Let me start by saying I loved my hairdresser. For seven years, she was a faithful and loyal stylist. Let’s call her Rhonda, because if you call her Ronny she goes Sweeney Todd on your head.
Rhonda and I have been together since the early 2000s when she convinced me that maybe it was time to get rid of my Farrah Fawcett hairdo. She told me the curling iron was dead. And she didn’t just cut my hair; she was more like a therapist. We shared medical stories. Showed each other our surgery scars. We read People magazine and questioned why Sheryl Crow ever dated Kid Rock or Lance Armstrong. We were comfortable.
But then things started to slide. Rhonda got more successful and I became a road warrior, spending more time on the highway than I did at home, and, well, I started looking around. It was innocent at first. I was eyeing other people’s up-dos. Their de-frizzed hair. Rhonda started making me wait longer for appointments.
One night I was out of town, alone in a hotel room, and I had an overwhelming urge to get my hair cut. Blame it on bedhead or boredom, but the next day, I found myself in a salon called “Pretentious.” The walls were black and silver and trendy, and the owner was an angry hair barista named Ovid. His face had so many tucks, he looked like either Siegfried or Roy, whichever one was attacked by the tiger.
But boy, Ovid was good. He knew how to use a pair of scissors. From the moment he slung the bib around my neck, I knew we were in for a dynamic and tumultuous ride. He asked daring questions: “Are you dramatic or attractive?” I said, “I’m both,” and he kissed me on the cheek and laughed. He began swinging his paintbrush around my head, madly swishing and swashing colour this way and that. But as he was dolling me up, he was also insulting me, telling me my lipstick was horrid, my clothing colours were all wrong and my last hairdresser sucked. If we had been in a reality show, it would have been called “Hostile Makeover.”
Some people, if attacked by a hair-aorist, would storm out. But not me. No way. In fact, I tipped him more than I normally tipped Rhonda — twenty percent. I also bought products. Lots of wax and glue, straighteners, and volumizers. The more he insulted me, the more attached I got and the more I bought. Why? Because I’m as conceited as the next woman, and when it was over and done with, he made me look fabulous. Everybody said, “MY GOD, WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR HAIR DONE?” (Yes, they said it in capital letters.)
So for the next four months, I snuck around behind Rhonda’s back again and again and again, driving to another city to see Ovid. I couldn’t get enough of the guy, but then he started to get crazy.
In fact, he was dangerous. “Cross your legs again and I’ll cut your ear off like Van Gogh kind- of -dangerous. Talk about temperamental. If I didn’t love what he did, he sulked, and frankly, the cuts and colours were getting crazier with every appointment. The last time I left looking like a skunk.
My friend Lorna, who doesn’t sugarcoat things, lit up a smoke and blew a plume in my direction. (Some call it second-hand smoking. I call it smoking for free.) “It’s your own doggoned fault,” she said. “You cheated on your hairdresser. It’s instant karma. Just add water.”
She was right. And I had to be honest with myself. It wasn’t the first time I’d cheated. The only reason I started seeing Rhonda was because Melissa was out on maternity leave. And to be really, really honest about it, Melissa wasn’t the first service person I had stepped out on. My cleaning lady was the first. I didn’t like the way she did things, so rather than tell her, I brought in the Molly Maids on her off-week. She caught me when she found a dirty Swiffer cloth in the laundry room.
“What’s this?” she accused, veins popping from her neck. “Maybe I was dusting.”
“What kind of fool do you take me for?” she sniped back.
“The kind that wants symphony tickets. Box seats?”
It was then that I realized it was time to stop this behaviour. I had
one more chance to change, to do it right. But what was I going to tell Rhonda? How could I say that I had gone somewhere else? I couldn’t pretend I was a victim of a random drive-by colouring. After all, I looked like Pepé Le Pew.
We started slow. Built trust. I brought her a coffee from Tim’s. I bought cheese from her kids’ school and raffle tickets from her husband’s hockey team.
The first cut was the deepest. I am not mincing words. After my first cutback with Rhonda, I looked a little like Edward Scissorhands had had his way with me. Then, instead of using the usual foils to colour my hair, she inflicted the colouring cap on me. It’s an old-school bathing cap they put on your head, then use crochet hooks to pull strands through microscopic holes, often leaving tears in your eyes and dents in your skull.
Now, Rhonda and I are back together. We have settled once more into a nice routine. That’s not to say I’m not tempted. I walked by Ovid’s shop the other day when I had the occasion to visit his city again. There he was, looking out the window, smiling. It wasn’t because he was happy; he was wearing a chin strap. Must have had a nip and tuck. I considered going back to Ovid. I butt-dialled him late one night, but when I heard his voice, I hung up quickly. A person who went back to that kind of pain would have to have holes in her head.
( A blog from 2013. Originally published in Kingston Life and That Which Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Funnier)
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