Unbalanced: Breaking up is hard to do

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Carol Schaal

This break-up is making me tear my hair out. I’ve had easier times dumping boyfriends.

In the past, it was easy for me to change stylists. My first favorite moved to Florida. The next one quit to stay home with her baby. Another moved to a salon too far for me to get to on my lunch hour. She understood, but I didn’t. How could she leave me this way?

This time, however, there’s no easy excuse for me to change. Unless, that is, you count the fact that I just can’t do anything with my hair!!!!!

Sorry. I feel better now.

Anyway, when I leave the salon, I know the compliments will flow from my husband, friends and co-workers. Because my hair does look great. Fabulous style, no frizz, all shiny and bright. And that great look lasts a couple days, until I have to style it myself. Then it’s Donald Trump time. And I don’t even have a comb-over.

Clearly I need someone who can fix a do that I can do. So it’s time to wave farewell to my beautician. I just can’t figure out how to do it.

So I googled it: How to break up with you stylist. Can you tell I’m getting desperate?

Some say just cancel your next appointment and move on. Sounds rude to me.

Others say to call or visit and tell them directly why you’re leaving. But what if she cries? What if she yells? What if she sounds so hurt I back off and tell her I really didn’t mean it? Sounds difficult.

Still others say to make something up, like you got a gift card at a new place and want to try it. Sounds like a lie to me.

Option four is direct but a little removed. Send a nice card, explaining as much or little as you want about why you are changing stylists. Sounds like my kind of break-up.

Solving the break-up question didn’t answer the real issue, however: Why is this so hair-raisingly difficult?

The problem, I think, is that when it comes to stylists, a matter of commerce quickly becomes a matter of a quasi-friendship. No, we don’t go to each other’s cook-outs — I don’t even know where she lives. But during for that once-every-five-weeks hour, we have fun talks. We share family information, laughing about what a kid did, commiserating over a difficult in-law. We discuss planned trips and disastrous parties.

Yes, she’s working and I’m relaxing. She’s taking care of me, I’m paying her.

Still, in the end, dumping her feels like cutting off a distant but likable relative. A little mean-spirited. I won’t get to hear how her sister’s new business is doing or how her son is surviving the school year or what she got her husband for his birthday.

I am going to do it. The commerce trumps the relationship. Too many bad hair days means this marriage can’t be saved. But I still feel like a jerk.

Carol Schaal is managing editor of Notre Dame Magazine. Email her at schaal.2@nd.edu.