So I like it when people tell me the truth.
Except for my hair stylist, Katie. I have created a special exemption to the truth-telling rule just for her.
Katie does a terrific job with my hair. She also thinks I am funny. She asked that I not tell her my stories while she has her scissors in hand because I make her laugh too much. How great is that?
But even better is that Katie understands that the unvarnished truth for a female client in her early 60’s may not always be the best way to go. Tactful but direct, that is Katie.
She handles my FAQ’s with ease.
1. “Should I get bangs?”
I ask Katie this same question on nearly every visit. I am pretty much obsessed with my forehead. When I look in the mirror my wide forehead beams back at me with over-sized prominence. Approximately 5 minutes of every appointment are taken up with a discussion of what to do to minimize my forehead. With me often suggesting that soft, feathery, to-the-side bangs would be just the ticket.
Last year when Michelle Obama made national hair news with her new wispy bangs, I took to pestering Katie even more than usual about getting bangs cut.
She looked at me in the mirror and said kindly, but firmly:
“Nancy, I want you to like me. You will not like me if I cut bangs for you.”
Even though I very much want Katie to like me (and after all, Michelle Obama did ditch her bangs after a few months), I can’t get off the subject of my forehead.
So I keep asking for bangs. On a recent visit the ever-patient Katie showed me her hand – then spread her fingers across my forehead.
“See, Nancy, I am measuring your forehead. It is about 3 1/2 fingers wide. If you had a 4 finger wide forehead, I’d consider bangs. If you had a 5 finger wide forehead, we’d definitely do bangs. You are only 3 1/2 fingers wide.”
Scientific evidence. No bangs for now.
2. “How will I look if I stop coloring my gray hair?”
I have been coloring my hair since my 40’s, maybe even since my 30’s. I got my first gray hairs in law school. (go figure!) Coloring my hair back to its earlier brunette incarnation has been a constant.
Now that I no longer have to show up at the law office every day, maybe the time has come to let Mother Nature do her thing.
How would I look with all gray hair?
This is a slightly tricky question which Katie gracefully evades by pointing out that my natural hair color is by now actually all white, not gray.
Lovely! I am not only getting older but now I have white hair, not gray.
Then I think, maybe I could be a blonde?
How far is white from yellow on the color wheel anyway?
I could be a blonde! My husband will be thrilled.
Before I get too excited, Katie looks at me in the mirror and tells me that blonde is not going to happen.
I am going to stick with brunette for awhile longer.
3. “Will you cut my hair short in the summer?”
Every summer I look with jealousy at women with cropped hair. It looks so modern and fresh. The wash-and-go look has never worked well for me. Perhaps if I cut it all off, I can join the hip crowd that is liberated from the electronic tether to their blow-dryers.
Katie side-steps this question as well. She points across the street, where a very popular place called “DryBar” recently opened up. Blow-outs only, no hair cuts. And free champagne!
Women pay $40 just to get their hair blow-dried in a number of styles including the “Straight Up”, the “Manhattan” and the “Cosmo”.
My hair is stick straight, I grew up about an hour from Manhattan and I once drank a Cosmo.
So I will stick with Katie’s subtle hint that I not go back to the pixie cut I loved as an 8 year old.
4. “Can you make me look like Meg Ryan?”
Ever since I saw “When Harry Met Sally”, “You’ve got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle” (movies I admit I could recite line by line, so many times have I seen them), I have wanted to have my hair cut to look like Meg Ryan’s.
Tousled, shaggy, seemingly effortless. It was an iconic look.
One that my straight, fine hair was never going to emulate.
But I am nothing if not persistent.
“Katie, can you just cut a few layers, wave it a bit and see if I come out looking like Meg Ryan? C’mon, let’s try. How awful can it look? I just want to try it once.”
Katie, who has heard many, many clients before me tell her they want their hair to look just like a celebrity’s hair, avoids this question entirely.
Instead she changes the subject. “What are you reading in your book club, Nancy?”
Point scored for Katie.
5. “Do eyebrows eventually turn gray (or white!)?”
After I see Katie, I venture to the back of the salon to see the young woman who does my – let’s call it, “facial” waxing. Soft-spoken Sherry casually mentions that a single eyebrow hair is completely white. I had noticed this myself but had been avoiding its significance. Instead of plucking it out, she suggests that she can tint it darker. O.K., by me, you’re the expert.
Then, wait , it occurs to me that this could be a glimpse into my eyebrow future.
“Sherry, when women get older, do their eyebrows also turn totally gray – 0r in my case, white?”
“Not always” she says politely.
“Is that the truth?” I ask, seeing her try not to smile.
Sherry laughs, “No, it’s not. Do you want the kind answer or the true answer?”
“The latter, please.”
“Your eyebrows will eventually turn the same color as your hair.”
Yay, something else to look forward to! White eyebrows to match my hair.
–Photos of my latest hair cut are available upon request-