Youve probably never given any thought to what life might be like for a man living and working in a womans world. However, if you were to ask G. Edwin Crandall, you might be enlightened by what he has to say. He is what a man should be:idealistic, sensible, good humored, dashing, witty, sensual, genuine, and determined.He's not your ordinary man about town. Among other things, hes an extraordinary hairstylist with an intriguing story to tell and hes not just talking shop. Even though most women find him easy to confide in, he has promises and secrets he must keep, layered with a few of his own deep dark secrets scattered here and there. Through a succession of life's lessons, Edwin embraces hisnurturingside early, discovering theres more to life than just another pretty face. Enter his world and join him forle voyage de votre vie, where the story will unfold to uncover his rise to fame, close encounters, trouble in paradise, and his ultimate realization that women with great style dont merely dazzle they inspire and can rock your world.
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About the Author
Indeed, an informed and enlightened woman unleashing the power from within is unstoppable. With the click of her heels, a flick of her hair, and layered up in style, she can have that grace and allure thats hers alone because women that live with optimism are infallible, and can make dreams come true.
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Beginnings can sometimes be difficult, and life can be full of revelations; for example, accepting the existence of God, the purpose of human life, or the reality of the inner child. How about writing a book? Where does one begin? It began for me early one crisp autumn morning. I was taking my daily walk before starting work at the salon. Taking a brisk walk clears my head and helps me to meet the challenges of the day. On that particular Saturday, my biggest challenge was convincing myself I had made the right decision when I chose to become a hairdresser — a choice more befitting than to fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. But was it the right one?
This narrative doesn't shout; it whispers. Therefore, you must listen carefully. The more you listen, the more it will speak to your heart. I choose to illustrate this through the eyes of a child, one who lives with pain, sometimes joy, but now with a clear view of life. We must peel back the layers within ourselves to seek, discover, and heal that wounded child who lives in each of us, who cries out, but to whom we may never listen. It was on a sunny October day that this story came to life and needed to be told — so I wrote it.
All that week, I thought about ways to resolve the conflict swirling in my head. It was precipitated by the previous Saturday's routine conversation with my first client of the day, a consultation that started with the words I dread the most: "Just a trim." For most people, Saturday is a day to sleep in, play really hard, spend quality time with family and friends, or sometimes do things that are pointless. Not if you're a hairdresser! Saturday is Showtime! The energy is buzzing, and we get in the groove. The day you call Starbucks coffee, we call lunch. You know, that kind of day, when your hair isn't listening to you, and you should be listening to us. On that particular Saturday, I held a consultation with a new client who voiced a comment that, in retrospect, made me question my decision to become a hairdresser.
I have always been an early riser, arriving at the salon at exactly the same time every day. Dressing for success, being physically fit, attractive, and following a well-structured routine have constantly been of paramount importance to me. Over the years, I have consistently refined my physique, savoir-faire, and style. That morning, as I stood in front of the mirror, getting ready for work, I remembered how often women had complimented me about my abundant red hair, expressive brown eyes, and other aesthetically pleasing physical traits. Now, in my early sixties, I still carried the key of life in my back pocket. I was having a record year.
I arrived early that day to prepare the salon for what was to be another hectic Saturday — traditionally the busiest day of the week. My first appointment was a new client by the name of Kelsey. She was about twenty years old and arrived with the same old facade as many other young girls: yoga pants, no makeup, and hair that hadn't been shampooed in quite a while. Her hair was yanked up in a quasi-up-do, the favorite hairstyle of too many women — a ponytail. Totally disconnected from me, she was staring into her weapon of mass distraction. At that point, I was thinking she was undoubtedly on the internet searching for a picture of a hairstyle. I was sure it would be way too long and totally unrealistic. Yeah, the one that she'll put up into a ponytail every day, because she's lazy. She probably read somewhere that it's not good to shampoo your hair every day. Now, let me think. Would that be considered an "old wives' tale" in today's politically correct world? Nope, it's just good old-fashioned "crapola." Clean scalp, clean hair — it's where it's at.
There was no doubt in my mind she was scheduled for what she would perceive as a "makeover." For me, that usually means: If I'm lucky, she'll let me cut an inch off of her hair — my thrill of the day, which always goes nowhere.
She acknowledged me after I said good morning. She said, "Hi."
At that point in the illuminating conversation, I said, "I'm Edwin. I see this is your first time at the salon. Here's a smock for you. The changing room's right around the corner. When you're ready, you may sit in my chair. That will be the one I'm standing behind."
She sort of laughed, and said, "Okay. I'll be right there."
Kelsey was only a few minutes. She sat in my chair, staring into her phone and texting; not a good way to start a relationship with your hairdresser. What did she think? That I was some kind of idiot? That I was out of touch with the real world? I'd had it with girls who felt it was okay to talk on the phone while getting a haircut, and who assumed I didn't "get it." Not going to happen in my chair!
