Monday, March 19, 2007

To live and dye in L.A.

I was sitting in church on Sunday morning, trying to focus on the sermon, which seemed to be on some larger topics, but I kept getting distracted. Two rows before me was a child with the finest head of hair I had seen in recent memory. Had I been a cat and this been a laser beam teasingly moving back and forth I could not have been held any more rapt.

The cut itself was unremarkable, a simple chin-length bob, but it just served to set off the blinding perfection of her hair color. Were I unimaginative or forced to pay by the word for my blog privileges, I could describe it as “Brown”, but this was “Brown” the way Donald Trump is “Self-confident”. Luckily, I don’t pay by the word and I have years of looking at fashion magazines and paint chips to strengthen my color vocabulary. Her hair was a honeyed brown, with wide strips of caramel and butter splashed along the sides. She was competing with the stained-glass windows for illumination and radiance. All I wanted to do was grab this girl of about ten, run to the nearest highly competent colorist, point at her head, then point at my head and scream “That! Now! Do on my head! Shiny! Caramel! Do now!”. Her mother was sitting next to her, and I can only hope she felt really good about having hair the same flat, opaque yellow as Play-Doh. Otherwise, having this Platonic ideal of hair color in your house would really start to wear on a person.

I cannot relate how bored my hair is making me right now. I say I cannot relate it because unless we are having this conversation in person, you don’t know that I’m rolling around on the floor moaning “…so very bored…”. Without that, you might think I have some affection left for this hair. But a year after nearly scalping myself and dealing with the consequences, I am here to say I want a divorce. Not only do my hair and I have nothing left to say to one another, now it’s just getting weird.

Where they did the surgery, I had hair transplants or, as I like to think of them, “Eltons”. As each little Elton has grown in, it grows in straight up. Eventually, it will lie down nicely like every other listless hair on my head but, right now, they are like horrible wee little soldiers up there. Why does this matter? It matters because I have to comb the non-military, lank hair over the spot so people don’t confuse me with Bruce Willis. After six months, I have it pretty much down. A little back-comb, a little hairspray, a headband and boom, it’s the Kennedy Administration on my head and we’re out the door. But thanks to these interlopers, the long hair gets pushed out of the way by the short hairs, leaving me every hour or so with a dreadful breeziness topside. Then it’s a quick trip to the bathroom for another backcomb and spray. I’m getting a beehive, and until these hairs stop trying to lay siege to one another, I’m stuck with it.

Which leaves me with color. For about a year in my twenties I was an intermittent redhead, which didn’t go badly with my pallid, freckled skin and green eyes. Matter of fact, I looked considerably less dead, which was pleasing. But dyed red hair requires only slightly less maintainance than a travelling exhibition of Vermeer paintings. The instant you leave the salon, it starts fading. If you have the temerity to wash it, even with the “Keeps your dyed red hair from fading” shampoo, it fades. Going out in daylight without a hat causes fading. I think having hiccups increases the rate of fade. And let us not forget roots; I lack the particular kind of beauty which is pleasingly offset by bichromal hair. Quinn with a half-inch of roots= people looking at me and thinking “Dear Lord, that poor woman is homeless. And insane. And probably huffs paint.”

But I couldn’t afford to keep going back to the salon to re-up, as it were. I bought bottles of red hair dye and refreshed my natural red at home. The first couple of touch-ups were fine. After that, the previously dyed hair started taking on a pinkish hue, excepting those parts which were bright red, or the exciting interludes of pale orange and coral. Once you added in the green eyes and the dead white skin, I was rainbow sherbert. I dyed the whole mess brown and went back to my roots, and haven’t tried to dye in the decade since.

But I am so bored. And so unappealing. Did I mention that my hair is brown? No paint chip color or homage to De la Renta’s fall 2002 collection on my head. No wisps of amber, no flashes of sienna, no “Chocolate is the new black”. My hair is consistantly, unrelentingly, brown. I guess I should be grateful I’m not yet battling ice, snow, silver, frost, alabaster or chalk.

But I don’t feel like being grateful.

