The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Middle Aged Women Like to Confide in Me, Part 3: My Hairdresser

I had been using the same hairdresser for almost 10 years. When I started going to her, she was young, about my age, and had just moved to a fancy-schmancy salon. She was expensive but reasonable, and the haircuts were so good that I could go for 4-6 months without getting another haircut, so it seemed worthwhile to pay a little extra but to pay it less often. But as the years wore on, her prices went up and up and up, and eventually, she was out of my price range.

I was hanging out with my friend Beth Marie one day when she mentioned that her hairdresser had recently moved out on her own to start her own salon. I thought, What the heck? I made an appointment there--not with the owner/hairdresser but one of the hairdressers who worked there, Lydia.

I was five months pregnant at the time, and as I sat in Lydia's chair, we got to talking. She was middle-aged, probably in her late 40s or early 50s. She was very excited about my pregnancy and wanted to hear all about it. We also talked about her life, too. This salon was down in Delaware where my friend lives. Lydia grew up in Delaware but then moved out to California and lived in San Francisco for most of her adult life before recently moving back to Delaware. Perhaps we got to talking about that because the sperm donor we used currently lives in the San Francisco area. Anyway, we got to talking about her life there, and that was all wrapped up in my life and my pregnancy.

"I don't have any children myself," she told me," and I regret that. I got pregnant once, but I was with this guy, and I knew the relationship wasn't going anywhere. I wanted to have children, but I thought that he wasn't the right guy, and I could always do it later."

I sat there with my chin to my chest as she worked on the hair on the back of my head, and my brain began to calculate what she was saying without saying it. And then she actually said it.

"If I knew then what I know now--that was my chance to have a child--I would have kept it." She paused what she was doing, and her eyes caught mine in the mirror. "I don't know why I'm telling you this. This isn't something I tell people."

I wasn't sure what to say. Honestly, no one had ever told me that they'd had an abortion before. I'm pro-choice, and I don't judge her for what she did. I tried to get that out--my political leanings, my views on the abstract concept of abortion, and also some reassurance that I was okay with what she was saying, with the reality of abortion. I remember stuttering through that varied landscape of ideas, finally ending by saying, "We all have to try to make the best decisions that we can with the information that we have. I know that's what you did, but I'm sorry that you feel regret now."

There was a bit of silence between us, and then I noticed a mug with a Siamese cat on it sitting on her table. I had Siamese cats when I was growing up, and soon we were talking about cats and dogs and what our pets have meant to us.

I've been back to her twice since that first haircut. The haircuts aren't as good as my super-expensive hairdresser, but at half the price, I'm not complaining. We haven't broached such heavy topics on our recent encounters. We both seem happy to keep the conversation to pets and vacations.


  • It's funny how open some people can be. It must be because you're a stranger that she told you. Some times it's easier talk to people who don't know you.

    By Anonymous Jenn, at 7:27 PM, November 20, 2005  

  • I have to agree with you. Sometimes I open up to complete strangers much more than I would to someone I know. Funny how that is. I guess we're not so worried about what the other person thinks if we don't already care about them.

    By Blogger Oz, at 1:26 PM, November 22, 2005  

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    By Anonymous ian, at 1:56 AM, November 29, 2010  

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