I was in midtown yesterday morning because I’d finally worked up the nerve to purchase this jacket that I’ve wanted all season and still hadn’t bought. I knew exactly where it was so I got up early to run a ‘quick’ errand to the city to grab coffee, make this important outerwear investment, and meet my friend Sam for brunch. When I got to the store, however, I lost my nerve due to the fact that I was very much overheating which caused me to effectively weigh the prospect of how much I’d be wearing this very expensive coat in the immediate future, which I concluded was probably not at all. I then proceeded to spend almost the same amount of money on a good deal of smaller, more versatile items in an effort to satisfy an overwhelming urge to splurge. In that headspace, one can rationalize anything, it’s disgustingly awesome. There is, however, something to be said for having worked hard enough to a. have a modest amount of expendable income, and b. have the freedom to spend it on oneself. Consumerism really is like some bizarre religion that we’ve all devoted ourselves to to some extent; we work to get paid, and we pay to live, returning funds as fuel to the universal machine we’re all a part of. So shopping is like church. I went to church.
After church, I wandered back in the direction of the train stop I’d gotten off at, near which I’d seen a salon with a sign advertising a $2500 blow dry, which seemed like way too much money for any salon service, so assuming the sign had lost a decimal at some point, I stopped by to cash in on the savings. The place was empty and looked like a set from a salon scene in Pretty Woman or something (if that movie had a scene set in a salon). I didn’t feel like asking price, these people needed my business, and having set my heart on a hairdo, I knew I wasn’t walking back out the door to find somewhere better. These kinds of places seem to be quite common, specifically these pseudo-swanky midtown salons that are impressively unoccupied. This having been the 4th salon in the city I’ve sought this service from and found this way, I declare a pattern and plan to further my research, perhaps even document these spaces, just because I find them strange and fascinating. Is this place a front? Whose paying for you to stand around? I guess I am.
So I have this stupid asymmetrical haircut I got back in November that was intended to be a subtle variation of my shoulder-length block hair cut, but my overzealous Vidal Sassoon schooled stylist was all too enthusiastic in his execution. Had I let him have his way, he’d have likely cut off the left side of my hair completely. Anyway, I left that day very disappointed and I still don’t love it, though I’ve found that when I have it done, it caters quite nicely to a big anchorwoman bob look. This is what I wanted when I went in yesterday. This woman, though nearly inaudible with a heavy exotic accent, had strong styling skills and seemed to know exactly what I wanted. Before I lived in New York, I was a manager at a very nice salon in Cherry Creek. It was there that I developed a taste for a good rinse and style. My stylist, Matte, was the best blowout in town and he could somehow do my midtorso-length hair in less than 30 minutes. I don’t know if you can appreciate how amazing that is, but I’ve been on a long a aimless quest to find someone or something comparable here since. Also, the luxury of having his styling skills at my beck and call came at a very low cost– a ride home, which is one of those things that reminds me just how good I had it back home. Here in the city, I have to pay to get my hair done– some things are just more important.
Toward the end of the service, it became apparent that this lady really didn’t know what I wanted, and somehow hadn’t noticed the dramatic angularity of my hair, so I began guiding her through the finishing process. Meanwhile another woman had come in and was waiting for my stylist to finish with me. She was a chic woman, probably in her early 70’s, with short white hair, a beautifully aged and vivacious face, wearing peach lipstick. She was staring at me/us for a short while, seemingly impatiently, and I began to feel that sort of polite panic only someone who understands the true sanctity of the appointment slot can feel. I still couldn’t help myself though, and I began just finishing my hair myself, showing the woman what to do. The waiting lady then came over, her approach exceeding her words telling me she was about to say something awesome, and then she said ‘I’m so glad you’re fussy. It’s so important to know what you want’. And with that, she simultaneously validated my entire Sunday existence and blessed my excessive behavior. She went on to level with me, her apparent fascination shrouded in modest praise, and for a moment I felt I’d arrived somewhere new, like I had suddenly danced my way in to some fancy club for elegant and refined Manhattan women. If I were a little more interesting and I didn’t already have lunch plans, I’d have asked her to dine with me.
I eventually said goodbye, left, and caught a cab to Union Square feeling very satisfied. I don’t know where all this lies outside the context of a self-indulgent Sunday, I just know that I got what I paid for.