Hey, I only wish I had such darn happy hair. I was really in a mood to listen to this song today, so thought I’d share it.
“Hair” the musical came out when I was a kid. When it hit Broadway and eventually burgs like Los Angeles where my mom saw it on a date (why I remember it was on a date eludes me), it had made quite a splash. It’s subject matter – hippies and free love and their free hair – was only eclipsed by the shenanigans of shocking their audiences with full nudity on stage.
It all seems a bit quaint somehow in today’s world. But quaint or not, the exuberance that the young men sing about their hair in all its permutations, is enough to make me want to get up and, at least, sashay to the kitchen for another cup of coffee.
My hair never had such a glorious life, although it might have had it if only my mother had let me have long hair. But she wore hers in a short cut which was quite Audrey Hepburn and gamine (that was the word for it in the 50’s, early 60’s) and so for the first years of my young life, I was given a boyish cut that did confuse a few people when I wore pants. Girls didn’t wear all pink all the time in my day. My mom has told me of several times she had to exclaim, “No, she’s a GIRL” to people, so you know the hair was short.
Once I got older and could voice a preference, I proclaimed I wanted a permanent – I wanted curly hair a la Shirley Temple. Not a pixie cut, in other words. Mom complied and I, ever after, have had medium to medium long hair. Now, at 56, it’s just medium length, but I’ve gone pretty long when I was younger.
My hair was thick and I had a lot of it – not entirely straight, it had a natural wave that, left to its own devices, was fairly attractive. At some point I gave up on perms because I didn’t think the ringlets were me anymore (I’d moved way beyond Shirley by then.) Of course I complained about my hair – it takes forever to dry! I’d wail, which was one reason to bemoan thick hair. Plus every stylist would complain about “all that hair” to me either in cutting, coloring or drying/styling it. I’ve left many a salon with still damp hair.
But the color. When I was a baby and toddler it was blonde but by the time I got into school, it began darkening. It never got very dark, though, so by high school I was called a “dish pan” blonde or a dirty blonde. In my case, dirty blonde didn’t refer to being a naughty girl, just the fact that my hair wasn’t quite brown, but certainly wasn’t a pretty light blonde any longer either. Plus, it had a lot of ash in the color which is a rather greenish undertone and isn’t warm at all.
Teens would use a product called Sun In on their hair – you’d spray it on to the point of wetness and then sit around in the sun while the chemicals lightened your hair; the homemade version of this was to put lemon juice on your hair, although the Sun In worked faster. Once I was about 15, I was hooked, as it wasn’t dying or bleaching, but it did get some highlights (some girls got blonde streaks by being more diligent in the regimen than I) in and made the dish pan a little less so.
And when I finally had money as an adult, I started regularly highlighting my hair and have kept at it ever since. Every few months to sit with tinfoil on your hair seems a small price to pay for pretty hair (or at least prettier hair.)
But in the past few years the regimen has changed with the arrival of the grays and whites. At first it was such a curiosity I just would sometime stare in the mirror – where’d that come from? I’d wonder. My mother never had much gray and at almost 80 years old, still doesn’t have much. But whatever it was, she plain flat-out rejected it and has been going blonde for years.
My hair guy proposed a solution to basically still highlight but in the spots where no highlighter was going to use a more golden brown hair dye to cover any remaining gray. I did this extra step for a few years as it did cover whatever grey was there, but then one day I thought – why am I doing this? He’d pronounced that I probably wouldn’t like the version of gray coming in. And I trusted that for awhile, but then because the brown dye was one that would eventually wash out, I began to see the gray and white in anyway and I just began to think that it wasn’t that bad after all.
So I decided – keep the highlights only and let’s see what happens. Now, I have a definite area of blondish grayish whitish hair at my temples and the rest is mostly my typical blonde highlighted hair.
I’ve lost a lot of thickness over time, too – but now my stylist says it’s about where most of his clients are, which means I probably won’t be one of those little elderly bald women you occasionally see. So I’m okay with my hair, even if now I wish I’d kept the thickness longer.
My mom on the other hand still has incredibly thick, short hair which is a bit incongruous considering her age. She’s got her problems, but her hair ain’t one of them.
And in the end, what counts? To answer that, another exuberant song from “Hair” (this is from the movie version – not my favorite, but it’s fun to watch):