Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hair Hindsight

Most of my posts so far have been about my life as a mom and how most of the time I am just along for the ride, enjoying the moment, trying not to screw things up.... and somehow inevitably screwing things up.

And This post is no exception.

I didn't set out to write a post about my hair.... How vain one might think? But I decided to write about this after receiving many comments on my facebook page about my attempt to high light my own hair. You see I am a writer and through out my whole life I have mentally documented moments that I think one day would make a good story. Of course most of these moments are at my expense but oddly enough it's how I prefer them to be. It's my litte reminder not to take life so seriously.
Okay so now on to my latest...

It began with my attempt to save money. As you all know I stay at home with the boys and my 8 week visit to the salon came to a screeching halt the moment I stopped working. I was okay with this since I always felt funny spending so much money on my head. I really did enjoy being blonde for awhile, but found myself anxious to get back to my natural color which is a lovely shade of light.....boring.... (commonly referred to as "mousy") shade of brown.

Well, that was almsot four and a half years ago. It was early October now and after a rock solid summer with the kids in which we were outside A LOT, my hair decided to respond with natural blonde highlights. Oh how I had missed these. However, the only problem with natural is they disappear as soon as you stop being in the sun. So by the last week of September the highlights were fading into a not so subtle reddish yellow. This on top of my already lovely mousy) brown was not the ideal partnership. Oh sure If I was Jennifer Aniston or Eva Longora whats her name then yeah I could pull it off. But no, not this Mama. And with a bonus vacation to Florida in a few days I needed to do something pretty quick. I longed for the blonde again and was sure I could go about it the smart economical way and get it from a box....
For a moment, let me pause here for a minor side note. Webster's definition of hindsight is as follows:
recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence.

Just a side note, okay back to the story.

My first move began with a trim and shape up at Great Clips, the home of the $12.00 dollar hair cut. I actually like them there. I have been going to the same girl now and we are friendly. Sure I miss the long shampoos, conditioning treatments and complimentary water with cucumbers, but I am not a complainer. This is all part of the stay at home ride. Making smart decisions.. Yay me!! So confident was I that I almost skipped to my next destination.

Yes girls, you guessed it: Target!

There I stood, a long row of boxes that stretched out before me with just about any and all hair color, touch up or highlight kits you could imagine. Everything from the blackest black to the blondest blonde. The marketing companies using clever wording such as "Brass Free" "Nourishing Conditioning" and "Silky Smooth." I picked up each box and read studied and contemplated which would be the best one. I didn't really learn a whole lot except all the models on the box must use teeth whitener and just about all hair companies now a days no longer test products on animals.

I decided however to try and stay along the same lines of highlights, So in the end I skipped the "all over" hair coloring (a.k.a idiot proof) and went to the "At Home Highlights" (definitely not idiot proof). But the pearly white smile gazing back at me almost screamed at me "You can do this." And who am I to argue with that kind of logic?

Once I got home I carried my prize possession into the bathroom and waited until I could put the kids in their room for some quiet time. Excitedly I opened the box and found six things. Instructions with a pair of cheap latex gloves glued to them. Two bottles of hair color mixture. A mascara wand, a small paint brush and finally the "nourishing" conditioner. I laid everything out on the bathroom counter and took it all in. I kept going back to the picture on the box. The girl was very pretty and of course had perfect high lights. I began to feel a little overwhelmed but again I was determined.

So I began with a quick read of the instructions... These were highlights you see, so the application had to be "careful" and "precise". I stared at the mascara wand that I was supposed to use to "sweep" the highlights through my hair....I looked back at the picture on the box..

What's that hindsight?? You say something?? I can't hear you...

Next came mixing up the coloring stuff. This was actually pretty cool. The end result was pale blue goo with the consistecny of cake frosting. Next came the application. Mascara wand for fine hair. Paint brush or think or curly hair. I have neither but decided to start with the mascara wand. Without babbling too much further I will say this. Next time you all make a cake and have frosting, stick a mascara wand in it and attempt to spread "evenly" and "freely" on a paper towel... Give that a try and you will get to experience my next 20 minutes.

No matter though I was still determined (and somewhat frightened) at this point to try and finish what I had started. I moved on to the paint brush tool and attempted to draw out long streaks that framed my face. I actually thought for awhile that I was able to even out the clumps. But I eventually gave up. It was around or about this time I realized I had forgotten to keep tarck of the time. How long had it been already.. Crap, I didn't know. It was also around or about this time I began to realize that this was probably a mistake. Enlisting the help of a friend at this point was mute since I didn't want to admit my own misjudgement and the boys who were bored with quiet time had migrated back downstairs and resumed their curious little position's on either side of me asking, quizzing, staring and eventually walking away. I think even at this young age boys just know if you don't have anything nice to say about a woman's hair don't say it at all.

Next came a nice fat little reality check. I could see a weird color starting to form under all the cake frosting that was starting to harden and resemble toothpaste. The color popping through was not quite blonde not quite red...Something... So I panicked and got in the shower quickly. It was time to free myself of curiosity (okay fear) and hope for the best.

The best did not happen.

