Forget the ER; get me to the salon

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

One of the worst things about moving to another town is finding a new hairstylist.

The first few months in a new location are a critical time for your hair. Any girl worth her salt gets a haircut, color and whatever else she needs right before the move. That haircut is then worked for seven or eight weeks while she scans her new co-workers and neighbors for good hair and collects a few salon phone numbers.

That process can be a minefield. First, there's the danger of looking odd as she studies her new acquaintances' locks. If she goes to a suggested stylist and hates the result, she then has to face the So-What-Did-You-Think-Of-Nick-Isn't-He-Great conversation the next day at work.

I'm in this process right now, and it's making me miss DJ at Prodigy's in Cape. His cuts always garnered compliments, but it was more than that. Walking into that salon was like meeting a good friend for cocktails and gossip. DJ is one of the few people on earth who knows how I secretly exacted revenge on The Other Half for the following exasperated utterance: "Geez! Do we always have to be talking?" I've had one so-so haircut since I moved to St. Pete.

No compliments, even though the stylist was supposed to be simply following the pattern DJ left behind. And there was none of that salon talk that I love so much.

Even so, I was prepared to go back before I found out she works only four days a week, and getting that early Friday morning appointment was a fluke.

(Quick aside, here. This stylist is a single mom who makes enough money to support herself and a child working four days a week. When my pedicurist and I left the nail shop at the same time on Sunday afternoon, she got into a brand new BMW as I got into my 4-year-old Honda. I'm starting to think I've made a bad career choice.) Now I've got a grown-out mop top and a fear of trying someone new. Better to have a mop top than some of the cuts new stylists have inflicted upon me.

The worst was a guy in Pensacola who permed me. I told him that my hair really takes a perm well so he shouldn't leave it in long, but nobody ever believes that. Photographic evidence from 1997 reveals I look exactly like Sideshow Bob on "The Simpsons." Then there was the guy in Miami, another friend's recommendation, of course, who I paid $50 plus tip to give me a haircut totally incompatible with South Florida's heat and humidity. I'd leave the salon looking sleek, arrive home looking like I'd been electrocuted.

Maybe I should do a Sinead O'Connor and be done with it. Actually, I think even she is growing hair these days.

Wonder who's her stylist.


So, about the neighbors.

I didn't hear Buddy barking for a few days and wondered if (a) his owners had finally gotten sick of yelling, "SHUT UP, BUDDY" every five minutes, or (b) someone in another apartment had dognapped him and dropped him off in the Everglades.

But Buddy was back at it at 3:30 a.m. Sunday, right on schedule.

The plastic goose on the balcony DOES have an outfit for every holiday. The dress with shamrocks has been traded for a dress with tulips and a headband with bunny ears on it.

Lord help me, I am starting to get a kick out of it.

My prediction is a red, white and blue theme after April 11 -- Memorial Day/Independence Day, you see -- but I'll keep you posted.

Heidi Hall is the former managing editor of the Southeast Missourian who now lives in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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