Blackhawk or Bust

Okies 1I loved Tammy, but it was time to move on.

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

“Blackhawk?” I whined. “All the way out there?”

Joanne frowned. “It’s not that far. And besides, you only see her once a month.”

“Correction,” I snapped. “She trims my bangs between cuts, too.”

Weary of my complaining, my friend rolled her eyes and got up to pour another cup of tea.

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 smooth chin-length bob. A decade later, despite her valiant, but failed efforts to dissuade me from my foolish notion of restoring my hair to its natural color, she didn’t judge when I begged her to transform that hideous flat, gray-streaked taupe to a youthful faux flaxen. I had even recommended her to friends in search of a new stylist.

Nevertheless, I could see no reason to follow my mane maven to her new locale. According to Google Maps (yes, I looked it up), it was a gas-tank-emptying 6.2 miles, and thirteen minutes by Google’s estimate – over twice, repeat, twice – the 2.8 miles from my house to her old salon (I looked that up, too). Plus, Blackhawk was so upscale I got a nosebleed whenever I drove through the tony neighborhoods.

From previous trips there for car shows and concerts, I recalled Blackhawk Plaza dotted with pricey boutiques, posh eateries with European names, surrounding a meandering manufactured pond, accented with tranquil waterfalls, old-world style foot bridges, and seeded with families of mallards and swans. Yada-yada-yada. I had no intention of subjecting myself on a regular basis to the shameless spectacle of bloated opulence.

I valued Tammy’s expertise and gentle, supportive nature, but I had no doubt my simple cut and golden highlights could be duplicated by any hairdresser worth her clippers at any local salon. I went straight to Yelp for reviews of nearby beauty shops. I found one just 2.6 miles from my home. The reviews earned ratings of four stars and above. Perfect. I would schedule an appointment there.

Get me to the Church in Style

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

I knew I would have to suck it up and visit Tammy’s fancy new, no doubt overpriced, shop at least once before the wedding for a full cut and color highlight.

So 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, now trampled by luxury housing developments, golf courses and shopping centers.

After what seemed an eternity, I reached my destination. The parking lot of Blackhawk Plaza was crammed with oversized SUVs, flashy convertibles and high-end coupes. The embarrassment of riches made me sick. I squeezed my ten-year-old sedan into an empty spot between a Hummer and a little foreign job parked diagonally across the adjacent space.

Day-dreaming about starting fresh with a new hairdresser, just a stone’s throw from my home, I settled into the chair at Tammy’s new station for the first – and last – time.

I knew this appointment would take awhile, so I had popped into the Starbucks just a few doors down for a latte to sip while my soon-to-be-former hairdresser worked her magic. I had to admit it was convenient to have my favorite coffee shop so close by.

Pizza my Heart

Over an hour later, as I handed Tammy my MasterCard, my stomach growled. “Where can I get a quick lunch around here?” I asked her.

Tammy swiped my card through the little cube perched atop her smart phone. “Draeger’s Market has a nice salad bar, and there’s a pizza parlor next door.”

I just wanted a burger. Of course, Blackhawk is too hoity-toity for fast food. Another growl from my stomach convinced me that I would never survive the endless trek across town where the common folk live to find the nearest Burger King.

“Okay, thanks. 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 pizza fresh from the oven 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 Coke, and the cheesy pie piece, I found an empty bench beside the concrete pond. Nibbling my lunch and sipping my soda, shaded by a cluster of well placed trees, I watched a mother mallard leading six – seven – no, eight little down-covered ducklings, bobbing up and down across the rippling water. I remembered a sign on the door of the market offering duck feed for sale.

As I enjoyed the afternoon sun, a funny thing happened. I found myself browsing the shelves of a nearby bookstore. A little while later, I stood in a trendy shop, trying on bracelets. I even checked out the salad bar that Tammy recommended. By the time I found my way back to my car, I was looking forward to another visit to Tribez, and the requisite Starbucks stop. Maybe next time, I thought, I’ll buy a bag of duck feed.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Blackhawk or Bust

  1. I love this one! You tell such a visual story. I know how you feel. We get stuck in our comfort zone. I hate to go anywhere 10 miles outside my neighborhood. Give me your gals name. It’s time to go exploring.

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