I am on a trip out of town, with no recollection whether it’s business or pleasure. Melissa is with me, and she agrees to my suggestion to visit this particular, fancy hair salon. It’s dusk, and the entrance looks like that of a night club. The bustling traffic of high maintenance patrons enhances this appearance. The bouncer figure merely observes me with vague interest as I engage the owner in a conversation. “Any chance there’s a hairdresser in there who can fit me in sometime tonight?” Her inward mockery of me is poorly hidden as she chuckles, saying euphemistically, “Probably not,” clearly meaning, “No! Haha. Nor any time in the next three weeks.” She is not arrogant during this exchange, only lightly humored by my apparent ignorance; but a passing client has no qualms with demonstrating her own superiority. “That’s pretty stupid of you to ask!” “Well, I’d be stupid if I didn’t check for a cancellation,” I respond, cutting short this useless peripheral conversation. I lust for a moment over the fancy dessert case filled with hundreds of chocolate truffles, and then Melissa and I sit on the nearby bench. The owner, Gail, sits with us. Melissa leaves, I presume to find a restroom.
It’s now totally dark, and the Japanese maples are lovely under the streetlamp. Across the property, I see gigantic oak trees lining the street. On the other side of the street is the strange house I was recently inside of in another bizarre dream, indicating that I am in Atlanta. Donna enters the scene and sits next to me. Is she the one with the fresh, bright red hair, or is it Gail? I introduce Donna and Gail, and then I begin to worry about Melissa. Why is she taking so long?
Realizing that I’m wasting time sitting here, I walk down the hill, hoping to find Melissa. The backside of the salon house is unlocked and lit up, but desolate. In fact, this part of the house is a saloon. Patrick’s Saloon, the Knoxville bar, to be precise. I open the entryway to reveal a steep staircase straight ahead, with hallways to the left and right. I find Melissa, and we are walking up the stairs discussing the naked boat ride escape that will happen soon tonight. “You know you have to remove everything, right? Piercings included,” she reminds me. “Yeah, yeah, I know. I reckon I’ll keep my nipple rings in my mouth. I’ve had to do that before!” I visualize the chilly escape, with heroic Ammi Knight driving the boat. How exciting.
At the top of the stairs, we see all the advanced scouts (co-ed club members of some sort, with several upper-level chaperone-types) singing some stupid song with sappy lyrics. Several pairs of people are dancing. Donna is with this group, sitting and bored, observing Melissa and me walking by. Melissa and I continue to the end of the room, and then walk around the room divider, a floor-to-ceiling wooden thing covered in panes of frosted glass. We find our group in the next room, the newbies and novices and those who otherwise scoff at the ceremoniously untalented patsy types next door.
We join our group as they chatter uncouthly, oblivious to the activities across the divider. I take leave for the restroom to prepare for the naked boat ride escape. It looks like a locker room in here, with a long row of industrial looking cabinets inside the entrance. Beyond this, the toilet stalls abut the wall across from a line of dingy washing sinks with flickering lights. I walk straight back to the end and enter a stall. I begin removing all my cumbersome underthings, the pannies, bra, jewelry, socks, discarding it all in the napkin receptacle. Once I finish stripping myself down to an easy shell of covering, I exit my stall. Startled by a noise, I wheel around, eyes drawn to the doorless over-stall storage cabinets. There’s a lone black cat inside the bins, playing with something imaginary like cats often do.
I wish I had slept long enough to go on the boat ride.