Saturday, November 22, 2008

HAIR CULTURE

For nearly all my life I have had long hair, meaning that its length has been anywhere from past my shoulders to as long as to my hips. I had it cut very short once when I was seven years old, the cut was called a “Pixie”, anybody remember those? But other than that it has been long hair for me. I suspose it has been a kind of security blanket of sorts. But now that I am of a certain age it just seems like maybe it is time for a change. I had hesitated up to this point for two reasons, one was just not knowing how I might look with short hair, I assume I looked quite cute the last time, but I was seven, of course it was cute then, but it is now many decades later, I believe my cuteness expired back in the 80's somewhere. The other reason was that my mother has short hair and we are constantly being mistaken for sisters when we are together. (I'm not kidding, it's great for my mom's ego, but highly annoying to me and not so wonderful for my ego), so anything that was going to make us look more alike I was naturally going to feel timid about. Yet when I asked a few of my friends what they thought about my cutting my hair short they were, to a person, very enthusiastic. Okay, so perhaps this change was somewhat overdue. But what finally got me thinking seriously about it was looking at all of the pictures taken while in China. Of course I did most of my own picture taking, but my BFF traveling with us took quite a few hundred as well and there I was from behind... YIKES! Is that really what my hair looks like from the back?! (We won't even mention here my reaction to what the rest of me looks like from the back...one self image dilemma at a time). That horrid realization coupled with the fact that trying to color long hair ever two weeks was really getting quite tedious. And so, I made the appointment to have it cut off. I bought several hair style magazines for inspiration and direction and my friend Jennica generously volunteered to watch both girls so that I could go to the salon for what I hoped would be a remarkable transformation in peace. Thanks Jennica!! Really!

I arrived early, magazines in one hand with examples circled and a large Starbucks in the other (hey, if the Mama is going to have a wee bit of time for herself, let's do it right!) So I had some time to sit in the middle of the salon's waiting area and listen to the conversation going on around me as well as observe a slice of modern culture in action. My stylist was running late, which was okay since I didn't currently have two small, active children to attempt to keep in check like I would normally, and so I just sat back to listen and watch.

Across the room was a mother, teenage daughter and her tween brother, all quite involved in the haircut being given to the teenage girl. Mom was taking pictures, daughter was batting her eyes and giggling and brother was hamming it up and trying to jump in front of the camera, or give his sister rabbit ears with his two fingers. Daughter even wanted the stylist to get in the photo too. Goodness, has this child never been to a salon before? Still, they all seemed to be enjoying each other and their morning task. It made me smile.

Behind me I could hear a matronly voice spouting tidbits of historical trivia. On and on she rattled; about the Victorian hobby of creating hair jewelry from loved one's cast off hair. (Want to know more? Go here ). Then it was on to the origin of the saying “getting the bugs out”, like when you say “I need to work the bugs out of the system.” Which apparently involved Henry Ford, a shortage of horse hair stuffing and the substitution of oak moss for padding in car seats. (I was unable to verify this, but I'll keep searching). On and on went the trivia without any response that I could hear from the listener. After a while I had to take a look at this seemingly endless source of minutiae and turned around to discovered that instead of an elderly client chattering to her stylist, what we had here was a male stylist, a wee bit advanced in age, blathering on to a very dignified looking woman who appeared to be no younger than eighty or so, yet spry, who currently had her arms folded across her chest and was starring at the floor with a look of utter irritation on her face. Oblivious to her lack of interest, Mr. Joey moved on to the oh so fascinating subject of the origins of Jello.

To my right was a baby getting his first hair cut and a proud mom and dad beaming and cooing. Baby looked stunned and bewildered. The place was bustling and humming. Hair was dropping to the floor and being swept up and mingled together with the other contributions falling all around, creating fluffy little piles about the room. What an interesting social snapshot this was when one stopped to look. There were young and old; members of every race; men and women, children and elders, long hair, short hair, black, white, gray, yellow, red and brown hair. Curly, straight, braided and almost non-existent. And all this hubbub was about one thing – hair.

