I am scientist by training, inclination and temperament. However, this is a blog, not a lab. The title reflects my passion for hyperbole, so don't take me too seriously. I don't. I was a technician in a physiology lab, got my PhD in molecular genetics and neuroscience, was a postdoctoral fellow in biophysics and now am a Project Manager in a Clinical Science/Biomedical Informatics institute. I am a scientific jack-of-all-trades, and very happy because of it. I write about science that catches my eye, making the transition away from the lab bench, and the slightly odd and moist boundary where science culture meets the public. I am an Englishman by birth, an American by temperament and if I were you I wouldn't lend me money.
My posts are presented as opinion and commentary and do not represent the views of LabSpaces Productions, LLC, my employer, or my educational institution.
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I love my salon. Oh yes, dear Reader, I go to a salon. My stylist, Barbara, is a wonder and always takes her time, and I do not begrudge her the extra dollars she charges for the cut. I’ve changed hairstyles recently and today was my first cut with the new style already settled in place. Before the cut even began we had a chat about styling, and goals and length. Then she washed my hair (with scalp massage), then used mint oils to condition my hair. All par for the course at this wonderful and eclectic boutique. Barbara hasn’t been my stylist for the whole five years I’ve lived in Memphis, in fact our friendship is fairly recent. However, when I find a stylist I like and trust I am loyal to them.
One reason I love this place is the atmosphere. Of the stylist population, I estimate that 30% are male, the rest female. 100% are tattooed and styled and gorgeous. Of the 30% male stylists, rarely does one find a straight man. It would be an unfair and possibly discriminatory generalization to thus suggest all male stylists are gay, but these are the demographics of this salon.
This preamble is going somewhere, fear not.
I arrived at the salon earlier than my appointed time and so availed myself of the literature provided for the clientele to peruse. Elvis magazines, Sivad Fan Fanzines (Fangzines?) and so on. While I sat there a beautiful and strangely familiar woman walked out from the back room. Clearly she was one of the staff, but I hadn’t seen her before. She was quite tall and had a physical confidence that commanded attention. Her hair was rich, auburn and cascaded around her face, down to her (clearly) full cleavage. Her shoulders were bare revealing red ink tattoos on her shoulders. Her designer jeans clung to her feminine figure. (Call me old school (a stereotypeoclast?), but I prefer women with a more “traditional” female figure. I am not physically attracted to women that can be mistaken for teenage boys from behind. In fact I often wonder about the underlying psychology of the men that are attracted to such phenotypes.)
She, the Striking Woman, caught my eye and smiled, coyly I hoped, then turned away and returned to the back room. She was so familiar, but I couldn’t think where from. Surely I would remember seeing her before? “It must have been somewhere around town. Her hair can’t always be so perfectly coiffured. It must be that.” I thought.
My stylist finished her pre-cut clean-up duties and called me into the main salon. We went through the pre-cut process I describe above and as she began to trim, and hone, and thin and sculpt, the Striking Woman came back in from the rear room. She sat in an empty chair at a vacant station, “So she does work here then,” thought I.
Barbara and I talked, and to my surprise the Striking Woman moved over into the vacant chair next to us. Now this will sound arrogant, but it isn’t. I'm not surprised when things like this happen, not because I expect to be hit on, but because I have a thick English accent and sometimes people are just curious.
Barbara paused in her cut as I turned to look, “I know you,” purred the Striking Woman. And I mean purred. A perfect alto, but with a richness and depth that was perhaps not surprising given her physical appearance.
I was genuinely intrigued, “Where from, because you look so familiar to me, but I can’t remember where I met you.”
“I used to cut your hair,” She smiled. “When you first moved here.”
“But, I’ve always been coming here and I don’t remember meeting you before.” I was honestly embarrassed that she remembered me, while I was drawing a blank. She laughed, holding her hand in front of her mouth, “I knew you wouldn't recognize me. It’s been four years since I left. I used to be David!”
There is an English expression I can use here "You could have knocked me down with a feather".
I think I rallied well, because I knew I was blushing furiously, and I’ll be damned if I get beaten at a game as much fun as this. I tried not to gush, “Well you look wonderful!”
“I wasn’t sure if it was you, you look older, but then I heard you speak, and I recognized your voice. I thought about hitting on you, but that would have been cruel.” And once more, that smile.
That, Dear Reader, is a true and honest account of the events of the last hour. I don’t know her name now; she smiled again and went to the back once more. I don’t know if she is transgender or transsexual. Her breasts were...ah...real, her voice was pitched and there was a femininity to her that one assumes comes from hormonal changes.
But the only thing that mattered was that she was clearly happy.
This week, on the back of National Coming Out Day, as we read more reports of young people, children killing themselves because they are so unhappy, as Iowans get ready to overturn their brand new same-sex marriage laws, as religious conservatives decry so-called government invasion of their privacy all whilst trying to enforce their twisted moral codes upon other citizens…this week, this was a wonderful reminder of the beauty and freedom that comes with being allowed to Be Yourself.