I could see immediately my hack job of applying these things. And after I dried my hair it didn't get any better. In a nutshell I had splotches of bleached out hair. Not just a few splotches but major major splotches. Some splotches were lighter than the other splotches. With the exception of one strand, I didn't have anything close to what the box looked like. I indeed had a head of hair that looked like a checker board.
See photos for further explanation. Feel free to point laugh and make fun of... It's okay, I would.

But at that moment I needed a miracle and one fast. I had 24 hours before we left for Florida. I didn't have any time to go to a salon and that would defeat the whole purpose in the first place. So I had to do what I never thought I would do. I grabbed the box, looked on the side and saw the dreaded 1-800 hair help line. I always heard about these numbers and had quickly formed judgements in my head as to who and what kind of people were calling them. Stay at home Moms with nothing better to do... Okay, so that would be me (minus the nothing better to do part). But me all the same. Yup, new low for sure... Or at least I thought so, until I called and got Betty on the other line. Then I officially reached a new low.

The call began like anything else. A pre-recorded message that said "press one for minor screw ups, press two for major screw ups, press three for the wig department, or press four for the witness protection program"
I debated and decided to press 2 and got Betty. Betty struck me as the grandmotherly type. I could tell she was older and I pictured a sweet little lady sitting on the other end glasses on and a crossword puzzle at her desk. She had a warm and sweet voice that didn't last as long as I would like. I laid out my story to Betty... Uneven highlights, bleached out sections. No consistency. No time or money for a salon visit. Help help help.

Betty listened patiently with a few "uh huhs and ahh has.." When I was done I excepted this grandmother to soothe me with sweet kind words and would offer to bake me cookies. However, Betty took different approach.

"Well, let's see" she began." "It sounds like you have two different colors on your head."
"Yes, that is correct" I replied.
"Can you describe the colors for me, are they the color of the inside of a banana or the outside of a banana."
Brief pause.
"Uhhhh, well, one is bright blonde so I guess that would be the outside of the banana, the other is more muted blonde and then well... there are the roots that I missed..."
I was interrupted by a sigh and then Betty's disappointing voice filled my ear.
"So you actually have 3 colors on your head?"
My shoulders dropped. I had disappointed Betty... Oh God was this going to get any better."
"Yes, I answered quietly "I guess I do."
"Oh dear.." was all she could muster.
Another brief pause and a quick reality check that I just described my hair using a banana reference.
Insert lowest of low here.
But Betty brought me back.
"Well," she began "I am afraid there isn't much I can do to help dear. You see,with 3different colors, two of them representing both the inside and outside of a banana you would have to apply more than one color application and here at Clairol we just can not recommend that to our clients.
"Uh huh.." Was all I could muster.
"My only suggestion is for you to find a salon..."
"But I don't have time BETTY..." I wanted to scream but did not. Instead I sadly accepted my defeat and hung up.
My next move, I believe, I handled with as much maturity and grace as possible. And that would be the act of crying hysterically into a pillow, followed by a lot of cursing. I should have known to just go and have it done professionally. Oh how that would have saved me from all of this. But I was trying to be smart I was trying to save money. Yet, the inevitable presented itself in front of me I knew I would have to do something...Anything... which of course would require more money.

Oh shutup hindsight...

In sum I would like to say thank God for Mothers. Not myself, but my own. My Mom stopped by and after assessing my head did her classic head tilted, sympathetic smile and proceeded on to the famous "It's not that bad" speech. She then handed me a $10.00 bill, offered to stay with the kids while I went back to Target in search of a miracle. I threw on a baseball hat and was heading out the door when I got accosted by the 4 year old.
"Where are you going Mommy?" Evan asked
"Mommy has to run to the store baby. You stay here with GrandMommy okay."
"Why are you wearing Daddy's hat?"
"Umm, well I am having a bad hair day"
"Is it scary?"
Oh God if only he knew...
But I had to stop and appreciate his wisdom. Yeah, it was scary. I pretty much wasted a whole day obsessing about my HAIR... If I wasn't spooked already I should be.
I scooped Evan up in a big bear hug and inhaled his little innocent 4 year old scent.
I wanted to be him at that exact moment, no cares in the world, no vanity to worry or think about. His little arms wrapped around me brought me back to my role as Mommy.
And in hindsight, blonde or no blonde, motherhood is the only shade of life I want to wear.
And somewhere far far away I have a feeling even Betty would understand that.

End Result:


  1. Oh, Mary, you are hilarious! Thanks for making me laugh this morning. I,too, have dabbled w/ the do-it-yourself hair dye and even had the nickname 'skunk' for a while in college! Hope you enjoyed your trip to FL! -Varna

  2. Catherine LippincottNovember 13, 2009 at 5:27 PM

    Totally loved your article on your hair catastrophe. I thought I was the Queen of hair coloring mistakes! I have had every color from bleached blond (I almost sued the hairdresser for this one) to orange Ronald McDonald hair! I have spent more money fixing mistakes than what the actual cost would have been to have a professional to do the job the first time! It got to the point that my husband caame home from work alwaays wondering what color my hair would be that day!! So Funny! However your End Result rocked!!



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