The Long and the Short of It

Sitting in the styling chair staring at my face in the mirror, my thin wavy auburn hair was parted in the middle and hung down to my shoulders. Standing behind me was my brother’s friend’s older sister. “Who do you want to look like?” she asked.  Laura was a hairdresser who worked in a beauty parlor down the street and I was a teenager in search of my first haircut, being paid for with money earned from babysitting.

Up until then, my crowning glory had been shaped by my mom.  Toddler photos most often show me sporting a Marlo Thomas type do with shorter bangs.  In grade school my mom fashioned my hair into a “whale’s spout” and I proudly wore it on top of my head wrapped in ribbons that matched my tops and dresses.  


It wasn’t until my teens that I said I wanted to decide how my hair should look. I wanted to take control of my appearance and express who I was. Yet how easily I was persuaded when I didn’t readily answer Laura’s question and she continued, “Surely you want what all the other girls want?!” I didn’t know what they wanted, but who wouldn’t want what they wanted? I was no expert in the matter of tresses, so I responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

The Jane Fonda shag, popular in the 70s was the first style bestowed upon my locks. While a nice cut, my hair wasn’t thick enough to accentuate the layers. Next, it was the Feathered Farah Fawcett do but without the volume, it didn’t work so well either. From there, I went straight to the Dorothy Hamill wedge – a drastic change, but it did suit me a little better. 

It seems we always want something we don’t have. Based on that notion, I once asked to have my hair lightened and permed. The result was not the pretty blonde loose curls like those of Meg Ryan’s, but the tightly coiled coat of a ginger colored poodle.

From my journal: August 22, 2000, Newbury Park, CA

“Robert found a person, Evan (a lady!) to cut our hair in Reseda..its near the club. When I get a chance, I’ll go see her… if I like her it would only be a trip there every two months.”

Evan was quite different from other hairstylists. Upon meeting me, she didn’t ask me what I liked, but told me what I wanted.  She was the professional and after learning she had spent three years in the Israel Defense Force, who was I to argue?  She said to trust her.

The Pixie

People responded kindly to my new pixie look. Having never had hair that short, I felt a little vulnerable, a little exposed.  While I thought of it as boyish, Evan said it was chic. Once my initial shock wore off, I looked on the bright side. It was easy to care for – just wash and wear!  At the time, I had other things to think about, as we had just moved to the Conejo Valley, and I had just started my first teaching job.    

A couple of years later, I went in search of a new hairdresser. After some trial and error, I found the right person. When she asked me who I wanted to look like, my answer was, “Me”.  Her response, “Good.”

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