I won't lie to you... I have a ridiculous fear of finding hair stylists. Seriously. There is a part of me that feels like this is really serious business - what my head looks like - and there should be some kind of interview process, a look at a portfolio, several references, and maybe a sneak drop-in visit to watch the hairdresser in action before actually choosing the person that you are going to trust to attack your head with scissors and a round brush.
In The States, a had a mild panic attack when I went to a new hairdresser upon returning from Peru. She had been recommended to me by someone I trusted, and she sounded great on the phone, but the salon was named "Eye Candy" and that sent a small shiver of fear down my spine. Should a women in her late forties be getting her hair cut in a place named "Eye Candy"? I went to the appointment anyway, only to walk into a salon that was painted in zebra stripes and hot pink and lime green and lined with about 20 chairs and stylists. Maybe because I had just spent 5 years in a third-world country, this threw me for a little bit of a loop. I mean, in Peru, haircuts cost just a handful of coins and my cute little hair lady had a very modest two-chair salon that was about the size of my bathroom. So walking in to this "chic" hair salon was a dramatic difference for me. I started to fear for my life... well, maybe only for the life of my hair, but still. In all honesty, it was great! The stylist was darling and she did exactly what I had asked her to do. She was a great conversationalist and we had a great time. PS... I love Eye Candy and I will return when in The States again.
So, fast forward to today... I haven't gone to get my hair cut since moving to Spain. Again, fear. The dread of finding a good stylist. So I let my husband go first. A few weeks ago, he went to get his hair cut at a place close to our new home. When he returned, he looked great! It was even actually a little longer than his usual cut, which is a mistake in a good direction - you can't do much about a mistake in the too-short direction! I began with my battery of questions for him. "Are they professional? Was it a woman in her bathrobe with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, watching a soap opera while she cut your hair in her kitchen / salon? Did the scissors and combs and salon appear clean? Did the stylist have purple hair or a tattooed face or anything that would make me fear for the fate of my hair?" He assured me that all was well, that it was clean, that they were professional, that it was a real salon, etc. So I agreed to try.
Today was the fateful day. All three of us needed a trim. My daughter went first (okay, I admit to letting her be a guinea pig, but I was pretty sure they couldn't mess up "cut an inch off the bottom"). After a few minutes, she was washed, she was trimmed, she was dried, and all was well. Great!!! This might actually work out!
Then it was my turn. I was washed and set up in the chair. I showed the stylist the photo that I always take in with me. She looked at it, as did the two other stylists in the salon. "Que preciosa! Muy elegante!" (How precious! Very elegant!) Hmmm... score one for me! That sounds promising! I asked her to please not trim my bangs any shorter than they are right now, to which she agreed. Great again! Okay, now down to business... she combed, she separated hair into parts and clipped up areas with pins and clips so she could attack, umm, I mean "style" the back.
With the first cut, I knew I was in trouble. You see, there just isn't much you can do when someone holds the scissors vertically up the back of your head and cuts from neck to crown in one fail slice. Yep. There it goes. You can't replace that big hunk of hair that just fell to the salon floor. And you can't exactly quit now, seeing as there is a giant hunk of hair missing from the back on your scalp!
The hair continued to fall, and fall, and fall. And I thought, "This is it. This is the nightmare that I always feared would happen in a salon." I began to think back to the two blog articles I had read by other mission women on this very subject. Want to know what women go through in other cultures trying to get a simple hair cut? Worth a read are Scissor Hands and "Pavos, Flecos, Bangs!"
While my stylist is having a heyday on the back of my head, my husband is seated in the chair next to me for his cut. He looks over and sees the mayhem that is ensuing. He tries to not let it register on his face. He is unsuccessful. He tries to assure me that it will be okay. Also unsuccessful. He decides to close his eyes for the rest of his cut. I think I'm supposed to think that he is relaxing, but I KNOW that he is praying... praying for a miracle, praying that I don't kill him for convincing me that this was a good salon, praying that our night / weekend / life is not forever effected by this episode. Probably praying that he can get out of his chair first and run before I am finished!
Just as she finishes my hair, she says, "I just love how you have let your gray hair grow and blend in with your blonde. It looks like it was frosted. So silvery. Preciosa! Que Preciosa!" Hmmmm... I'm not sure how to take that, seeing as literally every single person in the salon has on a cap smeared with hair color - including the stylist! The only ones without caps and dye are me, my husband, and our nine-year old daughter. So I'm not sure that my hair color really is so "preciosa". I think it is just a novelty that I don't color it. Maybe sarcasm, maybe a hint... whatever, it didn't feel very preciosa at the time.
So here I sit, staring at my reflection in the computer screen. My daughter took one look at me and her eyes bugged out and she said, "that is not the picture you showed her". No kidding, Baby, no kidding. Is it any consolation that everyone in the salon commented and said, "Que Preciosa!" as I walked out?
The hair salon... a sure-fire road to the pit of culture shock.
So I'm cleaning the house like a wild woman today... sweeping, mopping, dusting, scrubbing toilets... everything. We have guests coming to coffee later and the house has to be spic and span EVERYWHERE, not just the kitchen or the living room. In the USA, if the upstairs wasn't clean and perfect, "oh well". Because usually the guests only see the living room and the kitchen and the bathroom anyway, right? Well, not so here in Spain! It is customary to "show the house" when you have guests over. When we have been over to visit others, we are shown the whole house - like a tour. We are paraded through the rooms - every single one of them, even the bathrooms, even the laundry room, even the roof area where they hang laundry, everywhere! The first time, I thought it a little strange. The second time, I thought it even stranger! Then I was let in on the secret... it is customary. Cultural. It is showing you that there is nothing to hide. You have seen it all. You are "in" and accepted. You have been shown the whole house. So, I'm cleaning today in anticipation of having to do the home-tour thing tonight and show our guests the whole house. Not that there is a lot of house to see... but they will see it none-the-less. Dust bunnies, beware! I'm on a rampage against grime and smudges today! Oh the things we do in the name of culture and 'fitting in'...
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!