I have the coolest miracle worker in the world.
And by miracle worker, I mean hairdresser. No, stylist. No. High priestess of hair.
Leah, my miracle worker, is the religious equivalent of nirvana in black leggings. Irreverent, ballsy, out-spoken and always smiling, she is the confidante of my inner wildest fantasies – purple hair.
She has given me the hair cut of my dreams – the one I have asked for since I was 23 years old – “Just something that looks great, but that I don’t have to really work on.”
This is not as easy as it appears. For years, I have labored under the delusion that I had to work hours on my face and hair to look like I didn’t have to do anything at all.
But Leah, went one better than that. She gave me a beautiful hair cut, that made me look like I didn’t even curl it AND she made me look cool.
Just before I left for a writers’ workshop in April, I went to Leah. I told her “I want purple highlights in my hair. I want to look like the girl from the Kindle commercials. I want auburn hair with purple in it.”
I wanted to embrace the inner artist in me that I was sure was going to come out at that conference. And I wanted people to remember me, because, in my own head, I am completely forgettable. Did I mention I’m 48, overweight and about as boring fashion-wise as Charlotte from Sex in the City?
Leah didn’t bat an eye.
In fact, she said, “I love it! This is going to be fun.”
I should probably also point out that meeting Leah was the result of having my hair cut only weeks earlier by a 30-something girl who spent most of the time, while she had scissors next to my ears, talking about how awful it was that her ex-roommate told her parents she was dealing drugs out of the trunk of her car and they were threatening to take her car and kick her out of the apartment. She was ready to cut someone, she said.
I smiled and said I understood (even though I couldn’t possibly imagine) praying to the very depths of my soul that I wasn’t the one she decided to cut.
I mean, who says that to someone you’ve only known for 10 minutes and is giving you money for a quality hair cut?
In fact, it wasn’t a quality hair cut, even if my ears did stay in tact.
I didn’t have the guts to tell her how much it sucked. I did, however, decide that I was never going back to Great Clips. For the first time in 20+ years, I decided I needed a REAL hairdresser and wasn’t going to settle for a $12 hair cut anymore.
Just a thought – there’s a reason why some salons use as their slogan “We fix $12 hair cuts.”
And, of course, I turned to Facebook to bitch and to ask for suggestions, and that’s where the kismet began.
I needed a GOOD hairdresser. I needed a Truvy! I needed someone I could trust and someone I could relate to. No way a razor wielding drug dealer was going to cut it anymore. I needed to woman up and find someone special.
My Facebook friends said to call Leah.
Growing up, I had been part of that special woman/hair goddess relationship. I just didn’t think it was that important. Until now. Real women have relationships with their hairdressers.
When I was a much younger girl, every Wednesday night was spent with Dottie, my mother’s hairdresser. We would travel to the mall in Lexington, a full 30-minute drive, for an evening where I would shop and buy nothing, while my Mom sat in the chair and had Dottie do her hair… the same way… every week… for 10 years.
She was the Dottie Lama. My sister, her daughter, my mom, me… we ALL went to her for guidance and forgiveness for our hair sins. She was the ocean of forgiveness, my sister says.
And through those years, my tomboy years, I spent time shopping while my mom spent hours talking to Dottie. I would get bored with the “talk” and wander off to look at little Spanish Flamenco dolls and SuperTramp albums, before rejoining my Mom for dinner at Morrison’s cafeteria. It was a big night out for us.
Dottie did my hair too, occasionally. She gave me my first perm and my first dye job – beach blonde, naturally. She counseled me on how swimming (I was a competitive swimmer back when I wasn’t technically a whale) meant more hair care and how taking care of my hair, even when the chlorine, the work outs and the sun were on the verge of turning it green on a daily basis, would pay off in the long run.
When I got married, we went to Dottie’s salon where she did an up-do and gratefully understood my distaste for big hair.
When people understand the little things about you – like the fact that you’re only inclined to have “big” hair if, say, you’ve been under the influence of whiskey and Diet Coke for the past few days, it really makes life easier.
