Her name is Sue and she is my hairdresser. She’s the gal who has taken on the responsibility for keeping my hair manageable, workable and comb-able.
Gone are the days of my teen years, when hairdressers in beauty salons I ventured into would say to each other, “You take her.” To be met with the frustrated response,“No, you take her!” That was because my hair was long and so thick that it took as much time to cut and dry as it would take to manage two other clients. And time means money; more clients mean more tips! So they would fight over the right to turn down the golden opportunity to manage my hair. Sue works her magic with the help of a pair of special scissors that thin the hair, make it more manageable, and allow it to dry faster. She knows how to do it so that little pieces of short spiky strands of hair don’t stick straight up in the air!
One day I received a call from the salon asking me to switch my appointment from Thursday to Friday. I was able to accommodate the request, and when I came in for my appointment I asked if she was alright. Sue knew that I really wanted to know was why I had to change my appointment, and not because of any driving concerns about her health.
And that is when she revealed the surprise about her secret life!
On the days that she does not style hair she travels into New York and works as an “extra” for television shows. Those days have exposed her to a whole other lifestyle and way of living. She sometimes must leave for the city at 5:30 in the morning to be on the set when filming begins.
Sue has to go to the makeup people to achieve the proper look for the role she is assuming, even though she has no lines to speak. She has to look the part. She is told what outfit to wear: Today she might need a business suit: next time a cocktail dress.
And she appears in the scenes silently. If she delivered even one spoken line she would be considered an actor instead an “extra”and have to join the actor’s union.
Sometimes she simply walks toward the camera man without appearing to notice him. It is important to look natural and not look as if she ’s posing for the camera. She interacts with other actors and responds to something another “extra” is saying, all in pantomime.
Sue is thinking ahead to the day next year that her youngest child will leave for college, leaving her an empty nester. Working in film adds additional income as well as a new interest. She has met other women working as “extras” for the same reason: they needed a new involvement.
“Do you ever dream of being “discovered?” I ask. Sue gives me a look of total astonishment, as if the idea never occurred to her. She denies that this fantasy ever entered her mind. But I must remember that she is learning the art of acting!
Just in case she ever becomes the new Meryl Streep,( who lives in Bernardsville, a town near Morristown) I wish her great success in film. But I hope she will still find time to cut my hair every six weeks!