*ALTERNATE POST TITLES:
It was the best of manes, it was the worst of manes
All tressed out
Hair today, gone tomorrow
WARNING: This post is insanely long!
• I had no hair at all till I was two—Karo syrup kept various fashion accessories affixed to my peach fuzz head.
• I sprouted a headful of ethereal ash blonde hair, but the color only lasted till I was four, when I committed to being a brunette.
• I sported a Dutchboy bob in kindergarten and it made my chubby cheeks appear even chubbier.
• In elementary school I chewed on my hair while learning times tables. I thought my hairclip looked like a large cockroach and frequently made it dance and amble across my desk.
• I regularly washed my Barbies' hair in Suave strawberry shampoo, then carried around and smelled them.
• My hair grew long and straight, and too thick for most ponytail holders. It was my crowning glory . . . or at any rate, the sole feature that identified me as a girl.
• Because I was shy, my hair was a built-in protection; I often hid behind it or turned my head so it would fall like a curtain between myself and others.
• As a child, I loved taking long baths and thought my flowing underwater mermaid hair was terribly romantic.
• I sometimes got teased or questioned about having "hairy arms." When I glumly told my mom about it, she said she understood because she used to get teased the same way by her classmates. That didn't make me feel better.
• I shaved my arms once as a kid. Big mistake. They were super itchy and looked weird when the stubble started showing.
• I was frequently told, "Get your hair out of your face!" and some adult—a parent or grandparent—would push my hair back behind my ears where I hated it, saying, "There, that's better. Now everyone can see you."
• I was fascinated by the way a hair curled and fizzled when you held it up to a candle flame or a burning match. I even kind of liked the smell. I got in trouble a lot for burning my hair.
• Split ends were an endless source of picking and pulling fun. Multiple splits were the best—those and the ones you could pull apart clear up to your scalp. Seemed to me you could double the amount of hair on your head that way.
• My mom decided to trim my hair so it would look nice for my 4th grade school picture. She kept trying and trying to "get it even" and by the time she finally did, I was back to a chin bob. It hung straight down in my face for my photo, and my dad never stopped swearing at the photographer, even years later, for shooting me that way.
• The only fancy hair skill I learned in high school was blow-drying it upside down for more volume. (Braiding a la Pippi Longstockings doesn't count as a skill.)
• For a time, I got sick of the hassle of washing my long hair, and rejoiced when I discovered the baby powder trick.
• It wasn't uncommon for boys sitting behind me in classes or on buses to pull or play with my hair.
• Best-smelling shampoos my parents ever bought: Clairol Herbal Essence (the original one, not made anymore), beer shampoo, and "Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific!"
• Shaving my legs made me feel grown up and sophisticated at first, but I soon came to envy blondes for whom shaving was optional.
• I tried bleaching my leg hair to make it blonde, but it stopped lightening up once it hit the brassy red stage.
• I learned by sad experience that when you are going to the ocean, you shave your legs the night before instead of on the morning you go, or else you'll get an itchy salt spray rash.
• I received a terrible shock once when I went to the beach with my Young Women group, and one of our leaders, milky pale Sister T., stripped down to her one-piecer swimsuit, and her inner thighs were covered with dense black hair.
• When I was a senior, a very sweet underclassman drew my portrait and wrote me passionate love poems—to the "girl of the raven hair."
• By the time I graduated high school, I could sit on my hair.
• When I left home for college at 17, I moved to Utah and cropped my hair like a boy's.
• My first up-do was the summer after my freshman year at the Y, when I went with my friend Scott to his senior prom. His sister did my hair—not my best look.
• When I was 19 I got my hair done in Salt Lake and the man who cut it butchered it so badly that I cried for days and wouldn't leave my apartment for nearly two weeks.
• I was teased mercilessly by my father when my blonde conservative boyfriend put a permanent fat purple streak in his hair.
• I got sucked into the L'oreal ad campapign: "Because I'm worth it!" and kept my hair Dark Ash Brown for a year or two.
