Sincerely, Scary Hair Lady
I’ve been moping. Moping like I have never moped. My chin and spirits have been in competition with my level of tolerance of SMSese. I’ve lost something huge. Possibly the biggest loss in my life till date, barring the death of my grandmother. And when that loss is coupled with the realisation that I am partially responsible for it, you will understand that where I am is not enviable at all.
So I’ve moped, felt sorry, gotten angry, given in to hurt, felt betrayed, dealt with unimaginable guilt, killed suspicion, and flirted with confusion. And at the end of an excruciatingly painful week, I feel a certain sense of equilibrium now. Which, you would think, is when I should have gone to get my hair done and come out feeling fantastic. But do I ever do what’s good for me? What’s that I hear you say? No? That’s right! I always choose that which is good for me only in a secret way that I know, when the world can see that I’d be better off sticking a sharp pencil in my eye and squiggling it about, while standing on hot coals and an unfed boa constrictor wrapped around my neck, than doing what I am currently doing.
Blinded by pain and flush with unspent money, I walked into a salon to get my eyebrows in shape. First, physical normalcy, I thought. I sat in a black comfortable chair, breathed in that strange smell all salons have – a mixture of wax, a little food, chemicals and room freshener. I tell the lady with a very obvious cleavage that all I want is threading. But even before she’s finished twisting the thread onto her fingers, my mouth has run ahead of itself saying words that my brain has definitely banned. All I hear is, “… cut…hair… highlights...”
This, dear reader, is where I should have jumped up and run out saying, “Thanks but I am crazy and I’ll risk looking like Bert from Sesame Street till I find my marbles.” (yes, I have a unibrow when untamed). But I don’t. I sit there waiting for her to finish threading my eyebrows into feminine arches, thinking once that is done I’ll find the determination to tell her my mouth misbehaves and says things it shouldn’t. And that I didn’t really mean I wanted to cut my hair or have it look like a zebra.
But when she asks me what kind of highlights I’d like, my misbehaving, rather independent mouth takes over. “Give me red. I want bold bands of red going riot in my hair,” I hear myself say. And hear a 100 alarm bells go off. Because you see, I’ve been wanting highlights, subtle ones, inspired by Lionel Richie singing (what I thought was romantically) “I long to see the sunlight in your hair” since I was 16. My mum, in good sense and complete understanding of my propensity for mistakes, said no, of course.
I waited till I was 25 and went for it with a vengeance. I walked into N&Y in Bombay and told them I want highlights in my brown, waist-length thick hair. And they delivered. But guess what? Blonde highlights and hazel. My skin tone at best is a yellow-gold (as pretentious as that sounds). Blonde is NOT for me unless I wear a bikini at all hours. (I don’t.)
Blowdried and set, I went home feeling like a slightly crestfallen glamour puss, but glamorous all the same. Three days the incredibly sexy blow dry stayed. And then I washed my hair. The frustration of discovering that I can’t blow dry my hair salon-like was quickly replaced by my utter horror at how awful the image in the mirror that stared back at me looked. No smooth cowlicks covering my forehead, no sleek pane of shimmerng hair caressing my back gently. My fringe kept getting away from me and the rest of my hair looked like it had been hit by a severe case of static electricity.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I let it be for three painful months because I was too stubborn to do anything about it, thinking I’d get used to it and it would get better. Three months of utter and complete hiding under bandanas and dupattas, I walked into another salon and begged her to get rid of it all. I went all black. And glad as bloody hell.
This is a memory branded, hot and severe, in every part of my brain. Or at least that’s what I thought. Clearly, there is a part of my brain that escaped it and acted up when I sat in Jenny’s chair. You’d think when I heard myself say “highlights” this memory would have reared its enormous head and shocked me out of my chair, right? Wrong. All it did was meekly accept when Jenny said, “Not red, m’dear. It is so last season. I know exactly what to give you for your skin and hair tone,” she said. Louder warning bells rang. Did I listen? Nope.
So I surrendered to her cut and colour. “One inch off, my dear,” she asks. I say yes, I like to wear my hair long. Quickly, at least three inches are lying on the floor. “Now for colour. I’ll give you something between blonde and red, it’ll be perfect for your skin,” she says. This is the time when I should have stuck my finger in a live electrical socket and killed myself. But no. My head was at look-at-my-cleavage Jenny’s mercy for as long as she wanted.
A few hours, a shampoo and a blow dry later – blonde fucking highlights. Again.
But ah, dear reader, I am not that big a fool any more. I looked at myself and uttered the requisite expletives. Then I told her to fix it. Now she has. Except she gave me red -- all over. Now I look a bit like Sara Rue, except not half as pretty.