters. I Googled salons for an hour and a half, reaching dead ends with stylists booking three months from now and establishments that required me to register online with yet another password to memorize (eight characters, including at least one number, two punctuation marks and an optional bouncing emoticon) only to take me to a screen indicating the online booking system was experiencing technical difficulties. It was looking like I might have to be a walk-in at a place wafting with Old Spice where the choice is buzz cut or full noggin shave.
Eventually I did find a salon in Vancouver’s trendy Yaletown. I phoned and a live person answered. I begged for a cut and highlights any evening this week. I should have seen the openings as a clear sign that the salon was not as exclusive as its highly stylized website suggested. Instead, I was simply relieved, knowing someone could tame my tangles and give my some youthful California streaks before my trip to L.A.
In arriving for my appointment, I dumped eight bucks in the parking meter for the maximum two-hour period, walked by the salon to case the joint and then entered. The interior met the basic criteria for trendiness: high ceilings, exposed industrial pipes coated in white paint and a New-Age-meets-club-music soundtrack. After I donned a thin black robe that far from flattered me, the receptionist ushered me to a chair by the window for passersby to mock. I fixated on the odd light fixtures at each stylist’s stall, enlarged rhino tusks protruding from the center of each mirror, a clear misstep.
Serious hesitation came when my stylist appeared wearing a paisley vest like I owned in the ‘80s and sporting a bad dye job that made the back of his hair frizzy. Too late. I was in the chair without any hope of a last-minute pardon.
The initial consult caught me off guard. Jed squinted as he stared at my face. Was he lamenting the fact the salon didn’t pre-screen clients with an interview, a video submission and five references? He spoke of my “very long face” and the prominence of gray. Defensively, I almost blurted something about the vest. I didn’t, of course. With all that gray, I am supposed to be older and, yes,...wiser.
Jed lacked the quips of my on-the-lam stylist. Moreover, he lacked basic conversation skills. I sat for an eternity with foil in my hair while flipping through magazines that either documented Lady Gaga’s weight gain or featured black-and-white photo spreads of emaciated models working to put heroin on the table. The images had the unintended effect of making me feel not as bad about my very long face.
After another twenty minutes of hair rinsing, washing, toweling and further goo applications, the first snips occurred. I gazed at the smock covering my lap as gray clippings fell. Where had all the auburn gone?
After a prolonged cutting session, out came the blow dryer and Jed shaped my hair into a bouffant to rival Marge Simpson. Either that or I resembled a 1980s televangelist. While horrified, I wasn’t surprised. What should I have expected from a guy in an ‘80s vest? Moreover, the “subtle” blond highlights I’d requested were too subtle. I couldn’t see any hint of a color change.
At the receptionist’s desk, I forked over my credit card and in a quick swipe I became $230 poorer. I walked to my car, grateful for evenings getting darker sooner due to the time change while cursing the fact I’d have to being the Great Salon Search anew. I discovered more to curse about on my windshield: a parking ticket. In all, a costly lesson from being too Hair Aware.
This is why some people collect baseball caps.