I was hippie-dippie in my teens - lots of long, frizzy hair, no make-up, work boots - The Janis Joplin of Brooklyn. When I lost a ton of weight and went through my Disco Queen phase I did enjoy a manicure - I'd come out with long, ferocious red nails that looked so sexy wrapped around a cocktail at any bar in Bay Ridge. Even then the manicure was a cheap one from the factory like salons that are a dime a dozen. Drive-By Manicures.
As the big time EVP/Board Member for the Evil Empire Mega corporation I was forced by peer pressure to do the Upper East Side salon thing. That was probably the worst use of money ever - I gave tons of cash to really snotty people to treat me like crap. The delightfully delicious Craig Ferguson does a wonderful rant about the sales help in trendy boutiques - "Go away plain common person - I'm far to fabulous to help you"
And I'd always come out looking (and feeling) like someone I didn't know - or like.
When I opened my own office cash flow was a no go and I quickly reverted back to chopping off my nails - self-mutilation the therapist called it. I'd get my hair cut at a friend's Mom n' Pop type place - it was nice going there to visit but it sure wasn't pampering, most of the time I'd help sweep up.
When I first moved to the (not so) wide open space of NJ I sacrificed my nails to unpacking, fixing what the contractors destroyed and gardening. My hair was cut at whatever place I could get to without back roads, 6 jughandles, and a GPS system.
One night, while hopelessly lost, my daughter-in-law and I pulled over to consult directions and maps and to cry on the cell phone. We were in the driveway of a beautiful old house - and there was a small purple sign on the front door indicating it was a salon. I remarked to my girl that it made me think of the movie "Steel Magnolias" and I made a mental note of the name. Hopefully I'd remember how I got lost so I could get there again.
And I did - only got lost once recreating getting lost.
Now I'm a regular. It's the "Cheers" of beauty - "where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came" and it IS Steel Magnolias. The salon is owned and operated by a strong, independent woman who mothers her staff. My hairdresser is the quiet, dignified one who reads a lot between customers but can quickly become feisty and hilarious. The shampoo girl has just graduated from beauty school and is building her clientele. She also waxes like no body's business - you never feel a thing. The woman who does my nails is spiritual and we talk about Ghosts and God and Grandmothers. I like and trust her so much that I even indulge in pedicures - never wanted anyone to mess with my feet.
The cast of characters includes; one of the most beautiful young women I've ever seen, hard to hate her, she's too nice and works too hard - a very loud tough talker with a heart of gold - a receptionist who talks to the cash register and makes faces at the phone, and makes all feel welcome, and a fresh faced young Mom who works part-time and has a delightful giggle.
I spent this past Saturday there - my end of year overhaul. Although I'm better at pampering myself now that I have a place I love, I still put it off too long and end up needing an all day appointment for my mane, my claws, and my hooves.
There's always a pot of coffee and on Saturday there's bagels and cookies. The loud cross-talk covers everything from children to men, recipes to politics, hair color to hysterectomies. Nothing is sacred. I do a bit of my life stand-up routine and find immense pleasure in making everyone laugh
During the warm months the back deck is full of customers and staff - under the lopsided umbrella, lounging on the plastic chairs - waiting for the timer so they can rinse out the color - or shaking their hands in the air so the polish dries. You can hear the laughter as you pull into the driveway.
What a wonderful collection and connection of women. Makes me feel shiny inside and out.