I know many things about myself, but two things I am most proud of are my resiliency and my sense of humor.
These two qualities have gotten me through some deep, dark times. For example, recently they got me through a haircut.
My personal style can be described as “casual,” “low-maintenance,” or “given up,” depending on who you ask or how hard I’ve tried. I don’t have a hairstyle so much as I have hair. I wash and condition it, and blow it dry enough that my bangs don’t do a flippy-shwoopy thing and call it a day.
My mother-in-law treated me to a pedicure for my birthday, and it took me three months to redeem the gift certificate. I was conversing with Nga, and sort of watching the comings and goings of the salon, enjoying the out-of-the-ordinary pampering, when a woman walked in, gestured sort of helplessly to her head, and proceeded to a hairstylist’s station. Several minutes later I glanced up and saw the same woman get up from the station, completely transformed. I immediately said, “I want her to do my hair!”
Two weeks later I called in and got an appointment for the following afternoon. I went through some pictures of hairstyles I liked and optimistically took a selfie to show my “before.”
My hairstylist was Chi, Nga’s sister, and she looked at my potential hairstyle photos and nodded wisely, approving of the length I had selected. She added, “And you want highlights, too?”
I said no, I don’t do anything to my hair but cut it every so often. I can’t use products like gel or mousse or hair spray, and I am not willing to dye it and need to come in and spend money every few weeks to deal with the dye growing out. Chi assured me she could do highlights very subtly, and long story short, a few minutes later I found myself being wrapped in foil packets and settled under the dryer. After another few minutes had gone by, Chi came to check on me, and when she unwrapped a foil packet she exclaimed in an urgent and surprised voice, “Oh! Your hair is very quick! It is blonde!”
For the record, urgent and surprised are never good from a hairstylist.
I was whisked out of under the dryer and into the sink faster than I could say anything, but inside I was chanting, “It’s only hair. It’s only hair. It’s only hair.”
Chi led me to her station and took the towel off, simultaneously spinning – well, more whipping than spinning-- the chair so that I was faced away from the mirror. A coworker standing by nodded wisely, telling me, “It’s for the transformation.”
Transformation? That can’t be good. Again, internal chant: “It’s only hair, it’s only hair. Bleached stripes will grow out, right?”
When Chi turned the chair around, though, my hair was not bleached stripes. It was a soft, subtle, delicate highlighted bob, and it was lovely. The bangs were just the right length, the cut was flattering, and it was well done. I looked brighter and -- dare I say -- younger? Chi smoothed a smidge of something on the top to smooth it, I thanked her profusely, paid, and trekked across the mall back to my car, feeling extra cute and jaunty in my new extra cute and jaunty haircut. Many people looked, which I put down to the cute and jaunty hair and the extra cute feeling I had in my jaunt.
When I got to my car, I peeked in the mirror to admire the cut again, and I realized the little pomade stuff Chi had smoothed on had not dried thoroughly before I set off across the mall all jauntily, and the result was that the bangs had fluffed way up and fanned way out and held that way. I had full-blown plumage. And even better, the pomade stuff had gone ahead and assumed I was going for plumage, and it was holding nice and firm.
It’s settled down now, and two weeks later I am still enjoying my subtle, no-bleached-stripes, no-plumage new cute and jaunty “after” hairstyle.
Juliana LeRoy wears many hats, including wife, mother, paraeducator and writer. She can be spotted around Windsor gathering material, or reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.