Surrender the Pink
When I was thirteen, I had a Bad Experience at a hair salon. It was my first time getting a haircut at a grownup place, and I was totally intimidated: I didn’t know how to talk to the haircutting guy, how to tell him what I wanted; heck, I didn’t even know what I wanted. So I let them give me a flippy feathered blowdried haircut which had everything to do with the Generic Teenage Girl and nothing to do with me. Then I refused to set foot in a salon for the next five years. My hair got long and wild and sort of like Treat Williams’s in that movie, but it was mine: my long, my wild, my growing flowing overgrown hedge of a head of hair.
A week before I went away to college, I coaxed and convinced and bullied my best friend into cutting my hair short. “But I don’t know anything about cutting hair!” she wailed, as swaths of curly mane dropped into the bathtub. I didn’t care about her haircutting experience. I’d had that bad time at the salon with someone who supposedly knew hair; this time I was trusting my head to someone who knew me.
And that’s how it’s stayed more or less ever since, aside from a few back-and-sides at Astor Place in the Village, and, in the last few years, Rudy’s Barbershop down the street. Really I’m only comfortable when someone who gets me cuts my hair. I’m not a fashion maven and I have no vocabulary for hair, but at the same time it’s the part of my appearance that I have the most control over. When my hair’s overgrown and messy, I look frumpy; when it’s cut well, I look (well, at least somewhat) sleek and cool, and I feel sleek and cool. I don’t want some stranger with a pair of scissors messing with that.
All of which is by way of saying that when my mom kindly gave me a gift certificate for a new blogskin from Pilcrow for my 40th birthday, I was a little scared of going back to the salon. I'm a word person, not a visual person; what did a screen version of the online version of, well, me look like? I had no idea. Or rather, I had lots of ideas, but no way to express them or decide among them.
Which is why, every time Julie sent me a gentle query about what I might want for the new blogskin, she would get…nothing. And then more nothing, for a long time. And then a babbling apologetic email containing a) protestations of anguish over my lack of visual vocabulary, and b) several vague and contradictory notions, and maybe a photo attached. To which she would reply promptly and with great professionalism and acuity. To which I would respond with…nothing. And so on.
Somehow, Julie managed to interpret my procrastinatory verbal thrashings in the waters of design, and come up with the sleek and fancy confection you see before you. And…I feel the way I have the few times I’ve had really dramatic and good haircuts. I look in the mirror and blink, and look again. I grin, so I can make sure it’s really me. And then I look one more time before I saunter off into the world.
So, Mom: Thanks for the present! And Julie: thank you for being the friend in the bathroom and the expert at the salon at the same time.
I might be spending Thanksgiving in my pajamas (and very thankful to be doing so), but my blog is finally all snazzed up and ready to party.