Salon Song

 Salon Song

By Sean McVeigh

For half the world’s population, walking into a hair salon is one of the most natural occasions. In fact, for the majority of that half of the population, I would go as far as to say that it is more than just a natural occasion … it’s an exciting event. For the other half, however, it can be quite an intimidating circumstance. Society has decided that men go to barber shops and women go to salons. And yet here I stand, the exception to the rule … A man who goes to a salon.

There is something about being a man in a predominately female environment. It’s like a cat walking into a cigar-smoke-filled room of dogs playing poker. Or a Rockaway guy walking into the Blarney. Heads turn and people stare at you. Well, not really. In reality, I’m sure no one even notices. But you sure feel like they do.

On a warm, breezy, pre-summer Friday, the final day of May, I strolled into the salon like a regular … because I am a regular. Well, sort of. I don’t get my hair cut too often, but when I do I go to see Julia. Julia has been cutting my hair for about 20 years. Twenty years of anything is a long time.

I’m a little early so I sit in the waiting area for a few minutes. I give Julia a wave and she reciprocates. She is finishing up with another customer. I assume he is a regular, too. All of Julia’s clients are regulars.

You see, Julia has cornered a market. The men in Rockaway either go to a barber or they go to Julia. She has not always been at her current location. She has bounced around a few different establishments, and yet her band of merry men have followed her from spot to spot out of loyalty and, I assume, an aversion to change.

Julia summons me over and I sit down on the throne. “Just Like a Prayer” is playing slightly louder than it should. It provides the perfect muffler for the hum of gossip that always hangs around the place.

Women’s hair takes work. It’s a science that I don’t fully understand. When it comes to men’s haircuts, it is just that … cutting hair. It has gotten too long, and it needs to be shortened. With women’s hair, or I suppose you could just say women in general, there is much more to it.

There’s straight hair being curled, and curly hair being straightened. Blondes going brunette and brunettes, interested in how the other half lives, going blonde. Older women come in with what God gave them and walk out with a huesome head of hair. Looking into your mirror at a salon, it’s hard to focus on yourself. The rest of the place is much more interesting. There are women with some sort of blue gel spread over their heads and their hair shaped into spikes that somehow, someway end up as a stylish look or ladies with patches of tin foil in their hair as if it were leftovers being packed up to be lost in the back of a crowded refrigerator. On this day, there was even a wig being styled.

I get a haircut once every few months. I like to keep people on their toes. Long hair one day, short and professional the next. Every time I leave Julia’s chair, I am pleased with my cut. There is something to be said about consistent quality work. That’s what I get from Julia … That and a show from the rest of the salon.

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