15 October 2005

This Ain't Blonde

This morning I was all excited about my trip into town to get my tresses back to blonde. I knew my guy in town would do me up right.

Finding a great stylist is difficult anywhere in the world, but much more so when you live in a country where people have totally different hair. Vietnamese hair is out-of-this-world beautiful. Generally, it’s thick, heavy, straight and black. Not to mention rich and shiny. But if that is the only type of hair you are used to, my thin locks, (which are straight in California, but kind of wavy here), are not something you should attempt to cut.

A month or so ago, I accidentally found a hair salon that was filled with people who did not have Vietnamese hair. I talked to a couple of the patrons and they assured me that this was the best place in town. I had to agree when I went a few weeks ago and had my hair cut.

The stylist was Vietnamese, but had immigrated to Sweden as a teenager, and had learned his trade there. He gave mean awesome cut. I said I would be back in a few weeks to get highlights.

I am an old pro at how the technique of highlighting should be done and how it should look, as I have had years of practice watching it be incorporated into my very dull hair. Some years I go for “natural blonde” and sometimes it is “I paid good money for this, blonde”, depending on my mood. And one day, I promise, it will not just be highlighted, but be 100%, Scandinavian blonde. For now, I wanted to stick with super blonde highlights.

When I made the appointment, I checked on the price. Outrageously expensive for Vietnam, but less than I pay in the US, and this isn’t something you can skimp on. So, money in hand, plus additional tip cash, I set off fully intending to return home a stunning blonde.

During my last time there to get my hair cut, I was both impressed and a bit taken aback by the hair wash. It is wonderful to have a head and neck massage while lying with your head over a sink, but this had turned into an ordeal of 40 minutes. It was really too long, and just not that good. This time I was determined to tell them to cut it way back.

I arrived at 10:00 and they put me in a chair while my stylist was finishing up with another customer. They brought me magazines and coffee, and then a young woman brought over a stool, sat down, and said she was going to massage my arms. Sort of weird, but my left hand has been really screwed up, so I told her to work on that side. Then another gal came over and started doing my neck and shoulders. It was OK, and I guessed just part of their service, but you got the impression these people really didn’t know a whole lot about massage.

I figured they would stop sooner or later, so said nothing. The neck masseuse stopped when the stylist came over. I explained exactly what I wanted, and he understood. The other young woman was still doing my hand and arm, which was beginning to ache. She only stopped twenty minutes later at my insistence, and seemed hurt. Could she do my claves? I told her I just wanted to relax. I have no idea if I offended her or not.

After all the foils were in my hair, (don’t ask if you don’t know what I mean), the stylist started talking about putting in the base color. Huh? Then I remembered that when I had had my hair done before leaving, my stylist had added color to the un-foiled areas, and it had come out beautifully. I acquiesced. I only started to get nervous when some of that base dye was turning awfully dark where it touched the skin on my forehead. A few times people tried to continue the massage treatment and I declined. I also told them no head massage. Just wash the crap out and let me up.

End result: My hair is NOT blonde-blonde. In fact it looks darker than when I went in. It isn’t destroyed, but it is dull and icky and not pretty like I had envisioned. The folks at the salon were all ooh-ing and awing, and asking if I liked it. I sort of smiled and said I did. At that point, I just wanted to pay and leave. I walked over to the cash register.

This is the point where I almost had heart failure. I was handed a bill that was over twice the price I had been quoted. It was more than I have ever paid in the US. I stared at it and asked them to explain. Seems half the bill was for the highlights and half the bill was for the base color. And the price for the highlights was quite a lot more than I had been quoted. My fault though, I had assumed I had short hair and found out at the register it was medium-length, so the price went up 30%.

Obviously, I didn’t have that much money. I tried to think if I even had that much money in the house. I told them I would return tomorrow with the balance. I had to get out of there. I was so upset I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t understand how they could charge what they did. And I know I’ll probably go in to tomorrow, hand them the money, and leave, instead of telling them I hate what they did to my hair and feel I was overcharged.

Time to look for someone new.
I’m covering all my mirrors.