On a street right near my house sits a church with a sign on its expansive front lawn. I’m not sure who actually changes the letters on the sign or at what time of day the newest message to the public is thrown up there, but I do know that every few weeks new words appear. I’d think maybe it’s God himself, but sometimes things on the sign are spelled incorrectly and my guess is that God’s got fact checkers and editors and at least three wise men up there who would never let a “your” pass for a “you’re.”
The messages on that church’s sign are usually vaguely threatening, at least the way I read them. They are always blunt – as I guess a sign should be – and they involve commands like, “Kneel. He wants you to,” and I cannot help thinking in return, “But are you sure he wants you ending a sentence with a preposition?” This week the message on the sign is far more tempered than I’ve ever seen. There’s no verbal insistence that, “He died for your sins!” up there right now. Instead, the church just wants to remind all of us that we need to put the “Christ” back in “Christmas” and I’d probably be far more okay with that command if it didn’t remind me of the kind of thing Kathy Lee Gifford used to say back when she hosted that old morning show with Regis and she had her former face.
It is with those staunch instructions about Christmas and what it should mean in my mind that I entered the salon I go to at a quarter to nine a few nights ago. I figured that just as we ought to put the “Christ” back in “Christmas,” I also should probably put some highlights back in my hair. When I moved a few years ago, I realized that I would need a new pedicure place and a new dry cleaner and a new Trader Joe’s and a new vet and I called my friend Shannon every time I needed to know where I should go. “Where’s a waxing place that’s located near a bar so I can get a drink to numb the pain of having hair pulled off my nether regions with either hot wax or sugar?” I’d text her – and she would send back an address and a reminder to exhale through the pain. And since she steered me in the right direction when it came to hair removal, I figured she might be just the person to recommend someone who would tend to the hair I actually want to flash to the world.
Andrea did Shannon’s hair and she started to do mine also. The first time I sat down with her, I laid it out straight:
“Listen,” I explained slowly, seriously. “I don’t like major changes with my hair and I really don’t like inches being hacked off that we didn’t discuss for hours prior. Once I called in sick after a bad bangs experience. I don’t really bounce back from hair-related trauma very quickly.”
She nodded confidently and flung me around in the chair to take a look at what she was dealing with in the moment. My hair hung far too long down my back and there were seven greys at the top of my head – and I know that because I’d counted them that morning with tears in my eyes.
“Can you give me three inches?” she asked assertively, which was exactly the tone to take with me just then, right before I could become hysterical.
“Where will three inches leave my ends when it’s dry?” I responded. She pointed to a spot above my chest and I shook my head and we negotiated and then settled on two and a half inches instead and then she pulled out some foil and some dye and some scissors and the next thing I knew, I left that salon with hair the exact length we had agreed upon and blonde highlights I didn’t know I wanted in the first place.
(That one gorgeous guy who can cook aside, Andrea might be the single most important relationship I have formed over the last couple of years, and I say such a thing with no embarrassment in the slightest.)
Since it’s holiday time and my hair likes to look like I didn’t just rub my entire body against an electrical socket for kicks, it was time to carve out a few hours to get everything done again so Shannon and I decided to ask Andrea if we could go to the place after hours, if she’d keep it open for us. She agreed and that’s why I found myself trudging outside in the pouring rain late one evening to get into Shannon’s car. I brought my new puppy with me.
“Are you sure I can bring her to a salon?” I asked Shannon. She was the one who suggested I bring the dog in the first place.
“Of course!” she trilled back. “It’s just going to be us there!”
We arrived – and the place was packed. Apparently, other stylists had been contacted by their friends who wanted to look presentable in the coming days and so I walked into a crowded salon clutching a member of the canine family. But here, of course, is the thing: there’s nobody who can look at a three-pound happy puppy and not immediately move from the thought, “Why is there a dog here?” to “I need to hold that thing this instant!” I did what I needed to do and I pimped my dog out and let everyone pass her around and marvel over her ridiculous level of cuteness – which is staggering – and eventually everybody except us left. I’d been holding her the entire time, but I placed a wee wee pad on the ground and she went right to it and Shannon and Andrea and I applauded. Then she went tearing around the place, finding the pedicure station the most interesting. While I was getting highlights, I didn’t want her to breathe in the chemicals so I tasked Shannon with watching her and handed her the bone the dog likes to gnaw upon at all hours of the day and night. The next thing I knew, she was underneath the salon’s Christmas tree, reclining across the tree skirt near the nativity scene while nibbling on her bone.
“Is she okay?” I kept asking.
“She’s fine,” Shannon would respond.
“Are you sure she’s eating her bone and not the Baby Jesus?” I inquired at one point. “Are all of the shepherds still where they’re supposed to be?”
Later that night – just as I realized that I really loved my highlights and my lowlights – my puppy peed underneath the Christmas tree.
“Tallulah!” I yelled. “That is not where you go to the bathroom! You go on your pad!”
She ran over then to the pad and she peed there too and as Shannon and Andrea congratulated her for being a belated good girl, I wondered if her act could in any way be considered a hate crime since she’s Jewish. And if it was intentional, I’m thinking that perhaps I can bring her with me to SUR so she can squat on Jax’s shoe, piss on a fried goat cheese ball that will be served directly to Kristen, and point her paw and laugh at all the people who flit in and out of the action on this show who have still never made it into the opening credits.