Monday, February 21, 2011
I just got a new haircut. So did Justin Bieber. Mine looks nothing like his, although it is closer in length to the "old" cut than the "new" one. Naturally. The length isn't the only difference, though. Tens of thousands of adolescents aren't wishing they had been there to sweep my hairdresser's floor on Saturday morning. In fact, I can't think of even one. Not only that, but I can't imagine that ANYONE will be Googling "rebecca kohler new haircut image" in the next millennia. (But if you do, know that there are 83,400 results and not a one of them is the real ME.)
My hair has always been my nemesis. OK, "always" might (I said MIGHT) be an exaggeration. But allow me to elaborate. As a girl, I had long straight blond strands of beautiful hair. On Sundays my older sister would roll them in hot rollers and form ringlets all over my head. (Mercifully, she would cram a foot of toilet paper between my scalp and each steaming demon, but it was still a miserable process... for both of us.)
In second grade, I stood on the top row of the bleachers for class pictures wearing a red quilted jumper (my sister made in 4-H) and a blouse. My hair was curled in gentle ringlets, and I looked cute... I know this because at least two girls came to school after the pictures were sent home and said, "My mom said you were the cutest girl in our picture." (If you are wondering WHOSE mother would say another girl was the cutest... I was wondering the same thing, even at age 7.) Looking back, I wish I had known to live out those two days of admiration, because that's pretty much all I ever got...
In third grade, I learned how to covet. Her name was Carrie Stanger and she had hair that FEATHERED. Besides that, she was CUTE. Knowing that the secret to her cuteness lay in her feathers, I wanted my hair to feather, too. So I told my mother.
Let me rephrase that, I told my practical, frugal, and attentive mother... and she took me where every practical, frugal, and attentive mother would take a daughter who had requested feathered hair: the beauty school.
At age 8 I learned to hate beauty schools and all they stood for. In fact, this one experience is probably responsible for every extravagance I have ever indulged in. My mom took me to the Meridian Beauty School, got me set up with a student, and left! She left me to explain my vision of cuteness to a beauty student. It was 1980, and I would have thought that "feathered" would have meant something to people so recently party to the 70's.
I told the student that I wanted my hair to feather. The student began rolling it. In curlers. I watched in horror, not really believing that any of this was going to result in a happy ending, but not knowing how to stop the nightmare. (I didn't learn to be assertive until many years later.) She rolled. I cried. I remember the student chatting away with another student and I distinctly remember hearing, "I hate doing kids' hair." Then why didn't she STOP!?
Finally, she was done and my mother returned. When she asked the student why I was crying, the student replied, "I guess she wanted her mommy." I was too shy to ever speak up for myself, but I am pretty sure that experience is one of the defining moments of my life. When I returned to school, Carrie was still the cutest girl in my class. I just got shocked looks of horror. Sigh. Defining moments.
It took two years for my hair to recover. By fifth grade my long straight locks had returned. Then I went to my mom's hairdresser with a picture of a cut I liked. The next thing I knew, my hair was 8-10 inches shorter and I looked like a boy. (If I can find a way to post these pictures, I will.) So much so that my friend (who I was holding hands with at a school rollerskating party) was asked, "Who's your boyfriend?" and we had no idea who that person was talking about. Then we realized it was ME.
Prior to seventh grade, my mom decided I needed a perm. She obviously missed the memo that straight bobs were going to be in fashion THAT year. Yes, she did. I got a perm that summer--and straight bobs made their debut that fall. My hair has been curly ever since. I think the permanent and puberty must have lined up in much the same way that the earth and moon line up for a lunar eclipse, and my life has never been the same.
So Saturday I tried a new stylist--one that might take some liberties with my hair. Going into it, however, I warned her that I am the mother of six children and don't have a lot of time for "maintenance." She gave me bangs, more dramatic layers (LAYERS--the word I wish I had known in third grade), and some styling tips. How is it that I still need styling tips?
Oh, well--at least I have HAIR. Right? Right?