True confession: I have given up on getting a professional haircut. I’m still pondering how to break this news to my hair stylist, a lovely woman, who has provided me with professional haircuts for fifteen years. But my hair has moved past even her ability to negotiate a truce. The problem is not the hair stylist, the problem is the hair.
My hair has always had a mind of its own. In my early teens, I had my Jewish hair straightened because I imagined that would make me look like the Catholic cheerleaders at my school who had perfect, straight, shiny, thick, horse-tail hair. My natural curls were referred to as “frizz” in those days. If it rained, I hid under the bed for fear of frizz. In my later teens and early twenties I became a “natural woman” (thank you Carole King for the lyrics) and wore my hair in long ringlets. I had big hair. It took up a lot of space. When I traveled I bought a second seat on the airplane just for my hair. I looked like a hippie, even though I wasn’t. People were always trying to sell me drugs, peasant dresses, curried tuna-fish sandwiches, and sandalwood incense. In graduate school, I found a good stylist and had my hair layered. It looked less unruly that way. It looked terrific in fact. I looked ethnic, untamed, creative, and intellectual. I was proud of my curly hair and considered it my best feature.
During the time in my life when I was pregnant, breastfeeding, and raising young children, my hair took some strange turns. Whenever I had a baby, my hair went dead straight. With no curl. Seriously. As I began to wean the baby, it would curl up again. Go figure. Hormones, you gotta love ‘em, right? The first time it happened, after my daughter was born, I actually had my hair permed because I could not cope with a new baby and straight hair at the same time. I had no idea what to do with straight hair. I think one actually has to comb it. When it happened again with my second child, I embraced my temporary straight-hair persona, grew my hair long, and cut bangs across the front. No one was looking at my hair in those days anyway. They were looking at my breasts, which I whipped out constantly and thrust into a hungry baby’s mouth.
Now that my hair has largely gone gray, it’s acting like Charlie Sheen on quaaludes at a Chuck E. Cheese Disneyland ride. It’s not the gray color that’s the problem. It’s the texture of my hair that has resulted from hormone tyranny and the fact that my hair can’t decide if it wants to curl up anymore or not, and if so (or not) how much. I guess it’s an aging thing. My hair has to decide from one moment to the next if it has enough energy to curl up. One side is still fairly curly. One side has lost a lot of curl and is more wavy, or maybe better described as limp (as in the deadness quality of roadkill). I have an interesting whirlpool configuration going on toward the back on the left side, where my hair lays flat and I can’t convince it to show any sign of life. I think that patch of hair is chronically depressed. It has not recovered from the agony of living through the Bush Administration (twice). It gives me a slightly crooked appearance (crooked in the sense of lopsided as opposed to crooked in the sense of Mafia warlord).
My new philosophy about my hair is “If it sticks out, cut it off.” That’s actually working surprisingly well for me. Even though I have not had a professional haircut in four months, I have received a number of compliments on my hair. So I think I’m onto something with my organic hair management method. I figure that it’s a win-win situation. If my hair looks like I just stepped out of a wind tunnel then at least I didn’t pay for it to look like that. I seriously doubt that my hair stylist could do anything with this mess that would please me. And I don’t want her to get hit by a stray punch as a result of stepping into the combat zone of me versus my hair. Since I have no interest in dyes, highlights, perms, or weaves, I am what I am. I will continue to take one day at a time, scrutinizing my mane each morning and deciding if I want to cut anything off. If anyone asks, I’ll tell them I’m cultivating eccentric old-lady chic. My husband and children should just be grateful that I’m not wearing a cat on my head. (Say, there’s a concept.) Don’t judge.
This is me and my hubby a couple of weeks ago on vacation in SoCal. How's my hair?