Today I went to get my hair done, which means cut and colored. I have been seriously messing with my hair color since I was 18, which I find fun and relaxing. I figure it is one of the things you can change about yourself on a freakish whim, and if you don’t like it, you can change it to another freakish whim. I have been through most of the available colors and variations in hair color and cut, but I always strive to improve my freak. Today’s selection was the razored mid-length bob, dark chocolate brown with violet highlights. I wish many more people would have funky hair, it would brighten up the landscape considerably. You chickens.

I worked at a salon in Chicago for about a year. I was the $4.50 per hour all-purpose grunt who was the receptionist, cashier, bank runner, client file keeper, shampoo girl, laundress, sweeper woman, and also was called upon to put color on some poor unknowing women occasionally, which was a total no-no. Whenever I did that, I pictured the Illinois State Board of Cosmetology Police breaking down the door and arresting everyone while, because this was Chicago, beating everyone senseless with their hair brooms.

The worst part of the job was washing out relaxer from the hair of a middle-aged Jewish woman from Old Town. Oh, god. This gunk was, I swear, made from heavy-weight axle grease and the feces of Satan. When it was time for it to be washed out, I felt like I was headed to Death Row. It was impossible, IMPOSSIBLE, to get out of her hair. Scrub scrub scrub scrub, lather rinse repeat a THOUSAND TIMES. The thick smelly horrible grease clung onto every strand of hair like some hideous gelatinous alien vomit. My arms would get so sore, her neck would kink from being in the stupid shampoo bowl, but that shit would NOT RINSE OUT!!! After about what seemed like an hour, I would either call it “good enough” or call one of the stylists over to relieve me. It got to the point where when I saw her name in the appointment book, I would come down with “relaxer flu” and stay home. Relaxer whupped my ass good. She should’ve just stuck with her natural jewfro and saved me and her neck the misery.

The best part of the job were the conversations, had or overheard. For some reason, when people get into a salon, they tend to spill their guts for all to hear, like they enter some sacred beauty confessional. It doesn’t matter who is around; start slapping on some bleach and foils and women start telling you everything. Sometimes it was personal -- love life, depression or illness, work issues, child stories -- sometimes some kickass travel rants or gossip. The best stories were about famous people and/or tales with great vitriol. It’s like the bleach would leech out the venom and common sense from the bowels of the client’s psyche, to be spewed upon the waiting ears of me, the stylists, Dandruff Man Who Tips Well, Brusque Lesbian Professional Woman, Shoulder Pad Ditz Girl, and of course Relaxer Woman, who never got the full story because her head was always in the stinking shampoo bowl.

It was a fun job, mostly, but after awhile I got tired of working for so little pay and regard. So I moved out West, went to college, got my degree, and then had a pile of children and never used it. HA HA, me.

I wonder what name the shampoo girl/receptionist gives to me when she sees my name in the appointment book. I do not even want to guess, but I bet I would think it was pretty funny.