Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair!

In the city of Shenzhen where we live in China there are many opportunities to experience, at a very cheap price, things that I categoried as luxuries back in Knoxville.  Things like manicures, pedicures, massages and spa treatments.  And since I have always been practical ('to a fault', some of my girlfriends would say), I confess that at age fifty, I have never splurged on a single one of these treats for myself.  But here, in Asia, these luxuries can be had for a LOT less .  A foot massage - about $6.00.  A combination manicure and pedicure, with fancy features like palm trees on each nail  - about $15.  A lengthy full body massage with essential oils? - under $50 at a very nice spa.  A Hair Wash and Style  - under $6.  So, many of my new acquaintances here  kept saying, "You need to try something!" 

I kept resisting.  It IS a fault to be so practical, but I don't think it is all MY fault.  I was raised to never waste or be frivolous.  I spent a lot of my formative years in the company of people who had lived through the Great Depression.  The most influential was my Grandma, Wilma Bell Timm .  And if she were here, she would scoff (really, she could make a "scoffing" sound  when she thought something was just plain foolish or wrong) and say with pride that SHE never needed any of those things and there is no reason to waste money on "such foolishness!"   And when Grandma Timm scoffed about a subject, we all knew not to question any further!  But, the lure of a bargain and the rave reviews of my new friends finally wore me down.

So.....  last weekend Ellysa wanted to get her hair cut.  And since I needed to accompany her to the salon, I thought, 'go for it.'  We arrived a little before 3:30 - no appointments.  People rarely make them as the language barrier can be a challenge.  My color guy,  Leo, was not available to do Elly's hair but within a minute or two we conveyed that any available stylist could handle Elly's cut and I wanted Nancy, who had been recommended by a friend and was available, to do a hair wash.

Elly's haircut service also included a "hair wash" so we were ushered to the back of the salon.  There, they have about 16-20 massage tables that you lay on to get your wash.  Each table has a little head rest that extends over a sink so you can stretch out.  Elly laid on one with a "potluck" washer while I followed "Nancy" a few tables away and laid down.  The wash lasted at least 40 minutes and included two LENGTHY, MASSAGE-Y shampoos, a conditioner treatment with more head massaging,  a neck and shoulder massage, an arm massage with finger "pops", a flip over on your stomach backrub session, AND a thorough ear cleaning with q-tips!. 

I should mention that there are mirrors on the ceiling in the washing area, so you get a change to eavesdrop on the services that others are getting.  Unfortunately, a man near me opted for a strange add-on ear-cleaning.  As I shot covert glances his way, I watched as his "washer" had him roll onto his side and then placed a straw-like tube in his ear.  She put something from a tube on one end of the straw and then, AND THEN.... BROUGHT OUT A LIGHTER AND LIT THE TUBE!  I have no clue what this was all about - earwax softening? evil spirits exorcism? ???  I only know I was rehearsing how to say "Bu Yao", meaning "NO WANT!" in case Nancy had pulled out tubes and a lighter.  But, to my relief, I only got the q-tips.  This was scary enough, since, as Elly said later, "They are a lot smaller than your elbow!" :) 

After the washing and massaging, we went to the styling area where Elly had a cut and sytle and I had a style session with a 'senior associate'.  Said associate seperated my hair into about 35 sections and slowly, meticulously styled each section.  After this, he sprayed and tucked and played with the collective whole until I had what I will call "party hair!".   Elly and I finished at about the same time, a little past 4:45.  We looked good, felt good.

And what did this hour and 15 minutes of hands-on service cost for the two of us, you ask?  Elly's cost about $9.  Mine - only $4.75!  (We did get a discount because I bought a pre-paid services card for about $200 back when Leo did not ruin my hair the first time.  This is a unique marketing approach used at this salon wherein you pre-buy an amount of services but then get 30% off  every time you use the card.) Anyway, despite Grandma Timm's ever-present and often right voice whispering the contrary, I didn't think it was all THAT foolish. ( I may even have to try it again....) 


