As I admitted in my February 11 posting “Hair: My Croning Glory,” I knew Romy’s intent had always been to make me worthy of what she called my youthful energy. Yet I felt I had acted cowardly when I hadn’t respond to Romy in person and told her my reason for not scheduling a cut or color since September. I was afraid to tell her outright of my aim to be less vain. I failed to say I wasn’t willing to have her commandeer my head, deciding what style and colors would suit me best. After all, she was the professional, and when I sat in her chair I belonged to her from the neck up. Although on several occasions she had strong ideas about necklines, jewelry, and shoes. I thought that my voice mail response to Romy’s initial call meant that it was over.
When I saw her name on my phone on Friday, I took a deep breath and bravely took the call. I could hear the disdain in her voice when she referenced the fact that someone else had cut off her creation. “What did you pay for that hair cut? Twenty dollars?” I told her the cost of the cut. But what I didn’t say was that not arguing or defending myself against pressure from a self-assured, aggressive hair stylist was priceless.
While I would gladly have paid less — I am on a fixed income after all — I had not searched out a different stylist to save money at Romy’s expense. “You still need a good haircut no matter what color your hair is,” she said, seeming to dismiss the worthiness of anyone else’s scissor skills. “I’ll cut your hair for nothing. I miss you.” “I miss you too, Romy,” I said. I did not say I was not in the mood to be pressured. Instead, I did what I often do when clearly outmatched in aggression — I demonstrated canine courage by cowering submissively. “I have become a recluse,” I lied. “I knew it,” she said, a potential triumph clearly in view. Romy to the rescue!
I heard and appreciated her worry and felt her relief that neither hate nor error on her part had contributed to my disappearing from her appointment book. She sounded eager to see me soon, insisting in the course of our conversation I book an appointment. If I heard her clearly, she would not sleep well until I let her look at me. I assured her I would definitely drop by. I did not say I would make an appointment. With deep sincerity she promised that she would not, definitely not, try to talk me out of the way I chose to look. Indeed, her last words before the phone call ended were “I promise (with a special emphasis on the promise) not to try and talk you out of your decision.”
Within seconds of our heartfelt goodbyes and her repeated reassurances, the phone rang again. It was Romy. “But if I want to put in one streak, one silly streak, would that be all right? I won’t charge you for it.” After a long pause, I answered her.