Thursday, February 11, 2010

Victory Smells Like Pickles!

Last week, I got a long overdue haircut. I'd actually needed one before christmas, but because of lack of money and energy, I opted to give myself a little trim instead. It didn't turn out too bad, but mostly because my boyfriend has the skills of a ninja in straight line cutting. Fast-forward two months and my hair still needed a proper cut and now it also needed to be fixed because I couldn't keep my eager little hands (scissors) off of it and my second attempt at self-styling wasn't nearly as successful as my only somewhat successful first.

So began my quest for a haircut.

It started with a google search. Local hair salons. Then my boyfriend called a few of the closest for prices.

I knew the dangers ahead of me: heavily scented products, hairdryers, being asked to hold my head this way and that, overhead lighting. So I packed my trusty bag full of items that would head off or cut off a potential trigger, like cough drops, heat rub, three sizes of earplugs, drugs and water.

We found a salon that met our needs. We walked. We arrived. We opened the door. I almost fell over. I forgot how strong the smell of salons can be, and this was a full service place, so we're talking acetone, aromatherapy, and hair dye in addition to the expected haze of hairspray. I popped a menthol lozenge immediately. The smell was bad, but I was determined to get my hair cut. I dropped my bag on the ground, hung my coat on the rack next to a few others, and had a seat.

The woman who cut my hair spoke limited english, which was fine by me, I'd rather avoid the mindless chit-chat, it's such an empty waste of spoons. I told her right away: no products. "I'm allergic, sensitive." She nodded and repeated back to me, "Oh, ok, you are sensitive." I relaxed. The overhead lights were really bothersome, and sunglasses are just not practical while getting a haircut, so I closed my eyes. I waited for her to ask about my earplugs, but she never did. Ever since I stopped using shampoo I've felt self-conscious at the salon, like they would judge me unclean (even though my hair is a million times nicer and easier to care for without the commercial products, and is never, ever unclean). But she didn't seem to notice a difference. Or she was too polite to say anything. I was pretty relaxed until I heard the stylist rustling around in her station and cracked open an eye to check on her.

She was just about to come at me with a hairdryer and my reaction was the same as the last time a dentist came at me with a needle, I flinched so hard I nearly jumped out of the chair and exclaimed, "OH! NO, THANKS!", a little too loudly. She was nice about it, but she put the dryer back slowly, watching me the whole time, like it was a gun and I was a nut she was trying to talk into releasing the hostages. I smiled at her and she smiled back, warily. She finished the cut quickly and I was pleased with the result. Her boss came over and her perfume asked me if I liked my hair. I gasped that I was happy and bolted for the door, barely pausing to grab my coat and bag on my way out.

My boyfriend paid the people while, outside, I gathered myself. I breathed in the cold winter air, feeling light and cheerful, and my newly short hair whipped in the wind. Then I put on my coat. And I couldn't breathe.

The coat rack I had hung it on? Right next to two other coats? Yeah, apparently perfume transfers really easily. I walked home with my scarf over my face, trying not to freak out. I loved my hair. I was so happy. But my head was starting to edge up in pain levels and my vision was going wonky. AND my spanking new wool coat was unwearable. Well, I could wear it, I just couldn't breathe at the same time. And it is dry clean only. And we are broke, having just spent a good chunk of our not-food money on my hair.

So, I tried to wash it, despite the label. Cold water, light agitation, detergent and baking soda AND a vinegar rinse. Still stank. I washed it again with a shit-ton more of baking soda and a gallon (not really) of vinegar. IT STILL STANK. I was afraid to wash it again, that it would mess up the coat, so I switched tactics. I sprayed it down with mild water and white vinegar mix. It dried and GOOD GOD IT STILL REEKED like desperation and insecurity (perfume). So, I tried one more time, thinking: If this doesn't work, I'll cave and find a dry cleaner. I sprayed the mother down with probably an 80% vinegar solution and now... it stinks to holy hell like vinegar.

But there is no trace of perfume! Success!

The vinegar smell is slowly fading, but I don't mind it. It smells like victory.


MigrainePuppet said...

At work, we have coat closets for smokers and for non-smokers. Some people couldn't understand why there would be two different closets. I thought this was a wonderful idea from the beginning. Maybe the salon could have a perfume and non-perfume user closets. I'm so sorry about your ordeal.

Stephanie said...

Two coat closets to segregate the stinkers?? Genius.

Faren said...

I go to Super Cuts. Not busy, so very few coats on the rack. Nice and cheap too. Course, I have long hair with bangs and not much style, so it is hard for them to screw it up.

Love the separate closets for smokers and non smokers.

WinnyNinny PooPoo said...

I think your hairdresser was going for the extra five bucks or so "styling" adds to the cost of the haircut - probably what she was reluctant to put away the blow dryer!!!

Vinegar concurs all!!! Does your coat come in dill or pickalilly odors??

Anonymous said...

It's a gruesome story, but you do tell with such flair and humor!!!! Yes, fragrance sucks.