Next to her gynecologist, a woman’s hairstylist knows her most intimately. This stylist knows that the woman has a cowlick that must be gelled to stay down, knows her true hair color, and knows how many gray hairs she really has. As they become better acquainted, the stylist also knows the details of the woman’s last visit to her gynecologist.
When I moved to Nashville over four years ago, my most critical need was a haircut and highlights. I finally got up the nerve to call a recommended salon and ask about stylists and prices. Having lived in Florence, Alabama for twenty-two years, I didn’t know that some salons in the big city have price tiers depending on the level of experience of the stylist. After some negotiations, I got an appointment with someone who could meet my immediate needs without having to empty my IRA (services also cost more in the city). That relationship continued until the end of this summer when my stylist quit her job, moved to Germany, and now works in a brew/pub.
A Google search and agonizing debatelanded me in a salon close to home. I made an appointment with a new stylist to meet my most pressing needs: a haircut and highlights.
This stylist must be all of twenty-two, has a nose loop, and a tattoo on the inner part of her lower arm. As much as I tried to read it without acting like the snooty old woman that I am, I couldn’t make it out. But I do know that it’s in script.
Things went well with the cut. And things went well when she put the foils in my hair for highlights. Things turned bad when she left me alone for my hair to process. The salon area is floor-to-ceiling mirrors with lots of natural light.
I looked in the mirror and first thought, I don’t look bad for someone my age. Then, I saw it – the undeniable mark of a ventriloquist’s dummy. Just like the dummy, my chin is flanked by deep depressions that start from the corners of my mouth and fade out of sight into my other chin. That’s the part that moves when the dummy speaks during the ventriloquist’s act. I could sit on Edgar Bergen’s lap and play Charlie McCarthy or Mortimer Snerd. Or I could be Howdy Doody, if you can mistake age spots for freckles.
I looked around the salon and didn’t see anyone else that had the dummy chin. “Let’s Make a Deal” was on the television behind me, and I didn’t see anyone on that show with a dummy chin.
And you know those “parentheses” that one of the skincare advertisements warn you against? Mine sag enough so that the total picture from the bridge of my nose to my other chin looks like the branches of the Christmas tree Parisian used in its ads several years ago.
Maybe I should keep looking for a new hairstylist – one whose mirrors and lights are more flattering.