Well, the day had to come and Tuesday of last week was it. I had to tackle the problem of the hair. For several years the same hairdresser in the UK has been cutting, colouring and un-curling my hair. We came here in September and I held out until I returned to the UK forChristmas for her to deal with it again. However, I knew that I was going to have to take the bull by the horns, cross the threshold and go to a Spanish hairdressing salon.
I reflected to myself that you can learn all sorts of fancy stuff, read Don Quijote in the original, write university essays on the problems of pollution and politics and so on but it just does not prepare you for the nitty-gritty of talking about split ends, layers, lotions and potions and all the rest of the hair-related fashion-business paraphanalia.
My Phil had already been through it, twice, going along to one of those men only barbershop places down by the harbour. I felt decidedly out of place, going along to help with the language. This was clearly a male preserve. The gentlemen sat on seats by the window and waited their turn. Ladies were definitely not expected to be there. After the first occasion, Phil did say that the experience took him back to the barbershops of his childhood. Although he did not need to be lifted onto a high seat this time, much of the process was like a trip down memory lane.
In reality, our only worry was when the cut-throat razor came out. The barber honed it ominously on a leather strop. Did he plan to shave him as well? Had we stumbled into a den of iniquity from some old film where they intended to cut our throats and steal all our money? No, a quick spray with warm water, a comb went through Phil's hair and the blade followed, slicing off the overlong ends. Phew, what a relief! The second time he went, Phil had perfected his patter: all about the buen tiempo we had been having, the difference between Vigo and Manchester and the odd comment on football teams.
In my case, I was going armed with information from my UK hairdresser: type of dye, dye numbers for L'Oreal colours, length of time under heated lamps and more. So, with my roots getting more visible by the day and no prospect of seeing my English hairdresser until June, in I went. And, of course, the Spanish understand fully that one can have one's hairdresser de confianza, the hairdresser de toda la vida, well more or less life-long. Of course they could accommodate me and the colours were not a problem.
Accustomed to having difficulty making appointments at a central Manchester salon, I was just a little surprised to be ushered immediately to a seat. Mr Important, the only male stylist, surrounded by a bevy of female helpers who carried out minor tasks, showed me the usual colour swatches in the book of L'Oreal products. The usual gooey mixture appeared in a bowl to be administered by one of the female helpers, who identified herself as Elenita. Coffee and magazines were offered. One major difference appeared, however: I was asked not once, not twice but at least three times if I wanted to have my eyebrows dyed as well. Now that never happeened in Manchester!
When it came to the point where I was asked if I wanted a "treatment" I thought I was back in Fountaion Street. As the dye-sludge was rinsed off and my head was gently but thoroughly massaged, I assumed I was getting the familiar "treatment". Then my hair was dried by a girl with purply-pink hair: Elena, not to be confused with Elenita. All was going as usual.
And then Elena reappeared with a device which consisted of a hairbrush attached to a plastic tube into which she inserted a capsule of some kind ofliquid. The whole shebang was plugged into the wall and she proceded to brush the strange smelling, evaporating liquid through my hair and then seal it in with heated straighteners. This was the tratamiento which would make my hair shinier, healthier, glossier. I was invited to touch it and see. Yes, indeed, softer and smoother! We were clearly at the cutting edge of hairdressing technology!
Talking of cutting, I had agreed that my hair should be trimmed; the split ends (las puntas estropeadas) needed removing. I assumed that Elenita (not to be confused with purply pink- haired Elena) would take care of this but, no, this was a job for Mr Important himself! In fact, I reflected, he was the only one I had seen curtting hair at all during my visit to the salon!
S0, finally, my hair was trimmed. The colours worked perfectly. I left the salon renewed, having been warned not to wash my hair for forty-eight hours after the tratamiento. Elenita invited me to return any time, no appointment needed, and to ask for her. I certainly will!