Saturday, December 27, 2008
The fact is, 2008 has been nothing like I'd expected. The Undercover Blonde book proposal was shipped out the door in January/early February and a few short months later, a LUPEC Boston book proposal was also in the works. Both were ultimately rejected by the most likely buyer.
I kept my chin up as the book publishing industry tailspinned (tailspun?) into crisis. Then capitalism tailspinned into crisis. Now it's a Depression. Or almost. Whatever it is, the economy is bad. A few weeks ago my agent dropped my book projects, a sensible move as nothing was really happening with either. But it certainly didn't seem to bode well for my humble little book projects. Or my confidence.
It's not the lack of interest in the book version of Undercover Blonde that has me down -- I work in publishing and understand entirely how that game works. What is more troubling is the fact that I'm not really sure what to do with this project anymore. I'm so goal-oriented, so planning-obsessed, you change my agenda or my end goal and I'm like a ship at sail without a captain. It's left me feeling ambivalent and worried and kind of depressed. All I want to do is listen to Studs Terkel interviews with Great Depression-survivors and contemplate exactly how little money I'll be able to live on when everything grinds to an economic halt. All fantastic excuses to not be ambitious.
Then the other day it hit me: perhaps my lack of direction stems from the fact that this project is kinda done? Undercover Blonde was born out of an identity crisis rooted in a bad break-up with my then-fiancee and deep disatisfaction with my job. Both the job and the Ex are now long gone (though vestiges of both occasionally surface, which is always fun) and I no longer feel quite as confused about who I am as I did back then. I also feel very well situated and satisfied with my current hair color, and confidently steeped in my chosen blondeness.
Is it possible that I've attained the goals I set out to achieve when I started this blog? And if that's the case, whatever shall I continue to write about?
I guess we'll always have my waitress rants. As the economy continues to suck, I am as dependent upon my waitress pennies as ever.
I suppose we'll always have Toro.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I recently got a nasty-gram from a woman who got in a dither about one of my columns. She, along with a diatribe about my lack of intelligence and education, had to throw in something about my “bleached blonde tresses” in the first three sentences.
“Bleach blonde” apparently is supposed to be an insult among women. As if coloring one’s hair blonde is somehow shameful. I’ve never heard anyone accuse a brunette of being a “brunette-out-of-the-bottle bitch” or a “fake red-head”. Nope. The slam is always anti-blonde.
I’ve also had my share of men asking if I’m really blonde. And we all know what THAT’S about. (Oh please…I wish men would grow up!)
I went brunette once. Once. It didn’t look good or natural. And I learned that my eyebrows are actually MUCH lighter than they appeared against my blondeness.
I’m not a “bleached blonde.” I like to think of it as “enhanced” blonde. I’m naturally blonde, although I’m darker than I used to be.
Honestly, Kitty, I’m tired of being portrayed as stupid (I’m not. I have a M.A. in Journalism and I teach college part-time). I’m tired of being portrayed as blonde-therefore-slut. And I’m damned tired of blonde jokes.
I think all the vitriol is lobbed at us because, secretly, being blonde equates with some kind of mystery and power that those with low self-esteem just can’t handle.
Phantom Blonde is a writer based in Central Texas. Check out her ruminations on life and blondeness at phantomblonde.blogspot.com.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
I had a similar conversation with my stylist while in the chair last week. He agreed with the stylist they quote in this piece, who says that people who were "just highlighting for fun" cut color out of their haircare budget altogether. But according to Jason, the blondes still come in and they always will. In his words,
"You're here, aren't you? Are you going to stop coming? Please."
Monday, December 08, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Truly, I'm nervous about this. Jason always said he'd never dye me that color, since red is a bitch to get out should I ever want to go blonde again. Anybody got any advice on this before I get too far in over my head?
Monday, November 24, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Friend #1 is looking for the perfect '40 inspired 'do to accompany her perfect outfit for the LUPEC BOSTON "USO SHOW" this Friday. The situation with Friend #2 is a little more complex: she was looking to break up with her current stylist, who refused to use bleach on her hair and was never available.
I've united friend #2 with Melanie, a stylist at Shag in South Boston. She is overjoyed with her new cut & color. We'll see how I fair for friend #1, who I'm sending to Wendy or Megan at Escape. After three + years as an Undercover Blonde, dare I say I've positioned myself as a "hair style-color expert".
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The LUPEC Boston “USO SHOW”
Friday, November 21, 7-11 p.m.
at the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center
On November 21 the Boston chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) will transform the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center into a swinging 1940's-themed cocktail party featuring retro-libations, live entertainment, dancing, delicious canapés, a prize raffle, and a USO-style variety show. It's a coed event, and all are welcome. This is our second annual large-scale fundraising event and was created to benefit women at The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans (NESHV). Tickets are $35 in advance/ $45 at the door, and can be purchased at Toro and Tremont 647 in the South End, Grand in Somerville, or online at grandthestore.com.
The LUPEC BOSTON USO SHOW is one component of our annual fall fundraising program, which raised over $10,000 for Jane Doe Inc. last year. Starting November 1, LUPEC Boston will partner with local bars and restaurants to offer a month-long “THIS ONE’S FOR THE LADIES” drink promotion, where participants donate proceeds from one LUPEC Boston-approved beverage to women at NESHV. Restaurant partners include Toro, Tremont 647, La Verdad, Eastern Standard, Rendezvous, Highland Kitchen, Flora, The Milky Way, and more. (For a full list, click here.) Proceeds from sales our recently reprinted cocktail book, THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF COCKTAILS, will also benefit the NESHV this fall.
The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans is a private, non-profit organization with a mission to extend a helping hand to homeless men and women veterans who are addressing the
challenges of addiction, trauma, severe and persistent mental illness, and/or unemployment, and who will commit themselves to sobriety, non-violence, and working for personal change. They are recognized as one of the most effective private veteran's transition programs in the country. Learn more at www.neshv.org.
