05 September 2007

59 Miles to Great Hair

Once every five to six weeks, I make the 118-mile round trip trek to see the hair-miracle man, Wayne. But, I'm not just going for a wash, color, cut, and style, I'm going for the camaraderie, the gossip, the laughs, and the news of Hall county.

Wayne is practically a Gainesville institution when it comes to hair. He has so many long-time, loyal customers who have followed him there that he really has no way of seeing new heads of hair. You have to make your appointment six weeks in advance or you're just not going to see him at all. It's like trying to make an appointment with a world-famous neurosurgeon! But, he's worth it. He charges Gainesville prices for stylish Atlanta cuts and colors. He stays updated on all the latest techniques and styles. But, most of all, he's a great listener, comedian, counselor, and psychologist, all rolled into one.

My friend Toni started going to Wayne back in the late-80s, while she was in high school and he was an early-20s just-out-of-cosmetology-school newbie. Toni went through her punk phase while her sister went through a hot pink phase, all enabled by Wayne. Through 20-ish years of cutting hair, Wayne went from stylist to a stylist who listens, observes, and makes you laugh.

Thus it was in 1998, shortly after my father and uncle had passed away, that Toni took me to see Wayne. My hair and my spirit both needed pick-me-ups. Wayne provided both. Through that rough year of tears, depression, and Zoloft, Wayne gave me a fun, kicky short style and a platinum blond color. I'll never forget the expression on his face when my hair turned a bright orange, then baby blue, while going through the bleaching process. He wouldn't let me look for fear I would go nuts, but I trusted him implicitly. The night before my artificial insemination (which ended successfully in our twins) I showed up for color and an infertility bitch-fest with Wayne. He and his wife had been through many pregnancy ups and downs and he understood my frustrations. While he applied color, I vented. While he rinsed, I complained. While he cut, he listened, nodded, and made me laugh. I think that night had as much to do with our success in pregnancy as anything else I, Ty-man, or the doctor did that cycle.

Throughout the past nine years, whether I need a cut, color, or both, I don't tell him what to do, I just tell him to "have fun!" and his fingers and scissors work incredible magic not just on my hair, but on my psyche as well. He listens, commiserates, gossips, and makes you laugh hysterical belly-laughs. He knows all the good Hall-county gossip; he'll never serve on a jury because he cuts the hair of just about every lawyer, prosecutor, sheriff, police officer, and judge (or their spouses) who live and work there. His clients have varied backgrounds with incredible stories to match. And, if he can't help you with your problems, he can prescribe his favorite medication - Crown and Coke, the beverage of choice when life has gone crazy and you need to calm down a bit. Wayne has taken me from brunette, to platinum blond, to light brown, to red, to calico, very short and spiky to my current long.

The year after my father and uncle died, I needed Wayne as much as I needed my psychiatrist and my Zoloft. Since then, I make the 118-mile round trip trek as much for "Wayne-time" as for a hair fix. I get my Hall county gossip fix, my counseling on motherhood (he, too, is a parent of three with twins), his hysterical fatherhood stories that make me snort, and a cut and color to boot. After our Wayne-time, Toni, my mom, and I go out for a bite to eat, exchanging girl gossip. Then, the 90-minute drive home allows me to reflect on the evening. I come home, kiss Ty-man, tell him about the Wayne highlights, and go to bed looking forward to my next counseling session. The drive to Gainesville is worth it and the checks I write don't even begin to cover the "medicine" Wayne provides.

So, if you're ever in Gainesville, look up Wayne and his magic fingers. Hang out in his shop and just listen and watch. You'll see miracles happen every day!

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