Friday, August 22, 2008

Accomplishment #6: Try a New Hairstyle (#88)

The one thing I accomplished on my staycation was that I went and got my hair done. (I love saying that. I sound like I'm 100 and my name is Ethel.) New cut, new color, new lease on life. (Well, not really, but my bangs were getting awfully long.) Because of the blog I debated going whole hog and getting a whole new 'do, but in the end, I got the same old, same old. But this is definitely something I already had accomplished in high school and well beyond, so I didn't feel so bad.

My hair has always been the bane of my existence. As a kid, it was a bright, angry red -- so red that old ladies would grab me and tell me, "I wish I could bottle your haircolor!" I heard that all my life and I would scowl -- being the one redhead in the class was trying. (Hint: "Karen" rhymes with "Red Baron." What a joy grammar school was.) It set me apart in a bad way, and I shirked under the massive responsibility of looking like a giant blowtorch. And I didn't care that old ladies wanted my haircolor -- all I wanted, desperately, was for my hair to be thick and blonde and to not to have three giant cowlicks (two in the front, one in the back) and in junior high -- to feather perfectly.

Alas, it was always fine and it had to be washed daily, lest I looked like I had "the greasies" that Agree shampoo promised to take away. (In hindsight -- wouldn't any shampoo wash the grease out of your hair? Ahhh, 70's and 80's advertising!) But even clean it was limp and red and awful. I could never fit in with the popular girls with their big, sausage-y feathers, Gloria Vanderbilt and Chemin de Fer jeans, and eight gallons of Kissing Potion.

Luckily for me and not-so-luckily for my parents, I discovered NEW WAVE and never looked back. Sure, my hair wasn't looking as bitchin as the girl from Human League or as crazy as Banarama or kooky like Cyndi Lauper or anything like that, but at least with a subculture, feathering was out. Thank God. I chopped, sprayed, ratted, moussed, gelled, and horror of horrors, had a wee tail in ninth grade (eeeeeee!!!!! KILL ME, I KNOW). I grew it out, cut it off, grew it out, cut it off... Ironically, even though I didn't have to worry about feathering or perming, I still agonized over my hair just as much as I had before. So it goes in the life of a teenager.


One thing that I was never allowed to do was color it. My mother had preached to me for so long on the merits of having red hair that I couldn't do much of anything. I tried using chamomile shampoo that turned it lighter, and sprayed Sun-In on my bangs to try to make blonde streaks, and once used a temporary pink dye that got me grounded until it washed out. It wasn't until my sophomore year in college, away from the watchful eye of my parents, that I took some serious action.

I had finally gotten a car in LA, and my hair was getting a little long. And, I found, that it kept getting in my mouth as I was driving along with the window down, and I figured that was probably a good excuse as any to go get a haircut.

So I went to the mall, and there was a salon there. Oh GOD. It was one of mid-late 80's salons called something awful like "TRENDS 2000" with neon and fake NAGEL PRINTS on the wall... stark white, otherwise, and chrome and black leather chairs and tables... and really loud crappy new wave music and the girls working there had eyeshadow out to their hairline and hair that looked crunchy. And the whole place smelled like Sebastian hairproducts and Poison perfume.

And yet I thought, "Hmm, cool."

So I went in and got the one ambiguously straight guy working there, which was okay because he didn't look like something out of Kajagoogoo or Bon Jovi. His name was Matt or something. And he got all excited, claiming I was SO COOL (so not cool) and he wanted to do my hair FOR FREE and do crazy things to it, would I mind?

And since I was far from home, and far from my conservative parents' disapproving eye, I said, "Hell yeah!"

And that's how I wound up with a black bowl cut with "cyclamen" and "platinum" streaks. Good God.

