It all started with Jackie the Fabulous. Before Jackie the Fabulous, I got my long, curly, somewhat impossible to style hair trimmed at the most convenient in and out haircut places, because when you’re young and poor, that seems like the best option and because, really, how much skill does it take to trim the ends of my hair?
It takes a lot of skill, it turns out. I returned home after one such trip, looked at the back of my hair and was horrified to see it was much shorter on one side than the other. I went back, and they dutifully trimmed it to even, and then I never went back there again. My friend talked me into going to a “fancy” salon, and although I thought the prices were ridiculous, I agreed to give it a try.
Jackie the Fabulous was all excited and animated when she saw my long curly hair. “Can I cut it?” she asked, “Can I give you an ACTUAL hair style?”
Her excitement was contagious and so despite my recent reservations about haircuts in general, I said, “Do whatever you think is best.” Jackie the Fabulous transformed me from Nic with the long brown hair to Nic with the chin length blond highlighted hair, and people said things like, “Wow, look at you!” when they ran into me into the hallways at work. Jackie the Fabulous was my new stylist for life. I went to her before all important events and she infused me with confidence via a killer haircut and style.
And then, one day, I called to make an appointment and the salon informed me that Jackie the Fabulous no longer worked there and that they had lots of other excellent stylists who would be happy to see me for an appointment.
This resulted in a string of stylists who were ok. They did what I wanted mostly, but there was not a one of them who was brilliant like Jackie the Fabulous, who could transform me into someone I didn’t feel like on the inside with a new haircut and style. I met Kristy the Competent during that phase. She was competent, she knew to cut my hair dry and straightened to ensure it was even, she had me in and out of there in an hour and she was good at scalp massages. I decided she was my new hair person and resigned myself to a life time of same old, same old.
Kristy the Competent changed salons a few times and I followed her around because she always called to tell me she was moving, even though she wasn’t really supposed to do that and even though she didn’t give me any “wow” factor. She was there when I got engaged, and she was there for all the ensuing drama that went with combining my life with J’s. She always asked for an update on when we were getting married and what the drama was these days and she clucked her tongue and shook her head in all the right places. Being part of a blended family herself, she had some strong opinions and they lined up with my own which made me happy in the midst of turmoil. Hair therapy, I called it.
Then I got a new phone number, and I was a little slow getting my number updated with all the different places that need it and one of the last places to get my new number was the hair salon. Unfortunately, Kristy the Competent had moved on, and because my phone number was not updated, she could not call to tell me where she was going. After a ten-year run, without warning, Kristy the Competent and I were over.
And now I see Megan the Meh. Megan the Meh is a nice person. She is a young mom. Last time I saw her I told her how you can put a dash of bleach in with a load of colored towels to get the musty smell out of them after your husband forgets them in the washer for three days, and she thought that was some of the best advice she had ever received. (Even better than the time before that we talked about 401K plans and Health Savings accounts, although I am pretty sure I scared her a little bit since she didn’t even really know what a 401K was.)
Megan the Meh and I don’t have much in common because we’re at such different places in our lives, so mostly I read my book and she works on my hair. Megan the Meh did my hair for my wedding, and she did an ok job considering the summary of my input was, “I don’t care, whatever.” It was her chance to shine, to show me what she could do when she had a free hand, and it turned out ok, but no one said, “Wow, look at you” because of it.
It should be noted that the bar has moved so low that I now consider a hair stylist a success if I don’t hate my hair. This is what it’s come to. I’m content with the exact same thing, every seven weeks. Exactly. The. Same.
“Well,” I start, when Megan the Meh asks me what we’re doing to my hair this time (As if we might do something different), “I don’t know what’s different about my hair the last time you did it, but the color is wrong, see how my roots are showing so badly here? Is it lighter this time?”
“Oh,” Megan the Meh says, laughing (and I don’t think it’s funny at all), “It’s because I did something a little different last time, made it a little chunkier.” She shrugs and finishes, “It was just my way of doing something different.”
Megan the Meh has never even one time offered any advice, or any ideas on something fabulous she wants to try. What I left with that day, after telling her I was open to something different but maybe not that one that gave me bad roots, was the same style I came with, only without the roots.
And I wondered as I drove away, where Jackie the Fabulous is and what she’s doing today, because a girl could really use a knock out haircut and style.