Hide Your Crazy

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Every hairdresser I’ve ever had was crazy.

It started with Kit. Kit was the live-in girlfriend of a coworker of mine. A sage old soul who could give a gorgeous spiral perm. She had a contagious laugh and a great sense of humor. Until I got a promotion over her girlfriend. Then she harassed and phone-stalked me until I had to have my number changed.

Then there was Helena. Referred to me by a neighbor, Helena initially did a great job on my color and cut. But as we got to know each other, she opened up more and more about her family. Her crazy, dysfunctional family. The stories grew exponentially more bizarre, the latest being when their family Thanksgiving dinner culminated in an argument between in-laws which turned into a food and garden hose fight out in the front yard. Police were called, and arrests were made. To make matters worse, she’d started going rogue on my haircuts. I walked away from my last appointment with an asymmetrical bob, Pippi Longstocking bangs, and a new appreciation for my relatively normal family, in-laws and all.

I tried a lady named Letha whose salon was conveniently located close to my house. I only saw her once. I was getting highlights, and she put me to work. She made me hand her the foils to put in my own hair. I was the client and her personal assistant! She even reprimanded me when I handed her the foils ‘wrong’.

Ruth worked out of a Christian salon, but secretly hated ‘All the bible thumpers around here.’ Her venom was slightly off-putting, but I was desperate at this point. Around my third visit to her, she confessed the reason she always smelled like wood smoke was because she and her children lived in a cabin off the grid. The kids did homework by candlelight. At my fourth appointment, she blithely mentioned she was thinking she might have to break up with her current boyfriend since she found out his family is in the mafia. But she was torn. She knew it wasn’t ideal, as a mother of young children, to date a man who may or may not be directly involved with drugs, prostitution, bribery, extortion and murder. But, alas, he was hot, and the siren song of a crime syndicate was clearly strong. As she put it, “The mafia is so sexy!”

Finally, I found Sela. Sela seemed … normal.

I waited until my fifth appointment to confess how normal I’d found her, that I’d seen nothing but crazy hairdressers for the last twenty years. I told her all the stories, and she laughed and told me all of her customers had said the same thing: she was the only non-crazy hairdresser they’d ever found.

And so, for the next three years I went about my life happy and secure in my choice. I had a talented, professional, non-crazy hairdresser in my employ; a golden ticket to eternally good hair.

But then she dumped her nice, boring, long-term boyfriend, Melvin, and hitched her wagon to Mitch. Mitch was just the greatest, apparently, sweet, sexy, and romantic. She’d vaguely known him from high school, and they’d reconnected through mutual friends. They fell in love super-fast, and since he lived two hours away, near his folks, it was decided he’d move into her condo with her.

A few months later she confessed she was recently awoken in the middle of the night by the police. It seemed Mitch had grabbed her purse in the middle of the night, stole her business ATM/Debit card, withdrew a large chunk of cash, and made a drug buy. Police followed him back to her house to arrest him.

Now she didn’t know what to do. Mainly because it turned out he was a meth addict all along, and she’d had no idea. Secondly, since he’d been bailed out by family on the drug charge, he was back at her condo and refused to leave. His record of address was her condo, so police couldn’t forcibly remove him. I suggested she press charges against him for stealing her debit card and using it, unauthorized, to clean out a large chunk of cash from her business account. Police would then arrest him, and when he was in jail, she could have the locks changed on the condo. That seemed like too much work to her. Maybe he’d just leave on his own, she hoped.

Eventually he got himself arrested again for another drug charge while waiting on his first court date.  She was able to change her locks then. Then he started stalking her. From jail. She got a protective order. Then he was out of jail. Would show up at her condo drunk, in the middle of the night, and berate her through her door, only to leave before police got there. She was pretty sure he wouldn’t show up at the salon and act violent. Hopefully.

I was at a crossroads. I knew I needed to find a new hairdresser. One who made better life choices, and was less likely to have a crazed and vindictive drug-addicted ex show up while I was in her chair.  I was feeling kind of bad about it; she was clearly a victim in this stalking nightmare, but it didn’t mean I had to play Thelma to her Louise.

I’d decided to keep my last pre-booked appointment, and just fade off into the sunset, roots and all. I slid into the chair and she snapped on my cape. She had just sectioned my hair off and started applying color when the salon suite manager dropped by with the mail. Something on the pile caught Sela’s eye. With a softly uttered, “Excuse me one second,” she put down the color brush and bowl, and ripped open the top envelope.

Her eyes bugged out. “Omigod!” she exclaimed, before shoving the letter in my face. “Read this. Tell me it doesn’t say what I think it says.”

I read it, mildly uncomfortable being ordered to read and interpret her personal mail. “It says you failed to pay your premium on time and are currently uninsured.”

“I don’t have insurance? We’ll just see about that!” She grabs up her phone and pounds out a text, while saying to me, “I signed up for a new policy at the end of the year. Sent my check in on time and everything. Now they say I don’t have insurance! Humph!”

She slams her phone down on her rolling cart and starts back on my hair. She’s yanking sections apart smartly and smashing the brush bristles into my scalp like she’s trying to reach my roots at a subdermal level.

She’s shaking her head and muttering to herself.

Her phone chirps; she drops the brush and picks up the phone. “Hmmm. My broker said she’ll take care of it. Not like she did it right the first time!”

Goes back to my hair. More yanking, more stabbing color toward my cerebral cortex.

Every few minutes, she goes back to her phone, pecks in an angry text, returns to me.

I’m feeling less and less bad about my decision to abandon her chair, permanently.

At last, all my touch-up color is applied, and I think Good, now she’ll leave me to sit, and my hair to process, and she’ll go to the breakroom and handle her private business, privately.

But no.

She sits in the dryer chair ten inches across from me and calls her derelict insurance broker, on speakerphone, to berate her. In front of me. I’m trapped. I’m wearing a leopard print cape. My head looks like it has been smeared liberally with grape jelly, the slick purple mess has been smoothed and swirled toward the top of my head. I look like a kewpie doll.

I excuse myself to the bathroom, taking extra time to give Sela the privacy she doesn’t think she needs.

But I come back, and now, from what I can hear on this new speakerphone conversation, she’s on the phone directly with the insurance company. She motions me over to the shampoo bowl to rinse out the color, shampoo, condition, and rinse again. All while she stays on her call. I can’t help but overhear that it’s been determined the root (pun!) cause of the mix-up was a miskey on her date of birth.

She brings her iPhone back to the chair. I follow. I’m guessing she assumes I want no changes from my last haircut; she’s completely involved in giving out all her personal information over speakerphone, while she cuts my hair.

Her home address.

Her date of birth.

Her annual gross income.

Her social security number.

Her history or non-history with cancer, heart disease, diabetes.

What her old premium was. What her new premium will be.

She finally wraps her business up when it’s time to blow my hair dry.

When it comes time to pay she smiles and says, “Sorry about that, Middle.  I probably should have waited to open my mail until I didn’t have a client!”

I say nothing to this, but smile back coolly and hand her my card to pay.

“So,” she says, “you know how I just went up ten percent on my rates?”

“No….”

“Well, I did.”

What? Like, just now? In your head?

She goes on. “But since I was on the phone for your whole appointment with all that insurance mess, I’m gonna knock that ten percent off.”

How… magnanimous of her.

And by the way, I changed the names of all the hairdressers in the telling of this blogpost.

Because, hello, those bitches ladies be crazy.