Friday, January 25, 2008

The Beauty School.

Karl and I arrived a few minutes early for our haircuts. I had just met Karl two days ago and now we were bonding by goin' fer a haircut. We were going to the Beauty School because they have the best prices in town and they do a pretty good job if you've got the time. The students are slower than professionals and there is an element of risk involved. If you are one of those people that needs their hair just the way it's supposed to be, you probably do not want to be under the scissors of a nervous student.

I had been to a beauty academy before, but that was a little one that only had two students so the teacher was heavily involved with my cut. The thing that I remember about that place was that the first time that I was there I was being quizzed by the student about what I wanted done. My usual answer of "whatever you want" just didn't work with someone who is eighteen years old. Most eighteen year olds have no idea "what they want" and shouldn't be given the opportunity to inflict their impulses on other people, especially adults. When the instructor came in twenty minutes later we were pawing through "fashion magazines" trying to find a picture of a male heterosexual so that we could find a "recipe" for my haircut1.

The instructor took our magazines away and and started asking me what I wanted. Since the "whatever you want" technique was such an utter failure, I tried explaining what I wanted, just like I used to see on TV when people would settle in with Floyd the Barber in downtown Mayberry.

"Take some off the top and trim up the sides."

The instructor could see through my ruse and just fluffed my hair around and said "you just do a standard little-boy haircut". She actually said that, a little-boy haircut! I was so insulted, but since I wouldn't be able to defend myself if she pulled out the fancy words like 'layering' and 'tapering', I just kept my mouth shut and got the haircut. My haircut was "acceptable" according to Beth. I went a few times. My father-in-law liked the price I paid ($2) and started to go for his monthly tune-up. When I would see him after he got each haircut, all I could see was little-boy haircut. It really was. A little wisp in front, longer on top, and almost shaved sides. The wisp was there just in case you had to "dress up" you could add water to your comb and try to make a little pompadour on the front. After seeing Dad looking like Dennis the Menace too often, I moved on to another place to get my haircuts, but that's another story.

That was years ago. Today was the first time that I had dared to try another School. I mostly did it because I have had such a good time at my other haircuts this year that I thought "how much weirder could it be"?

This school was much bigger than the other one. It had a waiting room with six chairs. No fashion magazines either. I figured that girls that are going to "cosmetology" and "esthetic's" classes probably couldn't rearrange those magazines on the table without seeing some teaser on a cover that would make them swipe the whole issue.

We could hear what sounded like quite a few young girls on the other side of the wall. At precisely nine o'clock what sounded like the "teacher" came in and started doing roll call. There were a LOT of students. Carrie came in and got me. I had to sign a release form so that if I didn't have two eyebrows and two ears when I left, it wasn't their fault.

I walked down to the washing stations. It was a long room with at least thirty barber setups. There were also thirty young gals and one young guy chattering away all wearing their black smocks. Constant chattering. They must have to pump in extra oxygen by the afternoon to support this much talking.

After my hair was washed I was walking back to Carrie's station and the student next to Carrie's was poking around in her cabinet and there were people in there. I said "you've got people". She replied that she's "only got heads". Two heads. Each student has two heads stashed in their cabinet so if they don't have any live clients, they work on their fake ones.

While my hair was being cut, there were six or so live people and 24 or so mannequins getting their hair styled. There still was a huge amount of talking going on and almost half of the people were plastic.

I went with the "anything you want" technique and it turned out fine.

It took about an hour but it is a very nice haircut. When Carrie was finished the "Pro" came over and made about another 60 snips with the scissors, just to "clean things up". So I got two haircuts for 8 bucks.

The students do not get paid for their work, probably so that they can get used to the idea of never making enough to pay their bills, after all, they are going out into the real world here. So I tipped her 5 bucks. So $13 for a haircut still comes out to less than WallyWorld or SuckyClips Inc.

There was an interesting dialog taking place while the "Pro" was "cleaning things up". The pro had worked at a place that I used to go to many years ago but now she "is on her own". That is barber talk for "renting a spot". They pay monthly rent to get a chair at a beauty salon and they give the owner of the salon a percentage in exchange for scheduling, heat, water, and those wonderful fumes that you can't really find anywhere else.

My little student got excited because she wants to "be on her own" because that is the "only way to make any money". The pro stated that she liked being "on her own" because she didn't have to charge her customers as much as a "working for a company" would force her to. The student said "or charge as MUCH as you want" with a big smile on her face. The pro and I both replied with the equivalent of "you can only charge big bucks ONCE, and then they will politely leave and never come back", which seemed to disappoint the little student a lot.

She looked so sad, so I offered "...except for the stupid ones!" "They will come back no matter how much you charge and how little hair they have as long as they think that it is very difficult to get an appointment with you." "But of course, you need a LOT of experience to pull that off." That seemed to cheer her up. Tonight she will have dreams of $60 haircuts dancing through her head. "All I need is ONE big job and I can retire..."

When I came out to meet Karl in the waiting room he looked up and said "Hey, you got a better one than me!" so I knew that I had hit pay dirt.

The end.


Note1 Concerning finding a hairstyle in a magazine: In case you are wondering, we were unsuccessful, "fashion magazines" do not seem to have any heterosexual males that have come out of the closet yet, maybe someday men will be able to be stylish without trying to look like a boy-toy. I say "out of the closet" because not ALL good looking guys could be gay, statistically, SOME of them would have to be straight, but if you are going to be a model you have to have the "current look" which means that if you are straight, you sure don't want to look straight. Remember when all female models had to look like junkies? The next phase after that was the S&M look with harsh eye makeup and baring their teeth. Very pleasant.


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