Saturday, January 28, 2012


Chapter 3

Being new to a big city did have its advantages, but unfortunately with those advantages came the disadvantages. The bigger the city, the more diverse, perverse, decadent, unusual, and sociopathic it becomes. All of those adjectives would describe the future experiences that I was about to unveil a little at a time. It was a good thing that I was still young enough to have a certain amount of innocence intact as the experiences that were to follow would have had a different impact if I had been older.

There would have been different outcomes if I had a little more life knowledge under my belt, but fate held my hand and removed the innocent layers one at a time. Slowly my eyes opened to just how much craziness existed in the world. Most of this newly found information had been held back by living in a smaller town and pure naivety, but then I was jumping in with both feet and could hardly wait to get wet. Looking back I can see where I should have made a right turn instead of a left, and which door I should have shut before I opened another door.

All things that most of us human animals must experience in order to gain the life knowledge needed to stave off any other crazy situations that may appear. Knowing when to leave is the smartest thing that anyone can learn, and luckily that was to be my first real lesson by living in the big city. After settling into my new home and my new city I began the task of looking for a new salon to begin work in. While it seemed there was a hair salon on every corner I was not willing to settle into another ordinary work environment. I would spend a couple of weeks visiting several places with which to work in yet nothing arrived that was a comfortable fit. As fate slammed its gavel once more, I was out once again shopping when I took the direct wake up call. Located in the elite shopping mall that I was in was the salon that I was to begin my next phase of hairdressing.

Entering this new area of HAIRistocracy was my premier visit to the world of well to do society matrons and dashing blue blooded men. Crossing through the doors of this salon put you into a past world of elegance and waning 1960’s décor. The grand crystal golden chandelier lighted the way into the marbled front foyer. There you were greeted by the reception staff. Always buzzing and chaotic receptionists would check you in and see to your needs before the stylist would be ready to see you. The receptionists decided the fate of the stylists each day by the correct booking of time, client needs and client tolerances and insecurities; in other words, incorrect booking meant a disaster that would destroy any semblance of a calm and flowing day of elite hair maintenance.

As you made your entrance into the large flowing styling area, custom made styling stations lined the walls. Matching themed décor golden mirrors hung elegantly to entice a view from every angle. The styling chairs emanated auras of the previous past decade of clients who had frequented the salon. It was obvious that the grandiose furniture had seen better days, yet all the pieces still held their regal appearance and still functioned well. Even though the decorum could have used a renovation most clients just accepted it as it was.

The area where you were taken for shampooing and chemical services was strategically placed away from the styling area to insure the privacy and security for the clients who did not wish to be seen during some rather unattractive processes. Six deep black shampoo sinks stood behind the line of long lounge chairs, where the clients laid back and let the professional techs take control. All techs wore their white uniforms and white polished shoes, and were only seen when they escorted the freshly washed and toweled client to the stylist’s chair. They were to disappear as quickly as they appeared. We were told to stay away from their area and only use the shampoo area if time was of the essence and the techs were all busy, otherwise you remained in the styling area.

It was a very new and different scenario from the past work situation yet the atmosphere was always charged with a vibrant energy which I would later understand as too much testosterone in one work environment. I was a fish in a big pool and the sharks swam around all the time just waiting to take a bite out of me and watch me drown. I learned how to be a different kind of fisherman, and survive without getting hooked, caught, and thrown back out to sea. Although there were some times when the hunter got captured by the game, I still managed to live to tell and came away with a whole different point of view.

This NEW styling position that I became a part of was once again a Salon Europa and this time I would be working for an owner from Germany, as if the Italian had not been enough. Nothing could have prepared this country boy for “Allemange Attitude” which is French for German attitude. It was there that I would be slapped awake and would learn how to keep my eyes and ears opened more than ever. This International House of Hairdom turned my working hours into a complete and utter challenge like never before. Evilness is created by those who seek to control and manipulate, which is probably why they hired me in the first place. I would assume that they felt that I could hold my own, and as a novice actor I guess I convinced them that I could but was really faking my way through it all.

The salon was one big sea of testosterone and only one other female stood behind the styling chairs. By the owner’s German standard way of thinking no woman could style hair the way a male was able to. Only one female made it on the roster of stylists in this salon. The only other women of employment were the receptionist’s and the shampoo tech’s who would diligently work and be completely subservient to all the roosters who strutted throughout the salon. If ever there was a sexual discrimination suit to be won it would have been here.

The owner was one of a healthy stock of German and European stylists who were trained and brought to the states by the former owners of the salon establishment. My new boss was one of many young European male hairdressers that were brought to the Unites States to work for a mere pittance for the chance to work in a salon in America. He had worked his way up through the ranks as an apprentice and survived those hard working years of the 1960’s when you would shampoo and set up to 30 women a day. He started with learning to shampoo and then after that slowly learned the skills shown by the previous owner who ran the large operation that he now called his own. Unfortunately he felt that all the other stylists were beneath him and no one was better than he was in his styling skills. Tall and strikingly handsome, he seemed to command any room that he walked in to. Whenever he walked, his dark blonde hair would bounce on his head and he always had a rude comment to share if he should get in your line of eyesight. I often wondered why he would choose to say such mundane and irritating comments and now I realize it was his way of trying to stay above everyone else. By trying to degrade others presence it gave him the air of superiority. Anyone of us who showed him up would always reap the consequences of his insecurities. The one great quality he showed was his love of family. He was married to an American woman and he had two children to complement his solid marriage. Despite his manners or lack thereof in communication skills with his staff, he was one hell of a hairdresser. I just had to learn his body language, and in doing so I learned how to react to his attitude.

Trying to keeping in step with this kind of behavior was a challenge that I did not like very well and made it my goal to prove that I could take him on at any time. The fact that I was twenty years younger than he was, only made his vulnerability show through even more. I was the youngest in the salon and being the new kid on the block, I had to take his knocks and keep fighting. His arrogance and attitude seemed to create some rather embarrassing situations in the salon. His flippancy and condescending ways suggested strongly that he knew the most about everything. It would take one situation to prove his vulnerability amongst his staff and it served up a healthy dish of crow that he would eat most deservingly.

In the fashionable city of Atlanta the one thing that most of the ultra riche and society matrons looked forward to was the Governor’s Ball. The event to end all events, and to get an invitation was to be on the A list of people. On this particular Saturday, the whole salon was packed with madams and messieurs that were to be attending the function that evening. It was on this day that we had an early meeting and he told us how important this event was and how necessary it was to stay on time with our work schedule. At that same meeting he took the time to show off this fancy new super blow dryer that he had recently purchased and told us to plan on buying one for ourselves so that everyone would have the same dryer. The “YellowBird” was a forceful dryer and was the top of the line when it came to blow dryers in the 1970’s. Because of its blow force it also required a lot of air and the side vents on it were like a mini vacuum. I watched him use it that morning and noticed that when he got too close to the head with it, I could see hair lifting towards its side vents from the suction of air power.

During lunch I mentioned what I had seen to him to make him aware that it appeared that his new dryer could possibly suck hair into it vents. He rudely told me that could not happen and that I should just pay attention to my own clients as he knew how to handle the dryer. I made it clear one more time that it was an accident waiting to happen and he ignored me and went back to work. I took his advice and just ignored what he was doing when suddenly a scream was heard throughout the salon. I glanced around to see where it came from when I noticed his client sitting there frightened as the “Yellow Bird” dryer had swallowed a small section of her long hair. The dryer was now resting on the back of her head, and the motor was still smoking from the hair that now clogged its dryer chambers. I rushed over and pulled the plug to stop the current and saw that he was totally shocked at what had just happened. I knew it was in my best interest to keep my mouth shut and two of us stylists came to his rescue to help him try and remove the hair that was so entangled inside the dryer. Unfortunately her hair was not letting go as we tried to tug and pull it out easily. Our only other choice was to take the dryer apart and remove it gently and hope that the section of hair had not been burned and ruined. We located some tools and set about dismantling the dryer and as we removed piece after piece, the fears we both felt were confirmed. Wrapped tightly around the motor was the one section of hair. It had melted it into one cinged mass that was unsalvageable to remove and it had to be cut in order to get the dryer off her head. The client was frantic beyond belief and was emotionally falling apart before our eyes. Having no other choice, he made the snips that finally set the dryer free which left a gaping section of hair that no longer blended with the rest of the clients hair. The woman was livid and began verbal threats and attacks but he was not able to speak for his embarrassment shattered his demeanor and he was speechless. It took a while to calm her down and we explained that it would not be a problem to repair and I casually explained how we would do it by slightly re-layering the cut.

At first I thought I would be in some sort of trouble for taking over, but I smoothed the situation into a happy ending. After such a scary ordeal she left with a congenial smile and an apology for the threats. As I picked up the mess from the parts of the dryer, she made her way toward me and presented me with a personal gratuity for her hair rescue. I was completely taken aback and graciously thanked her. I was prepared to be asked to leave the salon but instead was humbled when he acknowledged that he should have listened to me as he was also noticing how strong the vent suction was but he just did not like people telling him what to do, and that he let his arrogance get in the way of the observation. From that day forward his attitude toward me had changed and would be noticed by everyone on staff. I was no longer the new guy and now felt more a part of the staff family.

