Good morning! I have to make this quick, because this morning I have to go run some errands, and by “run some errands” I of course mean “buy a hat.”
My name is Mir, and I have hair problems. Oh, the humanity!
So, um, true to form, it took me until a week before my trip up to NYC to remember that, oh yes, I HAVE MEDUSA HAIR. And although I wasn’t thrilled with the results of the last time I had my hair done, it was serviceable enough, I supposed, and the price was right, so I called that same woman again.
She, of course, was completely unable to fit me in. Because only a moron waits until the last minute to schedule a cut and color.
She recommended I go to a friend of hers, though, because this woman is “great” and she refers all of her clients to this other girl when she can’t take them. I’ll love her! It’ll be great! She’ll call her up and give her my color formulation so that I can get a perfect match to last time! (For the record, the color I got last time was pretty much the best gray coverage I’ve ever had. So although I was planning to ask for a bit less red in the highlights, I was feeling very jazzed about getting the same color again. File that away for future reference.)
I called the pinch-hitter and was able to make an appointment immediately. An appointment for yesterday at 11, in fact.
Said hairdresser—let’s call her Foils McGee—works in one of the seventy billion salons downtown. And here is the thing about going downtown in a college town: It makes you feel VERY OLD. I already knew I was going to feel completely unhip, venturing into a place where flip flops are de rigueur. Here’s the other thing: It is impossible to park downtown. There is, however, a parking deck conveniently located, so I went to park in the deck.
The deck was full.
I eventually found street parking, but all of the street parking is for an hour only, and you’re not allowed to put more money in the meter, either—the parking police chalk your tires so they’ll know if you’ve just run back with another quarter. So I parked knowing full well that I was going to get a parking ticket. I AM A REBEL.
I presented myself for my 11:00 appointment full of hope. Had she spoken to the other woman? Yes, she had. Did she have my color formulation? Well, yes, but was that exactly what I wanted, again?
Me: Well, I really loved the base color. That was perfect. The highlights were VERY red, though, and I think I’d like to tone that down a bit.
Foils: So… would you like something more caramel-y for the highlights?
Foils: Yeah, sort of a lighter brown that the rest.
Foils: Because, like, here’s the thing… the base color she did before was WAY dark, nearly black—
Me: But my natural color IS nearly black—
Foils: —right, but then you get really noticeable roots with the gray, right? So generally when I have a client who’s graying I recommend they go just a little lighter, to help the blend as the roots grow in. So let’s lighten the base color just a little, to a not-quite-so-dark brown, and then do the caramel highlights. That sound good?
Me: Um, I guess. The auburn she did before was nice, but it faded kind of weird.
Foils: Oh, yeah, red is really hard to maintain. You don’t want any red.
Me: Great, yeah, I really do want to get away from red.
Foils: We’ll do caramel. It’ll be great.
Foils went away to mix up the hair color. After a few minutes she called for another stylist to come help her with something. I suspect “something” was “smoking a crack pipe” because they were gone for about ten minutes, as I sat there in the chair twiddling my thumbs and the other client—who was mid-haircut—rustled around in her purse.
Eventually Foils returned and commenced coating my roots with color. I noticed right away that she was meticulous, making tiny parts and thoroughly saturating every section with concentration and precision. So that took… however long it took.
She finished the all-over color and snapped her gloves off. “Okay,” she said, “Let me go mix up the lightener for the highlights. Be right back!”
I took out my iPhone and checked my mail.
She came back and started putting the foils in.
Now, you have to understand that I’ve only had my hair professionally colored a few times. And I am, as we’ve established, something of a moron about my hair. So I figure that someone who has a certificate on her wall and a snazzy apron knows better than I do about how to make my hair pretty. THIS IS A DANGEROUS POSITION TO ADOPT.
By the time that I realized that Foils McGee was intent on covering my entire head with foils, it was really too late to say anything.
She foiled. And foiled. And foiled some more. The entire top of my head was covered with foils and THEN she started in on the sides. I think I had eighty foils in my hair by the time she finally stopped, and do you know how long it takes to put that many foils in?? By the time she finished, the original hair color had been sitting on my hair for AN HOUR AND A HALF.
Foils patted my shoulder and went outside for a cigarette.
She came back in and peeked inside a foil, then disappeared into the back.
Eventually she came over and peeked inside three different foils, then took me over to the sink and started taking them out.
“Well!” she said, once they were all out, “I think instead of a second process we’ll just work the existing color into the lightened bits, and then it’ll be the same tonality. It’ll look great!”
