I’m wearing a hat constantly these days. I take it off only when my head hurts, and at bedtime. This hat is black — fitting, considering I’m mourning something lost.
Never let a stranger make drastic, semi-permanent changes to your appearance if you care about your hair the way some women fuss over small dogs in purses.
To understand what’s under this hat, I need to explain that, for years, my hair fell in long, thick waves down my back in could-be-mine colors, cut by careful scissors for quick styling, with swooping bangs that made my gigantic nose look smaller-ish. Not easy to do.
A few weeks ago, all that hair felt boring. I blame an abundance of time home with many small children, because snow days inspire fantasies in which I appear as edgy Suburban Rocker-Mom.
Which I clearly am not.
My hair is almost gone now, and I am desolate. So is my friend Elanni, who made art with my hair for six years when I lived in Iowa. My current hairdresser, Cindy, was on vacation in Mexico, and didn’t find out what I’d done right away. Either of these ladies, friends, now, could have translated “I want a red, 1970s-inspired shag,” into “I want Amy Adams’ long layers from ‘American Hustle,’ ” and then explained that a shag is really a mullet.
But hellbent on a last-minute makeover, I sorted through reviews of Kansas City salons until I found someone exciting. I arrived for my last-minute appointment, flashed a few photos, and sat back to become Someone New.
She must have heard me say, this sweet Stranger-With-Thinning-Shears, “Please turn my hair into a parody wig.” You know, the kind of hair piece Tina Fey might have worn in a Saturday Night Live skit about Mrs. Brady joining KISS.
I couldn’t run the first time she said, “Oops,” because I was glued to her chair, clutching the armrests as if I were watching one of those Japanese horror films where shadows grow eyes and scare everyone to literal death. Twice I opened my own eyes long enough to see my long, boring waves fall to the floor in chunks that would have made the Locks of Love folks super happy. And then she was done, twirling me around in the chair with a “You don’t get that haircut in the suburbs!”
Of course, I paid her and said thank you. Of course, I tipped her 18 percent and said, “I love it.” Then I ran to my car, took a few forlorn selfies to send to Elanni, and cried.
Today, my hat hides a mullet that would make Billy Ray Cyrus jealous. My longest hair snakes down my back in three skinny weasel tails. The shortest hairs could be called bangs, except instead of hiding my forehead, they wrap around my entire crown. Think Three Stooges Moe. The rest is gone, hacked away with thinning shears, dyed in strange shades of vampire burgundy, Anne of Green Gables orange.
Rhianna could pull this off. My family’s reactions made it clear that I am not Rhianna.
Son: Did you want purple hair just on the top?
Husband: How did she do those white streaks in the front?
Me: Is it hard not to laugh at me?
Daughter (making a Rainbow Loom bracelet of carefully selected, Mom-inspired hair colors of magenta and peach): Yeah, really hard.
I know better. This is not my first experience with scissor-happy strangers. I’ve even had a mullet before, but I was seven, and it was the ’80s so we called the cut a bi-level, which I rocked with awesome purple glasses as big as my face. But I don’t have those glasses anymore, and right now I feel like sheared Samson, or post-shave Aslan, shamed by my own shallowness.
Yes, hair grows out. Yes, this is a First World problem. Yes, I explained to my impressionable children the grass-is-always-greener metaphor, that Mom’s vanity made a hairy mess, that I was fine just the way I was before.
But please, no more snow days.