So, before I resorted to yanking the phone from her hand and tossing it outdoors, I politely said, "Please refrain from using your phone during the makeover." She put the phone away.
"Thank you," I said. I could tell by the scowl taking up most of her face, she wasn't happy, but I didn't really care. She was in my world now.
I asked her what she had in mind. I wasn't surprised when she said, "I want a whole new style, but keep the length — one layer, and no bangs."
That's like asking a plastic surgeon to give you a facelift without surgery, or a dental hygienist to clean your teeth without opening your mouth. Can't be done.
I asked, "Did you ever hear of a shag?"
She replaced her "dirty look" with a dumbfounded expression and replied, "Isn't that old-fashioned, like from the 70s?" She might as well have said: You're not in the stream of pop culture. You obviously don't know what young girls are wearing today.
My answer to that would have been: That haircut was a whole lot better than what you're wearing. Yours is way too long, looks like straw, gets shampooed once a week, maybe, and is always up in a ponytail. You call that a style?
Hey, she was a Millennial; she could take it. So I thought: Here goes. I explained, "The new shag is the latest thing from Paris, London, Rome, and all of Europe. It's what's in New York and LA."
Now I had her attention. She let me show her a picture of what I was talking about — the perfect haircut for her. It was an updated layered haircut with perfectly meshed, texturized layers, for a length that fell midway between where the neck begins and the shoulder ends. With few exceptions, a woman's hair doesn't need to be longer than that.
All this was going on, when Kelsey's grandmother came in and sat down next to her. Her grandmother listened for a while, and said in a frustrated voice, "Kelsey, let him cut that hair. It's too long. And stop wearing it in a ponytail every day. For God's sake, let him do what he thinks is best."
Kelsey turned to face her grandmother. "I hate the way my hair looks down. Get over it, Gramma."
Her phone rang. She said to me, "Can I take this call? It's from my grandfather."
I answered, "Sure." I was thinking, Her grandfather. Yeah, right!
She said, "Hi, Papa." She listened for a few seconds and spoke in a blissful voice, "Thank you so much, Papa. I love you!" She put her phone away and said, "Okay, do whatever you want to my hair."
I was thinking, Great job, Edwin. This chick gets me. I remarked, "Wow, that was a quick decision. What was it I said that changed your mind?"
With a smirk on her face, she replied, "My grandfather told me he would pay for my haircut."
After I gave her a boss haircut, I showed her the right technique to make sure it looked great every day. I reluctantly went through the steps, knowing damn well it was a waste of my time. She'd never shampoo and condition every day, nor would she follow up with the right styling products and perform the perfect blowout. She had curly, frizzy hair, which required a great blowout, finished with a flat iron and followed by a smoothing serum. It would give her that sleek, shiny, runway model hair. Fat chance of her ever making that happen! I'd broken my neck doing a great blowout, knowing that the next day it would be back up in a half-ass ponytail. Nevertheless, she loved her hair and left with a smile on her face — feeling good about herself.
* * *
As I was preparing my station for my next client, my gregarious staff arrived — late as usual. Another day for me to put on a smiley face for my clients. They didn't need to witness my hostility towards my lazy-ass staff. If there's one thing that really puts me in a foul mood, it's when clients and staff show up late. I always got there on time. Why couldn't they?
Sammy was the first to arrive and was always the first to leave. He drove up in his new big-ass, black Mafioso Lincoln Town car. Two sets of his deceased grandmothers' Rosary beads blocked his view of his personal parking spot — the one in neon yellow that displays a wheelchair and is marked: HANDICAPPED. The theme song from the TV series Dynasty was blasting so loud it was vibrating his car, along with every plate glass window, shelf, and piece of furniture in the salon.
He began the day by filling his coffee cup, which read: I'm gay but never happy. He started talking trash about his first client, Evelyn. He said, "There she is, driving up in that overpriced, shit brindle-brown Mercedes. I hate the color. Besides that, she has shit for hair. I can never make it look good. She always leaves looking like Imogene Coca. But she's loaded. Not only that, she's a big tipper and buys me fabulous gifts for Christmas."
One year she bought him a very expensive gift. He ass-ached about it all year.
He said, "It's too fucking small."
I remarked, "You know, Sammy, being thin would make your penis look bigger."
The next day, he started the Atkins diet. To Sammy, the word diet is only another four-letter word. In my opinion, Evelyn should have been on the lookout for a new hairdresser.
Sammy said to me, "Edwin, when are we going to get an espresso machine in here? My clients would love one."
I replied, "This is a hair salon, Sammy, not Starbucks."
Now he became the disdainful son. "Edwin, I can't wait to get home tonight and take a dip in the new swimming pool my prick father bought me."
Next to come flying in was Natalie, the "Unhinged-Glamour Queen." I was standing next to the coffee brewer, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw this new Hummer drive in on two wheels. Behind the steering wheel was a gorgeous bleached blond with red lips — and dressed to kill. It was Natalie. She came to work every day decked out like a runway model. But you really needed to see her at night. She honestly believed she was a movie star from the Golden Age of Hollywood. It had a real hold on her. This diabolical chick never told the truth.
