I always enjoy going to get my hair cut – but likely not for the reasons you may think.
Although I adore my fabulous hairstylist and champion colorist, Katie (who is guiding me through the just-started process of letting my for-years-dyed-brown hair go “natural” – a story for another blog post – although if you see me on the street and notice my blindingly obvious rapidly-growing-in white/gray roots, do feel free NOT to comment) –
Wait, where was I?
Ah, yes, I was talking about one of the reasons I like going to the hair salon.
Because of the excellent eavesdropping opportunities!!
NOTE to the wise: I have very good hearing – and if you are sitting next to me at a restaurant, on a plane or at the hair salon – I will be able to listen to your conversation. Apologies in advance.
There are often some wonderful tidbits of life to be over-heard. That perhaps will make their way into this blog in a slightly-disguised fashion – or into a piece of fiction that I write (this fall I am taking a graduate school class on “Techniques of Fiction”).
Yesterday at the hair salon a woman came to sit in the next chair who looked familiar. I glanced her way several times and realized that yes, she was the wife of a lawyer with whom I once worked. Or more accurately, for whom I once worked. Because I knew her – although I’m pretty sure she had no idea who I was – I tried my hardest NOT to over-hear her conversation with her stylist.
I learned (not to my surprise) that Lawyer Wife (a) is still happily married, (b) travels to nice places (c) has adult kids doing well and (d) has grandchildren.
Lawyer Wife wasn’t bragging or being snobby about her contented-sounding-life. You probably also know people who, from the outside anyway, seem to have fewer problems than the rest of us.
After Lawyer Wife’s hair was finished, she left the salon. I was not yet done because trying to go from having dyed hair to letting the white/gray grow in is a more arduous process than I had realized. Involving significant use of those crispily-irritating, little silver foil squares to highlight the few non-white/gray strands that are left to make the quickly multiplying white/gray strands less noticeable. If you have questions about this process, let me refer you to Katie.
The woman who followed Lawyer Wife into the chair next to me, let’s call her Attractive Middle-Age-Woman – started to tell a story to her stylist about one of her adult kids, or maybe it was about a niece or nephew. Sadly, I couldn’t quite hear every word of Attractive Middle-Age Woman because as she began to talk, my own hair was being blow dried, which hindered my ability to eavesdrop.
(I did briefly think of asking Katie to put her blow-drying of my hair on pause so I could better follow the interesting conversation of Attractive Middle-Age Woman, but decided not to do so, knowing that Katie, quite the stickler for salon etiquette, would not be amused by my request. And I like to keep Katie amused.)
From what I could hear above the noise of the loud blow-dryer:
The adult child that Attractive Middle-Age Woman was discussing had “issues” – he or she was troubled, a source of distress to her family. Another member of the family kept asking questions of Attractive Middle-Age Woman about the troubled adult child which her mother was reluctant to answer. This member of the family was rather persistent, she kept “probing for pain” (as a psychologist I once heard at a lecture describe it.) Finally the mother of the troubled adult child told the other family member to stop asking questions, explaining something like this:
“She’s like Syria, get it? A messy situation of long-standing. Lots of conflicts, brief flare-ups of peace, but mostly ups and downs. Too many factions involved trying to figure it out who don’t have effective solutions. And it continues on and on. Painful. Sometimes I don’t want to be asked or talk about it. It’s hard enough to have to live through the situation without being asked questions that have no good answers.”
At this point, Katie had stopped blow-drying my hair and was applying the finishing touches, whirling me around in my chair so I could admire her lovely results. I had no choice but to pay the bill and leave the salon so did not get to hear the finale of the Attractive Middle-Age Woman’s conversation.
But wow, how I identified with her analogy of her adult child’s situation to a constantly war-torn nation.
There are times when I do feel like talking about the young-ish adult in our family who causes us major concerns, and other times when I get angry if family and friends do not ask questions – and do not offer to help — but there are also many, many times when I don’t want to answer any questions! Similar to the ongoing conflict in Syria, a trickily difficult situation with no clear solutions.
My Message to Attractive Middle-Age Woman:
———if it seemed like I was eavesdropping, yes, I confess I was. But particularly because what you were talking about resonated with me. I so get your analogy to Syria. And likely others do too. It is hard enough to have to “live through it” without having to answer questions.
That is one of the reasons it is so soothing to escape to the hair salon. To have your head ministered to by hair wizards like Katie. To try to forget all about your Syria while your hair is being washed and your head massaged. To admire the results and have people tell you as you are leaving how good your hair looks.
A brief and welcome respite.
Which is (one of the reasons) why I like going to the hair salon.