Biology is complex. The Universe is complex. Trust it to be more complex than you can ever understand and revel in the freedom that grants you.
After endless nothing you get one brief shot at something before returning to endless nothing. Allow others the same shot and the same, brief chance at happiness.
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Ha ha, what a brilliant post! Tideliar you certainly spin a good yarn, I had absolutely no idea that's where that story was headed! I was cringing when you said that she used to cut your hair, I thought this was going to be some embarrassing story about how you're terrible at recognising faces or something and lead into a post about facial recognition neuroscience or something. You kept me guessing!
Great way to end the story. Life is short, people should just get on with their own lives rather than worry about everyone else's, live and let live, indeed an excellent philosophy to live by!
On another note, I too love the salon, my salon back in England used to provide you with free beer and wine and those massage chairs as well as a nice head massage. They don't seem to do that so much over here and I miss it. But I do have a nice stylist who is insistent that I take her back to England with me if I go home, I think she is hoping to marry Prince William or something!
I'd been thinking about a blog post along these lines and then meeting OnceWasDavid tonight gave me perspective. She was so...different, relaxed and happy :)
"my salon back in England used to provide you with free beer and wine and those massage chairs as well as a nice head massage"
WHERE! I need the address! Actually, fuck that, I need the GPS coordinates!
Ha ha, most salons I used to go to offered a free drink. I mostly used to go to Tony and Guy in Liverpool. Some of the salons up in London have a cocktail bar you can wait at before your appointment. A friend of mine recently ended up with a lock in at the hair salon! I guess it's the new local for poncy Londoners!
Um, excuse me Janede, Poncy Londoners?
am not a ponce have only become poncy since moving to the US and finding wonderous sytlists. And glamour. And product. Oooohhh...product....
Hey, I'm not dissing poncy Londoners, I could definitely get on board with cocktail bars in hair salons!!
Actually I'm a southerner masquerading as a northerner, originally from just outside London myself (home counties, dahling, biggest ponce of the lot!). I migrated up north for university and stayed there, weather's better down south though! Hell, it's way better over here, why d'you think I moved here?!
ooooo...fancy hot pants? Pixplzthanx....
Really, though- nicely done.
Very, very nice post, T. (Can't seem to get over associating your nom de blog with tldr; - hehe!!)
"After endless nothing you get one brief shot at something before returning to endless nothing. Allow others the same shot and the same, brief chance at happiness."
What do they say? Yes, QFT.
Beautiful sentiment, expressed beautifully.
@Jadede (have to useit now, sorry), Home Counties? Good Lord! Why didn't you say so! Good show! Bloody good show! Herts m'self, can't be helped, but God created a green and pleasant land and apparently just for us. Eh!
@DrB: Gosh, thanks :D
@Namnezia: Cheers mate
@Brian: Jealous? :*
@DrZeek: could be arranged... LOL, cheers
@Kausik: Glad you made it over here brother! I miss y'all from the Other Other Place. And thank you, seriously. But...tl;dr? Moi? LOL
Your salons in Memphis don't have bars? Huh...there's quite a few in SF. I like having a cocktail while discussing what I want done.
I know someone trying to open one in Sac, but they're having a hard time with the permits. And a friend's place in Napa, they'll run across the street to a Michelin Starred place with a nifty bar for customers.
Great post and I couldn't agree more with the overall message. I have a few friends who do not conform to gender norms and watching their struggle has had a significant impact on my life. It takes a brave person to accept who they are, no matter what your station in life, but doing so at the risk of losing your family and friends while gaining the possibility of being mocked on a regular basis, takes more courage than most people possess.
Admittedly, I would have felt uncomfortable in this situation. Not b/c of the transgender or transexual issue, but because they were my former stylist. Whenever I decide I need a new stylist, I always go to a totally different salon and hope I never see the old stylist again. I want them to think I just moved away or something. Of course, I'm sure that I put way more thought into it than they do.
Simply fabulous, T!! Although I wasn't sure if I was reading the beginnings of a lurid romance novel for the first few paragraphs...
My salon provides me with a free glass of wine (or two) when I get my highlights done. They also have a wonderful massage chair that I get to relax in while waiting for my hair to "cook". I figure, if I'm spending that much on my hair, they better treat me like a princess. :)
@JSD: There'a an option! Nick the booze from another place!
@MXX: I tried changing salons before and it got to be a chore Now I give them 6 months and if I'm not happy I just book a new stylist. I guess I'm just turning into more of a git as I age >:)
@DrO: "I wasn't sure if I was reading the beginnings of a lurid romance novel for the first few paragraphs..."
I'm pretty sure there's not much about Tideliar's daily existence that isn't comparable to a lurid romance novel.
Hmmmm....still no pic of the hot pants but love what the stylist has done.
LOL, thats from this summer. It still returns there upon demand, but now a bit more work appropriate during the day
I love this post. If I knew you in person, I'd give you a big kiss.
And knowing me in person, I'd probably try and kiss you back >:)
(but seriously, thanks)
Love this post. Love English accents as well... :)
Why thank you! It's comments like yours that keep me writing, even when they're personal posts