What do you do when you get a haircut that makes you look like an altar boy?
In my earlier days, I would have stared in the mirror pulling on the offending strands, my face covered in tears, hoping to force them to look the way that I imagined in my head when I first sat down in the chair and my stylist wrapped me in a bright red cape. In that moment before the scissors were raised, I had expectations of beauty dancing in my head. Now I had nothing left to do but to put on a hat until it grew or someone handed me one of those swingy incense things and a robe.
I often have to resist the urge to cut my own hair. I am not a hair stylist. This would be a disaster worse than the altar boy look. I am sure of it. I would get closer and closer imagining that the next snip would make it just what I am looking for. I would most likely end up bald. I know this.
But there is little as frustrating as hating your haircut. Our hair is such an integral part of who we are. I am not a fashionista by any means, but I like my hair to look good. And by that I mean, I like it to dry nicely on its own after I jump out of the shower and throw clothes on. Occasionally I will blow dry it, and on those days, I expect it to look wonderful. I like my hair to look like me.
But there is very little that I can do to make this happen. When I sit down in the chair, I am at the mercy of my stylist. Whatever he imagines is what I get. Whatever he hears is what he does. In the midst of my altar boy transformation the other day, I joked that there needs to be a support group for control freaks who have to get haircuts. I’m sure that didn’t make him nervous at all. Go me.
I left that day feeling optimistically odd. My hair was shorter and a little strange-looking, which is pretty much par for the course after an hour in the salon, and so I consoled myself with a quick look in the rearview mirror and a few you just have to wash its and it’ll grows.
But the next day I washed it, and things did not get better. I morphed from prepubescent devotee to Sally Fields in Steel Magnolias. Every time I passed a mirror, all I could heard was Sally screaming in her shrill aggrieved voice, “Shelby was right. My hair is a helmet!”
All this happened in the middle of a crazy-busy week. I have been trying to get my book printed for my first set of readers and planning a trip and unpacking from the last trip and doing a host of other need to be dones. I was too busy to grieve my situation, and I actually kind of forgot that I hated my hair. And I laughed. I laughed at myself for the perspective that life brings. I smiled when I realized that even though I hated my new look, I was so immersed in my wonderful-crazy life that I didn’t have time to grieve. And I also smiled because I realized that even though I don’t love the look, deep down, I still feel like me. And that’s what really matters.
Ah, Perspective. Thanks for that.
But there are a striking number of mirrors in the world, and every time I passed one, Perspective and I both shuddered a little. And so I did something that I don’t really like to do. I emailed the stylist and told him there was a problem, and I wondered if he would mind fixing it. He emailed back and was more than happy to help me out.
It’s amazing what can happen when you put on your big girl panties and ask for what you need.
So I headed across town and told him about Sally and the helmet, and he listened and laughed. He layered it up, and the altar boy faded into the past. We laughed together. He was nice. He was thankful that I called him. He was happy to make it right.
I left with hair that was ever so slightly more Meg Ryan. It’s different than what I usually do. But that’s ok. I don’t know if I love it. I don’t know if it’s me.
But I know that I am me. And I can ask for what I need. And it will grow. And so will I. And those things are what is really important after all.