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Topic #9
Another Hairy Topic…



We recently had to break up with our hairstylists. It just wasn't working out. They wouldn't let us look in a mirror until they were completely finished, and at that point, suffice it to say, the damage had already been done. I have unruly, poofy, not quite curly but a little more than wavy hair, or as I like to call it, the "rat's nest." I'm sorry to say, in all of my 27 years I have never had a good haircut. They always want to accentuate the poofyness, while I am strictly anti-poof.

Ever since I was 5 years old, my hair has always been short. When I was little, my mother was able to earn some supplemental household income helping senior citizens run their errands by schlepping them around town in a Cadillac. All of the old people would tell my mother "what a cute little boy she had." The reasons that I was always given for why my hair had to be so short were that it was "cooler in the summer" and "easier to take care of." Hmmm. I smell a rat's nest.

So, I was always mistaken for a boy, which was OK by me since I remember doing things like trying to become a boy scout on the grounds that it didn't say anywhere in the Handbook that you had to be a boy, and mean small-town hairdressers nearly brought me to tears, pulling my hair with the straight razors they used instead of scissors. As I grew up, my hair problems continued. I could make those fashionable woven ribbon barrettes, but didn't have enough hair to wear them. Outcast, yet again.

When I got to be a teenager in high school, the hatred of my hair hit an all-time high. I was so envious of girls with straight hair that I would spend hours at the bathroom mirror trying in vain to straighten mine. I must have used every styling product out there – mousse, gel, even saliva! Anything! Without fail, as soon as I got it exactly perfect, I would walk away from the bathroom and in five minutes it would look like my poofy, bushy hair with a hell of a lot of styling shit in it. And then I would cry.

In the 1980's, my hair obsession grew and grew. Since it was the era of the asymmetrical haircut, I just had to have my hair short on one side and long on the other. Unfortunately, this is another hairstyle that only looks good on people with straight hair. That didn't stop me! Not only did I try to give myself that hairstyle, I actually did it myself, with a cheap Woolworth's haircutting razor. I quickly realized that the asymmetrical look wasn't going to work out and moved on to that haircut which was, if anyone remembers, shaved in the back and on the sides, leaving a little cap of hair on the top. Yes, another haircut for straight-haired people. I looked like a mushroom. It was truly horrible. The worst part: having to judge the length in the back as I was shaving it off by myself. It was never even, so I would take a little off the right side, then even it out by taking some off of the left, and so on. It didn't go well. During the months as it grew out, my sister took to calling me "Medusa."

I forgot to mention the "tail" that happened to be so all the rage back then (in small hick towns, anyway&#41. I had one, braided, and kind of on the side, not directly in the back. Horrid.

I then moved on to colors, dabbling in the maroons and reds, the blondes to an extent (does Sun-In count?&#41, culminating in the worst color experience of my lifetime: black. It was supposedly a temporary color that was to wash out in 6 shampoos, but stayed for months. (Keep in mind that after a week I realized that black wasn't my color.&#41 I had to actually go to the hair place and pay them to remove all of the color and then attempt to match what my natural color should be. Yikes! By then it was completely dead, so they also had to cut it all off. Back to the drawing board.

I have tried in vain to emulate every magazine picture I see of  Drew Barrymore's hair. I've tried to get it to grow by sitting in the sun, taking vitamins, drinking milk. I drive Avery crazy by sitting in front of the mirror at night futzing with my hair. "But you're going to bed!" he cries, giving me a look. My argument is, if I can get it to look exactly the way I want it to at least once, even at 11:00 PM, then all hope is not lost.

Hair. We're obsessed with it. We have written musicals about it (Hair&#41. John Waters has created movies about it (Hairspray&#41. We have Hairclubs for Men. We have Ronco's GLH Hair in an Aerosol Can. We have advertisements where women actually orgasm in the shower because of their [Herbal Essences] shampoo. I wonder what patch of hair they're washing, because I've never come in the shower from massaging my scalp.

So, why are we so hair obsessed? Is it some genetic throwback to the days when we were monkeys? Think back to that last Marlon Perkins Wild Kingdom episode that you saw… back to the chimpanzees picking bugs out of each others hair. Obsession over our flowing manes of hair is part of our ancestral memory.

Actually, I don't have flowing manes of hair. My hair used to be something between the White Jewish Afro and a Bozo the Clown special. For years, I thought that if it grew long enough, that I could pull it into one of those cool ponytails. Then the grunge period ended for me in 1992 and I cut it off.

Surprisingly, my grooming techniques became much more complex the shorter my hair got. When it was long and ratty, generic Walgreen's brand shampoo worked fine for me. When I lost the rat-tail and my hair made me look like a frizzy Jesus, I moved to Pantene. When I got it cut really short, I started the common salon brands like Nexxus. Now, I can only use the ultra-expensive brands like Fudge, TIGI, and Vain.

And yes I am vain. My hair has been red, purple and red and purple at the same time. Now it's blonde with white highlights and brown lowlights. My average haircut takes two hours and costs upwards of ninety dollars.

Life would be easier if I was a cat. While I was watching my cat, an advertisement for a new shaving system called Mach 3 came on. I can't believe that people actually shell out $7 for this piece of crap. A shaving system. Screw that… I use a razor. Sometimes, when I have the energy, I even use shaving cream…. that is when I am not using it to kill spiders :&#41

Back to the cat. When she needs to clean her hair, she licks herself. Here is a cat's cleaning ritual: lick, lick, lick, lick, lick, lick, hack, cough, puke. Total time 5 minutes. If she eats her hairball, add an extra minute.

I guess I have nothing to complain about now. My current stylist (Andrea at WAK Shack&#41 gave me a great cut… she did exactly what I wanted, and I love it. But that wasn't always the case.

For a while, I really wasn't happy with my hair. I didn't realise it at the time, but all the signs were there. A few years ago, we started going to this place called Spaghetti and Ravioli. The owners were not hair stylists… they were artists, and their medium was hair. You sit down and the two owners flit around your hair… pushing and prodding until they decide what they are going to do to your hair. Your input (like when I said that I don't have time to put gel in it in the morning; and that I just want an easy, semi-normal hairstyle&#41 is taken and then discarded. They have the idea and they do whatever their muses tell them to do.

Well, it's difficult to complain… you feel intimidated. They tell you about the damage that you have done to your hair… then they use that hypnotic peppermint conditioner that numbs your brain. It's good that your brain is numb, because they don't have ANY mirrors in the salon (except for one, so you can admire their work as you leave&#41. Your head is in their hands!

The first few cuts were great. Then they started asking if they could do color. Red highlights were nice the first time… a mushroom shaped purple and red two-tone hairdo signalled that it was time to find another salon. That, and the fact that while I went to Spaghetti and Ravioli, I bought 4 expensive hats and wore them daily.

The breakup with Spaghetti and Ravioli has been hard. I don't walk on their side of the street when the shop is open. I know that one day, Mark will come out and inform me that the last person butchered my hair… and that if I come back for an emergency cut, all will be forgiven. But I resist! I won't cheat on Andrea… even if it means that I have to give up that mind-numbing peppermint conditioner.

By the way… if you have any topics that you would like us to take on in next week's Topic of the Week, Go to the Message Boards and use the Topic of the Week Conference.

Posted in Topics of the Week (1990s).

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