It all started when I found a gray hair in my ski helmet.
My response was completely rational.
“Who has been wearing my ski helmet?” I asked my husband who responded by laughing at me and telling me that the one in the helmet had some friends. On my head.
So I made an appointment to get my hair colored. I would have to wait eight weeks for my appointment. Okay, fine. Whatever. Make me suffer. Fine.
On the day of my appointment, Monkey was barfing. I mean power-puking. It was crazy.
I had a twenty minute drive to make it to the salon on-time. I couldn’t believe it. In the almost twelve years he has lived on this planet, my child has probably missed two days of school due to illness, total.
Monkey laid on the couch with a blue bucket at his side.
I looked at my watch. I thought about what I should do.
I sighed, realizing I had to do it.
I had to go to the salon.
(For God’s sakes, I had eight weeks of roots! Don’t judge me!)
“Monkey, I said. “I have to go out.”
He nodded and gripped the toilet.
“Here’s the phone,” I said, putting the cordless at his feet. “You know my number, right?”
The wintry roads were slippery, but still I zoomed off to Isobel. Pulling into the parking lot, I heard my phone ring. I checked to be sure it wasn’t Monkey. (It wasn’t.) I ran into the salon where Michael, the owner, welcomed me with a firm, “You’re five minutes late. Did you see I called you?”
I explained to Michael that I was the worst mother in the world. That I had left my barfing, sick child at home to get my highlights done. And Michael agreed, I was a pretty bad mom. But seventy-five minutes later, my hair was perfect. I paid for a job well-done and zoomed home.
While sitting at a stoplight approximately one minute from my house, my phone rang. “You left your wallet wide-open on the desk at the salon,” said Stephanie, a stylist at Isobel.
“Are you serious?” I asked, knowing, of course, she was serious.
I turned my car around and headed downtown. Again. Somehow, I got lost. I don’t know how I got lost, but I did. Maybe it’s because the entire city was cloaked in white so I took a wrong exit. Then, there were no discernible signs only lumpy shapes. Whatever. I finally made it to the salon and pulled my car right up to the door. It wasn’t really a parking space, per se – but I figured I was running in for two seconds and running back out. I had to get home to Monkey.
I turned off the ignition, opened my door, swung my clunky boots around, when – suddenly and simultaneously – the entire car shook and I heard a loud thunk-crunch. Turning my head, I saw another vehicle had smashed up against my rear bumper. (This was soooo not my day.)
And that’s when I noticed him. Looking to be about twenty years old, and wearing sagging jeans and a hoodie, he shuffled around to survey the wreck. “Ohhhhh mannnnn.” The guuy who had just plowed into my car spoke very slowly, like the way Spicoli spoke in the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. (For you young’uns out there, Spicoli was a major stoner.)
I drive a Honda Pilot. My vehicle is tall and black (and currently filthy). It’s not fancy, but it is tough. I looked closely at my bumper, which had absolutely no evidence of damage. Spicoli drove a kind of small, purplish (and might I add uber feminine) Hyundai which now had a dimple in it. And by “dimple,” I mean, his car was crushed like a paper fan.
“Thiiiiiis suuuucks,” Spicoli said, pulling the flaps of his Guatemalan hat down over his ears. He looked distressed. “Man,” says Spicoli. “I’ve had like… two other accidents in the last six months… I don’t want my insurance to go up any higher.”
“Well,” I said, trying not to sound too impatient, “there is no damage to my car, so we don’t have to report it.”
Spicoli looked confused.
I told him I was going into the salon for a minute and that when I came out, he could tell me what he wanted to do. At last, I dashed into the salon and grabbed my wallet. Michael made some pithy joke at my expense, but I was already gone.
“So…um…” Spicoli stuttered, “if you are okay with it, can we not report this?” Spicoli asked. “I mean, my car is totally drivable.”
I nodded in agreement. Then Spicoli apologized, shook my hand, and told me I seemed like a nice lady.
Meanwhile I thought guiltily: Nice ladies don’t leave their sick children at home while they have their hair done.
I drove home carefully, certain that every police officer was out, ready to give me a ticket. And when I was pulled over, I would have to confess that my 11 year old was at home, alone and sick. And then Monkey would be hauled off to Child Protective Services. I visualized my husband screaming at me and then getting a really hot divorce lawyer.
Except none of that happened. After the garage door opened, I parked the car and hurried into the house to find Monkey, still resting on the couch. I pulled off my mittens and puffy black coat while I cooed, “Hey, Monkey… how are you feeling?”
“Okay,” he said.
I touched my son’s forehead. Cool as a cucumber. (Thank goodness.)
Tugging the hat from my head, I grabbed an extra blanket and covered Monkey from chin to toe. Then, I sat down beside him on the couch. Glancing at the clock, I saw it had been over three hours since I had left him alone.
“Do you need anything, buddy?” I asked, trying hard to make up for my hours of neglect. “Some tea?”
Monkey shook his head and kind of closed his eyes.
In that moment, I thought about what I had done. I had left my sick child when he needed me. Sure, I wanted my hair highlighted, but clearly some cosmic power seemed to be punishing me in a major way for my actions that morning, and I silently promised that if my li’l dude ever got sick again, I would put him first absolutely. Yes. Because he is that important to me. And I want him to know that he is loved and be the one to comfort him when he is feeling down and out.
“Mom,” Monkey said quietly, interrupting my thoughts. “Your hair looks really pretty.”
And you know what? It did. It really did.
Care to share any low parenting moments? Or just judge me in mine? It’s cool. I can take it.
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. I’m a sproingy girl, so my wild curls kind of mesh with my personality. In middle school, my straight-haired friends would marvel at my effortlessly formed curly-Q’s; some would even stick their fingers inside the corkscrews and squeal with delight. (Seriously, they did.) And all the while, I coveted their straight, blunt cuts. I watched them brush and comb their hair, stared as they absently dragged their fingers through their locks. Après shower, I slathered my hands with V05, a thick petroleum-like product, rubbed it all over my hair, and never touched my hair again for the entire day. If I dared to twirl or twist a dry tendril, it was over: frizz city.
About a year ago, I went to a fancy-schmancy event where I was the only woman in attendance with seriously curly hair. Everyone else had perfectly smooth, pin-straight, flat hair. It was confirmed. Clearly, G-d hated me. As we posed for a photograph, I sighed and commented how unfair it was that everyone else had such perfect hair while mine was so unruly.
“Honey,” said one of the women, “You need to meet Shawna.”
It took a while, but eventually, I found myself in Salon LuSandra, not my regular salon, thinking about my husband’s words that morning before I left.
“I love your curls,” Hubby said again with emphasis adding, “Your curls are one of the things that most attracted me to you…”
“You’ll learn to love other things…” I told Hubby, smooching him on the cheek. “And it’s only semi-permanent. In four months, the wild woman shall return.”
I sat on the wooden chair in the salon for about 35 seconds before an extremely adorable blonde materialized and introduced herself as Shawna: the woman who was going to make my curls go away.
There was no time for nerves. Shawna wrapped my neck in a black towel and had my head tipped back in the sink before I could ask but-what-if-my-husband-doesn’t-love-me-after-we-do-this? She washed my hair three times. She scrubbed and scoured my hair as if I were a nasty little street urchin who hadn’t washed in weeks, maybe months.
Once in her chair, Shawna applied a chemical mixture to every strand of my hair from root to tip. She explained that once she was finished, I would have to wait for 15-20 minutes to let the product saturate each follicle. She told me that if I did everything properly, the process would reduce 50% of the curl and 100% of the frizz.
Truth be told, I could not imagine what that even meant. I’ve always had frizz. I have always been the girl with crazy hair. In the decades before there were long aisles devoted to hair care products, if I attempted to use a blow dryer, I emerged a wild lioness – and I don’t mean in a sultry, beautiful way. I mean I had a mane that was enormous, fluffy and uncontrollable.
As she stood behind me in her black and white polka-dotted smock with skinny red trim, Shawna applied the chemicals. Wearing short black gloves that stopped just above her wrists, she painted and combed, making sure to coat every single strand, fussing over my tresses the way no one has ever fussed before. She was serious about this procedure.
That’s when Shawna reviewed The Rules associated with Smooth Keratin Treatment. She told me that for the next four days I could not get my hair wet. No shampoo. No conditioner. I promised:
On my honor, I do swear, not to wear my hair in a ponytail. Or use barrettes. Or clips or hats or headbands or any other fashion accessory that might leave a crease in my hair. I promise not to tuck my hair behind my ears. I promise to sleep carefully and, upon waking, I promise to touch up any bumps or lumps with a blow dryer and/or flatiron. I promise to wear a shower-cap while washing. I promise not to venture outside if there is any sign of precipitation.
But I was worried. I knew I had to teach over the next four days. What if I had to get to school while my hair was “curing” – and it just happened to be raining? How would I get inside the building without getting my hair wet? I made elaborate plans, involving umbrellas and shower caps and running shoes. I considered which colleague would not think less of me if I needed to leave a flat-iron in her office. In case of a hair emergency. In the end, I decided it would just be easier to cancel classes in the unfortunate case of poor weather.
Three hours into the procedure, I was amazingly relaxed. Maybe it was the cyclopentasiloxane (one of the ingredients in the Simply Smooth product). Maybe it was the prospect of no frizzies or the idea of not having to devote so many hours to hair care. Maybe it was just that Shawna knew what she was doing. Because she knew what she was doing.
Meanwhile, people wandered in and out and bubbled over with testimonials. They used words like “life-altering”: clearly, everyone loves this keratin treatment.
Eventually, Shawna removed my plastic hat, which was good because my eyes had started to tear up a little bit under there. She grabbed a dryer and started blowing-out my newly chemically treated hair. I was confused. My hair was still huge.
“Now we flat-iron every teeny-tiny section about five times,” Shawna explained.
For over an hour, Shawna tugged at my head.
And then it happened.
Someone walked by and said, “Oooh. Gorgeous hair.”
And I realized (or I thought that maybe, possibly) they could have been talking about my mop, except it wasn’t a mop anymore. It was flat, shiny hair that looked healthy and vibrant and felt soft.
“Try not to touch it,” Shawna said.
The following four days were all about the hair. About not touching it and avoiding water.
Here are the results:
On this morning, I showered (with a shower cap) and used a flatiron to dry any wet areas. See that one little “dip”? I got rid of that!
This is where things got tough. I had to conference with students, and I felt like my scalp may have smelled more than a little funky. I asked a good friend to give a sniff (good friends do things like this), and she said, “Not so bad.” I pressed on, impressed that my hair on day 3 looked even better than day 1!
I can’t lie. Day 4 was rough. Our family went to a football game, and I was terrified that I would see people I knew because – even though I had been showering my body, my head was stinky. Or, at least, I felt like it was. It was. I’m just putting it out there. I mean, I was coming up on 96 hours without shampoo.
So, this curly-haired girl now has straight hair. What used to take hours to try to accomplish can now be easily achieved in under 25 minutes. Do I miss my curls? Kinda, but this is a fun little hair vacation because I know they’ll be back. They always come back. And besides, if I don’t want to blow dry, I can wear my hair like this:
So I can wear my hair straight or wavy. And the biggest surprise of all? Hubby likes it! Only downside, I never realized how many products I would need to buy to have this hair. I had to buy a blow dryer (never had one before), a flat-iron (never had that either), and I had to buy a boat load of products (shampoos, conditioner, serums, oils) that are specifically formulated to extend the life of the procedure; otherwise, the curls will return more quickly!
The procedure has confirmed it for me: curls or no curls, I’m still a wild woman. And while I am enjoying the change, I kinda like knowing my inner wild woman and my outer wild woman will be reunited in full force around March. 😉
I am not a fearful person. I’m not afraid of roaches. I’m not afraid of spiders and have been known to pick them up by their legs and toss them out of the house onto the grass. I’m not afraid of snakes and have enjoyed the cool squeeze of a constrictor as it wrapped around my torso. While I do not like the idea of suffering, I am not afraid of death. I’m not afraid that someone will try to steal my child. I’m not afraid of fire and, once, in a New Orleans restaurant, a waiter whisked away my pretty red candle because I kept pouring hot wax onto my palm (and the fancy tablecloth). I’m not afraid of the dark and have taken long walks on overcast nights when there is no moon or stars. I’m not afraid of thunder and lightning, and while a young’un at Camp Seneca Lake, I used to run outside into torrential downpours with a bottle of shampoo to wash my hair while the sky reverberated and flickered. (I didn’t say I was smart; I just said I wasn’t scared.) There are plenty of other things I’m not afraid of.
I am, however, terrified of lice.
My fear of lice is partially irrational because I have never had them, but I have known many families who have been afflicted, and I am smart enough to know that I never want to meet a dirty, blood-sucking louse. I have heard the tales of woe: how the damn things keep coming back even after people picked-nits and bagged favorite pillows, washed towels and linens, even threw out hair brushes, combs and expensive hair accessories.
I have long, thick, curly hair and it seems like clippers would be inevitable. Like Samson from the Old Testament, I am nothing without my hair, so every time that damn letter comes home saying someone in my child’s class has contracted lice, I feel a little sick inside.
The tiny bugs, no bigger than sesame seeds, spread easily among children who are most likely to come into close head-to-head contact with one another. So while I don’t fall into the “at-risk category,” I do have a 10-year old son who ships out to summer camp each year for three weeks, so I feel my worries aren’t completely unwarranted as someone always comes home with the little buggers.
My good friend has sworn on a bottle of Quell that in the unlikely event I should ever contract lice, she would be my nitpicker. She is a very good friend.
I recently learned that some lice have become resistant to over-the counter remedies. (Be still, my heart!) When that happens, pediatricians sometimes choose to provide prescriptions for heavy-duty pesticides. Although some experts believe exposure in small doses to these chemicals is perfectly safe, these days many parents worry about dumping toxic substances on their children’s heads. (Note: I am not afraid of chemicals.) That said, I just happened to come across a great article about treating lice that talks about using Cetaphil skin cleanser and a hair dryer that “had a 95% success rate when repeated once a week for three weeks.”
So while I am still revolted by the possibility that lice could come into my life, I feel armed with more information and as children head off to summer camps across this great land – perhaps, this cheap and seemingly effective treatment might bring some relief to other moms who live in fear of lice.
Is it just me or is anyone else’s head really itchy?
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