In three weeks from now, I will be on a plane to London, there to catch a plane HOME. So in three weeks and 17 hours from now, I will be Home. And that is a very very good thing.

I hit a new milestone in my Portuguese abilities yesterday, although whether it was a low or a high, I still can’t decide. I went back to my hairdresser, this time for color and a trim, as my hair was already getting thick after last month’s chop. I hurried through my workout and showed up on time, but I should’ve known better — this salon doesn’t just run on Portuguese time, it runs on Brazilian time. Silly me! So as I came in, my hairdresser was just starting to do a very elaborate updo on a woman who could not have looked less excited about the entire affair.

Having just come from the gym, I was armed with my Kindle, so I happily sat at the manicurist’s station and read. I glanced over frequently as the woman’s hairdo progressed, wondering all the while why she was getting her hair done like that on a Monday afternoon. Early holiday party? Wedding? Just for the heck of it?

Pretty soon, the person helping my hairdresser picked up a shopping bag that I’d noticed lying on the ground, which had three rather wilted-looking white roses sticking out the top. She pulled out a clump of fake white flowers and proceeded to cut them apart while the hairdresser stuck them into the confection she’d created on this woman’s head.

Aha, I thought, she’s getting married. But why on a Monday?!?

At the end of this process — even though she had all the salon ladies oohing and ahhing all around her, even when the hairdresser presented her with a mirror to see the back of her ‘do — the bride’s face did not deviate from its bored, tired expression. I think I saw her crack a smile maybe once during the entire process.

This was without a doubt the least excited bride I have ever seen in my life. Saddest of all, there was absolutely no one there with her — no friends, no mother, no one. I was hoping maybe this was just the run-through in preparation for the big day, but then they proceeded to put on her makeup, leaving me with little doubt that she was in fact getting married on a Monday afternoon at the end of November.

By this point my hairdresser was busily applying my own hair dye, so I tried in my broken Portuguese to ask her when the lady was getting married (learning the word for “wedding” in the meantime, to my hairdresser’s great amusement.) I asked if it was today, and she said no, but I didn’t understand the rest of her answer. So unfortunately, the glum bride and her actual wedding date will forever remain a mystery.

Unfortunately, that was not the only casualty of the language barrier between us. Granted, this time I was better able to make small talk with her, managing to pronounce that it was cold (woohoo!) and make a couple of small jokes along the way, which I took as progress from my last (entirely silent) session.

When it comes to my hair, however, we are still not seeing eye to eye. I went in mostly concerned about the color, worried she’d misinterpret my wishes for dark brown and dye it black. But having voluntarily dyed my hair black, blond, red, and even blue in the past, I wasn’t too worried about having outrageous hair color. It always grows out. Not to worry though — the color is a dark, beautiful chocolatey brown, just what I wanted.

The cut was a different matter. Despite my best efforts to tell her to thin it out and only cut a little bit off the back and the front, she once again proceeded to chop it all off. In fact I think it’s even shorter this time than the first! Apparently this woman is determined to make me into a pixie. The fault could have been mine though, as the only way I could think of to tell her to “thin” it was, “I look like a mushroom, please make my hair nonfat.” (Can you tell I’m learning most of my vocabulary at the grocery store?) I wonder which part of that wasn’t clear?!?

Whichever part it was, she smiled and nodded anyway, and then kept repeating the word “mushroom” to herself throughout my haircut, as if to say, “Crazy American, what the hell are you on about?”

As the hair fell away on all sides, I could only laugh to myself and decide that a few inches of hair is worth it for a great story like that. Plus it is once again a great haircut, albeit not what I’d intended to walk away with, and as I said — it’ll always grow back. So in the meantime, why not embrace my pixie-fied self?

And so I did, assuring her that it was beautiful — and assuring myself that next time, I’ll go to someone who speaks English.

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