My Lady’s A Man

I guess I’ll just come out and say it: there’s someone new in my life. I’m a little leery of writing about him here, after everything that’s gone on with me for the past year and a half or so, but I think it’s the right time. He’s sweet and funny and very caring, a great listener, very attentive to my needs. He has a dog named Sadie and a CSA box of organic vegetables delivered to his house every week. He is in a psychedelic funk band and makes great peppermint tea. He’s awesome in every way and I just really like him, you know? Ladies and gentleman, my new hair lady is a man.

Now. My hair. You all know some of the difficulties I have had over the years. It has not been easy. I had long hippie hair for just about forever, and then I moved to Seattle and went to grad school and started cutting it off, very sloooooooowly. At first I had a sort of passive-aggressive person who kept comparing me to another client of hers who, apparently, had much better hair than I did. I knew this because she would spend the entire time she was giving me a very mediocre cut extolling the virtues of this other client, how this other client was smarter and prettier and had much thicker and nicer hair than me. That was really great and I’m super excited I actually paid money for that experience. Then I was with Zan for a while. Zan was my first real hair lady, you know, like we had a relationship. I was unprepared for the seriousness of such a relationship because I thought it was some kind of Sex In The City joke, which I’ve never really seen but which, I am reliably informed, deals quite a bit with hair. Anyway, I started seeing Zan and it was she that cut off quite a bit more of the hippie, and for a while it was good, you know. I’d see her every couple of months and she’d give me some sort of layered something and tell me about her life and sometimes ask about mine, and that was that.

But my hair…which, for those of you sitting at the edges of your seats right now…is sort of fine and curly and that is a combination that ended up stumping Zan, long-term. I started getting these weird shag haircuts that had no rhyme or reason to them and I began to suspect that perhaps Zan and I, we would be parting ways soon. I didn’t know when and I didn’t know how, but sometimes you just know. Besides, Ruth had entered my life at that point and I think I was just sort of waiting for an excuse to end it with Zan.

I’d actually known Ruth for years through bellydance but it was just this last year that I learned she was a hair lady, too. All the girls in the Monday night classes started showing up with extremely cute hair, and I began to ask questions. “It’s Ruth,” they’d say, pointing with their chins to wherever she was, warming up or doing a chest circle or giving someone a hug. “I go to Ruth. She’s the best.” Hmm, I thought. I talked to her briefly about coming to see her but I had to be honest with her, I had this other hair lady in my life and I just didn’t know if I could just leave and I would feel like such a jerk…especially because at that particular time I was walking by Zan’s salon every day on my way to and from the bus. The awkwardness, you know? Ruth understood. “Just call me when you’re ready,” she said. I choked back a sob.

And it came to pass that Zan all of a sudden left her salon and left a message on my voicemail informing me of this fact and giving me information on how to reach her and…I just never called her. I ended it, just like that, after giving my rather puffy and unflattering shag haircut a good long look in the mirror in the cold light of day. I called Ruth instead. “Ruth,” I said, “I’m ready! When can I come in?”

Ruth gave me a hug when I went in for my first appointment, when I almost didn’t recognize her because I’d never seen her out of her bellydance gear. Ruth sat me down and talked seriously to me about curly hair. Ruth gave me a scalp massage. Ruth told me she’d like my front hair to be a little chunkier, and when I was up front paying for the haircut, ran after me and asked me to come back to the chair for just a minute so she could angle this one little bit of hair that falls over my forehead a little more finely. Ruth used a razor for increased texture and suggested a wax pomade over a gel for product. Ruth complimented her own work every Monday night when I saw her in class and told me I looked pretty. Oh, Ruth. It was so perfect.