The LUPEC BOSTON USO SHOW will pay tribute to the 1940’s theme with of-the-era cocktails, a complimentary swing dance lesson, and a USO-style variety show emceed by Cathleen Carr and Daiva Deupree of the critically acclaimed New York-based sketch comedy burlesque Two Girls for Five Bucks. The show will feature acts by Thru the Keyhole Burlesque, Boston-based actor, improviser and stand-up comedian Harry Gordon as Bob Hope, and DJ Brother Cleve, a Boston institution, will spin ‘40s-era swing music throughout the evening. Vintage dress and creative cocktail attire is encouraged.
This event will take place at the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center [85 W. Newton St., South End, Boston], with generous support from sponsors St-Germain, Hendricks, Cruzan, Milagro, Sazerac, Chartreuse, Mathilde Liqueurs, Harpoon, and SmartWater.
The LUPEC BOSTON USO SHOW will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 21. Tickets are one sale now. Ticket price is $35 in advance/ $45 at the door and will include cocktail party fare, a variety show, dancing, and four drink tickets, with additional beverages available for purchase.
Light cocktail party fare will be provided for the evening by Toro, Tremont 647, and Lionette's Market, Island Creek Oysters will be on hand shucking their acclaimed “Duxbury Pearls”, and The Boston Derby Dames will skate around with sweets provided by Taza Chocolates.
The USO-style variety show will be emceed by Cathleen Carr and Daiva Deupree of Two Girls for Five Bucks and feature Boston-based actor, improviser and stand-up comedian Harry Gordon, and Thru the Keyhole Burlesque. DJ Brother Cleve will spin ‘40s-era swing music between live acts. Vintage dress and creative cocktail attire is encouraged.
A prize raffle will feature gift certificates donated from Toro, Tremont 647, Myers + Chang, La Verdad, East Coast Grill, Taza Chocolates, Polka Dog Bakery, Vee Vee, Flour Bakery + Cafe, ZipCar, Hollywood Express, A Brix Six Gift Pack from Brix Wine Shop, tickets to the Improv Asylum and Swing City a St-Germain gift basket, a one-year subscription to Imbibe magazine and more.
All proceeds from the LUPEC BOSTON USO SHOW will benefit women at The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans.
- Ticket price is $35 in advance/ $45 at the door including cocktail party fare and four drink tickets, with additional beverages available for purchase.
- Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at:
- Toro, 1704 Washington St., Boston, MA
The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans is a private, non-profit organization with a mission to extend a helping hand to homeless men and women veterans who are addressing the challenges of addiction, trauma, severe and persistent mental illness, and/or unemployment, and who will commit themselves to sobriety, non-violence, and working for personal change. They are recognized as one of the most effective private veteran's transition programs in the country. Learn more at www.neshv.org.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Recipe THE COMPLETE BAKING COOKBOOK by George Geary(Robert Rose, Inc.; Ocotber 2007;$24.95/paperback).
Serves 10-12 * (as a cake; I modified the recipe and poured it into two cupcake trays, one of 12-normal sized cupcakes, one of 24 nano-cupcakes. Then I tried to see how many I could fit into my mouth at once.)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Two 9-inch round cake pans, sprayed with non-stick spray (or the aforementioned cupcake trays, lined with paper liners)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup crushed pineapple, drained (I muddled cubed pineapple with a bar muddling stick and strained excess liquid out using a bar strainer: that is how I roll)
1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 cup shredded carrots
1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg. Set aside.
2. In a mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla until well blended, for 2 minutes. Add pineapple, coconut, and pecans and mix for 1 minute. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in flour mixture just until incorporated. Stir in carrots.
3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 28 - 32 minutes (check them sooner for cupcakes! I took mine out after 20 mins.) Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes before transferring to rack to cool completely.
4. For best results for decorating, wrap cake layers in plastic wrap and freeze for 1 to 2 days. (We were eating them almost immediately, so I did not do this.)
George suggests several different icing options for these puppies (all recipes can be found in the book), including Buttercream, Cream Cheese Icing, French Buttercream Frosting, Island Frosting, Seven-Minute Frosting, and Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting. I chose Island: it's recommended for "when the flavor of a cake calls for cream cheese with tropical-island flair. And how! The recipe is below:
Makes about 2 cups
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted (oops! Forgot that step; guess I got there after Applejack Manhattan No. 2)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted
1. In a mixer bowl fitted with paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth, for 3 minutes. Gradually add confectioner's sugar, mixing on low speed until it gathers, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to high and whip until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Fold in vanilla, pecans, and coconut by hand. (I also let the frosting whip for a little too long, and for this I blame Manhattan 2.5. I simply finished the recipe and stuck it in the fridge for a bit to firm up while the cupcakes cooled.)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
We finally ate dinner at 9:30 and I still feel way too full today. But it was fun. The sauce was amazing. In Italy they take the meats out & slice them, then serve the pasta + sauce as a primi and the meats on their own as secondi. Since the Mathematician asked for meat sauce, I opted for the cookbook's second suggestion: take the meats out, shred them, add them back to the sauce and enjoy. The end result was like if pot roast and roasted pork shoulder and tomato sauce had a baby.
And YES, the carrot cupcakes were awesome! I took a bunch of them to Toro for our monthly staff meeting, and someone ate the rest while I was out for the day. Below: a picture of all that remains.
Now I'm running out the door to see Smashing Pumpkins.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
tomorrow we celebrate.
I'm making Ragu Napoletano from a book I represented last year called
CUCINA DEL SOLE by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. Paraphrasing Jeanne Caroli
Francesconi, the author cautions this dish is "not a simple sauce;
rather 'It is a ritual celebrated weekly in every Neapolitan family
worthy of the name.'"
