Friday, November 30, 2007

The Lost Beatle

When I woke up the day after Thanksgiving, the very first thought in my head was, Oh my God, what did I do?

A few days earlier I'd driven to the salon to which, when I lived in Buffalo, I used to pledge my undying love. I sat in my stylist's chair and let her put her hands in my hair. I let her make the same orgasmic noises she makes every time she puts her hands in my hair. I let her tell me that I have the best hair she's ever touched. I let her do all those things because I don't have a stylist I can trust here in Maine--not yet, at least--and I had promised myself if I could just hold out on a haircut until I went home for Thanksgiving then I would let my stylist do whatever she wanted, whatever she felt was best.

And so when she asked me what I wanted to do, I said, "Go nuts. Do what you want to do."

In the mirror her reflection had wide, wide eyes. "Really?" she asked. "I mean, really?"

"Yes, really," I said. I trusted her. I trusted her with my life. After all, she was the one who gave me The Bangs of a Lifetime last year, and those had been some pretty successful bangs.

"You are prepared to lose a lot of length?" she asked.

I grimaced. Was I really? Not exactly. I love my hair long, but every now and again a girl gets the itch to do something a little drastic. At that moment, sitting in her chair and listening to the reassuring snip-snip-snip of women getting made into more fabulous versions of themselves in other chairs in the salon, I was itchy and ready to scratch.

"Yes," I said. I closed my eyes. "Yes, just do it."

And she did it. An awful lot of hair fell off my head, but she told me not to panic. "I just want you to know that it might look like a mullet right now, but that'll change in just a few minutes," she said, smiling brightly. "Don't worry."

I hadn't been--in fact, the word mullet hadn't even crossed my mind--but now I was. Now I was having flashbacks to that period in high school when the style that graced my head looked very much like a mullet, like some sort of miniature dog had clambered up onto my skull and sat down for a good long while. It was hideous. I was hideous. I did not want to go back down that road.

But my stylist was right--shortly after the mullet discussion my hair did start to take shape, and it looked really cute. That was a short-lived phenomenon, however, because when I left the salon I was greeted by a sheet of unforgiving rain. Still, I left the salon feeling good about the cut.

I felt good about it the next day, too. I was pleased with its shape and sassiness, and I liked what I saw when I caught glances of it in mirrors or windows during the big Thanksgiving meal. But the next morning when I woke up I was not at all pleased. I could not get it to look right. I could not get it to do what I wanted it to do. I looked awful. And I couldn't stop thinking about what a big, big mistake I'd made. I am a simple girl with simple hair, and it doesn't need bells and whistles to get by. What I'd done was let the bells and whistles get cut into it.

What I'd done was get the same haircut as Paul McCartney.

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Paul and I now shared the same length, the same choppy layers, the same poof at the top of our heads. With my new haircut, I looked like a long-lost member of the Beatles. I looked like I should be singing about Sgt. Pepper and His Lonely Hearts Club Band instead of teaching English at a college in Maine.

"So," I told the Boy from Work, "you're totally dating a boy now. I mean, that's what I look like."

The BFW just shrugged, told me he liked my hair, and went on his merry way. Although this was the correct response, it did not in any way help me from imploding later that week.

I had a minor breakdown about the situation on Sunday, right before my mother and I headed out for our big Christmas Shopping Extravaganza. Moments after I made the mistake of using the communal lotion, I stood in front of my mother's bathroom mirror and fisted my hands in my hair. There was a part of me that wanted to rip it all out, but I just half-cried instead. I allowed myself one minute of immense pity, and then I went out and bought myself two hundred dollars of new clothes (which, Diana, are AMAZING! CUTE! SASSY!).

I didn't really develop a true appreciation for my new cut until I got back here to Maine. The first morning I unveiled it to my students, I was greeted with an enthusiastic response. One of my girl students saw me coming down the hall and actually started squealing right there, out in the open where everyone could hear her hysterics.

And even the guys got in on the action. When one stopped in before class, he raised his eyebrows at me. He grinned.

"Hi," I said.

"Hi," he said.

"How are you?" I asked.

"Good," he said. He appeared to be stumped. He appeared to have forgotten what he came in for.

"What's up?" I asked.

"Your hair--" he said. "Did you get it cut?"

"I did."

He nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah," he said. "Yeah. Man, it's nice!"

I gave it a little toss then and decided that, yeah, it was a nice change. Will I go back to long hair? Probably. But in the meantime, I'm going to enjoy this cut and all its kicky little layers.

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Diana said...

You look adorable. I love it.

I wish you would come get me and take me shopping for shoes and purses and advise me on the purchase of a fabulous, perfect dress that I can wear in January when I go for a NYC lunch with my NYC editor.

Jess said...

The Gap has some amazing dresses right now. You'd need a wrap or something to go over them--stupidly, they are all tank-sleeves--but they are divine.

Diana said...

I know! What's with all the sleeveless dresses? IT'S WINTER!!!