Saturday, January 20, 2007


I have a love-hate relationship with my hair.

In the fifth grade, I decided to take matters, of a certain cowlick at the front of my head that was preventing my bangs from laying flat, into my own hands. I cut off the cowlick. Of course, this didn't go unnoticed at the hairdresser when my mother took me in for my cut.

"What happened here?" asked Frank, one of two large Italian brothers who co-owned the salon.

I shrugged. Frank called my mother over. "What happened here?" he asked my mother, who looked at the cowlick-in-process (it was regrowing), then at Frank, then at me.

I shrugged.

"Did you cut this off?" My mother asked me.

I shook my head. Neither believed me but I didn't get punished. Apparently having a two-inch swatch of hair sticking straight out of my forehead for months was punishment enough.

Then, in fourth year university, I decided that what I needed, more than a job, a boyfriend, a slap in the face to set me straight, was a PERM. Oh yes, that's right, a perm. And no, if you're thinking, was it the '80s?, it wasn't. It was 2000. That's right. 2000. The thing was, I'd never had a perm. Growing up I, like every other child of the '80s wanted, needed a perm. But my mother had always nixed it, saying that my hair was far too thick, which would make me look like Diana Ross, without the body or the voice, and that because I spent several hours a day in an overly chlorinated pool, my hair was already too dry for a perm and the perm would only dry it out more, making me look like Diana Ross with her hand on the Van de Graaff generator (a.k.a. “The Ball That Makes Your Hair Stand Up”) at the Science Centre.

Back to the summer of 2000, I had deemed myself an adult with a university education, and decided that I was going to treat myself to a perm. I, like Felicity, was going to have messy, sexy curls. Or so I thought. I booked my appointment, and told the receptionist I wanted a perm. "A perm?" she asked. "A perm," I said confidently, sure she was only questioning it because I'd never asked for one before.

I couldn't wait for my appointment. And when I got there, both the owner and my stylist were looking at me strangely. "I heard something..." my stylist said. I confirmed it was true. She nodded. "You're sure?" I told her I was. Then she sent me upstairs to wait. Because the girl who was giving me the perm was late. Because she had to GO HOME to get her perm supplies. Because they didn't have any in the salon. Because no one had asked for a perm in years.

I loved my perm, and for weeks I had the sexy messy curls I wanted. Then, as warned, the perm grew out and I was left with flat roots. And it got worse, as anyone who's had a perm knows. Eventually I looked like I'd just taken off a tight-knit winter hat that had flattened the hair to my ears, then let it escape wildly into a mess of curls. So I did the only thing I could. I cut off my hair into a bob, which looked horrific. Then, unhappy with the way I looked, I broke up with my boyfriend and my stylist.

So when recently, I became obsessed with Taylor Townsend's hair on The OC, I asked my new stylist to give me bangs. This, after having bangs for 15 years, then growing them out and swearing I would never get bangs again. "Just long, sweepy-to-the-side bangs," I said. Which was MUCH different than straight across, boring bangs.

"You've got a cowlick," he said. "You'll have to really work hard to get your hair to sweep across like that because it won't want to." I looked at my cowlick, furious. I insisted he give me THE BANGS. He nodded, cut my hair, then applied four different hair products, and spent 20 minutes with the blowdryer trying to coax my bangs across my forehead. When he was done, the lock of resisting bangs hung straight down in my eyes. So I did the only thing I could when I got home. I pulled open my "hair" drawer in the bathroom, removed the scissors, placed them safely in my office desk drawer, then pushed the reluctant lock of cowlicked hair back to the side it wanted to be on.

Because sometimes, you've got to learn from your past mistakes.

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