03 November 2011

Dis-Tressed for Success

My family has issues with hair.  I'm not sure exactly why that is, but it has become clear over the years that none of us will ever be on a best-tressed list.  My husband has thick, curly hair which should be the envy of women everywhere, but he sadly lacks the hair-styling gene and so runs around more often than not with scraggly, overgrown hair.  It doesn't help that he has a double crown, which makes his hair difficult to cut.  I'm lucky if he gets it cut every three months; his would-be luscious curls inevitably pull out mostly straight from the weight of uncut hair and flap about his face, forever unruly.  When he was younger, he was subjected to home haircuts (with 4 kids in the house, saving money was important).  As a result, most of the pictures I've seen from that era involve something between a bowl haircut and a really, really bad Beatles' 'do.
Grade School Hair
High School Hair--nice glasses, Dude...clearly I married Eric Forman.

In grad school--the tie-dyed shirt and hemp sandals
must have been in the wash.

So far, my daughter has fared the best of the three of us.  She started out as a towhead with wispy fine hair that grew so slowly that she was three before she even had enough hair to cut.  Eventually her hair started to darken, much to her consternation, thickening as she grew.  She even picked up a little wave, courtesy of her father.  Her only real follicle challenge is a slightly high hairline and a marked disinterest in bothering with hair any more than absolutely necessary.  Sounds oddly familiar.

Cutie Patootie, Age 3
Senior Pic, age 17.  Taking the time to fix her hair
is worth the effort, no?  I love this girl.
 While my husband has the potential for awesome hair, even if he lacks the ability or interest in pulling it off, I am doing good simply to have the potential for hair.  Ever since I was small, my hair has been very thin and fine and generally the bane of my existence.  In an effort to combat this over the years I have had a string of highly unfortunate perms that tended to make me look like an electrocuted poodle.  These perms were interspersed with poor haircuts that usually rendered my hair flat and lifeless or short and stuck to my head like one of Esther William's swim caps.  This condition was not improved by my mother's own attempts to save money by cutting my hair.  Mercifully no bowls were used; rather, my bangs were regularly cut by Scotch Tape.  She'd tear off a strip of tape and slap it across my forehead, using it as a ruler to cut a straight line.  Unfortunately, the tape was rarely (if indeed ever) put on straight, so my bangs were constantly cut at an angle.  More often than not, I looked like my hair had been styled with a weed-whacker.  

Notice the wavy hairline, angled down to the left.
Though to be fair, this is better than many of my haircuts.

Who gives their kid a perm at age 5?  My hair was freaking TRIANGULAR.
Also, my bangs are still wavy and higher in the middle than on the sides.
By the time I was in 8th grade, I was determined to remedy this atrocity by cutting my own hair, sans tape.  I went into the bathroom with my mom's (dull) scissors, and proceeded to cut.  Crap.  Too short on one side.  So I trimmed the other half a little more.  Crap.  Too short on that side now.  This went on, back and forth, for approximately 30 minutes, at the end of which I was left with stubby 1/2" bangs.  Worse still, I was left with stubby 1/2" bangs a mere TWO DAYS before school pictures.  Bad enough to to something so stupid, much less to have it immortalized in film.  

My embarrassment for your pleasure.  You're welcome.
Also, you know you want those glasses.

You would think having thin, fine hair would make it easier to cut--there's just not that much of it, after all--especially when its growth is predisposed towards stopping at shoulder length.  Seriously--my hair stops growing as soon as it gets anywhere near my collarbone, splitting almost with seconds of hitting my shoulder.  And yet, nearly every time I go into a new salon I have to deal with the humiliation of some stylist pawing through my hair, saying things like "Oh, Marge, come over here!  Feel this--she has hair just like a BABY!!"  Because what grown woman doesn't love hearing that?

One of many horrible perms over the years, as well as another
ugly pair of glasses.  I made that dress, though.

Short hair FAIL.  I look like a boy in a Charlie Brown shirt. 
And check out the butt-ugly couch.

With my brother in '85.  Probably my all-time most favorite haircut,
which I first got from a BARBER on the Butler campus.  Go figure. 
Pretty '80s, though.

