Next Tuesday, I will get on a plane and head for the Other Washington, where I'll be attending a conference. It promises to be lively -- hundreds of writers talking about what they do, how they do it, and why. So I'm excited. Mostly. After all, it's also intimidating to wander among the well-published or -- gulp -- their agents.
I'm in prep mode, trying to get all my ducks in order before I leave. Bills paid? Check. Clothes washed? Almost check. Toiletries packed? Check, and check. How about a haircut? Check ... please.
I present, for your amusement, a conversation (sort of) that transpired when I went for a trim this week. Let's just say that the small talk the stylist tried to engage me in was not what I'd expected.
Scene: a local bargain-basement hair salon (conveniently advertising half-price cuts). The service in the past has been hit-or-miss because of the rotating staff. But the long layers our protagonist usually requests are a fairly straightforward job, and even a few misplaced snips disappear within two weeks as her hair grows out. For $7.99, it's still a deal.
Hairdresser: [Draping her client in a smock] "What would you like today?"
C. Troubadour: "Just a clean-up on the ends, please."
H: "No problem."
She begins combing and snipping. CT watches in the mirror but stays quiet so as not to disturb the woman's concentration.
H: [As she runs her fingers through a section on one side] "Love that Asian hair. So thick and strong. When I was younger and wore extensions, that's what I would get."
CT: "Oh?" [Looks up at the woman's longish chestnut-colored pixie cut.]
H: "Yep, I loved it because you could bleach it but the pigment in it was so strong that it would turn orange -- I liked that look."
Unsure what else to say, CT nods.
H: "I still dye my hair now -- do it myself." [Smiles proudly.] "But it's to hide all the gray."
CT: [Relieved to find something to respond to, swiping at trimmings gathering on her face] "I've got some of that coming in at the crown."
H: "You do!" [Continues snipping.] "Mine's at the temples. I always thought that looked so good on a man. But on me? It sticks out all over the place like little wires. As if I needed pubic hair coming out of my head."
CT pauses mid-swipe.
H: [Gesturing with her scissors at random points around her head] "I mean, it's like sproing! sproing! sproing! sproing! sproing! -- "
CT's eyes widen.
H: "So that's why I dye it. You know, I wonder why armpit hair doesn't turn gray. I mean, don't you?"
CT is speechless.
H: "I wonder too sometimes if my eyebrows are graying as well. It looked like they were getting lighter, but I couldn't tell for sure since I started coloring them to match. What a nuisance, eh?"
A pause. CT flounders for something, anything to say --
CT: "Well ... at least you know what you're doing?"
6 hours ago