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©February 2000

Carol Jane Remsburg




Good Hair Fairy Tales




Having never been blessed with luxurious volumes of manageable hair in an exotic attractive shade, a good hair day is akin to urban legends.  You hear about them, but they always happen for somebody else.  Every so often you will see someone that looks like they just stepped out of a commercial.  It's enough to give you pause and say a prayer. 


As the last child born to a set of folliclely-challenged parents, I was doomed from the start.  Even in early childhood I had mousy-blonde hair and only enough to create nasty snarls, not pretty curls.  Back in "those days" my only hope was a Pixie cut which kept adults asking the question of whether I was a boy or a girl.


In my early teen years I attempted to grow my hair long in hopes that if it did, then some type of magical transformation would happen.  After two years it reached just below my shoulders and quit.  It was still mousy, but now it was straggly.  Constant shampooing and brushing on the quarter hour was to no avail.  It may have been shiny and sweet smelling, but it was as limp as a dishrag.  There were not enough accessories in the way of headbands or barrettes that could hide the real facts from view. 


Which brings us to the next stage—"Dishwater Blonde."  Of all the terms relating to hair color, this is the one I detest most.  Into adulthood I marched with about a million bad hair days already logged.  I was now and would forever be, a "Dishwater Blonde."  I had managed to keep my hair below my ears but it never again ventured past my shoulders.  I permmed it with such regularity that upon said appointment date all the beautician needed to do was to look at me and my hair curled up with a whimpering scream.  As a matter of fact I lunched daily at my beautician's shop which was right next door to where I worked.  I wasn't their greatest advertisement; I was a walking experiment and science project.  Anything new they got, they tried on me. 


After about of dozen or so years of harsh permming chemicals, my hair shrieked and broke off.  I think it was really trying to tell me something.  I was back to the Pixie cuts once again.  That's when the next stage came into being—gray.  Now there is much controversy about when we first begin to go gray.  My husband began showing major signs of graying right after we met—at age 22.  I began turning gray right after the birth of our daughter at age 30.  Some people say it's age, but I know better.


Speaking of gray hair, there are those that can afford the luxury of plucking out those strays.  Me, I have to hang on to every strand, gray or not—all 248 of them.  When the grays arrived I knew it was time for L'Oreal.  L'Oreal and I have been keeping company for nearly two decades.  One thing about hair coloring is that their idea of 'permanent' and my idea of 'permanent' are two very different things.  In less than six weeks my hair color will change from that right-out-of-the-box wonderful color the looks too real to actually be real to brassy and finally to the bleached-death-of-a-tumbleweed.  Every morning is a new color surprise and mutation.  It's not to say that my hair ever behaved or looked nice, I just haven't gotten bored yet.


When I began coloring my hair I decided to have my hair color attempt to match my daughter's—a fresh copper.  L'Oreal doesn't make that color and neither does anybody else, but I did try.  My hair went from a bright orangy-red-blonde to boozy-barroom blonde in a matter of weeks.  Finally I just tried being a regular blonde, nothing flashy mind you, but blonde.  It went from a sunny beigey-ashe to a witchy yellow-tinged white at the ends in three weeks flat.


I have purchased and used every known hair care product on the market that promised to transform stringy, limp locks into the crowning glory a woman's hair is supposed to be.  I've even tried every known home-remedy and outlandish fad of dumping everything of the condiment variety in the kitchen on my head as well.  I don't recommend the horseradish much; it makes the family pets shy away from you and disappoints my hubby because he thinks I've cooked food or something.


As I'm pushing the '40' clock I decided once again to grow out my hair.  No, not to get it long in hopes that the Hair Fairy would come and surprise me with good hair one morning, but to grow out all the damaged locks so I could cut them off and begin again.  I did that yesterday. 


What was supposed to be a wonderful pampering experience didn't happen exactly that way.  Of course Little Erin needed her hair trimmed up so off we went in search of the Mecca that would make me 'hair beautiful' if only for the duration of the visit. 



Important sidebar in the knowledge of "hair life."


When I was pregnant I put in my order for my child's hair color, texture, and amount.  I was wishing for everything I didn't have.  For some unknown reason, I got just what I wished for.  Little Erin of the Titan Tresses has no clue to her good fortune.  Her hair is a thick, lustrous mane.  It shines, it curls, and it has a tri-coloring to her tresses that no colorist could ever match.  Her locks are red, blonde, and true white-blonde.  Some call it a strawberry-blonde, but to me it looks like her hair is simply on fire.  She screams and runs into hiding whenever I pick up a brush or comb.


We arrived at the beautician's shop without an appointment.  I was placing myself in the hands of fate with as much hope as I could muster.  All fourteen beauticians stopped dead in their tracks.  "What was this?" I could hear them say.  No, it wasn't me, the invisible blob that scared them, it was the shock that I could have given birth to such a 'hair-gifted' child.  They surrounded her like a pack of starving lions at a fresh kill of plump antelope.  They fought over her while I sat and grew ever older and grayer.


I was the one that needed major attention while Erin only needed a snip or two.  They spent far longer over her hair than mine even though they gave me their very best.  She and I exchanged glances and she took a deep breath before beginning.  If she let out a sigh, I didn't hear it.


Her name was Mary but we didn't chat much.  I didn't want to distract her from her task and I was too scared to watch.  I was terrified that when I opened my eyes I'd be back to the Pixie cut once again.  I closed my eyes and tried to project life into a very tired dream that this time it might turn out differently. 


When I did dare to peek just as Mary was finishing up with the blow-drying and the curling iron I was in for a big surprise.  No, I didn't get the Pixie cut, but it was short.  I knew it had to be but it turned out just the way I wanted it to.  It even lasted until I got home. 


However, any attempt to recreate that type of mastery at home is something that keeps my hair in stitches daily.  Its humor over my sad attempts doesn't ever make me laugh.  As for the gray, I'm keeping the gray—at least until I change my mind. 


The only way I get a 'good hair' day is by proxy, via my child.  After all the tears and the braids are done, I sigh and am glad that she'll never endure a truly bad hair day.  My fallacy was to believe it would ever happen for me. 




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