Today I made an appointment to get my hair cut. For normal people this is nothing to write home about. Normal has never really been my thing.
A while back I mentioned that I was once the victim of the worst haircut in the history of haircuts in America. Since that fateful day I've gotten my hair cut no more than twice a year, tops. "How bad could it have been?" you ask. Am I just being dramatic? Vain? Well, sit right down and get ready for a regular horror story.
*Ahem* The year - was 2004. I was living just outside of Dallas, Texas: the land of scorching dry air, life-changing barbeque, manicured nails, and great, big, sassy hair.
My friend, Megan, was visiting for the week, and as we were driving down the main strip that Monday afternoon, the clouds parted! The angels broke into song! We noticed a sign - a big, beautiful red sign.
"Full Head of Highlights 50% Off."
It was altogether beautiful. A wash, cut, and full color for under $100 in Dallas? A day of hair-pampering in a salon with my best friend? Sign. Me. Up.
Megan's appointment was first, and I had planned to get my eyebrows waxed while I waited. We walked into the salon of doom, which shall remain nameless. (It starts with a "U" and ends with an "lta.") A tiny Asian lady, who looked like she'd been airbrushed, greeted us. She sent Megan back to the hair stylist and took me to the waxing chair herself.
"What you want today, sweetie?" she asked.
"Just my eyebrows done," I said.
"You not doing your lip?" She sounded genuinely shocked.
"You veeeewwwwy haiwy."
EXCUSE ME??? "Uh...." I stammered. "I mean, I guess I'll do my lip, too." So that people stop calling me Sasquatch behind my back. Geez.
It was a lot like this: (Not only is her Vietnamese accent spot on, she accurately depicts what it's like to walk into a salon feeling okay about yourself and leave feeling like a total hag.)
So I laid there as the airbrushed Asian waxed my WHOLE face, and stood my ground as she tried to berate me into getting my legs waxed too. I remember thinking, "I am self-assured enough to forgive and forget the whole "veeewwwy haiwy" thing, but this is really unnecessary."
For what it's worth, Megan STILL tells me how "haiwy' I am on a regular basis. Good thing I have thick skin. Maybe there's a spa treatment for that.
Anyway, fast forward to the haircut from the depths of THE LAKE OF FIRE.
Megan emerged from the back of the salon with summery, glowing, angel hair. Sunny and golden - lovely layers, lovely waves. A good omen!
Antsy to get my transformation underway, I settled into the chair and explained "my vision" to the stylist. "I want highlights and lowlights," I said. " A honey, caramel color for the highlights, and an auburn-y one for the lowlights. I want it to look pretty natural."
(Key words: "honey," "caramel," "NATURAL.")
She brought in a board of hair swatches (like paint chips, but not), and I pointed to the colors that I wanted. (I POINTED TO THE COLORS THAT I WANTED.) Then she went to town. It was a long, laborious process, you know, since I'm so haiwwy. Laborious for the stylist, I mean. I spent the whole 2 hours daydreaming about how hot I would look when I came back to campus from summer vacation with summer-angel-hair. I imagined the long line of boys that would inevitably be beating down my door for a date.
I have a very vivid imagination.
At some point I noticed that the color she was slathering onto my hair was white, not caramel-colored. "Maybe that's just what the chemicals look like," I rationalized.
Sometimes, it really screws you over to be an optimist.
Fact: There was bleach on my hair. Fact: She left the color, I MEAN BLEACH, sitting on my hair for a loooong time. Rationalization: "Maybe that's just what the chemicals look like. I do have a lot of hair. She probably didn't expect it to take this long. Perhaps there's another client waiting."
When she finally rinsed my hair and took it out of the towel, I watched it tumble down over my shoulder. To my horror I saw WHITE STREAKS. Not light, not even blonde. It looked like they'd been dipped in white-out, then glow-in-the-dark paint.
Fact: My hair was bleached to high heaven. Rationalization: "Color is always more dramatic when it's wet. I'm sure it will look better when it's dry."
I am a total moron.
I walked from the sink to the chair in fragile denial. But denial could only last until I saw myself in the mirror. Then I started trembling. I swallowed hard, surprised by the size of the lump in my throat.
Goodbye, perfect summer hair. Goodbye, line of boys. Goodbye, self-respect.
"I just want the ends cleaned up," I said, as the stylist grabbed her scissors. Desperately, pleadingly, I said, "I really like the length; it has to stay longer than my shoulders." Then I gave her my very best puppy dog eyes as if to say, "I can't handle conflict. I'm physically incapable of showing displeasure in this kind of situation. Please read my eyes: DON'T BUTCHER MY HAIR. Don't make me cry. Don't take the whole semester's worth of dates from me. I'm running out of rationalizations - now I'm just watching my soul die with every lock that falls to the ground. Please, please, please - don't butcher my hair."
She was not a proficient eye-reader.
