Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In Which the Author Takes a Snip or Two; or, Belinda's Revenge

Do you know how some assistants in swanky hair salons can baaarely contain their condescension and boredom as they give their clients instructions and attention?

A murmured “five minutes” as the assistant sweeps away from the sink in which your wet head is slathered with some freezing cold potion-y lotion translates as: “We’ll leave this substance on for five minutes; it’s meant to set the color and bring shine to your hair.”

Does a client really have to abruptly move her head 90 degrees in order to assuage the burning that comes from a blow dryer concentrated too long on one spot?

But when it’s time to check out, I’m always amazed how “gorgeous” and “beautiful” my hair becomes, as if the assistants simply can’t bear to part with the vision of my loveliness.

Like Belinda in Pope’s Rape of the Lock, the client feels adorned with tiny sylphs that swoop around her, whispering bon mots in her ear, never leaving her side until she pays her bill, distributes her tips, and makes a run for the elevator.

I cultivate a healthy vanity, I admit; it’s lovely to hear from a stranger that you are looking attractive, but I do wish that the sudden fawning attention weren’t so blatant.

Rather, I’d like a little more consistency in attitude. To rewrite Emerson, “foolish inconsistency is the hobgoblin of swanky hair salons.”

**For the heroic couplet version of this post, see the previous entry.

Image by Aubrey Beardsley,
a sylph attending Belinda in Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock


enc said...

This is an interesting take on the salon experience. I always feel weirdly vulnerable at the salon, and I realized I don't really like it; partly because the comments from the stylists feel inauthentic to me. I like how I come out, but the process is something I could do without. Kind of like going to the dentist for me.

bronwyn said...

Hehe:) Enjoyed this post, so absolutely true...and a global phenomenon, salon assistants are just the same in South Africa.

riz said...

Now who's the 'academic'?? ;)