Thursday, October 23, 2008

Straighten Up!

by Jenny Gardiner

I straighten my hair. Admittedly, that fact by itself is really quite unremarkable. After all, technology has gotten to the point that many, many women once cursed with unyielding kinks and obstinate tangles can now boast of that enviable straight hair usually featured on Pantene shampoo commercials.

No, what makes my admission somewhat bizarre is this: I already have straight hair. In fact, for the better part of my youth and well into my twenties, I went to great lengths to deny its natural state and instead curl the living daylights out of it.
Over those many years, I acquired an assortment of curling irons and brushes of varying curl-creating proportions; I even sported the occasional neck burns from dropping them on myself, and scalp-scalds from the steam function on the wand. My bathroom counters bore the telltale scorched plastic scars of a serial hair curler. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I even owned a purse-sized cordless curling implement, for those tricky occasions during which I couldn’t be caught dead with straight hair but had no access to electricity.

Along with my daily heat-induced hair fraying--more like frying--I periodically attempted to chemically induce a wave to my hair with one of those skunk-like permanents. Although in retrospect, I can’t recall when I’ve had more bad hair days than when my locks were under the influence of those pungent ammonia-laden toxins.

Despite my decades-long attempts to achieve that Andi MacDowell head of soft, cascading ringlets, I was never quite able to recreate the look, much to my chagrin.

It wasn’t until a rogue hairdresser decided to take flagrant liberties with my hair, creating what he dubbed the “firecracker” perm, that I decided I’d better accept my dreary straight hair as the lesser of two evils. The end result of that hairdo was more like a “safecracker” perm--as if my head had been locked in the safe when the explosives blew it open. Not a pretty sight.
So I settled for my more natural state. That same hair that a high school boyfriend once said reminded him of his pet Irish setter’s. Okay, so the fetching-a-stick-while-bounding-through-the-fields look is fine for a dog, but for me, not so much. But what could I do?

Not much, until one day not long ago, when my hairdresser--a veritable Rodin, with what he’s able to sculpt out of my mop of hair--started using a straightening iron on it. Now, for all I know, he was merely trying to fix a mistake he’d made when he dried it. I don’t know. But one thing is certain: my hair looked better after he’d used that thing on it.

And so I bought myself a straightening iron. Someone else at the salon urged me to try the straightening shampoo and condition, as well as some other product that renders my hair as Teflon smooth as a bobsled run. Gullible, bored, or desperate, I took her up on her suggestions.

So while for the past fifteen years, I have enjoyed a relatively maintenance-free, albeit boring, hair care regimen, I’m back to my old tricks. But this time, rather than trying to undo the plank-straight hair of my birthright, I’m spending far too much of my time, money and energy trying to merely improve upon it. Kind of straightening it better.

Now, you may think I’m crazy. And you might be right. And while this probably seems like a shining example of the emperor who has no clothing, I’ll persevere. Because I like to think I’m simply optimistic, and that eventually, I’ll get it right, and I’ll achieve the hair I’ve always wanted, whatever that may be.

So last week my older daughter--graced with gorgeous chestnut colored hair as long and straight as a stretch of Oklahoma highway--came home from the hairdresser with a strange request.

“Mom,” she said. “I really need you to get me a hair straightener…”

Now, this child has the sort of hair some women pay good money to replicate in hair salons. But I guess the grass is often greener--or straighter--on the other side of the fence.

I shrugged, opened the drawer and pulled out my own flat iron and handed it to her. If nothing else, it was good to know I’m not alone in my inane pursuit. Maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

1 comment:

MariaGeraci said...

What cracks me up is how my 15 year old with the stick straight hair I would have killed for 30 years ago, sneaks into my BR to use my Chi. She says is to "smooth" it out;0