Two hours and forty minutes getting my hair cut and colored today. It always starts out ok. I exchange pleasant small talk with the young, pretty, impeccably dressed and, of course, beautifully coiffed stylist as she glops the reddish brown dye on my graying roots. We discuss how quickly my grays come in near my right temple. Two weeks later! She suggests I switch the side I part my hair on, thereby masking the gray a little longer. I agree to try it.
While I am processing, I read an article in Vogue by a woman who, at 70, has decided to stop the coloring madness. Her once rich brown hair is now all-white. Keeping up with the white roots is near impossible. So she decides to go through the process of having the blonde dye bleached out until her hair is a dazzling white. The results are fabulous, we learn. No picture of the writer is included, this being Vogue. Instead there is a large image of a 47-year-old model looking amazing with long gray hair.
Three fashion magazines later, my dye is rinsed, and toner and a color lock
are applied. Then the blow drying. When it is done, my natural wave disappears and a glossy approximation of the color I was born with is revealed. My hair color was once my best feature. When I was a senior in high school, a college professor of my father described my thick blown out hair as "opulent." That was vaguely creepy, but when I got compliments on my hair color then, I barely noticed them. Now, when I get a compliment, I feel weird saying "thank you" because the color is fake, all fake. And it makes me realize that everyone else knows that it's bought and paid for.
My stylist starts cutting. By now I am starving for my lunch. I
have a blood sugar thing. I can't tolerate being the slightest bit
hungry. I long to be out of this chair and eating a grilled swiss on rye.
A woman I know, who had been coloring her white hair its original black, cut her hair super-short to rid herself of the monthly task. I thought she had never looked chicer or more beautiful with her short silvery style. My hair, however, is not all white, just tinged here and there with gray. I don't imagine I would look as lovely. And truly, I am lucky, since my grays only came in a few years ago, when I was in my late forties. So I have only been dealing with this time and money suck for a relatively short period.
The trim complete, I pay the exorbitant fee (but cheap compared to Manhattan), tip the talented, patient professionals, and head out the door looking much more polished, I guess, than when I came in. Part of me thinks my done hair looks a bit like a wig, or maybe doll's hair. In a way, it's aging, the contrast between the perfect hair and the slightly lined face. Someday, I will have to stop this. I'll accept that I'm not young anymore, and embrace my hair they way it grows out of my head. Not yet, though. Last month, not even a migraine stopped me from keeping my appointment.
At home, I look in the mirror and notice a glop of hair dye sitting near my hairline. I scrub away at it, but the evidence remains.