I am every husband’s dream. I don’t go to salons. I don’t get pedicures, facials, hand massages, or highlights. The latter term, at least I know has to do with hair. But I thought Lowlights were desk lamps with dim bulbs.
However, for my upcoming 50th birthday, I recently ventured out to get my hair cut. It wasn’t just “Snip, Snip, Snap, that’ll be $19 please.” It was An Event. That’s because I went to a salon (called “Pellegrino’s” with the little fancy French upside-down accent mark shaped like a hat over the “o”) which I could never afford to patronize, if I hadn’t won a gift-card in a raffle drawing.
Even though I had already Killed My Mean Girl (read here if you don’t know!) and gained new confidence, I was still feeling terribly nervous on the day of my appointment, so I dressed in my most trendy attire. I even washed/styled my hair and painted my nails with my 11 year old’s polish. A frumpy, over-the-hill housewife would be laughed out the door, so that meant I couldn’t show up as myself. Believe me when I tell you I went to the salon looking as if I just came from the salon!
(But I also always clean my house before the house-cleaner comes!)
A well-coiffed man with a nametag that read, “Culligan Perrier” opened the door for me. “Right this way, Miss.” Holy cow, was this a Maitre de or the Water Boy?? “I’d like you to make the acquaintance of Mr. Pellegrino,” he announced.
There was an awkward pause and I felt the need to say it, so I did. “You mean Thee Pellegrino?” I drawled, “As in Pellegrino’s hair salon with that cute little accent mark over the ‘o’ ?!!” I pointed excitedly to their sign.
A hushed silence followed, as heads nodded solemnly. He must’ve stopped by the salon on the way to his own wedding, so grooms-like was his tuxedo. I resisted the urge to ask where he was headed on his honeymoon and let him take me by my arm instead.
“Let me start by showing you our Manicurial Engineering Department in the front. And here we have the Colorist Technicians (oh pleeeease, they just dye hair!) and on your right, you’ll notice our own Custom line of quality hair products. Make-up artists have their own studio back here. Artists, Engineers and Technicians stay separate. They never fraternize. On your left are the skin care analytic machines. Ladies and Gentlemen facilities in the rear and our linens get laundered over there.”
What the hell? Was I receiving a haircut or a new employee guided tour?
“Any questions?” Mr. Pellegrino asked.
“Just one. Should I begin with sweeping the floors or answering the phones?” I watched his lips purse into a straight “you are so very humorless” line. Some people are just so touchy.
“Let me take you over to Brita who will be handling all your hair needs today.” Hmmm, Brita was my water filter system back home. My hair didn’t need handling, it needed cutting.
Brita: (hair stare) Hello. I didn’t realize it was so terribly windy out there today. How dreadful.
Me: Huh? Outside? Oh, it’s as calm as my ten year old when I double dose him with Benadryl.
Brita: (harder hair stare) Like I said. . . How dreadful.
Brita then placed me in a waiting chair while she finished blowing her client, (I swear she said this exact wording to me) but first she brought me some water. Someone must have chopped salad fixings near the water pitcher, because my glass had several cucumbers in it. She handed me a People Magazine.
This is what I saw. I swear. Again.
Then a girl who looked like she jumped off a modeling runway came around and offered me a facial while I waited. Certainly a salon of this caliber didn’t use kitty litter. I looked around but didn’t see any eager Siamese cats (or Bengal Tigers!) waiting to pounce on my face to scratch wrinkles off. Still, I wisely declined. She talked me into a massage instead. As she kneaded, pushed and pulled my skin into a different shape, I realized it’d been forever since I baked bread.
It dawned on me that all this time I thought celebrity women wanted for nothing. Certainly not for lavish meals at big events. Imagine my surprise when I read these quotes and realized the abuse going on here.
These poor dear women are being deprived of food. And in this next case, deprived of oxygen too.
Since it was such a long wait, I figured I would quickly pop into the ladies room and make sure my hair didn’t look like it was in too much need of “handling.” Wow, what a shiny bathroom! However I didn’t realize the sinks were motion activated, but I was able to rescue my purse when it was only half-way submerged. I glanced at the soggy tampons and drenched makeup brush – – Oh well, this was a “water” themed salon so my purse would fit right in. Besides, what else would a “fish out of water” carry on her arm?
At long last, the young, flawless Brita came over and purred, “I’m ready for you now.” Then she stared at my purse so I said, “Oh! Am I the first one you’ve seen with the new wet patent leather look?”
I walked over to her station with a graceful flourish, noting with satisfaction that I was garnering a lot of attention. No doubt some real “Lock Envy” going on as the other women got a gander at my “strategically windblown, Rat’s Nest, 80’s hairstyle, which looked not quite as classy as the photo below. Almost, but not quite.
Brita draped a long, black cloth over my clothes and I could sense she was very sorry to have to obscure my Flashdance glittered, one-shouldered sweatshirt. We exchanged tips on haircare and Brita seemed fascinated that I used a proprietary product from the Dollar Store simply named, “Hair Shampoo.” I think the elegance of its minimalism impressed her. That kinda thing is really so very in these days, you know. I was excited to see her reaction when I told her I was also chic enough to use a little special something called, “Hair Conditioner” before leaving the laundry room sink.
They played lots of modern music while Brita “handled” my hair. I didn’t recognize any of the songs, but as soon as “Staying Alive” from Saturday Night Fever came on, the receptionist went to change the station. Probably because she didn’t know how to do the finger pointing hand movement to the disco dance that traditionally accompanied it. So I showed her.
Next, I happened to overhear the woman sitting in the chair next to me, (whispering to her own stylist named Evian?) if this was still an exclusive salon?
I must say that the entire employee staff was extraordinarily considerate about my busy schedule. (See “Busy Stephanie” is just as frazzled as Busy Phillips above!) When I first made my appointment, I mentioned to the receptionist that I needed to pick up my son from school directly afterwards. During my haircut, no less than six people approached me with a reminder, “Shouldn’t you be going now?” So thoughtful.
On my way out, they handed me a referral card for my next haircut. But it was all written in French. I waved, smiling shyly to my new dance partner friend and her assistant (maybe named Sparkletts and Aquafina?) behind the counter, who suddenly both also only spoke French. Strange. “Au revoir! Au revoir!” they happily repeated.
I drove home singing “Frère Jacques,” but quickly realized I had left my Swatch Watch and Leg-Warmers back in the salon when I had my massage. I called them up from my cell phone, but upon hearing my name, the gentleman told me in perfect English that Pellegrino’s had moved and left no forwarding address. Well, that’s okay. Brita would be thrilled to keep those items since I had forgotten to tip her.
Oh yeah – – so here’s the new hairstyle with some heart-shaped Designer sunglasses the Dollar Store just got in! But do you think I’ll be able to incorporate a Jane Fonda type headband into this new look next time I wanna impress a group of women?
NOTE: Only two more days left to win one of two prizes by entering the VERY easy contest inside this post! Click here. Deadline Friday!