Tuesday, January 4, 2011

With every furtive hair on my head

I got a phone call this week that many women (and men, probably) dread.

It was a missed call on my mobile, so I retrieved the message and with each word, I was filled with more trepidation. The news I was hearing was in stark contrast to the gorgeous song I was being sung by the LGBB and I flapped at her and put a finger to my lips to quiet the diva so I could listen.

And then, the message that incites fear into the hearts:

"Kirrily, it's Dianne from (let's just call it the Curl Up And Dye) salon. Unfortunately, Abby is leaving so I'm booking your appointment next week with someone else......."

I dropped the phone (ok, so that's a little dramatic - maybe I just grimaced) and in a slow-motion Apocalypse Now kind of scene, I yelled an agonised, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" The LGBB raised an eyebrow at me and then laughed her head off.

I have had seven hairdressers in eight years at that same place. It's got a bleating revolving door, I'm sure of it. I've had Renae, Lauren, Nicki, Gabby, some other woman I can't remember the name of, Loretta.... And then there's Abby. Best colourist of the lot of them. Knows my hair. Really listens. I've had her for two years (which shows you how many times I've had an inconsistent hair dresser in the better part of the past decade) and I decided I would be damned if I was going to let Dianne on the front desk tell me how it was going down. She runs that place like a prison, you can't get anything past her. I once tried to sneak rations in and she confiscated them. I'm sure they have an interrogation room there. And each time my hair dresser has left, I have let her tell me who I will now be seeing. Granted, that's how I came across the delightful Abby. But that's not the point. I'm not willing to let this one go, she's too good. This time *shaking fist* this time, I was not going to go down without a (furtive) fight. So I planned an ambush.

I did what any self-respecting person would do. I "forgot" to return Dianne's call. I waited two agonising days - hoping like hell that a) Dianne wasn't working that day and b) Abby was working out her notice. Considering the apparently cut-throat world of beauty, I wondered if she wouldn't have been walked off the premises as soon as giving notice, for unless she was going to change her career (NOOOO!) it wouldn't have been wise of them to let her stay there and collect clients to take with her. I could only hope she was still working there by some miracle for the next few days at least (AND was going to still be hairdressing AND had somehow worked around the "going to the competition" thing).

On day three after the message, I got my dialling fingers ready and prepared to hit the hang-up button if I heard her voice. I almost camouflaged up, but that would have been silly. I felt like I was about to commit adultery or something! I tell you, this Dianne... you can't put anything past her. If I got into a conversation with her, let alone ask to speak to Abby to "say goodbye" (wink-wink), she would have been onto me and my cover would have been blown.

As it happens, the phone was answered by Tiffany. A delicious, delightful, squeaky-clean newbie. Good. Dianne mustn't be there, I thought, for nobody else ever seems to answer the phone unless she's got the day off. Which feels like it happens just once a year, to me.

"So, ummmm, is Abby working today?" I ask casually.
"Yes, but she's with a client, can I take a message?" comes the bubbly reply.

Thinking quickly, not wanting to leave a trace (what if Dianne rubs teabags on the message pads to make out what's been written? That would be a disaster), I declined to leave a message. I decided to gush about my hairdresser leaving and being sad that my appointment next week was not going to be with her for the final time. I went for broke. I didn't know what else to do. And..... let's face it, I'm just too damn honest.

"Well, she has a free appointment today at 2:45 if you want it?"

The heavens opened and I heard a choir of angels. No, really. I did. Well, maybe just one angel. The LGBB had started singing on the toilet again (it must be a four year-old girl thing). Bless Tiffany's untainted heart, I got in to see Abby one final time.

When I arrived, we talked hurriedly. Hushed tones, wide eyes, standing close. That actually happened. I'm not exaggerating on that one. This was risky, man! No patron has ever tried to leave Curl Up And Dye to follow their hairdresser and lived to tell the tale. This was the first time I had had the opportunity to see my hairdresser ever again after being informed they "no longer work here, I can book you in with (insert name here), she's one of our senior hairdressers, you're sure to be very happy." I wouldn't be surprised if they had a store cupboard out the back next to the dyeing room where all my past hairdressers are stashed on shelves after being told they were leaving. Just so they didn't have the chance to see their clients again. I've only been told that they'd moved on.... but how do I know that for sure?

So it was fate. Abby was meant to remain my hairdresser. That is, if she was still planning to work in this field. And she was. Huzzah!

"But how are you still here?" I asked.
"I told them I didn't know what I planned to do," she said breathlessly, as if the giddy rush of being blonde but also actually being smart - they tried to dumb her down - and getting away with it was a head rush for her. As it should be! I'm blonde. I know the tricks. And then, Abby handed me the name of the new place where she is going to be working. I slipped the card into my shoe.
"Oh, you're good!" I said in awe.

I have wanted to get out of Curl Up And Dye for so many years, but it's hard to break away. With hair dressers especially, I fear change. I left it up to Dianne, the professional saleswoman who can spot an undecided but loyal customer at ten paces, to tell me who was "reeeeeeally good." I never got a "reeeeeally good" about Abby from Dianne, but I have loved Abby the most. And as I sat listening to her while she did her hair whisperer thing on my hair, I discovered there would be no love lost between them when she walked out that door for the final time.

So, the great escape has been planned. I've paid my last bank-breaking debt to that place and I'm taking Abby with me. Rather.... she's taking me.

We got away with it. The foil of the century. And everybody dyed happy.

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