Neapolitan namesake, here I come.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Ever since I took on a more active role managing the LUPEC Boston blog a few months ago I've been intrigued by Portland's storied cocktail scene. It seemed that every time I opened an issue of Imbibe or checked a new cocktail blog, there was some mention of great cocktails to be had here. I've been dying to check it out ever since.
Plus, one of my best friends from high school lives here, and since we recently reconnected we haven't been able to get enough of each other. Now I jump at the opportunity to come visit, and fortunately the opportunities arise often, as the Mathematician travels here a lot for work.
So, here I am. And for the next four days, you can expect this blog to be all wet.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
Ah well, as they say in my yoga classes, every time you come to your practice, it's a new beginning. So, today, I begin again.
Is anyone else a little freaked by the fact that it's pitch dark out at 4:45?
Thursday, November 06, 2008
GUY: "So, you're a writer, really? Who is your favorite playwright?"
ME: "Playwright.....? Ummm..."
GUY: "Okay, who do you read?"
ME: "Who do I read? Hmm..."
The reality is, working two jobs and using what little time I have in between to write and pursue a myriad of unpaid passion projects means that I don't really read books anymore. Most of what I read is Jezebel, Twitter, and Facebook.
It makes me sad.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
I assume this dance studio bought a mailing list somewhere and that's how they found me. Is it because I have a Victoria's Secret card? Or did someone tell them that the PR company I work for has recently signed on to represent romance novels and hookers?
I have to know...
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
Thing is, I was trying to be super friendly to this table because they appeared to be a miserable couple having a miserable time not enjoying each other's miserable company. I mean, I can show you curt/rude/or catty if that's what you're looking for in a waitress. Just ask my co-workers. In fact, I should have. Instead I wasted my time/energy trying to romance two people who just wanted to be left alone to their own lame devices.
I knew there was something about them that I didn't like. Guess it was the fact that they didn't like me.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
"So, you mean to tell me you're out of Brussels sprouts, bacalao, AND the corn??? You're killing me here!!!" I overheard one guest remark to his waitress.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait," the man at Table 31 said to me in proper, slightly accented English after I rattled off the list of 86's. "You just listed about seven items. Is there anything you DO have on the menu???" If you've ever been to Toro, or any tapas restaurant for that matter, you know -- the menu is comprised of at least like 30 dishes. "Yes, yes, there are some things we DO still have on the menu," I said.
I found Table 31's reaction dramatic, but I tried to remain patient and diplomatic. Running out of a dish is a disappointment that just can't be fixed for a guest, even if you are a super waitress. Culturally, we've been facing a lot of disappointment lately, and I can relate.
Running out of food tonight also reminded me of a podcast I listened to today detailing the economic crisis that currently has Iceland under seige, and the rather dramatic (misconceived) notion that Iceland is actually running out of food. "Tonight, Toro is like Iceland," I told my manager.
Table 31 managed to navigate the menu and had a satisfying dinner. They were very nice in the end, and despite their initial shock, remained patient and polite throughout all the disappointments of their dinner. Later, as I was sliding their table's credit card to cash them out, I realized: the accent, the name on the card, the bank...these people were from Iceland.
I know how bad it feels to be living through the American economic downturn, and all I've heard about the Icelandic crisis is that it's far, far worse.
I wish I could have saved them at least one order of the corn.
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Who's with me? Click here if you're up to the challenge, too.
Friday, October 31, 2008
"Table?" I say.
"Table 13, Bar. Thanks, Kitty."
I squeeze between guests who are packed two-deep at the bar. It's difficult to discern bar seat numbers when it's busy like this, so I count each bar patron's head until I reach the number 13, two older gentleman in suits, talking intently over glasses of red wine.
"Skirt steak?" I say, hesitantly, hoping I've made it to the right spot. The dark haired gentleman on the right gives a slight nod, but I'm not certain he's nodding at me, so I repeat myself as I begin to lower the dish onto the bar between them. "This is the skirt steak, medium rare?"
"Yes," the dark-haired man says gruffly as though I am a bother. Then he turns around, we lock eyes, and he smiles. "Yes, thank you very much."
"You're very welcome," I say, and turn to leave. He stares at me as I walk away.
Yeesh, I think, that guy is totally old enough to be my father. But then, this is a trend I've noticed since I cut my hair short and started curling it 1950's style with rollers. This hair-do is like older man candy.
Maybe it's because the hair-do reminds these gents of the girls they chased in their youth? Or of the way their first wives looked when they fell in love? In any event, for any of you girls out there looking to snag an older man, I'd highly recommend copying my current 'do, designed to imitate this inimitable lady right here.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
"Umm...hi...there," I mumble. I'm mortified, but I press on with my speech, as though nothing happened. "Can I bring you a drink to get started?" It's pretty loud in here tonight, maybe they didn't hear me?
In my own defense, the dude's hair is longer than mine. And he is wearing a headband.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Here she is, wearing the other team's colors at an event in Reno, NV on Tuesday.
I have to wonder: how would America respond if Sarah Palin really were blonde, like her running mate's wife? Would it be tolerated? Or would she take even more flack for being totally vapid?
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
special guys who spilled beer on the Mathematician.
Behind us, two old timers extolling the virtues of Mitt Romney as
truly the best Presidential candidate. "Everything he touched turned
Chodes of all ages.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Table 45 just sat down and has been too busy making googley eyes at each other to notice me. Guess I should stop pouting at least try to take their order. When I approach the table, the girl has excused herself; the guy is sitting alone.
"I can come back in a minute if you like," I say.
"No, bring us two shots of Patron. With Rose's," he says.
