Friday, February 04, 2005

my stylist, the hussy

When my hair was a quarter inch long on the sides and half an inch on top, I went in every six weeks, religiously. You can't have hair that short and not stay on top of it. Now that it falls halfway down my back, I can go months without dealing with it.

Months in which my stylist Dragonfly ups stakes and moves to another salon.

I'm starting to think it's me. A little back of the envelope calculation tells me that since I first saw him at Bladerunners in '98, he has worked in six different salons. I haven't been to him in all of those places; once or twice I've gone six months without so much as a trim (I know, horrors, whatever) and missed a place altogether. Oui, 3 Queens, for example (their motto: You're pretty; we'll make you flawless!, which bums me out, because I would love to make out a check to a name like that. Anyway. Maybe he's running from me.

It's not unheard of. For a while, every person who cut my hair would eventually get religion and move away to become a missionary or go to Bible school in Arkansas or something. I am not making this up. It happened three times. I want to believe that it's not me, that the accumulated horror of dealing with my hair doesn't make them snap and seek solace in God. But then, I had a guy once in a ritzy San Francisco place put his hands on my head, look at me in the mirror, and say, I don't know what to do with this. And idiot me, I let him cut it anyway.

Did a miserable job, and left me feeling completely uncool while he was at it.

So I am very, very loyal to the people who can engage with my hair in a meaningful way. You see, I have what stylist/author/goddess Lorraine Massey calls Botticelli curls, which is a nice way of saying I'm somewhere between soft waves and consistent corkscrews. In other words, challenging hair. I've learned some tricks for screening potential stylists. The first question is, can you handle ethnic hair? If they say something like, I'm good at African hair, that's a real plus.

There's the added challenge of my essentially being a boy in my ablutions and general grooming. If there was one product that would wash everything, I'd stock up and never look back at the five or six bottles currently cluttering my shower. I don't want to think about any of this; days where I get some eyeliner on are big days. So when Dragonfly starts in on me about how fabulous I would look if I just used this special unguent made from caviar or this microcrystalline shine wax or whatever the hell, I can feel myself glazing right over. Every now and again he asks, rather hopefully, if I've bought a hairdryer yet; I haven't got the heart to tell him that I have, but only use it to speed up the drying of craft projects.

So Dragonfly, well, he's a genius. None of that walking out of the salon thinking, maybe I'll get used to it. I walk out feeling sexy, and stay that way for a while; even when my hair was chin-length and shorter, his cuts grew out really well. He has accepted the fact that I'm going to spend four minutes tops dealing with my hair on any given day, ten on important days; he tries to simplify things for me.

So I noticed a couple of days ago that my hair was getting to the weighed-down, stretched-out, dried-up stage that means I'm overdue. I've also been obsessed with bangs lately; I've been pestering every woman I talk to who has them. Do you like having bangs? I ask, and they must think I'm a nut. But I haven't had bangs in something like twenty years, so I'm not sure how they'd work. I need to see Dragonfly.

Called the place where I saw him last. Oh, he doesn't work here anymore, they told me, disdainfully. Do you want to see someone else here?

As if it were that easy! I don't think so. I didn't ask if he'd found God, but politely explained that my relationship was with Dragonfly, not the salon, and the woman grudgingly told me where he'd gone.

So I'm tracking him down, again. Who knows what it is this time. One place he left because they wouldn't let him bring his dog to work. I'll have to make sure to ask when I see him.