Fortunately, I live in society whose citizens are equally as preoccupied with their hair as I am. Today I delivered myself, and my mop, to the Toni & Guy hair salon.
The lift takes me to the second floor where the doors open straight out into the salon. Everyone turns, looks and yells a greeting. This happens wherever you go, but I'm still not used to it. I grin self-consciously and am ushered to my chair.
My hairdresser is a stylish young man, as most Japanese men are. They all have marvelous 'do's that seem to favour layers, wispy tendrils and lots of height (which once again casts my mind back to 1984). Stylist-san is a vision with his gravity-defying and finely manicured head of hair.
The consultation begins. Stylist-san speaks English so we begin to talk colour. He plays with my mop for a while and tells me how much grey there is. Hai! I want my natural brown, he pushes for red. I win. He lifts my hair up and feels my neck with his hand. Now wait a minute...hello?! This is most unusual as Japanese people are not known for touching. Heck, even my Beloved and Sorely Missed Stylist (BASMS) from Oz would not do this. He smiles shyly at me in the mirror and I explain that it is very hot outside which is why my neck is so warm. Or could it be...? I look at Stylist-san with fresh eyes. He is rather cute and surely the bouffant is making a comeback (yeah, sometime over the next 50 years!) I have always wanted to marry a hairdresser, it would make my life complete. However, I digress...
Three people attend to the various procedures that must be followed. I am wrapped in two plastic coats and three neck towels. My hair is pulled back and piled high on my head as they rub something like Vaseline around my hairline from forehead around to the nape of my neck. Plastic ear covers are then placed around my ears.
Two hairdressers valiantly begin to apply the dye to my roots. I read October's issue of 'In Style' magazine IN ENGLISH and get caught up in the mundane yet oddly compelling lifestyles of the rich and infamous. Ambient music in the background is muffled by my ear-protectors. I look like a freak, but I am happy in Freaksville as I know a greater good is at work here.
After the rinse, head massage and final wash, I am back in the hot seat. A Japanese woman begins to dry my hair with a hairdryer. Expressions of concern and alarm occasionally cross her face before she manages to hide her panic. My hair is getting bigger! I almost giggle aloud as I imagine she is used to the strong, thick, straight hair that the Japanese are blessed with, quite the opposite of my random alien hair. With trepidation she turns off the hairdryer. "Shall I get the hair straighteners?" Hai! (This would be unheard of with BASMS - he refuses to use and does not even acknowledge the existence of hair straighteners.)
Twenty minutes later, my hair is fabulous. Not as good as it can be in Melbourne, but there are too many extenuating circumstances here that conspire to prevent this. (I discovered the other day that in order for my powerful Australian hairdryer to work here, I would need a 40 kilo converter.)
Stylist-san reappears and makes whoopi with my now straight and sleek locks. We agree it is very good and I lavish praise on him for work he essentially did not do. But I figure he deserves it, even if just for his outstanding coiff.
Once again, everyone in the salon stops to yell something at me as I leave. I try to slink past inconspicuously but it is a tad hard when I am almost 6 foot (with signature platforms) and am an alien. I think I have perfected the awkward, self-conscious, idiot grin. As I pay the bill, Stylist-san materialises at my side, one hand reaching for my hair. With the other, he offers me a beautifully wrapped package that he would like me accept as a gift. With lots of bows, smiles and thankyou's, I back out of the salon into the lift.
At home, I open my pressie. In it, a can of sake, and a can of beer!
A cute, straight hairdresser who gives grog as gifts? Priceless!