08 August 2009
Of scissors and hair
Hair. Oh boy...what a subject! What girl does not have hair stories, hairdresser stories, hair emergency stories, hair disaster stories? For example, a couple of years ago, I had a big event to go to. In preparation, I set aside an evening to play with my hair and various accessories, intent on finding a sophisticated solution to the waywardness that is my mop. The very first effort was a great success - a casual yet elegant updo, perfect for the occasion and perfectly simple to construct. The night of, my hair abandoned its cooperativeness, ignored the half-bottle of spray directed at it, and slipped away from the package of pins I employed to hold it to my scalp. In situations like this, have you noticed that time runs down far more quickly than if you were, say, boiling macaroni? I had reached the point of sweaty desperation when the doorbell heralded the arrival of my friend who was accompanying me on this special night. I had to great him at the door in my bathrobe (had no time to consider wardrobe as the hours had been consumed by repeated failed attempts to tame my hair) I was reduced to scurrying into the first decent outfit I could find, and throwing my hair into its usual clip, only it was half damp and half crimpey from the contortions it had endured. Disaster.
I come by my hair woes honestly: my mother could fill tomes with her stylist encounters. She has special needs hair, and very few stylists have the courage to confront it head on. They pretend to know the terms of engagement, then employ underhanded cheats with razors and product. (the salon equivalent to a sucker punch)I have memories of her mother, during a visit, in our bathroom, supersized can of aerosol spray being emptied over her immovable do. She knew how to make her hair submit, but it was a fulltime undertaking. My dad had his own issues with his hair, but during much of his life it was confined within military standards and covered with a beret. I, very fortunately, inherited features from both sides of the tree. My coping mechanism is simply to acknowledge my hair is the boss of me. I consult it each morning what we will do that day, and meekly comply. Hairdressers do not understand this, and they arrogantly assume that because they carry the scissors, they are in control of the situation -- which is seldom true, and leaves me wearing the failed results for the next six months or so...with my hair in its usual clip.
Going to the salon/hairdresser/stylist/butcher...I feel like I'm entrusting much more than my hair to a stranger. I fight the need to sit them down and tell them that though they've been through beauty school, and quite possibly even to Europe to study under Vidal himself, they have not yet had to deal with my hair with its myriad issues. As I sit in the chair draped in that hideous cape that always makes me feel like a very large, very white floating face, I pretend all kinds of confidence in the person behind me, and at the beginning each one of them might actually be the one. When it's all over and they've done what they can, I pretend to like it, when in actuality I'm assessing the potential for ponytails and clips.
Dear reader, yesterday I found the one. He performed marvels on both my sister and mother, so I had hope he could do the same for me. And reader, he did! My hair has been tamed without having been beaten into submission. It maintains its character but it now knows how to behave politely when in company, and doesn't intimidate me with neediness. I may not touch a clip for weeks! The wonder-worker told me his wife has the exact same hair as me, so he knows the issues and how to address them. Bless him for marrying her! Imagine, having someone who could fix your hair in your house all the time? Who cares if he leaves his socks on the floor... he can cut your hair! I was in awe of him as I sat like a floating face in his chair, watching him with his scissors -- and I must admit a little bit in love too.