den of haircare iniquity

The road to hell is paved with hair-care products. I'm sure of it.

I tiptoed out in the howling mass of humidity that is pre-thunderstorm northern Alabama on a shamefully-girly errand: hair trimming. My photographic adventures at the Vienna Teng show had shown me that my left braid was a little longer than my right, and that if I wanted to avoid looking like an asymmetrical Pippi Longstocking, that it might be best to venture into...

…the hall of girlyness.
…the den of female iniquity.

The hair salon.

A few minutes of waiting got me in a stylist's chair; a couple minutes more and the hair dilemma was explained. She was Asian-of-indeterminate-origin, and she hefted my hair with a smile and a laugh.

"You - lots of hair. Very curly. You leave long, yes?"


"Good. I not want to cut this. Pretty."

She spritzed it down quickly, and I remembered the good parts about having my hair mucked about with; if there is a more soothing and relaxing feeling in this world than having someone carefully brush my hair, I don't know what it is. I have this pet theory about my scalp: since it has spent the vast majority of its existence swathed under a couple of pounds of hair, it's unaccustomed to actual touch, so it's hypersensitive to any that it actually gets.

End result: hair-brushing elicits calm and happiness. Actual scalp massage results in complete lack of muscle tone and shameless purring. (Edmund, catslut extraordinaire, would be proud.)

I walked out with a $13 tube of supergoo-for-curlyheads (Sebastian Potion #9 for those of you playing the home game) that I'd been meaning to buy for ages. No, really, I've been meaning to buy it for a couple of months now; I wasn't overcome by the estrogen-laden air of the salon.

Supposedly, curly hair is a bit of a weather predictor. Curly hair gets curlier during humid weather, straight hair gets even more limp, etc. I could practically feel my hair attempting to curl itself into a little fetal ball (and failing); instead, it pointed in at least sixteen different directions, each of which it insisted was the real direction toward the impending thunderstorms. Either that, or my hair was physically rebelling against the idea of buying it styling products, a great, grand middle-finger extended in full view of the box, saying, "You wanna tame me? Bring it on, punk!"

Nevertheless, on the way out, still blissed-out from the momentary scalp pampering, I found myself idly considering the repercussions of doing the drastic and having my hair cut into something resembling a style. After all, I thought, I'm considering ditching my bifocals in favor of contacts + reading glasses. What was this but an extra step?

By this time, I was in the car. The little box of hair-care goodness smiled gently, seductively at me from the passenger seat. "See?" it whispered, "being a little feminine does nothing to your geek cred. Now that you've gone this far, think of the difference you'd get from a haircut and a little makeup..."

"Oh, be quiet," I said, only slightly mortified when I realized I'd actually said it aloud. Talking to hair-care products; what's next, feel-good morning sessions with one's mascara, followed by vain attempts to remove extraneous makeup molecules from one's clothes?

The road to hell, indeed.

I flipped down the car mirror and looked at myself. Rather critically. Still round, still plain, glasses too thick and eyes too small. Rather pointless to tart oneself up when it goes completely against one's personality and preference for years filled with 365 days' worth of wash-and-go, especially when the process of tarting resembles an infinite loop more than it does a quantifiable distance.

First the hair, then the makeup, then the wardrobe changes and the obsession over features that weren't perfect to start with, and the next thing you know you're spending obnoxious amounts of fundage on the Perfect Lipstick and you still hate how you look when you wake up in the morning. I informed the hair-care product not to get any ideas. We'd go home and try each other on tomorrow, to see how we got along, and if we didn't work well together I'd adopt the tube of hair gunk out to a good home.

I flipped the mirror down again, and gave my hair a second critical look. I remembered why I grew it long and kept it simple in the first place: that much thick, unruly, and wavy hair has a well-near unbreakable force of will. Long times spent mirror-primping with various curling and potentially-burny implements of hair destruction could force it into true (albeit temporary) curliness, or could force it into pseudo- (and also temporary) straightness.

I'd be lathering, rinsing, and repeating until rigor mortis got me.

Or I could be realistic. I could buy the $13 tube of supergoo to go with the silicone goo I currently owned, tend to the S-Shaped Firecracker Wiggles carefully but without obsession, and keep my hair long and simply cut so that it could be quickly and easily braided out of the way. I'd certainly find something else to do with the time, and I suspected I'll definitely be able to do something else with the money.

Thankfully, the hair goo didn't argue any more. It was really too humid for drop-kicking, and I had errands to do.

all tags: 


I always love comparing hair with you. My very fine, rail-straight hair looks funny next to your amazing mass. I think it was at D*Con that you looked at me and at the small ponytail holder I was about to pull my hair back with and exclaimed, "You can get all of your hair in that?!?!?"

I love the fact that you simply -have- a pet theory about your scalp.

LOL! I'm about to make an appointment to get all mine chopped off. It's now over the 10" limit (I'm not cutting it shorter than shoulder-length) & I'm sending it to Locks of Love. Then I get to grow it out again :) I'm VERY thankful I don't have wild curls. The permanent curls from my braid are crazy enough. So... Edmund's addicted to belly scritches & you're addicted to scalp scritches. Does Jeff know?

Danielle: Yep. I often find myself administering scritchies to both of them at once, since Edmund likes to curl up on Amy's computer desk. :)

And poor Tenzig does what while everyone else is getting attention?

I have often pondered how I work being a geek with being a somewhat feminine woman. Somedays I can barely be bothered to throw my hair into a ponytail while coding, others I can spend 3 hours in front of the mirror playing with makeup.

Erica - that's what I have my hat for. Don't want to deal with the hair that day? I coil it up into what would be a bun, if it was fastened, and stuff it into the rasta hat. Instant presentability. I'm all about that. :) Danielle - Tenzing isn't quite so fond of scritchies as Edmund is. (One of the many reasons we call Edmund "the scritchie fiend.") Though, when Jeff comes in and stands behind me while scratching Edmund, he has more than once been informed by his spouse that he's scritching the wrong kitty. Then I make taunting faces at Edmund while I get scritchies instead of him. Edmund usually retaliates by being obnoxiously cute. Few things in life are more obnoxiously cute than a seventeen-pound cat lying on his back with his paws in the air, begging to have his belly scratched. 'Dignity' definitely isn't in their vocabulary...

My gosh, you have put my feelings into words!