A Salon for the Rest of Us

My hair will become matted and unruly like a stray dog loping through the streets of Baltimore before I succumb to the ambush of a hair stylist. My nails will curl backward to reach my knuckles before I visit the manicurist. My face will develop craters like the surface of Mars where dune buggies fall into the crevices before I contact my esthetician. Let my shoulders develop lumps like coal from the stress of living before I succumb to the laden touch of a masseuse again. These are people whom I hire to beautify, simplify, liquefy and mollify me, but they just won’t stop talking.

You who work in the beauty industry should take a Hippocratic oath in which you swear to “do no harm.” Just because I walk in there for a cut, facial or massage does not mean you get to treat me like a lamb to slaughter. I am not a pig on the table with an apple in my mouth as you stand above me, as if with knives gleaming, ready to plunge into my soft flesh.

Why, when I’m willing to plunk down $100 or more for a 30-minute haircut (not including tip) do I need to hear about how your son won’t get up in time to catch the school bus and you have to drive him every day which is why you’re always late for work and you’re worried that you might get fired? Do you realize how difficult it is to hear you whine about your life and your kids when I’m facing a giant mirror and my facial expression is trying its darndest to mask my feelings? When I’m lying on my back and you’re kneading the balls of stress from my shoulders, I would appreciate it if you consider that the biggest stress ball, the one on the right clavicle that you keep commenting about as you knead deeper, will never melt under your touch if you keep on talking about how your mother-in-law has never accepted you as a member of the family despite the fact that you’ve been married to her precious son Harvey for 25 years. Oh, and that she keeps calling you Marcy which was Harvey’s first wife’s name is like a dagger to your heart that somehow you are psychically passing on to me as I lie helplessly under the white ghost-like sheet on the massage table.

Yes, madam or sir, I am a human being with feelings that need a break from the cacophony that pollutes my world. My body is not a plaything for you to pummel and thrash, torture camouflaged beneath a waft of essential oils that permeate the massage room. My hair, once the color of sunlight now washed to dull silver like a waning moon, is not your bauble for experimentation with your dyes and acrid chemicals. My nails, while perhaps limp and no longer lustrous, are not tests for your lacquers, polishes, and appliques.

Most of all, because I am sitting or supine in a helpless and vulnerable state of being does not mean that my ears are there for your whining, opining or maligning.

Please. Just be quiet and let me enjoy the silence.



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