Thursday, April 19, 2007


"A Jocelyn By Any Other Name Is Someone Else"












About three times a year, I go to a salon to get my hair cut. This, I believe, qualifies me as a semi-low-maintenance woman, at least when it comes to hair. When it comes to dark chocolate and compliments about how my very presence eases any interpersonal situation, however, I am high-high-maintenance, requiring a steady influx of both.

My favorite thing about going to the salon is when the stylist drizzles a little fragrant oil on my scalp and gives me a five-minute head and neck massage. My love for her, during those moments, surpasses my love of Tina Fey, and that is immense.

My least favorite thing about going to the salon is the inane small talk. I do not see the same stylist each time (spreading the love is one of the keys to my profound interpersonal success), so I have no ongoing relationship with the person cutting my hair. I do not want an ongoing relationship with the person cutting my hair. Outside of the fact that I am wearing my hair and he/she will soon be wearing bits of my hair, we generally have nothing in common.

I've tried bringing a book to use as a "no conversation, please" prop, but without my glasses on, I am unable to find my nostril with my finger, much less read a book. I've tried shutting down conversation by saying things like, "My meditation hour this morning was cut short by my preschooler hollering 'Wipe me,' so I think I'll just take a little quiet time right now to cleanse my inner being and remove all spiritual traces of poo, if that's all right with you."

But the chat engine still revs up, and before I know it, I'm discussing the weather--yes, muddy, yes, brisk; whether I have children--yes, two, three if I count myself; and at what moment Chantal or Philomena or Tess first knew she wanted a career in cosmotology--usually when she received a "D" in biology in high school.

Despite my efforts to look distracted or sullen, we end up doing the chat. Indeed, in addition to knowing how to point cut, stylists have the gift of gabbaliciouness.

This past weekend, then, when I clomped into the salon, I was braced, resigned to tumbling under the onslaught of Small Talk. If it meant getting rid of my split ends, I could feign enthusiasm about sap moss shampoo and the fact that my stylist had just gotten her own apartment.

But I wasn't prepared to be met with such a hearty and jovial handshake by my stylist. She fairly raced towards me, as I paged through OUTSIDE magazine in the lobby, trying not to topple off the modernist squares that doubled as furniture. "OH. MY. GOD. Your name is Jocelyn?!!! You'll never believe this: MY NAME IS JOCELYN, TOO! OH. MY. GOD."

I managed a tepid, "Wow. What are the odds?" while she tugged me to her chair and plopped me in. As she began strangling me with the frontal cut-cape, arranging the velcro ever-tighter around my neck, Jocelyn the Shearer continued: "My whole life, I've, like, hardly ever met another Jocelyn, like maybe once. Ever. And then here you are..."

Strangulated Jocelyn (aka me) gave her a "Yes, there aren't too many of us" before Shearly Jocelyn raved, "But, wait, get this. Okay, so yesterday, I HAD ANOTHER JOCELYN HERE, AND I CUT HER HAIR, TOO. SO, LIKE, WHEN I SAW THAT I HAD A JOCELYN TODAY, TOO, COMING IN, I THOUGHT, 'WHAT IS EVEN GOING ON? IS THIS, LIKE, THE SAME LADY AS YESTERDAY, AND SHE JUST WANTS ME TO CUT MORE?'"

I choked out a quick, "Now, that could either have been flattering or a problem, right? You probably wondered why she was coming back so soon?"

Shearly Jocelyn, surfing atop her momentum, squealed, "BUT WHAT WAS SO WEIRD WAS THAT THE JOCELYN WHO CAME IN YESTERDAY HAD JUST TURNED 30. AND, GET THIS, I JUST TURNED 20. SO I'M ALL FREAKIN' OUT."

Right about here, I perked up. And under that frontal cut-cape, I cracked my knuckles and warmed up for some fun: "Um, Jocelyn? Hi, it's me down here, the other Jocelyn? No, not the one from yesterday...I'm today's Jocelyn, the one who's here right now with you? Hold on to your rat-tailed comb, but I think I can make you really gape: I, the Jocelyn here in front of you, JUST TURNED 40. It's as though all the Jocelyns in the world are spaced a decade apart, eh?"

Shearly Jocelyn dropped her arms to her sides, limply, aghast at the wondrous world of possibilities that had just opened up in front of her. "This is just, like, the most incredible thing I've ever heard. I can't even believe how weird this is."

I egged her further: "And you know, I'd be willing to wager there's another Jocelyn somewhere in the world who's 10 years old right now. And, for a large amount of money, I'd even be willing to search out one who just turned 50. We're everywhere, I'd guess."

"But...em...bwah?"

