I'm from New Hampshire. You could say that I'm a small town girl living in a lonely world, except that New York really isn't the loneliest of places to hang around. I'm more like a someone who spent a good portion of their life growing up in a Hallmark card and has now been untimely thrust into the big, bad real world. Surprisingly, this hasn't actually caused as much culture shock as one would imagine. Apart from my complete shock at seeing a mall with three floors, my discovery that no one down here can properly pronounce "syrup" and the brief freak out I had when I hailed my first taxi, I've actually adapted pretty well to the "big, bad world."
That could, of course, simply be because I'm safe on a protected college campus. But who knows?
I consider myself, at this point, to be fairly New York literate. By "literate" I mean I know the difference between uptown and downtown and can properly pronounce "Houston" (it's not like Texas, apparently.) Despite this, I in no way consider myself a New Yorker, nor do I think of myself as someone who knows the city inside and out. I definitely do not.
Case in point; Hair Date, a hair salon on Bowery street in the East Village. I was there to drop off some film at the Pac Lab nearby, and stopped in after realizing I hadn't had a hair cut since summer. The price was reasonable, and the place looked relatively inviting, so in I went.
My god. This was an experience. I'm used to hair salons in New Hampshire. You walk in, grab a magazine, sit down, tell them what you want, pretend to be thrilled when they give you something that barely resembles what you asked for, and then rush to your car before anyone can see you. The process is fairly simple, and I only expected about as much from Hair Date. I was, apparently, wrong.
The first thing the stylist did was take my coat. And my scarf, my earrings, my glasses, my bag, and my gloves. She hung them up in a little room specifically for holding people's things and then proceeded to calmly lead me around the large, pristine styling room. It was a bit like a modern art museum. Everything was clean and white and the actual furnishings, though indeed attractive and stylish, looked like something you would have needed to be high to design.
There is somewhat of a script to getting your hair cut in a legitimate salon. You're expected to know where to go and when to bend your head backwards and when to brace yourself for the sudden splatter of cold water on your neck. For the most part, the stylist I had was pretty forgiving when I failed to recognize that I needed to go to a separate station to get my hair washed. There was this simple, amused grin of "Aw, look, it's her first real haircut" and after a while she just stopped pointing out to me that I had missed my cue and began leading me around like a blind person.
In New Hampshire, getting my hair washed at a salon is basically the same as washing my own hair, just with the awkwardness of someone else in the room. At Hair Date, it was like getting a head massage. It lasted for almost a half an hour, and unlike back home where the stylist tries to have a complete conversation with you about your life and your family, the stylist here was completely silent.
It was bizarre, to say the least. But it was, of course, only the beginning.
After finishing with the wash, I was lead back to the chair I had originally been told to sit in and was offered a cup of tea. I was so perplexed by this, that I said no, despite the fact that I hadn't had anything to eat or drink all day and probably could have used the sustenance. I was also offered a stack of completely up to date magazines, which were actually brought to me by a completely different person while my stylist was busy setting everything up. And then, just to add to bizarrely high class treatment I was getting, just as I assumed the stylist was going to begin actually cutting my hair, she started giving me a legitimate back and shoulder massage. Completely without warning.
I've never been ambushed by a massage before. I now know what it's like to be royalty.
The cut itself was nothing particularly shocking. Well, apart from the fact that it was exactly what I wanted. The only bizarre part was when the stylist inexplicably decided to straighten my hair without telling me. I don't know where the straightener came from, it just seemed to appear in her hands before I could stop her from using it, and within a few minutes, my hair was stick straight.
Now, anyone who knows me knows that my hair is naturally a bit...eccentric. It's curly and frizzy and has been described as both "feral" and "mad scientist hair". To see it stick straight and perfectly styled is, for me, an extremely surreal and slightly unsettling experience. Despite the fact that the actual cut was great, I was so unnerved by the straight hair that I ended up having to buy a hat just cover it up.
After a bit of chastisement for not taking proper care of my hair, and an assurance that the straightening wasn't permanent, I was free to go. My coat, scarf, gloves, and bag were brought to me by the same person who brought me the magazines, and I was actually escorted out the door by the stylist.
It was a strange experience. It's probably the best haircut I've ever gotten, and the price was actually really good for what I got. If I lived anywhere near the east village I would probably go back. At least then I would know what I was doing.
And so that was my trip to the hair salon. That random fashion website that invited me to join them because they thought I'd be a good a contributor? Well look at that, I'm actually writing about something beauty related! Hooray!
Sigh. Isn't my life just thrilling?
Well, I'm off to go edit some film now. I have no time to do it, so naturally it's due tomorrow. Good times. Ironically, the film itself is about being trapped by your own stress and responsibilities. It was originally supposed to be about passion or discovery, but then I got sick, and I started feeling trapped by all my responsibilities and stress, so...there you go.