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I love listening to Gill describe a trip to the hairdresser. Since she was small, she detested having her hair brushed, combed, styled or even washed. As a child, the bed head look was cute; now, not so much…and yet. She doesn’t like being fussed over but, as with everything about her, she takes this dislike to a different level. Trust me, if you’re a hair stylist and you hear a rumor that she’s en route, HIDE!! Yes, she’ll give you a big tip (to compensate for the misery she’ll put you through), but by the end of the appointment, you won’t care how big the tip is.It will never be enough. She may, in fact, crush your soul. I love her dearly but she just does not accept certain things as being necessary…and tending to hair is at the top of the list.

Since she now has a regular job, one where she at least has to pretend to conform to certain norms, a recent  look in the mirror convinced her that she needed a haircut. It was so bad that she couldn’t wait two weeks to get one here. (Just as well. When I mentioned to my stylist that she’d be home soon, the stylist turned white as a ghost, choked on the coffee she was drinking and asked, rather panicked I thought, if Gill would be gracing her salon during her visit. Before I could answer, she added that she was closing the salon over the holidays and would be spending two weeks in the frozen north of Ontario. Coincidental? I think not.)

Being Gill, she didn’t want any more effort put into the hair cutting project than necessary. And so, instead of going to her regular guy (who, if I’m not mistaken, works in a men’s barbershop) she went into the first salon she found close to her work.

That’s when things went horribly wrong — for the poor, innocent stylist, not Gill. Being a perky young girl, she smiled brightly at Gill and asked what she wanted in the way of a cut…no doubt thinking of the wonders she could perform given Gill’s sad state of hairdo. She was picturing a fabulous makeover. Gill was picturing your basic sheep shearing–quick, uneven, and just ‘getting the job done’. Before she could wax poetic about her wild and fantastical creations, Gill shot her back to earth by proclaiming sternly:”I just want a cut. No frills, no curls, no product. Just shorter. Capisce?”

Crestfallen, the girl stammered: “But, but…”

“No buts…if I had a bowl, you could use that as an outline. But I don’t so you’ll just have to imagine a bowl.”

“But I do have to wash your hair first.”

“Really? You do know I only wash it once a week? I hate the smell of all those potions. Maybe we could just rub some baking soda or something on my scalp to get the grease out? That doesn’t stink…”

“It also doesn’t clean hair,” the girl said firmly. “I cannot cut hair that hasn’t been washed thoroughly. You wouldn’t like the end result!”

Under her breath, Gill muttered, “I’m not going to like it anyway, so why waste your time and mine?”

To hear Gill tell it, the hair washing exercise was almost as bad as being water-boarded by the CIA.

The stylish finished the cut and was preparing to put some goop in the hair for purposes of drying and styling. “Stop!” Gill yelled. “No styly-styly. Just blow drying. No goop. No spritz. No nothing. Remember: Less is More.”

Gill usually tips extra well since she realizes what a pain in the ass she can be when it comes to such fripperies. It so happened that this salon would only take tips in cash. Gill,who rarely carries actual cash, had about 7 pence worth of change. She left without leaving a tip but returned the next day with an overflowing  fistful of money for the poor, traumatized girl.

Next time she gets a cut, I urged her to phone and let her stylist talk to me. I can then warn her of what to expect and point out that it’s nothing personal. Gill doesn’t like to be messed with, fussed over, or catered to. A quick chat with me, The Mom, who has lived through all of this with Gill, would go a long way towards taking the sting out of Gill’s salon visit. I feel that, having lived through her childhood episodes with stylists, I am uniquely able to soothe things over before they take a turn. Although, I failed miserably in teaching her how to comb or brush her hair. To this day, she balks at the concept.

On second thought, maybe I should refuse the call from her stylist and pretend I have never heard of a Gill Best at all!

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