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You Know You've Made It When You Get Stalked

I'm Follow That Star, your host for today's frivolities. My friends call me FTS. My enemies probably call me other things, but since I'm a guest in Poopie's house I will refrain from using that sort of language here.

The Poopster has asked me to entertain you and has given me the run of the house. I promised not to look under her bed or open any doors, so don't get any bright ideas about me betraying her trust and identifying any skeletons hanging around in her closets (I swear I've never seen those people before). My loyalty can't be bought just for the sake of a buck.

It can, however, be purchased on a convenient installment plan.

Seriously, I'm extremely honored to be included among The Chosen Few that Poopie has asked to stand in so she could get some much-needed R & R. She is a tough act to follow, as are the people who have posted ahead of me. I stand in awe of all of them.

Thank you, Poopie, for allowing me to be a part of this great team of pinch-hitters. I'll do my best to keep the faith.

As a stylist, I have one hard and fast rule.

And it's a rule I will never, ever break again.

We are in a client's personal space, touching them constantly. This sometimes creates an illusion of trust. People will bare their souls to you if you let them, and believe me there's times I hear far more than I want or need to know. I learned to compliment the client and provide just enough innocent flirtation to boost their morale. This insures not only their continued patronage, but a handsome tip as well. Many clients like to hug, and some will even offer a kiss on the cheek.

There was a line, however, that I told myself I would never cross: No Dating The Clients.

I always knew right where that line was. I had a friend who was an excellent stylist, but he couldn't keep a clientele. He was constantly asking them out with no regard to their marital status. Some accepted and they would go out a few times, and following a bitter breakup they would end up seeking out another stylist. Others would obviously get offended and -- you guessed it -- look for someone else to do their hair. Watching his career take a nosedive was good motivation to keep business and pleasure separate.

Still, a big part of what we do is make the client feel good (or better) about themselves. In Dallas, where big hair and big egos go hand in hand, this can be a daunting task. Filling the head of a prima dona with more hot air than it already has means digging deep within yourself to find the right words to fan her flames -- and the ability to keep your lunch down and a straight face while doing so. Although I find my tolerance of the Divas to be waning in my fourth decade of life, I used to be pretty darned good at the game.

Apparently a little too good.

She was twelve years younger than me, single, and like many of my clients she was very friendly. It's not unusual for clients to invite us to a party, and she had actually invited me once or twice before. I always politely declined, but when she called that fateful day some six years ago I had a legitimate excuse. It was my birthday, and several of my friends had plans to take me out and ply me with strong alcoholic beverages so they could laugh at me and take pictures for future use in blackmail schemes.

Her invitation was to a wine and cheese party that she was thinking about having. I explained what my friends had planned, and then I made my fatal mistake. I uttered one of those phrases we all say just to be polite and then never give it a second thought: "We'll be at Joe's Crab Shack. If you're bored, you're welcome to stop in and hang out with us."

Fast forward three nights. Yours truly is sitting at the business end of a long table of people with the third (or fourth, maybe?) bartender's concoction sitting in front of me. I seem to recall that it was blue, and as I drank it -- quickly, I might add, per the instructions of our server -- she was pouring two additional shots of unknown origins into it. I'm sure one was jet fuel, but I digress.

I suddenly noticed that several of the twenty or so heads on either side of the tables stretching ahead of me were facing the other direction. Maybe there were only a dozen, but neither my eyesight or my memory were exactly operating at peak efficiency by that point.

Standing at the other end of the table, which seemed light years away from me, was a face that was oddly familiar. A pretty face, but definitely out of place. My mind was doing some serious mental gymnastics trying to match the faces in my right brain with the names in my left brain. And trying to focus. After a few seconds (or a few minutes...who knows) it came to me.

She was the client to whom I had made that passing comment three days prior. Well, guess what. She wasn't just stopping by to say hi, either. No, she was grabbing a chair and nudging her way past everyone else and sitting her blurry little self right next to me as I opened my presents.

The stares we were getting were priceless. Heads were leaning over and whispers were going around the tables, but no one said a word out loud about the mystery girl sitting just inches to my right.

Okay, to make this long story a tad shorter, I broke my cardinal rule and we ended up dating for about a month or so. While she was over at my place for dinner one night the conversation turned to kids. She mentioned that she wanted another one, and I don't recall exactly how delicately I put it, but I said that I had never changed a diaper and wasn't about to start now. I'm beyond my child-rearing years as far as I'm concerned. I want to meet someone someday and be selfish with our time together.

It was right about here that my client changed from Dr. Jekyl to Ms. Hyde.

"Why didn't you tell me that before now?!?" she yelled.

"Um, maybe because people don't normally discuss having kids after only four or five dates?"

Her hysteria was rapidly reaching new heights, so I told her I thought it was time she went home. She did, eventually, but not without landing some choice verbal parting shots.

I saw her for another couple of months, but only from a distance as I watched her sitting in the parking lot below my apartment at night waiting for me to leave. She would ring my doorbell, then call to say she knew I was at home. As always, all good things must come to an end, and this episode closed on an evening where I blatantly watched TV with the lights on as she sat in her car outside. My phone rang, and knowing who it was I let the machine answer like I always did.

"All right, you sorry sonofasoandso, I've had it with you. Don't call me anymore!"

And you thought men were the only crazy ones.

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