Sentences of Doom

Two sentences I hope never to hear again.

Your stylist has left the salon” and “Your stylist no longer works evenings or weekends.”

I called today to get an appointment for my monthly color and cut. My company’s Annual Meeting is in ten days, and I’ll be attending for the first time as Corporate Counsel. I have a primary, and a backup, salon, and at each, a trusted stylist who always cuts my hair perfectly. With two people on call, I usually never have to worry about getting an appointment, even on short notice. One of them has always been available.

Not this time. After being on hold an unusually long time at the first salon, the receiptionist finally came back to my line and explained that, unfortunately, my stylist has left the salon. Say what? I just saw her four weeks ago and she didn’t say anything about leaving! The receptionist was very understanding, but the best she could offer me was an appointment with Person A or Person B, three weeks from tomorrow.

Well, that won’t work. I need my hair cut and colored now, before the meeting, not after it. Besides, I’ve seen Person A’s styles and I don’t think pseudo-punk rocker works for a corporate attorney (also, I tried a similar style in my college days and know for a fact it’s not a flattering cut for my face). And Person B, while probably very nice, has only been cutting hair for a year. So I thanked the receptionist and called salon number two.

Only to be told my stylist at that salon now just works weekdays and one weeknight. They were sure they could squeeze me into the revised schedules, if I was willing to come in mid-afternoon.

No. Not going to happen. First off, I can’t just take an afternoon off every month to get my hair done. Second, I work more than an hour from the salon, and taking an afternoon appointment means I’ll be leaving Manyunk during the peak of rush hour. Which, in Philadelphia traffic terms, translates into sitting on the Surekill (otherwise known as the Schulkyll) Expressway and then Route 422 for at least two hours, all to travel a measly 20 miles to my home.

After spending a few minutes hyperventilating and contemplating losing my sanity, I realized, reluctantly, that I will have to find a new salon, and I will have to do it tomorrow so I can get an appointment before the meeting.

Finding a stylist you can trust, one who won’t butcher your hair, isn’t as easy as it sounds. There’s a world of difference between a decent stylist and one who can make your hair look fantastic. The same person can do an awesome job on me, and a hack job on his or her next client. It all depends upon that stylist’s ability to understand your hair, recognize your personality, and work with those factors to create something magical. If the cut goes bad, you may have to wait weeks, if not months, to grow it out and try again. A bad color will not only look horrible, but it can dry out your hair, making it brittle and unable to hold the cut.

In other words, your stylist is, without a doubt, one of the most important people in your life. And I just lost mine.

Being my stylist means working with baby fine hair that absolutely hates to do anything other than lie flat on my head, and the most stubborn, color-resistant grey hairs my (now-previous) stylists had ever seen. Yes, I have, sadly, grey hairs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about it — my mother was almost entirely grey before her 21st birthday; I at least waited to go to law school before I spied the first silver hairs on my head. But it means that the stylist has to really amp up the color mix, and that the cut has to take into account my hair’s tendency to fall over at the slightest hint of humidity, rain, snow, wind or a bird passing overhead.

I’ve just spent three hours touring websites and reading reviews. As expected, for every salon, and stylist, there were raves, and flames. I’ve managed to narrow it down to three salons, and five stylists, in the Main Line area, but if anyone wants to make a suggestion, feel free to drop a comment.

I’d have liked to try a salon in Philadelphia — Vanity looked good — but I balk at spending an extra thirty-forty dollars to park my car just to spend two hours getting my hair done. I do still have some sanity left.

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