“Can I get a haircut this afternoon?” I asked.
“Can you come back in half an hour?” the receptionist/cashier/gum chewer responded. “Varna can take you.”
I returned in 30 minutes to meet Varna. “Can you cut my hair?” I asked.
“Yes,” I answered my own question, “we have the technology.”
I like to goof with the people at the hair salons in LA. Most of them take hair way too seriously.
Varna sat me in her chair. I was ready for her to stand behind me and ask, “How do you want your hair cut today?”
I want to say, “shorter”, not to try to be funny but because I can never figure out how to answer that question. So I usually give my stock answer. “Above the ears here, make the back fit the length of the sides and thin out the top a little.”
Usually that is the end of the interview and I am escorted back to the washing area. Varna’s approach was different. She sat in the neighboring chair.
“How long has it been since your last cut, Joe?” she asked.
“Could be 5 weeks.”
“I’d say closer to 6 weeks. Where did you get it cut, Joe?” she continued.
People that use my name a lot make me nervous.
“I’ve been on the road. In an airport somewhere.”
“What kind of shampoo are you using, Joe?”
“Ecology brand, I think”, I said.
“Is it green, pink, or peach?” she asked. “I think it’s green.” “That’s the cucumber. With your light hair I’m going to move you to the papaya. It has water lily, jojoba and vitamins A and E. It’s great if you wash your hair every day. And I don’t recommend washing your hair every day. Every other day will be fine.”
Maybe for you, I thought. I looked down at the mirror. Varna’s cosmetology license was a week old.
“What about conditioner, Joe?” she asked.
“I keep my hair in excellent condition. Runs three miles a day.”
“Use plenty of conditioner, Joe,” she continued, not hearing a word I said. “Especially since you wash your hair every day, which I don’t recommend. I’m going to start you on the Rosemary Mist Mint. The safflower oil will help with your split ends.”
She peppered me with question after question. I wondered when we might get to the actual cutting part of my hair cut experience.
“Joe, let me ask you. Where are you going with your hair?”
I didn’t know what she meant. So I asked, “What do you mean?”
“What look are you trying to achieve? Sporty? Executive? Arty? On-the-go? Intellectual? I’ll bet you want a cut that GETS THE LADIES? Huh? Am I right? Am I, Joe?” she winked.
I didn’t have the time to explain that GETTING THE LADIES takes a lot more than a haircut.
“I’m going for the intellectual-executive-sports-fan-who-is-on-the-go-to-art-exhibitions-where-he-tries-to-get-the-ladies look.”
“HA! HA!” Varna cried out, throwing her head back.
The other people in the room turned to look.
“Funny!” she said.
Then she turned suddenly serious. “Joe, here’s a promise I will make for you. I will never, ever, ever lie to you. I will never try to give you a look that’s not right for you. That’s not what I’m about. Varna is about honesty. Trust is very important to me and to my clients. My clients trust me completely. Can you see how important that is- that we trust each other?”
It was starting to sound like we were dating. I appreciate that cosmetology school taught Varna every possible technique to bond with her customers. But the interview was taking longer than the actual cut.
“What do you, Joe?”
“I’m not at liberty to talk about my work with the government. However, I can tell you that I tell jokes at company dinners and conventions.”
“Really, you mean, my haircut will be seen by lots of people?”
“Then I will give you a haircut that will PERFORM as well as you perform, Joe! And I can tell you are a good performer, Joe. Right?”
Questions raced though my mind.
What if my “performing” haircut demands a percentage of my fee? What if my hair gets its own agent and starts making outrageous demands? What if it develops a juggling act and starts to upstage me?
And will Varna cut my hair before closing time?