Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Change your life, change your hairstyle. Or is it the other way around?

Mr. H has horrible hair. Mr. H was one of the Letter People, an alphabet-teaching tool my younger sisters and brothers brought home from kindergarten. All the letters had people attached to them, but Mr. H is the only one I remember. (Click that link to see the rest of them. Mr M and his munching mouth ring a bell, but I feel certain I never knew about Miss I and her itch. In fact, I'm sorry I know about Miss I and her itch now.)

Anyway, Mr. H stayed with me because we have similar hair issues. It is not an exaggeration to say that I have spent 48 years in search of a low-maintenance hairstyle that gives people the possibly incorrect impression that I am a congenial, responsible, attractive member of the society I have chosen.

I could embarrass myself by posting photographs of various hairstyles I have experimented with over the years, but I will not. In early childhood, my hair was so dark it was almost black, and absolutely straight. Over the years it lightened up naturally, and started to wave, which I proceeded to help with various over-the-counter chemicals. The Bernice-style bob in 10th grade was a bad mistake; the curly perm in the mid-'80s was another. The Los Angeles-era highlights were great, but I couldn't afford them. The long, back-to-the-woods hair of Maine made a DC-area friend say, when I took her to breakfast at The Porthole, "Well, at least now I know why you look the way you do."

My sister Peggy took me to her hairdresser in September, during a weekend in which I made several life-changing decisions. Having most of my hair cut off felt like part of that process. It was liberating. It made me want to have even more cut off, so I'm doing that this afternoon. In all seriousness, I'm bringing the hairdresser a photo of Emma Thompson at the Golden Globes, and saying, "Make my hair look like that."

I can tell you right now how this conversation is going to go.

Hairdresser: Uh — I don't think your hair will do that.
Me: Maybe not, but can you try?
Hairdresser: I'll see what I can do. It's going to take a lot of product.

About an hour later, I will emerge from the salon with a bag full of hairstyling products I'll have no idea how to use, and a haircut that will look great until my next shower. But I will feel good about having made the effort, and I might even take some pictures so people can see what it was supposed to look like.

Because it's not about the result, it's about the journey. As Mr. H and I both know:

Mr. H has horrible hair.
Haircuts are too much
for him to bear.
His hair is horrid
and always a mess;
But he is quite happy
that way, I guess.


Claire said...

We also had the Letter People! I remember being mad that there were only five lady-letters (they were the vowels), and that that is how I learned the word "obstinate" (which turned out to be a very useful word for me to know).

Good luck at the salon!

Ellen Clair Lamb said...

I am amazed that the Letter People lasted that long, and outraged on your behalf about the gender discrimination.

Karen Olson said...

I completely sympathize with you on this one. For the last year, whenever I've told the hairdresser just to "give it a shape, but don't cut too much, I want it to grow out," I end up coming out with yet another even shorter pixie cut than I had before. They can't help themselves. So now I have vowed not to step foot into a salon until probably April, when my hair may be long enough so they're not tempted t just chop it off and maybe I'll get a nice shape...until then, I'm just glad I work from home a lot.

Thomas at My Porch said...

Reminds me of the scene in Educating Rita when a woman goes into the hairdressers with a picture of Princess Diana.

Ellen Clair Lamb said...

I had forgotten about that -- but exactly!