Monday, March 31, 2008

I'm back!

Taking a vow of silence last week gave me a nice break, but gosh I missed having a place to air my thoughts and grievances!

I didn't realize how accustomed I've become to putting the constant monologue that jabbers on in my brain down somewhere. It's actually something I've been doing my entire life, starting with the tiny pink diaries I kept when was a little kid, with a lock and key that I was very careful to always seal. And while this blog was created to record my ruminations and experiences and my identity as I made the transition from brunette to blonde, it's become all encompassing (as most things relating to "identity" do.) I had no idea how much I've come to depend on my blog as my secret little microphone.

On the flip side, I really needed a break from the stream of constant criticism and snarkiness that blogs and the Internet fosters. My blog was excerpted on Universal Hub twice a few weeks ago, which was awesome and drove TONS of new readers to my site -- fabulous! Among those readers were some pretty creepy, sketchy people who left a potpourri of weird, mostly unintelligible and offensive comments on here -- NOT awesome. I began to feel like this whole blog experiment was...too public.

It got me thinking about the dichotomies inherent in a writing life. On the one hand, writing is a solitary act, involving a person, their research, their pen & paper or keyboard and screen, and their thoughts. To parlay that into a career of any sort, is to open yourself up to a lifetime of endless criticism, some of it constructive and in your best interests (when coming from friends, family, agents, editors) but most of it ruthless, judgmental, and insensitive and coming from strangers. It's a slightly schizophrenic lifestyle choice, no?

So, I needed a little break from the voyeurism and the sharing of my thoughts with the strangers. And it was nice.

Then I realized I missed venting to the ether as I do on Undercover Blonde. In my real jobs, I rarely get to say what I think. I can't say to my tables at Toro, "the reason your drinks are taking a long time is because the bartender is in the weeds and the bar back is slow as molasses; you're just going to have to be patient." Instead I have to say, "so sorry about the wait on your drinks, folks, I'll have them in just a moment," and smile. As a publicist it's worse: as a smart publicist, I will refrain from including an example here ; ) But in my little blog world, I get to pretty much say what I think, and I actually get to have an opinion.

But more specifically, I missed this kind of personal writing. I wrote in my journal until my hand cramped up and felt unsatisfied because I still had much more to say. I wrote my parents a letter. I noticed my work emails growing longer, more conversant (and most likely annoying to my all-business colleagues). I felt as though all of these ideas kept popping up in my head and rattling around in my brain with nowhere to go. It felt claustrophobic...

So I'm glad to be back in the blog-o-sphere, prattling on about nothing to the ether as we bloggers do, mildly hoping that someone out there will read and identify with what I say, and hoping if said readers don't have something nice to say, they won't say anything at all.

It's good to be back.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

vow of silence Sunday: charity rocks!

I'm breaking my vow of silence. The LUPEC party at Toro rocked!!!

Thanks to all of you who came out and got shit-faced tonight. All your drinking money went straight to charity, the Friends' Boutique at Dana-Farber to be specific.

We raised at least $800 in raffle tix and $1,ooo in drinks. I'll keep you posted on the final number, but we're thinking it was probably something like 3K total-- for a charity event held from 9 p.m. - midnight on a sleepy Sunday in March, that ain't half bad!


Monday, March 24, 2008

vow of silence: Monday

Blogging every day has been a struggle for me as of late, as I have lots of writing projects cooking and lots of irons in the fire. In light of this, I'm taking a vow of silence for the next few days, starting...NOW

(I thank you in advance for your patience...)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

taxi driver...

...mine just managed to keep me in the cab and give him lots of publishing advice for 35 minutes.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hillary haters...

I just found out today that my mom is one of those Hillary haters. I have heard of those women out there, who hate Hillary Clinton, who won't vote for her at all, who would rather vote for a Republican than for her. I didn't realize that I actually knew any of these women personally, though. And I never would have guessed that I am actually related to one of them.