Ventura Photobooth 1988 PICNIK

It was the most drastic thing I had ever done, and I was thrilled. Black was definitely not my color (DUH), but I felt like I was, like, totally expressing myself. Once bitten by the CRAZY BUG, I went off and did more. I bleached the black out (NOT a good idea by the way) to platinum, rubbing violet Roux "White Minx" rinse in it to make it whiter. From there I grew it into a bob and dyed it Flamingo Pink, and someone in my class said, "Your hair is the same color as the stripe on the binder paper." And, as you can imagine, my parents were absolutely thrilled. My mother's face fell when I walked through the door.

1988 at Disneyland1988 Petersen Dorm

And then it was all sorts of wacky -- more blonde, more tips, more pinks and oranges -- until my roommate looked at my roots and said, "You know, your hair isn't growing in red anymore. I think you completely fried it."

My mother's lifelong preaching made me panic, and I realized that red hair really was a huge part of who I was. If I had been born with thick blonde hair, would I have sought out other alternatives, discovering things I loved? Or would I have just been content to quietly mingle with the other girls, jumping off the bridge if they jumped, too? (Or would I have been just as geeky? Um, yeah. No doubt about it. Who am I kidding?) I promptly dyed my hair back to as close to the original color as I could get (the old ladies were right -- it wasn't in a bottle)and watched with relief as it grew back in, and spent many happy years with my natural haircolor.

And a funny thing happened. All those years of wishing I were blonde, it happened. I had an ex boyfriend who was an insane driver -- his big quote was "I drive better drunk than my grandmother drives sober" -- and my hair started turning white. I'd get out of the car and my bangs would have white running through them from the stress of being in a car with him. We broke up, but my hair kept getting lighter and lighter. Finally, I had to resort to dye. And they still don't make my natural haircolor in a bottle.

Now I go back and forth between red and blonde (the blonde because of sheer laziness when the red fades), long and bobbed. When I went to Paris a few years ago I cut it short, and instead of looking gamine chic, the first day there some crepe guy asked if I was my friend's mom. Au revoir short'n'sassy. And for a while there last year it was pink again, though that was less on purpose and more because of the red shampoo I was using. I enjoyed it while it lasted.

And now it's red with white streaks, the usual. So I didn't change it for the blog, and that's just as well. But I'll get the crazy bug again, I'm sure, and do something radical like a BOB. Or lavender. But until then, I discovered this website that will satiate my thirst for new hair:


Look! I can have sausage feathers after all!

Six down, 91 to go.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

What a hair raising tale! Actually, you're hair looked the best in that first photo. But it's yours to do with what you like, so go for it.

Sparkleneely said...

Dr. Monkey,

Oh yes, it's been many, many incarnations -- length, color... those pics were only the tip of the iceberg. And I'm missing a whole photo album from high school, so I had to find at least one picture... Now it looks much different than those pictures. Whew.

Maria said...

I can't help it, I love the flamingo pink hair! You've been a lot more adventurous hair-wise than I've ever been!

Sparkleneely said...

I LOVED the pink, too, Maria. I remember thinking I was so cool... The picture here was taken at Disneyland, where, back then, it was very frowned upon to have any sort of weird hair or clothes or whatever. One time I went with a friend who had sticky up spiky hair, and Disneyland police stopped him, gave him a comb, and pointed him toward the bathroom to wash out all the gelatin from his hair. Eek! When I went when this pic. was taken, they just asked me to please buy a hat and keep my hair hidden as best as possible. But I didn't. Anyway, when I was standing in line, a little girl said to me, "I can't wait til my mom's dead so I can have hair like yours!" The mother was horrified and I said, "You don't have to do that -- you just have to wait til you're 18. That's what I did..." The mother was PISSED. Pffft.

Anonymous said...

I know you'll never agree with us but Jeff and I both loved your short Paris trip 'do. Tres chic!

Anonymous said...

I love your hairstyles. However bad you thought you looked, you looked far cooler than I ever did.

It's funny that you refer to that '70s and '80s hair as sausage hair, because my husband saw a prom photo of me with that exact style and said, "Hey, you have penis hair!"