Tuesday, September 09, 2008

NIGGER, WHO TAUGHT YOU OCTAGON?

Editor's Note:
The origin of the title: "Nig, who taught you octagon?" is from Chris Rock. He was joking about slaves being forbidden to read and what a dilemma it must have been to try to hide it. So the joke goes that the slave who's driving cracker's buggy comes up to a stop sign and is scared to stop for fear of incriminating himself as literate. So he explains that he knew to stop because he saw the big red octagon...
Get it? My learning that simultaneously eating and hot combing wasnt normal is akin to learning to read and seeing the world in a new way.

I’ve been going to a black hair salon all my life. Can’t think of any reason why I may have ever been in a white one.

Until television brought me there, of course.

If your life is as pathetic as mine and is predicated by a television schedule you watch cable like me, you’ve probably seen Peter.Perfect on Style network. Ok so the concept is that Petey, who is a renowned Bevvy Hills stylist, goes to struggling salons and basically does a makeover on the shop and the owners.

So it’s just like any good makeover show…first they highlight the foolishness. He runs up and through the shops kicking stuff over, and hollering in amazement that they even have a single client the way they got their shit set up.

So I’ve seen a couple episodes that featured black salons. And they are oddly familiar…

No receptionist.

No separate break area.

Stylists stopping mid-perm to take a personal call.

Plastic lawn chairs in the “waiting area.”

Cushion coming all out of the ripped up dryer chairs and shit.

Stylists balancing a chicken box in one hand and a tail comb in the other.

The Dudley products on display out of a cardboard box.

So Peter goes absolutely bananas when he sees this shit. He simply cannot believe that this is a business, much less a profitable one. He can’t fathom a place where there’s not a person dedicated to answering the phones and taking appointments. It is beyond his realm of possibilities that clients should ever witness their stylists having lunch.

So then he takes the poor saps to his salon. They get there and are immediately greeted by a friendly and trendy receptionist who offers them water and champagne and shit. They walk in and it’s like an oasis of beauty and relaxation. Completely foreign.

So this is the part where I start dreaming about freedom...

So I’m sitting in the salon yesterday getting my locs sexied. My fav neighborhood pal found this place in our hood, and I decided to give them a holler. It’s nice inside. There’s some gospel music blaring, and it’s fairly quiet. Not too much shenanigans. I’m pleased. I don’t sit and wait 100 years before I’m called over. I’m immediately shampooed, albeit half assedly . It was serene and pleasant, and very befitting of the modest digs.

But then suddenly homegirl’s cellie starts singing. She goes ape shit trying to answer it. Says hello loudly no less than seven times before slamming it down in frustration. Then some chick comes in talking and talking and talking. Loud. And I’m zoning out. She asks me if I’m ok, because “I’m really quiet,” and I pause. I’m really quiet because I already told your ass that you parting my damn hair feels like you’re pulling up loc’d hair and you pretty much ignored me. And because ain't nothing to be talking about... I'm reading!

I sink into my book and only partly absorb the words on the pages. My mind is actually wandering back to television. And I’m pissed! I think of every time a stylists has asked me if I wanted to order something from the Chinese takeout spot next door.

Every time I’ve passed the hours counting roaches.

Recalled the countless personal phone conversations I’ve overheard.

The sons and daughters who come in like it’s Take Your Crumbsnatcher to work day. Every day.

Every time I’ve walked out with a style I didn’t ask for.

The treks through town before arriving, looking for an ATM machine because I know they don’t take cards.

The times I've almost tripped on pulled up linoleum on the floor.

The times I've left smelling like hair spray and bbq ribs.

It could very well be that I just havent been to an upscale black establishment. This is true. I have a penchant for the hood since most of the places I've lived have been mostly blue collar towns. But damn, why do I feel real plantation about my experiences? Why do I feel like I've been accepting this nonsense as normal?

Why do I feel like the ngga who just learned to read and sees the world in a whole new way? This some ole bullshit!!

15 comments:

Blu Jewel said...

wow! if you didnt raise up the many reasons why i STOPPED going to a black salon. i'd rather NOT deal with all the bullshit, drama, and gossip while i'm paying big money to sit and wait forever to get my hair done. i go to some Pueto Rican girls who do the damn thing on time and with minimal drama. AND for a lot less than the black salon. *sucking teeth*

love!

nikki said...

man...until this year i hadn't been in a black salon in DECADES.

then this year i had to find a loctician after realizing mine were too damn long for me to be spending five hours of my saturday on. i went through some seriously traumatic experiences before i finally found one. it is a kinda upscale black salon (the prices are upscale for DAMN sure).

they don't have a dedicated receptionist but the atmosphere is pretty cool and i love my stylist.

in other words, KEEP HOPE ALIVE!

Amadeo said...

