She sat across from me in the waiting area at the hair cutting place. She was about 70, stylishly dressed in gray and white, eyes covered by big glasses. Her hair was a bed-tousled, blond and big–1970s Morgan Fairchild big. She had on fake nails, French manicured, so long that she had to touch things with the pads of her fingers.
I have been accused of talking to anybody about anything, but she spoke first. “You already have really short hair,” she said pleasantly, are you getting it cut shorter?”
“No, I had it cut last night, but the color didn’t take, so I’m having the color re-done,” I replied, marveling at her neutral lipstick, outlined in sparkly lip liner.
“I was thinking of having mine done like Snooki had it in People last week,” she said and added, “or the latest Katy Perry, do you know what I mean?”
I shook my head, No.
The woman looked at me. “Didn’t you see last week’s People magazine?” she asked, incredulous.
Again, I shook my head, No.
She looked at me seriously. “You aren’t getting any younger, and you need to keep up with the world around you,” she admonished. “You need to pay attention to the people who make the news.”
I looked at her, realizing with a sort of bump in my reality that we were living on two different planets.
“I don’t think I know who Katy Perry is,” I said slowly, remembering vaguely that I’d seen a trailer for a movie, and seemed to remember something about her being married to a Brit with big hair.
The woman looked at me, horrified. “These are important people in our world. They are part of what we are aware of and talk about every day. Don’t keep up and you’ll be lost.”
I don’t think I’ve talked about Snooki or Katy Perry in the last two months. Maybe six. Or ever.
But it was a good conversation. I realized how many different points of view there are in a small space–a waiting room. And how many more there must be in the world. People who feel that celebrities are their family, their style icons, important part of their lives.
I also realized that I live in a different world. Respecting celebrities’ privacy, all the time, not just when they ask for it. I’m not denigrating the woman, we are just different. Completely. She thought I was out of touch, unaware of the world in which we live, and I wonder what she thinks about SB-1070, the “Papers, please” law that affects immigrants and residents who look like immigrants. She may never have heard of it.
Because just you are sitting next to someone doesn’t mean you live in the same world.
—Quinn McDonald lives in an interesting world and has no desire to wear glittery lip liner.