Blech. That sounds so gross. I'm so preoccupied by the thought that I walk away without confirming whether he wants those chilled. He must...I think. The only thing more terrible-sounding than a shot of Patron with Rose's is a WARM shot of Patron with Rose's. But the bartender will be pissed at me if I'm wrong and she has to make the foul concoctions twice, so I return to the table to confirm.
"You want those shots chilled, right?" I say.
"No. Not chilled. Just Patron and Rose's lime juice. Not chilled."
Ewwww. When I approach the service bar to pick up the shots my bartender informs me that we do not, in fact, carry Rose's. Duh. I head back to Table 45 to let him know these will be coming with fresh lime & simple syrup instead.
"That's fine, he says," waving a dismissive hand in the air. "Patron, lime & whatever. Not chilled."
"Okay," I say.
"Thanks, Brb..." he says, mumbling something under his breath - did he just call me Barbie? I'm still too preoccupied by the disgustingness of his drink order to know for sure what has transpired.
I deliver the shots. By now the girl is back at the table.
"Thanks, Barbie," he says when I drop them off. Again. He mumbled it AGAIN, and I swear he just called me Barbie. I decide to ignore it.
I approach the table a few minutes later to see if they're ready to order food yet. They 'haven't even looked!' but are ready for cocktails:
"Hennessy and Diet Coke, please," the guy says. "Wait, do you guys have Hennessy? If not, Remy will do."
Hennessy of Remy? With DIET? Really? "Sure," I say, looking at him suspiciously. Who is this guy? I wonder, What planet is he from? Where is it okay to order Hennessy with ANYTHING, much less Diet COKE? "No problem."
"Thanks, Barbie," he says. This time I heard it -- I definitely heard it. He called me Barbie. I can't tell if he's laughing at me or with me and I have no idea how to respond.
By the time Table 45 is ready to order, I have decided that this guy is a total chode and I am in no mood to deal with it. He keeps ordering MTV drinks (maybe next he'll ask for Alize or Hypnotique?) and surreptitiously calling me Barbie. The aggressive shot-ordering indicates to me that he's desperate to get this girl in the sack; we'll see about that.
His date asks me what dishes I recommend, and I extol the virtues of the messiest, most garlicky items we have: I launch into a litany about the the pan con tomate, toasted bread rubbed with raw garlic and tomato, extol the virtues of the gambas al ajillo, the garlic shrimp, and tell how they haven't lived 'til they've tried the maiz asado con alioli y queso cotija, known to most as simply "the corn."
"What else is really good?" the guy asks. I repeat myself. In the end, they order every single garlicky, alioli drenched, cheese-and-corn-kernels-up-by-your-eyebrows dish.
"Thanks, Barbie," he says.
"My pleasure," I say with a smile. Garlic breath = Barbie's revenge.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Sometimes I forget that I have blonde hair. That's because I've spent most of my pre-adult and adult life trying to make others ignore that fact. I've always been aware that people pre-judge me based on how I look. And every time I meet a new person I know I have to overcome their unfair expectations. No, I'm not high maintenance; I live in jeans and Chucks. No, I don't work out all the time and eat celery and rice cakes; in fact I hate the gym and eat lots of meat. No, I never cheered for sports other than when I watch my favorite football team. No thank you, I don't want a cocktail, I want a beer (and I don't want a glass for it).
I had college professors who were guilty of assigning me some societal role based on how I look. One told me that he was sure I had been a cheerleader in high school. Another said to me that I "looked like the girl who dates the quarterback." Who were they to say these things to me without knowing anything but my name and student ID number? Should I have said to them, "you look like the guy who jacks off to pre-teen internet porn every night?" Or, "you look like someone who used to be thin and now your self-loathing causes you to be unfair to the pretty girls in your class?"
The fact is, I went to a super nerdy high school that didn't even have a football team. I had an appropriate level of angst, loved rock music, played sports, and generally didn't pay much attention to my hair. Unfortunately, when I got to college I discovered I was woefully unprepared to navigate the complex social hierarchy. The girls were so unfriendly to me and I had no idea why. My mom's words echoed in my head, "They're just jealous." But I couldn't believe that they would be jealous of me. I had no style. I was clumsy, loud, and socially retarded. Truly, big boobs and blonde hair will make girls come to some stupid conclusions.
As I've gotten older, I have come to embrace my blonde hair. I don't fight it anymore. When girls meet me now, I am aware the wheels in their heads are already turning. I greet them with a big smile and a loud hello. And I burp and cuss and let my Tommy Boy sense of humor show through until they know I am not just a bubbly babe masking a cruel penchant for gossip. I think Cameron Diaz kind of saved me. When she burst onto the movie scene and became a sex symbol for embodying the anti-Marilyn, I knew I was going to be OK. I love Marilyn. I'm just so not her. Cameron briefly abandoned me for a brunette phase. I'm so thankful she came back.
Living in a society that values blondes as sex symbols and not much else forced me to rebel against the stereotype. I'm glad I have blonde hair. I think it's made me develop my personality and figure out who I am. And it has most definitely gotten me into a few concerts and out of a few speeding tickets.
TommyGirl lives, works, and defies blonde stereotypes by drinking beer and cussing in the Northeast.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Thankfully, there are other like-minded women out there who have set their sites on making a difference, like Shallon, a correspondent for the dude-centric website, DoubleAgent.com. In real life, Shallon is a gossip reporter for the New York Daily News, and an author. As an undercover agent, Shallon offers advice to guys on everything from dating to dressing to how not to act like a total gorilla all the time and maybe get a date with an awesome girl through frequent posts to her DoubleAgent.com vlog. And she's hilarious. I caught up with this undercover blonde recently and asked her a few questions about her blondeness.
KITTY: What do you think it means to be a natural blonde? Are you one?
