Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chelsea Styles/Frank O'Hara

Some of you might remember my first forays into "Chelsea Styles," the tiny "Blue Velvet"-esque beauty shop I discovered by accident when I first moved to NYC. (See above link, from 4/28/07, an account of my second visit there. My first, equally odd, visit was in March of that year; there's also a blog entry for that, if you want to look it up.)

After nearly 2 years, despite my initial befuddlement at the lack of hair gel and blow-drying, and at the bevy of 80-year-olds who frequented the place... I've been coming back, with only one exception, ever since!

Only now, my friends... I am a regular.

And the formerly-known-as-"Robert Goulet-man" (Vincent) who runs the place now says "Hiya, Stephanie" when I arrive, and asks me if I want a drink, and how's Weehawken, and how's my new job; my regular stylist Mayra knows to put gel on my hair while it's wet; AND, best of all, I now get my blow-drys for free! (Unlike the $30 they charged a newbie way back when.) And, for Christmas, today Vincent gave me a 2009 address book, embossed in gold with "A World of Thanks" and the shop's address/phone...It's 225 West 23rd (just across from the Chelsea Hotel), for anyone who wants to visit.

I still, though, have yet to see any customer under 70 in there...

Today the ladies were really acting up, on account of the Christmas music playing on the radio. The "Noel" song came on. So one lady started shrieking "Noel, Noel" at the top of her lungs to be funny. It was indeed humorous.

But then another lady got jealous of the attention the first lady was getting. I happened to be sitting there in the pedicure chair, completely defenseless, when this second lady decided to serenade me. Personally. I have no idea what the song was, but she said it had been in her head all day...I smiled politely, trying not to crack up, a la what I'd done to the singing guy at the Christmas party.

Luckily, Vincent saw what was happening and called over to her to come RIGHT NOW to get her shampoo. She went immediately, but then started in on him about the Christmas songs on the radio: "Are they trying to compete with me? They can't compete with me! [la-la-la] Is this a contest? I'm gonna win this one! [la-la-la]"

She eventually quieted down. And I was left with my thoughts in the pedicure chair while I waited for the polish to dry, staring out the window at the passersby and at the famous Chelsea Hotel directly across the street: "Here I am at Christmastime in New York City, getting a pedicure, looking out at the snow and the people and the Chelsea Hotel..."

Wow. It wasn't exactly an epiphany, but it was a moment of contentment. I was so full of LIKE for everything: for the ladies in the shop, for Vincent, for my getting a pedicure in the winter (which I'd never even gotten before until this past summer---getting one in winter just seems, oh, decadent!), for the people who stared in the window while they walked by, for my view of the Chelsea Hotel out the shop window...

It reminded me of this Frank O'Hara poem that I first came across in David Wevill's class at UT-Austin in the '80s when I was a kid:

Autobiographia Literaria

When I was a child
I played by myself in a
corner of the schoolyard
all alone.

I hated dolls and I
hated games, animals were
not friendly and birds
flew away.

If anyone was looking
for me I hid behind a
tree and cried out "I am
an orphan."

And here I am, the
center of all beauty!
writing these poems!

I don't feel like a freak now. Thank you, New York. I am so grateful.

No comments: