Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Service

On Friday, my friend Jen and I headed downtown for "a service". That's the way the somewhat husky, slightly accented voice on the confirming voicemail described our appointment. As if we had signed up for something best not discussed in polite company, and the woman on the phone was being deliberately and carefully discreet.

We were bound for the Aveda institute on King Street. For the experience, to help further the careers and educations of the students, and, most of all, for a cheap haircut. The monetary cost of "the service" is just $14. The real payment, however, is the time. We were there for almost three hours. But it was still better than being at work - any reason is a good reason to play hooky on a Friday afternoon.

We arrived about 15 minutes early, as requested by the husky-voiced woman on the phone. We walked in, and confirmed our appointment. We were impressed and reassured by the gleaming expanses of floor and the perfectly coiffed, beautiful people gliding in and out of the shining mirrored surfaces. We were asked to head up to the second floor.

Once there, we signed waivers confirming that we would not sue the company if a student chopped off an ear. The second floor was still very nice, if not as spacious. The hairstylists seemed younger and not quite as 'perfect' than those on the first floor. We were slightly alarmed by the man who seemed to be in charge, as he chose to sashay about the floor in a giant, fuzzy, Russian style hat, making us wonder not only at his unusual fashion choices, but also at the the possible reasons for a hairstylist to be hiding his own hair. After waiting for a little while on the second floor benches, we were led - to the third floor.

This floor was almost crowded with hairstyling stations. Still clean and well-kept, but not nearly as fancy as the lower levels. More alarmingly, the stylists seemed to be very young. While we waited on yet more benches, we warily watched the stylists moving around. Jen noticed one girl who seemed more nervous and uncomfortable than most, as if she weren't sure why she was there, and now that she was, didn't know quite what to do with herself. Jen remarked jokingly that she hoped that she wouldn't get this girl as her stylist, and we were both somewhat relieved when she appeared to be engaged in cleaning and tidying, rather than styling people's hair. I saw Jen's face drop somewhat when this girl came toward us a few minutes later. She introduced herself to me and invited me to her chair. I tried not to look at Jen.

She turned out to be much more able than suspected, however. We consulted with the teacher, a perfectly put-together blonde woman, and we all agreed on something 'a bit different', but 'fairly easy to take care of'.

When Jen and finally left much, much later, trying to straighten out the kinks in our backs caused by the torturous, metal styling chairs, we looked at one another and agreed that we both were leaving with pretty much the same styles we'd gone in with. Mind you, they were much straighter, thanks to the somewhat overzealous application of straight irons.

In any case, it was a nice way to spend a Friday afternoon, with a quick trip through the market for juice on the way back to the car.

Thanks to everyone who's written to wish me and my family well. It's really appreciated. I will continue to update here on my mum's progress. She begins chemo on Tuesday. Fortunately, there's a cancer centre in Windsor, meaning that she doesn't have to travel for treatment. The chemo will be pretty aggressive, with treatments every two weeks. She's having a tough time right now, unable to eat , unable to sleep for more than an hour or so at a time, but without the energy or strength to do anything other than lie on the couch. We're hoping that her first appointment will give her a chance to get some good advice, and maybe get her some medications that can make things a bit better.

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