It was a Thursday night when he told me he was leaving. We’d been together for twenty-five years. Yes, I’ve strayed a few times, but he didn’t care if I cheated on him.
“What’s the point of living!” I thought to myself, but I didn’t cry. I did my best to sound happy that he was moving on. He wasn’t going until July after all, so I still had time to get used to the idea.
It was on that sad night that my long-time hairstylist broke the news he was retiring.
He tried to cheer me up, telling me about his plans to spend time overseas and in Boca Raton “where old hairdressers go to die.”
It might sound melodramatic, but Joan Crawford was right when she said, “I think that the most important thing a woman can have - next to talent, of course - is her hairdresser.”
He tends to my needs without complaint and without being offended as I list my demands. “I need this thinned.” “I don’t like how the sides are.” “Flip the curl under instead of up.” Plus, he knows to trim my bangs so I’m not puffing air out of the corner of my mouth to keep them away from my eyes. “I’ll trim those so you don’t complain,” he quipped. I’m going to miss that sass.
I’ll miss the comfort and trust we developed over the last couple decades. All I needed to tell him is what length I felt like. He instinctively knows my hair texture and what color it should be.
A Mary Kay representative once told me that if you go a year without receiving a compliment on your hair, it’s time to replace your beautician. When I guiltily explained my brief dalliance with another stylist, he dismissed it. “I don’t shop at the same grocery store every time, so I don’t expect clients to come to me for their hair every time.”
I found this hair artisan in the mid-90’s when I admired several coworker’s chic styles. They all went to the a hairdresser by the name of Randy. So, I did too.
On my first visit, I passed a lady exiting the beauty shop. The sun’s reflection off the mane of her perfectly coifed auburn hair was like a beacon to me. I thought, “I’m home!”
Randy made eye-to-hair contact before eye-to-eye contact as he greeted me with, “Oh good, my next victim!” I knew I was dealing with someone who marched to the beat of his own scissors.
I went to my first appointment armed with pictures. He shot most of them down. “No. No! Mmmm…possibly,” and finally, “We can do this one.” It was definitely brutal honesty and tough love when he added, “And by the way, any hairdo looks better with more stylish glasses.”
He became my coach and cheerleader, encouraging me to explore every length from super-short to shoulder-length. I’ve been light brown, dark brown and shades of red. Last fall when I was rockin’ a patch of gray over my left eye in a Bonnie Raitt kind of way, he was able to tame it when I decided I was over that look. “Two appointments!” he said. “That’s all a color change ever lasts before you change your mind!”
Doctors, dentists, mechanics – they all retired at some point and I’ve always found replacements. I suppose I will reluctantly have to do the same for my hairdresser. I’ll have to let him go and be content with the clippings he’s left behind on my soul.
Clear skies and tailwinds, my shearing friend, as you cross the Pond to enjoy the relaxing life that is long overdue. I mean that, from the bottom of my heart to the top of my red-tipped, ombre head.