Wednesday, August 6, 2008

You can't always get what you want

Yesterday was the big day. I had planned for it and budgeted my money accordingly. And then it was time for my first haircut in a year. One entire year. It's more profound if you understand that I screw around with my hair constantly, and to do nothing for a year was an exercise in extreme patience and self-control for me.

I booked an appointment for a consultation. The stylist kept trying to steer me toward longish hair, saying she thought it was flattering and gave me more options. I assured her that long hair and warm weather are a terrible combination. I also told her that I don't need options because I don't do anything to my hair. I have two styles at this length: down and messy or pulled up in a butterfly clip with barrettes on the sides.

When my hair is long, I play with it incessantly to the point of annoying myself. When it's short, I use styling products so it doesn't go flat, and that's enough for me to stop putting my hands in my hair.

I am not a morning person. I never have been and don't expect this aspect of me to change, ever. I have more than four decades of experience to draw on here. This is why, when I went for my haircut, I was surprised that the stylist didn't believe me when I explained why I never style my hair before I go to work.

I brought pictures. I brought pictures of what I like and what I don't want on my head. I thought my pictures were clear, and I had captioned each one to indicate what I did or didn't like about it. I thought this made my preferences very obvious. Somehow, the stylist got it into her head that because I hadn't cut my hair in a year (to grow out a very, very bad haircut), that I had anxiety about cutting my hair and that I didn't want layers. I never said anything to this effect, but it's how the stylist interpreted my situation.

I showed her the pictures and said, "See this one? I know this would look OK and my hair would do this, but I do not want this style because it's just a cleaned-up version of what I have now and I definitely want a change from what I have now."

As she worked on my color, Sara the Stylist told me all of the reasons why she thought I should not cut my hair short. "You'll be able to do a lot more things with your hair," she said, "And it will only take five minutes in the morning." Five minutes? No hairstyle other than a ponytail takes five minutes. Believe me, I've tried many styles and I know.

After the color, Sara continued her pitch, telling me in an ominous tone that any shorter style would mean getting layers "all over again." I just blinked and said, "I have no problem with layers as long as they're done right and my hair doesn't stick out."

We went back and forth. She showed me up-do styles (Hahahahaha!), ways to wear combs and clips, and how much fun I could have with my hair. I showed her the pictures again. Across the top of the page, I had typed the following:
Bangs = must, but out of my eyes! Side part = preferred. Flat = bad, bad, bad. Volume = good. Quick and easy = best. Blow dry + iron + curlers + product = not realistic. Minimal prep time = important. Mornings = very hard.

I reminded Sara that these were not exaggerations; I really wasn't in the market for a hairstyle that required anything more than a towel, a comb and a claw clip. I really wanted a lot of hair removed from my head.

My wishes went unfulfilled. Sara insisted that we could always go shorter later, but I probably didn't want a super-drastic change if I was used to having long hair. "Sara," I said, "I'm actually used to having short hair. I only grew it out so I could start with a clean slate." Alas, this fell on deaf ears.

And so, I got a haircut, but you can't really tell. My husband wasn't even sure if I had gotten it cut, or if it was just styled differently. The color is more obvious, because I went from reddish-blondish/brown to dark, dark brown. Really dark.

When I got home and looked in the mirror, I realized that what I had on my head was a classic shag from the 1970s. I decided that I had the same hair as Carol Brady. This morning, though, I realized that I actually look like a cross between Carol Brady and Keith Partridge. This is definitely not what I had in mind.

I got up 15 minutes early today so I would have enough hair time. My resentment was already building as I knew I would have had a bigger benefit from the sleep than from the hair styling. After I showered, I towel-dried my hair. I got dressed, ate breakfast, and took my damp head to the powder room. I put in mousse, and lightly dried my hair the way I had been shown. Except it wasn't all the way dry because I have no patience for that.

I put in the three Velcro rollers per Sara's instructions. I did a little more blow drying, lost my attention span, and took out the rollers. Instead of getting height or volume, I got hair that was flat across the top and then sort of bubbled out on each edge of the top of my skull. Verrrrry attractive look.

Having achieved total disgust, I grabbed an elastic, made a ponytail, clamped on the claw clip, and headed out the door, looking like David Cassidy with an updo.

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