**Photo of Pepper, the first night in his second
“Wha happen?” She asked.
I had just sat down in the chair.
She flipped up my hair in the back, letting it run through her fingers slowly, like gritty sand.
Locking eyes in the mirror, she waited for my answer.
Ah, crap. These are words you never want to hear from your hair dresser.
“What did you do?” she asked.
A smile spread across my face, like an egg cracked over a frying pan, running towards the edges.
This is a new hair dresser. She fixed my hair once in February, after a year of self-inflicted tomfoolery. (That appointment almost qualified as outpatient surgery). I went back again last week. There was just that one box of hair colour in between.
I shrugged my shoulders. Muffled giggles erupted under our masks as she shook her head. (As an aside, when the hairdresser gets out a calculator before beginning service, that. is. not. a. good. sign.)
But it’s finally happened. After four and a half years in DC, I found a great hair dresser. Before I can throw-up any tangle of visions grandeur, harangued in my seedy pie-hole, she has already articulated the goal for the session better than I ever could, and begun her work. Her title is “Master Designer.” This is neither hyperbolic, nor a misnomer. Robin is expertly skilled, efficient, and now I also know, wonderfully acerbic.
Besides scoring Robin, I stumbled across an amazing masseuse as well. After a quadrennual of downright desiccation, it was like Discovery week here in DC. Derrick is a tall, brawny ex-security guard from Brooklyn, who happened upon masseuse school at his sister’s insistence. Telling his story, he said he wasn’t convinced the hooey-phooey-woo woo-magic-crystals of massage was the life for him, but when he walked into the school to check it out, the woman behind the desk stood up googly-eyed and gushing. Grasping his hands in hers, she said, “Oh my God, look at the size of these hands!! You should definitely be a massage therapist!”
She was right.
Better than that? I knew in the first 20-seconds laying on the table I was about to get an amazing massage. How? When Derrick’s hands plunged through the stormy cloud radiating above my battlefield, he touched down in enemy territory like a priest offering absolution, sweet talking a ceasefire from the angry mob hysterical with their pointy little bayonets . Those mitts, attuned to the squawking of muscles and the outrage of pain, followed the script already sketched below my skin.
Now THAT is expertise.
Massage is a great metaphor for life. A good therapist doesn’t tiptoe around the erratic punch of pain’s fists, but dances with it, a gifted ringmaster swinging the whip, pushing against “the lady [that] doth protest too much,” until she breaks at the knees, belching with gratitude for all the face slapping that snapped her from the madness.
Pain is a whingy little bitch and Derrick is the secret sauce to silencing her.
So DC peeps, if you need a hair stylist, or a masseuse, c a l l m e e e e …..
And hey, Washington Capitals, Wizards, Mystics, and Football Team: You need Derrick. Your players will thank you, and so will your city.
You. Heard. It. Here. First.
(Call meee, Brian MacLellan….)
Just One More
This weekend I offered to travel south to pick-up an older dog Russ and I agreed to foster, plus another, who also had a foster commitment. The day before I left, they asked me to pick up two cats while I was there.
Sure, no problem.
I came home with two dogs, four puppies, two cats and thirteen kittens. The kittens sat shotgun in carriers, little bobbleheads eyeballing me silently through the cracks as I drove. My heart tugged at my sleeves. “They’ll never miss one kitten, will they?”
I had to chuckle a little. The irony of it all. How many times did I fill that extra space in my horse trailer?? There is almost a pathological need for horsemen to fill an idle slot. Often I shipped a horse in the middle of my four horse head-to-head, making it a five horse, and if I thought I could get away with it safely, I’d have tried two in the middle. So here I was in my SUV, a dog and puppies crated separately in the back, kittens and cats up front, and Pepper, our foster, tethered in the middle because there just wasn’t a crate big. enough. for. his. fat. ass.
I was told Pepper was an 11 year old “Lab cross.” I’ve become wise to the fact this hybrid moniker is only one little dog turd away from inscription as a proper noun in the pages of Webster’s, despite only being a euphemism for “we don’t really know what he/she is (or worse, we do), but they’ll be a wonderful addition to your family anyway.”
This haphazard branding of mutts is incredibly effective (rightly so), but still a far cry from the branding of some designer dogs, such as Doodles and Lurchers. Every dog breed has its currency. Doodles don’t shed and are smart, and Lurchers are fast, hardy sighthounds. For labs, their currency is friendliness and an easygoing nature.
“Lab cross,” common parlance in our culture these days, is in serious need of rebranding. They have all the ingredients to be designer dogs themselves. “Adora dogs” could totally be a thing. “Terradoras” (terrier+labrador), “Heeladoras” (Heelers+labrador), and “Goldadoras” (Golden retrievers+labradors) could be the next big brands in canine culture. (“Labra” as a prefix is out. It sounds too much like Labia. I could go on, but I won’t.)
Needless to say, the only thing Pepper has in common with a Labrador is the hefty girdle and layer upon layer of hair, like a cake that’s been iced too many times. Our apartment now sports black wispy tumbleweeds, like the puffy crowns blown from the top of dandelions. He needs to shed (pun intended) ten to fifteen pounds to improve his mobility, rest more comfortably, and cool down quicker, after rounding a single city block.
For anyone searching for a Lab cross, who looks like a Heeler, to adopt and add to your family, Pepper is a very kind, sweet dog. He likes people, other dogs, and cats. He is house-trained and polite with food, hand treats, and on the end of a leash, even around a lot of other dogs. I can put anyone interested in contact with the rescue.
I should also add any contradiction in description versus the actual dog is in no way a reflection, or a judgment, of the (any) shelter or the (any) rescue partners. Everyone does the best they can, with the information they have, and are doing right by many, many animals in need, from the pure goodness in their hearts. When industry margins are as thin as razor blades, you roll with it, and revel in the generosity of so many people.
Community, Love and Gratitude
I want to wrap this week’s blog with a shout out to my friends, my family, and my wonderful peer group at Section5. To be clear, Section5 is not affiliated with Section4 Inc, but a spin-off from them, comprised of a few (100+) Section4 Sprinters who wished to continue the mind-bending discussions around brand, business, books, resources and culture that Section4 is known for offering.
These individuals, collectively, were my lifeline during the pandemic shutdown, and now, as things lift, they continue to be an important presence in my life. I am so grateful for their thoughts, their ideas, their humour, and their ability to bring it every. single. day. Sometimes I think my head is going to explode from the sheer volume of intelligent discourse, and passionate discussion, these amazing individuals continue to create and share.
We attempt to zoom once a week to discuss a current brand-in-crisis, or a philosophical incongruence, as it’s happening. (Maybe we’ll discuss Lab crosses as the next brand in crisis!). This past week, someone took a photo mid-zoom. It sums up every emotion I have with these wonderful people. The shared photo also reminded me of the popular stock meme: tiny ballerinas all lined up at the bar in plié, except for the one girl on the right, hanging upside down, doing her own thing and having the time of her life.
This image does not represent all the members of Section5, only a few, but the sentiment is the same across the gamut. So much respect and gratitude for all of them, they are amazing, and also for every one of my friends and family members who share ideas, challenge the narrative, and of course, tuck all of it in cozy with a generous pour of humour. Thank you for teaching me all the acronyms this past year, including ROFL.
You are the best.