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The Reward is in the Risk

I hate being a whore.

With my hair.

A few weeks ago, my darling hair care professional Fae told me she'd probably be changing salons in the near future, moving from Covent Garden (5 minutes from work) to a new place in Soho (probably 5 minutes from most pubs I frequent). Location location location being nearly everything, this did not really pose an issue. She promised to send me a message and let me know where she'd gone.

Fair enough.

I ducked into the salon yesterday to schedule an appointment, what with vacaciones being just around the bend and my hair starting to trend towards 70s porn star status. It doesn't get longer, it gets bigger. My hair, that is.

"Fae's no longer with us," the woman behind the desk told me, in a somber tone that could've been remorse, regret, or just quiet relief. I seem to recall a clandestine vacation that Fae was planning just before I went to Edinburgh. Something that had to due with a combination of Ibiza, unscheduled leave, and a mysterious illness that her mother was about to undergo.

"Oh. Okay. Thanks, then." And I moseyed from Covent Garden into Soho. Yeah, I was that salon stalker. The one peeking into most any hair-burning hole-in-the-wall, on the prowl for a bleached-blond, tattoo-laden, multi-pierced rock-and-roll Essex chick who I'd grown to love and trust (with my hair at least) over the past six months. She could color like the sun, adding texture with the merest flick of a straight razor. She was a godsend, she was.

And she was nowhere to be found.

What to do? Put out an All Points Bulletin on Craig's List? Wander around a second afternoon searching for salons I might have missed? Repeat visits to vistas where she might have taken yesterday off? Wait for Fae's text and go on holiday with hair that, once upon a time in Texas*, would have placed me at the right hand of Jesus himself?

No. Here at Bob's Yer Uncle we live on the edge.

I popped over to the Covent Garden digs at lunchtime and scheduled an after-work cut. I was told that Loretta could take me at 5 o'clock. I nodded, stoically accepted my fate with no mention of Fae (although I was in the computer), and went back to teach a remarkable lesson (where my Spanish banker student-cum-teacher turned me on to this bit of sub-prime 101 comedy genius ... it's 8 minutes long, but dead funny and, as we say over here, spot on. Plus, it ended up taking up a half-hour of my lesson, what with the discussion afterwards, which means I have a half-hour less to plan for tomorrow.)


I arrive at five. I notice that none of the regular workers are there, save a manager or two. I was hoping that 'Loretta' was the nom-du-scissors of the Brazilian boy, the one with the nimble fingers and rippling biceps, who worked the chair next to Fae. That was not to be my luck. I'm offered a drinks menu (a perk not presented on prior visits) and snubbed Senorita Shiraz for a date with my old friend Stella.

About ten minutes later, a lovely young woman comes up to me and says, "She's running a bit late. Do you mind if I cut your hair instead?"

"I don't mind if you don't mind," says ever-agreeable me, sipping a glass of lukewarm lager.

She asks me what we're doing. "Oh I don't know. We've been trying to grow it longer in the front but it's just getting big now and in less than forty-eight hours I'll be on the beach in Spain and I don't want to look ridiculous. You're the trained professional just make me look cute. Like one of those Olympic divers when I come out of the ocean. But not too short ... I don't want to look like every other clipper-cut homo on the beach."

Turns out her name is Loretta (which was odd, because that's who I thought I'd had the appointment with). She's from New Zealand, has been in London five years and is going to Berlin next week to see Madonna with her brother (Loretta's brother from New Zealand, not Christopher Ciccone from whatever land of publicity-seeking he's from).

She said she'd never been to Sitges.

"That's a coincidence, because I've never stayed in New Zealand, never been to Berlin, have never seen Madonna, and don't have a gay brother."

She said she liked me.

Long story longer ... I got a great new haircut. She told me she tried to snip out the gray and leave in the highlights (which sounds gayer than it is ... oh, who am I kidding?) and she guaranteed I'd turn a head or two in Sitges this weekend. Me and Joseph Merrick.

But here's the pay off. I went to the counter and the cute-ish manager (who's never been friendly to me before) said, "Are you happy with your haircut?"

"Yeah, I think I am. What do you think?" I know full well he's not going to say, "we could give you a do-over if you like" and he instead tells me he thinks it looks great.

I hand him my Maesto card and he says "Mr Hair has already taken care of that."

"How'd that happen?" I ask, genuinely confused. Nobody knew I was heading into the salon, even if they did want to give me a pre-holiday or it's-only-23-days-till-your-birthday gift.

He just smiled (a nicer smile than I'd noticed in the past, hmmm) and said, "It's magic."

I don't know if it was because I was an ex-regular of an ex-stylist, or because they'd promised me Loretta, given me Chi (turns out she said "Chi's running late" not "She's running late"), and then handed me back over to Lorretta, or if said manager all of a sudden took a fancy to me.

I didn't stick around to question. I said thanks, tossed Loretta a fiver, told her to enjoy Madonna and skedaddled off with a freshly cropped coif.

With the money I saved I bought an extra pint at the pub and gave a fiver to a homeless guy who, truth be told, could have really used a good haircut.

* Texas' state motto being "the higher the hair, the closer to God"