Yes, Shearly Jocelyn. There's a startlingly large world out there.

Having warmed up, I moved in for the kill: "And don't you love that all the Jocelyns of the world, no matter their age, are named after a French opera? And, even more, after a lullaby in that opera?"

Shearly's eyes crossed, and she heaved a big sigh: "Um, like, what do you mean?"

"Well, that's why my parents chose the name. It actually comes from Old German, and it also means 'cheerful' or 'light hearted' in Latin. In fact, it started out as a masculine name that now has traversed genders to become a feminine one."

"So, er, huh?"

"It's all neither here nor there, really. I've just always found the meaning of names interesting, and my parents chose the names of their kids pretty deliberately."

"Like, on purpose? All's I know is my mom had heard the name Jocelyn somewhere, and it fit in with the rest of my family, with Jamie and Jessica and Jory and all."


And, with that, I realized our conversational thread had completely unraveled. Time for me, with no book in hand, and an entire haircut left to get through, to redirect:

"It sure is sunny out today, isn't it? Are we going to wash my hair now? Do you have any of that sap moss shampoo? How about you do a little texturizing today? Do you like to use a razor when you cut? What's your favorite service to perform here at the salon? Do you ever get to do nails, too?"

Forty-five minutes later, I staggered out of the salon, exhausted from the effort of diverting attention away from our common name. But for the rest of the day, blinded by my shiny, bouncy, newly-revived locks, no one noticed my inner depletion. And isn't that the point of a haircut, after all?
--------------------------
I hasten to point out, dear readers, that sharing this story is only possible because I use my real name on this blog. Imagine, for example, if I used an online tag such as CraftyWeePaws. How could you have suspended your disbelief in the face of TWO or more women in the world sharing such a name, even in the wildly creative world of hairdressing?

44 comments:

Hammer said...

The salon was my most hated place to go as a kid, ammonia rotten egg perm smell, gossip and giant bee hive hair dos.

Sounds like you threw them with your deep thoughts lol :)

Shari said...

Thanks for the amusement. I enjoyed your post. I was laughing, expecting the reaction that Shearly J. would get over the fact of your fourth decade of existence.
(I am 40 myself.)

Hair salons can be quite a hair-raising experience. I have been going to the same hairdresser for about 18 years.

Jill said...

Agh, I have the same issue. I love having my hair messed with (it's second only to getting a massage in toe curling tingles), but I can't float off in a daze if the sylist insists on talking to me. I've found a stylist who works right next to another stylist whom she loves to talk to. It's perfect. She can yak away to her hearts content, AND I can ignore her.

Em said...

This is just hilarious! And if that photo is you, then your hair looks awesome! But seriously, I've trained the woman who cuts my hair that we can engage in about 5 minutes of chit chat and then I get to nap. Of course, she has been cutting my hair for almost 8 years, so I've had time to wean her away from telling me all about the weather.

Of course, since her name is Stacey....and if my name were Stacey...hmmmmm

Lee said...

Well Jocelyn, if that is your real name, it really was like kinda like superduper freakylike dontcha think? I mean, you're the only Jocelyn I've never quite met. If they are anything like you, I would like to know more!

urban-urchin said...

Um, I never have that problem. My real life name causes people to sometimes have an anyeurism just trying to pronounce it....

I hate making small talk with new stylists as I'm too busy silently praying that they don't screw it up and make me cry...

urban-urchin said...

screw up my hair I mean, not my name- most people do that....

lushgurl said...

Oh Gawd...that story is like too freakin' funny...have I ever told you that I like had a friend named Jocelyn when I was like 10 and Shearly Jocelyn just turned 20 and other Jocelyn just turned 30 and like you, Jocelyn just turned 40 and like OH MY GOD like what are the chances of that...like wow!!!
ROFLAO

susan said...

OMG, I can't believe you were like, totally messing with that other Jocelyn when it was like, so totally cook that you had, like, the same name and and all...

Ugh, I hate the chit chat too. I'm not going to be the new best friend and I don't care what what they have to say. But I'll listen through it and grunt at the appropriate time if I get a really good, extra long massage...

my4kids said...

all I can say is "oh wow"
I get that at the salon also once they ask about the kids its the traditional "wow you've got your hands full" "yep I know thats why I am trying to get away for some quiet" yeah I never get it either.

AmyTree said...

I just moved and had to find a new hairdresser...I get sick of telling people why I'm 'over here' and not back in the States, so I kind of started making things up...I can never go back to her now because I can't remember what lies I told... And she was really good too... Damn.

(My hair is the same color as yours! But my real name is not Jocelyn...)

xxx Amy

oreneta said...

