Beauty is pain.
I don’t have to explain that much further. Whether you’re a plucker, a tucker, a waxer, a squeezer, a 10-product exfoliator, or possibly not even a gay man, you know that there is a lot of work associated with looking good. We each have our well-developed routine, even if it’s just going into the bathroom and pretending not to care how we look when we come out. (Trust me, the psychological work that goes into making that self-convincing is at least as taxing as keeping a unibrow at bay).
Every month I endure my own personal, wonderful torture rack, aka the trip to the salon. There, a very wonderful woman, whom I’d follow anywhere in the city, shampoos, twists, tightens, and molds my hair into the loc-tastic work of art that it is. As much pulling goes on, I will probably never need a facelift; so thank God for small favors.
My trip to the salon is never complete without sitting under the hair dryer for a minimum of an hour. If you’ve never experienced this, go ahead and preheat your oven to 325 and stick your head in. I’ll wait here. By the time it’s done, I’ve usually sweated through a tshirt and lost a few pounds of water weight. My reward for enduring is one of the best scalp massages imaginable and a welcomed close to a four hour endeavor.
I used to fight the dryer. I would curse under my breath and swear that I was going to chop off my hair as opposed to putting up with the inconvenience and ass numbness that inevitably occurs. But without
fail, someone would compliment my hair after I left and I would immediately rethink touching it. Instead I began to shift my attitude and realize how great a time the dryer is to people watch.
And believe me, there are people to watch in the hair salon. From the old guy who swears he was the sixth member of Maroon 5 to the drag queen who needs to get her wig done up for her big night out, the characters that shuffle through my little West Hollywood hell chamber are fascinating.
It’s also really cool to be in such an eclectic shop. For once I’m not the only male in the beauty salon or the only black person in the vicinity. I do miss the familiar cadence of barbershop banter, but I have come to appreciate the diversity of gossip now available to me. The world is so much better when we can all talk shit bout each other in unity.
The hair dryer is my monthly crucible. It challenges me to endure a little bit longer than I want to for something worth the wait (and the sweat). When I reach the 47th minute and I start to squirm that’s when I push myself to power through. Maybe it’s corny but it works. And it makes other things — the gym, a stack of work-elated assignments, etc. — a little easier to handle. If I can wear Dante’s Inferno on my scalp for an hour, I can make it through almost anything.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go. My face is on fire.