All the other working stylists were from different countries and it was always a continual bevy of languages going on at all times. At any given time you would hear at least six different languages being spoken which made for a truly European experience. In this salon I would learn the true meanings of adultery, sexual deviation, perversion, solicitation, intimidation and survival. On one side of me, to the other side, I would be privy to absolutely amazing conversations and topics. Personal stories and dalliances were shared by both client and stylist
The male stylists were the studs and the rich women that graced the salon came for the closest thing to a Warren Beatty they could get. Each one of us was at their disposal no matter what it cost. I had no clue, once again, to what I was getting into and but I just went with the flow, which would pay off handsomely. It did not matter what your sexual preferences were these rich dames needed attention and not just for their hair. The owner made sure that we were taught exactly how to handle the women, which meant how to upsell their salon needs and how to up charge their service when required to do so, and oh yes, house calls were mandatory.

I always laugh when I hear the word UPSELL. That six letter word would mean an entirely different thing when away from the salon for a home appointment. Very quickly I realized it was synonym code for a coiffed liaison. My working partner to my left would be my guide to the world of home salon satisfaction. He was the definition of a true man-whore who would partake of any free moment to satisfy his appetite for the female sex. He was not a real handsome man, but his swagger and his mane of reddish-brown hair would dance lightly around his shoulders which exuded masculinity. He donned the ruddy complexion of a red head and his freckles made his face always look tan. The bushy moustache that graced the upper line of his mouth only served to make his plump red lips look even redder.

The sexuality that oozed out of him was self-contained within the tight form fitting pants that he always wore. His German dialect would always sputter his English grammar and always served as a way for his clients to help him try and speak the sentences correctly. Therein would lay the ploy and trick of his trade to win over most any female that came within his space. The clients that came to him for services were the cream of the money crop. They were the southern debutantes that came from Daddy’s money and their southern dialect would always drip from their mouths like honey from a bee. Their feminine voices were soft and slow with a seductive drawl would always excite him, which was fairly obvious from the anatomical outlines that would always appear from the exterior of his pants.

Clients would come into the salon for an appointment with him and I always noticed that most of them would disappear for a while with him. When they returned, he would then begin their styling appointment. I never asked where he was always going to but would find that out entirely by accident. This would parlay into one of those life moments that you would see in a Hollywood movie only it really happened to me. In retrospect, I would have to say I just fell into it by accident.

The salon as I stated before was very grand and large with lots of hidden areas for supplies and storage. It took the opening of a wrong door that would answer the mysterious question of the disappearing clients. Shocked and surprised was an understatement, as I was mortified to have been unfortunate enough see the carnal activity that was taking place atop the stack of boxes in the storage room.

I will forever have that image in my mind which only serves as a reminder to knock before entering any closed door. As I had exposed myself to the secret that had been kept hidden, I knew that I now held the key to open the door to the contacts and the divine divas. I kept my own little nugget of newly unveiled information to myself knowing very well the he knew he had been caught.

I promised sincerely that I would keep this from the owner pending assistance from Mr. “Red Riding” Hood. It did come to pass that the wolf came around to my way of thinking.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I was sitting outside in the warm sun and felt the soft gust of the cool breeze surround me as I watched the last of the broken clouds drift off for places unknown. I have always wondered where the clouds go when they bust apart and but it seems they regroup again at another time and place. Much like people, family and friends who regroup at some time to form a "love cloud" of memories and which breaks apart and the energy of that affection will meet up once again when the timing is right.

My dog sauntered out to remind me that it was time for a dog treat and as she followed me into the office I suddenly got a message from my computer telling me that a new message had arrived in my box. I sat down to retrieve it and my whole body smiled with joy that a special family member had discovered me on FACEBOOK and gave me accolades for my writing.

I could hardly contain myself to reconnect those clouds again and drift back to our family memories and dish on the "now of then". As in every family there is always one person who stands out above the rest. The one who accepted all of you and nothing less. The person who was rebellious above the rest and took to life and self discovery as if the army were chasing them to the finish line. I had my connection with her and still feel as if it was yesterday that I first had my cousin connection.
It truly does not matter that so much time has come and gone because it still feels as if it happened last week. Through tears of unspoken gratitude those memories are some of the most cherished moments on my hit parade of life.

I can recall the exact moment that she made the biggest impression on my life which would become the catalyst for a lifetime of amazing discoveries. Still a teen herself, she got saddled with the duty of taking care of me as a young boy of seven which suited me fine as it was a getaway from the other sitters that were old biddies who wanted to strap me to a chair and torture me because of my inability and unwanted desire to do what they wanted me to do.
No...., my June bug was different. She also busted the mold of authority and sought to find life on her own terms. To this day I believe the karmic connection brought us together from another life where we lived our previous life with wild abandon and it just carried over to the next to complete what we didn't get finished before.

Despite what you would believe we were connected and the rest just fell into place. I always loved when she would visit us at home and became infatuated when she talked about her life and how her Mother just could not understand her. It was a song that played a lot in my home also as my Mother had the same problem. Both of our Mothers would not accept that we wanted to go our own way without the benefit of their opinions or guidance. Their dilemma was how to control us and our dilemma was how to get the hell away from them as quickly as possible.

Cousins of related Mothers, but all it was all in the family genes I guess. We captured the adventurous genes while the other family members remained staid. We never let time go by easily because we milked every second of consciousness looking for a new adventure. Now bear in mind there was a time that there was an age gap that separated us in maturity but that gap has long disappeared and now our connection is all on an even keel as the age gap faded long ago with our life experiences.

It was on that Saturday long ago that I sat in her apartment watching American Bandstand and was perusing through her box of records that I discovered that Decca record that would forever cement the bond. Not that it would mean much to anyone else, but to me it signaled happiness and an excitement that she liked the same singer that I did. The proof was being held in my hand and she took her teenage time to school me on the others singers who were filed within that "Platter Pack" of 45 RPM records. It was 1959 and my world of music had began to spin just for me.

My world would never be the same after that wonderful Saturday afternoon. She introduced me to Dick Clark and rate a record. She carefully explained to me who he was and who all the "in" dance couples were. I sat totally enamored with the black and white spectacle that seemed to never end. I can remember when the show finished asking her if I could come back next week and watch it with her again. Just what she needed another visit from her cousin when there were dates to be had on a weekend.

Unfortunately for me we did not get to repeat that weekend visit but as I got out of her car that day when we returned home, I could see a whole new vista beginning to glow around me. It still resonates within me when I ponder the memory of that special day.

She would always appear in our lives and still made time to spend with us even though she was making new roads in her life. I recall a visit when I became aware that she was pregnant with her first child. I did not know why her stomach had gotten so big and with her funny wit she explained the truth of what was happening and why she had a large stomach. She was quite savvy and left the birds and bees out of it but she was the first woman that let me feel her baby kick. My Mother was taken aback at how mesmerized I was at what was transpiring before me. Once again unknown to her she had opened a new window for me to peer out of.

The rebel in me became the mantra that we both so securely lived by. At times others would judge her because of her "unsavory choices", but I secretly loved that she wrote her own music and sang her own songs. Year after year I witnessed the changes that she went through and sought to become someone like her. I also desired the free will and would never listen to the guidance of others if my own inner sonar had a different path to follow.

It did not matter how much time had passed, but when we would reconnect it was like no time had gone by. It seems that as we spoke our memory of events was as sharp as the day that things happened. While we may have held the title of "rebels" we clearly made our path known and lived life as we dictated it on our own terms.
I recalled many events where I clearly now would have made a different decision but we both agreed that we had absolutely no regrets and we are still living to tell all.

In these autumn times of our lives we seem to reflect on things and people who clearly defined areas of our lives. Often times people never have the opportunity to tell the person how much they appreciated them in their life. I am the fortunate exception who recognizes one of the people who defined me as the person I am. She was totally unaware of the wonderful impact that she made in my life.

Often I get the pleasure of taking out the Decca album that she gave me as a get well gift when I had broken my wrist. I hold it in my hands and remember that young woman who had worked hard for that money to buy the album that would make me feel better despite the pain and awkwardness of my arm in a cast.
I can still feel and taste the chill of the "Seven Up" in that big green bottle that she brought for me also and watched her sip on the Pepsi that she drank while I opened up my gift. My joy on that occasion was obvious to everyone present in the room that evening. Little did they know where it all would lead.

I get to say my thanks now and share the love that I will keep with me for the rest of my life and she will finally know for sure that she had made quite an impression on a seven year old boy who always would whisper silent SWEET NOTHIN'S whenever she was around. Cousin's by birth and soul mates from yore.

It doesn't have to require any special month to bring out my JUNE bug, she flies around in my memory all the time and always lands on that special place in my heart.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Assuming the worst scenario with not much professional experience behind me, I totally prepared for my termination of employment. Why I felt that I was to be fired was totally an immature thought that I would not be needed any longer.
With great anxiety I sat down with him and the other three. He began to explain the day’s events and his predicament that led him to major disappointment with Marla’s sudden departure. He made it very clear that disappointments like that was not something he tolerated and would rather it never happen again, and like a caged dog I readily agreed. I had no real definite idea what I was agreeing to but just
moved with his conversation as he continued to speak. No one else spoke, when he spoke, and then he laid out his new plan for manager replacement and I was his choice which rendered me speechless,despite the fact that I was not talking anyway.

