Friday, July 29, 2005

Model Project: Exposed

I've been butchered.

My hair looks a mess.

Yesterday, I took part in a very reputable salon's famous "model project", a euphemism for follicle-guinea-pigging where "professional stylists", as they kept reassuring us, use you to learn on. After my consultation earlier this week, I was booked in a long razor cut class, a style I am not new too. My hair is extremely thick, the front wavy, the back kinkier (a texture I often describe as being like "My Grandmother's Crotch Quilt"), there's lots to go around. When braided, my mother used to liken my woven dread to a "loaf of challah bread." When straightened and shaped properly, it can look pretty good, but I don't have biceps like a Soviet powerlifter for nothing: This hair is a bitch to tame.

Going to the salon can also test a stylist's patience. It always begins with: "You have such nice hair!! Oh em gee, I love your hair!" and ends with "Sigh... LOUD GROAN. (snip snip) sigh. (clock hand fast-forwards to 3 hours later) (snip) Uch. sigh.." As a poor freshman in college, I used to sign up for free haircuts at some of the city's best salons: Bergdorf Goodman's gave me one of the best cuts ever, Peter Coppola salon on the East side was hit or miss, but never stomach turning. For the past few years I've been going to a salon near my house. But now I wanted something edgy, something daring, say Meg Ryan circa 2058 (surprisingly similar to Meg Ryan circa today).

Meg Ryan posing for a publicity shot for her upcoming movie, "Herpes Lip."

Hence, the Model Project. Long razor cut. Yesterday afternoon.

They seat me along a line of mirrors next to some other poor young lasses. My stylist, "Jessica" (in quotes not because it's not her name, but because I can't take her seriously), offers me a limp-dicked handshake, already a bad sign. If you're going to tame my mane, you need to be firm! Strong! Shake my fucking hand like a man, you bitch!

We start making hair salon chattery: Jessica, a tall woman with fire-engine red curly ringlets, is based in San Antonio, has a 6 year old daighter, and is in New York for the week to learn some new styles. In essence, she had never used a razor before to cut hair. She also happens to throw in that she used to be a "punk." Oh. fucking. great.

She compliments my hair ("Pshaw!" says I), and asks what I'd like to have done to it. One phrase I've learned from my many years of thick-hair-taming and overeating is "trimming the bulk." "Ya gotta trim the bulk" "Trim that bulk!" "See that bulk there? That's gotta be trimmed." etc. I tell her I'd like some of the bulk trimmed out, and that I'm thinking of cutting some side-swept bangs to soften up my angular, Central European moonface. She agrees, "It'll look great", and immediately the "stylists" are summoned to a meeting.

They would be led by a young hip Asian woman named Shirley. Shirley had hair that I would kill for. Shirley wore expensive clothes. Shirley was in charge.

We rinsed my hair in water (No shampoo! Hipsters aren't clean!) and got to the cutting. Jessica took her razor, an appliance akin to what Bugs Bunny wielded on Elmer in Rabbit of Seville, and began her butchery. Within the first 5 strokes, Shirley runs over. "You're doing that all wrong!" My heart sinks. Shirley corrected the manner with which she held my hair, and the angle with which she was cutting. In essence, both hands were doing something wrong. Weren't these professional, experienced stylists?

"How long have you been cutting hair?" I asked sweetly.

"Oh, well I've been working at a Salon in San Antonio, but mostly on coloring."

And boy was she good. You should have seen the color of my face when all of the blood drained out of it.

The mistakes kept on coming. Now listen: I realize this was a model project, meaning they were learning. It's not even so much that she was making mistakes. What got me was that if anyone tried to correct her, she would mumble, bitch and moan that she wished they would just let her cut the hair. And every few minutes or so when the 6 "stylists" were rounded up for a lesson on bang-trimming, or layering, my girl would huff and puff, drag her feet over to where they were, and then come back and stare at the ground for 5 minutes. The irony is SHE was paying for this class! The attitude, people, that's what got me. And not to talk, but it was clear she wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. Every once in a while, she would giggle to herself, kind of like Corky on Life Goes On. Do you read me people? I GOT THE DUD.

Like the handicapped, hairstylists, too, deserve their own parking.

So Jessica kept taking stuff off, the bulk I'm guessing, being corrected by Shirley, God bless her, for trying her best to keep this retard in line. I all of a sudden felt a pang of guilt for how I used to behave in middle school. This is what my teachers had to put up with! How frustrating. Oh, and the best part? Whereas in most salons, when they need to dampen your mane, they use nature's favorite hair product, "Water", Jessica kept spraying this so-called "hair tonic" on my head, a product that smelled strongly of melaleuca oil, something I associate primarily with the killing of fleas on Corny, the blind/gay poodle owned by a family friend. (RIP Corny) (And yes, he used to bone their male cat. Corny was a freak, yo!) So she unloads no less than an entire bottle of this shit on my hair. Remember this later when I get to the part where my hair doesn't "dry". "At all." "Because it is doused in oil."

Bruce thought long and hard about this life-changing decision. Would he go for the terracotta tile in the guest bath, or the marble? His head ached, his paws throbbed. He decided to get a vanilla bean frapp and sleep on the decision.

Jessica is approaching the tail-end (haha, tail end! Funny once you get to the end of the story, when I tell you how my hair looks like it sprung forth from a rat's asshole!) of the cut, and I can sense "stylist" fatigue. The razor dragging has lost its gusto, the hair holding limp and forgotten. Remember those side-swept bangs I so cleverly requested? Well, part my hair from ear to ear, comb all of the front-half forward, and cut across in a teased and blunt fashion. Then, part at side and spray with some stinky-ass product. Voila. Side-swept bangs. Totally not the look I wanted nor asked for. Instead of feminizing my face, I look like Edith Head.

As I had expected, I was the last woman standing (or comfortably sitting) in the class, as all the other girls walked out with great heads of hair. Of course! Their stylists were eager and willing participants in this class, there to learn. With not enough time left to dry my hair, she lathered in YET MORE product, which may or may not have been the toxic chemical that killed Toons in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", and began scrunching my hair in juuuuust a way that it looked like I was gonna go home to my trailer by self-propelling myself home on one of those lever-pumping platforms you can move by yourself. (Anyone know the name of those things? I googled "railroad cartoons alone pumping", and came up empty-handed. UPDATE: It's called a handcar, and thanks to Atara Rich-Shea, who read the entire Thomas the Engine official site to cull this information for me. And, apparently, people race these shits.)

Me, left, headed home after a relaxing day at the spa.

Oh the most hilarious bullshit was when Shirley and Jessica were scrunching my hair, and Shirley says "really let the heat of your hand set the wave." Give me a break, Shirl -- I was on your side, sister, don't lose me now!

The hip Asian teacher could see my brows knitting a sweater made from suspicion and doubt. "Don't worry," she cooed, "Veronica Lake is sooo in right now." Veronica Lake may be in, but I don't see too many girls saying to their stylist "Give me the Darlene from Roseanne." Shirley, you must be kidding me.

I was given a survey to fill out, right in front of my "stylist", and put that everything was satisfactory, instead of God awful. Hey, survey, why don't you ask the petrified turd hanging out of the back of my head how the cut went? Or my layering scissors, which I used to thin out the meat curtains this asshole left hanging in my eyes? Why don't you ask my scissors how my cut went? Or the steam coming out of my ears? Why don't you ask the STEAM COMING OUT OF MY EARS IF MY CUT WAS SATISFACTORY?!?!?

Long, beautiful locks short, try avoiding the Model Project at all costs, or even at no cost at all.

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