I swear, relationships ending have got to be the largest single source of income for the beauty industry. Whether it’s the straightforward “I want to know I look desirable!” or the rather more subtle interplay of self-image and identity issues, I couldn’t tell you. All I know is that it’s true.

So a week back, sick of my unmanageably weird hair, up for a major change, and anyway in desperate need of a haircut (five months and counting since last trim) and following the recommendation of my buddy Carlota, I cast myself upon the mercy of her stylist. Said stylist, named Carla, is a short, elegantly coiffed woman working out of a wee one-room salon here in town, and quite a nice woman.

I went in, and she looked at my hair, and being a professional, did not laugh. She looked at it, said “Hmm,” ran her fingers through it a few times, said “Hmm,” lifted the top layer, said “Hmmmmmm,”  picked up a comb, look at the hair as if she’d prefer a chair and a whip, tackled it again. I watched a succession of expressions pass over her face in the mirror, like a flock of contortionist birds over a landscape. Finally she set the comb down and said, very kindly, “Well, the good news is that this happens to a lot of people.”

See, the thing is that my hair has two distinct areas. There’s about two handfuls worth of dark blond and slightly wavy stuff on top, and then somewhere slightly north of the ears, it turns densely ferociously curly, darkens to mouse brown, and becomes as impenetrable as a blackberry thicket. And when I say curly, I don’t mean “wavy,” I mean full-on corkscrews, sausage curls at the ears kinda curly. (My father has graciously assumed responsibility for this particular genetic mishap, along with my acid indigestion and enjoyment of Monty Python.)

The result was a kind of permanent semi-big hair from the ears down, which did not respond to any form of styling and as anyone who’s seen me the third day of a convention can attest, would occasionally stick out at ninety-degree angles. It had plenty of body, but it used it for primarily evil purposes. I gave up trying to do anything with it my freshman year of high school and settled for turning the top bits random colors in hopes of distracting attention from the bottom.

Carla examined it for a few more minutes, said “Hmm,” again, got the “I am about to suggest major alterations, but I don’t want to scare you off” look, and then said “Okay. What are you thinking?”

“I want major change. I’m up for anything short of shaving my head, and you can probably talk me into that pretty easily.”

“Oh, good.”  She grabbed a hunk. “In that case, I’d say let’s straighten alllll this under here…then I’m thinkin’ this haircut here…and are you thinkin’ color?”

“Sign me up,” I said.

And so, as of about three o’clock, I have straight hair for the first time since third grade. It is astonishing how much volume simply vanished. No more big hair! I run my fingers through it, and it’s like there’s nothing there! (Gained a coupla inches, too. Astonishing how much length was wrapped up in the corkscrews.) It’s still got a bit of a wave–apparently it IS possible to go absolutely bone straight, like a Tolkien elf, but requires a grueling amount of what amounts to ironing the hair a wee bit at a time–but now the top and bottom are basically the same texture (even if the color’s still wildly different.)

Alas, couldn’t get the haircut today to go with it–straightening is a complicated chemical process whereby the hair becomes extremely malleable for the next three days, so that even putting it up in the clips to do the haircut would put permanent kinks in. I’m taking sponge baths until Friday, or else I might wind up with dreadlocks.

Still, just having straight hair is cool.

I’m trying to decide what color to dye it. I’ve never been terribly fond of the dishwater color, and I’m feelin’ the urge to change. Pale blond would be kinda neat. Dark plum with auburn streaks would also be kinda neat. Hot pink…well, in my weaker moments, I get that urge, but it’s a hard color to achieve, I’m told, and rough on the hair. Still…

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