I was only nineteen, what the hell did I know about running a salon? After a long silence, I found my voice once again and explained that I had no experience in running a salon as I had only been out of school for just eight months. He made it very clear that he was aware of my skills and that I was not going turn him down. He mentioned that I would get the training I needed to do things the way he had set up.

I already had an insight into his “training” methods, I just was not sure I wanted to take the job. While he could have lured me into anything because of his demanding presence I stood up to him out of fear and spoke of my uncertainties, which for all purposes, was not acceptable on his part. He had his mind made up and I was his choice and I was to begin the job the next day. I was told to plan for most of
the upcoming week to be in “training”. How I loved his wording, as it would train me alright, and not so much in the salon management skills.

There was not much at all to the training the next day, except to learn what banks the money was to be deposited into and of course, was shown the “surprise” hiding place for the cash and daily tickets. The deposits were to consist of only checks as the major credit card situation had not taken on full force yet so it was all checks and cash. I was taught to make sure that the cash and checks balanced with the ticket totals from the register. Supplies were to be ordered on Monday and I was to be available every Tuesday afternoon, for a meeting with Mr.Tony and his “reps”.

Those meetings were a total rehash of all the previous things we had been over time and again. Banking issues were the major dilemma usually, as I would be in receipt of the daily deposit and the balance on the account was always nearly empty.
Our paychecks never bounced and they were from another bank in Chicago that did not match the ones that I deposited into. I made the fatal mistake of asking why the checks came from a Chicago bank and was abruptly informed that I did not really need to know why the checks came from that bank, it was none of my business and that was that. Mr. Tony felt very uncomfortable when asked about things he did not want to talk about, and his eyes would narrow and leer at you as if trying to hypnotize you to stop talking. I was a man of many questions and to this day, that still remains the same.

I began my new position and took on all the responsibilities that he sent my way. It would prove to be difficult at times to play the role of manager when the staff was much older than myself. I endured and moved things along as I was told to do.
After my first year of working for him I remarked that the salon could use an updating to keep in step with the changes in our industry. That would “cost money” he exclaimed and was unnecessary. I mentioned very directly that I would rather seek another place to work than keep working in an outdated environment.
He readily assured me that would not happen, so I stood up to leave and he quickly and strongly grabbed my arm causing me to flinch to which I yanked it away and told him never to do that again. I was done talking and made it much clearer for him to realize that I would not continue to work for him if he would not update the salon, in other words I was giving him my two week notice. I spoke it angrily and turned and walked away from him. I was done talking, evidently he was not as he and HIs “reps” came charging up behind me requesting me to stop, of which I did, so I turned around and stared him down. He felt the need to tell me to go back to work and he would talk to me later. I said nothing, turned back around and walked out the door toward my car, got into it and drove home, literally peeing my pants with the fear that ran through me by actually standing up for myself.

Shakily, I drove home and awaited my fate. I began to question myself as to what I had done earlier, but I meant what I said and would not back down from what I felt was needed to get changed. I phoned the salon to inform them that I would not be coming back in for the day and they informed me that Mr.Tony wanted to talk with me right away. That was not going to happen and I meant it. I hung up and decided to rest, as the whole scenario had taken a toll on my demeanor.

I was awakened by the brutal knocking on my apartment door and peeked out the window to try and see who it was at the door. It was almost ten at night and I had no clue who was visiting me at that hour. I called out and asked who it was and his reply made my heart jump out of my throat. Mr. Tony had located my apartment and wanted to speak to me. Immense fear spread though my body because of the way I left things earlier with him, and I did not want to have another scene like I had earlier that day.

With great trepidation and angst, I opened the door and invited him in and wondered if the other three “reps” were with him, to which they remained in the car. Silence filled the room when he sat down and I was petrified to start any conversation.
Mr. Tony cleared his throat and ran his fingers through his hair many times before speaking. I so remember watching his beautiful hair constantly fall across his forehead and noticed that this was his nervous habit when confrontation was occurring. He made it clear that he did not like me walking away from him and suggested strongly that I never do that again. I was to stay in conversation with him until he was finished speaking, and before he could speak further I reminded him of his manhandling me and I did not like being forced to do something that I did not want to do. I came to him as he had suggested I do when having some business needs and told him that he let me down by refusing my idea to update the salon. He tried to interject with his opinion and I just continued to spew out my feelings and concluded to him that I would not work another day in that environment and the way it looked. He informed me that WE had a problem, and I readily told him NO, he had the problem since there was not going to be any person in charge there anymore. I was not returning except to get my items that were personally mine. He stood up Quickly, and breathed deeply and made it clear that no one speaks to him like that, I pushed the boundaries and reminded him that I just did.

He opened the door and left without speaking to me again. I watched as his car sped off and could feel the uneasiness begin to spread once again throughout my body, I was certain this was not over yet. It was going to be a long night as I kept my guard up and waited for the worse to come. I really had no idea what to expect from standing up to him as I had only recently gotten a better understanding as to just who I was working for. The explanations that my best friend pointed out suggested
strongly that I was involved in a family much like a syndicate. I must admit that I did not know much about it other than what I learned in textbooks, but it did explain a lot of things that made me curious about his business dealings. Those explanations kept reiterating in my mind which just added to the fear of what lay ahead.

Responsibility played into my decision to go back to the salon that next morning to let everyone know that I was leaving and to retrieve my personal things. It ranked up high for one of the the longest drives of my life so far. When I pulled in to park near our entrance I noticed a large white truck unloading a bunch of furniture and as I made my way into the mall ,I noticed the salon was already open and our old stations and dryer furniture sitting out front and chaos inside as there were a dozen men removing the old furniture and replacing it with new furniture.
In the middle of the salon, directing all of this madness stood Mr. Tony. I was dumbfounded as to how in one night all of this was arranged but remembered what my friend had explained and now the addition that was hard for me to sum up finally totaled in my mind’s understanding of just what I was dealing with. I knew now that I was in too deep and needed an escape out. Mr. Tony noticed me and waved for me to come to where he was, yet I stood frozen with uneasiness as I literally could not get my feet to move because realization was folding in on me. In one full swoop the entire salon was refurbished with new furniture.
He explained that over the weekend it would be painted and new mirrors would be in place. In no uncertain terms he made it very clear that he had done what I had asked for and that I would not be leaving as I had planned. He even acknowledged that he understood how bad the place needed renovation and that I had guts pushing the limits with him. Then came the best part "I did you a favor and now I expect one in return”. At that moment I could feel the blood drain from my face and I began to understand what really happened with the previous manager and here I was in the same situation, except I was getting exactly what I asked for which only served to cement the deal of loyalty.

I began to wonder if I would end up being next bag of cement if I did not cooperate as he had suggested. With the facts at hand I realized this situation was going to take some serious thought and timing as to planning my exit.
With a newly decorated salon, and my job once again in place,I found myself working daily just waiting for the next bomb to drop.

In looking back I realized that there was something pending and I just did not know what it could be. My gut feeling did not let me down once again. A man appeared at the front desk looking lost a few weeks later, and as he showed his card and badge he asked for Mr. Tony. I intercepted and told him he did not work here but he came by once a week to check on things and I could give him a message. He asked who I was and I told him and he left me with a card to give to Mr. Tony. It was my first awareness of an Internal Revenue Service agent, of which he was a representative.

The visit from that IRS gentleman only added to the list of insecurities I was rapidly developing. The crowning moment of “on the edge” realization would arrive in the most unusual way and will go down as one of the funniest and most frightening moments experienced in my long career.

It was late afternoon and my client was a new referral for color. I cannot recall her name as the whole situation that took place sent her running and I never heard from her again, and I can understand why.
She was a client who had double process hair blonding and and she wanted to have her hair touched up which required the process of decolorizing her root growth and a color toner after the lightening process was finished. We began our meeting with a consultation and soon afterwards I began my process of applying the freshly mixed lightener to her hair and while I proceeded with the application, I began to notice that the bottle I used with the product mixed inside was getting warm and as I continued the process it seemed to continue to heat up. I just explained it to myself that it was the heat from my hand that was heating it up. I kept moving forward with the touchup when the bottle exploded as if a gun-shot had just been fired.

Evidently the nozzle of the bottle blew off and the impact of its tip slammed my clients head striking it as if she had actually been hit by a bullet. Frightened, she screamed “I’ve Been Shot”. Suddenly the women under the dryers and the staff all began to scream and took off running out of the salon in mass hysteria.
There I stood completely covered in the bleaching product trying to comprehend what the hell had happened and actually thought someone had really shot a bullet into the salon. It took a few minutes to gather my mental thoughts, but as I wiped the bleach off my face and eye’s, I saw the destroyed color bottle laying on the floor in pieces. The whole explosion finally made sense. The contained product had a rapid chemical release which created the heat. Since there was no room to expand inside the bottle it burst the bottle with a force much like a gun except without a bullet.

Everyone was still out in the mall area screaming for the police. I pulled myself together and went outside to explain what had happened and assure everyone that it was ok to come back in and no police was needed. They reluctantly made their way back inside and I set about cleaning the exploded mess that now clung to the walls, ceiling, floors, styling stations and mirrors.
My client was nowhere to be found as she never came back in with the rest and when I asked if anyone had seen her, the only explanation I could obtain was from one of the clients who was previously under the dryer.
She told me that she had seen a woman running out the mall door screaming for help, yet no one obviously came to her rescue as she mysteriously disappeared and never showed back up for another repeated “bullet” touchup.

