“Your hair is too long, Mom. Women in their 70s shouldn’t wear long hair.”
“I like it. Age has nothing to do with how you feel.”
She sighs heavily. “At least go to Jose. Get it shaped. You’ll look younger. You’re in the media and dating — you look crazy.”
“Well, maybe I will.” I’m a divorced boomer hottie. So why not get glam, I think.
The next afternoon, I arrive at this gold and Lucite shop with black marble floors. The sound of hair blowers is deafening. An assistant wearing blue hair brings me to a dressing room, and I change into a long black robe with sleeves like wings. Then she leads me to a chair, in front of several mirrors, like trick mirrors in a carnival. I see myself at all angles. Is my hair that long? Frizzy.
”Hello, I’m Zoe, Jose’s assistant,” says this drop-dead-gorgeous size-zero Asian girl with silky hair past her waist. She has a mouthpiece, which is her phone. She flops my hair up and down, letting it sift between her long thin fingers, and frowning. ”You have very thin hair.” She sighs. “Sky will shampoo you.”
Sky is a man maybe 18 or 19. He has punk-style gelled hair, edgy eyes. He wears black leotards and a chic black sweater. At the shampoo bowl, he pushes my head way back. “My arthritis,” I say with an anxious laugh.
He’s briskly shampooing my hair, pushing my head while chatting with another assistant. Then he wraps my head with a towel, like a bandage, and leads me back to the chair. He combs out the tangles.
”Hello,” says Jose, extending a ringed hand.
He’s about six feet tall, thin as a spider, his tawny hair slicked back on his perfectly shaped head. He’s chic city, all in black with these stunning gold bangles on his slender wrist. He looks at me through the mirror, lifting strands of my hair, as if lifting something unpleasant.
“I want it just shaped,” I explain. “Blunt on the ends, and no more than an inch.”
He stares at me through the mirror, looking blank as if he didn’t hear me. Zoë lays out an array of thin scissors, like a surgeon. He pauses, then chooses a long, thin scissors, letting it dangle from his thin fingers, as if the scissors is not attached and has a life of its own. He begins cutting. Lady Gaga’s music blasts from the speakers, and I have a headache. I’m watching my hair fall to the floor like wet ringlets.
“Not too much,” I manage to say.
“Dear,” he hisses, his beady eyes glaring at me. “You have lousy hair. I have to cut off the dry ends. It’s a mess. Trust me. I cut everyone’s hair. Ask J.Lo.”
So while he brags about the celebrities he “styles and cuts,” he’s snipping away. Finally, he stops cutting, fluffs my hair, then he orders Zoë standing nearby to “blow her hair out.”
She blows my hair dry, all the while talking on her mouthpiece to her boyfriend, the heavy blower hitting my head. Then the blower stops.
I look up. I’m horrified. I hate the haircut. My shoulder-length hair is now chin length, the front longer, and the back short. Sure, a fine haircut for an 18-year-old girl with Japanese silky straight hair, but not for my thin curly hair.
“It’s too short,” I say, my voice rising.
“It’s fabulous,” she says, gesturing to Jose.
“And it slants in the front. I can’t handle this,” I say.
“You look great,” he says, lifting the bottom, looking at my hair like a new father looks at his newborn. “It’s a perfect cut.”
“But it’s not me.”
“Dear, it should be.”
At the desk, I pay $200, and the assistant with blue hair gives me an envelope for a tip.
At home I cut my hair so it’s even, assuring myself that it will grow. It’s my fault because I let Bonny talk me into not being me.
Age is who you are. Who you fabulous are.
Barbara Rose Brooker is a native San Francisco author. The NEW EDITION of her current novel, The Viagra Diaries is being published by SIMON SCHUSTER early 2013, along with its sequel. HBO is still casting for the television series.