Now, one of the great things about Ruth is her sense of adventure, not just in cutting hair, but in general, in life. It was this sense of adventure that led her to decide to leave Seattle a couple of months ago and go to the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica and cut hair there, to make and save money for her round-the-world trip that she’s taking, cutting hair beautifully as she goes. How jealous am I, you ask? It’s hard to say because my envy is only mitigated by my sense of despair at losing her to the frozen wasteland…where, according to her email newsletters, she’s having a grand time, thanks for asking. You can’t be selfish and tell your beloved hair lady not to go to Antarctica but I tell you what, the week after you get your last haircut from her you will spend long fraught minutes in front of the mirror again, fluffing your curls and muttering to yourself about how maybe this is as good as it’s going to get for you hairwise, ever in your life.

Enter KC. Now naturally I asked Ruth for a hair lady referral before she left and she unhesitatingly recommended KC without a second thought. “KC,” she said. “It has to be KC.” I was a little unsure. I’d never really had a hair dude before and I was a little trepidatious about the whole thing…especially, and this is really stupid, because KC is in fact heterosexual and has a girlfriend (the owner of the salon, in fact, who is very cool and has really built a very nice space, I have to say) with whom he shares his nice dog Sadie and his CSA box. I know it’s dumb and stereotyping to think that the best hair dudes are the gay ones…especially since, again, I’ve never had a guy so what difference does it make, het or gay, you know? Except that having a gay hair dude is supposedly very fabulous (maybe this is something else I’ve somehow absorbed from Sex And The City even though I’ve never seen the show) and you’re supposed to be able to tell him all your relationship troubles and he’s supposed to go “Giiirrrrrlllll” and so on and so forth, and yeah, man, so stereotyped. But still. A heterosexual male hair lady. I was skeptical.

This all ended when I went to see KC a couple of weeks ago. I’d had an interim cut (from a heterosexual woman, and I know she was heterosexual because she told me all about her boyfriend, and when I say all about I mean all about) after Ruth’s last work of art and suffice it to say that no one was pleased with how that little experiment worked out. “Oh, fine,” I said, narrowing my eyes with displeasure as I checked myself out in the mirror again. “I’ll go to a guy.” It’s not like he’s a massage therapist or a gynecologist, right? He’s a hair lady. It will be fine.

KC told me he was trying to get his own curly hair to look just like mine. KC rubbed my shoulders in a non-creepy way while he was shampooing me. KC told me all about his psychedelic funk band and his various trips to New York in order to really understand razor cuts and he seconded Ruth’s opinion about product and told me that he comes from a long line of hairdressers. KC told me all about his favorite vegetables from his and his girlfriend’s CSA box (he’s a fan of beets). I realized, as we talked and he knit his brow while deciding which of my curls to angle, that my grandfather was a heterosexual hair dude, actually…except I think they called them “barbers” back then, but whatever. It’s not that weird at all, gender stereotypes be damned. I relaxed and let myself get into having a rather intimate conversation with a man about my morning routine (“Uh, well, I get up twenty minutes past my alarm and I trip over the laptop that’s right by the bed and then I sort of crawl to the bathroom and get in the shower and stare off into space for a while and then I realize I’m about to be late for the bus so I take my towel turban off and sort of run some of this wax pomade stuff through it and I run downstairs and hope I’ve remembered to put my pants on. I need a low-maintenance cut, dude.”) KC, I think, understands. KC cares. KC thinks I have great hair.

The other night I was over at my friend Anne-Carolyn’s house and we were all sitting around the dinner table and when I wasn’t stuffing my face with quiche and pasta salad I was telling everyone about KC, my new heterosexual male hair lady. “It’s weird but it’s cool,” I said. “I’m getting into it.” Turns out lovely Laura has a heterosexual male hair lady too, and he’s also awesome and also in a band. After ascertaining that her heterosexual male hair lady and my heterosexual male hair lady are not, in fact the same heterosexual male hair lady, we considered how awesome a band comprised entirely of heterosexual male hair ladies would be. We imagined them touring the world and their loyal fans following them from city to city, shaking their curls in glee as they swayed to the psychedelia and the funk night after night. They would bring peace and tolerance and nicely shaped bangs with them wherever they went, proving that in hair as in life, sometimes you have to just adjust your expectations a little and everything will work out fine.

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