My 40th birthday was approaching. I had survived my 30th with a week of feeling sorry for myself, cramming myself with sweets and growling at everyone who got in my way. I, like a lot of women, found 30 to be a devastating experience, mainly because you’re not cute anymore. Let’s face it, in your 20’s you can still get by with running around barefoot in public, wearing cut-off jeans and running your hand through your hair. But 30 means you have to be dignified enough not to embarrass your children.
So changing decades again, I was preparing myself. I made an appointment with a highly praised and expensive local beautician, the wicked witch of the mall I call her now, and looked forward to the day when I could transform myself into a state somewhere between appearing younger than 40 but still having that professional and sophisticated air of a career woman. I’ll admit her work was cut out for her.
As I sat down in the chair, I instructed her what I didn’t want, but in addition, I wanted my hair in layers, short but not too short, and those type bangs and sides that sweep around your face and make you look casual but not unkempt. She glanced at a few pictures, and we decided on one where the model had hair that was becoming but didn’t have that “fixed” look. I shared with her about my birthday and how I was feeling a little insecure and was looking forward to having a new look. The fact that she was only in her early 30s should have triggered something in my mind that said run and don’t stop from this place before it’s too late. But as I’ve stupidly done before in my life, I didn’t listen to my good sense.
As I sat there most of the time with my back to the mirror, I reveled in the fact that I was going to walk out of this shop a changed woman, a woman that people would meet and say, “What, you’re too young to have two children.” I kept imagining what my husband would say when I walked in the house, and he would be overwhelmed with a desire to sweep this youthful woman into his arms. That’s what I get for daydreaming instead of paying attention.
As beauticians are apt to do, she chattered the whole time she was cutting and styling my hair about a variety of topics, most of which I responded to half-heartedly. Finally, after what seemed an extremely long time, she whirled my chair around so I can see myself in the panoramic wall of mirrors. “What ya’ think?”
I could only stare into the vastness of my hideousness. I knew how Frankenstein’s monster must have felt when he saw himself in the water. Not only had she not done what I told her to, to add insult to injury, there was this little round curl of bangs coming barely over my forehead exactly like my 80 year-old grandmother wore in her hair. Instead of looking younger, I knew Boy Scouts were going to be fighting over who got to help me cross the street. “Do you speak English?” I wanted to shout, but no words would come out of my mouth.
Now, I’m not a crier as a rule, but when I do cry, it just sort of comes bursting from me like a volcano spewing lava over multiple villages. But cry I did like the wailing of a professional mourner. Miss Thing over there just stood in shock while everyone rushed into the area to see what the problem was. In fact, I was causing such a commotion that the owner came over trying to console me and wanted me to allow her to try to fix it differently. My only reaction was “Don’t touch me. Nobody touch me. Just let me out of here.”
Well, needless to say, I was panicking everyone in the place, so the owner hurried me out with an apology, a no charge, and an insulting “Come again, now.” Yeah, like that would ever happen.
My husband greeted me at the door as I walked into the house. He took one look at my face, stepped aside quickly and didn’t say a word. I immediately went into the shower, washed out all remnants of the hair products that sadistic woman had used and tried to dry my hair in a fashion that I could at least live with until I found something better. When I came back into the room with my husband, he quickly hugged me, gave me a birthday kiss, and told me he would pay for an appointment with another beautician for tomorrow. I told him I would rather walk through fire, but thanks anyway.