I love going to the barbershop round the corner. It’s not strictly a barbershop, it’s a salon, but it’s staffed (and frequented) largely by men – lovely Brazilian ones, so to me it’s a barbershop. This fact alone makes it irresistible to me because I’m pretty desperate for male attention as you know, even though I know for a fact that none of these lovely men will be interested in me, romantically speaking. It matters not because as well as getting lovely attention, it’s an absolute hotbed of gossip and they save all the best bits for me, I’ve decided.
Toni, with an ‘i’ naturally, does my hair, I insisted on it as it’s his salon. Not only is Toni best at cutting hair – well, who cares if he’s not, he gets the most attention, which means I do too – no, he’s also the best gossiper and today he’s straight in. “Oh that Juan, he’s new, but he hasn’t a clue what he’s doing!” whispers Toni, “but he comes on time, so…” Toni, to be fair, is actually very kind and his bitchy comments always have kind punctuations.
Sometimes there are more juicy stories from the other younger hairdressers; tales of sexual exploits that I pretend to be ever so cool about even though I’m blushing on the inside. “You did what to him on the first date!? Oh you are a one!” I would say, laughing along.
As well as other staff members, the main source of gossip is of course, other patrons. “Oh did d’you see the way he was dressed, no wonder he’s single!” “Hey Juan, did you hear what that guy just said about how tight your jeans are? He wishes!” I laugh along, sharing knowing looks through multiple mirrors.
So the other day, I was having a trim and I noticed a lady having a haircut. As I said before, there aren’t often other women there so she caught my attention. I could see she was receiving some gossip – not as much as me obviously – and she and I exchanged knowing – if slightly competitive glances. Being that I was being attended by Toni naturally gave me the upper hand and though she would have known this I couldn’t help throwing in a few jovial “Oh Toni’s!.” just to make sure she understood.
Time passed and soon my competitor was on her way out of the salon. The door hadn’t finished closing before it began. ”Oh she never stopped talking!” her hairdresser said to the next client, who looked excited at such an immediate bout of bitching. “And that hair, it’s a nightmare, so coarse! No wonder her boyfriend left her, high and dry – HIGH AND DRY! Like her hair!”
The woman, fingers already shaking out her new doo, smiled back in the window as she passed but I saw that smile fall from her face as she felt the awkward glances flashing back at her, already whispering into the next pair of ears.
I made contact with those eyes and heeded the warning as it dawned on me that this could also be my fete. Was it true? Would I too just be more fodder for gossip once I’d left the salon?!
There comes a time in everyone’s life when they lose their innocence; their fantasies about life fall to the ground and nothing is ever the same again.
Today was my day as I realised that I wasn’t after all, special or treasured – even with my red hair which I’d always assumed, rather vainly, was a source of inspiration and awe to hairdressers at large. No, I was just another pair of ears and would soon become another source of gossip.
Well ‘not me! ‘I thought. Not today.
In order to avoid leaving the salon to re-join the ‘other side’ I asked for a few additional things. “Can you give me those lovely curls like they had in the 1940s?” Then I said, ‘Do you know what, I’m feeling a bit 90s, can I have some highlights?”
They kept showing me the big mirror, betraying their raised eyebrows – something hairdressers think we don’t notice – and highlighting my latest doo from all angles. When they stood back to let me roll back and out of my chair, I just stayed put, holding onto the sides with increasingly white knuckles.
On and on it went until, ears feeling slightly burned and hair withdrawing into my scalp for fear of yet more treatment I said, rather manically, “I’m not leaving!”
“OK Darlink, it’s OK.” Reassured Toni, panic in his eyes.
If I’m going to be gossiped about, I’ll give them something to talk about! I thought with a crazed look, I imagined.
They worked around me until the end of the day, checking occasionally that I was alright but giving me a rather wide berth. Only Juan the junior continued as if my permanent presence was totally normal. “Another coffee darlink?” He asked, doing his best to model his style on Toni’s.
Towards the end of the day, I spotted a broom and in a panic, started sweeping the hair up. “I’ll show them!” I thought. After sweeping, I then started cleaning the rest of the salon and before I knew it, was offering to lock up for Toni.
I saw him physically give in, his shoulders dropping in submission.
“OK Claire, good night darlink, see d’you in the morning!”
“Bye Toni! Bye Grover! Bye Juan! Tomorrow’s another day!” I said through trailing laughter. “Another day, another dollar!” said Juan.
I was exhausted after my day in the salon but slept well that night, knowing that I’d beaten them at their own game. If I leave last, I’m safe.
I’ve been here ever since. Toni just goes along with it, no doubt bitching to the other hairdressers that I ‘just keep turning up.’ He pays me well and has even talked about a promotion to ‘hair-washer.’
As for the gossip, I’ve given into it and am actually quite good though if I’m honest I make most of it up. I see it as a therapeutic intervention for those sad people who need an escape from their dull lives. I feel sorry for them really, they don’t have anything more exciting in their lives. Not me though! I work in a Salon and my hair has never looked so good!
I hope you enjoyed the latest Dear Lucy blog. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com.