My friend Jen always says, “In Candy we trust.” And it’s true, we trust and love our hairdresser Candy Long. Love her. This may surprise people (not because my hairdresser is Candy Long, a lovely, lovely woman) rather, given my normal lack of proper attention to my long locks. But every eight weeks or so, for two hours, I happily sit in Candy’s chair at Daydreams Salon and, together, we cover a lot of ground. No longer the natural blond of my youth, shocking I know, Candy patiently combs out sections of my thick mane to be blonded up and wrapped in foil. Sometimes, I talk more and Candy listens; other times, I’m the listener and she passes along sage advice she knows I must acquire . Less than a decade older than me, Candy has graduated to the empty nest status with her kids grown and flown the coop.
Candy appreciates the fact that I mostly wear my hair in a pony tail and have since the seventh grade. Before that, I wore two French braids every day to school, mostly so I would not get lice from anyone at school and because braids kept my hair out of my face, which I hated. Middle school was a turning point blip on the screen as I desperately wanted and was granted (thank you to my understanding mother) one or two spiral perms and large 80’s style bangs. My hair also survived one or two sun-in experiences in middle school with my friend April Lojko. For those of you who are unaware of the 80’s or Sun-in, this was a decade that was super hard on hair. Chemicals, perms, hydrogen peroxide, hair spray: none of it was good for us, but we did it anyway.
Talking with one’s hairdresser is a little like chatting easily with one’s priest, only with wine or hot tea depending on the day, free parenting advice, and a whole lot of laughter; the only thing missing is the confessional, although I’m sure some days hairdressers might feel like they are hearing one confessional after another! Time at the salon is truly sacred, especially for English teacher friends Jen Whitcher and Paula Tanner who live an hour apart and make their appointments together. They claim, “Candy doesn’t actually allow us to make decisions about our hair. She knows exactly what color and how she will style based on time of year. Spring and summer mean we are going very bright and blonde, and fall and winter means more red for Paula and still blonde for me because she knows my thoughts about dark hair. Hair day with Candy means it’s my day to spend with Paula!”
Another teacher friend, Dori Weeden, is forever in conflict with her crazy curls, which are in a growing phase right now and have been for almost two years. She calls her stylist, Jess Clark, “Jess Scissor Hands” because she is so fast and has amazing cutting skills! Everyone has their favorite or second favorite person to see at the salon, even my dad, big Pop Pop Tony Ehrman, prefers the salon with stylist Pam over the local barber. My mom, aka Gram Polly, also LOVES her sassy short cuts with Candy. Daydreams (http://daydreamshairandnailstudio.com/ or 603-745-8200) has a warm, cozy atmosphere, where I’m as comfortable and relaxed reading People magazine as I am chatting up the stylists or other customers we know because we all live in a small town. Oftentimes, I am reminded of the memorable hairdresser scenes from the 80’s classic Steel Magnolias, a meeting place for women to feel beautiful AND solve all problems of the universe. They have developed an awesome method for attracting and maintaining even the youngest of hair clients due to their ever popular Fairy Tale Princess parties at winter’s end where every little person attending leaves with a fun up-do or curls, painted nails, crafts, and a goodie bag.
The best hairdressers are masters of their craft with the wisdom of experience to know when to encourage a client to take a risk or make a change, to know when someone needs a confidence boost or just a kind ear in the moment. Or even when they are honest and say, “Let’s rethink that for a little while,” their gentle way of telling us there is perhaps a better style out there for our lifestyle or bone structure. So thank you, hairstylists, for the work you do and expertise you bring each day to the salon. Hairdressers are magicians, miracle workers, chemists, social workers, therapists, stylists, and everyday philosophers. Where, oh where, would we (or our hair) be without them!