Saturday, February 11, 2006

Adjusting to Change

My favorite healthclub closed after twenty-five years. I was there almost every day. I'm not adjusting very well.

What I miss more than the pool, the tennis and racketball courts, the track, the basketball court, the weight room, the sauna, the whirlpool, the restaurant, the volleyball court, the industrial strength showers, the Pilates room, the obscene amount of equipment, the excessive number of those huge plastic balls with the nipples on them, the large TV in the lounge, my friends, and the spinning classes, was the spa.

Despite a pink neon sign which announced its presence in the main area of the club, THE SPA was actually tucked away in a secret place down a hallway, up a private stairway, at the end of a long corridor. I usually just took the shortcut through the women's lockeroom out the back entrance so I could get my hair done, my body massaged, my feet pedicured, my hands manicured, and have unwanted hair removed from my body with hot wax.

The Spa was like a separate community with its own distinctive, perfumy smells, longtime staff and club regulars, including myself. 

Over the years, I noticed as I aged and my body broke down again and again that I began to spend less and less time working up a sweat and more and more time working up a big bill for pampering. So sue me.

When the announcement of the club's demise was sent to all the members and staff, my main concern was where all the people who kept up my superficial appearance would be going. Unfortunately they scattered.

My favorite massage therapist went to work with her chiropractor brother in some distant suburb. Luckily my Russian manicure pedicure and unwanted hair removal lady landed at a new salon not far from me. It just opened so everything is freshly painted and the equipment still has that new car smell. I've already been there a couple of times and I'm making a happy transition to the chatter of women from the former Soviet Republic who all drive big black Mercedes sedans. And those are just the ladies who work there.

Unfortunately, the annoyingly chatty Armenian woman who has been cutting my hair for the past couple of years chose a different place. I used to put up with her incessant talking because it was so convenient to get my hair done after the rest of my body had been re-tooled, since all I had to do was get up and walk across the salon. 

Now that I've been to her new place a couple of times I decided today that I am not going back. In fact, I refuse.

The problem is that I like to call for an appointment, talk to someone who schedules it, show up, have the shampoo person wash my hair, have the stylist blow it dry and be on my way.

Now I have to call my stylist directly and make the appointment with her. Instead of just taking one call to accomplish this task, it takes three. Aside from her accent which makes it hard to understand her, she wants me to schedule time when it's convenient for HER not ME.

The other day I called her to schedule a haircut. After a long discussion we came up with a time that was good for both of us. She immediately called back to say that I could also have a manicure and pedicure too. "You vill luff her, she is fabulous." What's with the hard sell? I reminded her that I still go to my old manicure pedicure person at her new place. Five minutes later she called back again to say I could come in earlier or later if I wanted. I didn't want to.


In most salons, the other stylists don't talk to you. People speak in hushed tones, your coat is taken and hung up, a gown appears to cover your clothes, refreshments are offered, magazines are provided. You feel tended to, cared for.

Now, when I show up at my hair stylist's new place of business, I feel like I'm walking into an Armenian cafe. The two men who own the salon both jump up to greet me with a lot of noise and fanfare. I keep waiting for one of them to ask how many are in my party today, hand me a menu and tell me what the specials are.

My talkative stylist begins chattering like Ivana Trump on speed. In fact, today I noticed that she looks and sounds a lot like a shorter version of The Donald's former wife.

All the patrons, men and women, look up to see what all the commotion is about. I do not like to be the center of attention BEFORE hair and makeup, thank you.

Today I realized I also don't like going to a salon that caters to men and women together. I really don't like having my hair washed next to a guy who's having his hair washed at the same time. I also don't like looking in the mirror while my hair is being styled and watching some guy with his sweat pants rolled up to his knees get a pedicure behind me.

Things at Chatty Cathy's Armenian salon are just a little too casual for my taste. She must have sensed something was wrong because she offered me a free mini dermabrasian with her new machine. I've never had one so I said, FREE? Sure.

But I should have changed my mind when she took me to a cramped back room behind some old curtains. There was a table to lie on that was too short for me. I decided to sit instead of lie down, but first she had to move the paper plates, pistachio nuts and remains from an earlier meal off the chair. She left the room and came back with a plastic bag full of creams and lotions which she spilled out on the table. She switched on the machine and began to work on my face, sandblasting it with crystals that had to be removed with a teeny tiny vacuum when she was done.

