I have made a deal with myself. When I turn sixty I am going to do the whole Jamie Lee Curtis thing. You know the short haircut that is bathed in gray. Why sixty? I am not sure but for some reason I guess I feel it is okay for a sixty year old to look her age. I may change my mind when I get there but, for now, that is my opinion. As it is, at my current age, I am still not ready to let the old gray mare out of the barn. That mind you is my current problem, keeping the gray at bay.
I don’t mind having gray hair; I just mind having people see me with it. It would not be so bad if I had the soft sexy silver but no, I am cursed with the stiff battle ship gray and despite what my husband says about how wonderful ships are, there is nothing sexy about looking like one.
I first started coloring my hair in my early thirties. The fact that I had to start coloring my hair at such an early age was probably a blessing as it made it necessary to eliminate the dreadful perms. One thing is true; I have had some pretty awful perms in my life. Everything from kinky curly, also known as plastered to my head, to soft and relaxed meaning half was wavy and the other half was straight.
Growing up I had my share of perms. It was the fad in the seventies that went straight into the big hair days of the eighties. The only way I was going to get big hair was with a perm so the cycle continued. There was a time when my hair nearly got me into trouble in a case of mistaken identity. I was sixteen years old and had a curly perm. At the time my older brother had the same perm, as I said it was the fad. One day I had been sent to the Laundromat to do the family laundry and, not yet having a car of my own, was allowed to drive my brother’s car. My brother was a volunteer for the local fire department and had the coolest car in town at the time. It was a canary yellow, AMX Hornet with big tires, black louvers across the back window and red bar lights across the top for making fire runs. It looked like a bumble bee. I loved that car and always felt like hot shit when I drove it. Tony, my brother, knew all of the local police and they tended to look the other way if he were going a bit above the speed limit so on that day I was heading home from the laundry, going about ten miles over the speed limit, when in my rear view mirror I saw blue lights. Knowing I was speeding, and that I would probably never be allowed to drive that car again, I pulled over to the side of the road. In the rear view mirror I saw a police officer approach the side of my car with his hand on his gun. As the officer got even with my driver’s side window he drew his weapon and yelled “freeze Mother F*&$&%*”.” Now honestly I don’t know who was more scared, me who was staring down the barrel of a gun or the officer who had just found out that I was not my brother who he was attempting to play a joke on. I am pretty sure we both had equal reason to be frightened. All he said was “you’re not Tony” and I said “no I’m not,” to which he said “you were speeding slow down” and walked back to his car. I guess having the same perm as your brother is not always a good thing, at least not if you are planning to dive his car, but then again it might very well keep you from getting a speeding ticket.
We lived in Michigan during some of my worst perm years and it was hard to find someone who was good. Either that or I was just not looking in the right places. After a few years of going from salon to salon, looking for someone who could work magic on my hair, I found Connie who became my personal stylist for nearly ten years. My personal stylist now didn’t that sound fancy. Okay, so in reality for ten years Connie did a wonderful job fixing my hair and making me presentable to the public. That did not mean that I didn’t have bad hair days or wish I could cut, grow or shave my head on occasion but, then again, she was a beautician not a magician.
Upon moving to Virginia I took a paper with the formula for my color written on it into a salon. I walked in and asked the lady if she used that product and could she dye my hair. She assured me there was no problem and scheduled me to come in the next day. I warned her that my hair has a tendency to pull red and once again she assured me she had everything under control. Now I am not stupid but it never dawned on me that I was in a salon that catered to African Americans. Sure the stylist was black but not being prejudice it did not occur to me that this could be a problem. I had the formula, what could possibly go wrong? So I am in the chair and there are several other ladies, all African American, sitting around and one of them asked “oh is she going red?” I froze, but the lady who was doing my hair assured me it was just the color of the product she was using. Thirty minutes later, she finished my hair and for the first time turned me around so I could look in the mirror. She was right my hair was not red. It was PINK! Not just a soft pink, but the prettiest shade of bright pink you ever saw. I love pink. I think it is a wonderful color, but not when its sitting on the top of my head! Needless to say I burst into tears. As it turned out the lady did not actually use the product I had asked for however she was confident she could adjust the formula to fit the product she did use. I guess her calculations were off.
I left the salon in tears and called up Connie on my way home. She assured me it would be alright and told me to get a phone book and look for a salon that specialized in the product I was used to. I went home, called Don from the parking lot and made him promise not to laugh at me, not that he would, but I felt the need to warn him before he saw me. When I went in the apartment he called me Pink which set off a new round of tears. I don’t think it would have been as bad but, not only where we new to the area, but Don was at a new command and that command was hosting its Christmas party the following week. There was no way I was going to meet new people sporting pink hair.
I called several places before finding one who could fit me in on such short notice. I have since learned that in order to support owning a standalone business in Virginia Beach the prices have to be very high. After living in Michigan for fourteen years, and paying around forty five dollars for a cut, color and blow dry, shelling out two hundred and fifty dollars for a color repair about gave me a heart attack. Not only that but when I asked I found this was to be the monthly cost if I were to continue at this salon. I know vanity comes at a cost but when that cost is nearly as much as a car payment something has to give.
As it was for the next several months I made my way from salon to salon in an attempt to find the right fit for me. I finally found that person in Wendy, who did a great job and the price was manageable. I stayed with Wendy for the remainder of the time in Virginia, only leaving when we were once again transferred out of the area.
Once in New England my search resumed and I was lucky enough to find Sarah on only my second try. Again she was young, current with the times and did an awesome job on my hair. I stayed with her until once more the Navy sent us packing.
A bonus in returning to Virginia is this time I do not have to go in search of a new stylist. While we don’t live as close to the salon as we once did, we do still live in the same general area. Since I know Wendy I am confident that when I leave the salon I will be able to hold my head up high, knowing that once again the old gray mare has returned to the barn, at least for another four weeks…