She was in love with her hairdresser and they both knew it. They both also knew they would never mention it and they both knew it was more like courtly love than anything more base. It was on a higher level. It would remain a shimmering ocean between them for twenty years.
The first time she entered the salon, she was a student. Her mother had given her fifty Euro and had said, “Darling, pop in to see Jacques and get your hair blow dried. Tell him I sent you. Here’s the money darling.” She had done just that and emerged looking like a young version of Megan Fox. Stunning.
Years later she popped in to see Jacques. She was in tears. “I’m going through…a…a DIVORCE!” she had sobbed into his arms, heaving great deep breaths and collapsing.
“I don’t think I will be able to afford to come here every week any more, Jacques. I have so many bills to pay, I…I…”
“Simonetta,” Jacques stared deeply into her bloodshot, tear stained eyes, “You can’t afford NOT to keep having your hair done.”
That was true. The circles she ran in were the bitchiest, nastiest, cattiest and most two-faced in town. It was only with Jacques that she felt complete trust and the feeling of total sincerity.
“Just keep coming and pay me later when things are better.”
Jacques had been 21 when they had met. Simonetta, as I said, had been a student; a girl of almost 16. Jacques’ hair was a tribute to the Flock of Seagulls long, flick style coif that he constantly was either allowing to cascade over the side of his square-jawed, Mount Rushmore face, or flicking to the side, with a thoroughbred-esque shake of his head.
His long, elegant fingers could swiftly wield even the most cumbersome of hairdressing equipment and transform even the most truant locks into a shining beacon of hope for even the most secretly depressed of clientele.
Put simply Jacques was a quiet achiever whom strode through any room with the calm confidence of a ninja in his skinny-leg Bettina Liano imported black jeans.
In private, he listened to Bach and smoked a cigar. At work, he was the most attentive listener a client could dream of. His eyes were like dark pools in a forest in which the loudest sound was the tip-toe of a lone deer on moss. When he looked at you, you felt like you were the only person in the room; or the only person in the whole galaxy.
“Like Jesus to a Child,” was his favourite song to play in the salon every morning at 6am when he arrived.
He didn’t actually NEED to be there until 8am but he liked to get up at 4am, meditate for an hour, do thirty minutes of his Yogic Arts DVD and then walk to work at dawn. En route, he would pick fresh flowers from a vacant lot that had become overgrown with wildflowers. Freesias, fragrant daphne, wild red roses, lavender and various ornamental grasses were among his favourites. Jacques would take the time to select and pick various blooms each morning and then arrange them in fresh water in a variety of vases at the salon.
The vases were old ornamental bottles from Morocco that his ex-boyfriend had given him after they had broken up.
Omar had known that Jacques loved to collect all types of ornamental glass and it was the least he could do after Jacques had walked in on Omar and the new apprentice hairdresser from his salon one afternoon when he had come home early from work.
“It’s ok,” he had said, breathing deeply and trying not to cry. “Be free; love and be whom you are, but as for us, well, this is where we should break up, Omar,” Jacques had sighed.
The next morning was when a shy girl of maybe 15 or 16 years of age, with unruly long locks, had wandered through the salon door and had quietly introduced herself to Tia the (really quite nasty) salon receptionist. “Err…Simonetta…I’m Simonetta? Simonetta Ricard.”
Jacques had noticed her; he had hoped that she was going to be his client. He longed to do one hundred and one things with her shoulder length tendrils of wavy chestnut hair. He took a quick cigarette break on the back step in the 11am sun and fantasised about the ways he would style it, given the chance.
A Marie Antoinette up-do; a Maria Callas chignon; a side-ponytail project with a handwoven beige macramé head-band a la 80s fashion.
As it turned out she needed it braided for a school formal so he created one that took about three and half hours to complete.
Five years later Simonetta had asked Jacques to create a similar up-do for her wedding to a financier from Algiers. Naturally Jacques had obliged and at the request of Simonetta’s mother had added a family-heirloom hair-accessory (supplied by her grandmother) made from lapis lazuli, gold and several (real) diamonds.
(above: by Wen Wu Photography)
Jacques worked at the salon for another two quiet years until one day after work he was seen getting inside a blacked-out SUV and was driven away to the airport and was apparently never seen again until one day somebody said they had seen him walking down the street…in Morocco.
(From the novel, "A Little Sincerity," by Christina Morrison. You can order a copy of this by emailing info@GoldrushMagazine.com)