“Oooooooookay,” I said, though she may not have been able to hear me over the grumbling of my stomach. I had just remembered that (as usual) I didn’t eat any breakfast, but here I was at 1:45 realizing I was never going to get any lunch, either.
She had me lean back into the sink, and she massaged a bit of water into my hair, mushed it all around for a while, and then put a shower cap over the whole mess and took me back to her chair to sit some more.
The other stylist ordered lunch from somewhere. I tried not to stare at her while she ate her sandwich. I played with my iPhone some more and eventually Foils came back and checked me. And smushed my hair around some more. Then she took me back to the sink for some more water and some more smushing, and she left me to sit THERE for a while, and then eventually she came and washed my hair out and led me back to her chair with a towel on my head.
“Well! It would’ve been nice if we could’ve saved a step, there, but I think you’re probably going to want it a little darker! Haha!” she said, while removing the towel from my head to reveal golden blonde tufts sticking out every which way.
After I DIED I got back up and said “Yes, darker would be good.”
So then she went and mixed up ANOTHER color and painted my entire head AGAIN. She was trying to hurry, now, and slopped color on my face at least three times. “That’s okay!” she chirped, “I have stuff that’ll take that RIGHT OFF!” Finally she put a shower cap over my hair and stuck me under an old lady drier, and I began to wonder if I was ever going to escape, and what the hell my hair would look like if/when I did.
Foils went out for another cigarette and then came back in to wash out the second (third? twentieth? I was delirious by this point) round of color, and then it was back to her chair again. She used her “magic color remover” on my face while I stared at my hair. Which was OVERWHELMINGLY RED. It was a good thing I was staring at that, though, because it meant that I didn’t notice until later that her “magic color remover” didn’t do anything, and my face and ears were still covered with smudges of color.
Foils: So do you love the color?
Me: Ummmmm… well… it’s kinda… red.
Foils: It’s caramel!
Me: It looks red to me.
Foils: Nah, it’s caramel. You’re gonna love it.
Foils: It’ll mellow a little after you wash it a couple of times!
Foils: Well! Let’s get you cut!
I am growing my hair out (again) (shut up), so we had a brief discussion about how to shape it when it’s essentially between styles, and she commenced cutting.
I listened to the *snip* *snip* of the scissors and grew drowsy as I dreamed of a large sandwich.
When I felt an odd, tearing sensation at the back of the my head I snapped back to full consciousness.
“What’s THAT?” I asked.
“Oh, this?” She held up a weird-looking device. “This is a carving comb! It’s a kind of razor. I’m just thinning the hair out back here.” I must’ve looked apprehensive. “Don’t worry, I took a class in how to use it!”
Ooooooooookay. I was too tired and hungry to care.
She finished the cut and offered to style and dry it for me. I pointed out that I had now been at the salon for close to FOUR HOURS and that I really needed to leave to pick up my kids. She gave me my bill, which was not outrageous (hell, if you divide it out by the hour it was outright cheap) but still a three-figure total, and I paid it and tipped her exactly twenty percent because I am incapable of tipping less than that, even if you drag a weird razor comb through the back of my hair which you’ve just dyed red but insist is caramel. And then I left.
I walked back to my car at a brisk clip and was unsurprised to find a ticket on my windshield. Fine.
On my way to pick up the kids I drove through the first fast food establishment I encountered and ordered the first sandwich on the value menu, which was some sort of chicken thing, I think, except I’m not really sure because I crammed it into my mouth immediately and swallowed it whole.
I walked into my friend’s house where the children were playing happily and released a diatribe about my hair experience while shoving as much hair as possible into a barrette and trying not to cry.
My friend assured me it looked fine.
When Monkey was finally enticed away from his friends he said “It’s a very pretty color, Mama.”
When Chickadee got into the car to go home she said, “Well, I’d like it if it was longer.”
When Otto got home, he positioned me near the window and walked around, examining it, and said, “I don’t think it’s as red as you think. It’s fine. I like it!”
This morning I’ve decided that despite my traumatic experience the cut is… fine. Nothing thrilling, but I am not sporting a large bald spot in the back, as originally feared. The color may not be as bad as I think but IT’S NOT GOOD. And the fact that I nearly starved to death, spent all that money, AND got a parking ticket to be this unhappy with the results causes me to die a little on the inside.
But I’m going to wash it a few times before next week and WHO KNOWS.
Now, three guesses and the first two don’t count as to whether or not I’ll be visiting Foils McGee again. Hmph.