Monday, April 18, 2005

when i realized my beauty shop went mainstream

as you all know, i have to make it at least once a month to the salon for eyebrow maintenance.

now before you go envisioning burt from sesame street, let me say that i have never had out of control upper-eye foliage or anything. in fact my aunt told me that i should never let anyone mess with my eyebrows because they are naturally very nice. i think it was the only compliment she's ever given me. man, that's kind of pathetic. with that and the feet thing (if you don't know, check out the 'my best feature' post), i'm starting to rethink my image. regardless, i got curious about the whole eyebrow threading thing, and once you start, you just can't stop. i'm hooked.

this saturday i was sitting in the eyebrow place, thumbing through an O magazine from November. there were just about 52 people ahead of me in line and they were going to close in 1/2 an hour. it's funny; these people do mad business and yet the system still consists of a yellow spiral notepad of haphazardly scrawled names. sometimes the list goes to a second column, sometimes it goes on the back of the page. the beauticians rotate calling names out, which they routinely mispronounce or say too quietly, then everyone wastes time trying to figure out just whom they're calling. at the same time, there are about eight cellphone conversations going on at once. it's mayhem. personally, i think they should consider the whole take-a-number thing. it works well at the deli.

it didn't always used to be like this. back in the day my mom and i would go to the basement of this lady's hugeass house and she'd do facials or haircuts or eyebrows with equipment way beyond the Sally Beauty Supply catalog. eventually she started her own place, opened a second location and then sold the franchise to move to the motherland and drink lassi all day.

when it started, it was our version of latifah's beauty shop. women gabbing in the mother tongue about arranged marriages, who's having kids, problems, drama. home remedies for a nagging cough or pimples flew about and there was a lot of laughing. people knew your name. or at least your face. they smiled and nodded you over to the chair and you never had to wait more than 15 minutes.

these days the ladies are still there, but they have to hustle to keep up with demand. we're talking about nearly 10 customers an hour. you still hear them comment to each other in their language, but mostly stuff like, 'hey, i need to go on break,' or 'you got an extra pair of scissors over there?' these broads mean business, and if you think you're going to be out of there in under an hour, you're dreaming.

i've tried alternatives, but no one gives me the illusion of svelte-ness the way that my girls do. so i suck it up and eat up the wait time speaking loudly on my cell or flipping through outdated magazines.

the clientele has also completely changed. before it was all middleaged ethnic women and their daughters. now it's mostly booty sweatpant-clad students, working women of all ages and races and the occasional man. but i have never grasped just how much the place has changed until this last time.

i was trying to concentrate on an oprah interview with barack obama. and it was a losing battle.

to my right, an older woman and her middle-age daughter were gathering their courage and coming up with all kinds of erroneous theories about what the procedure would be like. across from me were three girls speaking excitedly. i was trying to figure out whether it was in russian or polish. because i don't speak either of those, i couldn't tell, but their drama was definitely about a man. the chair i was sitting on was jiggling nonstop because the guy on the other side of me really had to urinate, was tired of waiting on a woman, was high on speed, or a combination of them all.

he turns to the woman sitting on the other side of him.

HIM: man, it's a zoo in here.

HER: yeah, it sure is.

HIM: well, i guess it's saturday. everyone has gotta look good for tonight.

HER: mmm-hmm.

HIM: you get your eyebrows threaded or waxed?

HER: threaded.

HIM: it's the only way to go... know, i've been waxed from head to toe, so i'm up for whatever. (pulls at the front of his shirt, obviously to show off his hairyness/hairlessness, but there's only so much you can see from peripheral vision)

HER: wow.

HIM: yeap. my ex girlfriend was an esthetician, so she did all that stuff for me. she waxed my chest, my back, my eyebrows. but we broke up, so i'm getting back into the swing of coming here.

HER: oh.

HIM: yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeap.

(he gets back to jiggling the chair. he puts his ankle on his knee, putting his other, very hairy knee into my personal space. i can't help but think how bald and ugly his skinny legs would look waxed. his cellphone rings. i think the song is fifty cent's 'this is how we do')

HIM: 'hello? who is this? oh, charlene? yeah, what's going on? you comin' tonight?...nah, it's gonna be a blast... yeah, i'm at the eyebrow place... yeah, i get my eyebrows threaded. gotta look good for tonight. it's a lot more accurate than waxing... you know, my ex-girlfriend was an esthetician, and she used to wax them for me. one time she messed up and i was uneven for two weeks. yeah, but we broke up... i've been waxed from head to toe, you know... no, it's not that bad... yeah, so anyway, i got some new stuff. it's got (some acronym with Ms in it), the same stuff they use to make ecstasy. yeah, it's, you don't need to bring any, you can try some of what i've got first. yeah, i'll be on this and you can get a taste of that...we'll all be there... yeah, it's gonna be a rockin time.... no, i'll give you two for thirty. yeah... it's POWERFUL stuff, man. you won't be disappointed. it's going to be so awesome...yeah, i'm pumped...okay, i'll meet you at seven... oh, you're over there? want me to pick you up? let me tell you what, i'm probably next, so i'll be here like 20 more minutes. i'll call you when i'm on geneva road. then i can swing by and get you on the way... cool. yeah, it's going to be such a good time tonight. oh, wait, they're calling me. i'll call you later. yeah, bye.'

(he gets up as the beautician calls his name again. the lady he had talked to and i look at each other. she shrugs. i smirk and shake my head. i get back to oprah and obama.)

you know your beauty shop has hit the bigtime when drug dealers come in to be serviced. and that they have no qualms about doing business while they wait.


Ale said...

waw, that's nuts! you know what, next time you're in there you should casually talk on the phone about how "your people" always park "your helicopter" in the wrong spot! and how you're sick and tired of it... like last weekend when you had to fly to the lake to have lunch with an associate... you had to spend 20 minutes looking for the heli! Annoying!! Also, try to mention as many foreign sounding names as possible such as: Fabrizio, Ludovico, Anastasia, Steffano (remember steffano?) oh, and try to sound really bored and annoyed.

psychic pimp said...

I feel ya on the threading spots.
My #1 girl, Dipti's place is PACKED on Saturdays. I remember once there were about 25 people ahead of me. But that Dipti's a quick one...she uses the deli number system and it works great!
She also started off small in her apartment...then she got a she has her own salon!
She makes crazy $$$. I have not crossed passed w/ a drug pusher at her salon yet but I will keep me ears open! The place is definitely filled w/ all sorts of characters!

cadiz12 said...

no joke. that's the last time i go on a saturday, but my girl hema did such a good job, and that guy was so weird, i'm almost curious as to who else i'll run into there.

i'll pretend to be someone terribly important and eavesdrop on everyone else. but i really do wish i had a helicopter. or at the very least a jetson car.

ludovico, ale?