AUTHOR: linda TITLE: "Honey, WHO does your color??" DATE: 10:02:00 PM ----- BODY:
"Hi I'm your four o'clock."

He was mid-bite, jumping from a perch on the stair behind a mirrored panel at the back of the store.

"Oh! Hi, hi. So -- um. Hi, can you, uh. Read this to me..."

He pointed to the appointment book where my name was written in pencil, the sweeping block letters barely fit in the box. He smiled at me and giggled, unabashed, and swept his hand over the absurdity of the question. He was right to be a little confused: the "L" looked like a lazy "C."

I laughed and he took me over to the swivel chair in the back room, instructed me to go ahead and clear off a pile of stuff from the seat, and sat me down. I pulled off a baseball hat and tore out the ponytail band. He looked at me in the mirror and asked "Ok: What do we have here?" tugging on chunks of hair, and watching them humbly fall. Of course why would I do my hair that day if I was going to get it styled? I felt the teary urge to dump my entire hair history-- but refrained, rather saying, "I want to see what you're going to do..."

He didn't hear me, suddenly spitting a horrified, "Honey, WHO does your color??"

Uh, me. A blond bottle wash to be exact, and it was just for fun. Over five months ago. An excuse started to bubble up but before I could finish it he shushed me with a cheery fix it and before I knew it he was already puttering around with a bowl and mixer -- "This is an OPPORTUNITY!" he declared -- and oh yeah, not to tell them up front.

That was how Abel ("like Cain and Abel"), the sole stylist at the Pure Beauty Inner Sunset became my best friend for about 45 minutes on a sunny Sunday afternoon, while he worked magic with dye, shampoo, hairdryer, flat-iron, giggles and stories... about people who work with computers trying to press the delete key in real life, about General Funston of San Francisco who fought fire with dynamite, and do I have a social calendar because I need to let him do tresses, and about his City Hall wedding right before it was outlawed again, about his engineer brother-in-law "working for da OIL Man, but I still love him," and "ooo, I know THIS kind of hair! if you just talk near it... whoosh!" blowing his cheeks out and splaying his hands behind my head for effect.

We chuckled about 20-somethings, and recovering catholics, and how it's too windy to walk by Ocean Beach. Then just like that, I said goodbye to the barrel-chested, baby faced Central Valleyan, who'd just made my day.

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