I wanted bangs – short, sexy, adorable ones – and I wanted them bad.
Which brings me to my “stylist,” Cheryl. Her youth and enthusiasm at times energized me; more often than not, it drained the life out of me. The very sap. I had to be “up” for her, something I can rarely summon for family members, even pets–including fish. But I’d been showing up every six weeks for years, because I was faithful and I was true, and because I was frankly terrified that someone else might really “Eff Me Up.”
And she Knew This.
And she Used the Power of Knowing to tell me what style would look good on me, which was uncannily similar to whatever hairstyle she had adopted that month. And I bought it, because, like many, I am Ruled by Fear.
“So, what are we doing today?” she asked.
“I was thinking maybe…bangs and some layers?”
“Bangs? You? I don’t think so….” She shook her head as she lifted and let drop sad tufts of my hair.
And so, we did what she wanted. My dream of short bangs shattered. My too-long bangs stayed that way, their latent perkiness swept back in a chronic clip that I’d come to loathe–if I lost that clip I was lost for the day–my hair sweeping forward, blinding me and lending me a slightly mad and homeless look. Without my clip I was nothing. A big, fat zero. I kept several in my purse, like illicit contraband.
But the day came when I let myself feel the rage. I was going to cheat on this person. And soon.
Tristan at the Hair Asylum was full of coy yet admirable restraint when I explained my hair traumas.
“OK, first of all, your color is…not what it could be.”
“Well, what could it be?”
He opened a hair mag to a photo of a gorgeous blond model licking a lollipop with so much pleasure her eyes were rolling up into the back of her head.
“I’m thinking…” Tristan said, fingering my bangs-to-be. “A nice gold base with some thick buttery chunks in the front and on the sides…”
Buttery chunks? Sounded fattening but I remembered I wasn’t eating it (for once) and what the hell, the woman in the photo sure looked happy…
“But what about the bangs?”
“Sure, but color first.”
Happy hours flew by as I dreamily thumbed through Bazaar, Vogue, People, Style, Us, Elle, Shape, Blah, Blah, Blah…
Finally, I looked up.
I gasped. These were not buttery chunks. They were inch-wide, pure white streaks through my now ash-blond hair. More like Crisco Chunks. I had Crisco Chunks in my hair. They were like landing strips for small alien aircraft.
“You look amazing,” Tristan said. “Ten years younger. Wait till you see the cut I have in mind for you…”
Then, from a cunning hidden drawer, Tristan got out the thinning scissors. Pretty much the last things in the world to use on my hair. MY HAIR IS ALEADY THIN, THANK YEW. But then I thought: look around! You are on Newbury Street, this will cost over two hundred dollars. Gorgeous women limpidly cross back and forth in front of the window, all of them perhaps former doubters, who, once Tristan-ed, never went back! Maybe, just maybe, Tristan was using some sort of chic new variation of thinning scissors that actually ADDED bulk…
But, you know and I know, they weren’t…”bulk adding” scissors.
I have never, ever, even after drugstore perms in high school, looked so strange in my life as I did when I left that place. Tristan had lopped off all my latent glam-grrl, my hidden hipitude, my fabulous inner funkiness, and just made me look odd. So of course I thanked him, smiled, tipped heavily, and said I’d be back, indulging in a perversity shared by millions of “nice” women everywhere.
You’ve probably guessed by now that I didn’t stop with Tristan. No, from the Hair Asylum I went shrieking to Anna Marie at The Stars Are Out, who doused my Lardy Chunks with a one-process platinum so I was all one color, but then she sold me on Piecey Spikes, a sort of Cyndi Lauper look, but SHORTER. It was nightmarish. I looked like a ghoul. A tall ghoul. The tallest ghoul in school! I landed, exhausted and broke, at Dreamcuts, where Astrid told me there was nothing to do but buzz it all off…
Actually, being bald isn’t all that bad. People think I’ve had chemo and hold doors for me. Watching the beaten-senseless bits of hair rain down on the floor next to me was like a purification ritual, a sort of head-cleanse. I was finally free of the tyranny of hair. The right color, the “in” cut, the perfect blow dry. No chance of hat hair, a bad hair day, split ends, the ravages of humidity, wind, rain.
Still, as my hair starts to emerge, all dewy and hopeful from my jaded skull, you might just find me pawing through “1,000+ Hair Styles” or “Sophisticated Hair” on the odd lunch hour, yanking now and then at my scarf (it does get itchy) as I search for the me that I know is there in all those shiny razor cut bangs, those megawatt curls, those perky blond layers, those chocolate waves…that’s it! Chocolate Waves with Buttery Chunks!
Sounds delish…I’m on it.