The professional blow-dry
Because I’m pretty rubbish at styling my own hair, I sometimes go to a salon and have it professionally “blown”. Other women get manicures but I can’t bear having to sit in the salon listening to the staff belt out Celine Dion songs and talk about me behind my back for the best part of an hour, so I rarely bother with that.
The hairdo, on the other hand, costs Dhs 75 and takes about 15 mins – and you come out with hair so swishy you feel like you should be in a shampoo ad.
Well, that’s what should happen.
Here’s what happened today.
I walk into a dark salon. I can hear the staff upstairs having coffee, breakfast, playing on Facebook, whatever. Receptionist yells up the stairs “Yalla!” Customer here!”
Receptionist suggests I sit at the sink ready for the hair wash. Usually this salon insists that they don’t wash my hair first, saying they’ll get a better result “blowing out” one-day-washed hair, so I suggest we wait and ask the stylist. I’d put a conditioning treatment on it yesterday and it’s looking pretty shiny.
Stylist picks up my hair in her hands, in the squeamish manner one might pick up a dead fish, and says, “Better we wash it.”
“Really?” I ask. “You don’t usually.”
“You wash this morning?” she asks.
“Yesterday?” echoes stylist, raising eyebrows at comedy sidekick receptionist. “Yesterday evening?”
“Just yesterday,” I say, defensively. Receptionist raises eyebrows as high as Botox will allow (“Do these British housewives have no shame?” I see her thinking).
“Better we wash,” says the stylist. So I’m lead off to the sink where a lap-dancer in last night’s clothes assistant gets a kitten to spit a little cold saliva onto my shiny, conditioned hair. She smears a little goo over it then spits on it herself and rubs it around. For good measure, she then turns on the tap and sluices my face with cold water.
“What? You get water in your face?” she asks when I wipe runny mascara off my cheek. “I do all my clients like this, no-one complain. Anyway. Done,” she says, pulling me back to the stylist, who ignites the industrial-blasting hairdryer.
“How you want it?” she asks over the noise of a Russian Tupolev taking off, while giving off body language signals that imply it’s a rhetorical question anyway.
I’ve often come out of this salon looking like I’m wearing Felix Baumgartner’s space-hat (way too many times, if I’m honest), so now I’m careful to explain that I want “a little volume but not too much” (I wave hands about to indicate the expected height). “Make it look like I’ve done it myself, only better,” I say. “Not like Lebanese soap opera star.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she says. And dries it flat as a pancake. Why do I bother?