Monday, April 27, 2020

It's All About The Hair

It’s easier to think about my hair than the Pandemic and all the things in the world right now that really matter.  

Worrying about my hair is an escape, really. Easier than thinking about flattening curves, human loss, and that guy talking about UV rays and disinfectant to curb the virus.

So, I turned to my roots. My grey roots. The ones illuminating along my hairline like the foam on the edge of a wave in a sea of light brown and blonde-highlights.  I brushed it this way and that, but the result was the same – a halo of grey. 

A brunette friend recently posted on Facebook that she’s embracing her grey roots. God love her. Oh, to be so open to change and growth. To embracing her natural hair. 

Screw it. I’m far from natural. I love my fake color and I’m going to keep it. 

But, how in the midst of a Pandemic shut down?

My current colorist works from her home. But, she, too, was adhering to the lockdown.

A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal had a page in Saturday’s Off Duty section on Salon Care at Home. An hour later, I was on a digital, virtual chat with a colorist from Dallas working for Color&Co.

There she was on my laptop screen giving me a “consult” while I was seated at my kitchen island.  “What is your natural color?” She asked.

“Natural?” I paused not having seen it for at least thirty-five years. “Hmmm, oh, I know, my eyebrow color!”

“Ok,” she said. “How much grey do you have?”

I lowered my head toward the laptop parting my hair this way and that, reminding me of an I Love Lucy episode with Lucy, after learning that they were looking for a brunette, began digging around her hair to show her natural colored roots for an audition in one of Ricky’s shows.

“Ok,” she nodded, virtually. “You’re pretty grey.”

“Yep,” I cringed. 

My obsession with hair goes way back. As a young girl I felt that my hair was the only “good feature” I had. When you’re overweight, long lustrous hair can hide a myriad of sins. 

As a grown adult, I know better. My hair is not all that I have. But, its’ still a thing with me.

Changing hairdressers is a given. I’m always on the hunt for just the right one. And, when I find him or her, I get bored after a year and move on to find another in the line of holy grail hairdressers.  

No matter where I go, though, I love the vibe of getting my hair done. It’s where I gossip, make friends, or talk politics. In many cases, the hair house is where I get my confidence and self-esteem restored. 

For me, it’s all about the hair.

“You’re not doing this yourself,” my sister, April, said. She’s an expert at coloring her own hair. “Heath, it’s not that easy and hard to do the back.”

That didn’t stop me. What did was the hair profile on the box from Color&Co.

Wait, Amount of grey: None?

Level 9? Didn’t I once hear my hairdresser say 8?

I put a call into my colorist, who put together a kit for me and a personal video how to do my color, charging me next to nothing for it. I picked the kit up on her front porch, like a drug deal in the night.

I laid it all out on the bathroom counter, studying the video like it was a lecture from an esteemed professor. The exam, if I failed, would be really bad hair color and no way to fix it.

It’s about vanity. I admit it. 

Yet, besides my husband, Hank, who doesn’t mind the grey growth, who sees me in the real? And, where am I going other than the market? I can click that little button on Zoom to make me look a little better when I meet with people virtually. FaceTime is with my close family and friends who have seen me at my worst, so why the need to do the color?

I mean, really?

Because, I still look at me. Whether it’s a good cut, a fresh blow-out or just the right color, it makes me feel good. 

And, it’s still about the hair. Pandemic, or none. 

I picked up the application brush, and like a magic wand, I parted the sea of grey and in just 35 minutes… Poof! 

The grey was gone. 

And, now I seek out another petty worry. Another escape to move through this time of uncertainty.

Or, maybe not.  It’s twelve days in, and I’m already plotting my next “deal” on the door step.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Mom's Take On This

As the gravity of our situation sinks in more each day and as we head into this week and next - what is said to be “Our Pearl Harbor,” I think about my mother.

What would she have said about all of this?

I could count on her, even toward the end of her life at 91, to have that quick comeback. That wise, intuitive, deep-from-the-gut answer to my questions. And, always the humor. 

“Gotta have humor,” she’d tell me. “Or you’re up a creek.”

Oh, to have that daily 8:00am call…


“Well, he’s done it, again, the fool.”


“Our idiot President. Won’t wear a mask.”

“Mom, you used to like him.”

“Only because we have the same birthday.”

“Now, that’s a reason to vote for him,” I laugh.

My mother would have been glued to the TV. It was her lifeline those last years of her life. 

“Now, Cuomo…I love Italians,” she’d say today. “They’re romantic, swarthy. And, this one is sexy as hell.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

After all, this was the woman who hawked the engagement ring from her first husband to go to Italy to find an Italian man. 

She’d returned home three weeks later without one. “I had a great time swinging the legs on the barstool,” she’d told me, handing me my souvenir. I’d opened the small paper bag with Italian writing. Inside, a tightly wrapped tissue revealed a rosary made up of clear blue plastic beads.  “It’s not blessed by the Pope and all that, but I got it near the Spanish Steps.” 

“Now, Trump,” she’d add, “he’s leading us up a long alley without an ashcan. Jesus, the twitting and tweeting of-it-all. And, that Dr. Whatever. You know, the broad with the scarf. What’s her deal? She’s like the matron with the bun in the back. Where’d they find her?”

“She’s very accomplished, Mom.”

“She may be smart, but she’s about as exciting as a toothache.”

“And, explain to me,” she’d add, “all the whining about staying home!  Jesus, what’s so bad about staying-at-home. I had friends who lived through the Blitz. They had goddamn bombs falling on them.”

“But they had Churchill, Mom.”

“Well, there’s that.”

“It’s weird, living isolated at home with Hank. We’re always on the go.”

“First you abhor, then you tolerate, then you embrace. That’s what happens.” 

“You’ll miss this quiet time with Hank,” she adds. “Trust me.”

“I know I will. But I miss…”

“Quit! You can stand anything that’s temporary.”

“And, then, I think about the illness. The loss of lives, Mom. The loss of jobs, the mental issues. It’s overwhelming.”

“Yeah,” she replies, “It’s a bitch. A lot of people hanging by a stem. Life’s not fun or fair.”

“C’mon, Mom, give me some words. Make me feel better.”

“Well, you have job security,” she laughs. “Hank’s not going anywhere!”

I smile as I gaze out the window of our sunroom, the room where I always took Mom’s call. 

“Pay attention,” she’s saying to me. “This is life. Tomorrow is not promised. You’re getting a taste of the whip. Everyone is right now.”

Outside, the sun is peaking out of the clouds, casting light on the leaves of the carob trees that line the fence in our yard. 

“Proceed,” Mom says, “as the way opens.”

“What do you think will happen after all of this is over, Mom?”

“If there’s no music, no candles and no flowers, you get up.”