I am shocked and appalled. At one point during our talk, she even said the words "I just don't know what I'll do if she's our candidate..." then trailed off the sentence suggestively, as though some deep disgruntled part of her would actually consider voting for a Republican instead of Clinton, something that no one in her working class Irish-Swedish immigrant & staunchly DEMOCRATIC family has EVER done.


My mother was equally confused by the fact that I'm not an Obama-girl. "It's not that I'm anti-Obama," I explained, "How could you be? He rocks. And either way we're making history. I just really want a woman in the White House."

My own mother looked at me as though I had two heads.

Then we made Manhattans and changed the subject.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Enough already

The Mathematician has been away on business in Israel for the past eight days.

When he first left I knew I'd miss him but I thought it might be kind of nice to be on my own for such a time. I envisioned long evenings of relaxation, soul searching, and spending time re-acquainting myself with me. I thought I'd be journaling, working on various writing projects, and generally re-setting at home by my lonesome until he returned from the Middle East.

Instead, I have spent almost every evening since he left out with friends, drinking.

Last Saturday was a ridiculous, accidentally drunken affair of which I am still embarrassed which shall not be named here on the INternet. Co-horts, I love you, you know who you are. What a night!

Sunday was spent physically ill and recovering.

Monday I had a (drinking) client meeting with one of the aforementioned co-horts from Saturday, followed by a LUPEC caucus at Toro. I left on the sober side of drunk...but still not sober.

Tuesday had a meeting with Misty re: our new cocktail book project (over a bottle of wine), followed by dinner with Shanna (& a bottle of wine.)

Wednesday I worked at Toro and passed on my shift drink, thank you very much.

Thursday I had dinner with Oscar -- we've never actually hung out together outside of work/yoga. Why not try Thursday? The wait for a table was long at Eastern Standard...a Pegu Club, 3 glasses of Gamay, and a glass of Sauternes later, how do you think I felt?

And this evening, Friday, was spent sipping several glasses of wine with my best girlfriend, first Chez Lui, then at No. 9 Park. We had champagne, Ornellia, Bourgogne, and winded down with the gift of a delicious glass of dessert wine, reminiscent of Thursday's Sauternes.

My week has been busy and productive, and in all very very drunk, begging the question:

Am I officially a lush?

I've still managed to do yoga every day with a 90 minute hot yoga class twice this week. Still, I'm certain I'm retaining water, feeling very fat at the moment, and generally I don't think my liver can handle much more of this.

The Mathematician needs to come home soon...if for no other reason than to save me from my fabulous, social self.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

blonde wisdom: texas guinan

I like noise, rhinestone heels, customers, plenty of attention, and red velvet bathing suits. I smoke like a 5-alarm fire. I eat an aspirin every night before I go to bed. I call every man I don't know "Fred" and they love it. I have six uncles. I sleep on my right side. I like carrots. I eat a dozen oranges every day and I once took off 35 lbs in two weeks. I guess that settles my personality. . . .

- Taxas Guinan, Dallas Morning News * * 6 November 1933 - just a month before her death

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I am sitting at one of the long communal tables at Toro, polishing silverware and staring deeply into space.

Things have been stressful for me at work and personally lately. It makes me look forward to nights when I work as a waitress at Toro. When you work as a waitress almost every question has a fairly simple answer, most business functions happen obviously, in patterns and without explanation, and when you are done for the night, you are officially done: wipe the espresso machine down, punch out, pour a glass of wine for your shift drink and relax (only once the night is officially over, of course.)

Now, in this lull before we officially open for service, is the only chance I'll have for the next eight hours to obsess about everything else that's bumming me out in my life. So that is what I do, wiping forks, knives, and four different sizes of spoons one by one with a damp rag.

Eventually it dawns on me that I have been sitting alone, wiping silverware silently for far longer that I should be, given the amount of front of the house staff house we have on tonight. Usually set-up time is a stream of endless chatter, joking, and catching up. Where is everybody? I think.

I turn around to look over my shoulder and have my answer. The entire front of the house staff is sitting together at a different table: my fellow waiters Juan & Luis, back waiters Monica, Liliana, & Bibbiana. They are all from Colombia -- I am the only American on the floor tonight. They chat away, engrossed in several different conversations, interrupting each other talking over each other, teasing, joking, and catching up. All of this is happening in Spanish...which means that, but for my broken several phrases of restaurant Spanish, I am completely excluded.

"Hey you guys, wait a minute!" I say.

"Yes, Mona?" Luis stops talking to Juan.

"What's the matter? What's wrong?" says Juan.

"I'm lonely." I say.

"Well, what are you doing over there? Come sit here and talk to us!" Luis says. Before the sentence is out of his mouth I have completely relocated my silverware polishing operation and am dropping into an empty chair beside Juan.

"Hola," I say.

And for the next 5 -10 minutes before our staff briefing meeting, I just sit there and listen to a musical language that is not at all my own, no longer excluded but far from comprehension.

It's nice.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

highlights tomorrow...

I'm getting my roots done tomorrow & I suspect it will be the highlight of my week. I always feel better after getting lightened. It lightens my spirits, from the roots of my hair down.

It's not just the roots that Jason deals with, though. He makes all of my hair look better, updated. He does something to the already blonde parts to remove the brassiness that somehow creeps in between lightenings. He conditions it to make the rough, split end parts soft & touchable & feel less like hay. He makes everything better, from roots, to ends, to soul.

I will never again underestimate the importance of good hair, for me, anyway. If this project has taught me nothing else it's taught me that when my hair looks good, the rest of me feels good, whether it's platinum, dark brown, or my natural hue somewhere in between.

Photos to follow...should we go lighter again?

Monday, March 17, 2008


It's old news by now, but this article in Saturday's Globe got me so riled up. I've just one thing to say to Liesl Trimnell and her South End mommy-brigade cohorts:

We waitstaff MIND when you leave Cheerios under the table. We DO MIND, no matter how polite we may be, no matter how plastered on our happy faces are. It's annoying. It's messy. It's presumptuous. We just can't SAY anything about it because we're in the service industry and, well, that would be rude.

Also, I empathize with you. I want to have babies some day and I don't want to move to the suburbs. And I believe in karma. I believe that every time I am a bitch to a struggling, frazzled mother, the chances that I will wind up with a gaggle of colicky demon babies with ADHD and psychological problems increase. So I will always be nice to you. But please, PLEASE show some humility when your child decimates a dining room.

Thank you, The Management.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

angry comments

Wow, yesterday's post sure elicited a lot of angry comments. One from "Anonymous" posted on Universal Hub accuses me of being misandric. I had to look that word up. It means hatred of men.

To be clear, I don't hate men. I just hate being catcalled. But I do find it fascinating how sensitive guys can be! I write one tiny little blog about sexual harassment and men everywhere get all hot and bothered. Sheesh.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

my armor

Last Sunday I was rushing to Toro for work, late. I was dressed totally incorrectly for the weather. It was glaringly sunny out so I'd assumed I'd be fine if I wore my short down jacket, hat, scarf and gloves for the fifteen minute walk from upper to lower South End. I was mistaken; the wind was icy & whipping with a surprising vengeance and after just half a block my eyes were tearing from the gusts and I was really, really cold. I felt lost without my puffy coat armor, with its cocoon-like length and its encompassing hood.

I turned left at West Dedham, rushing passing the post office and Villa Victoria, slaloming past a woman with a baby carriage and an old Asian man hobbling down the street in blue sweat pants. There were two young guys talking at the end of the street, and I felt them staring at me as I approached. I ducked my head down and tried to become invisible as I passed. For a minute I thought it worked! Neither of them said anything as I scurried past...

Then, once I was about ten feet away they started hollering: "Hey, snow bunny, where you goin'? It's gonna be alright! Damn, girl, you look good...." their voices faded into a gust of wind as I turned left to rush down Shawmut.

