Dispatch from the mirror

A mane confidence-builder: Hair therapy

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Women might be surprised to know that some men's rooms lack mirrors. What's more, few men seem to notice.

"Let it fly in the breeze

And get caught in the trees

Give a home to the fleas in my hair."

-- "Hair"

All right, I know it's pretty vain. I've been through another "it's not the heat, it's the humidity" Washington summer, and once again I am barreling into winter hating my hair.

From the time I could recognize myself in the mirror, my mane has made me crazy. Big, brown, a hodgepodge of curls, waves, frizz, ringlets and cowlicks, like a wild horse, nothing contains it. Barrettes would pop under the strain. Rubber bands went flying, as if the strands themselves were launching pads for projectiles. Headbands sat on top of the chaos, unable or unwilling to dive closer to my scalp.

I always wanted hair that moved. I wanted hair that blew in the wind. I wanted to bend my head forward and have my hair cover my eyes. I wanted to throw my head backward and let shimmery tresses cascade down my back. I wanted soft braids, pigtails or a cute little flip. I wanted to channel Rapunzel.

In my teens, I tried ironing my hair. I used tomato soup cans for rollers. I used rattail combs, brushes meant for dogs, lemon juice, petroleum jelly, mayonnaise and my uncle's Brylcreem. I smelled like a combination salad bar/gas station.

My hair seemed to grow wider rather than longer. I tried cutting it short. The cowlicks prevailed. I tried a French twist. I used industrial-size bobby pins and a can of super-hold spray to keep it in place. That worked for a while but defeated the purpose. I wanted straight hair that moved. I wanted hair like Lady Godiva. I wanted hair like Pocahontas. I wanted hair like Cher.

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