Every Tuesday morning before we began the business of learning how to do hair students were required to attend a general assembly in the Theory Room called POW WOW which focused on the business of the business of learning how to do hair.
The first half of POW WOW consisted of staff telling us what we should be doing, buying and selling while the second half was reserved for industry guests to come in and tell us what we should be doing, buying and selling.
Today’s POW was no different than any other; Make sure you’re at school on time, smoking is allowed in certain areas only and sell as much Paul Mitchell product to clients as you possibly can so the brand can expand its billion dollar empire, you fucking serfs.
After the POW portion was over we were allowed a ten minute break to have a smoke, take a leak or for the very expedient, run to the car and get high and then return back in time for the WOW portion.
But today instead of having someone from the industry come in and WOW us with a demo, their product or their wisdom, one of the school’s Learning Leaders, Jermaine Parker, was going to be giving a presentation.
Jermaine was Rene’s nephew and although they shared the same last name he insisted everyone call him by his “professional” name which was J.P. Dreama.
J.P. Dreama had been hired as a Learning Leader the day after he acquired his cosmetologist license which was unheard of due to the fact that the school had a firm policy requiring all Learning Leaders to have a minimum two years experience behind the chair before they could be eligible for the gig.
But when your aunt is the Head Motherfucker In Charge and you don’t want to put in the time it takes to acquire the skills you need for the position you’d like, then nepotism is the road to take in getting the job you want but aren’t qualified to have. And the way Dreama saw it was why bother paying to climb the ladder when he could take the elevator for free.
And so as a result of this family favoritism mixed with Dreama’s complete lack of experience, J.P. earned himself the reputation as being someone who had no idea what the fuck he was doing 100% of the time when it came to teaching.
But what he lacked in knowledge he overcompensated for in bold-faced bragging because in addition to being a shoddy Learning Leader he was also an actor, director, producer and rapper, a real 21st Century Renaissance man.
And while he couldn’t tell you how to give a simple one-length haircut he could tell you about all the auditions he was going on, music he was making and headshots he was posting to his Facebook page.
But his list of accomplishments didn’t stop there because J.P. Dreama also held the position as school sheriff, deputized by Aunt Rene and given full jurisdiction to question, harass and penalize Future Professionals at will.
This meant you would often see Deputy Dreama out patrolling The Galleria and arresting students who’d left school without permission to grab a quick coffee, soda or snack and escorting them back to Rene’s office for disciplinary action.
And if he wasn’t busy chasing down AWOL fugitives then he was hard at work handing out citations to Future Professionals who weren’t in total compliance with the school’s all black dress code, writing students up for petty crimes such as having white shoelaces in their black shoes or red trim on their black jacket.
But his policing didn’t stop at the Future Professional level because Dreama was also notorious for threatening the jobs of his fellow Learning Leaders for an array of charges that spanned from arriving at work a couple minutes late to not using the official Paul Mitchell vernacular while out on The Floor.
And while he derived great satisfaction in holding the fate of people’s employment over their heads what Deputy Dreama truly reveled in was culling the student rumor mill in search of solid gold gossip about other Learning Leaders that he could later use as leverage or blackmail.
Oddly enough, the biggest dirt being shoveled around the scandal circle was in regard to Dreama himself and the allegations that he was sexually involved with a chubby Armenian student named Natalia which was a crime punishable by swift and vengeful termination.
But as is always the case with those who have connections to power and are belligerent from its effects, Dreama was afforded the luxury of never being held accountable to the very laws he took such sadistic pleasure in enforcing.
So because of this unfair advantage that he had over everyone else, everyone else saw it in their best interest to avoid engaging with or talking about this Gangsta Gestapo at all costs.
Everyone else except for of course…
“Dreama’s presentation is gonna suck the balls right off a donkey.”
He’d taken a seat next to Bode and I and was pissed at the fact that Dreama had been allowed to give a presentation when he himself had made the request to do so a few weeks prior and was shot-down by Rene.