SHALLON: Any blonde worth her peroxide will INSIST that yes of course she's au natural. Which I am. Of course. Scientists say that men subconsciously view blondes as more attractive because they are more rare, and thus more valuable. So ladies, since we don't have to worry about "brunette issues" like plucking our unibrow and mustache, remember to use your seductive powers for good, not evil.
KITTY: Double Agent isn't your first undercover mission – you also recently went undercover as a Swedish bikini waxer who loves yorkies and auditioned to be Paris Hilton's best friend. Did you use blondeness to your advantage for either "assignment"? How about in your role as a gossip columnist for the New York Daily News?
SHALLON: No one can resist a blonde, not even a fellow blondie like Paris Hilton. When I'm interviewing celebrities I can get away with more playing the ditz and acting like I had no clue my question might be inflammatory or offensive. But I'll just use my hair as bait, then when they least expect it, I strike! They call me the Blonde Viper. Ok fine not really. But I really wish people would.
KITTY: Have you ever dyed your hair brown, or any other color? What was that experience like for you? If you haven't, would you?
SHALLON: I am ashamed to say once dyed my hair dark brown when I lived in Italy, so I could "blend in." Pfft! What a mistake. I looked tired and washed out and...ordinary. But I did noticed that I got fewer looks from guys but the ones who did hit on me did so with more intensity. Quality versus quantity, I guess. But I went back to golden tones because I'm in to acquisition--I collect boys as some collect Fabrege eggs.
KITTY: A study published last fall suggests that men act stupider around blonde women, subconsciously mimicking what they believe to be the lesser intelligence of a blonde woman in order to "get along with her"? Has this happened to you?
SHALLON: This study is wrong. Clearly men act dumber around us because they're so beguiled by our beauty, our wholesome Nordic looks, that they can't string together a sentence. Poor things. Who can blame them? We turn even the toughest guy into babbling little butterballs. Military interrogators would be so much more effective with some strategically placed highlights.
KITTY: Your best friend is about to dye her hair blonde for the very first time. What's the one thing you think she NEEDS to know about how her life will be different before she reaches for bleach?
SHALLON: Buy stock in condoms. :)
Monday, September 29, 2008
I would really appreciate your advice.Well, curious reader, that's an interesting question with a complicated answer. I'm posting my thoughts here in the hopes that any other blonde waitresses (undercover or otherwise) who might happen by can chime in with theirs.
I've been looking on-line and haven't really found an answer yet, but maybe your experience can help. Do blonde's get tipped better than brunettes in a waitress position?
Yes, I do get bigger tips as a blonde. I think that has more to do with how I am me as a blonde than anything else. As a blonde waitress I tend to be more obsequious, affect a more bubbly demeanor, and more flirty. I can't explain why, beyond that I feel this is what is expected of me by the people who sit in my section. In the mirror of their eyes, this is how I am as a blonde.
As a brunette, I did not act as bubbly or overly friendly or super-duper-nice. When I said, "Hello, how are you this evening?" my voice came out of my throat at a lower decibel, my tone more business-like. I approached my tables with confidence and poise, and assumed a more subdued demeanor with guests. I also didn't feel compelled to smile excessively or laugh at their stupid jokes so heartily. Good, attentive service seemed enough.
Occasionally, this distanced brunette demeanor did not go over well. I've only had a table complain to a manager that I provided bad service once in the past several years; that happened while I was a brunette. What can I say? I remained polite to the high maintenance bitch, but refused to kiss her ass: as a brunette, I didn't need to. Guess she didn't like it. When I served her a few months later as a blonde, she didn't seem to remember me...and the interaction was perfectly cordial.
Then there's the whole guy thing. Undesirable characters are MUCH more likely to sexualize the customer-waitress interaction when my hair is blonde. Men of all ages, from guys who are still in college to dudes old enough to be my dad; men of all walks of life, from rugged manual-laborer types to filthy rich guys who pay with a black AmEx; men of all stripes, from quietly classy to full-blown, downright, sexual harrassers. Do they tip me better? Maybe; unless I waited on them as a brunette, I have no way to compare. Is it worth a few extra bucks to feel totally objectified and mildly embarrassed every time I have to offer someone a drink or take away a plate? Not really. Then there are times when a guy at a table will have a few too many, make a total ass out of himself, and really humiliate me with his behavior, only to tip a paltry 15% or less. That's totally degrading, one of the shittiest feelings I've had to sustain in this line of work.
I distinctly remember approaching my first table of the night within a few days of dying my hair back to blonde. I looked up, saw two rugged, manly-looking man-men who were totally out of place in the high end South End establishment where I am employed (they asked for Michelob Light), and sighed. Shit, I thought. I have to go flirt with those guys right now and I really am just not in the mood. Then I realized what I'd just said to myself: Oh my God, did I really just think that???
So, in short, I do feel like I get bigger tips as a blonde. But are they better tips? Not so much.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Marilyn Hair Treatment Hair Moisturizer
Moisturizing treatment to soften and brighten blonde hair
Chamomile, lemon and saffron brighten blonde hair. Use it regularly and get fairer hair. Linseed mucilage results in softer tresses and fresh, organic lemon juice adds a ton of shine. If you always wanted to be a "natural" blonde, here's how to go about it.
7.9 oz costs $18.55.
You can literally smell the LUSH shop before you see it as you walk down Newbury Street. Inside the store, the air is thickly perfumed by the candy flavored products that line the shelves. The LUSH sales-staff tend to be bubbly and outgoing and usually intent on working a sales pitch for at least one or two "featured" products as they say hello/check you out. I tend to find the entire experience of shopping there overwhelming, and try to duck in and out as quickly as possible to avoid olfactory overload. The products are worth every venture, which is why I keep coming shopping there, and when I discovered the Marilyn, I felt intrigued by its promise.