And there it was, that old familiar feeling: shame, embarrassment, one part anger, one part fear, seeping into my belly and up through my chest like terrible ink spilled on gleaming pale carpet. 100% usurping of my power. I realized as I walked: my puffy coat is more than just an armor against bad weather. It's an armor against catcalls. With its broad shapeless mid-section and its massive tent-like hood, my puffy has protected me from this feeling all winter long.

And underneath my puffy, my heart has grown soft. Spared from these comments all these months, I've let my skin get thinner, let myself become more open to this kind of verbal onslaught. A tiny little comment that should have rolled off like droplets of water slithering down a duck's feathers left me shocked, irked, vulnerable, and embarrassed. It really, truly made me feel like shit. As opposed to how I usually react to catcalling, when it makes me feel just a little bit like shit.

I cursed my decision to fore go the puffy coat.

Friday, March 14, 2008

blonde wisdom: Meryl Streep

I didn't have any confidence in my beauty when I was young. I felt like a character actress, and I still do.

- Meryl Streep

I think the most liberating thing I did early on was to free myself from any concern with my looks as they pertained to my work.
- Meryl Streep

Instant gratification is not soon enough.
- Meryl Streep

Thursday, March 13, 2008

what your waitress is really thinking

How the conversation happened:

ANNOYING GUY AT TABLE 30: EXCUSE ME!!! Can we have more bread????
ME: Sure.
ANNOYING GUY: I'm sorry we keep bugging you and I know you're not even our waitress. It's just that, well, you're always here!
ME: No worries!
ANNOYING GUY: You don't hate me, do you?
ME: No.
ANNOYING GUY: Good, because if you did, it would break my heart!

How the conversation happened in my head:

ANNOYING GUY AT TABLE 30: EXCUSE ME!!! Can we have more bread?
ME: No. Aren't you concerned about your carb intake? This is your fourth basket. I'm shutting you off.
ANNOYING GUY: I'm sorry we keep bugging you and I know you're not even our waitress. It's just that, well, you're always here!
ME: Yes. That's because serving bread to nerds like you is what I was born to do.
ANNOYING GUY AT TABLE 30: You don't hate me, do you?
ME: Yes. Unreservedly. I hate even the very sight of you. I can't explain why, but I do.
I cast him a withering look and all you can hear is the sound of his pathetic little heart breaking into tiny little bits. It sounds like hundreds of pennies cascading from a broken piggy bank, scattering all over the floor.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thick skin II

"Hey Kitty, come here! I want to show you something..." Luis, my Colombian co-worker says. I can see out of the corner of my eye that a table just sat down in my section. I have a minute or two to chat.

"What, Luis? What?!" I say excitedly. We are standing by the bread table at Toro.

Luis rolls up his sleeve very quickly to reveal his new tattoo: a tiger's face, freshly etched into his arm, the tendrils of its mane reaching out to merge with a pre-existing tattoo that wraps around his huge bicep. It's awesome, but looks a little...peaked.

"Wow! Did it hurt? I just saw you last week -- did you have that last week when I saw you? When did you get that done???" Luis works 6 days a week, day and night -- when did he find time to get a tattoo?

"I got it done last Sunday night," he tells me. "No, it didn't hurt. But it hurts now. When someone pats me on the arm. Or when my clothes rub against the skin. When I got it done? No, it was nothing."

If you look very closely, you can see tiny flecks of skin peeling around the tiger's whiskers. "Oh, yeah, I see. It is new," I say. "Very nice."

"But the guys at the tattoo parlor said it was very weird," he tells me. "They had to basically go through and do the tattoo twice! The first time they did, there was no color. It was like getting a tattoo that was invisible."

"Huh? Really?" I ask.

"Yes, they said that my skin is very strange, and that the ink didn't come up through it like it usually does with tattoos," he tells me. Luis' English is near perfect but so heavily accented, it sounds musical. Words like 'very' turn into three syllable cadences with long, elegantly trilled r's. "They said it should look more brighter in a month, that I should come back again if it doesn't and they'll fix it."

