When I was a girl my favorite part about going to the salon were the glass jars that sat on each station. In each jar sat a hospital grade disinfectant called Barbicide, I realize there can’t be very many romantic or creative things one can think about a sanitizing agent but bare with me. I loved these jars filled with combs and barbicide because they would glow a beautiful jewel-like blue and I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by them. I imagined the blue to be like that of far away oceans I had one day hoped to see and I imagined hair dressers all over the world using their different techniques, chatting with customers of all shapes and sizes, creating endless possibilities with blowdryers and curling irons, all different, all unique but all with a jar of Barbicide on their stations to house their combs at night while they returned to home to rest from a long day’s work.
My first hair dresser was a man named George. I know very little of him except that he was married and had a son. His shop is long gone and even in this computer age I wouldn’t have any information that would allow me to track him down on Facebook or any other social media site. Sometimes I find myself driving past where his shop used to be and I can’t help but keep an eye out for him or look to see if he has returned the shop its rightful place. I remember walking into his small but bright shop and being greeted by all the smells of the shampoos, hairsprays and perm solutions. I remember pouring over hair magazines, look books and color swatches. I remember his salon giving me a feeling of endless possibilities and a sense that the tension of whatever was bothering me could be washed away with a simple shampoo. When I was in his chair the world felt a little smaller and laughter seemed to come a bit easier.
I remember thinking that George must be some kind of god because there was nothing he couldn’t do. When I brought in pictures of Jennifer Lopez he made me look like her, even though there is not one ounce of this European heinz 57 that could pass for Puerto Rican. When I wanted I wanted short hair he cut my hair in such a way that it flattered my round, awkward teenage face. When I broke up with my first boyfriend he gave me the perfect break up hair and I woke up the next morning a new woman with no regrets. He did all this with the kindest of smiles and a calm that could put you at ease on your most stressful day.
I suppose that he was the first (although I did not know it at the time) to inspire me to walk down the path that I am on and I am grateful. There have been others on this path, but we shall save their stories for a future date and time. The next time you go to your hairdresser take a look at their station, as cluttered as it may be and notice it, tucked away behind hairsprays and straightening creams, sits their jar of Barbicide. Full of combs that have heard so many stories, some good, some heart breaking all sitting in an ocean of possibilities. Remark on the shade of its blue, the depth of its color and wonder at how it could have lead this little red head sitting on a booster seat, underneath a giant cutting cape, listening to the tales of a man named George, to dream and how maybe it could inspire you too.