You know one of the best things about turning 40? (Yes, there is one thing.) It’s that I am finally starting to feel as if I am on the cusp of not really caring what other people think about certain things.
I have a long way to go (sensitive soul that I am), but it’s a start.
The first – and possibly only – item on the “don’t care” agenda so far? My hair. At least to a certain extent. (Yes, this is one of those “really deep thoughts” columns.)
My hair and I have had a long and tumultuous relationship. It is naturally curly and I, apparently, am not.
Ever since I can remember, my hair has been difficult. Maybe when I was a primary student I didn’t notice it so much, but once I hit around Grade 3 I think even my mother had had enough of trying to tame the fine, unruly curls because at that point it was all lopped off.
Sometimes it was not just short, but “really really short.” One time, in Grade 6 or so, my mother told our hairdresser to cut it “really really short.” For those who don’t know, “really really short” basically means “buzz cut.”
A girl having hair that is shorter than most of the boys’ hair in the class? No fun for me.
Not surprisingly, sometime after that I began to assert my individuality in a kinda-sorta way and said I wanted to grow my hair longer. I’m not really sure what I had going on over the next few years. It was “undefined” at best.
And then, in high school, I discovered hair products.
From that moment on it didn’t matter what length my hair was – I could “style” it with truckloads of gel. Yes, ladies and gentleman, I didn’t just control my hair, I oppressed it by pasting it to my scalp. If my curls had been able to stand up on their own and hold picket signs, they would have staged a bloody coup and ousted the dictatorship that was my gel.
Remember the Robert Palmer girls from the 1980s music videos? They had my hair, except I added a weird little pouffy thing near the front.
For about a kazillion years my hair was either gelled or pulled into a tight ponytail or braid. It was too frizzy to wear down and I didn’t know how to deal with it properly. I thought anyone who coveted my natural curls was crazy. Lots of people did. Weirdos.
Eventually, though, my hair and I found a manageable style and some balance in the use of hair-care products. (So now it’s kind of like Canadian government – my hair thinks it has some control, but doesn’t really.)
There is a fine line between my hair looking “as if it has seen a brush” and looking “like a bird’s nest,” however. I have this habit of running my hand through my hair while I work (at home, by myself, with no one watching). Consequently, anyone unfortunate enough to come to the door will be greeted by someone who looks as if she should be one of the three witches in the opening scenes of Macbeth.
“Double double toil and trouble” indeed.
At least this is probably slightly more professional than being greeted at the door by the musical Hair.
The thing is, though, I am not mortified about this as I once might have been. Okay, maybe a little mortified, but not enough to go back to slapping 30 tonnes of gel on my head every day.
“Help! Help! We’re being repressed!” call the curls.
The other night my father-in-law popped in for a visit. He took one look at me. “Your hair appointment wasn’t today, I take it?” he laughed.
There was a time when I would have run from the room before anyone could see me with crazy hair. Now? I am inclined to have it declared a nature reserve for rare nesting birds and see if I can get a tax break.
The Stephanie Gray Wild Bird Sanctuary, perhaps? And Gift Shoppe?
I’m not sure what that is saying, exactly, but I’m okay with it.
Published in The Perth Courier, March 31/11