Chasca the Hair Goddess

Can a new haircut be a catalyst for personal change? You bet!

There they were, the Victoria's Secret models in their underwear. Sort of.

I found out it was Fashion Week in Knoxville while shopping in Off Broadway Shoes. A magnificent 15-year-old creature in platform spikes of Kardashian heights whined, "These make me look faaat."

Reeeally? I am ditching work for this? Momagers adjusted plastic shower caps covering their progeny's tressed hair; all were waiting to unfurl their glory at a runway show later that evening at Latitude 35. The cracking of Wrigley's Doublemint wax between said young vixen's teeth was the tipping point.

I announced, "Thaaat's it. I'm outta here." It was time for something. It was time for a HAIR CUT.

Women reading these words know exactly what I mean. It means rolling the dice on improvement. A bad haircut sends us to the Xanax tree for moral support.

I tried not to think about it as I entered Belleza Salon. Here was the international glamour factory that the models raved about. I squeamishly waited to meet my hair surgeon, Jana, in between the huge photographs of hot models with hot hair. I shook in my Keens, mortified that I had no makeup on and was wearing a comfy men's sweater. I was certain Jana would smell like a bottle of Britney Spears perfume and wear those Kardashian shoes. Lucky for me, I was wrong.

Jana was not at all what I expected. Peruvian and in her 30s, Jana could give Penelope Cruz a run for her money in both the looks and accent department. She was Chasca incarnate, the Incan goddess of princesses and flowers. "Goddess" as an entry on a resume is logical if you work in a place that bippity-boppity-boos the plain into the charming. She didn't scrutinize me for a Rolex or airbrushed makeup. Dammit, she was even nice and wore flats. There was no gum to be seen or heard. I took these things as a sign from the heavens and invoked the unspeakable: "I'm ready for a change."

She recommended something between a Karen Blixen chop and a Gwen Stefani bob.

Five inches? You have to take five inches off? I dunno…

"Do these eyelashes make my face look faaat?" carped a 20-year-old wearing a size two sundress and leopard platforms. Those are the chicks that get noticed. I am merely a Chick-fil-A sandwich blending into the plastic lunch tray of life. Do it, Jana. Do it now before I lose my courage. Oh great hair Mohel, work your magic and rid me of the insecurities that haunt me because I am overworked, middle-aged, and anything but young and tight.

She was merciful and quick. Gone were the tresses that served as memory keeper of the last 20 years of adventures. Gone were the imprints of old lovers who wound my locks around their fingers. Jana asked me if I realized I had naturally curly hair. Nope, I thought it was just frizzy. She turned my chair around to the mirror and I greeted a woman with a chic and timeless haircut. She looked like someone that lunched with Coco Chanel.

I tipped Jana with all the cash left in my wallet and made an appointment for six weeks in the future.

Driving away I had a moment of makeover angst. What if this was a mistake? Don't all men like long hair on women? What if I inadvertently pulled a Sampson and castrated my mojo? This was a call for nonbiased research.

I immediately entered my favorite watering hole to see and be seen. The happy reactions were feckless, because everyone does that to your face. The moment that placed Jana forever in hair-goddess territory came from Rabbit, a bartender 15 years my junior with Cary Grant specs and serious tattoo sleeves. He scrutinized me, and the hair, through two Campari cocktails. Two hours later, he cashed me out with, "I know I said your hair looked great before, but it really does. Maybe because I've always had a thing for chicks with hair like yours."

'Nough said.