Friday, March 15, 2013

CAAANBRA: Cut and Colour

Some women rave about that hour or two or three that they spend in the salon being coloured, cut and tjuzjed. It’s special girl time, when a woman and her stylist can gossip about Taylor Swift’s army of exes, discuss the latest in nail art and hem lengths and transform a normal woman into someone with potential. Alternately, the client can close her eyes and pretend to be anywhere else while her trusted hair artiste wields chemicals, scissors and hot air blowers in a blur of smelly activity. In any case, a visit to the hairdressers is rarely an intellectual experience.

It looked as though my appointment at the budget salon was going the same way, until my stylist asked what I was reading on my iPad. It was twitter – my post-work preference for catching up with the political to-ings and fro-ings of the day.

I’ll admit, I was not shocked to learn that 20 year old Natasha isn’t interested in politics. She’s twenty, and hasn’t voted before. I was prepared to abandon the conversation in favour of some blessed silence (not that silence is ever popular in the hair salon on Thursday night) but no. Natasha had to tell me that she hates Julia. Hates her. Hates her with the heat of a thousand suns.

“Why”, I asked, genuinely interested to learn why a woman who is not interested in politics has such a vehement hatred for our first female prime minister.

She shrugged her shoulders and answered “Dunno.”

I followed up: “Has the PM done anything specific, passed any legislation that you’re not happy about?” I was giving her the chance to raise the Carbon Tax, or talk about Kevin Rudd’s exit from Prime Ministership, or Ms Gillard’s refusal to support marriage equality or her position on asylum seekers.

“Dunno”, she shrugged again, pointy-ended comb flying. “Dunno what she’s done. I just hate her.” Natasha made a disgusted, puckerface shudder that took over her whole body.

My inner Bryant Gumbel wanted to ask “But Whyyy?” when my true lefty self took over.

“Oh. Would you like me to tell you about some of the stuff she’s done?”

“Oh Gawd, No! I’m not interested in politics! Really I don’t care!”

The last thing in the world that I wanted to do was provoke the young woman who was cutting and colouring my hair…and who, in just a few minutes would be pouring heated wax onto my eyebrow area. I should’ve stopped.

I kept talking. “Is it the Carbon Tax?” I asked, moderating my tone to sound effortlessly neutral.

“I don’t like tax. Why would I want to pay more of it?” she asked hotly.

This one deserved an explanation, so I explained.

“Oh.” She paused. Even the frantic hair-related activity stopped for a moment….and then they started again. “Well, I still hate her. She’s vi-i-i-ile…but she’s better than the budgies bloke. He’s scary! I guess if you think Julia’s okay, you probably hate Abbott!”

I was impressed. I did not for a moment think that she would know the name of the Leader of the Opposition. I hmmmed an agreement.

Nodding is dangerous when you’re seated in at a stylist’s station. How every hair salon on earth hasn’t been classified as a major Hazard Facility is a mystery to me. President Obama could shut down Guantanamo Bay and replace it with a chain of salons and probably achieve the same result. There’s the too-hot/too-cold water torture, the unqualified agony of sitting for hours in an uncomfortable chair with nothing to look at except a poorly lit reflection of your own face. There's a horrifying selection of blades, lethal chemicals designed to change the molecular structure of human tissue, lots of electricity, hot wax, tweezers…

In any case, when your stylist is working on your hair, don’t nod, even if its to signal your agreement regarding the scariness of Tony Abbott. But that was just about the only time he was mentioned. Natasha thinks he’s nowhere near as good as the good Aussie bloke that Kevin was. Is.

“Fair shake of the sauce bottle, Sal! Kevin’s a great Aussie bloke. There aren’t any other great Aussie blokes in politics. We need more like Kevin. He’s awesome! I mean, who else would say ‘fair shake of the sauce bottle’?”

Aaahhhh, does Natasha’s hatred of Julia stem from the simple truth that here, in the heart of Griffith, Julia isn’t Kevin?

Natasha doesn’t think she’ll vote this time. She can’t bring herself to vote for her local member – even if it is Kevin – because that’s a vote for Julia. She won’t vote for the Liberal candidate, because that’s a vote for Budgie Boy. She wouldn’t vote for anyone else either: “Why vote for anyone else? Y’gotta be on the winner, doncha!”

I don’t know how much this little pocket of eastern Brisbane suburbia resembles the western suburbs of Sydney, but I suspect it’s more than many want to admit.

Meanwhile, one of Labor’s big problems is how to win the hearts and minds of people who hate Julia Gillard but have no clue as to why. I doubt Natasha is the only one. How do you argue against pure, illogical emotion?

I pondered this, though not hard. I was distracted by the off cuts of hair, clinging to my neck with maliciously itchy intent.

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