There’s this place on 57th between 8th and 9th called Dramatics for Hair. There are a few of them in the city.
Dramatics has this thing going on where they give each of their employees a “dramatic” name, something like Flame or Lightning or Cognac. They are usually nouns but once in a while you meet an adjective.
Naming the hairdressers is great for Dramatics because if you develop a loyal relationship with your Dramatics hairdresser and that person leaves, you will never, ever find them again. Instead you will have to find a new, perhaps even more dramatic Dramatics hairdresser. The alternative is to call every salon in New York City asking if Tornado works there. This is why you will eventually agree to Angst cutting your hair.
Sting is the name of my Dramatics stylist and I think he is very good. When I needed to get highlights and a haircut, I called Dramatics and made an appointment two weeks in advance with Chaos, who is the receptionist at this Dramatics.
On the day of the appointment, I arrived and waited for a while. I was the first appointment of the day and as the dramatic employees wandered in, I didn’t see Sting among them. I asked Chaos for the second time when she thought Sting would be there, as it’s already half an hour past my appointment time. Chaos makes a call to “headquarters” and tells me that there’s been a terrible mistake. Against Dramatics company policy, Sting was granted a three-week vacation, and he won’t be back until next week. I tell her this won’t work as I am attending a wedding that night and must have my hair done. Chaos tells me that this is not her fault. I ask her whose fault it is and she tells me that she isn’t sure. I tell her I’m not sure either, but I’m sure it’s not mine. She tells me that she is seeing if Champagne can squeeze me in. I start to yell.
“I don’t WANT Champagne. I WANT STING.”
I am now leaning menacingly against Chaos’s reception desk. A new Dramatics employee sidles up to me.
“My name is Shine, don’t worry about anything,” she says, trying to knead my shoulders.
“Worried? I’m not worried. I’m FUCKING PISSED OFF!” I yell and shrug her off.
Chaos tells me to calm down or else they won’t be able to help me. I tell her that I’m not even warmed up yet. Then I start to cry. I am having a complete meltdown, right there in Dramatics and they don’t even appreciate it.
Shine tells me that Champagne is much better than Sting, anyway, and that I’m actually lucky this is happening. I wonder if the fact that one employee has just said something unkind about another is meant to enhance the story arc, but I decide it’s just nasty hairdresser sniping.
Everyone is looking at me. Chaos is rolling her eyes and trying to hide the fact that she’s laughing at me behind her hand. Champagne, Shine, Glamour and all of the other Dramatics employees are staring at me. I tell Chaos that if I let Champagne squeeze me in, I’m not paying full price. Chaos runs over to confer with Champagne and tells me that Champagne will color my hair for the Sting price, which she says is a terrific deal because Champagne is a senior stylist and Sting is not. My roots are long and gray, and the wedding is that night.
“Well, it looks like I don’t have a choice,” I snarl at Chaos, before starting to cry again.
Shine leads me away gently and takes me to the dressing room, so that I can put on a smock. I think for a moment that they probably would rather give me a straitjacket. I put on the smock and leave the dressing room.
I hold my head high as I stride across Dramatics. I sniffle and wipe my nose on my smock. I bask in the reflected glow of bright lights and mirrors.