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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Break ups are hard. No, not the romantic kind. They’re easy compared with the trauma of splitting with the person who trims your split ends. 

You know how it goes. One day you’re happy with the state of your hair. The next day you realize you’re sporting the exact same 'do as the octogenarian you saw pushing a walker through the supermarket.

Time to make a switch. 

So you cancel your next appointment. And you become evasive when your stylist offers to reschedule. You say you’ve got another call coming in, hang up and never phone back.

Yep, most of us just ghost our hairdressers. It's cowardly. But at least we don’t do what violent and disgruntled customers did in New York recently. 

I have no idea why they resorted to baseball bats. If you live in a big city you can just say you’re moving. The risk of running into the jilted cosmetologist is small. But if you live in a place like Virginia Beach, where you’re constantly seeing people you know, you have to be more creative.

And the I'm-leaving-town excuse never worked for me because I was in the newspaper three times a week. No place to hide.

I'm not proud of this, but I once told a stylist that my cousin - a hairdresser - had just moved to the Beach and I was reluctantly turning my tresses over to her.

It was a filthy lie. But to tell this woman the truth would have meant confessing that I was sick of hearing about her weird new religion. 

Cut my hair and stop with the crazy talk, I'd silently beg every time I was in her chair.

All told, I’ve probably broken up with half a dozen hairdressers in the 34 years I’ve lived in Virginia Beach.

One sloppy stylist dripped hair dye on my cheek and proceeded to scrub it off with ashes from her ashtray. 


OK, yes, it worked. But I never went back.

Another got to be too danged expensive.

“You want to put this on two credit cards so your husband won’t see?” the receptionist suggested as I paid the last time.

No, I don't want to put it on two cards. I pay my own bills. What I'd really like is to be able to buy groceries AND look decent, I thought, staring at her in disbelief.

I was in the market for a new hairdresser - mine at the time hadn’t mastered the art of hair color - a few years ago when I glanced up from my elliptical at the gym and was suddenly smitten with a woman on a treadmill.

Not her. Her hair.

She had these great layers that moved gracefully when she ran in place. Her color was soft and natural. 

Shoot, if a cut looks that good sweaty, imagine how nice it must look dry, I thought.

“Who does your hair?” I panted, without introducing myself.

I pulled out my phone and entered the name and number she gave me.

And that's how I found Jenny.

 Last Friday. Almost 50 miles from home.

Last Friday. Almost 50 miles from home.

Jenny Ross is smart and funny. A country music and NASCAR fan with an impressive collection of cowboy boots.

Hairstyling is in Jenny's DNA. She's the daughter of a stylist and grew up around a beauty shop in Maryland. 

Girl definitely knows her way around a head of hair.

“Don’t make me look old,” I beg every time I go in.

She does her best. Unfortunately, she can’t do anything about jowls and wrinkles.

More than a year ago, Jenny dropped some bad news. After commuting from rural Suffolk to Virginia Beach for years, she’d finally found a salon closer to her house. 

Jenny was closing her Beach business. She offered to help me find someone else to do my hair. 

For a horrible moment it sounded like she was breaking up with me.

“Not so fast,” I said. “I’m coming with you.”

Yep, I'm a hairstylist stalker. And every five weeks I drive 87 miles to get my hair done.

At a dinner party last year, the subject of hair came up and I admitted I spent several hours in the car every month or so in pursuit of a great cut and color.

The men seemed baffled. The women? They got it.

In fact, we discussed just how far we’d be willing to travel for good hair.

I'd go anywhere east of the Mississippi, I said. And I meant it.

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