I have GOT to go to the salon with you some time...nothing so interesting ever happens to me when I am sitting out back and the man is chopping off my locks.

Acutally i usually have to stand.

Patience said...

WoW!! My real name is not Jocelyn - AND - my birthday does not end in -0-!! So at what point did Shearly J's head explode from all the strange things whirling around in there?

I had the same hairdresser for 7 years, then she moved out of state. But she recommended another stylist in the same salon. I've been going to her for about 6 months now, and I think we've bonded!

Glamourpuss said...

Actually, I have a Great Aunt named Crafty Wee Paws - she was the runt of the litter...

Puss

Jazz said...

I loved this. Went through it for years until I found my current stylist. We talk a lot, but he knows when to shut up. I love Jason I do. Oh, wait, that's a J name! What does it mean???

furiousBall said...

I do this same thing with my son (Van Jr.) every night when I come home.

Tina Fey (a Philly girl) has a special place in my list of famous people I would love to lick the make-up off of.

CS said...

Now that I've started getting my hair cut again, it has occurred to me that one of the things that made me stop so many years ago were the silly conversations. So I just sit there giving only extrememly minimal answers and let the ocnversation around me just wash over me like wave noise at the ocean. Much more soothing that way - a few "mm hmms" and "wells" do the trick.

Diesel said...

You're never going to believe this, but my real name is CraftyWeePaws! And I just turned 120! (I changed my name to Diesel when the old ladies in the home kept kicking my ass.)

Kirsten said...

J- you ought to look into getting your hair cut in a mini-town within your town...like Chinatown, Little Korea, Spanish Harlem ..whatever! And then you won't have to talk to your cutter! That's a great thing about Guat...they don't expect me to speak Spanish, so after the initial "Hola" they bring someone over to translate what I want done...they're none the wiser and I'm left in peace AND I get to hear their gossip with the person at the next station between paragraphs!

mist1 said...

I love the idle chatter at the salon. Sometimes, I just go to talk.

Incidentally, I have never met another person with my name.

Emma in Canada said...

I never would have imagined that a haircut could turn into such a funny post. But there you go...that's the difference between a funny writer and myself.

Jazz said...

For the record, your name is still a guys's name in French Quebec. The female version is Jocelyne.

Tracey said...

You are so wicked. Which, of course, is why I love you. Have I ever mentioned my real name is Jocelyn? And I'm 45,which blows a hole in the decade theory. But not really. I mean, not really Jocelyn.

Although I've met a few other Tracey's with an E...thankfully none of them have done my hair. I may have to carry photos of creepiness to shut them up. Feel free to borrow one if you're in need =)

BlogWhore said...

too funny.

i use to avoid gossiping, i mean, talking with hair stylists. until... i found 'the one.'

it took nearly ten years, but i finally found the best hair doer (for convo and style).

she's not overly chatting, she's affordable and she's talented.

i'll give you her name and number....

Infinitesimal said...

you may have hit upon the reason exact why women remain loyal and do not stylist-hop.

BeachMama said...

That was hilarious. You just described how much I hate getting my haircut too! Except that you forgot the part about having to sit there with this cape around your neck that is so unflattering.

I too only cut my hair two or three times a year, I am due for one now, but dread the small talk. Maybe my hair stylist will have the same name as I do?

steve said...

Aren't there laws protecting stylists from people like you?

lime said...

ok, you had me holding my sides laughing.

because you know, it is like a TOTALLY crazy thing, because like , i only go to the salon 3x a year and like i chose my kids names really deliberatly based on meaning too and TODAY, of all days, this very day, I went to the salon. can you believe it?? and liek the nail lady at the salon is named michelle and she actually spells it correctly like me!

i didn't get oil and a scalp massage though so i feel really gipped. and since my name is michelle there are only roughly 8 million of us in the midatlantic region alone so when the vapid ones get excited i have to quiz them on spelling and then explain french grammar and and spelling rules to them so they knwo how to properly spell their own name, regardless of what their idiotic parents decided.

That Chick Over There said...

*weeps with laughter*

Claire said...

Oh Jocelyn, you were so mean to the poor stupid girl, LOL. Yikes. I found a great salon run by a couple of Chinese ladies. No small talk. They speak Chinese to each other. They are probably complaining about the ridiculous round eyes. I, in my wisdom, tip really really good so they won't say bad things about me in Chinese. Here's the best part- they only charge $11 for a cut, so I can afford to be big tipper. Everybody's happy! Sometimes life works out ok.

Voyager said...

Jocelyn, Red hair rules!
V.

