I was waiting in the beauty shop for my wife to be done with her cut and color when it hit me. Maybe it was the simpy crooning of the GooGoo Dolls coming from overhead, or the dog-eared copy of Vogue I’d by then scanned three times for lingerie ads. Or maybe it’s just that I was two days from Monday and dreading another week of the nine-to-five bullshit. It didn’t matter — sitting in that damned uncomfortable chair, my hemorrhoids burning like a son of a bitch, I finally realized what I want to do with my life.
I would become a hairdresser.
Was I nuts? For months she’d been practically begging me to do her hair. Nothing fancy, she said, just a little color. And of course I said no, go get one of your overpriced salon fags to do it. So she’d try to let me off easy, and ask me to just touch up the roots, please dear? I remember looking at her like she’d been hitting the Crème de Menthe a bit too early that day.
It’s not like we can’t afford a professional. Christ, the two-hundred bucks she spends on her little perms and coifs is one-tenth of what I blow on business dinners and table dances. No, it has nothing to do with the money. She asked me to color her hair because she “thought it would bring us closer”. Fucking women, who can figure them out?
I admit, I’d been considering a change in my life, but a hairdresser? I’m not gay. In fact, I’ve been happily married for years. Really. And I’m also a successful businessman. I can do mergers in my sleep. But sitting there in the salon, watching the butch chick in her tank-top and Sinead O’Connor haircut running her fingers through my wife’s scalp, all those tubes and bottles of beautiful color sitting on the marble counter, the flatirons and shears and clippers hanging from their little hooks, the conditioners, gels, and treatments, never mind the plastic combs and rubber gloves. I was getting a boner just thinking about it.
I imagined myself standing there, a shiny new pair of Japanese shears in one hand, a Black Diamond comb in the other, my foot tap-tapping to the pop music, anticipating the day’s tips and my only worry would be if I’d left the dye in some rich old broad’s hair too long. I wanted to be that girl, to shave my head and get a tattoo, pierce my ear, hell, I’d pierce my nose, and wear designer shoes and put on bright rainbow colors every morning instead of my shit-brown business suit.
But what does a late-fifties investment banker with a portfolio the size of… well, I don’t want to brag, let’s just say it’s substantial — what does someone like me do when the day comes and he wants out? When he says screw the hostile takeovers, the acquisitions, the statutory consolidations? What then?
Do you think you can just walk into the corner office, the one with the huge freaking windows, the beautiful view of the 18th hole and the clubhouse, the pictures of the quarter-horses and autographed photos of Bill Clinton hanging on the wall, and look the guy sitting behind the big oak desk in the eye and tell him you are resigning, that you’re going to quit your climb up the corporate ladder, toss away your pension, chuck the golden parachute, and become a hairdresser? Believe me; it’d be like trying to leave the mafia when you’re the chief hit-man.
But it doesn’t matter, because that’s what I’m going to do. On Monday morning, I’m going to walk in there, quit my job, go to cosmetology school, and start over. I’m going to be a new man. Right after my two o’clock meeting.
Kip lives in Tucson with his wife, son, grandson, two dogs, and three birds. Don’t ask about the cat.