Archive for August, 2007

Style Dilemmas

 This is a slightly revised version of an essay I wrote for my stylist.  Last June we were talking about how hard it is to change haircutters and I decided to write an essay about it… This is my story.

I walked into the party on a hot June night last summer anxiously prepared to meet the woman I had agreed to trust, sight unseen.  The day had been full of parties – first a family reunion, then a friend’s wedding – and this going-away party was the last stop of the day.  I’d already consumed enough liquor to ease most of my butterflies – a good thing, as this meeting was all-important to me for one main reason. 

I was about to meet my new hair stylist; the woman into whose hands I was placing my hair.  The woman who could either make me look stylish as well as ten pounds lighter, or give me appearance of an overblown country music queen.  It could go either way.  It had in the past.

Changing hair stylists can be considered a major event in the life of a woman.  The ideal stylist should not only possess the technical skills of cutting and styling hair, they must also be creative.  They need to be able to see the real you under the mess of hair you enter their salon with.  They need to have excellent social and conversational skills.  It helps if they’re psychic.

When I was in my early twenties, I entrusted my almost-waist length locks to a woman named Valerie, the first real sylist I’d ever been to.  The salon was called Nature’s Way, and since we were in Austin it was, of course, an all-natural experience.  The salon possessed no blow dryers or curling irons, and absolutely no hair dyes/gels/mousses/or hair sprays.  Hair was cut to follow its natural lines and dried by hand.  The hand drying part was a very big deal and I tried unsuccessfully to get them to adopt a tagline such as “We do hand jobs, not blow jobs,” which they considered, but ultimately rejected as too smart-ass.  On my first visit to have my long hair cut off, I was told this horrifying fact:  Blow dryers reach a temperature high enough to bake cookies.  This means you could technically fire up your blow dryer, aim it a blob of cookie dough, and voila! Instant Tollhouse. 

Blow dryers were considered an evil and unnecessary appliance and I have a vivid recollection of going home and promptly throwing mine into the trash.  Years later, after moving back to Missouri and hating the slower process of hand drying my hair in the middle of winter; I snuck out and bought a blow dryer.  I felt terribly guilty and frequently mumbled apologies to my hair during the first month I used it, envisioning each and every strand of hair as a burnt cookie.

After ten years of having my hair cut the Only-In-Austin, natural way, I moved to Kansas City, a place not normally known for being cutting edge or bohemian.  The words rural and homespun are much more apt to be used instead, and hair styles seemed to reflect this down-home atmosphere.  After turning down an offer to use my mom’s haircutter, a guy who owned both the only salon and the only Laundromat in town, I tried a stylist several towns over who had been recommended by an acquaintance.   “Well, what are we doing today?” my new haircutter asked me.  I began to describe the way Valerie always cut my hair along its natural lines, making sure each section balanced the other to complement my face, as well as complement my sun sign.  When I got to the hand-drying part I could tell she’d probably zoned out long ago.   After a bit of silence, she clapped her hands, plastered a fake smile on her face and said ”Well OK then.  Let’s give it a whirl.”  I think she tried to follow the instructions with the cut, but when it was time for the drying part she said “You know, I really think I could do a better job if I just went ahead and used the blow dryer.  You don’t mind, do you?”    Before I could answer,  she whipped  out the dryer and proceeded to bake my hair.  “OK, calm down” I told myself.  “You’re not in Austin anymore and this is just the kind of stuff you’re going to have to get used to.  It will be OK.  Go to your happy place and try not to think about it.”  After a few minutes, she clicked off the dryer and walked around my chair, fluffing my hair here and there, checking her lengths and saying “I think you’re going to be really pleased.  Just one more thing…” That’s when she pulled out the hair spray and began lacquering her creation into place.  “Uh, uh”  I stammered, flapping my hands around.  “No hairspray please!”  “No? Are you sure?” she asked, as if I didn’t know my own mind.  As if I wasn’t exactly SURE whether I wanted a highly flammable product applied to my head or not.  “That’s OK!” she said brightly, obviously pleased with herself.  “All done anyway.  Ready?” She spun me around in the chair.  I donned my glasses and stared at my reflection.  My initial disbelief was followed by a profound sense of shock.   It had happened, my worst nightmare come true.  It wasn’t exactly a Loretta Lynn, it was more a Dottie West look.  And it definitely wasn’t me.

