For the next thirty minutes, cutting my hair became a secondary task.  Occasionally, she would do some work, taking a small section off here and another small section off there.  But her primary goal, it seemed, was to get to know me better.  She often leaned against her counter, the clippers still buzzing through the air as she talked with her hands.

This type of unnecessary slowness usually pisses me off.  But with Tracy, I loved it.  Perhaps the pizza was still numbing the section of my brain that controls cynicism.  But I think it was really her seemingly genuine interest in my admittedly boring life.

I explained to her that I had just moved to the area, no more than a week ago.  We talked about the area.  We talked about our mutual disdain for packing and unpacking.  She told me about her plans to go to the shore for the weekend and how she and her girlfriends go to the shore every year for Memorial Day weekend.  Then I told her about how I went to the shore every summer when I was a kid and about how I had lived at the beach for the past three years.

We covered a lot of topics, and I couldn’t help but wonder if my parents would be jealous as to how much I was opening up to a stranger, when they had to interrogate me to get even the smallest details about what was going on in my life.

Tracy had buzzed the bulk of my hair, and then she really went to work, putting the conversation on the backburner.

She pulled out a smaller, more precise set of clippers and worked on my sideburns as well as the rest of my hairlines.  Through the mirror, I watched the concentration on her face as she bent over and brought it close to the side of mine.  I imagine that the slow and careful movements of the clippers in her hands were similar to that of a chisel in Michelangelo’s hands.  She was putting complete dedication and care into her task, though using my head as a canvas certainly seemed like a waste of such dedication and care.

When she was done, she used a blow-dryer.

A blow-dryer!  On me!

She then pulled out another set of clippers and clipped away at the sides of my head.  Aside from the blow-dryer, during each step of the cutting process she explained why she was doing what she was doing.  “I am now using this so that your hair grows back in more evenly.  I am now using the scissors to get some of those pesky hairs.”

After she was satisfied with what she had done, she showcased her work by holding a hand mirror behind my head and asking if it was acceptable.  When I told her that it looked good, she brought me to the back, where she performed on me what I imagine to be the equivalent of a happy ending in the world of salons.

She washed my hair.

I sat down and leaned my head back into a sink.  It felt uncomfortable to bend my head back in this fashion, and considering the fact that I barely had any hair to speak of, it seemed like a laughable waste.

But my God, was it was glorious.

Despite the weird pressure on the back of my neck, it felt nice to have someone (a woman, especially) spray warm water on my head and rub her fingers through my scalp.

It was over all too soon.  Before I knew it, I was walking back to her station with a towel over my head.

She did a little more touching up and blow-drying.  And then she asked it:

“Would you like me to trim your eyebrows?”

That dreaded question.

The question that implied that there was something wrong with my eyebrows.  The question that made me self-conscious.  The question that, only months before, had set me off into a state of rage that would make the Incredible Hulk seem timid.

“Okay,” I said, hesitantly.  “Go for it, Tracy.”

Maybe it was a moment of weakness that made me say “yes.”  Or maybe it was still the pizza.  But I think what it really comes down to is the fact that Tracy had earned my trust in the past half hour.  She had gone beyond what was required for a simple buzz cut, almost to a laughable degree.  And in this devotion, as well as our conversation, I got the idea that Tracy actually cared about the way I looked.

I know.  It is pathetic, really.  That it only took a thirty minute tour of a salon to convert me into a woman.

But I think I now understand why women pay so much money at the salon.

It isn’t just about getting a haircut.  And it isn’t about getting beautified.

It is an experience.  It is about letting someone else pamper you.  You let her make you feel good on the outside, but you know that she will also make you feel good on the inside.  She might tell you a thing or two that is going on in her life, but that is only so that she can establish the fact that she is human as well.  Because the most important part of a trip to the salon is the fact that you can vocalize the main bullet points of your life to another human.  And in doing so, you have summarized your current situation, much like a television show does before the new episode airs.  And after hitting this imaginary “reset” button, you step out into the world, looking and feeling wonderful, ready to take on the next episode.

In short, it is therapy.

I forked over $20 plus a decent tip (which I could have used to buy a new set of clippers), and in return Tracy handed me the Unisex Salon’s card, where she had written her name and personal hours on the back.  She shook my hand again and wished me good luck on my new apartment and job.  And I wished her good luck in not getting stuck in traffic on her drive to the shore for the weekend with her girlfriends.  And then I left, saying goodbye to the super-friendly, super-bald, super-gay man who was standing and waving to me.

