So, this ageing thing … it brings with it some stuff …
Like, why does every hairdresser in town think I want to look like a man? I’ve had short hair for the last twenty years. I’ve been through all sorts of funky styles and colours – bedhead, asymmetrical, red, blue, purple, pink. And hairdressers have loved it when I’ve said ‘Just do what you want. Go crazy. It’s your creation; I just wear it. And, anyway, it grows.’
And then, about two years ago, a hairdresser convinced me to bleach my dark hair and go platinum blonde. It was an ordeal from hell. I sat in his stylist’s chair for eight hours while he tried to bleach the colour out of my hair. And then, just as the sun was setting on a long day at the vanity parlour, a Very Important Somebody walked in, and my stylist dropped me like a snotty tissue. The Very Important Somebody needed to be attended to, even though he had walked in without an appointment. Hastily and in a bit of a temper, he gave me a dreadful haircut while the VIS’s hair was being washed, and sent me out into the street with a badly cut head of yellow straw that made my skin look sallow. I had wasted an entire day doing something I didn’t want to do, had dropped a huge wad of cash I couldn’t afford, and looked and felt dreadful.
I found another hairdresser to try to remedy the situation. She thought that Hairdresser #1 was on the right track with the Marilyn Monroe business, and figured just a few more hours of bleaching and a few tweaks to the cut would do the trick. So I conceded. Again.
She improved the cut and I strutted out of her salon with a very-new-to-me ice blonde look. I kind of enjoyed it. I could now wear red lipstick, and a bright yellow jacket didn’t make me look jaundiced. The look had a certain appeal. It was eye-catching and different and even a bit glamorous. But I just didn’t feel like myself. I felt conspicuous all the time. And I felt as if I looked too desperate to look younger. Besides, the maintenance was bankrupting me.
I let the white grow out and thought it would be interesting to see what I look like without any chemical enhancement to my follicles. It turned out my real hair was quite dark and quite grey. I figured maybe it was time to let go of the Billy Idol look and the vanity and just wear whatever haircolour nature has chosen for me.
A short grey crop became my new look. If grey hair is good enough for Jamie Lee Curtis, Diane Keaton, Helen Mirren … even Pink … then it’s certainly good enough for me. The natural look is so much cheaper and needs far less maintenance, which works perfectly for this time of my life where I seem to be constantly chasing the next terribly important item on my never-ending to-do list.
Is a haircut like this too much to ask for?
But now … oh my word! I walk into a salon with my grey hair and hairdressers seem to think I’ve given up! I’ve tried more than one stylist. I tell them that I like to have my hair short because I run and that longer hair just looks a mess at the end of a sweaty hour or two on the trails. But I also tell them that they can be a bit adventurous and creative, that I would like to still look feminine and that I like a feathered fringe and neckline. And that I still want some hair on my head.
What do I get? The short-back-and-sides the barber gave my brother when he was in primary school. And he hated it so much and cried so hard during the head-shaving ordeal that his lollipop, given to him to calm him down, was covered in snot, spit and hair. My stylists don’t even give me a lollipop!
Seriously, if they have to take it all off at the back, and take it all off around the ears and up the sides of my head, can’t they just leave me some wisps of a fringe? Just something so that I don’t look like a bald eagle? Or like an old vulture.
The turkey vulture … also not the look I’m going for. (Source: http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/turkey-vulture, Glen Bartley)
So here I sit again, sans hair on my head, not wanting to leave the house. With no hair to distract from my ageing, melting face, every line seems accentuated, my tired eyes look more tired, my mouth more bloodless and fleshless, my dewlaps longer and flappier than ever. And my neck … you know that scene from Death Becomes Her, when Meryl Streep turns her head and her neck corkscrews into a spiral of toffee-like folds? Well. That. That’s what I feel like every time I look to my left or two my right. So I won’t be crossing the road any time soon.
When your neck starts looking like twisted toffee, you want your hair to create a bit of a distraction.
Put some make-up on, they say! No! That doesn’t work! I just look like a tired old drag queen! Or like Elizabeth Taylor in American Horror Story.
Elizabeth Taylor is gorgeous … but her look is her look … I don’t want to wear it.
Next time I have my hair cut I think I’ll wear a floaty pink chiffon frock and strappy stiletto sandals, and swing a little pink satin bag. Maybe then they’ll leave me with a tendril or two. But it’s going to be months before I have a tendril or two to offer.
For now, I think I’ll head out to buy new earrings. Big ones. And sparkly.