Life By Design: Hair’s to You

Everybody knows that exuding confidence is what separates the attractive from the ‘got work to do’ types.  This starts from the top down, and hair is for many the defining feature.  


You can feel the pain in Andre Agassi’s memoir, recounting how he won the US Open while obsessing about his hairpiece flying off.  Who wouldn’t turn to crystal meth with these kinds of self-esteem issues?       
Last week I ventured to a new stylist after not only admiring a friend’s sunny blonde color, but because I sensed my own hairdresser was depressed—I figured it was my hair, and although  I had been perpetually over tipping to reward her for servicing me, it was over.  Like our recent run-away au pair, two years is past the shelf life for hairdressers and nannies. For me, hanging out at a hair salon is Sarah Palin palling around with Katie Couric.  Sitting in the hairdresser’s chair is a confession of shortcomings.
Beauty parlors have been the meeting place of women for generations.  I used to go with my mom to Bob’s Salon where the ladies met three or four times a week.  Coffee and cigarettes, gossip and rinses.  Bob was like their pimp, all Cadillac and curls. Nowadays, no one has the time, or the money. 
I have tried countless stylists from the at home variety to the chain salon.  A stylist at Salon Ambience (they’re selling Ambience on Lexington Avenue?) chastised me for having hair-salon ADD; such was my discomfort at the smell of my bleached burned hair. I wrote the Better Business Bureau after The Red Door Salon at 54th and 5th gave me about six foils in their ‘3 in1 beauty package’ and then claimed they were being cautious.  How about cheap?  I had simply wanted what Ruth Madoff has, Baby Blond Hair.  I know Ruth’s regular salon severed their relationship, to protect their honest Upper East Side patrons.  (Good luck with the “Nice and Easy” #46, Ruth.)  Of course home coloring kits have improved tremendously over the years, and beat hands down any type of styling offered in the U.S. prison system.
Just ask PR gal Lizzie Grubman who wisely chose to make the hairdresser her first stop out of the clinker.  This down time, after attempting to back her car over a group of commoners might have been the much-needed rest her tired locks needed.  No doubt Martha Stewart coaxed the KP prison staff into allowing her a chamomile and lemon rinse every other Thursday.       
The Ancient World was into heavy adornment, including netted chignon rolls and gold dust.  This kind of costuming has gone on thoughout civilization, and we should all be grateful that around WW1 people started wearing their hair to look like themselves.  If Cate Blanchett can look like a freak as Queen Elizabeth, none of us would fare any better.  For those with an excuse to have long come hither hair, the ‘60’s was great.  I like the Flappers: scull caps, fringe and fancy cocktails.
Getting older has its benefits.  Excessively long hair is ghoulish and sad, and difficult for good-hair people to accept.  I have no such issue.  A man I dated in my late 20’s to early 30’s (past his expiration date) said when he ran his fingers through my hair, “How come your hair isn’t grown up, like you?”
So like a salon drifter, I went to a new town, Larchmont’s Gjoko’s Salon. I was weary.  If someone names a salon after them self, they charge more.  Who was this Gjoko?  Did he want to be Frederic Fekaii?  Was he kneeling at Sally Hershberger’s altar?
You hope that the ego cost of the hair professional is accompanied by that effort to make you look and feel good.  There are savvy people who believe this:  take Christophe’s scissors holding up Air Force 1; John Edward’s haircuts that cost as much as the house he grew up in.  Men and women seek status through their crowning glory, but the majority of men can look great with an $18.00 cut from a barber.  Show me a woman with an $18.00 haircut and I’ll show you a woman wearing a hat.  According to a number of hairdressers, the economy hasn’t forced women to give up their color and blowouts; they’re just stretching out the time in between.
At Gjokos my appointment was with Caesar.  Within minutes he pressed me to dye my hair brown.  He said I needed to cut off the back for fear of my appearing to have a mullet.  He scolded me for falling asleep in his chair; no doubt upset I was missing his performance.  I recalled reading about the original Caesar who stripped others of their Noble rank by cutting off their hair, a sign of submission.  I was familiar with the tone and wondered if this profession drew a disproportionate number of dictator wannabes.
Not knowing myself as a brunette, I declined his offer.  Big secret, there are no people over the age of 12 that have naturally blonde hair, except Diane Sawyer.  She said so.   
We had dinner that night with the friend who referred me to Caesar; she had been his next client.  He tattled to her on my hair’s deficiencies.  What happened to “only her hairdresser knows for sure”?  Don’t we pay the pros to give us  security?  
When I went to my dermatologist for an annual body check, she handed me a Botox brochure and said, “you look fine for your age, but who wants that?”  She assured me that “just a shot between the eyes will make you look less mad.” 
At least now I know what the problem is. 


  1. Hilarious and spot on! Hope you found some one new. Never trust a hairdresser who wants to make your hair brown.

  2. Not Cool Enough for the salon January 20, 2010 at 8:59 am

    Very happy to know that I am not the only multi-degreed, somewhat successful, professional who is completely intimidated by someone with a french name who only finished hairdressing school.

  3. Eighteen dollars for a man’s haircut? Who has that kind of money?

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