Bon said...

okay, um, it's my first time here, and you had me from the words 'dark chocolate' but the rest of the story slayed me and i shall now humbly join your fan club.

and, like, i know this Jocelyn who's about fifty?!? but i'll try not to blow your mind to much with that one.

i someday hope to find a world of stylists and pedicurists who have taken vows of silence.

Top cat said...

I don't like getting my haircut and you're right it's nothing but small talk.
Your conversation with her was funny but just think you really made her day, 40year old jocelyn.

Is that a pic of your hair? it's beautiful.:)
tc

Diana said...

*sigh*

I think I love you more for this. You see, while I am neither named Jocelyn, nor have I just turned a decade (curse my being born in a "5" year), I, too, despise the small talk of hair salons. Despise it so much that for about 20 years I'd hunt down random friends and relations and beg them to cut my hair for me. I'd pay them in beer and sometimes even agree to let them drink the beer first.

Sadly, with the deflection of my slightly auburn locks to gray, I decided that I would need to color my tresses, if I wanted to stay looking "my-but-you-look-too-young-to-be-a-professional-you". After a disastrous attempt with Miss Clarol at home, I came to the conclusion that I would have to hire a professional and (gulp) visit regularly. So, every 7-8 weeks, I paste a cheerful smile on my face and grunt replies to the nice person dying years off my hair. I am blessed to not wear glasses, being of the contact persuasion, and therefore can indulge in rapt perusal of reading Glamour or Vogue, which, as you guessed it, does help with the whole "I vant to be alone" mystique. I am, apparently, known as 'the quiet one'.

May I suggest a good lasik surgery? Books on tape?

yerdoingitwrong said...

This is so damn hysterical. Oh how I loved this post. I spend much of my life in a hair salon b/c of my crazy as hell hair and oh do I detest the small talk. There's one girl I can deal with and I jump around a lot when I manage to book her.

You are the best writer!!!!

Spider Girl said...

You poor dear---I've avoided hairdressers for years partially due to a horribly tragic haircut I once got and partly due to the chit chat required.

The head massage does make it ALMOST worth it though...


As for me, my mom didn't actually name me Spider Girl but some days I wish she had--in my family there are three of us with the SAME first name AND the same LAST name (due to marriage, cousins, blah blah).

It would have blown your hairdresser out of the water if we were all Jocelyns. We aren't but we still have the Curse of the J name.

In my husband's family all four siblings have names that start with J. One of them being MY name. Oh, and his mother and my mother have the same name.

When my brother started dating someone with the same name as me I drew the line and forbade him to marry her.

Whew, he very sensibly married a girl with a name that starts with K. :)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

This was a brilliant post! The salon sounds like an Aveda one.

I didn't get haircuts at all for most of my life because of unbelievably bad ones that made me look like a little boy in drag.

I decided to try again a few months ago, and it took him over 2 hours of non-stop cutting to do the deed because I had so much hair. He was much too tired for conversation.

I'm glad your Chatty Jocelyn doll knew how to cut hair at least.

Mother of Invention said...

So funny! I can uh like relate. This younger generation is just too articulate. I hate when they keep saying, "Like whateEVer!"

BTW, your hair looks fabulous. Mine's the same length so I'm low maintenance except for highlights to cover the 50's grey thing happening.

velvet girl said...

This is too funny!

I've been going to the same stylist for over ten years now and we don't talk about the weather. We gossip about my sister-in-law instead. ;)

Balou said...

It's so true. I also find I don't have much in common with the twenty somethings cutting my hair. Sometimes if I close my eyes they don't talk to me. I've thought about walking in with a photo of a hair style and a note explaining how I am deaf and this photo is the cut I want. With my luck, someone I know would walk into the salon mid-charade.

choochoo said...

I go to the salon about every six weeks and stay there for hours. While I'm there, I get coffee and cookies and once I got a necklace for being a good customer. And other times I get free products and discounts and stuff. It's pretty much the same relationship that I have over at the record store...

DaMasta said...

Hehe.. Next time bring an iPod and every time you rock out by moving your head, they'll think you're just agreeing with them. ;)

cathy said...

I'd rather go to the dentist's than the hairdresser's.This is too funny!

I can't believe it took me so long to visit you, lime's recomendation finally got my bone idle butt over here. Now that I've seen your blog I'm linking it.By the way, Cathy is my realname, weird huh! lol.

Theresa said...

I hate that hirdresser chitchat too, but I live in a small town where everybody knows your business (I wouldn't be surprised if they even know what size underpants I use), and there's only one place to go to get a haircut. So, I'm stuck with lots of nosy questions, any part of my personal life is fair game. This is exacerbated by the fact that I'm the only American around, so I'm gossip fodder for sure.