Nothing makes me feel more like a woman than getting my hair cut. Well, that’s not true. Nothing makes me feel more like my mother than getting my hair cut. My mom comes from Baltimore, the so-called hair capital of the world. Like me, she sports a gravity-defying halo of big, big hair. And, like me, she’s serious about hair care.
I learned my hair lessons early. When you have hair like ours, you have to be creative. You have to work hard. When we saw Dirty Dancing in 1987, my mom scoured the credits, tracked the film’s stylist down, and made appointments for both of us.
Then my mom met Tonnee. Tonnee worked at a salon at the Plaza Hotel. He was sarcastic, flamboyant, and fabulous. It was love at first snip, and before long, Tonnee was teasing both of our hair into matching bouffants. As he did so, I marveled at how intimate my mom and Tonnee were. When she insisted on drying her own hair, Tonnee scowled and said, “One of these days, I’m going to fire you.” But he didn’t. When Tonnee quit the Plaza, we quit with him, following him from apartment to apartment in the West Village and Chelsea.
At some point in my teens, however, I rebelled. I dyed my hair red. I went curly. I developed my own hair regimen and became faithful to my own set of products. But I always craved the kind of relationship my mom had with her hairdressers.
Then, after college, I came to Washington and found Patrick. Patrick works at Bang Salon & Spa. At first, he was businesslike, perfunctory, but I wooed him with TV gossip and tales of my love life. When Patrick moved from the U Street Bang to the Verizon Center location, I moved with him. And when I brought my own products to an appointment a couple weeks ago, he smiled and promised he wouldn’t fire me.