Hong Kong Shampoo

My family is always trying to start family traditions.
“Let’s feed dinner to the homeless for Thanksgiving. It’ll be a tradition”
“Let’s have lobster for Christmas. It’ll be a new tradition.”
“Let’s do a detailed recap of the last year, all it’s triumphs and highlights for everybody’s birthday dinners. That would be a great tradition!”

The only authentic traditions we have are discount shopping, mani/pedis, and checking out “funky” pizza joints. In the last couple of years, getting blowouts has been added to the list. My mother found a place in Quincy, 25-dollar blowouts. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Blowout industry, 25 dollars is cheap.
I questioned the validity of the facts.
Me: do they wash your hair?
My mother: yes
Me: is it a salon?
My mother: yes
Me: you’ve been there?’
Mom: several times. They recognize me.
I hate to sound like I don’t believe my mother when she tells me about a 25 blowout but it sounded like there could be a catch. I don’t know when the what’s the catch? mentality became so prevalent in my family. I am unaware of any family parable where my great great great Grandfather lost the family jewls on a deal where he didn’t see the catch. He lost it all because he didn’t see it coming. I don’t think anybody in my lineage has been fucked over so bad that it is reasonable to have a hereditary instinct of suspicion when something appears to be beneficial to us. You see how I wrote “appears to be beneficial” that came naturally.
Me: ok. I‘ll go. I trust you.
went to the salon. There were a lot of elderly people there getting their hair SET. I’m guessing 8 chairs lined the right side of the salon when I walked in. There was a lot going on. A lot of what I assumed were employees were hustling around. Three ladies were under the old school hair dryers.
The lady in charge smiled at my mother and said something flattering like “you don’t need your hair done, you look great” I’m ad libbing.
Mom: this is my daughter
Lady: I thought it was your sister
As if we hadn’t heard that line before. I know she is trying to flatter my mother but there are two egos standing before you Salon Chief. It’s somewhat of an insult to me – I look 25 years older than I am? Do you want me to spend 25 bucks here? Kiss ass to all the people spending money.
I kept my mouth shut.
It was mother’s spot.
Salon Chief pointed me to a chair.
All the stylists were Asian men over 40. Just painting the picture for you. I sat down and my guy asked
“just the this same again or different?”
I was goanna do Same Again but it sounded lame the way he said it so I said “different. Can I get a deeper part and really straight?”
Him: “ok, still same”
Me: “but different”
I felt like I wasn’t being heard but I couldn’t address it and not look like maybe I was the 60 year old sister to my mother that they saw me as.
He picked up what looked like a ketchup condiment bottle and squeezed it above my head. He kept squeezing then he started lathering. It took me a second to realize he was washing my hair in the chair.
This was a first for me and quite frankly, I prefer the conventional method of reclining back with your head in the sink. When you might even be asked for input on the water temperature and get a head massage. I was impressed that none of the shampoo like substance ran down my face. I guess that comes with years of experience washing people’s hair while they sit upright. I wanted to know if he was going to take me to a sink to rinse but I was afraid I would not be able to hide my disapproving tone.
I wanted these people to like me, for my mother’s sake.
One time I made a stink in a nail salon that my mother frequented, that was over ten years ago, it still comes up in conversation to this day.
He did take me to the sink to rinse, what I hope was shampoo, out of my hair. He blew my hair dry in silence. I couldn’t help but notice my mother’s guy was talking to her. I tried to think of small talk but my mind kept coming back to the upright shampoo.
He did a really nice job. Even the Salon Chief said I looked great and then added “so much better”
I wanted to say “than you! I do look so much better, so much better than you!” but I knew I was being child like in my urges. I nodded my head in gratitude and paid my 25 dollar bill.
I got a lot of compliments on that blowout. My mother and I go back there quite a bit when I got home. I don’t even ruminate on the upright shampoo anymore. I call it the Hong Kong Shampoo.
It’s become somewhat of a tradition.

Thanks for listening!
Kendra is a stand-up comic living in Brooklyn where she owns a super comfortable bed. She spends most of her time wondering where the hell her sugar daddy is and hoping he didn’t settle.

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