I feel like flicking my hair and not reflexively checking to make sure the hair nursery with all the baby Eltons is covered.

I feel like looking in a mirror at my hair and thinking something besides, “(sigh).”

I feel like chestnut hair with cinnamon highlights and bitter chocolate lowlights.

I want someone to confuse my hair with a dessert.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am brown. Just brown. I have tried to convince myself that I am golden brown or honey brown or caramel or mocha but it never lasts long.

I started coloring (so much 'nicer' than dying) my hair when the first greys started showing up several years ago. I took turns with a summer color and a winter color.

I have settled on Navajo Bronze (Clairol Natural Instincts #12A). It's close enough to my real color to allow me the five weeks between "I need to touch up my roots" until I actually get around to it. And, it sounds nice. Navajo Bronze....Navajo (very earthy) Bronze (very rich). Unfortunately, my bathroom wall and basin are sometimes Navajo Bronze too...along with my neck, my ears and several towels.

But, I only have so many natural hi-lights and low-lights. When L'Oreal first came out with their Couleur Experte, I was excited. "Expert Multi-Tonal Haircolor" at home, for me! Then I saw the price (yikes!), and then I stopped for a moment to think (always dangerous). It's a two step process. All over color and then highlighting. I have enough trouble finding time for the 'slop it on your head and wait for 15 minutes' brand. I'm also not sure I'm talented enough to arrange the highlights where so I don't look like a zebra.

I remember my Grandmother wore a wig. When I asked why, she said she it was easier. Then, she told me the color was "Champagne" and she liked that too.

Makes more sense to me now than it did then.

6:02 AM  
Blogger Paige said...

I think you have lovely hair--I always wanted gorgeous chestnut hair, which is what you have; and I, in fact, have fake, high maintenance, red. But if you really want to do something about it--call Muriel at Pointe de Vue Salon 310 273 1231. Shane there cuts my hair, and Lisa, Muriel's assistant, colors it now that Sylvain, the fabulous Frenchman, has disappeared. (Yes, that's a story, and one that's too long for comments.) But they're good, and the salon is nice, and it's not insanely expensive, and you get to sit and read trashy magazines and have nice people bring you tea for a few hours while they work their magic on your head, and really, how often does any of that happen to us moms?

xx Paige

2:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My biggest gripe with being a faux red head is that I ended up looking brassy; a bit like Lucille Ball when she went on the Dick Cavett show and told everyone she was picking up radio shows with her molars.

So then I went back to (sigh) brown, only it's just the best brown ever and everyone tells me how it makes me look Italian with my green eyes, even though I am also of the pale freckled variety.

All this to say, yeah. Been there. Done that. Will most likely forget which color I bought last time and will be there again.

I figure as long as I never channel Lucy again, I'm good to go.

4:33 AM  
Blogger theflyingmum said...

Reality check: be glad that you are not so gray that people actually ask you if you are your 3 year old son's grandmother.
And yes, I colored my hair after that, but that was a couple of years ago, and now I'm back to gray.

2:17 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

yum. i wanna eat dessert now.

if you want, i can give you the name & number of a brilliant colorist...the only bummer is that she's down in Long Beach. a little drive for you but BRILLIANT and reasonably priced! let me know...valerie

9:17 PM  
Blogger houseband00 said...

Brown is hot! =)

3:48 PM  
Blogger Kyran said...

I don't think you should change it. It is clearly a great writing prompt. And god knows the blogarena could use some great writing.

Think of it as your cross to bear.

Glad to have found you. I'll be back.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Melissa C Morris said...

We are fond of dessert (specifically caramel) colours in our house as well...

Chappy and I were arguing over what colour to paint our new entryway -- he says 'caramel', I say fine, but 'caramel' is too vague. He says 'caramel - like Monty colour', I agree with said colour specification and proceed to drag the dog off to the paint store. I spent the next hour comparing scores of Martha Stewart paint chips with the dog until finally I found Monty in a Matte finish Umber #211.

And now there is sweet caramel success in my entryway.

10:02 PM  

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