This is why I enjoy (what the kids these days call) Freeform. Meaning I do it my damn self and don't make it all pretty. Anything extra I use the Billy Dee voice: "Say baby...would you help me wash my hair?"

Jonzee said...

I can only guess who you got...

Duane. That's all I got to say.

Now, as for upscale versus 'round the hood...I have to say I have felt like I'm on the plantation in both places. I just had a convo about the "Black hair salon" experience the other day.

I used to go to Roots in BK when I was still all permed out--and the bouegie House Negro snobbery added on to the absolute ridiculous prices made me feel quite "Fear and Loathing in Negro-town" (yo! $65 for a wash, blow, and style--though the style was THEE shit).

It seems the black hair salon experience is either "faux importante and faux chic", or ridiculously boomsheesha and 'dem

So...Wise...Sista said...

Blu...I used to frequent the Dominicans in NY and frankly, the only difference was that they were quicker. Same talkin (just in Dominican), loud, eating (arroz con habichuelos and such). Same evils. Part of me wanted to not just single out the blacks, but really that's my main point of reference.

Nikki...You made it to freedom!! I actually like the spot I normally go to, but it's not without it's negroisms, which frankly I've just come to accept as part of the pkg. And it took watching that show to see that the pkg is so much different in a different part of the world.

With that said, I'm now OBSESSED with wanting to go to a white trash salon. lol

Amadeo...So smoove you are. If only I had a live-in to wash my hair for me... I'm working on it. lol

Jonzee says...""faux importante and faux chic"...hahahahahahahaha
And I'm sure I'd despise that even harder. $65? YO.

I had the chick from the Virgin Islands. When I called I asked for the dude, but she kinda cock blocked it so I was like, aiight gangster. lol Plus her name sounded familiar from when you told me who styled you last time.

Nexgrl said...

I have had it all. I now go to a "white" salon out in the suburbs, because I wanted a master colorist. It is mad expensive. $125-35 for a Color and Cut on natural hair.

Epsilonicus said...

I miss my hair. I am going back to it. Im growing it out now.

the joy said...

dont nobody wonder why i do my hair myself. its pincurled and a-waiting to be pressed ret-nah (right now). my mom was a stylist in one of the most professional salon/spas in bpt, but my 4yr old ass was always there, lol. and when she did hair out the house? took her 4 days to braid my hair last time she did it.

you better find a latino who is familiar with locs...

RunningMom said...

"With that said, I'm now OBSESSED with wanting to go to a white trash salon. lol"

Would that be like Bo-Rics or something? Just wondering...

I took my son to the barbershop once, we got there before his barber (the crack o' dawn) why did this fool come in with his McDonalds and proceed to sit down and eat his breakfast (while we skipped breakfast in order to be first!)?!? Hello - paying customer here! Foolishness.

American Press said...

This is the reason I was glad to no longer have a perm. This also scares me if I decide to loc my hair.

I don't think I could ever handle the ignorance again. I'd say look for an upscale salon. As far as locs go, that might be hard. But my baby sister, who is still permed, trolled the frou-frou salons for the one black lady and she found it and will never go back to the hood again. Lol.

So...Wise...Sista said...

Nex...Really? Im fascinated. They didnt give you the screwface when you first walked in??

Epsi...WAIT! I didnt see you all clean cut. lol

Joy...You were Daughter Taken to Work? hahaha! There's this certain psuedo Latino Im trying to teach ret-nah. lol

Mom...hahahahaha
YO...when they come in and eat (and dont offer you none) like you interrupted their meal is classic!! Meanwhile your stomach steady growling. lol

AP...the place I normally go is by no means upscale, but it's not long on foolishness. I'm not sure Im much of an upscale (pay out my ass) kinda girl. lol

Nexgrl said...

Wise, I was referred by my esthecian. Her hair was always some crazy colors that the stylist was experimenting with, so I asked her who did her hair and if he had experience with hair like mine. Lucky for me, his old job was in the hood. Two of the stylist got their feet wet in the hood.

SunshineMama said...

Peace So Wise! I just wanted to say hiiii, how youuuu and let you know I still check in from time to time even though I've not blogged in a million years. Hit me up girl! Don't be a stranger! Luv ya, miss ya -Sunshine mama

Adei von K said...

treks looking for ATMs...

smelling like hairspray and ribs

crumbsnatcher to work...


PREACH!

leaving with a hairstyle you didn't want!!!!!!!!!!


PRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEACCCCCCCHHH!!

topseekrit said...

1st time visitor and commentor....and this is why I do my own hair 9 times out of 10, lol. I feel your pain though, it's already hard to find a good natural hair stylist let alone a decent salon, they usually don't go hand in hand.

On a sidenote, what Peter does for those salons and businesses, that is exactly what I would like to do as an entrepreneur - help local storefront owners out and turn their businesses around for the better.

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