Monday, March 15, 2010

Only Your Hairdressor Knows For Sure

I love my Knoxville hairdresser.  Jodie, or "Ms. Jodie", as the girls and I usually refer to her, has been cutting my hair since...hmmmm.... was I pregnant with Emily,?or was Emily a baby?  (Oh no, I'm starting to forget anciant history too!)  Anyway, I remember Jodie waited patiently with me for Emily to get hair, ('please, God, just a little hair?'). She was so bald! For so long!  I lovingly nicknamed her '"Uncle Fester", in homage to the  shiny-headed, plump-faced  character  on the "Adam's Family"  whom she resembled.   (Sorry , Emily, I know you think I didn't have to record that, but we have pictures already, and pictures don't lie.)  Anyway, Jodie has taken care of our families' hair for a LONG time.  Jodie gave Emily her first haircuts. We still reminisce about how magical it was to cut away at her wispy white locks and, afterwards, look on the floor and on her shoulders and see no evidence.  So pale and gossamer thin was her hair, it just seemed to vaporize.  'Like an angel's hair',  I would sigh and think...... then again, never mind!  This is the same child I ALSO nick-named "Tempy" because of her wicked temper. 

Jodie also began cutting Erin's hair as a child.  We even had a "Glamour Birthday" hair and nails party at Jodie's salon when Erin was maybe 7 (or 9?  Erin will have to correct me and remind me.  Those old photos are in storage!)  At some pont even  Bill joined the Jodie fan club and she had the whole family locked in.  When Ellysa came along, Jodie got to experience a whole 'nother category of hair.  Once Elly's "Don King" hairstyle finally laid down, Jodie's was the only chair that Elly wanted to sit it.

Yes, Jodie has been keeping Groh hair gorgeous for nearly 2 decades!   For those of you who can think of times when my hair has been "less than" beautiful, let me say for the record that this was NEVER Jodie's fault.  I must confess I am not the most disciplined client in any matters of beauty.  Over the years, I stretched a haircut, a color, a highlight, a perm, FAR beyond it's natural life !  Jodie would say, "See you in  __ weeks!" and I would return in double that time, looking frizzy, moppy, multi-colored.  But Jodie always did what she could with a less than cooperative subject.

One of the last things I did before leaving Knoxville to move to China August  3rd was get a haircut and color treatment.  I asked Jodie to work a(nother) miracle and give me a style and color that would last as long as possible.  Then, knowing that  even I could not go ten months without visiting a salon,  I asked Jodie to write down the secret recipe for my current hair color.  She lovingly oblidged and, after hugs and tears, I left Jodie behind until the summer of  2010.  Which brings me to, to borrow a line from Paul Harvey, ...."the rest of the story" .

I have conquered my fears and overcome my dependency on Ms. Jodie.  I have been to Shekou's salon of choice for ex-pats, "The Tonan" Salon !  After asking new acquaintances met via the women's club and school events, I bravely walked up the spiral stairs and asked for "Leo".  Leo, I was told, cut a lot of "Western" hair (don't think 'Annie Oakley'; think NOT asian).  On my first visit, Leo studied Jodie's notes and consulted his "Book of Hair".  Every salon has at least one of these cookbooks for hair ; it contains all the  samples of various colored locks of hair, sorted in descending hues, that the salon's brand of colorant can concoct.  In his broken english and my completely severed mandarin, we pointed and nodded and agreed on a (Loreal brand) tone that equated to Jodie's (Wella Brand) equation.  I also worked hard to make him understand that I was "growing my hair out" ,"only wanted a T-R-I-M", "a little bit", "not too much", "keeping L-O-N-G", hoping that one of those words or phases was part of his limited vocabulary.  I was nervous through the entire process.  I kept recalling what my Mom, a hairdressor herself, used to joke to her customers: "Do you know the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut?......."Two weeks."   I sat with the gloppy mix of color on my head, glancing at Leo, wondering how long he was going to let me "process" and wondering all along: What is the difference between a good dye job and a bad one?"  But, after about 2.5 hours I left a with a perky brownish/goldish/auburnish color that seemed close to what Jodie had achieved in the past.  Like Jodie, Leo styled my hair into a sleek, chic look that I knew I would never have the time or talent to reproduce, but I felt good. 
More than 8 weeks have passed , and I need to see Leo again.  He has cut Emily's hair and Erin's too but he was too busy the other day when I stopped by with Ellysa.  Bill is being stubborn, seeing a very cheap barber who gave him, let's just say, a lot of haircut for the money."  I'll write more later about the China phenomonon called "Going For A Hair Wash". 

If you like your hairdressor, let him/her know it!  You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

(This post is dedicated to Jodie, whom I will always love (even if Leo can mix color).  I like a hair dressor I can chit chat with.  One who knows a little harmless gossip.  One who agrees with my ideas to solve the world's problems.  One who keeps candy in a jar for my daughters. One who prays for me and my family.  One who has known me for .....well... for a long time, and loves ME anyway! )