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Head trip

Camille DeFer ThompsonI loved Tammy, but it was time to move on.

“She’s working at Tribez now,” Joanne said of our mutual hairdresser, at our memoir meeting. “In Blackhawk.”

“Blackhawk?” I whined. “Way out there?”

My friend rolled her eyes. “It’s not that far. And besides, you only see her once a month.”

Tammy and I shared a long history. Over the years, she guided me through the dark days of awkward outgrowth from a short, layered cut to a sleek chin-length bob. A decade later, despite her valiant, but failed efforts to dissuade me from my foolish notion to restore my hair to its natural color, she didn’t judge when I begged her to transform the hideous flat, gray-streaked taupe to a youthful faux flaxen. I even recommended her to friends in search of a new ’do.

Nevertheless, I could see no reason to follow my mane maven to her new locale. According to Google Maps, it was over twice the distance from my “current location” than to her old salon, a tank-emptying 6.2 miles and estimated 13 minute drive. Plus, Blackhawk was so upscale I got a nosebleed whenever I drove through the tony neighborhoods. From previous trips there for classic car shows and concerts, I recalled pricey boutiques and posh eateries with European names surrounding a manufactured pool, seeded with families of chic water fowl. I had no intention of subjecting myself on a regular basis to the shameless spectacle of bloated opulence.

Though I valued Tammy’s expertise and gentle, supportive nature, I had no doubt my simple cut and golden highlights could be duplicated by any hairdresser worth her flat iron at any local chop shop.

But with the wedding of a friend’s daughter coming up in a few weeks, I couldn’t risk trusting my next trim and dye job to a new stylist. Experience taught me that it takes a few visits to achieve just the right look. Images of an unfortunate ’70s brassy shag and an ’80s perm gone wrong flooded my mind.

I decided to suck it up and visit Tammy’s fancy new shop for one final cut and color before abandoning her to find a salon closer to home. At the appointed hour, I loaded the car with bottled water and energy bars, set my GPS and started the arduous expedition. My journey took me over once-lush rolling hills, trampled by luxury, gated subdivisions, golf courses and shopping centers.

I settled into the chair at Tammy’s new station for the first — and only — time. An hour and a half later, I admired my sleek, polished look in the mirror. Tammy swiped my MasterCard through the little cube perched atop her smart phone.

“Thanks. Looks great,” I said. “See you next…uh…have a nice day.” I averted my eyes and slinked towards the door.

Back out on the plaza, the smell of gourmet pizza wafted in my direction. What the heck, I thought. I’ll spring for a slice, then make my final getaway.

Juggling my purse, a can of cola and the cheesy pie piece, I found an empty bench beside the cement pond, shaded by a cluster of well-placed trees. I nibbled my lunch, entertained by a mother mallard leading four —  five — no, six fluffy ducklings, bobbing up and down across the rippling water.

As I sat enjoying the afternoon sun, a funny thing happened. The shops took on a new appeal. I wandered into a bookstore and browsed the shelves. In a nearby boutique, a trendy bangle bracelet caught my eye.

On the way back to my car, I stopped at Tribez and scheduled an appointment for next month. Why not? It’s not that far.

— Camille DeFer Thompson

Camille DeFer Thompson is a freelance writer and blogger. Her short fiction and non-fiction appear in a number of anthologies, including Not Your Mother’s Book…on Home Improvement. Her feature articles can be found online and in print. Camille lives in Northern California. Visit her humor blog at

Reflections of Erma