I recall the fright of the whole situation culminating at the close of the day. I was left to close the shop alone. I kept replaying the days event and accepted the fact that I feared that a real situation could occur and my youthful anxiety of a possible bad scenario led me to the conclusion that it was time to make the change of employment.

I did not want to end up on the other end of an exploded color “bullet” bottle that was truly meant for me. As I finished the daily routine of closing down, I went into the dispensary to turn the lights off and noticed a piece of paper on the floor and picked it up to read.


Laughingly I shook my head as I headed toward the front door knowing now that the whole event could have been avoided. Even though my eyelashes and eyebrows were now a pastel shade of orange from the bleach bomb I held my head high and began to think about my future as my days in Rome were coming to an end and I wanted to leave in one piece. Inside my mind I could feel the winds of change beginning to blow and it would not be long before the breeze’s blew the sand from my eyes and I saw a new horizon coming my way. I knew that the time had come to put in my notice and leave this first job.

The tricky part would be how receptive Mr. Tony would be to letting me leave easily given his demeanor when things did not go his way. I knew that I had needed to move on to my next plateau and staying would have made it feel I was getting to deep into the politics that he worked by. It would take some shrewd planning and a very fast exit to make my getaway complete with no retribution from the “Family”.

I planned a meeting with him to let him know of my decision to leave and of my departure date. When we met he seemed sidetracked by some personal things and was hardly listening to me when I broke the news. I watched him bristle as I told him the date that I was planning to leave and I watched as he ran his fingers thru his black hair as he would do when trying to think of something to say. He sat quietly and told me that he could not see his way clear to let me go just yet as he needed to find a replacement. I readily accepted his appraisal of the situation and did not want to shuffle the deck any further so I agreed to give him time to find someone.

It was at that time he informed me that it would be at his discretion when a replacement would be hired and I was NOT to leave before that was arranged. I arrogantly informed him once again of my planned exit date and he turned a deaf ear to me so I got up to leave and he just sat there staring into space with no other comments. I could feel his resonant stare creep up my spine as I turned and left. It unnerved me and at that exact moment realized that I would never be leaving if he had his way and now I made it a goal to leave sooner than later or face whatever he would lay before me to stop my exiting.

I gathered my courage, went home and began to lay all the pieces out. One by one I planned my exit strategy. On that last Saturday afternoon, I took my last paycheck, cashed it at the bank, and packed the last of my items in my car and planned to leave very early the next morning. I knew that Mr. Tony would find the note in the money bag that he would pick up late that night, and I hoped that he would not read it until Monday when he would make his cash deposit into his personal account. Evidently he must have read it later as he never showed up at my apartment. I purposely left no forwarding address to find me.

It was to become the past and I never wanted to look back, except on occasion to see if someone was following me. No one showed! Luckily I had a friend in Atlanta that would help me with my transition and Interstate 75 would lead me to my new Atlanta home. That highway became my private yellow brick road to a world of unbelievable experiences that would have made Dorothy, Glenda and the whole city of OZ blush. It would also lead me to discover things about myself in ways I never planned on. Daily I would walk through my newly discovered land.

I would be transported into situations that would forever etch my memory, as well as touch my heart. It was to become my reality and created the awareness of people and their intricate lives.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Chapter 2
WHEN IN ROME, (do as the Italians say)

It was a two day event that would hand over to me the diploma that allowed me to finally be the male equivalent of Miss Beatrice. Now all I had to do was to find a job where I could be hired as a new stylist,as I was hungry and ready to take on a professional job. Fate arrived the same day that my license arrived in the mail. I noticed a sign in the window of our local shopping mall that was advertising for a
position. Working in a mall environment seemed to have some positive aspects and it would guarantee a steady flow of people through the door, which would make it easy to build a strong client base.

I took the initiative and applied and was interviewed with the manager who ran the salon. She was a no nonsense direct woman who was not so certain of taking on a newbie and asked me to work for a day to see the skills that I possessed. I arranged a day that I could work and proceeded to show my abilities by doing nineteen people the first day, which was more than she did that day. She was impressed and offered me a permanent position. Despite the fact that she was the manager, I still had to speak with the owner. Not understanding the dynamics of the business side of a salon yet, I found it a little strange that I would need to speak to the owner if he had a manager, but kept my mental inquiry silent and would begin my new full time position the following week. It would start off with quite a bang and would offer the beginning of many surprises, that would lay in store for me.

My manager was quite an exceptional stylist herself. She was a true country girl who always deigned to be a hairdresser. She was very attractive and tan which made her platinum teased hair seem even whiter. Her styling technique was very methodical and drawn out but the results were dynamic. Her husband was a motorcycle enthusiast and he would bring her to work and the wind from the ride barely moved her sprayed hair. They were a volatile couple and would argue in front of anyone and never gave it a second thought. It was apparent that they were very happy being together but their affection for each other would get in the way sometimes. There was nothing that she missed and she was acutely aware of most everything that was going on in her salon environment. While she was always observing me, I was also observing her and often we would connect in a silent stare down. In some ways I could feel that I challenged her position because of my capabilities, yet I did not possess yet the managerial skills that she had. I learned early that was something I needed to know and she could sense my hunger for information.

Two weeks into my work this very handsome man appeared in our salon and I watched her disappear with him for a couple of hours. When they returned he summoned me to please go with him as he was the owner and wanted to speak to me. There was this attraction to him immediately and also this feeling of uncertainty as to who he was and what he was all about. The trepidation was there because of my youth but I went along with him with respect to his position. He introduced himself to me as Antonio, or as the staff called him Mr. Tony. At six feet tall and wearing a suit that would rival Dean Martin, his golden brown eyes peered through you intensely and his wavy black hair draped sexily across his forehead. It was all I could do to stop thinking intimate thoughts and concentrate on the conversation that he was making.
He talked of his position and that he was the owner of this salon and four others in the south Florida area. I was to think of him as an equal and that if I was true to his company that he would make me a part of his work family. He was told by my manager that I had unbelievable work skills and she thought that I had the potential to go far with his company. He made it clear that his manager was the person to handle the needs of my inquiries, but that if I was not getting the help that I needed, that I was to call him personally and he or one of his “reps” would take care of any problems that were not solvable from the salon manager. He spoke with a brogue Italian accent and used his hands in gestures to make his points. He was debonair and had all the sensuality that would make anyone stop and stare. I was smitten from the beginning in a very hypnotic way and seemed to agree on anything he asked me to do. He could smell the innocence about me and knew that I would be easily manipulated………….or so he thought.

The one thing that he did not count on was my clairvoyant ability to sense things and my keen awareness that surrounded me at all times. Over time I would see what the truth was and learned swiftly how to manipulate things my way and have it seem like it was his idea. I was playing with a double edged sword and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. My natural instincts took control and I went with the flow. Time would be my storyteller, and one that would also make a great HBO series.

I was not alone in my observing the ongoing day to day dealings in the salon. Most of the staff never bothered to expound on them. They just kept to their work and stayed out of any affairs that had to do with management. I, on the other hand, studied everything that went on and kept my eyes and ears open to many things.

I noticed the first unusual happenings which would always take place at closing time. All the cash money that flowed through the register drawer during the day always seemed to disappear by the end of the day. I witnessed that the bulging pockets on my managers styling smock would seem suddenly deflated when she returned from her bathroom trips. I made a mental note to become more aware each day as the process repeated daily. I have to say it was hard not to accuse yet I needed to find out where the cash was going, and that I would have to do very secretly. My plan would have to involve being the last one to leave and lock the door. It took a couple of weeks but the chance finally arrived when I would be the last one in the salon that night.

Ensuring that no one was around and checking the parking lot for signs of any staff cars, I made my way back into the salon and started my hunt for the hiding place of the cash.
It took a while but I managed to find the door to a space hidden underneath a cabinet with a false bottom shelf that when lifted exposed the handle to the metal safe hidden in the floor. Being careful not to misplace anything I pulled open the handle and exposed the thick wad of cash banded together. Nothing more was inside the box except the cash and register tickets. I put it back as I had found it and began my exit out the salon door. As I was locking the door I noticed a group of four well-dressed men walking in my direction, so I hurriedly finished and quickly walked on. Unfortunately my curiosity was taking control so I exited out the mall door and looked for a place where I would be able to view the salon door to see who they were and where they were headed.

It took standing on the edge of a planter outside but I did manage to see Mr. Tony and three others enter the salon, and within a couple of minutes leave, and relock the door. If it wasn’t bad enough that I was spying, I had this major urge to go back in and check the floor box to see if the money was gone. Why in the hell I needed to do that is a question that is still unanswerable. I was told innumerous times that if you feel the need to ask the question, you had better be ready for the answer because you may not like to hear the response. I made my way back into the salon and went straight back to the hidden floor box, and as I opened it, I was not surprised that the money was no longer there.

I closed it back up, locked the front door yet again, and made my way home with too much information settling within my youthful head. The old adage was right as the answer to my inquiry turned out to be something I should have kept my curiosity out of, but now it was too late, I was going to keep the secret within yet wanted to find out more as to what was going on. Little situations would continue to unfold
each week and I began to get involved in the most discreet way. I knew there had to be more information as to what was involved in the business dealings of the salon.