I imagine her routine wasn’t unlike that of a stripper.

She didn’t touch my pecs and tell me how strong I was.  And she didn’t whisper in my ear and tell me how glad she was that I came walking in.  But by giving me such specific attention, she offered those same feelings of forged flattery.

She did it so well, in fact, that I let her cut my beloved eyebrows.

But when she gave me her card and shook my hand, I couldn’t help but get that feeling that, despite the fact that she genuinely seemed interested in my life and despite the fact that she used a vast array of tools and time for a simple buzz cut, she was still only doing it for a big tip and a return visit.

To any hairdressers out there: don’t be offended.  I am not really comparing you to a stripper.  I work for tips, too.  And trust me, I also work it (with friendliness and stupid jokes), even though 95% of the poker players to whom I deal are men.  I am merely trying to illustrate that this woman was working it.

But at that moment, I didn’t care about her motivations.

I adjusted the rear-view mirror in my car so that I could look at my new eyebrows.

They honestly looked no different.  As I’ve said before, I have some damn thick eyebrows.  She would have needed to use a chainsaw to make any kind of noticeable impact.

But there was, indeed, a change.

It wasn’t the eyebrows that had changed, but rather something in my eyes.  A certain twinkle that I had never noticed before.  A twinkle that can only exist after a day of pampering at the unisex salon.

I winked at myself, put my mirror back into its usual position, started my ignition, and drove home so that I could get ready for work, where I had a feeling that I was going to make a ton of money.

So what if 95% of my customers were men?

I mean, unless they were blind, how could they not throw tons of money at someone who looked so fabulous?

-Youngman Brown

0 thoughts on “The Unisex Salon: Part III

  1. Great post, as always. Worth reading two “To be continued…”s to get there.

    And I am digging the kitten/ lion photo! Ha!


  2. I thought this was going to have a tragic ending. The previous posts were suspenseful and lead me to believe such. I was wrong. Good job!

    I usually buzz my own head. Now I think I need to head to a salon to get pampered! Nothing like a woman rubbing her soft fingers through my hair!

  3. Loved reading the end to the saga! (Although, I have to admit that I was rooting for her kindness to be more than just the job.) The ending was brilliant with the 'twinkle' in your eye lol… do let us know if any of those men noticed and/or expressed interest.

  4. I agree that the salon is an experience. The way I wash my own hair is nowhere near as fabulous as the way my hairdresser does. So every 12 weeks I'm in there forking out 40 bucks plus tip for a trim I could get at Supercuts, because I love my hairdresser.

    Also, I think trimming up any excess body hair is just grooming. As long as you aren't getting your eyebrows shaped like a guido, it's still pretty manly and hot. I think about all I do in the area of grooming and I can't help but think that men doing a little bit is nice too. As long as they don't go in to full on metro mode.

  5. Great post! I love that you trusted Tracy enough to let her do a little man-scaping on the brows! Visiting the salon through your male eyes, was very interesting. I wonder, now that you know what you are missing, if you will return to the unisex salon instead of going to a barber from now on…

  6. LMAO!!!! Aw, Youngman, you discovered our secret and then had to go blabbing it out to all the men out there!! Now we'll have lines at our Salons instead 😉 lol

    P.S. Getting my hair washed by someone else is amazing!! Especially if the women has fake nails. Best part of the $50 hair cut!! lol

  7. It feels good to be pampered every once in a while! I'm getting my hair done today and am looking forward to it, though I have to say I'm not a fan of forced small talk conversations. I generally like my stylists, but I don't need to be chatting the whole time my head is being worked on.

    I can't believe you let her touch your eyebrows, though! That is serious. I don't let anyone near my brows!!

  8. You lucked out. I have the same theory for barbershops/salons/whatever you want to call them, as I do with dentist offices and diners. If I walk in, and the place is empty, I'm walking out, because it probably means they suck at what they do.

  9. $50 is cheap!! My hairdresser is amazing. I would probably consider paying $100 to get her to trim my mane! Not to mention all the other things she does for me. Dyeing, straightening, styling…

    But, she does not touch my eye brows. I have an eye brow that only deals with eye brows. They shape your entire face!!

  10. This was a fabulous story! Maybe she really was taking a genuine interest in your life. And maybe that is why she is good at her job. So she gets tipped well – maybe that's because she treats people like they matter – which is what we should all do, don't you think?

