May 15, 2008

Vous Devez Prendre le Soin Aussi

(You Must Also Have 'le Soin')

Yesterday, I wanted a haircut. I got quite an experience with it.

I went to this place called L'instant 2MOSS - a rather strange name to begin with. I remembered this place because I had walked by a number of times - it is in the Square Louis XII - a charming little pedestrian courtyard in the middle of the Paris.

In words, it looks like an agreeable salon, where one could get a nice haircut.

So I walked in and announced my intention to the woman who greeted me. I was apparently lucky because normally they only accept reservations, but she had some time on that particular morning. She pulled out her price list and showed me the prices of the salon. Each haircut listed included a 'Rituel de Soin et Bien-Être,' which I didn't fully comprehend. She authoritatively explained that every haircut at this salon is given with le Soin. There is no choice. She was sort of defensive about this point, so I shrugged my shoulders and inertly agreed.

She instructed me to have a seat and to wait while she finished with another client (in a little room in the back of the salon). This client never surfaced - ever - but after 20 minutes, she finally did and invited me to 'install' myself in another room in the back of the salon. She waltzed me into the room and gave me the clear instructions that when she leaves the room, I should remove my clothing, my shoes, my earrings and put on this robe (which she handed to me). I was befuddled. I reconfirmed with myself that I was not at the doctors office.

After a long wait, during which I was reading a book, she reappeared, swooped the book out of my hands and looked at me with puzzlement. Who reads a book when they go to the salon, her face read. (Everyone I know, my eyes spoke in reaction).

And then she proceeded to be extremely weird, but her performance was impressive because she executed each strange happening with utter grace and assurance. With sincerity. She leapt from one side of the very small room to the other (the salon apparently prides itself on offering its customers cabines individuelles privées (private rooms)). And then she turned off the lights. I was alarmed, gripping the sides of the chair, which was a bit too reminiscent of a dentist chair - big, synthetic, and strangely not comfortable despite all the effort to be.

There was a sliver of light left in the room and then with a creepy, low voice she 'invited' me to close my eyes. Are you crazy lady? That was about all I was thinking. And a few other things too, I guess, such as, when am I going to get my haircut?

Next, she announced with a bit of drama that she needed to leave the room to get the brush. Oh no. When she came back with it, she instructed me to relax. She took the brush (it turned out to be a normal hairbrush, which she claimed was a massage tool) and placed it on my head and pushed into my scalp and held it there for 60 seconds. And then proceeded to repeat this at least 25 times all over my head. It felt like nothing more than a brush being pushed into my head 25 times.

After this, I heard a swooshing of liquid behind me and startled in reaction. She assured me that it was only oil and started pouring it on my head and rubbing it all over - my neck, my forehead, my ears and then, from time to time, the target area - my hair. She wrapped my hair into a ball over and over and then would release it each time. The energy she invested in this task was hefty and I could hear her breathing a little harder behind me as a result. I was tense.

Another surprise arrived when she slathered something freezing cold all over my scalp. By this point, I told myself that I would like this more if I just went with it. So, I stopped clutching the dentist chair and it was at this moment that 'le Soin' ended. She told me that she was going to lower me down and the chair started moving backward to such an angle that it was difficult to keep my neck lifted. My feet were higher than my head at this point. She had lowered me into a basin where she washed my hair up to ten times (I stopped counting after the sixth lather).

And then she abruptly turned on the lights. I was really relieved, even though my feet were still higher than my face. She raised me up, put on her glasses, took a deep breath and began chopping. We had never discussed how much hair was to be sacrificed, etc. And I began to tell her my preferences, but she made it clear that all of that was pretty irrelevant anyway. The haircut, in blessed contrast to the rest, was not dramatic.

At the moment she turned the noisy hairdryer on, she decided that we needed to chat. So she started asking me about what I was doing in Paris and those sorts of inquiries. I told her and then upon finding out that I had moved from New York, she enlightened me regarding all the many habits of New York women. I was fascinated to learn that women in New York have this ritual done (what I had just gone through) every time their hair is cut. She knew more about women in NY than I did. I asked politely if she had ever been to New York. You can guess the reply.

I left giggling.

To be fair, and for those of you who are interested, here is the salon's own description of 'le Soin.'

En cabine privée et par le biais d'effleurements, de pressions et d'étirements, une spécialiste vous masse longuement, des épaules à la tête, à l'aide d'huiles et de crèmes relaxantes et régénérantes. Ce soin associe gommage doux, hydratation intense et relaxation apaisante afin de procurer un véritable moment de plaisir. Avec des produits d’origine naturelle riches en oligo-éléments et acides aminés, les cheveux et le cuir chevelu sont soignés en profondeur. La reconstitution en profondeur du cheveu et son hydratation lui apportent souplesse, légèreté, tonicité et brillance.

1 comment:

Julie said...

That's amazing. We have nothing like that here in Indiana which makes our visit to you all the more necessary. I especially like the part where she presses the hairbrush into your scalp 25 times. John said, "I still don't know what happened" referring to the bizarre obtuseness of the described ritual. I wonder if that was an invention or if there was something they based that whole routine on. . . I'll do some internet research and get back to you.

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