ZW WORD 12 Winner

ZineWest Spoken WORD 2012


Lourdes Subijano

It was my love of a bargain that sparked the indulgence. Who could resist a steal, a mere $89 for $249 worth of haircut, shampoo, blow dry, treatment and either colour or a quarter-head of foils, and in a Double Bay salon? Of course, by the time I had the “extras” – highlights and gloss and a jar of Italian wax, all recommended by no less than Kevin, the chief stylist, the $89 had become $210.

Maltese-born, Italian-speaking and London-trained, Kevin decided on an angular cut for me, “edgy” but balanced by a soft colour for my strong hair.
I watched, fascinated at the speed and precision of his scissors. Young guy, I thought, maybe mid-30s. Garbed in regulation salon black. Skinny. Dark hair. Gay? I couldn’t tell. He said he’d been in Australia eight years, six at the salon, all in all fifteen in the industry.

I said I’d driven straight from work which was at a computer company in Pennant Hills, a long way away.

‘Is that near Castle Hill, where they have big houses?’
‘Yes, indeed,’ I replied. No need to tell him I lived in a unit in another suburb.

I wasn’t one to pay much attention to my appearance, just the cursory glance at the mirror and a swipe with the comb before I left for work in the morning. But I found these visits to the hairdresser something of a surface rework – my greying roots covered up, fringe shortened, an over-all trim to hair which tended to grow unevenly if left alone for two months. They were atypical “me” time – sitting in front of a mirror with a cup of tea, poring over a pile of women’s magazines, my chance to catch up with Hollywood or royal gossip, usually at a Korean salon in Epping or an Indonesian hairdresser’s in Blacktown, where for two hours, it was someone’s highest priority to make me look better.

But why Double Bay? I guess the voucher came my way, like the rest of the special offers that arrive in my email inbox every day. I was going to unsubscribe from Deals-of-the-Day but thought there was no harm in knowing what was around. The last time I pressed the “Buy Now” button, it was for a limited edition, top-of-the-line, 18/8 stainless steel, BPA-free water bottle. Why, I know people who have gone hot air ballooning and jet-skiing on these vouchers and had the time of their life.

As for the haircut, OK it wasn’t with Toni & Guy but still, the salon was in Double-Bay-Double-Pay. Surely, I deserved a treat, like the occasional fine dining by the harbour, a change from the all-you-can-eat at the RSL or yum cha. I chuckled silently. If I could relay the comparison to my Korean or Indonesian hairdressers, and be understood, I’m sure the ladies would see the humour and laugh.

And so for the haute coiffure experience I had driven east, where the fifty-minute trip through the motorways cost $12 in tolls each way. Thinking my synthetic no-nonsense maroon ESPRIT hold-all wasn’t hoity-toity enough for the occasion, I also unwrapped a Coach handbag a friend had given me for my birthday, still unused because its zipped middle section wasn’t large enough to contain my wallet and phone.

‘Crown-out. Crown-out,’ Kevin was showing me how to blow-dry my hair. Then he scooped a small blob of the Italian wax from the jar, warmed it in his palms and scrunched it into my tresses, pulling at the roots, separating tufts by pressing them between his thumb and forefinger until they spiked up, then giving them a final twist.

‘You look twenty years younger,’ he cooed.
‘And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that,’ I beamed at him.

Kevin disappeared into the back room to get my jacket and held it as I slipped my arms through the sleeves.

‘See you next time, funky I.T. girl from Pennant Hills.’ I could almost see an invisible wink.

As I paid for the haircut, the lady at the counter explained that for my next visit, I could have the exact package, minus the product but also with Kevin, for $280. I pocketed the salon’s card.

Six weeks later, the greys were showing through again.

‘You call at right time,’ the Indonesian hairdresser said over the phone. ‘We have Mother’s Day package – cut, colour, treatment – only $50.’ But, she added, if I spent $100 or more – there were so many extras and products to choose from – she’d give me a voucher for a free mini-facial next door at the beauty clinic she’d recently opened.

‘Really? Wow – book me in for Thursday.’


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