She was a true sociopath who loathed all men, in particular her husband Rick. Next in line on the list of people she despised were: her sister, me, and everyone who worked in the salon with the exception of Lisa, our receptionist. Natalie never knew it, but Lisa was having an affair with her husband. We could only hope Natalie would never find out.
Natalie flung open the door looking like pure evil, her arms flailing around. With a glazed expression in her eyes, she said, "That fuckin' Rick. I know he's having an affair. When I find out who this bitch is, I'm going to stab her in the heart with my scissors."
She appeared as if she had returned from an all-night session of shock treatments to control her bipolar disorder. Although sinister, this woman was one hell of a hairdresser. Natalie could work for me forever, as long as she didn't kill her husband, or anyone else for that matter. Once she stopped her ranting, she settled down and did some awesome haircuts that day.
Five minutes later, in walked Tim — the last of the Grand Poohbahs. He came from another salon with a huge upscale clientele. He left there because he got into a fight with his partner, who had found out Tim was having an affair with another man. That man was married, and he followed Tim to our salon. His wife didn't. Sammy became envious and despised Tim when it became phallic gossip that Tim's client was blessed with a large culinary masterpiece.
We worked extremely hard to attract and keep our upscale clients, not affording them any other reason than death as an excuse to leave. A new client of Tim's arrived one day — a very discriminating woman, whose husband was a prominent oral surgeon. I welcomed her to the salon. She called me aside and said she had something uncomfortable to tell me. After I convinced her it would be held in strict confidence, she described what she had witnessed out in our parking lot.
Tim and his significant other were in Tim's brand new BMW with the top down. In broad daylight, he and his lover were engaging in a make-out session accompanied by what she could best describe as, orally stimulating the male sex organ. I found it interesting that she watched long enough to notice he wasn't coming up for air. That type of behavior does not make a good first impression for the salon. We found out a few months later, the other man happened to be her husband's partner in his dental office. Why should that bother her? It wasn't her husband. She never did return.
* * *
You may be asking yourself: "Is every hairdresser a weirdo?" That depends entirely on your definition of "eccentric." Among the kicky fusion of stylists in our salon, we have what I would call "normal" people. They so happen to be sisters. And, I'm married to one: Debbie. She's uncommonly diligent and has a tremendous amount of commitment. Her dedication is unending — and she's one hell of a hair colorist. She has an endless stream of clients, who wait weeks to get a fix of their "dream color." No one can divert her color brain. She knows how to "kick brass" and really mix it up!
Her sister Kathleen, or Kashka, as we lovingly refer to her, is without a doubt, the best all-around hairdresser I have ever laid eyes on. When Kathleen arrives, she brings with her a large dose of saneness. Because she is always thinking ahead, she is like my own personal Radar O'Reilly. She anticipates my every move. I can take a deep breath and relax, knowing all will be well at the end of the day. Kathleen brings that Sunday feeling to work every day. It's that sense of sanity and lucidity. She never gets angry, doesn't bring personal problems to work, and loves everyone. She even brings her own lunch in a brown paper bag. You can't get any more ordinary than that. Oh, but how sweet it is!
On this particular Saturday, Kathleen and Debbie showed up — on time. They only ride together after spending the entire night dropping off half of their paychecks at the Turning Stone Casino. I think they feel guilty for what our ancestors did to the Native Americans.
The day turned out the way I like it — profitable. After work, Debbie and I had a relaxing dinner. We talked shop throughout the entire time, reminiscing how life and hairdressing was so much better in the 60s and 70s. Why? Things were happening — and shifting every minute. There was a thirst for change, which could only be quenched by the mind's true liberation. If you don't believe me, ask anyone who was there.
We stopped at our favorite café for cappuccino and dessert. Now I was ready for a great night's sleep. I was grateful for everything I had accomplished that day and was snug in my career. When the lights go out in the bedroom, and I close my eyes, my reflections of the day disappear. I begin drifting into peaceful places where my brain finds solitude, leading to a restful night's sleep.
Not going to happen on this night, damn it! I hate it when I can't sleep. I guess I got over-stimulated with thoughts of the women I had known in my life. But that night was overshadowed by musings of how life was so different now. It was unlike what it used to be, when I had a passion for my work. Gone were the years that I loved the beauty industry — and everything it had to offer, when I loved America and I loved life. I lay awake throughout the night drifting in and out of recurring pictures of a life with profound and deep-seated memories. Insightful but fragmented visions of what lay ahead flashed in my head. I got up, walked out into the fresh night air, and gazed up at a sky full of stars. I thought, maybe I should have stayed on the course I originally had set before me. I wondered. Perhaps I still could.
Excerpted from "Layers"
Copyright © 2018 Drake Gaetano.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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