Sometimes my trivial traumas become even less significant when I am awakened to the turmoil of someone else. In this instances, my bad hair takes a backseat to my reportedly bad hair stylist.
First, the hair. It is more important to me than it should be. I’ve blogged about it before. Rational or not, I feel it is my best physical asset. If I ever come down with male pattern baldness, I’ll be staying up late each night, calling 1-800 numbers for every Miracle Gro hair product that exists. Sell me hope and I’ll buy it.
When a stylist successfully cleans up my overgrown Medusa look, I feel a strong attachment to her. If I ever win the lottery—come on, I’m overdue!—having a professional pop by the house each morning to skilfully apply the styling putty will be my first expense. I kid not. It’s all documented in my Lottery file.
Today I had a hair appointment. I’d been looking forward to it and worrying about it all week. Whenever I looked in the mirror, I appeared disturbingly old, tired, even sad. While I realize a haircut can’t cure all that, slapping on some dye to cover the grey sideburns always helps. Taming the curls gives me a confidence boost, too. And today’s appointment included blond highlights as well.
The highlights happen twice a year. I scheduled the makeover earlier than usual because I need a greater boost and an instant injection of relative youthfulness. I am heading to Los Angeles to participate in a simulated TV sitcom writers’ room under the direction of a writer whose credits include “M*A*S*H”, “Cheers”, “Frasier” and “Everybody Loves Raymond”. My ability to work with the group, brainstorm amusing scenarios and craft witty dialog should be scrutinized more than my Larry Hagman eyebrows and my pronounced forehead lines; however, much of Hollywood, even regarding behind the scenes talent, is about appearances. I have heard from many that ageism goes unchecked in script writing, particularly in television.
I didn’t get my customary call yesterday, reminding me of my appointment. Unsure of my exact time, I wrote a note asking for my stylist to call me, grabbed a roll of tape and drove to the salon. As I pulled up, there was already a note on the door. It relates to what I’ve been worrying about.
“The salon will be closed indefinitely.”
I wasn’t surprised, but disappointed. (Alas, I head to L.A. with my tired, greying Flock of Seagulls look intact.) More than that, I am even more worried. And here is here my trivial hair matters no longer matter at all.
Back in July, my stylist got arrested. The charge: possession of child porn. The report in the paper included a quote from her, saying that a house guest or someone else getting into her wireless network must have accessed the offending material.
In the three appointments I have had since the arrest, my stylist openly shared her fears and the ordeal she has gone through. Glares in the grocery store. Cancelled appointments. Other stylists defecting to other salons. Every court appearance, however brief, includes a hefty fee for the lawyer. The prosecution wants to make a bigger case of the situation since it is so rare to have child porn charges against a woman. She is experiencing a hellish nightmare with no clear end.
During our appointments, I have listened supportively. I have never given a look or made a remark to question her involvement. Innocent until proven guilty, right?
But then an additional heinous charge was added during an October court appearance, as reported by the newspaper. I cannot imagine her involvement in any of the allegations (which are not fully described due to a publication ban). The situation gets darker, the hope of restoring one’s life fades. I want to be supportive, to provide a hug and a look to say, “Hang in there. Stay strong.”
But what if it’s all true? How well do I really know her? What do you do when everything you sense about a person is rocked by reprehensible criminal charges? How would anyone know who is involved with child porn? Surely, there aren’t visible signs. As we go about our daily lives, our internet habits are unknown to the people we encounter. If I didn’t confess it, you would never know that I spend too much time surfing Entertainment Weekly online.
So many times I’ve watched newscasts and read news articles in which friends and neighbors talk fondly about people accused of shocking acts. “He’s the nicest person. Always waves when picking up his mail.” How do you shift your opinion about someone when a sinister suspicion gets thrust in your head?
Indeed, what if the charges are proven? If I ever see my stylist again, do I shun her? Pretend I don’t see her? Jeer? I really do not know. I sense that the sadness I feel right now will only deepen. However, nothing changes about my interactions with her over the past six years. We have shared so many jokes and commiserated about the isolation we feel here as single people creeping toward forty and, for me, fifty. She is one of the few people to truly understand my lingering sorrow from when my dog died last year. She is one of the only people around here who knows I am gay. There is goodness in her. Indeed the person I know is someone who deserves support. Even good people can do terrible things.
I will carry my hair woes with me through the week, yet I am reminded how truly superficial the concerns are. I am far more distressed by the judgments my stylist must endure. I have no doubt she has left this small town to be with her parents, one of whom is terminally ill.
Life is so much easier when it is only the grey hairs that give you grey hairs.