Fact: She did not ask me where I parted/wanted to part my hair. She just dove in. Rationalization: "Maybe she's just so good that she doesn't need to know."
SUCH a moron.
She started cutting.
Then she KEPT CUTTING.
She was on auto-pilot - might as well have been styling in her sleep. She had this zombie-trance look about her, just snippping rhythmically away. My hair was quickly losing shape. It was now ALL the same length, hanging damp and lifeless and flat all the way around my head. Like a bowl cut but longer. A 5-gallon bucket cut.
It became clear to me that if I didn't say SOMETHING I would walk out of there looking like Demi Moore in G.I. Jane. (I considered it, as at least that would have taken care of the bleach problem.)
"Um, I think that's short enough for now." I said.
"Really?" she asked.
"Okay, honey, whatever you say." Then she started blow drying.
As my short, shapeless hair whipped around, sticking in my lips and cheeks and eyes, I noticed something. Something was changing!
It wasn't the bleach getting darker (unfortunately), but something was definitly changing. Wait...the red was...GETTING BRIGHTER.
This cannot be happening. WAKE UP, KATE.
I clenched my fists as she blowdried. I gritted my teeth as I thanked her. I stared in disbelief, in horror, into my rearview mirror. Then I started the car, called my mom, and cried.
My mother is one of the softest, kindest, most positive people I know. She puts everything into perspective, and she can fix about any problem. Which it why it was significant that when I walked into the house, her eyes bugged out of her head like giant saucers.
She quickly regained her composure. She got all weepy and gave me the piteous head-cocked look.
I burst into fresh tears.
Nobody tried to tell me that it "wasn't that bad." They're not that good of liars. This was not a subjectively bad haircut. It was definitively awful. It was lobbed off at the shoulder and streaked red and white from root to tip - ALL OVER. It looked like I had long wimpy candy canes growing out of my scalp.
It was heinous down, but it looked worse up - the color REALLY showed in the fine baby hairs around my neck and ears.
I don't think Megan spoke a single word for an hour, or more - like when Job's friends sat in silence because they knew how great his suffering was. Mom called her hairdresser to schedule an emergency appointment. It would have to wait until the following afternoon. So the next morning I took the walk of shame into work.
My hair was pulled back into a bun, not that it made a lick of difference; it matched my bright red Michaels apron perfectly. I tried on six different shirts, hoping that if I wore the right color it would tone down my coiff.
"Hey, you got your hair done," a co-worker remarked.
"I REALLY don't want to talk about it," I said.
"Well take it down; let me see what it really looks like."
"YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE? IT LOOKS LIKE I'M SPROUTING TWIZZLERS AND GLOW-WORMS - OKAY? I LOOK LIKE A PSYCHEDELIC CHIA PET. I TOLD THE LADY 'NATURAL.' NAME ONE PERSON WHOSE HEAD LOOKS LIKE THIS NATURALLY!!!"
"Okay, sorry I mentioned it."
That afternoon my sensitive, loving family ushered me outside to take pictures, that my Mr. Mint head might be immortalized on film. Forever.
"Tilt your head down and turn to the left - so we can get that really big white chunk."
The next day, my mom's hairdresser informed me that the lady who'd done my hair 1. Used bleach instead of color. 2. Left it on for far too long. 3. Didn't use any toner to tone down the red.
There was nothing to be done about the white-blonde, but if she added toner, the red might chill out a little bit.
"Drown it in toner," I said. "I will bathe in toner. Toner is my new best friend. I want to kiss toner on the mouth."
She did what she could with the color, then added some layers around my face. Bless that woman, God. Bless her right now.
I returned to campus for my sophomore year of college with ridiculous, dramatic blonde streaks in my hair. (A month into the school year some girls on my floor confessed that when they first met me they'd assumed I was a slut, to use their exact words, becasuse what other explanation could there possibly be? Sigh.)
As fate would have it, I met my husband that week - my second day back on campus to be exact. I liked him immediately, which was cruel and depressing because I totally had the trashy punk rocker think going on. I think Jesus was just trying to keep me humble. But what do you know - 4 months later we were dating. I like to think that he liked me immediately, too - he was just waiting for the hair to grow out a little before he made it official.
So, yes. It is monumental that I made an appointment to get my hair cut today; even more monumental that my appointment is in 2 days. (I'm already nervous - how could a decent hair stylist have an opening in TWO DAYS?)
I'm going in for a big change, and I'm pretty sure I won't chicken out. Dan has assured me that he will love me even if I come home looking like a psychedelic chia pet. He's even agreed to still wear his wedding ring in public. He's a gem I tell you, a gem.
You can look forward to before & after pictures soon. If it's cute, hooray! If it's terrible, at least my family will still love me. After all, Dan is stuck with me now, and Madeline is blind.
**I do realize that this post is disappointingly without pictures. I'll try to track some down from Megan and my family this week.**