I have no trouble rejecting men. I can usually tell within five minutes of a date if I'm going to like the guy or not. There's that instant chemistry (or lack thereof) that speaks volumes. If he's an hour late, that's one strike against him. If he forgets his wallet, that's another. If he pressures me to get into his car I know to run the other way, and if he wants me to drive an hour to his house on the second date with no plan other than coming over, I know not to get behind the wheel.
What's funny is that this confidence and intuition doesn't translate when I'm on a salon chair. I can pour out my sob story about how a previous stylist refused to do my hair or cut off uneven chunks at random, but every time I get in a new salon chair I'm convinced that this stylist will know exactly what to do. And it's not that I don't do my research. I just seem to be destined to have horrible stylists. Maybe they should make therapy sessions for people who have codependent relationships with stylists and who always seem to "choose the wrong one."
Last Tuesday I went to a new stylist. This was an inevitable change as I'd moved from the Pacific Northwest back to California. I found her salon on Yelp as one that got high recommendations for working with natural black hair. My first faux pas was in not making sure I got the stylist recommended on the site, but instead booked an appointment with the one who answered the phone.
To make a long story short, I called her and she discovered that she wasn't supposed to put me under the dryer. She offered me a partial refund and a reconstructor treatment and then cancelled my treatment half an hour before it was scheduled because she wanted more sleep. Later that afternoon we each pulled up in front of her salon and I felt like I was in the middle of a drug deal as she handed me the cash. Once she saw my hair she insisted it was copper ("copper is orange, just like your [bright] orange sweater") and proclaimed my hair healthy even though it had been entirely sapped of natural oils and lay as dead on my head as if I had put my finger in a light bulb. (Yes, for kinky curly haired girls, "dead" does not mean flaccid.)
I took my partial refund to a Regis which is the chain of my previous stylist in Washington. I had her on the phone at the new salon, and my stylist said to run away as fast as I could, which I wasn't surprised about as the woman took one look at my hair and didn't want to have anything to do with it. Not because of the color but because my hair is so thick and curly. My stylist's sentiment was reinforced when the woman behind the counter lost my hair band, searched the entire salon and couldn't find one, and then tried to give me a rubber band instead. In a salon.
I'm reading tragic mulatta literature for a graduate class and so I'm immersed in mulattas who do not feel like they fit in either white or black society (though by the end they often choose black). I'd like to say that this double-consciousness is long gone, only, through my discussions with other mixed-race women--and black women who have decided to go natural--we're finding that there is almost no one out there who is willing or able to touch our hair. I for one I have decided that I will give myself a haircut, and that the only other person I'll entrust with scissors is my Washington stylist when I next go up for a visit. She is the only white person who will cut my hair (yes, I've been turned away that many times!) and black stylists always fry it to pieces because that's they only way they know how to deal with their own hair.
After a period of being worried that I would have to chop off my mane and start all over, home care, a well-placed hair wrap and a little bit of patience looks like it will slowly bring my hair back to a normal state. As for my mentality, stylists will now have to meet me, woo me, and prove their worth before I'll hand myself over.