Monday, April 30, 2007

therapy is the new black

My longest relationship with a man in DC has not been with Jesse, my current boo. It has been with Gary, my hairstylist since I moved here. And if you think I’m faithful to Jesse, than you better believe that I would never, ever cheat on Gary. I have no reason to. He’s awesome in every way.

I transferred to a downtown Crap store when I first moved here to keep the moola coming in. During my first week, I met Gary, a sales associate. As I was introducing myself, he sized me up and down and said, “I have a vision for your hair.” No hi or welcome. I was a bit weirded out. He continued, “Well, I’m just looking at you now and I can see all the possibilities for your hair.” It was true that my shoulder-length bob was growing out, but this guy didn’t even know my name and he wanted to cut my hair. Was it that obvious that my layers were growing out? Not wanting to appear offended, I asked him if he worked in a salon and what he charged, information he was more than happy to divulge. And then I forgot about it.

On a random day off, I was strolling through Georgetown and decided that my bob desperately needed a trim. So I walked into a salon that welcomed walk-ins and asked for a trim. The girl at the front desk directed me to an empty chair and a guy suddenly appeared behind me. I explained to him what it was that I wanted (the bob still had shape, I just needed a trim and the layers needed some refreshing) and he looked confused. He turned to the girl at the front desk and asked her to translate. Apparently he was French and didn’t know much English yet (at least he didn’t understand the words, “I just need a trim”). I was nervous that he didn’t understand a trim request. A feeling of dread suddenly came over me.

Before I knew it, I got a bowl haircut. The bob was gone. The layers were non-existent as he had cut my hair the same length as the longest layer. And I looked as if I belonged in grade school. I was nearly in tears when I walked out of the salon. When I got back to the place I was staying at, I looked in the mirror and tried to style it in different ways to minimize the bowl shape of my head. I consoled myself by saying, “It’ll grow back.”

I went to work the next day not quite sure what to do with my hair. I just left it alone and prayed that it would grow back quickly. Some time during my shift, Gary showed up for his. He took one look at me and said with much concern, “Oh no! What did they do to you?” I nearly broke down right there. I told him about the evil French stylist and how he didn’t understand the word “trim.” I told him about how sad I felt, but I was hopeful that my hair would grow back eventually. He listened to every word I said and told me, “Come by my salon tomorrow and I will fix it.” Needless to say, I took him up on that offer.

The next day, I showed up at Gary’s salon not knowing what to expect. He sat me down and said, “Just so you know, in order to fix this, I have to go shorter. I promise you’ll like it.” At this point, anything was better than the hair bowl on my head. Without reservation, I replied, “Ok, just do what you gotta do.” In the end, my hair was far more stylish and far less bowl-shaped. But it was short. So short that a small part of the back of my head was shaved. I had some misgivings. However, the cut was still better than what I had.

I headed straight to work after my appointment and was bombarded with compliments. Even customers wanted to know who had done my hair. I referred everyone to Gary. Gary got so many customer referrals from me that he ended up setting me up with my own price for hair cuts. And obviously, I haven’t seen anyone else for a hair cut since.

As my hair has changed over the years, so have I and Gary has been there with me every step of the way. Even after we stopped working together at the Crap, I would visit him at the salon or hang out with him or chat on the phone. I suppose that the nature of his job requires that he be a good listener, but he also gives great advice and I’m always anxious to tell him my stories at every visit.

Last weekend, I saw Gary for a trim right before the wedding I went to this past weekend. He asked me, “So what’s new in your life?” And I stalled for a bit, not knowing whether or not I should tell him about the shrink. I was afraid he might judge me even though he never has in the past. I decided to come clean. “Well,” I said slowly, “I’ve started seeing a shrink.” Gary’s response was: “Oh really! Damn, I want one. Everyone has one these days. Therapy is the new black!” We had a good laugh and I was relieved.

I’m not sure why I feared that Gary would judge me. Mental illness carries such a stigma and I know that it will be a long time before seeking treatment for mental illness will be as socially accepted as seeking treatment for any physiological disease. It really shouldn’t matter to me what other people think. And if these people are truly my friends, they would be unconditionally supportive.

I guess I would be disappointed to find out who amongst my friends truly isn’t a friend at all.


Wolfsong said...

I must say that you are a very very lucky girl!! I wish I had a Gary! :)
I wish you all the support in whatever it is you're going through! Lovely blog. Take care!

Anonymous said...

“I have a vision for your hair.” love it :)

"at least he didn’t understand the words, “I just need a trim" - hindsight is 20/20, but I guess this is a sign to turn around and head out the door, right?

Why is it that getting a haircut can be such a traumatic experience?

Anonymous said...

You need to tell me about this Gary! Where is he? How much does he charge?

I have had many a bad haircuts... even the "bowl." Horrendous.

former lbol said...

Great quote for you (from the writer who lived "On the Road"):
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.."

I actually picked this up on a greeting card in the airport today :)

DCWeddingPhotog said...

Amen! Your friends will take you for who you are!

And I need a styleist in DC! I'm still going to the one I had in Chicago when I go home to visit... sad. Details! Digits! :-)

And, of course, I need the details of the wedding you went to!

lizzie said...

wolfsong--thank you for the kind words and for visiting this blog! hope ya come back!

anon--you're right. i should've just walked out right then. unfortunately, i had hoped since i was in a ritzy g-town salon that i couldn't possibly walk about with a bad hair cut. guess i was wrong. :(

kelly--actually i will email you his info. if anyone else is interested in having their very own gary, i am willing to share mine. feel free to email me and i'll be happy to give out his info.

lbol--oooh...i want to be mad!

mk--i'll email ya too. and the wedding details are forthcoming as the pictures are still in my camera. it was loads of fun though.

sunchaser said...

Here's something else pretty wild: I just moved into a new place (finally off the friend's sofa - yippee! :) and one of the books left behind was none other than Mr. Kerouac's - which in fact I've never read.

Opportunity knocking - and maybe Mr. K's sending me a sign from beyond the grave? :)

Either way, I know what my next fiction read will be..

(former lbol)