“My idea was awesome too.” he went on griping. “It was fun, interactive and full of knowledge that the students could use but in the end I was told that Learning Leaders aren’t allowed to sit in as industry guests. Yet here we are, about to watch a Learning Leader give a presentation who hasn’t spent a day of his life in the industry. Go fucking figure.”
“We live in a world of hurt don’t we, buddy.” Bode says with a smirk as he pats Kaleb on the back.
“Okay, listen up.” Dreama yells out as he takes the stage dressed in a pair of black jeans, white Jordans, a grey button down and a black clip-on bowtie. “My presentation today is about THE MOST important thing done in a service, can anyone tell me what that is?”
“I don’t think he knows which is why he’s asking.” Kaleb whispers loud enough for those in our row to hear and chuckle at.
“The client consultation.” Natalia says, shimmying her shoulders at Dreama from the front row.
“That’s right.” he tells her with a cat ate the canary grin. “And y’all ain’t doin’ ‘em good enough before starting your services and when things go south y’all come cryin’ to Dreama and Dreama ain’t got time for it.” he says, swaggering over to the side of the stage and pecking his fingers on a laptop.
“So today we’re gonna watch a video on how to perform a consultation called…How to Perform a Consultation.”
He says this with the utmost seriousness as he tries (and fails) to link the laptop up with the Theory Room’s multi-media presentation screen that hangs above the stage.
After 10 minutes of fumbling around and with the assistance from a fellow Learning Leader, Dreama is able to connect to the screen and play the video.
Now you’d think that for someone who’s constantly touting their talents about being an actor, director and producer that it’d be well within their capacity to create a quality video utilizing a real set, real people and real dialogue.
But, no, that didn’t happen.
And instead what we were given was a video Dreama had stumbled upon in the deepest, darkest depths of YouTube that was crudely animated and accompanied by a creepy, monotone robot voice that mechanically talked about the consultation process.
And as we watch this grotesque oddity with complete dumbfoundedness Kaleb continues to fume more and more with bitter indignation, driving him to make typical Kaleb remarks that get louder and louder until he finally blurts out something the entire room can hear.
“I once had such horrible diarrhea that I thought my toilet was the shittiest thing I’d ever seen but this turd takes the fucking urinal cake.”
This is met with out-loud laughs from everyone except Dreama who stops the video so he can admonish the crowd and put Kaleb squarely in his cross-hairs.
“HEY!!!! Dreama is up here trying to be a daymaker and create some magic and all y’all can do is sit there and be resisters.” he shouts, using Paul Mitchell terminology that shows that he’s punch drunk on the school’s Culture Kool-Aid. “So I’d appreciate it if you’d show Dreama some respect for taking the time out of his busy schedule to do this for you!”
Dreama scans the room with his best mad dogging look then resumes the video, glaring over at Kaleb intermittently until the video concludes 20 minutes later.
Once it’s over everyone looks at everyone else because none of us are sure what it is we just witnessed or how it is we should respond to it, even Natalia has a WTF look on her round, plumpy face. So we sit there, paralyzed with ambiguity until Dreama breaks the uncomfortable silence by applauding himself.
“Yeah, y’all are welcome for that knowledge Dreama just dropped on you.” he says while clapping. “Make sure you use it out on The Floor today. Now get the steppin’.”
This is our cue that this week’s POW WOW has officially come to an end and we’re now free to exit the Theory room and head onto The Floor to start taking clients.
“I want you to try scissor over comb for your men’s cut so I can get a feel for how bad you are at it.” Kaleb tells me while I set myself up in his row.
“I assure you that however bad you think it may be, it’ll be a lot worse.”
“That’s what I’m counting on. Bode, how do you feel about doing a shag today?” Kaleb asks as he and Dusti also set-up in his row.
“I’d LOVE to get a shag from you.” Dusti says, batting her thick eyelashes at him.
“Uh, how about we find you a man.” Kaleb counters.
“Like in a men’s cut?” she asks.
“Like in general.” he replies, causing her to clutch her pearls and laugh aloud at his jest because she’s carrying around the world’s biggest record-breaking boner for him.
