Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Long and Short of It

“We can take it another step in that direction,” my stylist said cautiously.

I’d just outlined a fairly ambitious plan to excise all evidence of what’s simply referenced around here as The Incident. “I’m prepared to take it all the way up to the chin,” I offered.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “there’s just not quite enough to work with yet.” She picked up her scissors and began taking conservative little snips in strategic places while she outlined a plan that sounded an awful lot like those multi-stage reconstructive surgeries one sees disfigured accident victims undergo on Lifetime or The Learning Channel.

“It’s growing quite quickly,” my stylist said encouragingly. She tugged on my top most layers. “All this used to be here,” she said, pointing to an area several inches above my ears.

The fact that I’ve retained my ability to grow hair really is good news, considering that my last visit to this salon ended badly at the scissors of a Substitute Stylist days before my milestone birthday, forcing me to confess to my sister my belief that all those short, compact, helmet-like hair-dos sported by mature women were the result of a single haircut gone wrong. “Then it just stops growing,” I sobbed. “They never recover.”

“Who told you that?” my sister demanded.

My husband did, actually. He’s been telling me this since my mid-twenties, every time I go to the hair salon.

“Don’t let them take too much off,” he says gravely. “Hair stops growing as you get older. Don’t forget.”

“Ulterior motives,” my sister scoffed. “The man likes long hair. That’s all he knows.”

Recalling my bicep-length tresses, I dissolved into a fresh round of despair.

“We’ll work with it,” my sister said, her voice evaporating into a shaky warble as she examined the carnage.

I flipped the hood of my sweatshirt over the jagged, ill-shaped tufts. “I just wanted to be pretty on my birthday,” I sobbed.

I knew it was bad, but little did I know the horror my sister was enduring, as I was blissfully unaware of the surprise party the family was planning two days hence. I was thinking I didn’t want to look bad in a few commemorative snapshots; she knew a limelight appearance before friends and extended family in my present state could result in years of therapy. Although it thankfully didn’t slip in the heat of turmoil, later the word “mullet” would be uttered.

Knowing the full ramifications of my shorn state, my sister didn’t mess around. Pictures were pulled from archives; the Real Stylist was summoned from a color job to perform some “blending” with a razor; products were purchased. At home, my sister demonstrated all manner of blow drying techniques, quoting liberally from James, the expensive stylist she employed before the economy went south.

Somewhere between the mousse and a product labeled “pomade,” a sassy style emerged. My sister wrote the whole episode off as a blessing in disguise, and even hinted that I might want to keep the new look.

While I admit to having a little fun with the new style, I found all the washing, blowing, lifting, and shaping to be rather daunting, and about two weeks ago, I discovered that it no longer rendered the same results, anyway, so I figured an appointment with the Real Stylist was my ticket back to a shorter version of my Regular Hair.

My prognosis looks good for a chin-length regular look in about two months, although we can take another “baby step” toward it in about four weeks. Until then, I’ve got a layered two-tiered style that’s just going to have to suffice.

Oh, and the original haircut that I went in for back in November? That’s a good 5 months down the road.

In light of all that’s transpired, my daughter thinks perhaps it’s best if we all guard against general deterioration by growing out some good, solid hair and storing it up for the future—a good foot or so of fresh growth should do, on top of what we want to keep attached.

I don’t know what kind of a plan I’d be looking at to get there, but I think for now I’m just happy I didn’t have to show up at my party in a mullet, and from here it seems unlikely that I’ll be showing up next year in a helmet.


Melissa said...

Hilarious! I totally understand! i am recovering from an exremely short ,spikey , wild hair cut that a stylist gave to me! I have gone for two cuts so far trying to grow that mullet shape thing out that happens as you wait for it to all grow back to an even length. So funny! i love it! Thanks for writing this!

Anonymous said...

You know, some mature women look excellent in short hair.....

Jen said...

We've all had bad hair cuts.. I'm just glad you finally got to a place that you expose the truth on your blog.. When I saw you at your party I wasn't sure if this material would ever see the light of day!

Joanne Tanner said...

Oh Cynthia. I have a hundred of the same such hair disasters. I remember being so depressed with my weight and the state of my (lack of) love life that I just had her cut it all off. She shaved it up the back and I looked like a fat Billy Idol, without the cool platinum blonde color. Took YEARS to get it past my shoulders. Oddly enough, now that I'm in my 40s, my hair is healthier and stronger than ever (albeit a LOT gray-er). One of the best decisions I made was to pay that extra money to go to a good stylist. I just go a lot less often and buy a lot fewer clothes and shoes to make up for the cost. But clothes and shoes are occasional... hair is all-day-every-day. Wish I had known you then. I would have cried with you...


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