I had missed what Vincent said, my head cupped back into the green porcelain bowl while his massive fingers roamed my jungle of hair. “Hmmm?,” i let drift up from my near-hypnosis, enjoying the warm water and the dull pain of the massage of my scalp.
“I said, am i hurting you?”
Vincent has a funny lisp of an accent, and newly acquired Key West tan that makes me think of limes when he talks about it. Funny, him shampooing my hair; five years ago he was writing a letter to Brown on my behalf, informing them that my father would not be bearing the financial burden of my tuition.
“Oh, not, not at all. I have a high tolerance, anyhow.”
Moonlighting on a rare Thursday from his other job (presumably as a Social Worker, as that’s why he wrote me the letter in the first place), Vincent is content to allow me to enjoy my scrub in silence, simply nodding my affirmation to his offer of extra-special conditioner. As he finishes, a thought occurs to me:
“This must be terrible for your hands.”
Vincent takes a thoughtful pause from wringing the water from damp wisps of hair dripped on my neck. “You know, no one ever asked me that before. It’s hard. They get sore.”
I nod in quiet affirmation, remembering the highschool pothead who used to wash hair to fuel his addiction, and how angry and red his fingers looked after his first week. I feel rare and different in the salon, even though it’s owned by someone who was at my mother’s wedding and the receptionist is practically my aunt. I recognize people there. A woman walks past, and i squint. Did she anchor for channel ten?
It is my first time back since graduation, with my mother footing the bill. I have made an effort to fit in with the clientele, all of whom some combination of affluent, metrosexual, and of a higher social class than my own. I am bedecked in two-day stubble and bikini underwear that do not show over the top of my low-rise jeans.
Last time i felt more out of place, but this time the underwear seems to be doing the trick. I sit up straighter, conscious of my non-abs winking out from the window of shirt open at my waistline. Still, my voice is unrecognizably indoor and polite, my glance meekly averted from the obvious power-person being lead towards the stairs. She looks like Cheri Oteri, who is from the nearby suburbs. Whoever she is, she whisks past with a high pitched male friend in all black with brown sandals yapping in a gratingly high tenor while waving a limp wrist to and fro like a flamethrower.
I just made a pun, i thought, because i think in italics tags. Even i would not dare mix brown sandals with black clothes; i quietly salute the yapper’s blithe disregard of conventional fashion wisdom. Vincent is done with me, and i wander up through the antiqued hallways to the main room for my cut. It has the same fireplace my apartment does, only mine was a cool million less.
The lengths i will go to for a good haircut.