“I’d like to do a fun rock-n-roll shag.” Bode says with his usual upbeat enthusiasm.
“Cool, and Dusti, we’ll find something for you today, just not a shag.”
“Fine, but you owe me one.” she says with a big smile and a shift in her hips.
“Riiiiiiiiiight.” Kaleb tells her. “Now before we get started I wanna make sure everyone-“
“Yo, Kaleb.” Dreama shouts, prancing towards him with his chest puffed out like an angry rooster. “Dreama needs a word with you.”
“Can it wait? I’m kinda in the middle of-“
“I’m tired of you and your bullshit attitude.” he says seething. “You think I didn’t hear every one of your little remarks during my presentation?”
“It’s obvious you did, are you wanting an apology?”
“You’re damn straight I do unless you wanna find yourself-“
“Because I think you should be the one apologizing.”
“ME? For what?”
“That abhorrent presentation you gave.”
“Yeah, it means awful.”
“I know what it means! And fuck you cuz my shit was insightful and inspiring.”
“No, it was insulting and infuriating.”
“You’re just mad cuz Dreama was up onstage and you weren’t.”
“I’m mad because these students paid a lot of money to come here and learn something of value and all you had to offer them is a YouTube video made by a 3rd grader and narrated by Stephen Hawking. Don’t you think they deserve more?”
“Deserve more? What more could they want? They’re already attending the Harvard of hair schools!”
“The Harvard of hair schools?” Kaleb says laughing. “That doesn’t even make sense.”
“What are you talkin’ about?” Dreama says, getting more agitated by the second.
“There’s over a hundred Paul Mitchell schools in the country but only one Harvard. Harvard is a highly respected institute of learning, Paul Mitchell is a franchise. If anything Paul Mitchell is the McDonald’s of hair schools.”
“So now you’re not only talkin’ shit on me, you’re talkin’ shit on where you work.”
“No, I’m just aware of where it is I work and it’s nothing comparable to Harvard, especially when students are given what you gave them today. That was just…embarrassing.”
This comment turns Dreama’s mocha colored face to a deep shade of pissed-off purple.
“That’s it! I’ve had enough of you and your mouth!’ Dreama spits. “Get yo ass up to Rene’s…NOW!” he screams, channeling the spirit of Ike Turner.
“I’ll be back in a sec.” Kaleb tells us as Dreama escorts him up to Rene’s office.
“That’s doubtful.” Dreama says back to us.
Seconds later screaming can be heard coming from both Rene and Dreama as they take turns verbally assaulting Kaleb.
“You think he’s gonna get fired?” Bode asks.
“If not fired then at least 3rd degree burns all over his body.” I tell him.
“That’s such a crock of shit.” Dusti adds. “He had every right to call Dreama out on his bullshit, that guy’s as useless as a spoon in a knife fight.”
After a few tense minutes Dreama strides down the steps alone and parades out onto The Floor like a prize-fighter who’d just won his bout.
“Alright y’all let’s take some clients.” he says, strutting over to the front desk and grabbing the client roster so he can assign guests to students.
“Yo, tattoo boy.” Dreama says, walking towards Bode and I with an elderly lady trailing behind him.
“Which one?” Bode asks as we look at each other puzzled.
“Either of you, I have a client that needs a style and set so one of you-“
“We can’t take her.” I tell him.
“What was that?” Dreama says, looking at me with contempt in his black, angry eyes.
“I said we can’t take her, we’re-“
“You take what I give you. You don’t have a say in it.”
“Well we were supposed to do haircuts with Kaleb today so if it’s all the same we’d like to wait on him.” I say as I prepare to incur his wrath.
But instead of screaming he just laughs to himself while shaking his head, looking at me as if I was someone too stupid to get the punchline to a joke he just told.
“I hate to burst your bubble, kid, but Kaleb isn’t coming back. Not today, not tomorrow…not ever.” he says with a menacing grin. “Now take the god-damn client before you really piss me off.”