On two other late night occasions I saw the same repeated scenario occur and accepted the fact that it happened every evening when everyone was assuredly gone. I never mentioned my snooping to my manager, as it was obvious that personal matters were creating problems for her and those fluctuating mood swings would dictate the atmosphere we would be subjected to, which was maddening and intimidating to all who came under her attack. Once again fate stepped in and one afternoon Mr. Tony appeared and whisked her away to lunch causing us to have to move several of her clients around to accommodate her extended luncheon. Upon her arrival, and just the way she looked, we could tell she had been crying profusely and was in no mood to talk, so the salon fell gloomily quiet for the rest of the day.

I made sure that I straggled behind that evening so that I could inquire as to how she was and to extract some information from her. That however was not to be as Mr. Tony appeared suddenly. The fear on her face was very noticeable and it showed in her body language. I made my exit swiftly and said my goodbyes but wanted to stay within the confines of the salon so I could get scoop on what was up. I left but located my familiar planter and stepped up on it and then proceeded to slip off and gash my leg badly. That should have been my sign to just go home, but I was not leaving until I could get a better view of what was happening inside the salon. My leg ached and blood began to soak my lower pants leg and still I did not leave. It was apparent from that distance that some confrontation was occurring and the flailing of their arms and fast movements of their mouths led me to the conclusion that he was not happy with her. I just did not know why, but wanted to know in the most dire way. Curiosity killed the cat………I would soon understand why.

It would seem to me that the relationship between Mr. Tony and Marla, my manager, had more involvement to it than just business.
It would come to pass that her husband happened to stop by the salon unexpectedly when she was having one her 3 hour lunches with Mr. Tony and when he went looking for her, he too found out more than he been searching for. This lead to a huge conclusive decision and she would be told to quit and had to leave the salon or else her husband was going to do some damage as well as the damage that would have been done if he really had made a first move toward retribution. Luckily they both decided she would leave our salon. This would leave us without a manager. It was assumed that it had involved a private intimacy between Mr. Tony and Marla, however that would soon prove to be just an assumption that we all would make due to the nature of the swift exit and a very angry husband.
(1: - Lesson one- never assume anything )

That particular day was quite long and chaotic and still as a salon we had no leader and I was not sure how we would close the shop for the day considering it was her job to take care of. As the day wound down and staff began leaving, I stayed behind to make some kind of attempt to close out the day’s transactions and clean up for the next day. Mr. Tony appeared from out of nowhere with his three other “reps” and explained the I had to sit with him and talk and that it was not an option to leave just yet. Panic ensued within as I thought that I was doing things that he did not want me to do and that I was about to be the next fired….
So much for a first job experience!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I awakened to another bright clear morning and as I made my way into the kitchen I looked out the window and saw the early morning birds playing merrily in the orange tree. The gleam of the turquoise water glistened in the pool as I stared out of the glass while I filled the pot to make some tea. Transfixed and feeling myself losing presence I started to daydream and remember the time when all I wanted was to see blue sky, only I did not think about what would come by having the reality come to fruition. Suddenly I began to remember so many things that seem so many miles away and just a short time ago.

Back then I could hardly ever see the sky and yearned for its blue hue to surround everything in its reach. I would be angry at the rain that was always present and cold as silver. The winter chill that would bring the snow that fell on the trees like lint. With winter winds came the ice that looked like vinyl on the streets which made for treacherous travel. I hated counting the days till I could once again see the sky. Eagerly anticipating the leaves that spring would bring and magically transform the coat rack like branches that also yearned for the warm sun and blue sky. I remembered the parks and bridges,the mud on my shoes, the roses and lakes and a zoo. The city sounds and the traffic noise echoed softly in my reverie and I realized that it all had gotten lost as I searched for that day of blue sky.

The haze of that foggy daydream began to clear and softly I landed back into my reality. The day began its momentum and fleeting glimpses of the past moved past my windows all during the day. I made a promise to myself that I will now try to appreciate those days, or at least I will try.

Now as the last rays of light disappear over the pink mountains, I sit watching the last flickers of daylight slip from view. Swiftly another day has sped by without any notice of its end. The amount of thoughts that crept in and out of my mind during this day seemed to lay scattered around my visions of desires, hopes and dreams of this ending 24 hour period of my life. Actually there seems to be a lot of those mini novels laying around everywhere these days. Each and every last page of those novelettes end the same, with the same inconclusive endings and each requiring a sequel to complete it.

Due to the fact that I constantly hunt for change, I find so much amiss when I actually get what I ask for. There is that road that suddenly appears out of nowhere and it is full of curves, twists and turns and they all end up at the same crossroads of whether to turn left, or right, go backward or move forward. It has happened to me time and again so it should not come as a surprise when it reappears at different times. I hear the band and want to strike up the march of my different drum hoping to one day soon set my mark. My whole life has been to take on the next challenge and see what happens. That much needed calmness clamors for my attention and it is time that I give into it.

As I await the sign to guide me to the next phase of life's challenge, I will stare down my unknown tomorrow and will be assured that now I will always find my, vast and never ending.


My training in a real “Beauty School” situation would turn out to be the best time of my life so far. Luckily I went into the training portion with skills beyond most of the other students. I excelled at a rapid speed and soon the teachers became my first clients.
My abilities seemed to come easily and soon I was being asked in school to help teach some of the other students who were not as adept in their
training. A large amount of requested clients soon began to fill my styling chair and because I had a rapid ability to do my work, the flow of people in one day would supersede the other students.

I was learning the ropes of confidentiality and turned a keen ear to listening and remembering the previous conversations. To be able to recall events and topics from a last conversation would always serve me well and it made the clients dispel even more information to me. One thing was for sure, the school was making some nice money as the clients came in droves. I could hardly keep up with the amount of people requesting me to do their hair. Growing up in a retirement city dictated the type of client that would appear at the school. The older women could be charmingly sweet or bitterly mean. It would prove to be a game of chance each day to see who would have the worst client scenario.

I have to be upfront about my dislike of the retiree’s as they had nothing better to do but to bitch and be hateful to most everyone that crossed their paths. I had minimal patience with them and never had a problem letting them know what I thought and how to take their miserable attitudes and step away from my chair. Those were the bad and terribly lonely victims, however there were numerous lovely, kind and exceedingly generous ladies who very much loved to pay to have a young, handsome
(at the time) teenager peruse through their fine hair and listen to the conquests of their lives. It was quite eye opening to realize that these prim and proper older women were quite the trollops in their day. They spoke of everything from, love, lust and seduction. All in glorified detail no less. I was naive and totally blown away with their stories. I became very fond of them as they did with me. The money and the gifts would always grace my lacquered hands every week, it truly was overwhelming.

Lest we not forget the clients that you would have to do that would make you cringe and threaten your career choice. Even then, we called them the “Clients from Hell”. Unhappy, morbidly vapid and tightly wound. Demanding would be a mild verb, as they held the deserved superior attitude that would set me aflame and ready to blow out their candle. When they brought it on, I mirrored them right back and let them know who was going to the “Queen Bee” in my chair.
For every miserable remark, I made sure the yank of the next section of hair to be teased would certainly hurt worse than the one before. It was always funny how that damn can of hairspray mysteriously sprayed them in the direction of their eyes and not the hair…..hmmmm how did that happen? When all was said and done, and as I walked them to the from desk to pay their dollar and fifty cents, I made it quite clear and in no uncertain terms to please make sure they NEVER grace my path again and to stop by the doctor and get a prescription for some happy medication. I spun around on my heels, as I did not want my eyes to look at their shock of disgust; it was no longer my problem. I would find that working with an older crowd, would certainly make you wiser at a young age as they had so much wonderful information to share and many tidbits that could be filed away for prevention.

With their age also came despairing yet hysterical situations that would serve to me as a big large wake up call. Such was the case with “Miss Poteet”. A charming, well mannered, British woman who knew more four letter words than Webster’s dictionary. Each sentence would contain at least six of them, yet it would make for a nice story, unedited. On this particular situation, she arrived looking worn out and exhausted. It seems that she had just spent her previous two hours at the local health spa near the school. After spending some time doing her workout she proceeded to spend the last hour of her visit at the health club in the hot steam and sauna. Not a wise thing to do when you have high blood pressure to begin with and throw in a blood sugar problem on top of it all. Unsteadily she walked back with me to shampooing area and after asking on several occasions if she was alright, she gently lay back in the bowl and I began the process of shampooing her hair. A couple of minutes into it, I felt what seemed to be a body spasm which kind of jerked her entire body a bit and I then noticed that she had relaxed more. I just did not know at that point just how relaxed she really was. I turned the water off and ran to the dispensary to obtain the wonderful True Steel rinse needed to make her hair the lovely shade of blue hair. When I returned I began to notice that her face was turning as blue as the rinse that I had just put into her hair. Having been made to graduate high school with a CPR certificate, who the hell knew that I would have to ever use it, and if there ever was going to be a time to challenge my knowledge, this was IT!