The sales girl who checked me out extolled the virtues of the product, which surprised me because she was a dark brunette. She gave me a quick run-down of how to use the stuff, instructing me to:
- Leave it in my hair for at least 20 minutes, preferably longer.
- Try slathering it on and sleeping with it in, to maximize effectiveness, or
- To apply it then blow-dry the hair, thereby activating the color-enhancing properties even more.
The Marilyn has a gloopy consistency and smells like honey, lavender, chamomile, and, is also vaguely reminiscent of paste -- in a good way. I slather it on, throw a shower cap on my head, and tuck into bed. Nighty-night!
When I wake up in the morning and washed it Marilyn out, my hair feels soft, silky, and totally conditioned. I style it as usual (wrap it in rollers and let it dry for like a zillion years) and at the end of the entire, long process, my hair is bouncy, curly, and super vibrant. I can't say for sure that I think my hair looks any blonder, but the texture is luscious.
Perhaps the blonde-enhancing aspect of the cream is an aggregate thing? Like, maybe if I use it more frequently, it will be more effective? I will report back more once I've tried it again.
Stay tuned for Part II, where I test out the blow-dry method and determine, for once and for all, if the Marilyn makes it into the cadre of expensive products upon which I utterly depend.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I return to the table with their sangria and as I pour it into two glasses, ask: "Do you guys have any questions about the menu?"
"No," the girl says. "I don't think so." Across the table, the guy is snickering under his breath. She glares at him. Then she giggles, too.
"Cool! Are you guys ready to order, then?"
"No," the guy says. Now the girl is giggling under her breath. He just looks at her blankly, then looks up at me and says: "I need to tell you something. We're really stoned right now."
"Fabulous," I say. "What better way to spend a Sunday."
Saturday, September 20, 2008
The part of the clip that keeps running through my mind is Don's pitch, when he says, "Jacqueline Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe. Women have feelings about these women because men do. Because we want both, they want to be both. It's about how they want to be seen by us: their husbands, their boyfriends, their friends' husbands."
As a women going about the business of her life in this postmodern, post-Women's Movement era, I bristle at that statement: "I'm sorry, I dress, primp, and coif for me, not for men."
Or do I? My most recent hair color & style choice is decidedly in imitation of you know who. And I completely identified with Blonde Correspondent Tolly M.'s mixed feelings about being oversexualized as a blonde, and undersexualized (but taken seriously) as a brunette. And this makes me feel feminist guilt.
Amy Klein said it well in her recent "Modern Love" piece for the New York Times magazine, describing her slight disappointment when, after several years of harassment, her cyberstalker finally left her alone:
"When you are young and pretty, nothing outrages you more than unwanted, persistent attention. You want to be taken seriously. But as you get older, and people start to ignore your looks and actually do begin to take you seriously as a professional, you feel like yesterday's news."
Then again, I'm the kind of girl who always wants what I haven't got.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Ever since I was sixteen, I've been an artificial blonde. I blame Loreal Frost and Design. The pretty girl on the box of Champagne H85. The easy pull-through cap with a new time-saving formula. The tools, the potion you get to mix up, the erotic thrill of reversing your hair color destiny via the magic of science. What girl wouldn't fall for this stuff?
The first time I highlighted my hair, I remember my mom shaking the bleach powder into the plastic tub, releasing chemical-laded ammonia fumes. I felt so ballsy. I was about to do something unapologetically fake to my body. Sure, it was a far cry from a tattoo or even a piercing - but it still gave me a rush. The Sunday before, I had gone to church, where we probably talked about our bodies being temples. Now my virgin, mousy hair awaited a thick layer of 100% non-God given bleach. I had never been so excited about giving this temple a renovation.
The first time I bleached my hair, I lied about it. A girl on dance team asked me if I had gotten highlights, and I told her: "I was in the sun all day last weekend - you know, my hair just does this sometimes!" It was an out-and-out untruth. I don't think she believed me.
The gazillionth time I bleached my hair, my boyfriend, now husband, asked: "Are you a natural blonde?" I laughed and said, "this is not nature, my friend - this is art." And that's exactly how I, and I imagine many women, feel: like an artist of one's own appearance.
So it's with great pleasure that I go about day-to-day, wearing my blondeness. Hello, traffic light! Hello, Fran in sales! For whatever reason, being a blonde usually makes me feel perky. I am quite certain this has its roots in culturally stereotypical and decidedly unfeminist lines of thinking. But I also know that I look a lot better as a blonde, and that shot of self-confidence I got at sixteen as a newly-minted towhead still hasn't worn off.
For all of the reasons above, friends and family were quite surprised when I decided to go brunette. Promptly after my wedding.
"But you make such a good blonde?"
"Are you mourning your single life?"
"Does your husband secretly prefer brunettes?"
The truth was, I had been blonde for about a decade - not counting one inconsequential encounter with a box of hot pink dye I picked up at Sally Beauty Supply in college - and thought it was time to challenge myself. Why "challenge?" That's a good question. I guess I operated under the assumption that anyone could go blonde...but not everyone could do dark. It seemed like an adventure.
When my stylist unwrapped the towel from my fresh, inky tresses, I knew I had made a mistake.
"Um...I love it!" I stammered. This was a disaster.
The first thing I wanted to do when I got dark hair - a rich, chocolate brown with red highlights, a beautiful combination whose only problem was the un-beautiful girl it graced - was slap on as much eye makeup as I could. So I came home, rubbed charcoal shadow on my lids and penciled black liner on my eyes, with nude lips for effect. My husband and I went on a date that night. I think he was scared.
The second thing I wanted to do was go get a tan. This too was an impulse I can't explain. As a blonde, it seemed that the only people I ever ran into at the tanning place were…other blondes. I guess I thought that brunettes had either a) naturally olive skin that looked sort of tan no matter what they did, or b) porcelain complexions kept delicate and snowy so as to heighten the drama with their contrasting locks. But I was, unfortunately, no Dita Von Teese. I marched my brunette self straight into a spray-on booth, and emerged Eva Mendes. A shorter, more-awkward looking Eva Mendes.