After wiping my face with a damp handtowel that looked and, even worse, smelled like it had been used to clean the floor at one time, she gave me a perfunctory facial massage, using some of the creams from the bag. But she cut it short when her next client arrived and my hair wasn't styled yet.

For some reason she had the salon's new manicure and pedicure lady sit next to me while my hair was being styled. The owner came over and mentioned that I could have a pedicure and a manicure today and pointedly nodded to the woman sitting next to me. She just sat there like a vulture, doing nothing, looking at me with an obsequious smile. I smiled back politely and said nothing.


Then came the straw that broke the camel's back. As I sat with my eyes closed in an attempt to keep her nonstop conversation to a minimum, I realized she wasn't just on autopilot, she had asked me a question. My crazy stylist wondered if I liked sushi. I opened my eyes and said yes, thinking that somebody was ordering out. But she said, "Let's haf lunch -- ve go and have sushi." She wanted to make a lunch DATE? EEEEWWWWW.

Spend time with her outside the salon? Like we're friends?  That tears it. I'm done. Do my hair and get me outa here. A line has been crossed. I thought my substantial tips entitled me to special treatment, not unwanted familiarity.

I left after I insisted on paying for that dreadful mini dermabrasian that left my face feeling like sandpaper until I slathered it with two coats of Nivea. I think I'll be doing my own hair for awhile.

I could use the peace and quiet.


bosoxblue6993w said...

my healthclub closed, too ... shortly after it was raided by the vice squad.

lacaza3 said...

I dont like going to the orenital places because they force thereselves on you...I wont to scream go back to your country or learn good customer service..and clean this damn place up...
Donna In TEXAS

suzypwr said...

Good luck finding a new place. I recently found a new hairdresser and I am happy with her, but I had a hell of a time finding her. I'd share, but I don't think you want to drive this far on a regular basis.


ksquester said...

I think you may have to change your phone # or perhaps you can screen your calls. I don't think this women understands the word "NO"     Anne

jevanslink said...

In case anybody is wondering:
FIREST --I have caller ID on my cell phone, so i can tell when she calls.

SECOND --I can go back to my former hair guy who came from London after he married some girl from a Chicago suburb. The guy used to do all the James Bond wmen and I read about him in Elle mazagine. He was profiled along with Oprah's guy and somebody from Vidal Sassoon. They cost big bucks. He is very reasonable. The only problem is I have to drive half an hour and I'm lazy.

THIRD: My two favorite nail places are both Korean. One is in Washington DC, Queen Nails. Lovely ladies who do fantastic work with manicures/pedicures/silks/and WAX. The other is in Westfield New Jersey. Forget the name. I recommend both for stellar service, the latest in EVERYTHING and, of course, impeccable surroundings.

One of my daughters told me about a pedicure she had in Italy that sounded divine. It took TWO hours and the woman who did the work had two gay assistants. Best and most complete pedicure she ever had. [I sure hope so.]

Thnks girlfriends for feeling my pain.
Mrs. L

bluwave9 said...

I read somewhere that 8 out of 10 women feel guilty when they change hairstylists.  I think it was the same magazine that said 50% of marriages end in divorce.  Now I find that I'll keep seeing (and paying!) the same obnoxious woman to cut my hair because I don't want to hurt her feelings by leaving her for someone else.

But you're right.  Silence is golden- especially in the hair salon.

swibirun said...

My hairdresser (yes he is gay) lives in the neighborhood and we had him over for dinner Friday night (when Brandi was here).  He is a great guy and does my hair great.  On the other hand, I would never let him wax me:x

Most recent entry was 2/13/06

mombzbe said...

I finally had to say goodbye to my hairdresser after years (10) of going to her.  She started getting all flaky on me, personality-wise.  I could tune that out.  But after she showed up late a couple of times and then STOOD ME UP (when she is fully aware of the hoops I need to jump thru to go there alone) I had to call it quits.  It was right before we went on vacation!  I was miserable! And yet, in spite of that, it was sooooo hard to do....

My new hairdresser is very nice.  I like her.  She's prompt, and not flaky...and adopting a baby next month.  She's coming back, or so she says.  
Drive the half hour.  It'll be worth it.

jennythekey said...

This is hilarious!!!  I especially enjoyed every little detail of your story because I own a full service salon and am very much concerned about every little detail of the ambience.  From the background music to the aromatherapy.  I also love the business sooo much that I like to go to other salons to receive services that we offer, just so I can experience the treatments myself as a client.  Feeling it I learn the good and bad to apply and improve.  Thanks for the input!!!