• For a while I was stuck in the perm it—straighten it—color it—perm it—straighten it—color it cycle. Until my hair turned into gum.
• My hair was platinum long enough for me to realize that blondes do get treated differently and they do not have more fun.
• Before I made it back to brunette, I tried to hide my platinum-ness from my father, who came from out of town to visit me, and I accidentally turned my hair a sickening shade of pink.
• A now-little-known fact: I actually went to hair design school for a year, between higher education stints, worked in good salons, and even did a bit of teaching. But I never overcame my aversion to curling irons. I don't do hair at all anymore (not even my own, apparently)—I utterly loved my job for a while, but one day I woke up and POOF! KERPOW! SHAZAM! I was unexpectedly and completely out of love—DONE—with all things HAIR. I quit my job and never looked back.
• During that time, I also did some modelling in big hair shows. Big SHOWS, that is, not big HAIR. (Okay, maybe my hair was big a few times.)
• At one of these shows a very handsome lion-maned Greek man named Yanni tried unsuccessfully to drag me into the men's bathroom. In case you didn't know, not all male hairdressers are gay. And the ones who do big shows are something like rock stars in their realm, and are accustomed to groupies, who must be willing to be dragged into men's bathrooms. I had a similar run-in with an Irish hair celeb in Las Vegas, but again I escaped.
• You can take the girl out of the salon, but you can't take the Aveda off her shopping list.
• I found my first white hair while I was dating Rob. I yanked it out and kept it in my wallet for a long time. It seemed like a sign.
• I fell in love with henna after my salon days were over and kept my hair a pretty shade of earth mama red, off and on. It's fun sitting outside with a good book, your hair packed in green henna leaf sludge and wrapped in cellophane, waiting for the sun to bake in your color. Maybe I'll try it again one of these days . . . .
• I noticed more white hairs moving in when my mom was dying of cancer.
• When I served as Young Women president the first time, one of my favorite girls, a genuine character, used to sneak up behind me in the hallways at church and try to yank out my white hairs before I could catch her.
• I got my first real invasion of white hairs the season that I spent in NC helping my grandmother after her massive stroke.
• When she moved in with us a few years later, that's when my browns began to really lose the battle. Yes, I think stress can definitely knock the color out of your hair.
• I used to painstakingly tweeze my eyebrows, which are of the western forest variety, into the "right" shapes. It was a lot of work and ouch, keeping up with the neverending process. Fortunately, I didn't inherit the dreaded unibrow gene, so nowadays I settle for my own natural wildness.
• On the other hand, I do bleach me a lip once in a while, and ruthlessly yank out wandering chin hairs. Oh, I'm vain, alright, for all the good it does me. This week I studied up about laser hair removal and decided against it, and made my very first appointment with an electrologist for next Saturday. I do not want to end up with a chinny-chin-chin like most of the grande dames of my family. It's all so silly, isn't it?
• Being brunette is a lot of work. What do blondes do with all their extra time?
• The irony is that I now have an auto-immune disorder, alopoecia areata, which causes occasional crop circles to form on my scalp. Are my AWOL hairs simply travelling south to my face?
• Before I knew I had alopoecia, my sister-in-law discovered a small round bald spot near my crown while giving me a razor cut. I felt pretty anxious about her discovery. I had a detailed dream later that week which showed me a significant picture, of a tonsure. I did some online research about various illnesses and when I recognized the picture from my dream, I knew I had found my problem and was able to read about the treatments available and know what kind of doctor to look for.
• I refuse to have a monk's hairdo. If it ever gets that bad, I'm going to buy a lot of cool wigs. Maybe even a pink one.
• I get shots in my head, many many of them in a session, and they are pretty effective at persuading my hair to grow again after an attack. But there's still the waiting for the grass to grow, so to speak.
• Rob wants me to grow my hair out. I just want to grow hair (in the right places)!
• Last week I had another hair dream. This time, I was surprised to realize that my hair was very long and brown and thicker than ever before. While I had been busy paying attention to other things, my head had turned lush and healthy. I'm hoping it's a good sign.