Thursday, January 10, 2008

Story of My Bad Hair Life

The other day I slipped into one of those "no appointment necessary" hair salons to get my bangs trimmed as depicted in the photo on the right, so I could see my eyebrows again while camouflaging my extra big, space-alienish forehead.

"Would you like it shampooed first?" the lady asked.

I'd just washed it. Did it look that bad already? (Duh! This is me we're talking about!) "No, I just need the bangs trimmed," I said lamely.

"Would you like the rest of it trimmed? Get rid of those split ends?"

I had to admit the rest of it could benefit from a trim, so I agreed.

To which she replied, "Then shall we shampoo it? It's just that it makes it easier for me to work with it."

Translation: "Your hair looks as if it needs a good shampoo." This is what I get for trying to be Ms. Thrifty Housewife by using Dreck instead of Breck.

I relented, and afterward she led me to her station, where she pressed a pedal and pulled a lever to make the chair drop with a thunk. I kept waiting for steel manacles to snap out of the chair and clamp over my wrists and ankles to prevent my fleeing for my life, as she plied the shears and bombarded me with more suggestions to completely transform my appearance and render me totally unrecognizable to anyone who knows me.

You'd think I'd walked into this place with a referral from the Federal Witness Protection Program.

"Have you ever thought of getting your hair highlighted?" she chirped. "It'd look really pretty, and cover up that gray. Surely you've noticed these silver threads here and there?"

I was utterly aghast. I thought it was leftover Christmas tinsel! The stuff gets caught in my hair every year. No wonder I couldn't seem to brush it out anymore.

She thrust under my nose a huge board full of little snips of hair in assorted colors, to show me the various shades of highlighting available. "This one would look pretty with your hair color," she pointed out. "And so would this one . . . and this one . . . isn't that pretty?"

Something in a reddish-gold tint catches my eye, but I remain ambivalent about the whole idea. Besides the expense, I'm worried about what it will look like (as if my hair could look any scarier than it does now). I've seen women my age with hair in weird shades of purple and magenta, and others striped in a crazy yellowish-white. They look like jaundiced zebras.

I do not want to look like that.

Years ago, when I was in my late teens and had just left home and the long arm of the Ma, I did all the things I was never allowed to do under her rule. Like wearing bikini underwear, necklines that flaunted my collarbone . . . and dyeing my hair, which I always did myself.

The first time I did it, I chose a nice reddish-gold tint. Both my mother and grandmother had to agree there was nothing objectionable about it; still my grandmother wanted to know why I insisted on doing it in the first place: "What's wrong with your own hair color? It's such a lovely shade of chestnut."

That was the first (and last) time she ever referred to my hair as anything other than plain old, unexciting, "dark brown." Now that I'd jazzed it up, she decided my original God-given hair color had always been a more glamourous "chestnut."

When my roots started showing, I used hair color removal with the idea that it would restore my original "chestnut." Wrong! It turned my hair a bright, hideous pale orange that would only go away if I dyed it again--which I did, though it took something like six months before I finally figured out that's what I had to do. But I never used that hair color removal stuff again. Instead I dyed one color on top of another. Once I used coal black, which looked horrible, and people even said so. I put another color on top of it, and by that time I was having to use detangler every time I shampooed, because my dyeing-binge had wrecked my hair. On my twentieth birthday--at which point my hair was about the same length seen in the photo at right--I went to the hair salon and had it cut short.

The lady who cut it told me never to dye it again, or I'd be bald by the next birthday.

That was--well, never mind how many years ago it was, but I took her words to heart and it's been my own color ever since.

And now all this talk of "highlighting." The lady who did my hair this week assured me it was nothing like the bottle jobs of my foolish youth. She seemed quite keen to do the deed, while I was starting to wonder if she'd even let me leave without having it done. Since she hadn't put the iron clamps over my wrists, I ventured to tell her I'd have to think about it and most importantly, discuss it with Mr. Lucky.

Which I did--and by the way, he didn't even notice I'd had my hair done until I mentioned it. But he was clearly askance about the whole highlighting idea, suggesting I use "Just for Men" instead.

Only it's "Just for Men" for a reason, isn't it? What if I use it and start growing whiskers?

And don't tell me to get a job with the circus--I already live in one!


Phyllis said...

I think you'd look lovely with highlights, Karen. The nice thing about highlights is, they can add them so they will grow out naturally, so, unlike when you change all your hair color, you never have to cover up roots by redying. But with that objective in mind, I'd advise against buying one of the hairpainting kits and doing it yourself (been there, done that). Put yourself in the hands of a professional. :)

Karen Lingefelt said...

Thanks, Phyllis. Not long after I made this post, I suddenly remembered (duh!) that my sister, who lives 3,000 miles away, is a former hair stylist. I e-mailed her and she answered with some good advice--not least of which was (a) not to do it myself, and (b) to ignore the husband's advice to use men's products. She said those would turn my hair to "straw", and that he should stick to his own profession.

Vicki said...

I'm with Phyllis, I think the highlights would look great.

And the DH would love them. ;)

Erica Ridley said...

LOL. Your adventures crack me up. As a former hair-dye addict, I can attest to all the wacky colors (from platinum to coal to fuschia--yes, I said fuschia) and for the past several years have been doing the regular-old-hair thing myself, too. Even though it now comes with silver sparklies. Highlights seem so innocuous, though... (unlike the punk rock days of my youth. *g) Highlights seem the sort of thing that can easily grow out without too much fuss if you decide you don't want them after all...

Karen Lingefelt said...

Vicki: Thanks. I'll have to bug DH a little more.

Erica: With some of the girls I see nowadays, I believe the fuschia. The silver sparklies sound intriguing--though maybe not for me, since I already have the silver threads which don't sparkle at all!

JulieLeto said...

I'm a firm believer in both hair color and you well know. My shade of red is not naturally made. I say go for it! But definitely go with a professional. The last time I did it myself, my hair was purple. I liked it purple...but I'm sure a wiser, trained professional would have talked me out of it.