I shook her aggressively and had no response and knew that her time had arrived, but I did not want that on my watch. I immediately began pounding her chest and heard her head pounding against the shampoo bowl, but still the blue in her face was getting darker by the second. I threw myself on top of her and began CPR directly to her mouth and nose and finally I heard a sputter of her drawing a breath. I had brought her back from a quick jaunt off the earth plain and now she was back and coming around. Or so I thought………………. Her eyes fluttered open after a few seconds, as the crowd gathered around she noticed everyone staring and she tried to stand up quickly, which was the worst thing she could have done. Swiftly she fell to the floor and once again I pounced on her to revive her but she checked out of reality and grandly made her exit from the life she once knew. Everyone just stood there watching her life exit the room and I lay on top of her feeling her energy slip away from me. I was too young to have to absorb the disappearance of a life that I once knew fairly well. It was not like the other people I had been a death witness to at the beaches I grew up on. Many a time I stood by and watched several older bodies roll back and forth with the beach shore tide, innocently assuming that they were enjoying the ride of the water coming in and out. Mother explained they had died on the beach and no one had recognized their absence of breath, so most people just left them alone, until someone would call for help, such as Mother did when I told her about the lady I was watching. The memories of those previous moments hit me hard as I watched them remove her body from the school shampoo area. The only remnants that remained of her life were the blue rinse stains that had dried on the floor. Well at least she would have clean hair and the perfect True Steel hair color when she crossed over.

As sad as it sounds it was to become a very common experience to have health crises in the beauty school. It would occur for me a second time, only this time she had at least waited to have her comb out. Lovely Dorothy was once the Belle of Manhattan society. Like a lot of northerners, she and her husband migrated down to south Florida to get away from the brutal winters that held them captive within their homes for the fall and winter seasons. Her husband Randolph was quite a handsome older man and one would imagine what he looked like as a young man. He gave Dorothy everything a woman could want. She wanted for nothing and had always depended on him for everything. While that may appear to be something most people would love to have in their life, no one stopped to think what would happen if that same person was not able to do those things anymore, which was the case for Dorothy. Upon returning from a world cruise, Randolph suffered a stroke which rendered him alert, but unable to conjoin words or to make sentences and unable to comprehend day to day activities. With therapy he became able to function more responsively, but he was NOT the same man she knew. Her world collapsed and she had extreme problems adjusting to not being taken care of anymore. With no children to help them, they were on their own except for the occasional nursing help. He was able to drive after his therapy ended.
When he dropped her off at the school she angrily would shout at him to not come in as she was embarrassed to let people see how hard it was for him to talk. She spoke of her unhappiness to everyone and reminded us that he was no longer someone she wanted around due to his inabilities to care for her the same way. Many a time would occur when he would wander in and hear the unkind things she would say about him. It was very obvious that he comprehended the conversations she spoke about as the hurt would run down his face in tears as he knew what she was saying was his private truth and was obviously painful to hear it from the one he loved the most.

On a very hectic Saturday at the school, a phone call had come in at the front desk for Dorothy. I intercepted that call as she was under the dryer unable to come to the phone. It was the police calling to inform her that his body had been found by a neighbor in their closed garage. It seems that after he dropped her off he drove himself back home and proceeded to park the car in the garage, shut the door, open his car windows and took his life by monoxide poisoning. This would be my first time at bringing bad news to someone, I decided I would not let her know until she was ready to go. I figured that it would be better to wait until she was finished with her hair and then have a cab waiting to take her home. I, shaking, and with great fear told her about the phone call and when I was finished, she sat stone faced and anger grew within her being. She was so mad at her inconvenience of having to take a cab home and how stupid it was for him to be a coward and embarrass her this way.
Needless to say I was stunned at the selfish reaction but would later understand that was a cover-up for extreme shock.
After his funeral. she let me read what his final note said as she kept it with her at all times. She was lost and devastated and would turn to anyone and speak of her despair. She did not know how to drive much less take care of their responsibilities. I was too young to really understand the pain that she was going through but she expelled many hours of sad conversation and showed her flagrant unhappiness with what he did to her.
The end of her newly distorted life would come as easily as his had slipped from hers. She had been arriving for her hair appointments earlier those past weeks due to the uncertainty of the cab timing for pick-up. I almost thought I saw a glimmer of a smile that last day, but I missed the mark on that and the angry talk began as I set her hair. She demanded some coffee and I was told to not make the dryer so hot and to please not put her next to someone in the dryer area. I walked away from her shaking my head and informed my teacher that I did not feel comfortable listening to her every week as it upset me and I felt helpless in answering her morbid questions. At seventeen, I was not schooled on death and misery as she wore the cloak of unhappiness daily it seemed. She informed me that the dryer had made her feel ill and her stomach was not feeling well. She had been complaining of that a lot in the last few weeks, so I quickly disavowed her repeat of that particular ailment and took her back to my chair and began the process of her comb-out. This day seemed different as she sat in the chair, asked for some water while she took an antacid, closed her eyes and did not speak again. While I was finishing the last of her teasing, I felt her body spasm lightly and just assumed she had dozed off while she sat quietly. I remember thinking how nice it was to have silence from her that day. Putting my finishing touches on her hair, I began to notice that she seemed to be sliding slowly out of the chair and before I realized what was happening, she proceeded to slip completely to the floor. Once again, I tried to wake her up and realized that another had bitten the dust on my watch. I jumped, yet once again into CPR mode, yet for Dorothy, this time she really made it over the rainbow, as she did not come around. Death number two in the beauty school…..I began to feel like I was in some kind of Agatha Christie book and I was the “Hair Spray Murderer” or “Murder by Aquanet” (Firm Hold)

I tossed my finishing comb up in the air and left for the day. That would make two deaths in less than three months; boy was I on a roll or what. I feared that I would get the school reputation as the grim reaper but luckily there were only five weeks left of school and my anticipation to not have another event like the last two became my focus. School would finally end without any more problems and I busted through those school doors as if the police were chasing me. I had taken my last communion and as a true Clairol Christian, I did try to save those lives. Now my training was out of the way and I knew I was headed in the direction of my new career and expected great things to come. Little did I know just exactly what I had asked for would come true. It was to be my first awareness of asking the universe for something and having it delivered….special delivery!

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Chapter 1

I have heard it said throughout my life that when one person steps down from a career there will always be another to step in to take their place. I have pondered that thought many times and have wondered who stepped away to make my place in the chain of future T"HAIR"APISTS. My first awareness of the fascination with hair came quite early in my life. I would always recognize the different hairstyles that the women wore and would constantly comment to my Mother about it and she would calmly explain which would bring about so many other inquisitions. The constant questions must have been annoying to her yet she would always explain the best she could. I was not the “normal” boy who wanted to play sports and wear dirty clothes, as a matter of fact, it was quite the contrary. The facts, as they stood out, made for a difficult fit into the group of boys who lived around our neighborhood. Not only did I have to fend off their pressure to fit in, but my oldest sibling was the complete all American boy jock who loved anything that had to do with sports activities. I would run the other way and wanted absolutely nothing to do with the games that would entail bodily harm or any injury or would get my clothes dirty. I learned very early to stand up for myself and would rip apart any person who tried to make me do otherwise. The early bullying only led me to be aware and defend the person that I knew to be. In the early years the term “GAY” had not been established and “HOMO and QUEER” were derogatory slangs for being different. My brother used to tell me that drinking the “HOMO (short for homogenized) milk” was responsible for making me queer. It was painful at times trying to be my own person but I truly believe that the universe had a plan and unbeknownst to me I was following the beat of my own drum which would make me the person I am today. Always being aware of people would lead me to pay attention to the detail that surrounds any situation and to have a plan for the entrance as well as the exit.

My Mother would be my advocate on many occasions that needed parental support, but my Father would ultimately lead me down the path to self-respect and to never do anything that felt uncomfortable inside my gut. He taught me the meaning of trusting instincts and to stand up to whoever tried to put me down. Mother was very responsible for showing me the way toward the future that became my destiny in life. As my very first recollection of a salon experience appears in my mind I know that “Miss Beatrice” was my predecessor. At age seven, for a boy, it would normally seem to be a very dreaded experience having to go to a beauty salon with your mother, but for me it was the epitome of my week, besides my weekend jaunt to the local record store. It seems like only yesterday that I waltzed into my first beauty salon and thought I had found my own little hair garden of Eden. My first look around was overwhelming. There were many styling chairs and at least a dozen hair dryers with ash trays. In each of those styling chairs sat women who were totally engaged in conversations with their stylist and the women who sat in their dryer chairs puffed furiously on their cigarettes as they read the latest and greatest Hollywood trash. I had never seen so many magazines all splashed with pictures of Marilyn Monroe, Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher and Rock Hudson. Each magazine held within its pages a life that each of those women reading wanted to know. As they sat in their rollers waiting for their chance to have the latest hairstyle combed out, those forty minutes of drying time would magically transport them to a place where they could fantasize of a life that did not exist in their current world.

I watched in wild anticipation completely in awe of everything that was happening around me. I sat mesmerized at their ability to read, smoke a cigarette, drink coffee and turn the pages of those magazines. Occasionally one would stick their head out of the dryer to speak to another recognized face and then quickly resume their private trip into the Movieland, National Enquirer or Movie Mirror magazine. My continual gaze into the styling area where the actual hair transformations took place drew me into a world where I lost myself completely. That first time having to go with Mother to the salon seemed to be something that I truly had not wanted to do, yet when she explained, that in the big department store there was a record department where I could browse while she was having her appointment, the annoyance of having to go quickly disappeared, yet I never made it to the record department that evening.

