Sure, some hair styles come and go. Who can deny the bob, the mullet, the side ponytail their rightful places in style history? (We won't even get started on white powdered wigs...) But other than the major trends that slip through the prevalent, timeless, boring conventions, how does a person regard style in terms of their own hair at the moment when they walk into a salon?
A few days ago I got a hair cut (well, actually, I got them ALL--- seriously, who else could die happy without ever hearing that joke again?) and I was thinking about what I wanted to DO with it. You know when you get that feeling like you want or need a major style change and you just can't decide on what but you walk into the salon boldly and begin making expectant demands of the stylist? "I want something new. Nothing too crazy-- and not too short! But, you know, I'm sick of this." But, after all, it's in the stylist's very job title to be able to give you what you want and what's good for you (without you even knowing what that is).
We're all terrified of dramatic hair experiments because it seems so permanent (for a while, until it grows). Women especially seem to feel vulnerable with hair- if they don't particularly love it on a given day, not to mention overall shape and color and cut. Women also more often hide behind their hair. Some are Rapunzels, letting ravishing locks speak for or deny their locked away, inner selves/beauty.
So when I walked into my hair appointment I knew I wanted to do something with my lame locks. The last time I'd seen this particular hairdresser (this was back in Upstate NY, so you can imagine I never got hair cuts there with any frequency) she'd razored out my thick hair and then straightened it and I've never seen it look so good straight. So I said, "Do whatever you want, I trust you, I loved what you did last time." Now I see this as a bit of a faux pas in hairdresser-client relations protocol. As soon as the words fell off my silly tongue I realized that it was practically a challenge. Would this woman have to outdo herself now? Would she create some wild experiment on my head? In her willingness to either impress me or re-affirm my positive opinion of her, would she get too bold and do something I would actually hate, when she wouldn't have if I'd never said anything at all? I mean, she couldn't exactly do the -same- thing as last time (not that I wanted to tempt fate by putting my zestfully-curly mane on a plane with a fresh straightening job-- even the best stylist couldn't sway my hair from frizz in a dry plane cabin atmosphere). I really wasn't sure how to convey trust to the stylist without taking a huge risk and possibly upsetting the delicate balance of fortune and talent that gave this woman her ability to make me (and many others, undoubtedly) feel good about myself. I probably shouldn't have said anything; I was sure I had jinxed myself.
She brought out the razor again and I was immediately scared. I didn't want my hair straight, so how would it look layered and thinned if I wanted to curl it (ha, I say that like I have anything to do with it, like the curling of this hair takes effort, ha!), and what would I say or do if I simply hated it-- probably cry?
When my hair was first drying I was freaking out a little bit because my hair was lighter, thinner, and therefore lifted and had more bounce. I had visions of being a mop, a mop!, and simply because I couldn't keep my mouth closed (not that it would be the first nor the last time that would get me into trouble). I should have said I wanted a trim, like I always get, because I am relatively hair-boring. I should have let her touch up my highlights (but no, I am waiting to see my own girl in S. Florida for that). My mind whirled, frantically trying to re-create old styles I'd previously worn to see if the hairbands, clips, rods would work the same. (What's the appropriate word for those decorative hair sticks you twist your hair up with? it can't be 'rod'. I like them; I've always been able to put my hair up with even a pencil... I can see you turning green! I'm thinking of you, every girl with your hair down who ever had a class with me on a hot day!)
It took (as it always will, for all of us) getting home and getting my hands in my mane to finally breathe. The next time I washed it myself and styled it myself it came out so lovely that I thought of passing word on to the woman that although I might have seemed shaky when she was through, I was thoroughly loving my hair now. I have gotten many compliments on it since then- I can't remember when the last time was that I actually went in and changed the infrastructure of my hair rather than just wearing it long, layered, and either natural or with some inspired highlights. And, being back in my home state, I think old friends have noticed.
All in all, the wash, razor, and styling came to (an astounding, gasp!) $15. In both The City and in S. Florida I've always paid at least twice that amount and I'm sure most of you can back me up about what a bargain it is (especially since I made the stylist think of and execute a style for my face shape and hair type on the spot). I suppose there are some good things about that small, small town. Regardless, I can assure you that I left the woman a nice tip, despite my own unnecessary paranoia at the time of my departure from the salon.
Next time I get a new hair style, I will save myself the strife; I am going to get this one:
Artist: Alexander Calder
ps- I'm back! I promise to never leave for nearly a week again. Trust me, it was as hard for me as it was for you. =)