As young girls, many of us would gather friends together to form special clubs or secret girls-only societies. We would share confidences and tell elaborate stories, write notes to each other, feel happily comfortable as our giggly selves, and develop clever mottos like “girls rule, boys drool.”
At some point of course we grew up and became attracted to some of those droolers, started families, finished our educations and got jobs, and while we maintain close friendships, those clandestine groups faded away. But not entirely. We still have our clubhouses where it is safe to gather with mutual respect and understanding, away from the regular grind. Our clubhouses now are called Salons.
Be it hair, nail, or massage, Salons provide us Real Women with a place to go where we can experience that certain female camaraderie, feel safe and cared for, step away from other roles and responsibilities, and if we want, be our giggly selves. For the most part, it is a girls-only environment. Sure, there are a few men who find a way to infiltrate our secret society. The Metro Males are comfortable with stopping by for special services, and we begrudgingly allow it. Other men are brought in with their spouse or partner to sit through a “couple’s” treatment, or because they’ve finally been worn down by their real woman saying “you’ve got to try it, you’d love it.” These men walk in the door and instantly know they don’t belong. Uncomfortable in their own skin, they try to remain as inconspicuous as possible. Even though we may smile politely at them, they know their existence in the clubhouse is being merely tolerated. After all, how would they feel if we came in to their garage or Man Cave?
There are a wide variety of clubhouses – er, I mean Salons – to meet our needs. There are the nails-only salons with rows of sweet and capable nail techs who hail predominantly from countries like Korea or the Phillipines. The atmosphere is not fancy, but clean and efficient, like a high production nail care farm. In the opposite end of this spectrum lies a full-service Spa, offering every type of Professional Personal Beauty Care in a lovely and relaxing setting, with scents and sounds that sooth the senses. There is a hint of highbrow snob appeal, so we can really feel like we’ve escaped into an elite club.
The same range can be found in hair salons. From the budget family-friendly high-production rate hair dens to the trendy and funky boutiques, we can find our favorite niche. No matter the type, women enter through the doors and nod knowingly to each other. We have entered the clubhouse and have exchanged the virtual secret handshake. What happens in the salon stays in the salon. Unless, of course, it is shared with other potential secret society members. Word of mouth is our most powerful tool in building memberships.
Some club members are regulars, visiting the salon on a weekly basis, working specifically with one technician. They’ve gotten to know the clubhouse owners, and have their own favorite seat. Others, like me, are more sporadic with visits. I go to the nail salon every two or three months, and hopefully hit a Spa once or twice a year. Some Real Women only visit the secret club for special occasions, nervous and shy but seeking the same escape as all of the others.
The regularity and importance of Professional Services for Body Maintenance seems to vary a bit by geography. In New England, for example, I think Salon visits for the most part fall into the category of “nice to have’s” vs. “need to have’s.” I know many R.W.’s, like me, who get their nails done on an irregular basis, and are likely to color their hair at home then get cuts when we’ve begun to look like Cousin It. Yet in other areas of the country, R.W.’s would not be caught dead walking out of the house without having all body parts artfully preserved and hair perfectly coiffed.
We do all want to look our best, and our Salons help us achieve that. Yet the reason for their being far exceeds that basic need. Our clubhouses give us the excuse to just sit and relax for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. I have literally almost fallen asleep while getting my nails done or my hair styled. Truly, when else do I sit and do nothing? Even more importantly, for that brief break in time, we feel special and pampered. We feel safely surrounded by women who are all looking to feel the same way, and are in the good hands of pro’s to indulge us. Best of all, we walk back out the door looking just a bit better.
Last night, as I headed out of the nail salon into the rain to stop at the grocery store then head home, I walked past other women in various stages of their appointments. Some were chatting & laughing with each other, some were talking to their technician like old friends, some were just completely zoned out. We each glanced at each other with that knowing girl-society look of “yeah, I’ll be back.” I caught a glimpse of myself in their mirror before I left. I saw a tired woman with bags under her eyes, no makeup left on my face after a long day. But a piece of me was just a bit more relaxed.
And dang, my toes and fingers look awesome.