I went home, promptly washed my hair, and didn’t set foot inside another salon for more than a year.    I was growing my hair back out. 

Twelve months later, I had become much more conditioned to the midwestern way of life. Having made peace with my new blow dryer and sick of the lanky carpet that my hair was beginning to resemble, I tried a series of chain haircutters, mostly for convenience’s sake.  I figured it couldn’t get much worse than my first experience in this part of the country.   Sadly, I would inevitably leave those places looking unevenly chopped, my hair slick against my head like a baby seal’s.  It floored me that they charged extra if you wanted your hair  washed and/or blow dried, and I always chose not to bother with either service.  Being fresh out of cosmetology school, the haircutting skills in those places were barely passable anyway and I figured the less contact we had, the better.   

One day I noticed a neighbor’s new haircut. It looked young and bouncy.  It was well cut and enhanced her facial features.  THIS was the type of haircut I’d been looking for.   I immeditely asked for the name of her hairstylist, which she enthusiastically gave me, saying “You’ll love her.”  I made the call, booked a date, and after my first appointment with Christee I was hooked.  Thus began a brand new stylist chapter in my life.  My hair took on a much happier and bouncier persona after my very first appointment with Christee.  She was nice and really funny – attributes that make a trip to the salon worth  both your time and money.  Plus she was good, and took enough time to make my hair look stylish and decidedly un-country music star-like.    I spent about 5 years on a faithful 6 to 8 week schedule with her – unprecedented for me – until the day she informed that she had some “news” for me.  Pulling out a section of my hair and studying the length, she casually said that she and her husband had sold their house and were moving out of state.  “We’re done with this place” she said.  Sadly, I understood perfectly what she meant,  but her happiness wasn’t my main area of concern.  What about me?  What about all the years I spent searching for her, finding her, dedicating my hair to her?  Crying seemed only slightly over the top as a reaction to that news, but since I’m not a crier I resorted to begging.  “Can I go with you?  Please say yes.  My hair neeeeeeds you.”  The whining was pathetic.   “Don’t worry,” she said while prying my fingers from their vise-like grip on her arm, “we’ve got someone else lined up that I think you’ll like.  Chandra’s really, really nice and it would be a personal favor to me if you’d just promise to give her a try.  Besides, you can meet her ahead of time at my going-away party next month.  Just give her a try.  That’s all I ask.”

After flexing my fingers and taking several deep cleansing breaths, I agreed.  I figured  if Christee was giving her the thumbs-up, everything would probably be OK. 

So here I was, on a hot June night, drunk and apprehensive and ready to meet the woman who would take the place of those who came before her – the good and the bad, the talented and the horrible, the chic and the drab.   And I knew it as soon as I saw her – I knew which one she would be, because sometimes you just get a sense for these things.   For once I didn’t have to go looking for my next hair relationship.  For once in my life, it came to me.  

Chandra has exceeded my expectations ten-fold.  She uses words like pretty and delicious to describe my hair.  Words that nurture me and make me feel confident enough to let her do whatever she wants.  She knows what my hair is supposed to look like and I always leave her chair looking both 10 years younger and 10 pounds lighter.  Strangers have gone out of their way to comment on my hair, and while I can’t adequately duplicate her efforts at home, I’ve learned to embrace both the hairstyling mousse product and a good hairspray.   

Yes, after a year of having my hair Chandraized, I’ve determined that this is a good match, a perfect match even.  She’s better than any other hair stylist I’ve ever had.  I’m content, and really, it’s all about what’s good for me, right?  So here’s the deal, Chandra, and I hope you understand – You can never, ever quit doing my hair.   Never.   Because if you leave I’ll cry.  I swear I will. 

And if that doesn’t work, I will beg.

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Me Nice

Loverly Reggie has bestowed an award to me!  nicematters_award.jpgMe!!  My very first blogosphere award because I’m NICE.   Now, that’s a pretty nice thing for her to do, isn’t it?  Reggie is funny and irreverent and a gal with a heart of gold.  Thanks, girlfriend!  I’ll try to live up to the commitments of my award to the best of my abilities.  You know, I try to be nice, but I’m kind of a smart aleck so I hope everybody knows all my smartass stuff is done with YOUR entertainment in mind. 

