Linus has been traveling this week. He went to Boston and then Detroit (by way of Chicago where his flight was canceled and his luggage took five hours longer than he did to get to Michigan) and now today he's on his way home from Detroit (by way of Dallas). Sounds like fun, no? Yeah, not to me either.
While he's been gone, I've fallen in love. With a hair salon. Crazy but true. Among my other loves, now I heart the Aveda Institute. I went in simply to buy Bet some Blue Malva shampoo. While I was paying, I noticed the huge room full of empty salon chairs/stations. The little guy at the desk (whose makeup was flawless) explained that Tuesdays through Saturdays they offered full salon services provided exclusively by supervised students. I must have looked as skeptical as I felt when he tried to get me to book an appointment. He launched into a fairly dramatic description of how wonderful and fab-u-lous it was, only all-natural products were used, they were the first to have an emphasis on the whole person, and that it was more than a haircut, it was an experience at Aveda. I tried to pay and scoot out the door, but the festive lout insisted on showing me the salon price list. Eeek! A haircut was half the price of the shampoo I'd just bought! He smirked and asked if mornings or afternoons were better for me. He promised me I'd love it.
I admit I had doubts and almost canceled. I thought about the only beauty school I'd ever seen before which was called something like Elite Beauty & Style Academy. Wedged between the Books A Million and the China Wok in a strip mall, there were always sad looking waifs in smocks tossing their cigarettes to go in and little old ladies with bad perms coming out. The store section of the Aveda Institute was a gazillion times cleaner and classier than that so how bad could the salon section be? I figured I didn't have much to lose. I hadn't had a haircut in nine months and I'm planning to shave my head after the triathlon anyway. If worse comes to worst, I could shave it now. That was my thinking.
I showed up at 9:25 for my 9:30 appointment. I was not the only one. In fact, I was one of about 38. I was totally unprepared for that many people. Yes, I'd seen all the empty chairs but I didn't think they'd each and every one be taken! It was a bit of a cattle call. You gave your name and signed a sheet of paper saying you knew they were students and then you lined up along the side wall and waited to have a stylist call your name. I stood flat against the wall marveling at how many people there were. I was a trifle bit intimidated about how hip the stylists appeared at first: lots of spiky hair gelled into interesting geometries, quite a few piercings and tattoos, all black outfits everywhere, and several gals with great boots. I watched a bit more and noticed that there were folks of all shapes and a few older students than at first glance. I saw that some of the stylists that I'd thought were sneering at first actually looked more nervous than anything else. Stylist after stylist came and called a name and took away the women along the wall one by one. More people kept coming in, though. I began to notice that some of the ones who'd just come in were starting to get called too. It felt like grade school, standing there waiting to be called, wondering what to do if I didn't get called, trying to decide how long I should wait before I said anything. Feeling uncertain about the process and overwhelmed by the noise, I'd just started to inch towards the door to escape when a girl with a lovely smile waded through the crowd calling my name. She was maybe all of nineteen but she radiated kindness. I answered and she took me back to her station, which turned out to be in a room I hadn't noticed off to the side. It was MUCH quieter. Her name was Megan. She offered me tea (organic peppermint and licorice). She talked with me about what I wanted done with my hair. She got her supervisor. She told her supervisor what I wanted, her supervisor checked it with me and then advised her on how to go about it. Then she walked me back to the even quieter shampoo room where I got to choose whether to sit or to lie down while having my hair washed. What a fantastic thing, to get to lie down while having your hair washed! I highly recommend it. Megan washed my hair (lather, rinse, repeat!) and gave me a mini-facial (toner, moisturizer, short massage, steamy towel). Then we went back to her station where she gave me a stress reducing treatment (a short neck and shoulder massage). Then she cut my hair (exactly the way I wanted it) and styled it (way better than I can do myself). All of this pampering for the low, low price of $19. And they don't let you tip the students. It was nineteen bucks total. I'm used to paying upwards of $60 for about a tenth of the attention. I mentioned I heart the Aveda Institute, didn't I? It was quite literally my favorite haircut ever. I'm thinking of going back every two weeks. Haircuts: cheaper and more fun than therapy! Be warned, if you ever come visit me, I will give you a whirlwind tour of UNC and Duke and a day long saunter through Aveda. Peace.