But Leah,…hmmm. She got those things the minute that I met her.
Leah is my size and my height, and gets my sense of humor, my attitude and my flippant outlook on life. She even cusses like me.
This ain’t no Steel Magnolias. This is more like Iron Roses. In the Truvy’s House of Beauty of Life, we’re both Ouiser. We’re tough. And we’ve got the thorns if you cross us. There are no seven different shades of pink here – we’re seven different textures of black, with a little leather thrown in just to show people not to mess with us.
We talked very little small talk the first time we met. I admit, I was a little nervous cause I was scared she wouldn’t like me and then we’d have nothing to talk about and I’d have to start the search to find someone I could relate to over again… kind of like dating, only with harsher chemicals. But almost immediately, we hit it off.
We talked about purple.
We talked about people.
We talked about not fitting in and how we didn’t care.
Cause women TALK to their hairdressers. We tell them things men can’t imagine… well, actually, it’s more like we talk to them about stuff men don’t care about. Being in a “beauty parlor” or “salon” is the female equivalent of going to the bar and having a few stiff ones and talking to the bartender to unburden our souls. Only hairdressers actually give a crap.
Come to think of it, salons probably would be even more interesting if we had a few glasses of wine while we talked.
Come to think of it, salons probably would be even more interesting if we have a few glasses of wine while we talked.
And yes, we talk about a few stiff ones.
It’s the one place where women can go and it’s all about them.
So, we unload our souls to our hairdressers.
I’ve listened to women talk about their vacation plans and how they were looking forward to having some time alone.
“Hell, I’m looking forward to the bar as much as I’m looking forward to the cruise – nothing like a pina colada or six at sea…while someone else watches the kids.”
I’ve listened to women talk about their husband dallying on Craig’s List looking for “a discreet encounter.”
“Are you worried he will find someone?” someone asks.
“Hell, no. I’m thinking that frees me up for 15 minutes a week” she answered.
Bless me Leah, for I have sinned.
And Leah will never say who said that. She will take those confidences and answer them back. You will tell her your secrets and she will tell you secrets back.
I mean, for God’s sake, the woman knows my real hair color, which is something no one has really known for the past 20+ years.
So she dyed my hair auburn with beautiful streaks of purple and blue and pink in it. It was a Friday afternoon and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And she meticulously placed it in places that she could expertly cover it up with a wisp of hair here, or a curl of locks there.
And much like every beauty parlor I have ever gone to, when I got home I couldn’t replicate it because I am not a girl and I never learned how to do those things.
I had a Dorothy Hamill hair cut when I was 10, for cripes sake, and still managed to screw that up if I didn’t somehow manage to burn the perimeter of my scalp while curling it.
But she did it and it was beautiful and I loved it. I flaunted it. I sent pictures to my friends. I went to the store with it pulled back so the purple showed. I put on sunglasses and ran my fingers through my purple hair to show everyone how cool – again, at 48 and overweight – I was.
Until Sunday afternoon.
When I realized I had to go back to work.
And I had to look like a professional businesswoman.
And eventually, I would have to face my mom.
I was so scared – of both losing my job and of telling Leah – that I went to the store, bought a few boxes of chemicals, stripped it out and spent the next four hours putting dye in my hair to make it a color that looked somewhat close to normal.
When I talked to Leah days later, I explained it all to her. I have to tell you, I was damn close to tears. We had shared dye together. We spent two hours together discussing celebrities and local gossip. We were bonded.
And I had not only ruined her masterpiece, but I also felt I had washed our time together down the drain.
But instead of being mad, she said it was okay and that I needed to come see her. She said we were friends and she would have helped me.
One look from her and I knew everything was okay.
“Honey, you come in after you get back from this workshop. We’ll put some highlights in there somewhere. Cause right now you look normal – and there’s nothing about you that screams normal.
She so gets me.
Soul mates. In hair.
(c) copyright Liz Carey 2014