That sizzling piece of news about someone, burning your lips like hot potatoes, that you can’t wait to spit out; all mangled up and embellished with your juices to sweeten the tale, It’s called gossip. As delicious as it can be, its dosage can equally be very virulent and in some cases destructive.
The hair salon was quite modern and well kept. Better than a couple of African owned hair shops that I had been to. It was my second visit, and I came back because I was satisfied with the first job.
It was spacey (I hate cramped quarters) with white ceiling boards and studio lights running in the center of the ceiling. They had comfortable black swivel chairs and independent work stations with large mirrors from wall to wall, giving you (the customer) vantage views of all sides of your hair-do and allowing a spot check, on progress with your braiding (it can be a tedious assignment to sit and braid one’s hair). The walls were painted lilac and pink and the black and white linoleum floor covers were spotless. I liked the place.
I was right on time for my appointment, but the ladies were adding finishing touches to a guy’s hair-do. I watched in fascination and wondered to myself, why a man who could easily shave his hair and have some peace would choose to sit through torturous hours of fixing tiny hair pieces and twisting his hair a few strands at a time. I shook my head in my mind, wondering what I would give for such wonderful opportunity to have water cascade down my head in the shower at every blissful given moment.
It got to my turn eventually and the butt numbing, knuckle cracking job of looking beautiful started. My head is pulled
every which way by the fast and deft fingers of the three Ivorian stylists, whilst they chattered to no ends on top of my head in their broken French.
I was privy to all the inner life details of the last customer. He had been their good customer for a while, but the amount of disdain and blistering comments they made about the poor paying guy was disturbing. I decided not to become a good customer, there and then.
I was entertained with possibly embellished stories of auntie Jolie, and how she was cheating heavily on her dear, faithful husband. I also learnt that she was a kleptomaniac. I knew that these viperous women would be a source of someone’s broken marriage sooner than later.
Lo and behold, to my utter surprise, these women started talking about me and about Nigerians, in French of course, and on top of my paying head. I could barely keep still. I struggled very hard to keep my tongue in my mouth and I waited patiently – as I did not want to leave the salon in a huff with my hair half done. I listened in chagrin as they analyzed my sizable anatomy and evaluated my entire outfit.
What I really found perplexing was the blatant attitude of throwing caution to the wind and engaging in unprofitable talk that can only get them into trouble one day. It was also very presumptive to think that because I am not Ivorian, I obviously would not understand their french. Very erroneous speculation because, unbeknownst to them, I speak French as well as I speak English.
My hair was finally done, but I deliberately made a little fuss about the smoothness of the braids; which by the way was okay. I made them redo several whilst they cursed me out under their breath and I had my tongue in my cheek.
Finally satisfied with my hair-do, I stretched my entire length of 5’11” to its limits and in Parisian French, I chewed off their ears and castigated them for their porous lips and careless tongues. I was satisfied with the mortified looks on their faces (not that it will make them stop gossiping), and I would have loved to see how many shades they could turn into but unfortunately, they are too dark to blush.
I walked away, a satisfied customer, no tips were paid.
I however want to leave you with a thought: Gossip is not a sport to engage lightly in and it’s sharp two-edged points can equally be turned on the propagator. I don’t think one ever wants to get involved in a case of come and repeat what you said. It can be very distasteful.
© Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha