Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Clariol #177: Shade of old motor oil

If I had to describe the inhabitants of Portland, Oregon in one word it would be: peaceable. People here seem so gentle and soft-spoken. What little I know of Oregon is that it is liberal and environmentally conscious. I think every home has twelve recycling bins and at least one War is not the Answer sign in the yard. (Okay, I exaggerate a little, but so does Stephen Colbert.) I tried helping Sarah in her kitchen but was too befuddled by how to sort the trash that I gave up. I'm not saying that Sarah and Stuart are liberal, or even gentle and soft-spoken, no, they might be the exceptions. But then, Sarah is really a displaced Texan and I like Texans.

I'm gentle myself, but I was tested today by an event that upset my mental equilibrium. I let somebody ruin my hair. I let them because I was desperate for any warm body with a beauty school certificate to fix me. I needed a touch-up to my dark roots and ever-graying hairline. I said, "Make my hair the color of my daughter's." A couple of weeks in the northwest and I was feeling the pull to go natural. Somehow I ended up with hair the color of used motor oil.

I thought I was handling the situation coolly, letting the hairdresser re-work his chemistry adding more goop to my hair. Two or three more trips to the rinse bowl and I began to comprehend the reality that this problem was not fixable. Hair is not like the photos that you tinker with in Photoshop. You can't just try on sepia or desaturated color and then say, "Nah, liked the original better." There's no double-click back to original. I began to question him and make other expressions of displeasure, at first mildly. He warned me to be positive so he could do a better job. As if my attitude could alter his competence. I tried being as zen as possible, telling myself it's only hair, I'm bigger than my hair. And other things like: Maybe a change will do me good. Maybe dull and plain is a good look for me.

Maybe you should let him pull a few lighter streaks through it, another hairdresser suggested. Her customer listened in and another until everyone was focused on me to see what commotion I would make and I was in a role I hate: the center of attention. The pressure in me found a crack, just a little crack, and I could feel I was about to blow. This is my hair, after all, any woman would sympathize. But I turned the situation into ridiculous comedy when I blurted: "NO! After this scene we've made he surely hates me and I won't have him do another thing to me!" "He doesn't hate you," the other hairdresser exclaimed, but her face showed a certain amusement and I knew it was time to just go away.

So, yeah, my hair is a problem, but I'll get over it. It's just hair, nothing to go to war over.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello from Barbados, I've done the moter oil trip my self, sefl induced. Often some highlights will help a great deal. Worst of all, I commited this sin on my daughter, who had red highlights, so dumped natural brown on top, turned ''grey'' just as her boyfried was pulling up to the house. We all had a good laugh!!
Yes, she is a hairdresser now!!