Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hair Today, Goon Tomorrow

"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?


  1. Oh Sherry, such a timely post for me. I'm overdue for a cut - I've reached the I need a haircut NOW point, you know, where I will walk into the first salon that will have me and emerge "scathed" and desperately clutching Product hours later.

    The only time I ever have that "Just stepped out of the salon" look is when I have just . ..

    As usual, you had me laughing.

  2. I hate going to the "salon" for just this reason. They're all such liars!

    I haven't gotten a haircut in over a year, if you can believe that. I'm now in pony tail status. I just wish I cared as much as everyone else does. It would certainly give me direction.

  3. My stylist, and I do have one, was the first to say, "Yes, you'd look cute with short hair." She also told me she wasn't giving me the cut I really wanted because I'd look like a brown Q-tip.

    She does product me up at the salon, because she knows I don't use anything much -- I'm usually her guinea pig for the new stuff. She gets this maniacal look in her eye and says, "Let's see what this one does!"

    Yeah. Hooray.

    She's also Bieberized me a couple of times, but only when I complain about the products. the worst part is that it looks good on me . . .

  4. Downith: DO NOT WANDER INTO THE FIRST SALON THAT WILL TAKE YOU! Must I come to England and stage an intervention? (If so, I will bring plenty of Product.)

    MSB: Oh, the simplicity and freedom of the pony tail. Check back with me a year from now. I may have decided to join you.

    Sarah: She gets a maniacal look in her eyes and you don't flee? Hell no, because you need SOMETHING done with your hair. And I'm kind of out of the Bieber Loop, so I'm not sure what "Bieberized" means exactly. I thought he was supposed to have great hair?

  5. This is so freakin' funny because it's so true!
    I stopped going long ago to people who didn't understand what it meant when I said, "Cut it so I don't have to do anything to it". Nothing means combed when wet and out the door.
    My man, Steve, gets this. He also gets that he can do anything he wants. He thought I was just saying it until I pointed to his hair, maybe an inch in length, and told him I'd had it shorter and loved it.
    So we have one agreement. No soccer mom cuts. And it can live without product.
    Unless I'm feeling fixy. I rarely feel fixy.

  6. I so want a new hairstylist, but I can't walk out on the old one. It would cost too much emotionally, and then I'd need to find a new therapist. Or she would. Yes, she would. Since now she schedules me for 15 minutes longer than other clients because "I listen" and she spends that 15 minutes regaling me with the latest book she's read about human enlightenment, and wow!, why don't you write a book like THAT!

    I need a divorce.

  7. The last haircut I got was in...wait for it...APril. OMG, seriously. I hate getting my hair cut. But I also hate my hair in general.

  8. This is exactly why I am low maintenance and do NOTHING to my hair on a daily basis aside from washing/brushing it. (Okay, the other reason is because I'm lazy.)

    I have very fine long hair. It's so fine that layers would do nothing, so I have to get it cut straight across. I've tried shorter lengths a few times, but it looks awful, so long-and-straight is it for me.

    When I was 13, I desperately wanted to change my straight hair. First I tried that Wash-n-Curl shampoo (if there's a company that should be sued for dishonest advertising, it's that one) and then curling irons, braiding damp hair and sleeping on it, etc. Failure, all of them. Finally, I got a perm -- and when they took the rollers out, my hair promptly fell straight. The stylist said it was because I had "virgin hair" that had never been treated before.

    Yeah. Just see what happens when you're 13, told you have virgin hair, and your older brother hears about it. Hilarious, I tell you.

  9. Lyra: My stylist is actually an old friend, and she's terrific. It's not her; it's me. I should just say "Give me something I can simply wash and sleep on," but instead I try to convince her--and myself--that I can manage "fixy."

    Teri: Perhaps you should tell her you're writing a book about (insert all the personal and sensitive details she's told you). I'll bet that will shave 15 minutes off your next appointment.

  10. Amanda: If it makes you feel better, I think you athletic types have an excuse. Back (far back) when I used to run, I always preferred to wear it longer so I could simply tie it back in a pony tail. So yeah, there's your justification to avoid the hair salon for another six months...

    Laura: I'll bet "Wash-n-Curl" was made by the same company as Product. So did you ever try another perm after your hair lost its virginity?

  11. Sherry--

    Justin Bieber has fantastic hair for a teenage boy.

    But I'm a 41-year old woman.

  12. Sarah: When I was around 11 or 12, my neighbor always told me I looked like David Cassidy. (Which felt a bit creepy, of course, because I was in love with David Cassidy.)

    Looking back at old pictures, I see the resemblance was mainly due to the fact that we shared the same shag haircut--now better known as a mullet. It looked far better on him than it looked on me. Moral of the Story: Being Bieberized, in comparison, might not be so bad.

  13. Oh lord, I laughed and laughed. Yes, this is me. I've got a wind-torn bird's nest on my head, and it's getting worse--and curlier--the older I get. By the time I'm 90, my hair should resemble a rusty brillo pad.

  14. Averil: Ha! I think we really must see pictures--please!

  15. I remember those days of one day of hair elation and several weeks of frustration. I think the last time I had my hair cut was 2007. These days I trim the ends myself and pretty much leave it alone. I know the minute I set foot in a salon, someone will come at me with hair color and suggestions that I have a more age-appropriate hairstyle. Meh. I'm plenty ordinary without their help.

  16. Lisa: The only kind of ordinary you are is the extra kind.

  17. Oh this is one for me. I spent last winter cutting my own hair with my bikini line trimmer. I finally found a guy here in town and it's okay, not great. I'd say twice a week I come close to breaking out the clippers for a GI Jane buzz. Today I have visions of Emmy Lou Harris and I want to grow it long. At least I'm off the colour-go-round.

  18. Bobbi: I've seen photos of that beautiful silver hair of yours, so I'm begging you to WALK AWAY FROM THE CLIPPERS!

  19. I'm one of those people who waits way too long between cuts and it shows. I miss my 28 year old Finnish hair stylist. I always came out with great (new, fun) hair and feeling better when I was a bit lonely in a foreign land. Even my husband would notice and love it. My hairstylist now is very nice but it's not fun. She and the other 'girls' hate each other and it's not relaxing. The stylist I used before her charged over 2x more and thought she was a rock star who could sit in the back and gossip while making me wait in the chair with wet hair for 10-20 minutes. Given my hair looks like hormone induced poo no matter what I do, it probably wouldn't matter if I went to the $10 place at the mall.

  20. Deb: Wow! I've been hearing the Hormone-Induced Poo Do is all the rage, and now I know you're the fab trendsetter who started it all!