Not surprisingly, finding a new stylist whenever I move is a major pain, and moving to Georgia has been no different.  After spending 18 years going to the same guy in Memphis, I dreaded starting over down here.  Turns out I had good reason.  I went to one place and showed them pictures of how I wanted my hair.  Not pictures of Jennifer Anniston's hair or any other celebrity's hair--I showed pictures of my very own hair cut in the way I liked.  Fat lot of good it did.  The woman styling my hair cut it, blew it out and styled it.  I started to worry when partway through it started looking suspiciously "big."  I wear glasses and always have to take them off when my hair gets cut, which means that it's difficult to judge new people while they are cutting since I can't really see what's going on.  I grabbed my glasses and was horrified to discover that she had given me Sally Field's helmet hair from the movie Steel Magnolias.  I immediately started pawing through it in an attempt to make it deflate.  My hair was poofy, it was crooked, and it was just terribly cut.  I was so put out by the whole thing that the receptionist ended up refunding my money, but I still never went back.

No one likes Helmet Hair.
My next couple of forays went marginally better, but not great.  I often ended up waiting 2-3 months between haircuts just so I could have my old stylist do my hair when we were back in Memphis to visit.  Finally, though, I found a new guy just last month.  The cut wasn't perfect, but it was head and shoulders above any other I've had here so I actually went back to him today.  I always figure I'll give a new stylist a chance to cut my hair first, and if they get that right then I'll let them try coloring it.  While my hair is naturally auburn, its color has varied over the years, darkening from reddish blonde to reddish brown as I've gotten older.  I'm convinced that my mother only adopted me because I had red hair; she has always had an obsession with redheads, so much so that when she found out my second boyfriend was a carrot top, she started pushing me to marry him so that she could have "red-headed grandchildren."  I was 18 at the time.  

Ginger Pimpin'.  Otherwise known as bad perm
and specs #15.

Anyway, a few years ago, I began suffering the indignity of "mutant albino hairs" (my hair is not getting grey...I'm far too young to go grey...) and so now I have to have my natural color touched up as well.  I suppose technically I don't have to touch it up, but most redheads don't look all that fabulous with grey hair.  We look like someone left us out in the sun too long and we faded.  It's not pretty.  Dying hair red can be an issue, though.  I want my hair to look natural, like it was before the advent of mutant albino hair.   Too often new stylists make it come out brassy or an odd shade that doesn't suit my skintone.  Fortunately, my man Ricky did an excellent job matching my hair color and camouflaging those grey roots.  He was also able to improve on the cut, presumably because we are becoming a little more acquainted with each other and he is understanding my needs more.

Happy Hair

I don't know what it says about me that I seem to do better with male stylists, but I do.  The two I've had tell me all about their wives, their kids, and they make me laugh.  Just today Ricky and I were swapping bad haircut stories.  I told him about my junior high debacle and he told me about a client he had who felt the need to adjust her bangs right before her daughter's wedding.  Um, what?  It seems she had a couple stray hairs that just wouldn't do, so in order to make corrections she grabbed the only thing she had to hand--her nail clippers.  When all was said and done, this 60-year-old woman went to her daughter's wedding with little curved divots cut out of her hair.  Can you imagine the wedding pictures?  "Nice scalloped hair, Mom..."  Of course, the problem with telling me such a story is that I immediately suggested using a pinking shears.  Ricky just looked at me and said "You know you don't have to try to best her, right?"  Fifteen minutes later we were giggling hysterically while we considered all sorts of other interesting items that could be used for cutting one's hair, including (but not limited to) a potato peeler, a cheese grater, and an egg beater.  ("Whip it--whip it good!")  I don't suppose I should be surprised that Ricky and I were talking kitchen gear; turns out he is a part-time baker as well.  I have threatened to pay for my next trim in snickerdoodles.  His eyes lit up when I said "snickerdoodles," so I think he may be game for a trade.

Oh, please--like you didn't know they'd show up again sooner or later.

Snickerdoooooooodles...future haircut funding?

So what about all of you?  Best hair experience?  Worst hair experience?  Discuss.

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