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March 8, 2011

I seldom complain about my hair. I’m just happy to have hair.

I’m also happy to have a fantastic hair stylist. I’ve mentioned him before on this blog. His name is Art and he has a small practice of clients he takes by referral only, and if you piss him off, he will stop taking your calls.

He’s that good.

He’s one of my favorite people, and when he says he enjoys his work because he likes working with his clients, I believe him. He’s been cutting my hair since it started to grow back, and he has managed to make me feel decent about myself through a lot of bad hair days.

The cancer books say “you may notice changes in the color or texture of your hair as it grows back after chemotherapy.” I’ve noticed that “changes” is cancerspeak for OMGWTFBBQ this sh*t is really f*cked up.

It wasn’t so much the texture of my hair that demonstrated “changes,” but the color. It was my brother who pointed it out to me. “OMG your hair. It looks exactly like happy cat,” he said. And he took me out for a cheeseburger.

It was after that that I finally took my friend’s advice and called up Art.

I know a lot of True Believers in Natural Living After Cancer frown on coloring your hair after cancer, but after doing some research, which consists mostly of the “ask your doctor” variety, I put hair color in the same category as using soap and toothpaste.

“Please make me look normal” I begged Art on our first meeting.  “I look like Happy Cat.”

“Well, you can have a cheeseburger. And I can definitely make your hair look normal while it grows out.”

After I had been going to him for a few months, Art told me that chemo had turned my skin a strange orange color and that I should stop wearing orange, red, or yellow and stick to blues, cool greens, and black, which I did.

At some point, my hair grew out to a reasonable length and  my conversations with Art were less about how best to look normal and more about what to do with my hair.

“I think I’d like to go blonder,” I would say. And Art would say, “That’s fine, there are a lot of hair stylists in Dallas who would be happy to dye your hair blonde, but I won’t do it.”

“How about red?”

“Honey, you already look orange. You’d look like an oompa loompa.”

This conversation has been going on for two years.



Today was different.

“I think I’d like to go dark golden blonde, like J-Lo. I promise to wear makeup every day so I don’t look washed out.”

“You could totally pull that off. Let’s do it.”

It’s not drastic. He just gave me golden blonde highlights.

I know it looked good because Art was beaming at me in a way I haven’t seen him beam before.

“You look fabulous,” he told me as I pulled on my beige sweater.

“Even in a beige sweater,” I said.

“Beige should only be worn in New England. On the beach. In the summer,” he said.

“It’s okay because I have a red scarf,” I said.

“You’re learning,” said Art. “And your hair looks terrific.”

It makes a world of difference in how I feel.

Today, driving to pick the kids up from school, I pulled up at a red light next to a guy in a brand new black Corvette convertible, with the top down. The convertible driver was my age about ten years older than me, a slim guy with a greying beard and Nantucket red baseball cap.

I resisted the urge to rev the engine of my mommobile in a show of hipster irony, but the urge was there.

After we got home, I finally had the nerve to do walk over to the guys building another McMansion on my street and ask them about the house: was it sold yet (yes), for how much (they didn’t know), whether they were planning to put in a pool (no) and when they would be finished (two months).

Objectively, I know that people do not look at each other that closely. I look much the same as I did this morning, before Art did his magic. The change in my hair is subtle — I’ve gone from brown to glamorous brown.

It makes a world of difference.

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