Bang! Bang! Bangs!

Carmen went a little overboard with the floofy ringlets.

Carmen went a little overboard with the floofy ringlets.

I know I just said that I like my hair. It’s true: I don’t want the lowlights that even Husbot had the nerve to suggest not long ago. But I have to admit I’ve been getting really tired of my face.

Pulling my unbrushed tresses straight back into an elastic band every morning while encouraging pottying, pouring cereal and milk into pouring containers so the bots can pour their own cereal and milk into bowls, mopping cereal and milk and potty off the floor, pulling clothes onto bots who would rather be playing, pushing toothbrushes into the mouths of bots who would rather be playing, and encouraging self-shoe-putting-onning of bots (who: that’s right….) wasn’t helping matters.

The answer to all my problems, of course, was bangs. Cheaper, subtler, and–ostensibly–less painful than a face lift. Which I don’t want anyway. And so on Friday, I finally got around to making an appointment. I didn’t care with whom. I called the Ulta next to the Barnes and Noble, which I’ve been to several times, and was told that Carmen had an opening at 3:30. The name rang a bell. Carmen had done something or other–probably given me a trim–a few years back. I remembered only that he was very young and flamboyant with sticky-uppy hair, half dark and half platinum blond. He was a bit soft around the middle, and he talked nonstop about Disneyland. I had no other recollections, except that I had no feeling of heavy trauma associated with the memories, so he must have done a passable job on my hair.

I remembered nothing more until 3:45, when I was in his chair, post hair-wash, avoiding looking at myself in the mirror as I always do in the hairdresser’s chair, and he got out his comb.

It was a hairstylist’s kind of comb, very thin and long, like a stiletto, with two hundred needle-like teeth. He combed once, twice, and then it happened: the comb, on its way from crown to hair tip, jammed into the top of my ear. Then he raised his hand to comb again, and again it flapped my ear painfully down on its way earthward. And I suddenly remembered: Carmen, in addition to enjoying Disneyland very much, wanted to be a spy. He was concerned, however, because he only spoke English. And he might need to learn, say, Arabic. Two years ago, I had kindly encouraged him–after all, there we were–a hairstylist who wanted to be a spy, a housewife/new mother/magazine writer-who-hadn’t-published-an-article-since-giving-birth who wanted to write a book. And then he’d gotten out his comb.

And I remembered thinking, Carmen, my friend, how can you possibly be a spy, when you can’t even sneak up on my ears?

I saw on Friday that Carmen had aged well: he had lost his baby fat, his hair was all one color, and he seemed more confident. I sat with those words ringing in my stinging ears, slightly concerned about what would happen to my hair, but not particularly worried that an international assassin would appear and put a bullet through his black shirt that would then travel through my head.

He started talking about Disneyland.

But then he started asking questions. Consulting the photo I’d brought, ripped from an overpriced hairstyle magazine I would never use again, and asking more questions. They were good questions. He snipped, he clipped, he measured with his hands. He shaped, he thinned. He shared a recipe for a killer white salsa with shrimp.

And I found myself quite happy that Ulta salon will probably never lose Carmen to the CIA, because my ears may be slightly the worse for wear, but he did sneak up on my softer, more feminine side, and tweak it on the ass.

And not once did he suggest lowlights.

Why Does Everyone Want to Lowlight Me?

Ten years ago, no one would have even THOUGHT of suggesting lowlights.

Ten years ago, no one would have even THOUGHT of suggesting lowlights.

I hadn’t even heard the term before July. And then, during a routine trim shortly after my forty-fifth birthday, there it was: “Have you ever considered lowlights?”

“Umm, what?” I asked the overcoiffed twenty-something standing behind me holding scissors.

“We could work them in with highlights, and you wouldn’t even be able to tell.”

I tried not to look completely baffled as I put my expertise in antonyms to work. “You mean…some darker, and some lighter?”

She nodded, and flipped her wrist in a hand-shrug to express how simple it was. The scissors glinted menacingly. “And you’d only have to get it redone like every six months. It would hide some of this….”

Her cheerful voice trailed off as she fingered my part.

“The gray?” I asked, feeling like we were discussing the Voldemort of the hair world: That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named.

“It would look really pretty!”

I declined.

Several months later, I had almost exactly the same conversation with another young woman wielding scissors. I told her what I’d told the first one: “You know, I actually like my hair.”

There was a time that ponytails worked. The bangs, however....

There was a time that ponytails worked. The bangs, however….

It’s an unpopular sentiment, but it’s true: I like my hair. Except for the fact that it’s nastily staticky right now, and I never make time to style it properly, which results in my trapping it unflatteringly in ponytail each morning and my mother-in-law asking me repeatedly if I’ve ever considered bangs, I like my hair. It’s brown. I’m lucky that it’s about fifty shades of brown, and so the gray that’s been creeping in had always been mistaken for just another shade of brown. But in the past two years, maybe because of bots or maybe because I’m halfway to ninety, the increasing population of non-brown hairs can be positively identified as one of the fifty shades of gray.

My sole venture into highlights, fifteen years ago. The fishing trip was much more successful than the hair.

My sole venture into highlights, fifteen years ago. The fishing trip was much more successful than the hair.

My mother edged toward the cliffs of gray hair at about my age, maybe a little younger. She took it upon herself to fight it the way everyone fought it in the eighties. It wasn’t called lowlighting then, it was called L’Oreal. My adolescent siblings and I made ruthless fun of her at the dinner table the day she finally admitted to doctoring her ‘do. She stood her ground, refusing to give us the pleasure of knowing exactly how and when she made her magic.

Mom and Dad, when their hair was at its lush, brown peak. (Dad's peak was rather more of the crest of a dune not far above sea-level.)

Mom and Dad, when their hair was at its lush, brown peak. (Dad’s peak was rather more of the crest of a dune not far above sea-level.)

Not long after, though, she stopped. I’m not sure why, and hesitate to guess, because I’d probably be wrong. She eased naturally into salt-and-pepper, then steel gray, then a lovely silver.

Mom was slipping gracefully into gray; The Andrews, c. 1988. Dad was sliding down his dune of dudeness. David's hair had definitely hit an apogee, Susan remained a natural blonde for fifteen more years and I...wall, I still havent learned to shut my mouth.

The Andrews, c. 1988: Mom was slipping gracefully into gray; Dad was sliding down his dune of dudeness. David’s hair was definitely summiting, Susan remained a natural blonde for fifteen more years and I…well, I still haven’t learned to shut my mouth.

As far as lowlights, I don’t know which way I’ll go. I don’t want to look older than I am, although if I really wanted to look younger, I’d get a tattoo. I don’t want to appear any more unkept than I already do. I also don’t want to come off as a suburban matron grasping to look like what she’s not. I didn’t always like my hair. And I won’t always. But for now, I like my hair. So I’ll go with Nolighting today.

Okay, so I don't exactly like my hair HERE, but it still looks brown. Right? Right?

And when my hair is in a less-than-photogenic state, I use diversionary tactics, like sitting with Gbot. People look at his hair, instead.