 So I’d like to first thank the Acadamy for nominating me for this award.  I’d like to thank my mother for making me be nice even when I wanted to be bad.  I’d like to thank my dog for teaching me the true meaning of niceness, and finally I’d like to thank the last person I spoke to at Nextel for showing me such a shining example of what is definitely NOT NICE.  I couldn’t have done it without you!

Bugs Bunny:  King of Smart Asses (but still nice)

smart-aleck.jpg

I dream of Genie, she’s a light brown hare…

Go Speed Racer, Go!

Don’t hate me because I’m THE BEST GIRLFRIEND EVER!  Last Christmas I gave Ken every man’s dream – 33.jpga gift certificate to drive a race car – and last Saturday he cashed in, baby. Allow me to reiterate that he DROVE the car himself; no pansy ride-along here. So on Saturday at 6:30am, we loaded up the camera and headed out to the Kansas Speedway to fulfill one of my man’s lifelong dreams. After 45 minutes of classroom instruction, several hyped-up men and one woman donned fire suits and climbed into their stock cars with their instructors, ready to go as fast as they possibly could around the 1.5 mile track – 10 times.

It doesn’t take long to drive 15 miles when you’re driving in excess of 100 miles per hour. car.jpg Ken’s highest speed was 161mph which was pretty fast, but I think he would have gone another 10 laps if he’d had the chance.  The look of pure exhilaration on his face when he climbed out of the #33 car was priceless, and he remembered to thank his sponsor (me) when he was done, which is what all the hotshot professional drivers do. 

 The next day was Ken’s birthday, so it was an extra special weekend for him.  Now it’s almost time to figure out this year’s Christmas present…

Urban hillbilly

I’m sitting here, tuned into the local C&W station, trying to keep from going fucking crazy.  This music is sooo bad, but I’m waiting to hear my boss do his live radio spot for a charity whiz-bang we did recently. 

The only time this new top 40 country music sounds good is after several stiff drinks. 

Pappy had a close call last spring,
He almost wasn’t with us this year.
Got supper in the oven, a good woman’s lovin’
Blah, blah, blah.

Lord, just kill me now.

Give me some Merle or some George Jones, or some Willie, but please not this new country shit.   It doesn’t help that most of the listening public who favor the top 40 country station are obvious Red staters who probably drive around with their legally concealed handgun in the glovebox; because if God didn’t mean for us to own handguns, he wouldn’t have put it in the Constitution to begin with, don’tcha know. 

Maybe I’m feeling peevish because our clueless leader, The Worst President Ever, was in town yesterday, eating buscuits and fucking up traffic.  Seems like a great disturbance in the force was afoot all day, and it was all I could do to get through it. 

So, are you ready for some more thought provoking lyrics?  I believe I heard a “hell yeah” out there in the crowd…

Well I still remember
You came by my trailer
With chicken and some homemade wine
The dogs got to barkin’
When we got the sparkin’
We almost set the house on fire

Bravo, Keith Urban, bravo.   OK, you’re hot so I’ll cut you some slack pretty boy.  Besides, you’re from down under which is OK with me.  I wonder, do they have hillbillies in New Zealand?

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Happy hours

OK, the source of much anxiety and hand-wringing yesterday (I tend to overreact at times) was because I was attneding my first Kansas City Blogger’s Meetup. So imagine, if you will, shy little ol’ me walking into a group of people, some of whom actually get paid MONEY to write shit for a living. And here I do this little thing on the side for giggles.

Luckily, Venus also went so I had back-up, just in case I felt like crying like a baby. No really, it was fine. Newsflash: Bloggers are pretty damn nice! But we already knew that, didn’t we? I like to work a crowd real slow so I didn’t do much mingling, but that will change as I get to know people a little bit at a time.   Apparently these folks meet pretty regularly so now that I’m in, they’ll never get rid of me. (Whahahahahahaha….cueing the evil laughs of wickedness).

If you’re interested in checking out some of last night’s honored guests, here’s Spyder’s post.  {Blogger’s   a little screwed up today, (the site Blogger, not ME) so if you can’t get in, it should be back up later…}

Insecurity girl

Is it pathetic to be 50 years old and still feel like an insecure 13 year old?  Today I have to walk into a group of people I do not know, who are supposed to be my peers, and mingle. 

