I was planning on firing one of my favorite clients today. But she has just texted an apology for her latest explosion of emotions, of which I regularly have had to put up with, for many years; and now I don’t know what to do. I’m in a phase of self-growth in my life and I seem to gravitate to more peaceful evened give-and-take relationships. On the other hand, she does pay me…, if not for her hair, then for me to tell her that she’s beautiful–on the inside, even though her bipolar highs and lows seem to be at odds with that truth.
My first inclination that mine and “Tina’s” relationship was not going to materialize without a bit of escalated drama occurred to me when one of the front desk staff came to my hair cutting station, ten years ago.
“There’s a nutty chick on the phone who’s been trying to get an appointment with you,” the young girl said. I cocked my head as if to say, soooo. “She’s been here before, to almost all the other stylists, and none of them ever want to do her hair again.”
I’ve not worked at a lot of salons, but in every one of them, I’m the guy you give the hard-to-handle clients. They call me the Mafia Hairdresser because I’ve been a hairdresser to real mobsters and I don’t mind a little crazy. Not only are people who might seem odd to others intriguing to me, I find that they can be the most fascinating individuals who have chosen or have been “gifted” idiosyncrasy, they inspire me to be different as well.
Much to the chagrin of the front desk staff, and even some of my co-workers, I began to do Tina’s thick, down-to-her-waist, long blonde hair. She’s has come into the salon every three weeks for ten years and I color her mousy brown roots to a soft blonde shade. Aside from attracting men with her 33DD boobs, Tina’s hair has always been a source of pride. She even has other women stopping her on the street to tell her that she has lovely hair. It’s part of her mojo. But Tina literally has a mental break-down every time I trim her ends and she obsesses about the condition of her hair. About every three months she has me add highlights and then has me strip them out on her next appointment and then accuses me changing the way I do her hair; which I have learned never to do unless she has begged me to. While doing her hair I nod and listen to her stories of being victimized by her Botox doctor, her last dentist who drilled too deep, or why she was in the hospital again: a fever, new bigger boobs, an infection as a result of her anus bleaching or her new lips—either set. And try and apply color or cutting the ends of on a moving target… Tina constantly fidgets like a five year old in my styling chair while answering her phone or trying to show me pictures of her latest “boyfriend.”
I’ve done a lot of “professional” girls in my 30 year + career. I’ve always thought that I would write about one of them in my fictional books. But most of them are not so much bigger than life, or exotic, or more bad or good than anyone else. Most of the girls that I’ve come to know and befriend, like Tina, receive big gifts, cars, expensive clothes and shopping sprees, and they get years’ worth of their mortgages paid for by their “boyfriends.” The boyfriends are different ages but many are married. Some of them are Indian or from a country and family where a “fun girl” with giant tits would not be considered a suitable mate for them. All of the men are rich and enjoy spending time with girls like Tina, however compartmentalized or long or short a period of time that they can steel away from their “real” lives.
One girl I knew was a dancer at one of Chicago’s strip clubs. Her name was “Laurel” and her apartment was fully paid for and furnished by a head coach of one of our town’s major league baseball teams. I used to go to baseball games where Laurel would get tickets in the wives’ section, behind the net, between home and first base. It was strange to me at the time, but it was apparent that many of the wives knew who and what she did to get those seats. Now I realize that those particular wives were not worried that such a girl could be kept by their own husbands because those wives were there keeping an eye on their husbands.
Laurel and I parted ways when she began “dating” an A-list player on the same team as the coach. After all, the coach had to go home most nights to his own wife and kids, but she had the time…to secure more gifts. This particular famous player was single and sometimes Laurel would be whisked away with him so he could take her to his original home, a small island country, or a quick San Francisco date. Unfortunately for me, Laurel would cancel her appointments at a minutes’ notice as well and she began to cost me money. So I fired her as a client. The baseball player fell in love with Laurel but his own mother didn’t take a liking to Laurel and hired a U.S. private investigator to protect her son. When the mama of the star major league player found out that Laurel was a “kept woman” of the coach, her son’s relationship with her came to an abrupt end. A fact of note: very few of the exotic dancers in men’s clubs are “professional girls.” I know because the ones who are have told me so.
I’ve met many of Tina’s boyfriends. I’ve even become friends with one of them, a great guy. And please don’t judge him for “cheating” on his wife. If I told you his circumstances of how noble he is to keep his wife in his life, both to support and protect, while not being able to actually receive any love from her, you would like him too. He also adores Tina. He puts up with her bipolar disorder. He takes care of her. But I’ve come to the point where I might not want to anymore. This makes me sad.
If you are reading this, you probably want to know what the tipping point was for me to consider firing Tina. Last week I trimmed her hair. The whole ten minute ordeal made me sweat. My back was tight as my hands clenched around my comb and scissors while Tina screamed that I was pulling too hard and that she could actually feel the nerve endings in her hair die. Then, two days later, I got an emotional and angry text from her. Why had I made her looks so horrible? She asked me if I hated her. Of course I admitted that I may have neglected to taper her hair around the edges and had her come back in. After her hair was fixed, I thought we were finished with that “cycle,” but nooo. In the middle of the night I began getting zany texts and pictures of her before and after hair-disaster. More accusations and nasty names. After one more apology and another offer to fix her hair, I thought it was the end—until she said, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” And I think I was done.
But if there is one thing that I’ve learned from women, it is to be patient. Women like Tina and Laurel have opened up to me and I have learned not to judge and that it must be very complicated to be them, bipolar disorder aside. So I’m going to sit tight on this subject for a few nights. As I’ve stated, I’ve already received a full apology text from Tina. I just don’t know if I need to give any more of my patience to her anymore. It might be time to let another hairdresser receive what I’ve received from her these past ten years.
New book by Jon-David