I decided to take the courage and take a deeper look around the salon surroundings beyond what I had previously been introduced to and I soon found the shampooing area. There were eight shampoo bowls all in turquoise and pink lined up on one wall with lounge chairs where women were being shampooed by black women in white uniforms. I located my Mother in one of the chairs and watched as the lady pumped out liquid and wet the hair again and soon the lather rose from her head in big fluffy white bubbles. The woman who was doing the shampoo was named “Miss Niecey” as I had read her name on the badge she wore and then my Mother politely introduced me to her telling me that she worked with Miss Beatrice who coiffed my Mother’s hair. Not being shy I asked many questions as to what she was using to make the lather and what was the scent, why this and what about that came out in a continual stream until my Mother asked me to stop asking all the questions and to let her answer the few that I had already asked. Miss Niecey was ever so kind and took her time trying to explain each answer and before she could finish there were a dozen more that spewed out. When she was done she gave me the sweetest hug and said she didn’t have enough time to answer everything right now but I could ask her more the next time I came back in. Believe me I did not forget her offer and when I returned she made good on her promise.

When she finished the shampoo, she then walked Mother over to the styling area where Miss Beatrice stood waiting having a last drag on her cigarette. Miss Beatrice was the epitome of hair styling, with her “FLAME” red coiffured hair teased to the max, and her wing flip that gave Ann Landers wing a run for the money. She held out her hand to say hello and I noticed the long nails and the glossy bright red nail polish that adorned them. She stood quite tall and was bordering on appearing just a bit trashy with her matching red lips and the shadows that heavily graced her eye lids. I loved her the moment she mentioned Brenda Lee. Mother had mentioned to her on several occasions how much I adored Brenda, and Miss Beatrice gave Brenda the best hair style compliment of which I readily agreed. It seems that Brenda, Beatrice and a bottle of Lady Clairol would play a huge role in changing my life that day.

Mother sat down at her styling station and In front of the chair was a huge fleur-de-lis sculpted mirror and sitting under the mirror was a wall vanity that had a unit sitting on the top that contained many colored cylindrical rollers and a large vat of silver clips and waving clamps. There were different bottles of colored styling gels and numerous cans of hairsprays and a jar with combs immersed in a liquid. Hanging under the vanity station were nets with ties on each end and a container that held a stack of round white elastic banded cotton balls. As my Mother tried to talk to Miss Beatrice, my mouth cannon began firing questions once again before any conversation had a chance to be made. I anxiously wanted answers as to what all the things that lay before me were for and why did you need them. How did you use the items and what was the stuff in all the bottles.

Miss Beatrice responded with such a sonic laugh and then proceeded to explain as she began to set my Mothers hair in the rollers that were on the vanity unit. With each slice of the rattail comb there stood a section of Mother’s hair ready to be rolled on the next roller. With quick repeated action she continued her work and soon my Mother’s hair was completely set and the black net was tied in place and the cotton balls placed on top of the ears and then she was directed to the dryer area. Warm air blowing out of that dryer would bring a solitude of peace would that reign for the next forty minutes. I soon realized that it was my time to go further exploring, and without asking permission I soon found myself in the back room that beheld the magical liquids and potions that would recreate each individual client. The large Lady Clairol color poster hung on the wall and beside each swatch of hair color that was pictured held a coordinated name that would coincide with the actual color. There were blonde, brunette, and red colors of all varying shades and each name matched. I studied furiously the names of the color and was interrupted when Miss Beatrice stepped through the door, making sure I was not up to something. I would have to say that she was happily surprised when all I could ask were questions about the names of the colors and what they would do, how they would make a person’s hair color change and what the results would be when used. She took my hand and then proceeded to open the cabinet doors to the world of Miss Clairol and showed me all the brown bottles all neatly lined up in proper numerical order.

She explained that her next client was going to have a color process and that I would be able to watch her mix the color and get to watch the application of the product when her client arrived. Her instruction included to not get in her way and to hold all questions until she was finished. She then asked me to sit in the waiting area and she would get me when she was ready. A bit disappointed, I trudged unhappily to the waiting room assured that I would miss out and sat down and opened my first gossip magazine to which I quickly dissolved my pending disappointment into those pages and learned about Liz Taylor, Mike Todd and Debbie Reynolds and how Eddie Fisher had ruined Debbie Reynolds life by running off to marry Liz Taylor. (Ugh the bastard!) Totally engrossed in how she stole him from Debbie, I was tapped on the shoulder and was told to follow Miss Beatrice back to the “special” room. Upon entry I noticed the smell of ammonia and my first scent of freshly mixed Lady Clairol. (Note: to this day that Clairol scent still permeates my memory like the scent of good cologne can ignite a precious memory). I watched as she reached into the cabinet and withdrew the bottle named “Sparkling Sherry”. She asked me if I knew what Sherry was and what the color looked like, and I replied no I did not know what it was, and she then pointed me to the poster on the wall and without reading the names on the sides of the swatches I was asked to point out the color I thought it was located on the poster. If fate had anything to do with that moment, I pointed out on the first try what I thought the color would be, and as her mouth opened she was dumfounded that I had guessed correctly. I was pleased to get such a happy reply and then she explained in great detail what she was doing while she mixed the liquid into the bottle that held what looked like a bit of water, which of course was the peroxide that would activate the color ingredients that would transform the hair to the color the client had requested. I could hardly contain myself as I watched her apply the mixture and then comb the product throughout the client’s hair. Sadly I was informed that there would be a forty five minute delay until the process was finished and was once again banished to the waiting room, where I eagerly awaited to hate Eddie Fisher the way Debbie Reynolds had. That tramp Liz Taylor did have great hair though, so she was halfway forgiven for her trashy deed, but not that Eddie… (Bastard!)

It was not long before I saw that my Mother’s dryer had finished and was in great fear that we would leave before the “color” client was finished. The fear quickly vanished as Mother had to wait while three clients had to have their tresses teased and combed out, which would lead to the most amazing discovery of the evening.
Luck played her hand for me and I stood in astonishment at the shampoo bowl as the water washed the color from the lady’s hair, the obvious color change began to appear and gleamed with a “Sparkling Sherry red illumination” which was contrary to the mousy brown color she possessed when she arrived. At that moment I took my first communion and became a Clairol Christian, and made myself a promise to seek out the pleasure that each of the little brown bottles held inside. I vowed to make it my duty to memorize the names of each color and begged “Miss Beatrice” for my own personal poster. She hugged me sweetly and said next week when I returned she would have one for me, and that she could tell that I had all the makings of a future stylist. Gee little did she know....and well, little did I know what fate would hold in store for me. Entering through those gates of the Clairol kingdom, I innocently vowed to never to look at another person’s hair the same way again. I have never broken that vow to this date.

Taking my first “color” communion would take me to another level that I had yet to know about and it created an exciting buzz inside my head that continues to resonate whenever there is a possibility of giving someone a new hair renovation. I am truly happy that I was born into the baby boomer generation that would have an amazing impact on the world. This generation would create an amazing path into modes of fashion, style and hair. Not to mention the space age, technology and science and incredible music. Everything moved fast and television brought it immediately into our homes. I would stay glued to the television and drink in all the information on the newest trends in hair and hair coloring products. I looked forward to the visits to the salon, as each week would bring more and more information that I processed and planned to use on someone as soon as possible. Year after year I made those treks with Mother to the salon and before I was ten I began to apply the things that I had learned. Mother became my first client as Miss Beatrice was out on sick leave and she needed an appointment and could not get one. After trying to arrange an appointment for herself she was going to have to wait a week till she returned, which to Mother’s chagrin was not a happy thought. I nervously told her that I could do it for her and she smiled as if to say NO WAY. It took a while to convince her, after all what did she have to lose? With extreme trepidation she acquiesced and let me do it. She was shocked to find that I had all the right things with which to do it and quickly realized that I had spent my own allowance for the tools needed to play beauty salon. Shocked and surprised she stood up from the table in less than fifteen minutes with her hair precisely set and ready for that bonnet hair dryer to be plugged in.

I had observed so many times how Miss Beatrice would dip the rattail comb in the pink gel jar and pull it out ready for the next section of hair to be rolled. I learned that each color of gel was for different kinds of hair types. The gel was needed for a crisp set and helped to give texture to the hair so that the teasing would stay for a week. The firmer the set that better the curl hold and lasting a week was an absolute
requirement. What the outcome of that set would be was going to be anybody’s guess as I had never actually teased any person’s hair before. However I did take the metal comb that I bought and did what Miss Beatrice told me to do with it and soak it in Clorox to make the metal pit and rough as that would help pack the teasing in and create the solid base for the bouffant hair. In those days “the higher the hair, the closer to
GOD” was the anthem to follow. I could only hope that I would replicate that beautiful style that Mother would wear every week. I gave my soul over to the hair gods and my prayers were answered graciously. I brushed unmercifully and vigorously as I had seen done in the salon and picked up my trusty metal teasing comb and went to town.
Quickly I teased every follicle until it looked like a rat’s nest, and then I knew that I had used the proper amount of setting gel and my teasing did not move. So far, so good, but I still had to finish the mess that I created. I went to town mimicking the actions I had seen Beatrice do. There was a necessary way to leave the teasing and easily comb out the ends and stack as you go. I felt like I was having an out of body childhood experience and within minutes I was finishing her frontal bang area….and VOILA! it was finished. I will never forget the look my Mother had on her face when I told her I was through with the comb-out. She certainly expected the worst and I am sure had prepared for the pending dismal results she assumed would take place. I remember not having any fear about what I could do, but to please Mother was moving a mountain that no one could move, not even me.

