What Price, Ambiance?
Sometimes, we do quite well. Other times, depending upon various disasters that might strike; car broke down, cat needed surgery, the water heater blew up....we eat nutritionally bereft boxed food the last couple days until payday.
Needless to say, we do not spend lavishly. Or at least not unless we've budgeted for it and cut corners elsewhere. Or, we experience some kind of financial windfall, which has happened exactly once. Ah, the memories. We took a killer vacation, the likes of which we won't see for some time to come.
But there are some things about which I am uncompromising. One of those things is hair care.
My Mom was a "cosmetologist" for 40 years. She taught me that you get what you pay for when it comes to products and services in regard to all things hair.
She told me that $12 chain salons are the dumping grounds for those freshly graduated from beauty school, and those too inept to pass muster in a real salon. A risky prospect either way.
I learned the hard way after leaving home and moving too far away to prevail upon her skills, that she was absolutely correct.
Other things she told me that I ignored only to later learn that mother really does know best:
~You don't need to wash your hair every day. It strips the natural oils and leads to dry brittle hair that will break and frizz.
~Don't perm and color. Choose one. Doing both will cause a very scarecrow-esque effect.
~Don't use heat implements every day. See above.
~Don't use cheap shampoo. They are full of oils and fillers that will build up and dull your hair.
~Always tip a good stylist. If you don't, she will mysteriously be unavailable every time you try to make an appointment.
~If you're not happy, go back. Either make them fix it, or demand a refund. Hair is serious business, and a salon needs to know if one of their stylists is consistently making customers unhappy.
~It's worth it to pay more for a stylist who understands your hair and who will be honest about what works and what looks good.
It's advice that has served me well over the years. Truthfully, I'm very vain about my hair. It's thick and shiny, and though I wish it weren't so stick straight, I consider it one of my greatest assets.
Now that I've learned to love my hair as it is and have embraced a style that works with my hair type instead of trying to wrestle it into something it's not...I'm happy with it.
The problem is, I've become a bit of a salon snob.
Because my hair is so very, very straight, (see profile pic) I need a razor cut. If my hair is cut with a shears; regardless of the skill with which it is wielded, every little snip shows, and I look as if someone went at me with a machete. It's hard to find someone who can do a good razor cut, and usually, these holy grail stylists can only be found at high end salons.
So that's where I've been going for the past five years or so. I found a lovely little Day Spa near my house, and a stylist there who is more than just a stylist...she's an artiste. Truly.
And also...the ambiance is amazing.
They don't allow children under twelve. I feel for those of you with little ones, I really do. But it makes the place so very, very quiet. That is something that cannot be said of my own home. It is tastefully decorated in soothing tones. Again, not something that applies to my home, which is still sporting wallpaper circa 1985. Teal is not a hue that inspires tranquility. Particularly when paired with Pepto Bismol pink.
At this salon, someone serves me a beverage of my choosing while I wait, out of a crystal goblet. The chairs in the waiting area are big and plush, and there is a plethora of current magazines. On a nearby buffet table is an assortment of expensive looking confections, beautifully arranged on a china platter. The napkins are linen.
Unfortunately, at $55 for a simple wash and cut, ($15 more if you want a blow dry and style, which I usually don't, but would be nice once in a while) I cannot afford to go there more often than every six months or so. Since I wear my hair chin length, and because my hair grows ridiculously fast, that means I am left looking somewhat begraddled for approximately four and a half months.
I haven't had my hair cut since May, and this week, I have cursed a blue steak every single day as I tried to tame my long, thick, and now decidedly unruly mop into some semblance of a style, before resorting to an untidy and unflattering updo, secured by a plastic clip.
Something had to be done, fast.
But we are b to the r to the o.k.e. thanks to the cost of gas, husband's ridiculous commute, and some home improvement expenses, which, though less than we feared, still put a strain on our already tight budget.
I bit the bullett and went to Great Clips.
There were three stylists, and I hoped like crazy that I would get the gay guy. Say what you will about stereotypes, but gay guys are always the very best hairdressers. I don't know why. They just are.
Unfortunately for me, it was senior day, and apparently, the gay guy was the only one who knew how to do an old fashioned wash, set and comb out. The blue hairs were lined up patiently waiting for his attendance. I've never seen so many pairs of sup hose and orthotic shoes in my life.
I just knew I was going to get the gal with the stringy, mousy brown girl mullet, and sure enough, I did. I don't mind telling you, I was nervous.
That's another thing my Mom taught me. Never go to a stylist whose own hair looks atrocious. Her words were ringing in my ears as the woman swathed me in vinyl and inquired as to what I wanted.
"TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE AND GO TO RAVEN LOCHE"
I was screaming, but nobody could hear me.
Instead, I politely told her,
"I wear it chin length, slightly stacked in the back, angled forward just a little bit."
She nodded and got down to business.
When she picked up a traditional hair cutting shears, I cringed.
But as I watched her, I figured out pretty quickly that she knew what she was doing. She was quick and sure and competent. She pulled pieces forward to check for levelness. She parted this way and that to ensure a symetrical cut. She criticized my beloved artiste's work, by puzzling over some layers that were uneven and unnecessary.
"Did she part your hair on the side when she cut it?" she asked, frowning.
I really had no idea. I had been too busy sipping Dr. Pepper out of a Mikasa goblet and nibbling ladyfingers, wholly entrusting the integrity of my head to the artiste.
"Well she must not have. These layers are completely uneven. But if I part your hair in the middle, they match up."
What? My expensive, chi-chi artiste had ERRED? Unthinkable.
"They really don't make sense either, since all of your structure is in the back and the front needs fluidity. I don't know why she would have put them here."
Why indeed, oh artiste.
When she was finished, I was, quite frankly, astounded. The cut was PERFECT. Not too long, not too short. The stacking in the back was shapely, but not too obvious. The angle sloped gently toward my face, giving my hair motion without being too severe.
And all that for fourteen bucks. Fourteen. Bucks.
Now, nobody served me anything. There wasn't even a water fountain. The chairs in the waiting area were melamine, and the decor was very...industrial, and, erm...budget conscious. This trip was not a treat for the senses.
But I got a killer haircut for fourteen bucks!
I gave her a big fat tip. Oh yes I did. Cause I'm no dummy. And even then, it was less than half what I paid at the other place.
Sometimes, you get what you pay for and then some.
Who needs ambiance anyway?
Also, a big thanks to Mrs. Chicky for nominating this post for an ROFL Award. I'm not consistently funny. I wish I was. So I consider this a real feather in my cap.
Click the button to check out all the nominees. That's some funny stuff right there, I don't care who y'are.