Let's zoom back to that fateful May afternoon, just a few days before I was to head off to New York City for Book Expo, a very big publishing industry convention packed with important business meetings for myself and my boss. I wanted to touch up the color and the roots before I left--this always helps me feel confident, cool and collected before a big work thing--so I booked an appointment with Jason about a week before the show.
"What are we doing today, Kitty?" Jason says, as I settle into his favorite chair at the head of the color table. He says this every time I visit.
"You tell me, you're the magician!" I say, as I do every time I visit. "But, if it's possible, do you think we can start the transition back to blonde? I know it will take some time, but I think I'm ready to go at least a little bit lighter."
"You read my mind!" he says. "Back to blonde we go!"
My original transformation to blonde was so simple. We started back in 2005 by subtly highlighting my naturally light brown hair. Each time I returned to the salon to have my roots treated, we'd go a bit lighter, and a bit lighter, and lighter still, until, POOF!--one day I was practically platinum. It was glorious, and revelatory. Sitting in the chair, head swaddled in a towel, waiting for Jason to unwrap my locks and comb them out and style them into a movie-star like coif was like opening a fun, blonde present. SURPRISE! Today you're blonder than you've ever been!
I so loved that feeling. I look forward to chasing it all over again as we transition back to blonde this Spring.
So, Jason gets to work, painting little tiny bits of my hair with goopy bleach and wrapping it up into an impossible number of crinkly foil wrappers. I know the drill, I've done this before. He paints and wraps. We chat about his life and his boyfriend, my life and my boyfriend, and how much more fun we're going to have when I have become famous & he is part of my entourage...or when he becomes famous and I am part of his entourage. This step takes about a half hour, then he steps away to attend to another client while the bleach does it's magic.
My hair cooks and I read Vogue. I make friends with a brunette woman at the color table who wants to know all about the project. I tell her what it has been like to be blonde. Eventually we run out of things to say, and I pick up a recent issue of Glamour.
Periodically the other stylists come by to say hello. Wendy, Megan, Dan: they all know me by now, and they always say hi and ask about the book. "What are you guys doing today?" they ask.
"Embarking on the road back to blonde," I reply, flashing them a big, about to be blonde soon grin. "I'm back! Or will be in a few months. I think we're probably just going a tad lighter today? I don't really know."
"Really???" Wendy says, a faint cloud of concern flitting across her face. "Already??? That was fast."
"Wow, that's...well, that's kind of a big deal," says Dan, looking surprised.
"HUH, okay," says Megan. "Well," and she ends our conversation the way the other two stylists had before her:
...words you never want to hear from your doctor, dentist, or hair stylist.
Periodically, Jason returns to unwrap a foil, sneak a peek at my hair. It crinkles in my ears as he unwraps, re-wraps. "More time," he says, walking away to see a different client. I read more Glamour.
Ten minutes later, Jason returns, takes a look. "Ready?" I say. "Nope," he shakes his head. This happens two or three more times. I'm getting bored. I am just about to move onto an issue of Real Simple, when one of the assistants beckons me over to the washing station. Finally! The grand unveiling. I am filled with anticipation as I dip my head back into the sink. She makes a great ruckus as she unwraps those millions of tiny foils with quick, deft hands. She washes, rinses, conditions, rinses, deep conditions, waits five minutes, rinses, then wraps my head up into a towel.
Five minutes later I am back in Jason's chair, where he un-swaddles my head to reveal...
A kaleidoscope of colors.
From ends to roots I see:
- Dark brown on the bottom, the same color I was when I walked in today,
- Salmon pink in the middle, the oldest hair, which has been platinum, brown, auburn, almost black, and now en route to blonde again
- A two-inch ring of brassy orange circling my crown, the two inches of virgin hair that grew out over the brunette winter, and has only ever been dyed brown
- An inch of searing, albino white at the roots, the newest virgin hair that has never been dyed, reacting violently platinum to copious amounts of bleach
Wow. Guess I'm going back to blonde--or something like it--today.
What ensues is referred to as a "double process," so another round of Jason mixing chemicals, painting colors on my hair, foiling, waiting, reading Vogue again, getting bored, shooting the breeze with the other stylists, getting bored when they walk away to deal with their clients, and eventually staring into space by myself at the color table, wishing I could be anywhere but here. I have heard the CD go thru this rotation already, and I am sick of Joan Jett and the Hair soundtrack. My scalp is hot, and is starting to itch & burn at the roots. I wonder if I'm going to get one of those mysterious and inexplicable rashes that I occasionally get when my skin encounters harsh things, like soap or cat hair.
Poor Jason. He is swamped with other clients and I can tell the chemistry experiment that is my hair is working his last nerve. He enlists Dan to help, and they work tirelessly to make my now 2-tone hair look normal. By the time I am finally done with the second round of washing, rinsing, conditioning, rinsing, deep conditioning, rinsing and blow drying, I have been here for a whopping six hours.
And my hair is 2-tone. The top has achieved a lovely light, ashy sort of blonde, however the bottom half...well, we never went there with the bleach. It's the same dark auburn hue that it was when I walked in here at 3 p.m. I have a huge, important business trip coming up. And my hair looks like something you'd wear to a punk rock show.
I feel exhausted as I walk out of the salon, completely disoriented, and a little bit helpless. Jason is going to touch me up before my trip next week, but truthfully the last thing I want to do is be anywhere near that color table. I am mulling all of this over as I pass a gaggle of kids from the project down the street, who couldn't be more than 12-years-old.
"Hey, you want to suck on a frosty nipple???" one of them yells out to me. I glance at him out of the corner of my eye. He is eating an ice cream cone, and probably feeling like a big tough guy for degrading a woman more than twice his age in front of all his friends.
Awesome. I've been blonde for exactly ten minutes and I'm already being sexually harassed...by a child.
Am I ready for this? This blondeness? The aggressive, entitled sexual harrassment that comes with it?
No. I certainly am not.