Eight days into the new year and I am already spitting bullets. It’s over hair. My hair. Silly I know, considering that there is a lot more in this world to spit bullets over (ObamaCare and my son’s poor choices in life are two that come to mind).
I may be the rare woman who, growing up, loved her hair. Hair color, that is. I was born a red-head. Titian red. Tiziano, according to my Italian nonno. Titian Red…the color used in many of the famed 16th century Italian painter Titian’s (Tiziano Vecelli) masterpieces. And, while I loved my hair color which certainly set me apart from most girls around me, I’ll confess I hated the curls and waves. I wanted straight hair as a kid. Now? I love my curls although not the frizz that occurs as a result of living here in humid “middle earth.” My hair does best in drier climes….like Arizona. There my hair is relaxed and easy to care for. Here in “middle earth,” my hair often needs it’s own zip code. After a wash it dries into an enormous ball of frizzed curls. If I would attempt to comb my hair out it would look like I either stuck my finger in a light socket or was struck by a bolt of lightening….which would be why I only wash my hair once a week.
For many years I had very short hair. I’ll admit to life being much easier (and infinitely less expensive) in the hair department when my hair was very short. I did not need products or accessories of any kind. I’ll never forget what a nurse said to me just after going through 20 hours of labor to bring my son into the world.
Nurse, checking my recovery room chart: “Didn’t you just deliver?” Me: “Um, yes, why?” Nurse: “Your hair looks perfect even after 20 hours of labor and delivery!” (As a side bar: Four years later… an entirely different scenario about my short hair during the birth of my daughter. Suffice it to say It’s just another reason I am no longer married to her father!).
So…In a fit of rebellion to aging I decided to grow my very short locks out when I turned 50. I was living in Southern California then. I longed to have a ponytail in the worst way (you know, that whole California Girls thing!). I decided to do the opposite of what most women do at 50. Instead of short, go long. The process wasn’t without a lot of angst and expletives but in a few years I was able to put my hair back into a ponytail …or better still, let it hang freely and enjoy the California ocean breeze running through it.
I’m sure you’re wondering where this is all going?
So this beautiful Titian red hair I had is fast disappearing. It is no longer a vibrant auburn red but more a Halloween orange in some parts and gray, gray, gray at the roots. My lovely (and rare) red has been on a slow demise for a good twelve years now. And it is not a lovely gray. You know the kind. It’s not the Helpful Heloise beautiful silver-gray or the Jamie Lee Curtis gray. It’s a combination of mousey gray and translucent white…a gray that makes me look (and feel) like I’m an ancient woman at 56….a gray that makes my face almost disappear, save for the two pools of blue (that would be my eyes).
For years I swore I’d never color my hair and foolish though it sounds, I thought I could keep that promise. Unfortunately, I had to eat those words nine years ago. And so began the downward spiral…from loving to loathing my hair. Not to mention buckets of money down the drain in the process. We could practically buy a new car with the money I’ve spent on my hair!
I truly hate spending so much money on my hair but what pains me even more is spending such money and hating the final outcome. This is more often than not folks and it is making me spit bullets! It seems that red hair is the most difficult color for colorists to work with. Red is also the least-lasting of colors which means that every 4 weeks, if I want to maintain color continuity, I have to shell out upwards of $150 or more to keep my color. I cannot swim either; two sessions in the pool would be enough to bleach the color out. Truly money down the drain!
In California I had a very difficult time finding someone in my neighborhood to cut and color my hair to my liking. No doubt I would have found someone in Los Angeles to do things right but I would have had to fight horrendous city traffic and shell out beaucoup bucks in the process.
So it happened that while living in California, after a particularly terrible color job I picked up the phone to cry on my sister’s shoulder. “I can’t be that bad,” she offered in her attempts to console me…..until via Face-time, I showed her. “Oh my! You’ve got to go back and have her fix it!” she cried. No way was I going back. Sis then said I should schedule an appointment with her stylist, Farrah. Now sis lives in Northern Virginia and I just happened to be ready for a visit out east.
Long story short….I saw her stylist and was wowed by a great color and a good cut. Farrah gave me the formula and I thought all was right with the world.
Yet is seems that even with the formula no one else can get it right. How is that possible? Even Farrah doesn’t understand this! While living in California I went to Northern Virginia to have my hair colored four times! Trust me folks….I’m not wealthy! I want to visit my sister, not go because of hair issues!
So far I have yet to find a good colorist here in “middle earth.” I’ve been to four colorists here so far and I’m on to number five. Two colorists ago turned my hair into a brilliant fuchsia! I kid not. I was in the salon chair for three hours and the colorist still couldn’t neutralize the color mistake correctly. To add insult to injury she charged me $220! I cried the whole way home. The poodle was confused when I walked in the door and Rocket-man literally jumped back in surprise when he came home that evening (I did not handle that well, I will confess!). I scrubbed my scalp raw three times that night and even went to that awful swimming pool in town twice during the week in an attempt to wash out the horrid color. Yes indeed; another trip to Northern Virginia. My hair was still pink when I arrived!
So yesterday it was time for another salon appointment. I relayed to colorist number five that her last color was still not quite what I had in mind. I showed her photos of me when I was younger. “This is what I want to get closer to,” I said. “And, I want chunky highlights.” She looks at the photos. She says that’s quite a vibrant red. “Well yes,” I say but tone it just a bit and put the highlights in. Mind you, this colorist has the formula from Farrah in Northern Virginia. I cannot fathom why colorist five cannot get it right.
She hands me back the photos and says what she is going to do…and adds that highlights really aren’t done in the winter. “It’s done in the spring and summer,” she says. “Seriously? “I’ve never heard of that,” I said, trying very hard not to sound like a bitch, because, after all she is going to put scissors to my hair too. She explains that she’ll pull some of my lighter strands out of the coloring process and those will serve as highlights. OK. I’ve had that done before, even in Northern Virginia. Already making my mind up that I need to find colorist number six, I say “Fine.”
Forty-five minutes later she is washing out the applied color product. “Wow. Your gray really pulls the color,” she says. A sense of dread is coloring, literally, ever fiber of my being. A shampoo assistant walks by and says to my colorist (I kid not), “That’s an interesting color. What color is it?”
Oh no! “Um…is there a problem?” I ask as I sit with my head pulled back over the shampoo bowl. “Don’t worry. I am going to neutralize this,” says the colorist.
Shit. Here we go again. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why I’m spitting bullets.
I call my sister again. Expletives fly. We Face-Time again. She gets it. The color is clearly NOT right. “You need highlights,” she says. “That will help soften the severity of the color,” she adds. I tell her what the colorist said about highlights. My sis explodes in disbelief (no expletives though). She all but screams on my behalf….“You demand highlights! For heaven’s sake. YOU are the customer. If you want PURPLE hair then she’d better give you PURPLE hair!”
Sis is right. And, this is just another instance I wish I were more like my sister. She can roar like the Leo-Lion that she is and gets her desires across in no uncertain terms. Me. I am a mouse who has great difficulty with confrontations of any kind (which would be why I’m often Doris Doormat).
I’ve got a call in to another salon. I left a message stating my problem and added “I WANT HIGHLIGHTS…please.” Haven’t heard back yet.
To be continued…..