Friday, March 18, 2005

Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees

There were things about my anatomy I knew wouldn’t be the same after I had a baby. My hairdo wasn’t one of them.

Pregnancy is a huge shift for the body and I thought I was prepared for all of the changes. I understood about skin tone not returning. I comprehended that my bladder would become a strategic factor in planning long excursions (Actually, my bladder now has veto power on certain non-essential car trips). I even knew that my feet would change size. What I didn’t see coming was how The Bob With Bangs that served me loyally, if routinely, for the better part of my life would now make me look like Lurch. This betrayal was along the lines of a trusted boyfriend putting intimate pictures of you on When I wore knickers in high school, my Bob didn’t judge me. I wore a cat suit in public and Bob was still proud to call me a friend. I fell off platform shoes at a party, and Bob caressed my cheek in a gesture that said “Don’t worry; everyone is way too drunk to remember what just happened”. I rewarded my Bob with expensive shampoo. We were friends, partners in crime. It was the longest relationship of my life.

After Daughter arrived in the picture, my love affair with Bob went badly awry. Bob With Bangs now managed to leave black craters under my eyes, draw all buoyancy from my cheeks, and compressed my lips into a thin line. I needed to either Photoshop myself into a Dorothea Lange picture, or get a new look. Since my hair has always had the same texture and I have never had a deft hand with hair product, I had no knowledge of a follicular Plan B. I had no back-up. I was an innocent child in the ways of hairdos, and now that Bob was revealing his cruel and unpredictable side to me, it was time for us to seek professional help.

I flung myself into a hairdresser’s chair, and we headed off into unknown terrain.

“Shorter in the back, with some height on the top!” I proclaimed.

I resembled a tired mushroom.

A month later…

“Less height, more movement all over!”

I resembled a tired mop.

A month passed…

“More bangs, fewer layers!”

I resembled a tired Joey Ramone.


When I was a child, and learned that colors mixed together produced secondary and tertiary colors, I decided that all the paints mixed together would produce the best color ever. I then learned that all colors mixed together produce brown. As an adult, I was about to learn the hair version of that: four different haircuts in four months produce a mullet. I looked as if spiders were getting to third base with my neck. I flew into the nearest salon and screamed “Kill it!” Once they removed the bottom wisps, I had dowdy hair. I had aging hair. I had Mom Hair.

In case you should ever want to, you can create Mom hair at home. Stick a bowl on your head, cut around it. Don’t worry about not being able to see while you’re doing it, as no one is ever going to look at your handiwork. When you are finished sawing away around the bowl, remove the bowl and cut a few bits to accentuate your crows’ feet and loosening jaw. For the price of a Tupperware bowl, you have now created a hairdo that says to the world “Rice Krispy treats” and “I collect ceramic sheep”. Of course, I had taken four reasonably expensive haircuts to get there.

Then began the agonizing process of growing it out or, as I like to call it, the Cavalcade of Cowlicks. The upside was that any time I caught an accidental glimpse of myself in a mirror, I had something to focus on besides how freaking tired I looked. I could stare in wonder at the spout of hair sticking up from my forehead; gaze in awe at how all the hair on the back of my head grows to the left, leaving me with something resembling a guinea pig under my left ear. On the bad days, when I was prepared to hack it off with a toenail clipper rather than wait for another cowlick to strike, I would gaze on the one picture taken of myself during Mom Hair. The resemblance to Captain Kangaroo was uncanny and I would find the strength to soldier on.

Two years later, I have a shoulder-length Bob With Bangs, nearly the exact same haircut that led me down the path of destruction to Mom Hair. I could look better, I know it. But I don’t have a gambler’s soul. And I still don’t understand how to blow-dry the back of my head without dislocating my shoulders, so any real hairstyle is beyond my ability. In the world of hair, I ride the short bus. Proudly.

Besides, someone has to keep the Scrunchie people in business.


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