Mysteries of grandmas hair-care routine explained

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My grandmother's world momentarily spun off-kilter when her hairstylist announced plans to move the Powder Puff.

My grandma has been having her hair and nails done at the Powder Puff on Chicago's Devon Avenue for longer than I've been alive.

Suddenly, the stylist decides to head for greener pastures — or shall I say grayer roots. It's only a couple of miles, really, but to my grandma, it's a world away.

Going to the hairstylist really has little to do with hair for grandma. It's about Thursdays. That's when she has an entire day of activity centered around the special place only grandmas refer to as "the beauty shop." I often wonder if I'll start calling my salon a "beauty shop" when I have grandchildren. But somehow I think Frederick, the color expert at Salon Fifth Avenue or whichever swank place I'm frequenting at the time, would object.

My grandma has Thursdays down to a science. Her haircutter — get this — picks her up in the morning and chauffeurs her to the beauty shop. It's a totally different spin on pampering. But when you've got arthritis, a ride is infinitely more precious than a cleansing wash with $20-a-squirt natural shampoo made of pear slices and twigs.

So she gets to the shop, has her hair "done" — not cut, because when you're a weekly customer most of the time is spent setting the hair into this impenetrable style that can not be tousled even by the winds of Lake Michigan.

Then she moves on to her manicurist.

I'm not exactly sure what happens from there, or how long these procedures take, but somehow I know my grandma winds up on this strategically placed bench at the front of the shop where she can talk to all the stylists as well as the other Thursday customers.

All of this leads up to lunch, at which time a friend meets her at the shop and they go across the street to eat. Then my grandma ducks into the drugstore to fill a prescription (I don't know why she needs a refill each week, but it always seems to happen) and sometimes she stops at the bank.

Not a bad system.

I keep wondering if in some way, I'm missing out, because I've never really talked to anyone at the salon but my hairdresser, and sometimes I don't have so much to say to him. So hanging out there for hours on end could really make for a long afternoon.

I have a friend who is constantly traveling out of town on business, but she faithfully returns every sixth Saturday for her standing appointment with the woman she calls "God's gift to hair care." I have yet to see her demonstrate the same unyielding commitment to a man.

But even those of my generation who are devoted to a salon don't return there every week. That makes sense, considering that I've never seen a 25-year-old who gets her hair set.

As I shake my loose locks dry after a shower and let them land where ever they may fly, I have a hard time envisioning the transformation to "grandma hair." At what point will I no longer blow-dry my own hair? When will I suddenly find myself drawn to aerosol hairspray?

I asked my grandma if she thinks I'll have a routine like hers when I get older. She laughed.

"No way," she said.

I guess she's feeling pretty confident about her hair routine, since the stylist announced she would continue picking up my grandma on Thursday mornings, even if it is a little further out of the way. Like Seinfeld on NBC, it just wouldn't be Thursday at the beauty shop without my grandma.

She feels bad about discontinuing her lunch dates and is not sure which day she'll get to the bank. The prescriptions, she learned, can be delivered.

My grandma told me she might start hopping a cab after her appointments rather than wait for a ride. So far, she hasn't.

It turns out the new beauty shop has an excellent deli right across the street.