My dearest Madame et Monsieur, not ever such a rare occasion should arise, for here your Mr. Haute Coiffure has now the distinct pleasure addressing beyond a mirror in consultation, that single patron, merely one. If it’s quite all right with you, my reflected image, thereat, inconsequential to hers or his requesting service of myself.
From the very moment I set foot on Parisian concrete an easy decision was made, late December days before 1998, with austere streets, no one lingering about, only hurried bundles of style striding through architectural new world grace. I’d somehow must live, the essence in myself, as those French. What can sheer legs atop fine leather heels, wrapped above by lengthy handknitted scarves, form fitted straight overcoats, or her roundcut blanket-like loose garment be so thoroughly fashionably delicious at eight in the morning? Madame’s fresh baked baguette exposing itself from under her arm’s clutched prize, a bag, any of excellence, personal choosing. If just that moment before picking up keys, heading towards her door, so rushed, found nothing more than fifteen seconds, Madame did indeed seal the days ensemble by rich color, applied confidently, each lip.
On assignment, a quarterly gig, beginning one year later, took in Rome by the subtle direction of Romans, my hostess and colleagues. Lisette owned her salon, as she pointed out since I’d been in diapers. Made no bones about being tough, only upon that unique circumstance had I taken on the role of a staff member, although temporary, since my employment two decades earlier with Vidal Sassoon, not one day again after Rome. Reasonable proximity to my natural surroundings and grandmother Anna D’Angelo’s birthplace, west of Palermo, in Sicily, found Rome almost as origin. Adoring this treasured Eternal City, in my case means donning it. Walking past Roma’s Colosseo, I try it on, I’ll sit on a marble slab inside the Pantheon watching history feel alive. Opera goers regally dress, standing before Rome’s Fountain of Trevi or the Spanish Steps, is sublime elegance, as that final pose in your mirror before departing, an evenings head and soul filled by La Bohème.
Lisette’s lifelong trusted right-hand, Loradona married a gladiator, surely not of ancient Rome, this is him today, Renato draped his suit jacket over both shoulders strolling stately with clasped hands at his lower back. Many evenings before our foursome, at times more, convened to supper, Renato came from his day of work, tailoring suits for Roman business elite. Renato and I share a common bond, our scissors sculpt lines, custom-made for exclusive clientele. As a tried and true ex-smoker myself, this the following comment should only idealize Renato’s baritone voice, perpetually hand rolling cigarettes for the next he is about to light. Usually his came an hour earlier than us leaving Lisette’s salon, I’d still nearly be halfway through cutting my last client of the day. Enter Renato, greeting me with my thus far, greatest fellow craftsman compliment, “Maestro, buona sera.” Renato didn’t sit by Loradona or Lisette while waiting, he planted himself feet from my scissored hands. Language somewhat of a barrier, but not his watchful eyes. Exactly what my scissors did to hold his attention those evenings isn’t clear, after christening me Maestro, there wasn’t any real need asking.
Years thereabouts, currently ten, have separated me from my appointive allegiance with Lisette at Femme Sistina in Rome, I will always wish all there good health with continued success. Too we change, destination autumn, colors bleed into warmer tones from green, trees stand at a certain point fully grown. For thirty years my right hand has held trusted Japanese scissors, who sat where, as we, myself and few tools went to work not pertinent. A truly precious friend who suddenly couldn’t hang on, gifted me a piece before leaving life. William Passarelli, an important mentor, sculpted on canvas, not a painter, but collector of discarded possessions. Mine, one foot square, light olive background, raised relief by mounting four simple objects of barbering, each incredibly worn: large scissors, equal size comb, antique hand-powered clipper and silver wire rims, long ago glass fallen away. I knew Passarelli enough to understand this piece he bequethed was a message, valid for my remembering in his absence, as well every tree lining the Tulierries would find itself completely stretched into whatever cast sky Paris days offer. At which times we stand ourselves wondering, maybe the stormiest night or day that tree fully grown has withstood. I dear Madame et Monsieur, place myself among these honored, deeply rooted trees. My time has come, a decade ago referred to as Maestro, when defining myself today, more humbly rolls out master craftsman.
John Coltrane also a wise tree, when will any of us hear him blow again. List is long, but a few, Andy Warhol, Jim Morrison, Mother Teresa, as well, in wisdom’s forest. Not another story on silkscreen, haunting lyrics sung or touch by healing power’s hand. I won’t have another salon or make further guest appearances at others. Tommorow will bring that what was planned well prior to me. Steering decision, a course we carry, memory our past, brought on by experience, this itself which fuels travelers forward. Sadly, fear causes paralysis among the timid, limiting life’s experiences, prohibiting them growing to full potential. Harken poetry, how this story unfolded, I take responsibility, I’ll remain totally accountable, I’ve chosen art in its choosing my existences substinence. This is not any off the rack life I’ve been blessed with, please allow that sole advisory, a seed’s planting before your jehrcut.
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