Friday, February 09, 2007

I’m thinking about being unfaithful.

It’s not that I don’t care about him. It’s just that…well, the excitement is gone. We’re stuck in a rut. He’s a great guy, I can’t say a thing wrong about him, it’s just that I’m craving something new and different and he seems unwilling to give it to me.

Yes, it’s true: my relationship with my hairdresser, once so idyllic, has grown stale.

But I’m very conflicted on what to do about that. I’ve been going to see Craig for over seven years. He is an excellent stylist, and I have never had a bad experience with him. I have no fear when I sit in Craig’s chair, because I have absolute confidence that he won’t screw up my hair. That’s worth something.

And while I’m not a girl who tells her hairdresser all her intimate secrets, he knows a good bit about me as a person, and I about him. There’s a certain intimacy there. It’s a comfortable relationship.

Then, too, the salon where he works is very, very nice. It’s not just my hair I get done there, all my little beauty-maintenance needs are tended to within those faux-marble walls. Everyone knows me by name, and they’re all nicely attentive without being fawning. I dislike fawning.

But…but…but – I’m bored. I’ve been faithful all this time, but now I have the seven-year-itch, apparently. You see, I think a woman’s experience of getting her hair done (or her nails, or a facial, or most other beauty services) is in some ways comparable to a guy going to see a sex worker. We get flattered and pampered, it’s often something that feels good, and it often makes us feel not just prettier, but happier as well. True, we’re paying money for something that we could, in many cases, do for ourselves. But that wouldn’t be as much fun.

A few days ago I picked up this month’s issue of Seattle magazine, which is generally a complete waste of paper and four-color ink. But this month was the Beauty issue, and they had a big spread on the “best local salons”.

I was miffed to see that my salon only got a brief mention. Hmph, I thought, they must not be advertisers.

There were, however, profiles and glossy photos of other high-end salons and individual stylists – their training and skills, their unique strengths, their personal philosophy of hair - and as I read, my interest was piqued. It was like a bunch of personal ads for hair stylists. I thought, I wonder what one of these people would do with my hair?

Of course, there’s nothing like shopping around to remind you of why your current partner is so great. I punched up some of the salon websites and looked at the hairdresser’s bio pages. One of the most often-mentioned boys is pictured with a sour, forced little smirk on his face and the admonition that clients must…“Shift your perception from vanity to integrity…” Uh, sweetie? No. Integrity is for elected officials. Vanity is the whole reason your profession exists. It’s damn sure the only reason I’m paying a hundred bucks to get my hair done. If you don’t understand that, I have no use for you. Besides, what the hell does that triangular soul patch under your curled lip have to do with integrity, can you tell me that?

Another stylist in the same salon states: “You were born with a certain skin tone and it’s appropriate for a certain look …pay attention.” He’s got a more appealing photo, but the tone of that seems a bit peremptory to me. That’s the thing – it’s not just skill, it’s personality. While I dislike too-obsequious people, I will not tolerate a salon where the staff acts like they are supermodels and you are one of the great unwashed, whom they will deign to anoint, in a manner of their choosing. No, no, no – that’s not how this works. I am a polite client and I tip well, but I expect you to act pleased to see me and my money, and I absolutely get the final vote on what happens to my hair, regardless of what you think of its integrity or appropriateness.

So I’ve picked out a possible candidate for an illicit fling. I’ll have to do a walk-by and sort of scope the place out, maybe go in and pick up a brochure. It’s nice to know that if I do it and things go badly, my old sweetheart will take me back and repair the damage. I’ll tell him it was all a terrible mistake and swear never to stray again. Until next time…

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