17 March 2012

Almost Letting Myself Go

My stylist took me aside today, and told me that I was letting myself go. He (Jim) confessed that there have been several recent occasions where people have been looking quizzically at my hair. ‘Do tell!’ I said encouragingly, proving that I was open to criticism.

Over the last six months I have made it clear to my friends that I am relying on them for hair alerts. If the wig were to slip, blow off, or display telltale elastic, I would really like to know. So far nobody has said anything, so I’ve stopped asking. In my mind,  I have perfected the art of wig wearing and am confident in my smart brown bob. So, even though I was slightly taken aback by Jim’s observation, I had to remind myself that I had demanded this feedback.

‘Maybe you’re getting to used to it,’ he said kindly, ‘ 'cus you used to make sure it was on straight.' I smiled my fake smile, and forced myself to laugh. When I first wore a wig, I would always make sure that it was symmetrical, and I would spend time in front of the mirror, readying myself for the public scrutiny. At home, I’d delicately remove my hat, ready for private scrutiny. Now, I often remove my hat and hair together. Rather than place the wig carefully on its' foam head, I’ll toss it on any old flat surface. When go out, I slap it on like a baseball cap.

Valerie Bertinelli
‘Sometimes,’ said Jim, ‘You let it slip down over your forehead.’ I feigned amusement, even though I was not amused. In fact, I pictured Valerie Bertinelli from her years on ‘One Day at a Time’ with her  low hairline and strangely small forehead. This was not good news, but I forced a hearty chuckle.

Buoyed by my good nature, Jim felt free to carry on. ‘You should also give it a wash.’ Jesus! What else could go wrong? I let my mind go back to the last time I’d given it a good bath, but I couldn’t remember the date. But even though it’s real hair, it’s not exactly attached to my scalp, so it stays pretty clean. Doesn’t it?

‘Anything else (fucker)?’ I said to my soon to be ex-stylist.  He’d already said that it was a crooked old mop in need of a good brushing. Short of a bad haircut, there wasn’t much he could add. Beside, I keep it covered with a hat, so how bad can it be?

‘Since you asked,’ he said tentatively, ‘And please don’t take this the wrong way, cus you’re still cute. But you should probably stop wearing the knit hats. They’re starting to look kind of weird.’

‘No, you’re starting to look kind of weird,’ I snapped.

How much criticism can one gal take?  But then I looked in the mirror, and realized that he was right. Kind, even. Because the head staring back at me was starting to resemble a dirty Zeller's mannequin from 1973.   So I tossed my rats nest into the sink,  gave it a good cleaning and a blow dry. When I re-emerged with my silky bob, Jim nodded his approval. His position was intact. There was a moment where I'd thought about letting him go, but I couldn't let that happen to both of us.

14 March 2012

Life Lessons at Starbucks

I went for a head-clearing walk yesterday, because it’s time to think about my future. The cozy days of being holed up in the house are coming to a close. Radiation might knock me on my arse, but since that hasn’t started, I’ve got to start making plans.

Nothing major, of course. But I do need to go back to work. My job, which often involves long days and traffic doesn’t seem very attractive anymore. I’m also wondering how and when (if ever) to debut my short gray hairs. And I do need to keep on top of little life chores. For example, how do I tell my accountant that she’s been replaced? Do I make the dreaded phone call or write a polite (passive/aggressive) email? Or, do I forget it all and go on a road trip with my cousin. Overwhelmed by decision-making, I choose to do nothing and go for a walk instead. Somehow I end up at a Starbucks on the Danforth, standing behind a dad and his daughter.

Planning for the Future
The daughter is looking into other pastry case and going over all the options. She’s about three feet tall, and is taking her time. Dad is coaching her on the pros and cons of each option. She likes the little cupcakes and dad tells her that’s a ‘great choice!’ But, she also finds them a bit too small, and is curious about the giant chocolate chip cookie. He says that’s also a ‘fantastic choice’ and asks her the pros and cons of her cookie. 'It’s big.' Dad says it’s big enough to share, and she scowls slightly.

Normally I prefer not to be stuck behind this kind of parental life coaching. Or be at Starbucks at all, but this was kind of interesting. Dad was getting impatient. ‘Make your choice,’ he said. She looked up at him. ‘Just make your choice,’ he continued, ‘And commit.' He slapped his fist into an open palm,  like Tony Robbins, and continued, ‘Just choose what you want, and stand behind it!’

The kid looked like she was going to cry, but I was soaking it all up. Yes kid, commit! Dad was shifting into high gear, as I suspect that was his nature. ‘If you don’t make a choice, Sophie, you will end up with nothing’. Yes! That’s exactly what will happen, I thought. Which is why I ended up wandering up to Starbucks  (which I loathe) rather than tackling life at home. ‘Doing nothing gets you nowhere,’ I was tempted to chime in.  So I resolved to go home immediately to make my own coffee, write my accountant, and get in touch with my cousin.

I wanted to bring the dad home with me, and hire him as my life coach. But his daughter needed him more. Just as dad thought he’d was in the home stretch, little Sophie wanted to discuss the merits of a brownie.