"So," she asks, dipping your head under the faucet, "are we just trimming it up tonight?"
You've obsessed over this for weeks: Whenever you've spied a college student with a thick flowing mane, a model with a cute pixie or an actress on a TV legal drama with a fabulous bob. Every time you saw an attractive woman with great hair, you thought, "Wow, if only I had hair like that, I'll bet I'd look just as hot!"
You gaze up at your stylist. "No, I'm thinking something different this time," you finally answer. You attempt to explain what you have in mind, biting your bottom lip as you consider how this monumental decision could potentially ruin the next eight weeks of your life.
But she simply cocks her head, glances at your hair and nods. And you realize this woman with your head--with practically your entire life--in her hands, is a paid professional. She makes her living by making women beautiful. Surely you will live to have no regrets.
Forty-five minutes later, she brushes the clippings off your shoulders and removes your apron. You gather the type of courage generally reserved for a job interview or a root canal, and you peer into the mirror. You look... gorgeous!
Well, not all of you, perhaps, but at least your hair. Yes, that looks amazing.
You beam. "I like it!"
"Yeah? Good," she says, with not an ounce of the desperate relief you are experiencing. Whatever calming and confidence-building drugs that hair stylists must be required to consume, you definitely want in on that shit before your next appointment.
You hesitate as you grab your checkbook. "So, you think I can do it just like this myself, right?"
"Oh, sure," she says over her shoulder, as she motions to her next client. "Just make sure you use plenty of Product."
You contemplate the word "plenty." Hmm. Is that a tablespoon or a quarter-cup? You'd prefer an exact measurement. Using your own judgment in the care of your hair has never proved entirely successful.
"And when you're blow-drying," she continues, "be sure you hold the dryer nozzle underneath the roots of each section of hair as you lift it up, like I did."
"Uh-huh." Your mind races to recall that particular step of tonight's appointment. This memory is fuzzy, since you spent much of the hair-drying segment shouting about the injustices of parenthood. Or the injustices of your job. Or both. Who needs a therapist when you have a hair stylist?
"And then, don't forget," she adds, "to spray it again."
Again? Wait. Were you supposed to spray once already before this step? You bite at the cuticles of your newly painted nails.
"That's it, really," she says as she begins to shampoo her current client's hair. "Except you'll probably need to scrunch it a bit. Just a tiny piece at a time. Then, take a look and decide whether or not you want to use a curling iron on any section. But with the right amount of Product and drying and scrunching, you should be all set. Unless you need to spray it again."
On the drive home, you repeat this set of instructions to yourself, over and over. It is an all-consuming lesson. You nearly run a stop sign, stopping just short of t-boning a minivan as you murmur the mantra, "Product, dry, lift, spray, scrunch, curl, spray again."
After a sleepless night, you rise early. You run methodically through every step of the process. Your fingers begin to ache from scrunching.
You finally step back and survey yourself in the mirror. You squint. Huh. Is this how it looked last night? Perhaps you're simply not objective enough. You scrunch and spray one last time, shrug and continue getting ready for work.
Just as you're headed out the door, your son--who for twenty years has appeared oblivious to a single one of your outfits or hairstyles--stops in the hallway to stare at you.
"Um, hey, Mom, your hair looks a little, well, funny."
You fight a swirling stomach of despair, as you realize even this most lowbrow of opinions is likely on-target. You glare at him and mutter how he'll need to fend for himself for dinner tonight.
But you have no time for further reflection; you are already late for work. You shuffle to your car. You spend your drive-time peeking in the rearview mirror, scrunching some more. For the next eight hours, you hide inside your office, with the door closed.
Before going to bed that night, you shower and wash out the copious quantities of Product and hairspray. You collapse in bed with a wet head.
In the morning, you peek in the mirror. At the sight of your Bed Head, you sigh.
Yet maybe it's not so bad, just like this, you consider after another look. A little flat in one area, but a tousled, carefree kind of look. Sort of like Meg Ryan in whatever-the-hell that one movie was.
She and her son probably both loved her hair like that.
And if they didn't, you can bet neither one of them spoke a word about it that night, over their bowls of SpaghettiO's.
So, did your last haircut turn out just like that photo in the magazine? Are you hair-challenged, too? What kind of gossip do you confide in your hair stylist?