Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Seeking Answers In Central One Friday Afternoon

Sometimes I just want to hate myself for always thinking I am privileged enough that I can get what I want at anytime that I want, in any way that I want it.

Like last Friday. I needed an emergency haircut and color touch-up badly for the Volume Anniversary show which I was gonna perform for. So I browsed through my phonebook and dialled Paul Gerrard. As soon as the guy on the other end of the line said, "Hello?", I inquired: "Hi! I was wondering whether you can accommodate my last-minute appointment booking for Brad?"

With Brad,
my post-Disney makeover hairstylist,
after my first ever session with him

The guy, trying to be polite, answered, "Well, you'll have to call the salon." It was Paul Gerrard himself.

My stupid ass dialled Paul Gerrard the person, instead of Paul Gerrard Salon. How humiliating is that?

Then he said, "And Brad won't be in until the 17th."

In an instant, my world shattered.

So I went to see another hairstylist. I told him what I wanted with my hair and what my problems with it were. I thought I had already told him everything when I asked him for suggestions. He spoke rather eloquently and described what would become of my hair, with utmost pride and confidence, as if he was one fine chef and I was his sumptuous 7-course dinner claim to fame. I got excited, and with sparkling, dreamy eyes and a million-dollar Hollywood diva smile, I commanded him to commence.

Two minutes into the session, I looked away from the mirror as he started to razor the sides of my head. Brad and I were growing my hair! He was supposed to make it thin, not short. But he's done the right side already so I just decided to keep my mouth shut. We all know that more often than not, I unintentionally piss people off when I go by the impulse of verbalizing the first words that come to my mind. He had a pair of scissors, a razor and huge hair clips in his hand. I wasn't gonna risk it. In my mind, I just told myself, I could always go back to the shaved head look (which my very good friend Christian Glassl insists to be the best look he's seen on me) if it didn't work.

Twenty minutes later, he was brushing hair off my neck and unhooking my salon gown. I looked in the mirror and realized it wasn't so bad as I had foreseen it would be. He looked at me in the mirror and with a satisfied smile, he said to me, "It frames your face." Then he asked his assistant to lead me to the wet area and have my hair rinsed.

He started applying the bleach solution to the roots of my hair and when he finished, he put me under the ring of heat and gave me some magazines to spend my idle time on, which I gracefully turned down. I had my own stash: "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris, which Steve gave me on the eve of my birthday as a prelude to the expensive main gift. I was roasted for 10 minutes. And another 10. And another 10.

With Steve,
a very dear friend who Me Talk Pretty One Day was from;
and my blonde lock with their black roots

The next part, that where he took off the foil and rinsed my hair, was when I realized the mistake of forgetting the most important problem with my hair that Brad and I learned the hard way. My hair strands are thick and they are way too black. They have too much melanin that they require long hours to be bleached, and even so, they could only be bleached so far. In other words, the roots of my hair didn't lighten so much as the ends. He wanted to reapply the bleach but if he did, I was gonna be late for work. So I said, "Never mind, we'll color it green anyway."

"It will probably take almost an hour for the color to settle," predicted Nostradamus' soul which had entered his mortal body at that particular moment.

"Oh? I don't have that much time. I'll be late for work." So I decided that, over the next two or three weeks, I will just pretend that the gradient in my hair was done deliberately and that I am happy about it.

I was quite content with my haircut. That, I had to admit as I was staring at myself in the mirror while settling my bill. That satisfaction would later be fueled by my students, colleagues and friends who think that the 'do actually framed my face and made my cheekbones more prominent, thereby highlighting my smile. (Although personally, I think it's my ever-reliable weight loss program that actually made my cheekbones more prominent. So I deserve the credit for that, not my new second-fiddle hairstylist.) BUT...

Looking at myself at the elevator mirror, I noticed something peculiar. I knew, deep in my heart of hearts that he more or less achieved what he wanted to do with my hair, but I knew too that I wasn't quite getting the overall look that the hairstyle promised. With the thickness of the top section and the thinness of the sides --- something that looks like a fusion of the conservative mohawk and the clean military cut --- I was supposed to look more butch. (I know... I know... High hopes, yeah! But I can try, dammit! And stop rolling your eyes, my beloved reader!)

So I walked the busy streets of Hong Kong Central, trying to seek answers to my questions, "Why not?" and "How?" Half an hour later, I still couldn't find the answer to the former. But to the latter, the answer stared at me directly in the eye. So how? Here's how ---

A dogtag.

For the butch in me.