Saturday, December 5, 2009

Who knew this was an S & M hair salon?

In honor of my birthday last week I decided to dedicate a little time to beauty. Nothing crazy, just what I’d call light grooming -- a mani/pedi and half a head of highlights.

When you’ve had two kids and have forfeited the joys of heavy drinking, smoking, drug use and casual sex, well, there’s not to many ways to get your kicks anymore. The occasional piece of chocolate cake or double espresso, maybe a Claritin D once in a while – and every so often, getting your hair washed at the salon. There’s nothing like getting your hair washed in a special sink devised to insure your comfort. Luxury! Relaxation! I, for one, think its absolutely sublime to have someone wash my hair, and that’s what I remind my kids of this whenever I’m shampooing them and they’re whining and crying and batting my hand away.

But on this particular occasion at the salon, I was in for a little surprise because I was assigned to a Rose, the Rough Hair-Handler. Rose greeted me at the front desk and introduced herself as colorist’s assistant (now is the part in the story where you find out that I get my hair done at a fancy salon that I can not afford, where everyone employed has an assistant. Even the coat check girl has an assistant and if that isn’t a one-person job, I don’t know what it.) As colorist’s assistant, Rose is expected to do things like fetch the clients green tea and magazines, hand the colorist foils, and set the timer which keeps track of how long the peroxide has been in my hair. But the most important responsibility, by far, is the washing of the processed hair.

By the looks of her, Rose would be a gentle and careful hair-washer, the kind that gave you an extra-long cranial massage and made absolutely sure the water temperature was just right. She had long, wavy brown hair, a round face and freckles – in other words, the kind of sweet, homespun girl who belonged on a prairie somewhere, not in the rat race.

Oh, but how misled I was. Because the hair-washing Rose gave me was as close to S and M as I’ve yet to get. First the scalding, steaming water on the scalp. And I don’t like to make trouble, see, so I tried to withstand the heat but finally I had to ask, meekly, if she couldn’t make it a little colder. Then I was treated to an ice-bath, and after that I didn’t dare complain.

But the water temperature was the least of it. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear it was the Yeti washing my hair. The girl had hands like a lumberjack. She yanking my hair and flung strands of it to and fro, rubbing and scrubbing like she was a crazy evangelical and I was a sinner she had to purify. Then she doused my entire upper face with the nozzle of water. Thankfully, she kept the water above my nose or I could have made a case it was

borderline water torture.

And that was BEFORE the mandated fancy-salon cranial massage.

When I sat up, my mascara was running, and my neck, shoulders and ears were absolutely coated in conditioner.

“Oooooh the color looks great!” she exclaimed with a smile as sweet as anything,” Do you want a blow out?”

“NO!” I cried.

God knows what the girl could do with a blow drier.