  11. I recall seeing that you don't like ice cream, so how 'bout the cherry on top of a Shirley Temple? Or Dirty Shirley, because what's life without a little vodka?

  12. Ah, there is nothing like a salon shampoo service. My stylist uses a minty conditioning treatment that she massages in to my scalp and I want to cry it feels so good!
    But I do have to laugh that she used a blow dryer on your shorn head. That's a gal that takes pride in her job!

  13. Damn it. You've discovered the reason we females go to salons. Please don't tell the rest of the menfolk out there. 🙂 My favorite part of getting “my hair did” is the hair washing part.

  14. You said “fabulous” lol!
    Great story! Back when I had more of the stuff, I had a great girl who did mine (hair that is) and I would have paid for the head massage alone. The conversation was great. When she had her first kid, she cut my hair at her house, but with a baby in the next room it wasnt quite the same.


  15. First of all, never trust someone named Tracy…if that was her real name.

    Second, it was totally worth all of the “to be continueds” but I was getting very impatient.

    Third, there is no third.

    Fourth…stay away from eyeliners. You already have great eyes. And no purses either…you need a “messenger bag.”

  16. That was an epic tale of grooming. I don't do barbers or hairdressers or whatever. The only people I let touch my head are the people who ask if they can touch my head. Usually drunk people. I'm not sure how I'd respond if they asked to touch my eyebrows…

  17. I have an (almost) morbid fear of hairdressers. I'm wondering if I should in fact start going to a barber's to get my hair cut? In and out in ten minutes, minimum small talk and amount of time I have to sit in front of an unflattering mirror that makes me look like my mother… what do you think? How bad could it be?

  18. Man, I can relate to this all too well. I used to go to places like Great Clips until my wife told me to go to a salon. Huge difference, especially because I DON'T buzz my hair. Also, she does my eyebrows too, which I think I should be offended at, but I don't have a unibrow and I can never tell the difference after she's done, so maybe they just all do that?

  19. Enjoyed your salon experience.Entertaining guys view on this.
    But, personally, I feel a bit weird when my hair is all in tin foil ( yes, I dye it ), a cape up to my neck, and a man comes down and sits next to me to get his hair cut…Do you smile as if you're looking great? I may be old fashioned ( and I AM old ) but I'd prefer you guys going to the old barber shop. 😉 Back in the day, we women would have our hair done in an enclosed cubicle so NO ONE could see us. Now we're all just out there for EVERYONE to see…I'm still not used to it! 😉

  20. Two thoughts here: Is it me or are 65 percent of all hairdressers named Tracy?

    And I'm sure if you became a fictional super-nice gay guy you might be able to work that table for more tips.

    Just a suggestion – and possibly future blog material!

  21. Good post. My hair went south years ago, but a good stylist did mine before “the departure”.
    She even had some type of vibrating brush that she used to massage my neck. I often gave her my Visa card and said take what you want 🙂

  22. I want a picture of your new eye brows. But yes, why do women love going to the salon? Because it is therapy. I talk about EVERYTHING with my hair dresser. Definitely a woman's thing.

    PS, I'll rub your scalp any time bud. I love the feeling of the short hairs on my fingers. Giggity 🙂

  23. Haha definitely a good one. My favorite part of going to the salon is the head massage when I get my hair washed. As long as you don't get your eyebrows threaded, I won't look at you any differently. Last time I had mine done, I had to wait for a very hairy man who was a total dbag

  24. I thought this was going to end badly, but it didn't. Great post. I had a friend talk me into going to get a scalp massage a few weeks ago. I had been saying no for months and he offered to pay, so why not?

    She put oils and things in my hair and just rubbed my head for 30 minutes while soft music played and the lights were dimmed. It was fabulous. I think the girls have known these things for a while and just didn't tell us.

  25. I finally got to read the end! Your cliffhangers are going to kill me, dude.

    When I lived in Delaware, I had started going regularly to a salon, and got really into it. Now that I've moved, I have no idea where to go to get the proper care…my hair is getting a little shaggy while I weigh my options.

  26. Loved reading this mini series. I'm glad you took a leap and had them done. Is it something you'll keep doing? Even as a woman I've never been to a salon. I have super curly hair and I don't trust anyone to do it. They always want to brush it and then I look like Macy Gray – not cute.

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