Skip to main content

Now I Know I'll Need Therapy: My Hair Stylist Retired

After nineteen years of relaxing, dying, conditioning, cutting, setting, and blow drying my hair in addition to dispensing tons of good ol' Mother wit and blunt truths, my hair stylist has decided to retire. To leave behind what I imagine are now exorbitant rents in the now-yuppified but formerly ghettofabulous area that was Hayes Valley in San Francisco where she has had her shop. To finally get off her feet and kick up her heels. To be with family.

Now I know I'm going to need a therapist.

Although I'm ecstatic for her -- her retirement reminds me that not every black woman has prepared for or has the means to retire -- I'm saddened to lose someone to whom I entrusted my joys, fears, man issues, and family issues. To lose someone who bluntly and necessarily told me when I was being stupid -- with men, with my money, with my family. Given that my mother's ability to do so waned with the early onset of her Alzheimer's, this blunt truth and Mother wit that only a Sister with Sense can dispense was sorely needed by me. Sometimes when I would come in for a touch-up, she would notice that my hair was falling out. She would spin the chair around and ask me, "So what's really going on in your life that's making your hair fall out?"

Sometimes we all need someone to verbally "slap us upside da hed," as my sister says, regarding the state of our lives, otherwise we won't make a much-needed change. My hair stylist was that person.

If there's not a client/hair stylist privilege like the doctor/patient privilege or clergy/congregant privilege, there definitely should be. I'll be the first to argue for it.

The relationship black men have with their barbers is different than the relationship that black women have with their hair stylists. Black men discuss sports with their barbers; black women discuss black men with their hair stylists. As I explained to BMNB, my hair stylist has been in my life consistently for nineteen years, while he had been in my life inconsistently for more than twenty years. But for the fact that I married him, she would hold higher status in my life, just on loyalty alone. She knows more about my loser ex-boyfriends than my husband does. And I think it should stay just that way.

But when a sister retires, we should all rejoice. Black women tend to labor too long and too hard for too little. That one of us is freed from that labor is cause to rejoice, even if it means that we're going to be left behind and have to learn to be happy to be nappy.

Maybe I'll start wearing braids . . . .

Congratulations, Gigi Mathews, on a much deserved and well-earned retirement. I wish you joy, peace, and no more hair grease!


Anonymous said…
More power to Gigi - I am happy for her. I just found out today and i am going to have to join you in therapy. What are we going to do? Did Gigi leave a referral list?

Popular posts from this blog

When You Leave The Ghetto, Don't Bring It With You

NBA player Gilbert Arenas brings a gun to an NBA locker room. NBA player Ron Artest lets his pit bulls run wild and free in Loomis, California while playing for the Sacramento Kings. NFL player Michael Vick did time for fighting dogs. And NFL player Plaxico Burress is doing time for shooting his damn self.

What do all these men have in common? BMNB would say an inability to make a profound paradigm shift. I’m less eloquent than BMNB is, so I’ll say it differently: The inability to leave the ghetto behind.

Yes, call me saditty, bourgie, elitist, stuck-up, whatever. I don’t care. Until you’ve had a tweaker ruin your Thanksgiving turkey, you don’t even know (more on that later), and I’m not trying to hear you.

Living in Western Placer County, my husband and I continue to hear stories from folks like us who had to flee “those who can’t leave the ghetto behind.” You know these people, and they come in all races. In our case, we had returned to Sacramento in 2004 and 2005, respective…

Black Woman Blogging's Gun Control Proposal

Thanks to a relative who sent me death threats, I became a gun owner. Reluctantly.  What can I say.  You don't choose your family.

That said, I'm for gun control.

As far as I'm concerned, America lost its moral compass when we didn't do squat after Sandy Hook.  If you can allow a madman to murder children and not be moved to do nothing, you have no moral compass.  Period.

Now that we've broken an unfortunate record for the number of people killed in a mass shooting, perhaps we as a country are ready to get our minds right about gun control.  Perhaps.  So in that spirit, I offer my gun control proposal.

First, we need to agree on some real (not alternative) facts and principles:

1.  There is no such thing as an unlimited right.  Yes, people, there are no unlimited rights protected under the Constitution.  Your right to free speech?  Well, not all speech is protected under the First Amendment and even protected speech can be limited by time, place and manner.  Your…

Retired Man Walking: Too Young to Retire, Too Old to Take Shit

A while back I ran into a friend and fellow professional employed by the State of California, and he offered me his perspective on State employment as a tail-end Baby Boomer like myself -- someone who can't retire because he lacks the requisite age or years of service, but, unlike myself, is tired of taking shit from superiors who don't know what to do with you.

Although my friend gave his permission for me to use his name in this blog entry, I decline to do so because what he does is so specialized that it would not be hard for anyone to identify him as one of the few African American men, if not the only African-American man, in California state civil service who does what he does. For purposes of this blog entry, I will refer to him as he now refers to himself:  Retired Man Walking.

Retired Man Walking, or RMW, has an interesting philosophy he applies to working for the State as a professional who isn't old enough to retire but has been around long enough to know the s…