Luckily, alcohol will be involved.

This is an invitation I wrangled through a friend of a friend.  The friend of a friend does not know me, has never met me.  As badly as I wanted this invitation, I’m now petrified to actually carry it through.  

Did I mention that there will be alcohol?

Sometimes I feel that, if the curtain was pulled away, people would see I’m nothing but a cowering coward, blindly stabbing away at life with no real earthly idea of what I am doing –  an insecure 13 year old girl in a middle-aged woman’s body.   A middle-aged woman with crowd anxiety.  Who is fortunately old enough to drink.

Wish me luck.

It’s a brave new world

With Ken gone to Chicago for a weekend of beer guzzling and air show veiwing with his eldest son, I rummaged through the sale fliers and percent off mailers that arrived at my house this week:  15% off at Kohl’s, $5.00 off at PetSmart, $5.00 off at the hardware store.  List in hand, I walked out the door at 10am into a sweltering, humidity-soaked August morning, jumped in my car and pointed it in the direction of what I have come to call The Black Hole of Shopping.   These days it’s almost impossible to tell one suburban enclave from the next because of their idential shopping areas which feature a few large box-shaped stores that sell everything you need, surrounded by smaller stores that specialize in things like shoes and hair care products and scapbooking supplies.  The smaller specialty stores are, themselves, surrounded by fast food joints and chain restaurants like Chili’s and Applebee’s.   If you were parachuted out of an airplane and landed in one of these black holes, you’d be hard-pressed to tell which part of the country you’d landed in.  “Hmmm, there’s a Home Depot next to a Michael’s – I could be Texas.  Or maybe this is Cincinatti…” 

After completing the errands to use up my coupons, there were still a few items I needed, so I headed for the mother of all big box stores, Walmart.  Like them or not, everybody eventually ends up at Walmart.  Yes, they’re responsible for the demise of many local businesses, and they’ve been sued for unfair labor practices worldwide.  But where else can the public go to quench their insatiable appetite for cheap goods imported from China?   And where else but Walmart can a person buy both a gallon of ice cream, and a trampoline?  You just can’t beat cheap variety like that, my friends.

It’s usually not my intention to hit Walmart at noon on a Saturday.  I like to get there around 9am, before the dregs of human society have awakened from their long night of boozing and fighting and stumble to the Wally World to replenish their supply of Pampers and Budweiser.  But I must admit, a busy Walmart is a fascinating study of people – the crippled, the maimed, the morbidly obese; those with all their teeth and those with only a couple; tired mothers with unruly children, and teenaged boys zombied out in front of the gaming displays.    And everywhere there is the clatter of shopping carts, because it is a rule that every Walmart shopping cart must have at least one wobbly, gimpy wheel that will make it seem as if you’re pushing your cart down a cobblestone street.  I’ve found the rattle affects my brain in a way that causes me to pick up and consider purchasing objects I have no use for and would normally have no interest in – ceramic figurines shaped like toadstools, or enormous wall clocks set in elaborate wrought-iron designs. 

Today’s gathering of afternoon shoppers were what I’d come to expect.  I passed one particularly strange looking female whose face looked as if she’d been in one too many bar fights.  Sure enough, I heard her mutter to her companion as I passed by “The next time I see that whore, I’m gonna kick..her..ass”, the threat uttered in a voice that sounded like a marinade of cigarettes and Wild Turkey.  She looked like she’d probably win, too.   Then there was the young couple who were arguing over the relative merits of various toothpastes – she in a too-tight shirt that displayed her ample body in a most unflattering way, he in a dirty tshirt and ballcap (worn backwards, of course).  “I told you not to buy that Colgate shit.   I gotta have the Crest cause it don’t hurt my teeth so much.”    Adding to this symphony of down-home, rural Missouri vernacular was a chorus of wailing children, and parents threatening to give them “a good whuppin’ when we get home if you don’t shut the hell up now.”   A voice on the loudspeaker droned out a list of items with newly rolled-back prices, the volume so low I wondered if it was actually some kind of subliminal advertising to “buy more, buy more.” 

The cart clattered ceaselessly, slowly driving me mad as I pushed through the throngs of poorly dressed amd gramatically-challenged citizens, my final goal in sight:   The check-out line.