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Plumbing Loves’ Depth

I have become accustomed to the alternate reality of hairdressers. I look forward to the time apart from my life. Stepping aside, for a few hours, from the vigorous aggressiveness of being. And as I step through the worm hole of time, into the salon, I let out a sigh of relief.  I have come for my ritual shearing and I can already feel the layers starting to drop away. Today, however, I am taken slightly off guard. In addition to the tanning room, waxing of all things hairy, eyebrow tattooing and nails- to- go on offer at my hairdressers, there is now also a psychic. While your colour cures in your hair and sends its toxic fumes out to the ether you can spend the time being useful and preparing for your future, whatever that may be. $40 for 40 minutes with your very own psychic. And when she is not busy she sweeps the floor.

She stands next to me with eyebrows raised and broom poised. Asking me to choose. The broom loses. I follow her, all dripping chemicals and burning eyes into the waxing room, where all will be revealed, peeled away, exposed. Ouch.

We both make ourselves comfortable. She perches on a stool and I sit opposite. We both use the massage table to lean on. Organised and businesslike she supplies me with clipboard and pen. I momentarily wonder if I am interviewing people here today, channeling my own inner news reporter. No. Apparently I am to take notes.

I make a heading. ‘My Future’. Good start I feel.

There is always the preamble with psychics. Mystical static. Tuning in and getting the sound right. I’m not one for small talk so I largely ignore the first round of messages. You know, house repairs, health issues and finances. All the things I ignore in life generally. My ears prick up though when my spiritual guides move toward the territory of the heart. What does love have in store? This bit is often pure genius.

I have options. She sees one potential candidate with a pitchfork and pot belly. I may need to learn how to ride a horse and this lucky person gets to teach me. She frowns, maybe you just learn something from this person, it’s not, ummm, romantic. Close call.

The next candidate is described in glowing detail. An Intricately wrought biography ensues. Job, dress sense, hair style, location, work ethos, passions. She looks directly at me and smiles. Pleased as punch with my future and the affirmation from the other side that all is well in the world of happily ever after. See? It can happen. You just need a little faith, a waxing room and a floor sweeping psychic.

I stare in horror. The person she describes is my archetypal nightmare. In every way. Egotistical, self important, saving the world and wearing ghastly clothes. Surrounded by children from Africa, or somewhere like that, because they are black. Clearly there is some otherworld joke going on here. And now I think of it, I’m feeling small and foolish. Shamed partly because I have never lacked faith. It’s a joke within a joke. The mumbo jumbo sucks, however the connection to an inner knowing is real. If you come seeking the ridiculous, you will find it.

Dutifully I continue to take notes as we come down from the crescendo of the romantic fantasy. She is a little breathless and momentarily flushes and says. ‘Sometimes I wish it was my life I was seeing’. Yeah honey, I think, me too.

During the next few weeks I visit with two amazing women, in two countries. Strong, independent, capable types. In very different ways. I glimpse their worlds and momentarily share their domestic spaces. I observe that both of them have small and annoying plumbing dilemmas. Ones they have both attempted to remedy with creativity, skill and patience. To no avail.

And I think of my own domestic space. Plagued as it is with leaking taps and rusting pipes. And that’s the romantic fantasy. And it doesn’t require the mystical arts to foretell. If ever there was to be a chance at love. It would have to come dressed as a plumber.

The feelings of hairdressers

1pm Friday afternoon. My hairdressing appointment. Although I have the same trepidation about these visits as I do with the Doctor and Dentist, life commands me to trim my fringe as expertly as possible. I have attempted self styling in my desperate past and failed abysmally. You just can’t claim your space with bad hair, I have discovered.

I enter the cool, sweet smelling pod that feels as if it has been jettisoned from this earthly realm and am greeted by the kindness of strangers that momentarily feel like friends. Professional courtesy I think it’s called. Welcome, come sit, would you like some refreshment? Magazines? A wash and a lingering head massage? Umm, no, just a quick snip and tuck thanks. Just cut away all my ragged edges and coiffure me back into wholeness please.

Earnestly the she-waif from the other realm looks at my reflection looking at her in the mirror. So what are we doing today? It’s an open ended question and a low flying reconnoiter of the emotional territory. What are we doing today I wonder? Barely breathing for starters. Clenching and unclenching my jaw a reply forms in the back of my throat. It’s not a philosophical challenge. It’s an invitation to dance.

Clumsily I agree to a pas de deux. I think she realises I won’t be the one doing the sky high scissor kick with the lacy flourish today. Maybe we could just sort of cut it off, I say, gesturing aimlessly at the fringe thing. If it was a first date I would have registered a fail in record time already. From her reaction I see I need to romance it a bit more. Actually a lot more. I’d like it a little shorter around the front, the back and the sides I say. An indulgent half smile and her eyes flick skywards. Give me strength I think she murmurs.

We settle on how to proceed. I will have my hair washed, I will get a half lingering head massage and relax, I will be served refreshment and I will be given a magazine. The glorious and patient she-waif will begin to make small incisions into my armour and I will stop her if I feel too exposed. She will reassure me and continue cutting. Ok?

Over we go to the lying down position where I get to put my head in the sink. The water is just the right temperature and from under the falls I can see that her lips are moving but I can’t hear what she is saying. I think it’s a question.          Have.  You.  Had.   A.  Busy.  Day. ?.   Yes.  I. have.  And right now I would prefer to be interviewing psychopaths. Thanks. 

I feign deep relaxation and let my eyes half close as her fingers expertly knead my scalp into a passive state of acceptance. Wash. Rinse. Condition. Rinse. Condition again and massage. Final Rinse. Just a few drops of fabric softener and I’ll be ready to hang out. I take a peek up while she performs the magic relaxing massage and notice that she has also fallen into a meditative trance, eyes glazed over and bright creases all dropped away. It occurs to me that this ritual may be as deeply disturbing but existentially necessary to her as it is to me. And she has to do it every day.   

Back we go to the sitting position where our eyes meet again in the mirror of timelessness. Come on now, we made our deal before we went to the sink. A dance is a performance, a ritual. This is not the modern, spontaneous, interpretive solo eruption that just happens. This is a ballet. For two. Your turn to move. Ok. I’ll have a white tea no sugar thanks. That will keep me going until intermission.  

As she arranges her instruments my tea arrives, served by the scullery maid of the pod. The she-waif anoints and the scullery maid gets to clean up the spills, brush up the cinders and starch the linens. The hierarchy of hair. Next the glossy magazines are laid out, fan style, on the altar, so that my mortal self can gaze upon the beauty of the gods and goddesses. Princesses vie with Hollywood royalty. Shoot me if I look half interested, please.

The cutting begins and she performs an arabesque with a pair of scissors and as I look around I realise that the ballet is not just a dance for two but a beautiful choreography of many. A swirl over by the counter, a curtsy at the door, flamenco flourish with the towel and a whirling dervish with the colour chart. Hair dryers air brush the fantasy. In triumphant staccato she finishes and is clearly exhausted from the effort. What do you think? Tremulous, hesitant, breathless……… I feel transformed I say. Thank you.

I get up to leave, spilling unread magazines on the floor and glance back at the pod. The evidence of me is being swept away by the scullery maid whose work exists in the margins, in the slipstream between acts. The spent she-waif redirects my attention to the finale. Cheque, savings or credit? Once I have paid the brightness returns to her bearing and she says, Now I have to do three updos for a ball tonight! They will all be Princesses!

As I exit through the stage door I am chiding myself for my lack of grace. Clearly I need practice. It’s ok though. My hair grows very fast.     



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