So, I finally did it. I went to the beauty shop to get my hair done. It was about time, I’d say. It’d been a full year and a half since I’d visited Jane at the Classic Image Beauty Salon—a year and a half since I’d been anywhere at all with beauty as my objective. Okay, maybe actual “beauty” has never been my objective—let’s just call it “image enhancement” or…“lipstick on a pig,” if you like.
Whatever you want to call it, it costs an arm and a leg, which is one reason I hadn’t been in so long. Plus, you know how it is when you move to a new place—it’s not easy to find someone you can trust to come at you with a big pair of scissors. I liked Jane. We had an understanding. She knew that I liked a little hair feathered around my high forehead, she knew how to perform the equivalent of a comb-over to make up for the hair I was losing, and she didn’t complain when I dragged my raggedy self in every 14 months or so and asked her to perform a miracle. I mean, if I was a house, you’d probably call me a real fixer-upper. She also never mentioned that my curly perm made me look like some refugee from the eighties.
So I put off going until my hair in front that I’d been curling back off my face with a curling iron just wouldn’t stay in anymore without about spraying half a can of Aqua Net on it, no doubt causing considerable widening of that hole in the ozone layer.
I’d noticed one of those chain places near where I buy groceries, so I thought I’d give it a try. I showed up early, trying to beat the crowds. The little bell rang cheerfully as I walked in. There was one person there sweeping, and she looked up, frowning. I could see it in her face. She was thinking, Dear God, please don’t let this old lady with gray hair halfway down her back be my customer. I smiled apologetically and a little obsequiously, like, I know I’m a mess and I’m sorry but can you please help me?
I sat down. She swept slowly and carefully, obviously stalling for time, looking out in the parking lot eagerly every time a car passed, hoping she could foist me off to one of the other stylists. But it was Monday, and apparently no one was eager to come in early for work. So finally, she sighed audibly and resigning herself to the arduous task ahead, motioned me into the chair.
It wasn’t long, though, after we’d chatted a bit and she realized that I didn’t expect miracles that she began to relax. She was really quite nice. I, however, was not so relaxed. In fact, I was gritting my teeth in pain. She (we’ll call her Rhonda) obviously believed that the only good perm was a tight perm. With every roller she rolled, she’d give this little yank at the end, just to make sure there was not one iota of slackness in that curl. It hurt so much that tears sprang involuntarily to my eyes, but I just bit my lip and thought about how sometimes, we must suffer for our beauty. And, really, all that tautness had the effect of smoothing out my wrinkles. Why, my face hadn’t looked that tight in years! My first facelift!
Two excruciating hours later, she was done and it was time for the big reveal. As she started pulling out more and more of the little rollers, it became apparent to us both that something had gone terribly wrong. There was no curl…no, not a bit. Neither one of us said a word. All I could think was—I do not care, just let the nerve endings in my head recuperate. And she was probably thinking—If I don’t say anything, maybe she won’t notice.
But there was just no denying it. Rhonda took out the last curler and stared bleakly at my reflection in the mirror. My hair hung lank and limp. Finally, she spoke. “You,” she said sadly, “are curl resistant.”
She called over the other stylists and they stood in a circle around me, shaking their heads mournfully, as though observing the scene of an accident. “I just can’t understand it,” said Rhonda. “I’ve never had this happen before.”
They all cast sympathetic looks her way and some of them looked accusingly at me, as though if I wanted it badly enough and if only I had lived a good life, my hair would have curled. “Curl resistant,” they all repeated, like a chorus in some really bad opera. “She is curl resistant.”
Finally, Rhonda turned to me and said, “Okay, well…you go on home and see what happens overnight, and if it doesn’t curl, you can come back tomorrow and I’ll do it again for free.”
I couldn’t help it—I laughed. Partly in relief, that I could get the heck out of there and partly at the idea that my hair might magically curl itself overnight, as I slept. Rhonda was not amused. There was nothing funny about curl resistance.
So…to make a long story short, my hair indeed did not curl itself overnight, and I did return, reluctantly, the next day. The ordeal was repeated, and Rhonda and I both held our breath as she began to remove the curlers. But, alas, curl resistance is a powerful thing. We both stared dejectedly at my still lank hair. Rhonda said nothing, but began to blow dry my hair, perhaps thinking the heat would somehow activate the curl. But I just ended up looking like a cross between Albert Einstein and Bozo the Clown.
It was pretty clear that nothing could be done—I was a hopeless case. Rhonda looked depressed. I felt sorry for her. “You know,” I said, fingering a few tendrils of limp hair. “I think I definitely see some curl this time.”
Rhonda brightened and looked again at my reflection in the mirror. “You know, I think you might be right,” she said, fluffing up my deep-fried frizz. “Yeah, there is definitely some curl there this time!”
So, I thanked her and made my escape. Both of us knew it—I looked like Buckwheat on a Bad Hair Day. But, like I said, she was a nice lady. At least, she didn’t charge me for the second time.
And, at least the frizz gives body to my thinning hair, though as it grows out, I resemble Bozo more and more. Maybe I should start a new line of work—buy me some clown shoes and a big red nose. Maybe I shouldn’t fight it—just go with the flow.
After all, there’s no fighting curl resistance.