The client my stylist was working on before me was a woman probably about my age with long hair reaching down her back. She was having it trimmed and it looked exactly the same when she was done as when she walked in. Normally, that would be me, but I smiled and to myself said, 'Not this time! This time I will walk out, for better or worse, looking different than when I walked in.'

Finally, it was my turn. I showed my magazines, I discussed, I listened to suggestions and we got on with it. No messing around from my wonderful hair cutter, she put the bulk of my hair in a rubber band and off it came, just like ripping off a band aid, do it quickly and you don't have time to register the sting. And there it was forthwith before me looking like the tail of a dog laying on the counter. Then suddenly it was like Edward Scissorhands had stepped up behind me; hair flew, combs seemed to come from nowhere. Snip! Snap! Poof! Spray! Brushing and combing and twirling of the chair ensued. When it was over I peered at my image in the gigantic mirror and found I was almost unrecognizable to myself. After all, I had never seen this adult face without a curtain of long hair surrounding it. So do I like it? Ah, yeah, I think I do. It will probably take some time to get used to what ever I am suppose to do with it besides washing it. I was warned that it might be a little more work than I was used to with my wash-and-go long straight hair. For sure the sensation of suddenly short hair is fantastic! My head indeed feels ten pounds lighter. And when I wash it for the first time I suspect it will seem like I am practically bald headed.

And do I now look even more like my mom? Well, probably. I'm willing to bet the whole sister comparison thing will most likely get worse. Bother. But that's just the way it is. I'll get back to you in a few days after I've lived with it awhile. I do sort of dread work on Monday, I don't like a fuss, and I am sure there will be comments, but I suppose it would be worse if no one said a word about it, right? Then I would worry that it either looked totally horrid or I was just plain invisible all together. Isn't it interesting that this bit of fluff on the top of our heads is so very important to how we see ourselves and each other. How it becomes a part our security and identity. How we worry, fuss, groom and baby this bit of keratinous filament growing out of the top of us. And how very entertaining this hair culture has been to witness on a cold and blustery Saturday morning; a little snapshot of humanity centered around hair.

I feel it only appropriate to leave you to ponder the brilliantly written words of Galt MacDermot from the rock musical HAIR:

She asks me why...I'm just a hairy guy
I'm hairy noon and night; Hair that's a fright.
I'm hairy high and low,
Don't ask me why; don't know!
It's not for lack of bread
Like the Grateful Dead; darling

Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there, hair!
Shoulder length, longer (hair!)
Here baby, there mama, Everywhere daddy daddy

Hair! (hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair)
Flow it, Show it;
Long as God can grow it, My Hair!

Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees
Give a home to the fleas in my hair
A home for fleas, a hive for bees
A nest for birds, there ain't no words
For the beauty, the splendor, the wonder of my

I want it long, straight, curly, fuzzy
Snaggy, shaggy, ratty, matty
Oily, greasy, fleecy, shining
Gleaming, steaming, flaxen, waxen

Knotted, polka-dotted; Twisted, beaded, braided

Powdered, flowered, and confettied
Bangled, tangled, spangled and spaghettied!

O-oh, Say can you see; my eyes if you can,
Then my hair's too short!
Down to here, down to there,
Down to where, down to there;
It stops by itself!
doo doo doo doo doot-doot doo doo doot

They'll be ga-ga at the go-go
when they see me in my toga
My toga made of blond, brilliantined, Biblical hair
My hair like Jesus wore it
Hallelujah I adore it
Hallelujah Mary loved her son
Why don't my Mother love me?

KKW ©2008




















3 comments:

Pegeen said...

I kept reading it waiting for a picture of the new 'do at the end. I guess that's too much to ask for something that just happened today, but I am waiting with bated breath to see it!

Kara said...

It looks fantastic! Makes me long for that thrill of a chopping off the locks :)

Jenna said...

Yes! We need before and after shots!! ;)