October 20, 2007

Bad hair days

Something Like Life
Oct. 19, 2007

EVERYONE knows the most important person in the world for a woman, next to her significant other or her best friend, is her hairstylist.

For some strange reason, women treat hairstylists—especially those of the gay persuasion—almost like father/mother confessors. We spill our guts out, complaining about our friends, our husbands/lovers, our boyfriends/girlfriends, our mothers/siblings to these wizards of our crowning glories.

What makes such a relationship between hairdresser and fawning client work so?

I suppose it is because we are most relaxed when we are in the salon. It’s like a little cocoon that protects us from the harshness of the outside world. It is a sanctuary that helps us reconnect with ourselves and be who we are. No one is going to judge us for our real thoughts and actions. Besides, we venerate hairstylists almost the same way as we do the Virgin Mary, sans the fiesta. And because we treat them as so, we think they, above all others, are the most capable of understanding our quirks and angst about the world.

The hairdresser listens quietly, just pitching in at the right moment to mouth his agreement to whatever we say, and makes sure he knows the proper time to empathize with us, even when in reality, he doesn’t.

I should know, because the few hairstylists I’ve dealt with were also some of the most chismosos about their other clients. They tell me what they actually feel about their customers, mostly disdain if it’s someone who is particularly unlovable and arrogant to begin with, and they take pride when their clients choose to unload their problems on them. It’s weird because the roles become reversed when it comes to my relationship with my hairdressers. Maybe it’s because I am usually quiet in the salon that they need to fill in the silence with their chatter. I just read whatever entertainment magazine is laid out before me (that’s the only time I can catch up on the latest showbiz gossip) while my stylist prances around snipping here and there. My visit to the salon is my own quiet time, so I really try not to talk much—which is a mean feat in itself if you know me at all—and sometimes I just doze off.

Or maybe my hairdressers like to talk because they know I’m a journalist. It’s like a dare for me to actually print the stories I hear from them, and no doubt they privately revel for being the source of the gossip.

Like, I’ve heard the most unsavory stories regarding several society bitches from one hairdresser I shared with them in the past. Let’s not names but when one well-heeled matrona was supposedly giving into to daily binges with alcohol because she probably couldn’t deal with her banker husband being gay, I heard it first from our hairdresser even before the story made the rounds of the upper-crust grapevine.

Also, I found out about which popular boylet artista was visiting this very gay CEO of a large conglomerate from my other hairstylist because he always asks the latter to cut his hair at his chi-chi condo somewhere in Taguig. Moral of the story, h’wag ka magpa-home service, lolah!

Earlier this year, another stylist close to the media told me about the impending resignation of his friend—an editor of a major publication—and her reasons for doing so, two months before her colleagues even knew about it.

Fortunately for these people, I’ve never taken advantage of their confidences with their hairstylists by publishing their stories, primarily because I’m not a gossip columnist. The only thought I give to these tasty tidbits is to ask other people in their circles if they’re true. (Good journalist that I am, I adhere to the two-source rule…meaning, I only give the story some credibility if another person close to the subject confirms my hairstylist’s chica, hehe.)

Speaking of chica, those new photos of Gretchen Barreto and the unknown man she seems to be getting cutesy with, which are being spammed to entertainment/lifestyle columnists, are obviously part of an ad campaign for yet another product we don’t need. Why anyone would trust Greta’s word about anything to begin with is beyond me. Okay, okay, so I’m probably not the target market for this product, whatever it is. But in fairview, I would really like to know who her hairstylist is, not because I want to know more about her dull private life, but because her bob is really cute. Obvious bang pinagaya si Posh Spice?

Anyway, I muse over these revelations from hairdressers about their favorite clients as I try to find myself another stylist. For close to five years, my hair has been in a short do with part of my front locks tucked behind my ears. I’ve tried two different hairstylists apart from the regular one I usually go to when I’m in Makati City, in the hope that someone would be as adventurous as I am to whip my hair into an edgier style. (Once upon a time, my hair used to be dyed torquoise so you can imagine how bored I am with my current do right now.)

But I suppose short hair really does pose design challenges to most hairdressers. Those stylists who are in the twilight of their careers are the ones terribly at a loss on how to update my short do for the new millennium. Also, maybe they are a bit more careful as I’m now in my 40s, so they don’t want to change my hair radically and make me look like a trying hard teenager. (So, yeah, no more torquoise colors for me either, just lots of dark browns and deep burgundies.)

I’m the type who’s not maarte about my hair in the sense that I entrust myself completely in the hands of the hairdresser because he/she is the expert. I usually tell the hairstylist, “Bahala ka na what to do. You’re the one who knows what style is appropriate.” So I’m not the type who would get upset over a bad cut or dye job since it’s just hair. I can always grow it back. I just need someone daring enough to make the cut.

Last Monday I tried out the salon of another veteran hairstylist who I hear now charges about P2,000 a pop, and was dismayed by its mildly unsanitary and spartan surroundings. (No small shelf nor table to even park your bag.) I was a little put-off by the senior stylist assigned to me because she kept on forcing me to get other treatments even if I had already said twice and stressed on each occasion that I only wanted to get a haircut, damnit! Then, there was no head massage while being shampooed, neither was there any beverage offered like coffee, hot or iced tea, not even water, which is now de rigueur in most salons. And I still cringe at the thought of the short and stubby staff who wore knee-length black boots at the height of the searing weather that day. Ick! All that for P650—and not even one chismis of any famous client? Bah! While my hair turned out okay—not stunning, but all right—I still want my money back!

So my search for an edgier hairstylist continues. Well, life isn’t perfect. I have a great career, live quite comfortably eating three meals a day with snacks in between, have fabulous friends, with awesome travels here and abroad thrown in. I just have to “endure” all that with my bad-hair days.

(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life Section of the BusinessMirror. Photo from BusinessMirror)

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