Choosing Henley(5)

By: Anne Jolin

THE NEXT WEEK at work went by quickly. The salon was a revolving door of women getting their hair done for various holiday events, and that meant I hardly had a moment to myself.

The woman currently in my chair must be in her late fifties and obviously takes that whole ‘hairstylists are like therapists’ reference very literally. I am working on trimming her bob when she abruptly bursts out crying. I am so not good at crying people.

As her shoulders are heaving with sobs, I look around the salon in a panic. It’s almost empty because it’s the end of the day and there is no one around to save me. I awkwardly start to rub her back. She must have some serious shit going on, and who am I to judge? A few minutes later, she calms down enough to speak.

“This year has just been so stressful, dear,” she says. I nod my head sympathetically. “I’ve lost nearly thirty percent of my hair this year.”

“It still looks lovely,” I coo and go back to cutting her hair now that she’s calmed down.

I’ve moved on to blow-drying and styling her hair when the owner of the salon, Maria, sits down in the chair beside my client. They must know each other because they start talking and it doesn’t take long for the conversation to get personal—very personal.

“My vagina is just so dry, even during sex now.”

I almost burn myself on the flat iron as my client speaks.

“Menopause is the devil’s work, I tell you.” She directs her attention to me in the mirror now. “Mark my words, dear. Enjoy that vagina of yours while it’s still working properly.” She nods her head at me through the mirror, and it takes everything I have to let out a laugh instead of curling up in a ball on the floor.

What do I handle worse than crying people? People who over-share personal information. Why is this a problem? Because it happens all the time at my job. People will tell their hair dressers literally anything. I’ve perfected the ‘fake face,’ and that’s a good thing, because right now, I am dying on the inside.

This woman is traumatizing me. To top it all off, she’s talking about my vagina and her vagina. Oh my God. No one should ever have to hear a strange woman say vagina this many times.

I’m wordlessly finishing up her hair as fast as I can when she speaks again.

“I can tell you are a very open person…” she trails off.

“Lennon,” I answer.

“Oh what a unique name.” She smiles. “I can tell you are a very open person, Lennon, and this conversation isn’t bothering you one bit.”

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I chant in my head as I return her smile and answer.

“No.” I wave the flat iron back and forth in the air. “Not at all. Please,” I tell her kindly even though I am seriously considering cutting off my ears so I don’t have to listen to the chronicles of her vagina anymore.

“I’m so glad, dear,” she croons as I take her cape off. Then she stands. “I’ll be back to see you again soon. Don’t forget what I told you.” She winks and I have to forcibly stop myself from gagging.

I am not an open person whatsoever.

It takes me a little over thirty minutes to clean up my station and lock up the salon. I’m exhausted and traumatized. All I want to do is go home, eat dinner, and watch TV. I make my way across the parking lot and climb into my SUV. While waiting for the windows to defrost, I check my phone.

Hannah – Lunch tomorrow, butthead?

I laugh and answer her back. We’ve really become ‘ladies who lunch’ over the last few days. It will be nice to spend some one-on-one time together. We don’t get to do that as much anymore now that we no longer live together.

We make plans to meet at the River House restaurant in town at one. By the time I’ve finished answering all my messages, the windows are clear and I pull out of the lot.

When I pull up outside our condo, I notice that Peyton, our new roommate and also my coworker’s car is here, but Beth’s Mazda isn’t. She’s gone all the time these days, but I never know where she is. Hannah and I are eventually going to have to grill her about it. I walk inside the front door, dumping my purse, coat, and boots in the entryway before heading straight for the kitchen.

“How was work?” Peyton asks from the couch.

We’ve worked together a little over a year now at the salon, but we have different shifts. When Hannah moved in with Greyson and I bought her half of the condo, Peyton moved in as Beth’s and my third roommate. It helps keep costs down for everyone, and she needed a place to stay.

Peyton is beautiful. She has honey-coloured, shoulder-length hair with caramel streaks throughout. It looks stunning on her. And I’m not just saying that because I did them either. She is petite with the most unique grey eyes, and she is incredibly soft spoken. To be honest, I don’t know that much about her. She’s sweet but keeps to herself most of the time, only coming out with us on the rare occasion.

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