During a recent visit with my mom, I noticed something had changed -- for the better.
"Mom" I said with some degree of surprise. "Your hair looks good."
"Thanks" she replied a bit sheepishly. "I have a new hair dresser."
"What!" I exclaimed. "That's amazing. I am really proud of you."
For over 20 years, mom has made weekly trips to see Deb, her hair dresser. Often my mother would regale me with tales of woe. Not her own, but poor Deb's. My mom, a psychotherapist by training, had great empathy for Deb, a single mother whose history was marred by misfortune. But there was only one problem with this relationship. Deb could not cut hair. I pleaded with my mom to make a switch. "You are paying for a service." I would argue. "It's not a friendship. It's a business relationship". But my mom's loyalty trumped her vanity. "If I saw someone else--that would feel like cheating."
Despite my daughterly advice, I too was seeing a hair dresser that gave me less than flattering cuts. The older I got, the more my hairstyle resembled one of the "Golden Girls". While I inherited lots of wonderful characteristics from my mother, hair is not one of them. Wispy, frizzy, thin and dry, my hair is more like the wild west of Phyllis Diller's mop top than the tame tresses of Jennifer Aniston. Reluctant to completely switch hair dressers, I dabbled. Every other month I tried out a different salon. When I returned to my hair dresser, I worried that he would figure out I was cheating. I made excuses about my busy travel schedule, but I knew he knew. And I felt guilty.
When I confessed my philandering to my friend Anne, she shared her story. One day, her long-time hair dresser was unexpectedly sick and Anne was given the choice to see another stylist at the same salon. Anne agreed, feeling adventurous but nervous. To her surprise, the style was great. It transformed Anne's face and made her feel young and sexy. Now Anne had a burdensome dilemma -- how to break ties with the old and bring in the new. Not wanting to hurt feelings, Anne devised an intricate scheme of seeing her new stylist on days her former hair dresser was not at the salon. Anne admitted this system was not infallible. Sooner or later, she would probably get busted.
Why do so many women like me, my mom, and my friend Anne, develop such intense loyalty to their hair dressers? Is it the fact that we share our innermost thoughts as we are being shorn? Or do we assume that severing the relationship will not only hurt a hair dresser's bank account, but break their hearts? I am at a new salon now. I may not look like Jennifer Aniston, but I feel younger and more perky. I look back at the guilt I experienced and realize it was misplaced. I have concluded it is OK to cheat (on your hair dresser) and move on until you find the right one.
When I told my husband about all this angst, he could not relate. For many years, my husband has been cutting his own hair, with our vacuum cleaner (or more accurately, a contraption called the Flowbee which attaches to the vacuum cleaner). One day my husband came home and I noticed something had changed.
"Your hair looks really good." I commented.
"Thanks." he said. "I went to Super Cuts".
"Really?" I replied. "You're cheating on your Flowbee?"
"Yes" he said without a hint of compunction. "I guess the vacuum cleaner will just have to suck it up."
So ladies, have you cheated on your hair dresser - or any other service professional?
Do you suck it up or are you wracked with guilt?
And are there any guys out there who can relate?