You hung up. Finally! Took forever.
I couldn’t wait to start a conversation. So I lowered my voice a notch to make it sound butter smooth, yet gravelly. I wanted to make an impression, see?
I mumbled, “So how’re you doing today?”, a little too close to your ear, and you instinctively leaned back towards my voice. That was bold of me. I don’t do that with clients. But you were different. You were inviting. No, you weren’t trashy or easy. But with me, you seemed inviting in a non-hooker way. A guy can tell.
“Great!”, is all you replied with, and a smile. And you left it at that. What was I supposed to make out of it? You weren’t being too loquacious like girls who want attention from a guy, and you weren’t close-lipped like other girls who wanted to deflect attention from unwanted overtures of love. You left me hanging there. And I was caught – hook, line and sinker.
I cleared my throat, concentrate on work! “So what would you like me to do?” Oops! An unfortunate choice of words, but unlike other girls who would have given into a deliberate fit of laughter, you only smiled and your eyes crinkled up cutely at the corners, “What can you do for me?”, you whispered, chewing the words before you uttered them so I could feel that fascinating cadence of your cherried lips.
I took my time answering because I was bedazzled. Words weren’t forming in my head. Man! This never happened to me before.
“Uhhh…. Do you want a haircut?” I asked, aiming at formal, but getting fumbly like a teenager.
“Yes.” Again a monosyllable. And all this while you had been staring into my eyes. How old were you then? 22? Definitely not more than 24. But you already knew how to hold someone’s gaze, like you were a pro at it.
I let go of the backrest of the chair and took your hair in my hand. Man, sometimes I love my job for its perks! I was getting to touch you already when touching wasn’t appropriate when you’ve just met someone.
You had lanky hair, I’ll be frank. Like flat, thin and mousy. Was I disappointed? No. This job had taught me that thin hair could sometimes be better than voluminous, thick, unruly hair. So I threw myself in my best business-mode. I think I’ve said before I wanted to impress you. “You have very fine hair. I don’t see any layering and they’ve thinned out at the ends. So, we could give you some volume with layers…”, I trailed off, waiting for you to encourage me with ideas of your own, like most other clients do, but you stayed quiet. You were new to the salon, I could tell, even though it had only been three years since I joined there, because you weren’t making eye contact with anyone else who worked in the salon. So a little hesitation in you was warranted, but not in me. I need to know what the client wants, ASAP. It’s part of my job. Most hair stylists are busy people. They have other clients to take care of. Too much dilly-dallying over one client means the later ones get even more late.
But that day, I wanted time to stop so I could read you. I wanted to take time to put this puzzle together. I wanted to elicit more than monosyllables from you. Why weren’t you talking more to me? It was fucking with my head, making me feel… inadequate, out of my depth. And that’s another thing I don’t like – being inadequate.
“Do you have any ideas about what you want? Pictures or something?” I asked to encourage you. You shook your head and then added, again chewing your words, “Do whatever you want”.
Those words that every stylist dreads – Do. Whatever. You. Want. In our line that means the client has no clue what they want and are expecting a miracle from you, and 9 out of 10 times they’ll hate what you do to their hair because it’s not a haircut that they actually want, its therapy. In my line it practically spells ‘complicated’ in huge, flashing neon signs. Didn’t I say I fucking hate complicated? But nooooo, that day my spidey-senses had gone haywire. And even though you said those words, it didn’t ping me as wrong, it just egged me on to impress you even more. Why? I was a professional. I never did this. I had worked with models, and celebs and women far more beautiful than you, and never lost control. But you… your doe-eyes that screamed ‘innocence’, your slight frame that made you look ethereal, your unassuming insouciance to what you were doing to me, was strangely inviting. You looked the part of a girl who was wispy, the kind any guy would want to protect; but something about you made me feel that behind that wispy interior was a steel-reinforced-time-wisened soul who could handle anything. And that’s what hooked me.
Heretofore, I’d never been interested in women who were anything but overtly interested in me. Like I said, I don’t like complicated and I like women who tell me straight up that they want me. But you… you were not giving me anything beyond crumbs. You were baiting me. Like I said before, I LOVE intriguing. And you were intrigue personified!
“Anything?”, I said suggestively. Most shy girls would have corrected me and elaborated on what kind of cut they wanted. Most bold girls would have invitingly answered, ‘…anything’, but not you. You just smiled and commanded me, “Get started”, as if I was your lap dog and you wanted me to bark on cue. Well, I don’t like to think that I could be treated like a dog by anyone, but damn, I’d bark, play dead, play fetch for you!
All I did say though was, “Lets get you pampered first. A shampoo and a good rub will get you relaxed.”
And pat came the reply in that same mesmerizing cadence, “Who said I needed relaxing?”
And damn, were you right!
I licked my dry lips in response and gave you a feeble smile…
To be continued
©Pradita Kapahi, 2017.