The beauty shop and the beast


Every trip to the beauty shop is, for me, an adventure in some way. And, without fail, it’s immensely entertaining.
First of all, Sandy, my hairdresser, is one of the most delightful women in the world. She is fall-down funny so it’s worth the visit just for the sideshow.
Then, there are all the stories that come out of going to the beauty shop.
There was the time when she cut the front of my hair so short that it looked vaguely reminiscent of the time when I was 5 years old and had taken the scissors to my hair then coated it with cod liver oil, which I regularly drank like a drunk drinks whiskey. Both times, it was not a pretty sight.
I kept calling the shop and rescheduling my appointment until it was almost three months between cuts. Of course, every time I called, I told the receptionist, “Tell Sandy that she cut my hair so short last time that I may never need another cut.”
Sandy, forever the good sport, was waiting for me when I arrived the next time. She pointed her comb at me and said, “Now sit down and be quiet. Don’t talk to me while I’m cutting your hair. You distract me. From now, we cannot talk while I am working on your hair.”
I froze. No talking. No news. No finding out who’s marrying whom, who died, who switched from the Baptist church to the Methodist? Hmmm. I think I’d rather have a bad haircut.
So, we compromised. We can talk when she’s shampooing, coloring, drying, teasing or fluffing. But the moment the scissors hit her hand, complete quiet must be laid at the altar of good Southern hair.
On one visit, Sandy was – I suppose you would call it boasting – that in her 20 years of hairdressing, she had only been out sick one day. Of course, when you only work part-time, that’s less impressive but impressive, nonetheless. Some would call what happened next “ironic.” I called it “tragic.”
Early on the morning of my next appointment, the receptionist called. “Sandy’s out sick today so she won’t be able to keep your appointment.”
I panicked. It never occurred to me to ask how the I’m-never-sick-Sandy was doing or even if she was going to live. All I could think of was how inconvenient her death-bed sickness was to me.
The next day I had a photo shoot for the cover of my new book. Four days later, I was shooting a one-hour television show, so Sandy and I had precisely scheduled the appointment to time with these events.
“She can’t be sick!” I cried out. “She can’t!” I listed all the reasons that she couldn’t be sick, to which the receptionist coolly replied, “I’m sure she would rather be here to do your hair than at home sick.”
Even that didn’t shame me.
I called Sandy at home, pulled her off her death bed and said, “You’ve got to help me. I have to have my hair done today and no one at your shop can do it.”
Dear, sweet, dying Sandy soldiered up and did what had to be done. She called another salon, explained the situation and they eagerly stepped up to help. She gave them precise instructions including the color formula and a stern reminder, “Don’t cut it too short!”
As the other stylist was finishing my hair later, Sandy called to query her. “How’s the color? How does it look? You didn’t cut it too short, did you?”
Just as I walked in the door at home, the phone rang. It was Sandy.
“How does it look? Is the color okay? It’s not too short, is it?”
That day I knew I had found the best hairdresser in the world. She’s entertaining, she’s good (especially when she’s not talking) and the threat of death will never come between us.
[Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “What Southern Women Know About Flirting” and “The Town That Came A-Courtin’.” Her newest book is “What Southern Women Know about Faith.” She lives near Gainesville, Ga. Sign up for her newsletter at]