Sunday, June 22, 2014


I had my first haircut in ten months last week. Knee pain and knee surgery kept me away from Lisa, my hairdresser of 36 years. My first appointment with Lisa occurred when I was 26 and she was 19. She was engaged then. She now has 2 grown sons and is married to the same man. Though she works in very fancy places, she remains warm and cosy. She knows I like wash and wear hair and she never lets me try anything that’s too complicated. She knows I don’t like to be away from my reading for too long.

When I first moved to Philadelphia I went to a much touted salon. The male owner had a magnificent mane and artfully arranged chest hair. He was surrounded my many young female hairstylists. I always imagined that they were drowned at about the age of 23. The young ladies proffered glasses of wine and plates of salad, but the cost of the haircut went up each time I went in (“Sorry lost an election bet” was one excuse) so I decided to look elsewhere.

A friend recommended Lisa and the rest is history. She’s seen me through numerous job interviews, some parties, and my wedding. She was the first to tell me I was going gray.

Now she works in a small salon that is part of a spa in a fancy hotel. It has taken some getting used to for all concerned. The place is dark. I don’t know how gloom got associated with relaxation. There are exhortations to relax everywhere. I was dismayed to note that the lamp on an end table is really just for show. The lighting is so low I have to develop a sort of sprawl in order to read.

“I told them my customers read,” Lisa said. “But they don’t listen.”

Sometimes I overhear interesting conversations. Two blonde and tanned women in toweling robes sat next to me one week.

“So are you guys coming out with any new products?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Well, how long can you continue to sell crotchless underwear and flavored gel?”

I won’t keep you in suspense. The answer is “not long.”

At the end of every appointment, the receptionist asks me, “And how was your visit today?”

And every time I say, “The haircut was great but I’ve been in funeral homes that were livelier.”

But there are fun times to be had. During one appointment I found out that Lisa brought in a recording of a bunch of old songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s. I did a duet with one of her colleagues on “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tommy James and the Shondells.

Light was streaming into the salon. I was happy. I didn’t have to be ordered to relax and I knew all the words.

Sometimes life is very good.

Stephanie Patterson

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