As with all young people the need to please a parent is an utmost desire, unfortunately for me waiting for happy comments was time consuming and I was off to the next distraction as soon as possible. Even though I was young, impetuous, and arrogant I did have enough confidence to feel I had done my very best and there would always be another chance to do better. I began putting away the things I had used when my Father turned the corner into the kitchen to find rollers and hair clips strewn across the table. He asked where Mother was and I told him she was in the bathroom checking her hair to see if it was ok. The only question he came up with was “What’s wrong with it?”

As I was explaining the situation, I did not get to finish as Mother returned and was shaking her head in disbelief. It seems that I had proven my point and obviously had surprised her beyond her expectations. My Father still had not caught on as to what had transpired and as she told him he broke a grin of suspicion as if to silently express the fear of what could happen to a boy who did feminine things like hair. While he never said it to me I could sense his mounting uncertainty. He rubbed my head and told me that I did a great job and how nice it looked, but I could still feel the insecurity of it all. The beginning of what was about to come had begun, it was as if I had thrown the rock over the mountain and there was no point of return. I had innocently stepped into the Clairolite zone and became one with a set of rollers, scissors and my trusty pitted teasing comb. Those items would be my E-ticket to the ride of my life. My connection with the opposite sex would take on new meanings and boys would never get it. Thank God for divine interventions and never letting anything stand in my way of progress. I really had no idea how amazing it would all turn out. I would never have to mow a lawn or do hard work for an allowance, money flowed to me as if the magic Aqua net hairspray mesmerized the people. If I was going to be called a sissy, then I decided I would be a rich one. My girls protected me and the boys became envious. I knew more than I should have about their inner most teenage secrets. It would serve me well in the future to have those conversed candies of information at my disposal. I stood at the forefront of my future and my beauty communion was something to celebrate.

I always presented my self-assured attitude often and even though it drew frustration from my parents and friends I knew that I was knocking upon the door of my tomorrow. Fate stepped in and kept prodding me to keep moving in the direction that felt right. Unfortunately for my sibling he just could not understand my thinking and my foreign demeanor. I was thrust upon him against his preference and he had the awful task of having his little brother tag along to places and events that he would rather I was not at. On one occasion I went with him to his girlfriend’s house.
Even though she and I got along fairly well, I suppose she would rather I not be there also. Teenage love reigned supreme on this occasion, and there I sat diluting any amour that they may have had planned. When we arrived she had just finished washing her hair and was planning to set her hair for their date later that evening. As she began the task of rolling her hair I stepped up to the table and told her I could do that for her and get it done quickly, and as they both laughed in unison, she handed me the comb and a few minutes later it was all done. That had established firmly in my brother’s eyes that I definitely had received the “Homo” gene and how weird it was that I did that for her. As for her, she was thrilled at not having to do it herself. I quickly stated that after she had it dried that I could come back later and comb it out for her. Fearing the worst, but giving in to my aggressiveness, she relented and gave me a time to return to finish the deed. At that point it was obviously the time to leave and leave them alone despite what my Mother wanted I returned alone back to the house. I knew that if he ever was dastardly to me I had a bit of information that would become useful at another time, I never forgot anything.

I returned at the five o’clock hour and the proceeded to comb-out her hair into the desired stylish hair flip of her choice. Her father came into the room and disgustedly and rudely remarked that a boy should not be doing “girls” hair, and I stated in no uncertain terms, that if he took her to the salon she would not have to do this to herself. I took that verbal swing at him and he left the room and I finished my styling. If I could tell you how I was able to create those styles, I would, however it was as if magic took possession of my hands and just took control. It was over before I could realize that I had actually done a hairstyle from some kind of hidden memory. A memory that had absolutely no recollection in my private mind files, yet the completion sent a shock wave of surprise as she stood in front of the mirror and looked at what I had done. Suddenly there was not a five year difference in our ages and I was showered with an overwhelming response, from her as well as her disbelieving mother. I was then initiated into that family and soon became their neighborhood stylist.

Later that night, she went on her date with my brother and everyone commented on her hair and how great it was to not have to do it herself. The next morning, four other neighbor girls showed up and asked for my services. I remembered that I had made a vow to not do anything except for money and told them it would be five dollars each to do it, and it was not a problem for them as they ponied up their allowance quickly. Thus began my weekend beauty parlor and enough funds to do and buy whatever I wanted. I would never have to succumb to manual hot labor and enjoyed what I was getting the opportunity to do. I learned very quickly how easy it was to extract information that would serve me well in my future. I knew things ahead of time and was always on the forefront of the neighborhood Peyton Place. My Saturdays would be filled with rollers, conversation and many cans of Aqua-net hairspray. I would also be privy to previous night information and by the time the afternoon was over, I was grinning from ear to ear with a stash of money that graced my hair-sprayed hands. I didn’t mind giving up my Saturday mornings to set their hair, however it would serve to be nuisance to my Mother, as Saturdays would usually mean housecleaning and various other chores and all the girls did was talk too loud and make more of a mess that I would always clean up before being reminded to. It would prove to be quite the information center, and as they assumed that I was not paying much attention, spoke quite freely about things that would have gotten them into trouble from a parent’s point of view, yet now looking back, it was all so frivolous and naive and full of teenage angst.

While school moved forward and I continued my foray into the world of high styling, I began to see the pattern begin in the way girls would open up and speak about things they would never tell their best friends or their parents. I never had to begin any private conversation and always began my time with asking what they would like me to do and it always would be left up to me to make the hair decision. From that point on things would flow out of their cute little mouths as if the water main had broken and there was no way to turn it off. Silently I listened to every unimaginable detail, careful not to make any verbal judgments. I learned early that it would be a fatal mistake to insert your opinion when it came to the female point of view, besides I did not have much of a chance to speak as their words never stopped.

How little did I know such information would begin to shape my early training as a future master T"HAIR"APIST.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012



In search of a way to write about my life, I finally came to the conclusion that while I am just your ordinary middle class guy, I did have a story to tell which would hopefully set me apart from the rest. While I am not famous or from any rich aristocratic descent and have not been on the cover of People’s sexiest man issue, throughout my professional hairdressing career I have derived an incredible insight
into the psyche of women and the men that annoy them so. I also became aligned with the psyche of the male persuasion. In doing so I realized that men really are from Mars…void and distant and as for the planet of Venus, it could not possibly be big enough for the emotions that surround the female and which totally elude the male species. Being a male would give one the impression that I am a disgrace to
my sex, but being gay gives me the ability to “get” women and stand back in wonder when trying to figure out how most men comprehend information.

I have spent the better part of my life taking part in the creation of the images that stare back in the mirrors of thousands of men and women who have graced my styling chair. For each client there would be a bevy of information that easily spilled forth and became filed into the hard drive of my mind. It was not just the women that gave information freely, but also the men. It was both sexes that led me to acquire the knowledge of things that I probably never would have known and insights into many unimaginable situations. The world of information that arrived daily was my own private internet and I became the master of my very own info search engine. It became clear early in my career that I had a gift of conversation and was able to talk to people in the same way a therapist would do. While I did not
charge the fee a therapist would charge, my THAIRapy was gratis in the time it took for a haircut or color, perm or blow-dry. When the client was done they walked away with a new look and helpful information to think about.

I never really took the time to realize what I was doing as it all came naturally, but in the course of over forty years I have had letters and cards from clients thanking me for talking to them and sharing my insight. I have been privy to happiness, sadness, divorce, illness, sexual dysfunction, sexual identity and
perversion in ways I never knew existed. So, it came as no surprise that I had become the reality from a scene out of the movie “SHAMPOO”. Seduced and caught at the same time. My innocence gave way to knowledge and my interest and listening habits brought me close to the people I worked on. It became very easy to understand the client that sat in the chair and within five minutes I could tell where we were headed for the follicular part and how much they just needed to talk and vent their frustrations in the general aspects of their life. Albeit, relationships, work or personal health.

Within the chapters of this future book lie many, many realities of actual life experiences with clients that I have had the privilege of sharing time with. They may or may not recognize themselves as the mutual respect we share for each other will always keep the identities silent. These actual stories hopefully will
ignite awareness within anyone who reads their story. In the course of all these experiences both happy and sad, I walked away from each a better person grateful for having the life opportunity to be a part of a career that has helped me grow as a person as well as more intuitive in the realities of human nature.

With my trusty scissors, razor and color bottle I created many a new image for people and listened intently to the voices who reached out for conversation. The many hours standing behind the chair has shaped me into the person I am today. All the colors I applied changed the hue of how I see the world today and the remnants of the fallen hair have been swept away giving way to a whole new outlook in
understanding human feelings.

In respect to the former CLAIROL advertising slogan from the sixties
Does she or doesn’t she….only her hairdresser knows for sure”….
and that my friends is an absolute fact because we know more than you could ever imagine.