Hairdresser Generation Gap

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You know you’re getting older when you make a pop culture reference to your new hairdresser and realize she wasn’t yet born when that culture existed.

I don’t talk much when I get my hair done.  Back in the day, when I held down a hefty job and was raising a small child, it was a blessed break in which I lost myself in back issues of People and Us magazines.  I warned any person new to doing my hair that I preferred quiet to chit chat.  The hum of hair dryers, music and conversations in the background lulled me into something of a zen state.

I still prefer not to idly chat with my hair person.  It’s nothing personal; she is lovely.  I just find it odd to go two months between appointments and then blather on as if we’re old friends.  And, in my introverted world view, I assume it’s a nice break for her not to be expected to carry on a conversation about upcoming vacation plans and family visits.  I’d guess that she couldn’t care less about the idiosyncrasies of my daily life.  As long as I show up on time and pay her a nice tip, it’s all good.

Sitting in the chair at the salon last week, tin foil folds sticking out all over my head, Pandora played 80’s music in the background.  I don’t know why they had chosen the “oldies” station, perhaps out of deference to the assumed tastes of their clientele (me).  To our great entertainment, the toddler son of another patron really liked it.  He bounced around in front of us as Sting pleaded, “Don’t Stand So, Don’t Stand So, Don’t Stand So Close to Me.”  And I thought about my growing up decade, and I thought about my hair, and I joked about how she could imagine how big my hair could get, back when hair was meant to be big, given how thick and curly it is.   And I realized, after her awkward laughter, this is another good reason why I just shouldn’t talk at the salon.  I had referenced an era as foreign to her as Motown is to me.  She knows of it, in a sort of vague, my-parents-get-nostalgic sort of way.

When I was growing up, my neighbor Mrs. Duffy would go and get her hair “done” every week.  A wash and set.  I remember that she went to a beauty “parlor.”  It was old fashioned, even back then, and I imagined that all of the hairdressers at the parlor were older ladies.  But now I’m wondering if she did that because they were her people.  They understood her pop-culture references.  They shared the same era, experientially speaking.

Now that I’m <ahem> a woman of a certain age, perhaps I need to find the 80’s and early 90’s version of a beauty parlor.  Someplace where they wear sparkly spandex, head bands and leg warmers.  Where everyone gets a perm, along with mousse and toxic levels of hair spray.  Where I can make a Magnum PI reference and they won’t think it’s a big bottle of merlot.

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Some Old Friends Stay in the Past, I Guess

I attended a reunion of women who had worked at my old law firm this week.  Going in, I really didn’t know what to expect.  It was a bit like going through the looking glass.  Here were people I used to spend entirely too many hours in a day with, but with whom I had lost touch after moving on to new and different experiences.  Many of them are truly lovely people, especially outside of the work place.  It was fun catching up on who was still with the firm, who had left and then gone back, how many children they had collected and what stage of life they were in.  Some were retired, some were seeing their youngest (who had been young children when we worked together) out of college.  Some had moved on to new and interesting roles as judges and activists.

I found myself a little nostalgic.  What if . . . I hadn’t left.  What if . . . I had done a better job staying in touch.  What if . . .  and then I bumped into a woman who had been such a good friend when we worked together.  She looked terrific.  She was the same but better.  She showed me pictures of her beautiful daughter.  She told me snarky stories as no one else could.  I realized I had missed her terribly.  As she ran out for a client call, we hugged and promised to get lunch soon.

And then, I saw another old friend across the room.  I made my way over and said hello, giving her a hug.  And the room chilled by several degrees.  Well then.  She and I had been very close.  We had been part of a group of friends that disbanded over time, I thought, because of spouses and kids and commitments and jobs that took us in different directions. But usually when that’s the case, we smile broadly and say how much we miss those days and look forward to getting back to it again.  Not this time.  I wondered what had happened.  Had I slighted her so many years ago?  I couldn’t think of anything.  What?

My heart a little mixed up, I made may way to my car and on home.  I was so happy to have reconnected, on some level, with so many wonderful people.  And I was sad that one friend was no longer that.

I remind myself that life does get in the way sometimes, and people have stories we know nothing about.  I’ll keep her in my heart with the memories from our past.  Safe and happy travels ahead, my dear old friend.