...and other awkward encounters.
Good title, huh?
Have you ever found a hairdresser that you loved so much you would put up with almost anything as long as he continued to work his magic?
Maybe my high threshold for inappropriate hairstylist behaviour stems from the fact that growing up, I had a very tumultuous relationship with my hair. And that is the only reason I can come up with for why I would have subjected myself to years of unrequited PDA's (see: middle of the day, in public, unwanted sexual groping) from Booty.
Booty (and yes, that was his real name) was a 50-something year old, 4'8 Lebanese man, with long shiny black curls, he kept tied back in a ponytail at the base of his neck. He always wore all-black. Black shoes, black dress pants, and a too tight black t-shirt. Booty wore large gold rings on both hands and also had a very long nail on his pinky finger. All the better to use for parting women's hair. And coke sniffing. But I'm not judging.
Who could judge such someone so gifted in the follicular arts?? (I just made that term up.) I had tried other stylists over the years, but Booty was the only one that could tame my tresses. It got to the point that even after I moved to Owen Sound I would book an appointment in Ottawa, when I knew I would be going home for a weekend, just so he could do my hair. Essentially I would be making a 14-hour round trip to have a permanent straightening treatment, a cut, a colour and a dash of breast grabbing thrown in for good measure.
On most visits to his salon, I would wait nervously in the front lobby. When Booty was ready for me, he would come swopping out of the back room and put his arms around me, or plant a kiss on my cheek. At first I liked it. he made me feel like a celebrity, or a supermodel. As he styled my hair, he would stop mid-blow dry to scream in English at one of his minions (the other stylists) or to bark a comman in Lebanese at the receptionist). he would then turn back to me, smile, and softly ask me something about my love life or my job. Sometimes he would stand in front of me, his face inches from mine and whisper "You are so beautiful." Sometimes he would kiss my cheek again. Sometimes he would stare into my eyes and then wink, as if we had somehow just shared a "moment". And then there were other times when he would "accidentally" grab my boob while removing the protective cape I wore during treatments. Othertimes he would push his body up against mine as he blowdried me straight. All of this I put up with because, frankly, this little Lebanese hair fairy was magical. I would smile through it all, and laugh and chucle and gently push his hands away while playfully dodging his advances. Some might call me a tease. But those of you who know the value of a good hairstylist will understand. I don't know the monetary worth of my dignity, but I was willing to pay it, in order to have pretty hair.
I finally had to break things off with Booty when he invited me, along with his 20-something year old son, to spend a week with them in Miami. I promised I would go, and we talked about how fun it would be. And then I paid my bill and left. I knew I would never be able to go back to Booty and his verbally abused employees again. A line had been crossed. The innapropriate sexual advances, the innuendo, the subtle gropings, I could all handle. But after that it just became too hard to face him.
I have tried many hair stylists and many salons since my years with Booty. My hair has never been the same either. However, the moral of this story is, what I lack in stylish hair, I now make up for in self-worth. Some days.