Friday, March 03, 2006
"The first thing you need to know about going blonde is Shimmer Lights."
My head is dipped back over the black sink, cold fake marble pressed against the nape of my neck. Like, really cold. It’s-20-degrees-out-and-this-sink-isn’t-making-me-any-warmer cold. Jason is pulling the foils out of my hair in rapid succession and crumpling them into balls as he drops them into the sink. So haphazard compared to the careful, loving way he wrapped each chunk of hair up in the first place, like precious little taquitos. Foil crackles in my ears and I can barely hear him.
"Shimmer Lights?" I say, "Really?"
"Shimmer Lights. You like it hot, right Kitty? What am I thinking, of course you do," he winks. Without waiting for my answer, he sprays piping hot water along my hairline. Water and bleach--oh yes, we went with bleach this time--cascade into the sink. A single warm drop escapes down my neck and trickles into my left ear. Ew.
“Clairol Shimmer Lights, right Dan?" he says to the assistant sudsing a scalp in the neighboring bowl.
"Mmm-hmm, always use Shimmer Lights," Dan nods, widening his eyes at me in the mirror. His lower lids are lined in dark black pencil, making his agreement that much more emphatic.
Jason has rinsed the bleach out of my hair and has pulled my hair back into a thick rope which he massages with baby-pink cream, none other than Shimmer Lights. It doesn't smell quite like the banana-melon-daquiri stuff he usually uses, or the orange-blossom, jungle-in-your-bathroom stuff the Aveda salon I used to frequent used. But something about Shimmer Lights smells warm, enticing, and…familiar.
Jason and Dan are commiserating on the virtues of Shimmer Lights above me, as well as the various ratios of chemicals he used to get me this blonde. The conversation sounds something like this:
DAN: “Is she 2 parts x with a level three z?"
JASON: "Oh, no no no, it’s x with z with y.”
I watch in the mirror as they exchange a knowing, this-is-why-I-love-my-job look. I know I should be paying attention, taking mental notes because really this is all research for the book, but I am far, far away at this point, combing my memory for that elusive smell. It’s something from my childhood…something almost anise-y, apple-y even…
“Anyway, Kitty. I always use Shimmer Lights on all my blondes. What it does is take the yellow out of the color. It alleviates any of that yellow-y, orange-y hue, that brassiness? You know what I'm talking about?”
“Uh-huh…” I say…Whatever it is, it’s got an almost sweet but not quite sweet undertone…
“Remember how I told you that brown hair always wants to go orange when it goes blonde? Well, not yours of course, honey. You were always blonde.” See why I love him?
“Okay…” I say…The smell, it’s like the olfactory equivalent of sucralose, like Crystal Light pink lemonade mix, only for hair…
“So Shimmer Lights brightens you up, makes all that terrible brass go away,” Jason shakes his head in disgust.
“It smells funny,” I say. I almost like it. “I can’t put my finger on it…but it reminds me of…”
“Old ladies?” he laughs. “It’s what old ladies use to make their hair white. Probably something used by your…”
But I remember it now, and I finish the sentence for him: “Grandma! Jason, Shimmer Lights smells like Grandma!!!”
As you can see from the photo, the Shimmer Lights work.
Thanks, Clairol, for turning me into the blonde old lady I always knew I could be!