Can you stand another entry about hair?
When I was in my college roommate's wedding, we had our hair done at an ungodly hour in the morning, and then I was expected to keep my hair looking pretty until mid-afternoon, when the wedding actually happened. This seems like an unreasonable expectation for someone like me. Would you dress a five-year-old for his pictures seven hours early? Of course not. Yes, I am considerably older than a five-year-old, but I also once ruined a pair of suede shoes from sitting perfectly still. I can probably avoid getting messy or dirty, but let's not push our luck here. After getting my hair done for that wedding, I went to an outdoor flea market. In July. So I ended up sweaty and dirty, my hair lost about 50% of its volume, and I had a great time.
Last July, I was in my niece's wedding. Our hair was to be done at 11 am, while the wedding was at 3. This was much more manageable. It was also not on a Saturday, so the flea markets weren't even open. The girl who was to do my hair was not a professional hair-doer, but a family friend. In fact, there were two family friends doing hair: girls who had long and lovely locks themselves. They were just good at hair. I am good at math, which has never come in handy at a wedding before. You know how in sci-fi movies there's always a guy whose good at math, and he tells everyone else that their risky plan has a 3.52 billion to 1 chance of working? Math people are never appreciated.
The bridesmaids were to all have the same hairstyle, a pretty updo with a silk flower pinned in. I'm going to go ahead and admit that I had been looking forward to my turn in the chair for a month. At the previous wedding, my hair went all the way down to my chin, and there was not much the hairdresser could do with it. Her solution was to spray a can of hairspray into it and give it lots of volume. I looked like a TV news anchor. It wasn't a big deal, and no one cared, but I felt unfeminine. I also had a strange urge to say "Back to you, Phil."
But this wedding would be different. Someone with skill was going to do something magical with my hair. Because I had hair going all the way down to my lower back and I never let it live up to its potential. It was long, it was thick, and all it ever got to do was sit in a messy ponytail on my head. When I played volleyball, I would put it in a long braid a la Xena, Warrior Princess, which Josh called "battle hair." Sometimes I even braided it in pigtails, but the most attention I ever gave my hair was with the intention of getting it out my way. But today, TODAY!, it would finally fulfill its destiny. I like to pretend that inanimate objects have destinies.
I sat patiently while a woman named Stephanie that I'd never met before did mysterious things to the back of my head. I had no idea what she was doing. I knew that she pulled sometimes, asked me to tilt one way for a while, then sprayed hair spray, molecules of which probably ended up in my Mountain Dew. A lot of bobby pins seemed to be disappearing. And then after twenty minutes or so, she was done. I was afraid to move my head, for fear that it would all come cascading down. Yet it seemed oddly secure. I gave my head a couple of test shakes and whatever was keeping my many hairs in place seemed to hold. I could probably go to the flea market and sweat and it would still hang on. This was battle hair with style.
I nervously looked in the mirror: Ah, sweet mystery of life, at last I've found you! This was beautiful: feminine, classy, not me at all, but that's what was great about it! Feeling incredibly silly and shallow, I went into the bathroom and took pictures of my hair so that I could remember it forever: the culmination of five years of growing pains.
The next week, I went to a salon and had my hair cut off. All those years I'd been growing it, I knew that I was not a long-hair person and that I would want to cut it all off at some point. But how would I know when the time was right? I kept having dreams where I'd cut my hair and I would always wake up in a panic, relieved to find that it was all still there. As much as I was tired of dealing with it, would I be sad when it was gone? I guess I decided the time was right after the wedding. My hair had fulfilled its destiny, and I could let it go now. Maybe my decision-making process needs work.
Honestly, it was easier than I thought to be rid of it. For years people had told me that I should cut it gradually so the shock wouldn't be too great. I had begun to think that this haircut would be some sort of trauma, despite my initial feeling that it would probably be a relief. But once it was done, I knew I should have trusted my instincts. I put it in a plastic bag and mailed it to a company that will make a wig for a bald kid. The bald kid will be grateful, even though the color is mousy and it won't hold a curl. People were shocked, asking if everything was okay or if I needed some counseling to help me through my loss. The men at work seemed proud of themselves for noticing that I looked different at all.
It was not traumatic. I grew my hair to see if I could (as it turns out, I can). I knew that once I cut it, and I would cut it, I would probably never grow it out again. Donating it was pretty cool, and having a mass of thick locks was fun for a while. I'm glad that my hair had that one bright moment during the wedding. But it was time to have short hair again. It was...destiny!