Here's something I didn't expect: brunette hair made me feel like I had a huge head. As a blonde, if one's hair is mussy and not quite “fixed," which would have been me every single day prior to de-blonding, it’s easy to get away with. But as a brunette, all of those out-of-place hairs stand out in stark contrast against the rest of the world. So although it was completely not my personality, I felt compelled during those first few brunette weeks to make a daily ‘do out of my raven locks, which styling tools and expensive products I had to ration my grocery shopping money on. Why? I couldn't very well walk around with this huge head full of crazy brown hair, could I?
Another thing: I learned that one's "blonde wardrobe" doesn't immediately transition to a "brunette wardrobe." At least, it didn't for me. I virtually buried my pink items, which all struck me as horribly Elle Woods, and bought several jewel-toned tops that looked at once grown-up and sophisticated. Was brunette hair aging me? I couldn't tell.
Eventually, with practice and purple blouses and inexplicably large sunglasses, I started embracing the brunette thing. I felt like a spy on my own life. I'd go to the gym, and people wouldn't recognize me. I visited my in-laws, and they stuttered a little. It was all so very strange, this dark hair! I have never been one to intimidate, and all of a sudden, I did. Are blondes more approachable? Are blonde jokes still echoing in our cultural consciousness? This was in the height of Jessica Simpson madness, and everywhere I looked, I saw her blonde hair, her huge heels, her whole Texas (specifically, Dallas) package grinning at me from the cover of an Us Weekly. I've always had a soft spot for Jess, but I also congratulated myself for temporarily excusing myself from the blonde ranks until her flaxen domination blew over.
I have one confession from this time period. It's true that as a brunette, I didn't get checked out as much. I hated it, then I loved it. How lovely not to be sexualized. How freeing and bold I felt, not using my feminine wiles as a crutch for almost every male/female interaction. Not to say that the world isn't delirious with sexy brunettes (Penelope Cruz, we are looking in your direction). And not to say, also, that I was even entirely conscious of all the giggling, the blondie silliness, before. "Man, could I act like a blonde sometimes!" I'd think, catching myself in a moment of flirty blondeness, which felt forced and weird now. 'Brunette' was a second skin I didn't quite own, and further, something about it made me hyper-aware of how many more people took me seriously, which was sad but also interesting. So I didn't try to impress the would-be flirters.
When I heard the siren song of blondness some six months later, I didn't resist: On my 26th birthday, I skipped back to my blonde "roots." I did it myself, with a humble Loreal Frost and Design pull-through cap kit. I remember meeting my parents for dinner that night, and my mom telling me, "honey, it's good to see you again!"
Mom's right, I'm more "me" as a blonde. But inside, there's a brooding brunette who realizes she is a sociocultural archetype, a "bad girl" invented by Hollywood tropes, rubbing her hands together fiendishly and waiting for our next adventure. She's telling me to go red this fall. In a couple of months, I shall be a fiery vixen a la Joan Holloway on "Mad Men." The inner brunette/redhead can be quite convincing, when she wants to be.
Tolly Moseley is a book publicist and writer based in Austin, TX. To read more about the trouble she's causing deep in the heart of Texas, visit www.thataustingirl.blogspot.com.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I awoke at 9 a.m. and scurried off to yoga. I was feeling a little off, but assumed this was owing to the fact that I got bombed at Eastern Standard the day before while researching our assignment for the Weekly Dig's upcoming 5-Drink Minimum issue. Not so. About 5 minutes into class with my favorite teacher I started to feel weird and out of sorts, and the first time we transitioned from forward bend to tadasana I really almost fainted. I spent the entire half the class in child's pose or lying on my back on the floor. When I got home the Mathematician felt my forehead and I burning up with a fever. [NOTE: Hot yoga and fever do not mix.]
I napped for a few hours and still went to the spa, which was fabulous. We canceled dinner and spent the evening watching Entourage and eating pizza and cupcakes and lots of Advil.
Some people say that every two hours of your birthday represent how the subsequent months of your year will be spent. If that's true, I'll be spending months 1 - 5 sleeping off a hangover, month 6 feeling like I'm about to pass out in yoga, month 7 alternating between sleep and eating saltines in bed, month 8-9 getting pampered, months 10-12 watching HBO shows on the couch and eating pizza and cupcakes, with a few mini naps here and there.
A very unceremonious start to the last year of my twenties. But I still had a really nice time with the Mathematician.
Monday, September 08, 2008
If I got a dime each time someone asked me that question, I think I would be rich by now. This irritating question came in many forms but, I think the one that bothered me the most is when someone asked, “do the curtains match the drapes?” Can you get any more intrusive? I mean who cares anyway? You never hear someone going around asking “are you a natural brunette?”
I have been a blonde since birth. God seemed to bless me with a head full of platinum white curls that attracted much unwanted attention growing up. In elementary it seemed like a curse, more than a blessing. I was so blonde that a kid actually had the nerve to point and, say, “she’s an albino!” Needless to say, I was pretty self conscious about it. But, my mother would always say, “Do you know how much women spend on their hair to be that color?” I would say, “How much?” “I would be glad to take the cash!”
Throughout junior high and, high school, my hair took over my image. I was the blonde bombshell with a chest to match. Everyone insisted that I bleached my hair. I still didn’t like the unwanted attention; I was shy to say the least. But, I started to notice that I turned heads that I did not necessarily want to turn. “Proxy Locks and, electric hips,” is what one of my boyfriend’s moms nicknamed me. I even went to some great lengths at the salon to foil some brown into my hair. I didn’t turn out like I thought it would. I looked like I had a grey wig on!
