Ever since my now sixteen-year-old goddaughter was young, I’ve taken her out on Girls’ Day Out, during which we get mani-pedis, go to the movies, circus and other fun adventures. When she was about ten years old and I was still living in Boston, I took her to my hair salon.
Being a Saturday afternoon, the salon was crowded and we could not sit together. I took a seat in a far corner of the salon while my goddaughter sat in the front of the salon, next to a large man wearing Patriots sweatshirt, sweatpants and bandana on his head. I checked in on her periodically. Like me, she had a book to read and also her Nintendo DS, but she passed the time talking and laughing with him.
My far corner seat was a seat people tend to avoid because it’s easy to be forgotten and overlooked by the stylists even if you have an appointment. The guy came over and told me that I better move because they would close the salon with me still in it. I arrogantly replied that they would not forget me because I was a regular and loyal customer. I’d been going there for over four years and sometimes got hook-ups for myself and my goddaughter–meaning they’d squeeze me in last minute or give me discounted hairstyles for my long locs.
After the shuffle of getting our hair washed and conditioned and waiting for a stylist, the three of us ended up sitting next to each other. My goddaughter, who does not have locs, sat between me and the guy. He asked me if she was my daughter among other questions. I replied she was my goddaughter and we were enjoying a girls’ day out because I like to spoil her. She tried to protest being spoiled, but I pointed out that she was the recent recipient of a Wii, iPod, mani-pedi, and a hair salon visit. He commented that it was nice that I was “spoiling” a child and what an honor to be chosen as godparent to a child. He also mentioned that children deserve to be spoiled and he loves to spoil his child. At the mention of his having a child I lost interest in possibly dating him because I prefer a man with no kids, not that I was sure his friendly banter and chattiness were leading to his asking me out.
I usually avoid black hair salons on weekends because I usually spend the whole day there, no matter the time of my appointment. But because of my goddaughter’s school schedule, this visit had to be on the weekend. Muriel’s Hair Salon is a popular and respected natural hair salon. There’s a framed newspaper clipping on the wall in which the writer raves about the styles, care and products. I myself was a referral client. We were at the salon for hours, but I didn’t mind as much because the guy was funny and had us both laughing most time.
Children can be brutally honest and my goddaughter was no different. Back then she had a habit of calling people “squishy” when they’re not in prime physical condition. At one point she grabbed his arm and told him he was squishy. In response he made a funny comment about me. I wanted to reply how he looked like an obsessive Patriot fan decked out in Pats gear from head to toe. I refrained because I didn’t want to seem rude.
Later when it was time to leave, he and my goddaughter were still joking and laughing together. I felt like a third wheel. As I was putting on my coat, I heard a customer comment to the salon owner that someone else in the shop looked familiar.
“Girl, ball players come here all the time. They look like regular people when they come in here.” She also mentioned how they looked smaller in real life than they do on television. It was not the first time I had heard that athletes came to the salon. The first time I entered the salon, I was greeted by an 8×10 framed and autographed photograph of the Red Sox player Manny Ramirez.
The customer’s question was still fresh in my mind when I walked over to my goddaughter and the guy and said it was time to go. He feigned sadness at our departure and in response my goddaughter gave him a hug. He engulfed her in a giant bear hug as if they were family parting after a long overdue reunion after a long period of not seeing each other. I thanked him for being nice to her during the day. As a final word I asked, “By the way, what’s your name?”
He told me his name and asked for mine.
“Nice to meet you, Sharon.”
I didn’t bother to correct him. No need to know my name. He had a kid and I wasn’t interested.
That day I was having car trouble and opted to ride the bus. It was cold outside but the bus stop coincidentally was located right in front of the salon. I had my goddaughter wait inside while I watched for the bus. They continued their bond fest while I was outside.
When I spied the bus approaching, I ran back inside the salon to alert my goddaughter. We said our good-byes again.
As I slid into my seat on the bus, something clicked in my mind.
I sent a mass text to three cousins, all football fans, and asked if there was a Patriot player named Lawrence.
All three almost simultaneously and verbatim sent a response text: “Lawrence Maroney. Why?”
To this day, my goddaughter will randomly ask, “Do you remember when we met that football player? Too bad we didn’t get an autograph or a picture on your phone.”
Yeah, too bad.