I Am Sort of Awesome

Somewhere between pampering and out-and-out egomaniacal assholetry lies the Ego Massage, just one of the many reasons (along with bottomless free wine and Tecate, custom-built washer chairs and background music courtesy of an impeccable iPod playlist) you should head to Splitends, a new salon in Costa Mesa's ever-evolving SoBeCa. I won't lie: a few weeks ago, salon owner Christopher Hall all but begged me to visit his salon, enticing me with an offer of a free haircut. I politely declined, seeing as how I'm engaged (in hairstylist's terms) to David File over at Crew Salon.

But then came the mention of the Ego Massage: "You'll come in, have a glass of wine, get your hair washed and listen to my assistant tell you how fabulous you are," Christopher explained. I raised a skeptical eyebrow—I don't compliment easily. Then again, I do like wine. And liars. I was in.

And so it was that I found myself sitting in a pristine white leather salon chair on a dreary and rainy afternoon, staring into a way-too-clean mirror, under white-bright lightbulbs, looking pasty and pudgy and far too old. I didn't feel good, and I certainly didn't feel pretty. Or fabulous. Also? That morning I'd put my hair in pig tails, using rubber bands rolled off the take-out menus at my door step.

"Never, ever do that again," Christopher scolded. Followed by: "Wine?" Yes, yes, some wine would help. That, and a diet, a pedicure and a chance to visit my 19-year-old self and warn her to never, ever under any circumstances stay up late drinking whiskey. Or smoke a cigarette.

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It'd been a rough week.

"I resigned from the Weekly," I confessed to Christopher's assistant, Gina Foestieri, after half a glass. "My last day is March 5th." She nodded, silently, the kind of nod that registers to its recipient as if to say something along the lines of "Go on, honey baby doll, it's okay" or "Shhhhhhh, there, there, sugar pie, mama's here." Only I didn't have anything else to say.

"You'll be fine," Gina replied seconds later. "I'm 30, and it took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do. You're, like, what, 25? And you, well, you've already done so much. How long have you been at the Weekly?"

"It would have been four years in May."

"See? Look how goal-oriented and driven you are, you've got great things ahead . . . " she continued, although at this point I'd stopped listening, having felt a calm come over me and lull me into relaxation. I nodded back to her in agreement (yes, I am sort of awesome!) before snapping out of my stupor.

"Wait a minute," I said, looking at Chris in the mirror. "Is this my Ego Massage?"

"Shut up," he hissed. "You're going to ruin it!"

For a moment, I felt even worse than when I walked in—this gal was being paid to tell me all this. But then Gina smiled at me, a look of what maybe was genuine concern on her face. I pointed at my half-full glass.

"More wine?" she asked, just as Christopher finished with my hair.

Followed by: "Wow. You look hot!"


You think so?

Oh, go on. Tell me more.

—Ellen Griley


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