Being blonde throughout my adolescence was a heavy burden for me to carry. But, now that I have embraced it, I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, when people ask me that redundant question, “Are you a true blonde or not?” I reluctantly turn and say, “The curtains match the drapes.”
By, Leese Elder
To read more about Leese's blonde adventures, check out ablondespointofview.blogspot.com.
BLONDE DISPATCHES will be guest posts written by other women on blondeness, tackling this tenet of the American female beauty myth from various angles. (In other words, writers wanted! And you don't need to be blonde. I'm interested in hearing thoughts on the topic from all sides.) I'm excited to be engaging new voices in this project and hope it will trigger dialogue (albeit cyber) about beauty ideals, self-image, stereotyping, and, in broader strokes, what its like to be a woman in America today.
What follows is a the premiere post from our very first blonde correspondent, Leese.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Need I say this is about as far out of the box as it gets for me?
When I told my new friend about my deep personal relationship with cocktails, specifically endangered ones, he politely asked my advice on what he should try as, you know, his first cocktail ever. I have been delightedly puzzling over the answer since.
I can only imagine how strange our conversation must have sounded to the surrounding passengers: me going on and on about my book projects, one on blondeness and the other about cocktails; he telling me about life on the road as a Christian rock musician and his new baby. And both of us extolling the virtues of sustainable agriculture and locavore eating. I have to say, it was pretty rad.
What did you do this Saturday?
really irritating. The parents don't seem to notice. I guess it's
probably a little different when it's your own.
For now, it's an effective reminder that it's time to take my birth
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I have a few new features in store for you all this month, in honor of the new season. Today I'd like to introduce the first: my quest for the BEST blonde products on the market. (Blonde product publicists, take note!)
I'm way too chicken to attempt coloring my hair on my own without Jason's expert hands, so unless I can find a blonde correspondent to brave the home hair care aisle and report back, you won't find data on home coloring products here.
You will find data on my experiences with products that claim they will make your blondeness blonder, such as Marilyn hair treatment, by LUSH, which my fellow LUPEC member, Fancy Brandy turned me on to. I'll use it for the month and report back periodically with results.
Here's what the LUSH company website says about the product:
Marilyn Hair Treatment Hair Moisturizer
Moisturizing treatment to soften and brighten blonde hair
Chamomile, lemon and saffron brighten blonde hair. Use it regularly and get fairer hair. Linseed mucilage results in softer tresses and fresh, organic lemon juice adds a ton of shine. If you always wanted to be a "natural" blonde, here's how to go about it.
7.9 oz costs $18.55.
Alright, LUSH. I can tell you right now that I am highly skeptical that this little hair mask thing will actually make me a "natural blonde." Only a proper genetic pairing can do that. That said, if Marilyn can keep my hair nice and bright blonde, and can keep that weird brassiness that starts to set in after a few weeks at bay, I'm game. Clever marketing technique, by the way. I'll buy anything labeled Marilyn, hair product, dress, purse, what have you.
Check back for updates! And if anyone out there in blog land has actually tried the stuff, please leave a comment about your experiences below.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Upon approaching table 47 to take their drink order:
"I'll have a Nantucket Mule," says the khaki-clad Father figure. "She'll have a sangria," he gestures to his wife, "and they'll have...uh...do you have milk?"
"CHOCOLATE milk?" his son blurts out before I can answer. He and his sister stare up at me expectantly, as though there are only chocolate cows where they come from and the thought of a night without chocolate milk with dinner is just irritating.
"No, we don't," I answer. "I mean, we have this spicy chocolate sauce that we use on the churros, which I could add to some cold milk. But its pretty spicy..." I warn. Table 52 demanded to have all spicy things obviated from their kids' food; I assume 47 will feel the same.
"No, that's okay..." the father says.
"I WANT to TRY IT!" the little boy screams.
Well, now we know who's in charge.
When I deliver their drink, the Dad asks, "Do you have anything KID-friendly?"
I direct him to the kobe beef burgers. "They're perfect for little kids."
At table 48:
Taking a drink order is difficult since the little five year old asshole won't stop screaming and hitting his mother as she navigates the menu. They order all of their meats cooked well done and flag me down to hold me to task when their burgers take while.
"Um...do you know where the kobe burgers are? It's taking a long time," the mom says. She's a total MILF and she and her guest are both dressed to the nines. Their "child" (I suspect he may be some obnoxious terrorist robot in the guise of a five year old boy) is swatting at her face and hair with his filthy, sauce covered fingers. Their outfits will be ruined by the end of dinner.
"I'll check on them for you. It usually takes a little while longer to cook the meat well done," I say.
"Thanks. It's just that he's getting tired..." she says, gesturing to her child. Her sense of urgency is palpable.
The burgers arrive not a minute too soon. And within minutes the MILF is flagging me over.
"He needs ketchup," she says.
Yes, of course, the ultimate garnish.
Kobe beef is the new baby food which should DEFINITELY try with ketchup, bedtime is the new last call, and Toro is the new romper room on Saturday night.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Got my roots done at Escape yesterday. Here are some scenes from the crime...
Pre-blonding. My roots were pretty bad...
Look at all those foils; sweet jesus is this time consuming. It takes Jason about an hour to paint bleach on my roots and wrap it up into little tiny foil wrappers. Then I have to "cook" for 20 minutes or more.
Jason explained to me yesterday that he's very conservative with the color, which is why it takes so long. He uses the least amount of bleach he could possibly need to get my hair nice n' light, then lets the magic happen slowly. A lesser stylist might paint on some really crazy high-potency shit and leave it on for a shorter amount of time. His method keeps my hair healthier in the long run. As healthy as one's hair can be after bleaching it, dying it black, and bleaching it again.
Et voila! Roots are gone, looking good as new!