Thursday, October 13, 2005
Spa Day Part II
Anthony, the stylist mentioned in the previous entry, has been working out at my healthclub and working at their spa as a women's and men's stylist for at least fifteen or twenty years. Almost as long as I have been a club member.
I first noticed him years ago. He was a darker and shorter Italian version of Arnold Schwarzennegger and liked to lift some nasty weights. He didn't talk to anyone or look at the women at all. So I assumed he was gay or married. He was also at the club during the day which made me wonder what he did for a living. My trainer told me he was one of the stylists at the Spa. So, despite any evidence to the contrary, I figured he was gay.
I went on with my life without him, until a couple of years ago, when I started going to the Spa to get a cut and a blow dry from my latest stylist, Nora, instead of driving twenty miles to see my beloved Australian uber-styist, Stephen. I found Stephen when he was featured in Elle magazine as one of Chicago's top hair gurus, along with Oprah's guy and somebody from Sassoon.
Stephen and I hit it off right away because, as he put it, I wasn't a starfucker. His claim to fame was doing the hair for a lot of the women in the early James Bond movies when he was working the fashion haunts of London. He was known for his "finish." Whatever that means. Then he met someone from a suburb of Chicago and gave it all up for love. Now he's mowing the lawn, going to Little League and styling hair for ladies who shop the sales, and charging one tenth of what he could be making downtown.
I miss him, but my club is more convenient, and I don't miss the commute.
I had already been going to my healthclub's spa for several years because they provide a platoon of massage therapists, any one of whom I could count on to whip my beaten up, tired body into shape after I'd twisted myself into a pretzel playing my latest sport du jour.
On my way to the designated massage table for my bi-weekly pounding, I would pass the hairdo emporium and see Anthony at work. Like most attractive men in a female environment, I just figured he kept his game face on to protect himself from the inevitable attempts by women to tear his clothes off, literally and figuratively. I understood his dilemma.
A tennis pro I knew once showed me the unsolicited stack of letters he got each week from women who gave him the dates their husbands would be out of town, what doors to the house were always unlocked, and diagrams detailing the route to their bedrooms. Sometimes it's embarrassing to be a woman.
So I understood why Anthony treated me like he treated all the other women within eyesight -- like a piece of lint. Until I made my first appointment with Nora to get a haircut. And he heard me laugh.
I don't want to say it was love at first laugh, but the man was hooked. He started doing impersonations, telling jokes from the Henny Youngman comedy book, even tap dancing just to make me guffaw. It was like a switch got turned on and his personality lit up.
I found out he was married, not gay, which helped explain his careful avoidance of overt flirting with women -- no doubt a lesson he learned the hard way. But this somber, uber-muscular [I've used UBER twice now, hmmm] handsome man giggles like a schoolgirl when he sees me coming. It's really silly.
His eyes light up and hegets this shit-eating grin on his face. And it's not licentious. It's pure joy. Certainly nothing to do with wanting to jump my bones -- because I couldn't look less like a sex object when I'm in for my monthly makeover.
I think it's worth noting that I'm not one of Anthony's clients. So he's not sucking up for a big tip.
The thing is, he really does know how to make me laugh. He does a great impersonation of Bill Murray's lounge singer from SNL. And his imitation of tap dancing couldn't be more comical.
Then one day not too long ago, when she wasn't burning one of my ears with the blow dryer, Nora wanted to see a picture of me with my natural hair, which is, or was, dark auburn. We were discussing the possbility of going back to that color, but I wasn't convinced. So to help out I brought in a picture of myself when I was modeling so she could see what color my hair used to be.
What I hadn't planned on was Nora showing it to Anthony.
He may have loved my laugh, but he really loved that picture of me from 35 years ago. Sheesh, what's not to like?
The next time I came to the spa he made a point of letting me know that there was no telling what might have happened between us when we were younger. I, however, have seen a snapshot of him from his younger days and I can tell you nothing would have happened.
After he saw my picture, I noticed he looked at me differently the next time I came in to see Nora. Like he could see past the old me to the young me. I didn't know whether this was good news or bad news.
He started to treat me differently. Clearly things had changed between us because of the photo. It became quite apparent that we couldn't go back to just laughing and joshing and joking anymore.
No. First we have the usual few minutes of laughs, including some jokes so old they smell like mildew. Next he starts channeling Bill Murray's lounge act like always, holding a hairbrush as a microphone. This is followed up by a fantastic finish, thirty seconds of his signature faux tap dancing that cracks me up.
Then -- this is the new part -- he sits down next to me, gets a serious look on his face, and. . .we talk about the White Sox.