"Really?" I ask. "That's so weird."

"Yes," he says. "They say my skin, it is very tough."

"Tough, huh?" I say. "Like thick? You have thick skin! Wait a minute, Luis, are you telling me that you have special, especially thick skin?"

"Yes," he says. "Very thick."

"Do you know that phrase....?" I ask, then trail off when I see my table looking around for their waitress. Back to work. I will have to explain the grand irony of this all to him later.

Later tonight, during a precious, quiet moment, I think about Luis and his thick skin. There are so personal attributes that make it make sense: his tireless work ethic; his enduring attitude; his boundless energy for completing the task at hand, whatever it may be, with excellence.

I often puzzle over Luis -- What makes him tick? I wonder. How is he so good at everything he does? How is it possible that he works six days a week, fourteen hours a day and never complains? Not about his tables or his home life or that he's tired. Nothing.

Maybe that's his secret: impenetrably thick skin.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

thick skin

This is a term that people apply to my chosen professional industries often. "To be a writer/publicist/waitress, you really need to have a thick skin."

What I want to know is: what type of industry does not include a "thick skin" as a job requirement? Are there positions out there that would simply require having a thin skin? Or perhaps even a medium skin?

And where can I apply for one of those jobs?

Monday, March 10, 2008

radiant beauty

Misty and I are talking shop over plate of sliced meats at the Butcher Shop.

She has just an hour to kill before she heads next door to attend the cocktail demonstration David Wondrich and John Gertsen are giving next door at Stir. We've worked our way thru glass #1.5 of wine and are debating whether there's time to order any percentage more when our friend K., Misty's date for the evening walks in...

...and right past us to say hello to David and John as they chat over a plate of offal at a table a few feet away.

"Hmm...?" Misty says. "Guess he didn't see us."
"Guess not," I shrug. The Butcher Shop is small and he'll see us eventually; we return to our gossip and jamon.

When K. finally comes over to say hello, he apologizes wholeheartedly: "Ladies, I didn't see you when I walked in! It's just that John is glowing so radiantly this evening! His radiant light was the only thing I saw when I walked in the door!" We turn to John, who is deeply engrossed in his conversation with Mr. Wondrich. "Perhaps it's his vest?" K. offers.

We chat for a moment before K. excuses himself: "These gentleman bought me this glass of wine, ladies, so I suppose I should go and join them. Regrettably; John may be glowing exceptionally this evening, but you ladies are of greater substance."

We giggle as he walks away, and I can't help but wonder: when was the last time a man listed my substantial nature as the most compelling reason to stay and chat? Usually it's, "You girls look lovely this evening, as ever" or "I hate to leave such pretty ladies, but I must go join these fellows", regardless of how lovely or unlovely I may actually look on a given day. Having substance listed as the reason a friend regrets to leave my table? Well, it took me a little by surprise.

But I found it rather refreshing.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I only have on thought I want to share tonight...

I hate Restaurant Week.

I curse the inventors.

I cast aspersions upon the people who make it popular.

And whomever determined that it should last for two weeks, two times a year? I think you may be dead to me.

That is all I have to say this Sunday.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

it's still there...

The pink spot.

I washed my hair this morning, and took extra special care to dry it the long way, with a blow drier and a round brush, instead of using my potentially tainted curling iron. I thought at first that it was gone, but now, when I look very, very closely at my hair, I can see the faintest hint of pinkiness about two inches down from my roots.

"Do you see that?" I asked the Mathematician just a few minutes ago, shoving a chunk of hair in his face.
"What? What am I looking at?"
"Right there. Does my hair look pink?" I asked.
"Look closer. See, right there. Does it look pink to you?"
"No. Not even the slightest little bit," he replied, turning back to his email, totally unphased.

The ennui the Mathematician exhibited at being asked such a question can only mean one thing: I have truly gone off the deep end as far as my hair is concerned, and have been that crazy for a long time. Long enough, at least, for the Mathematician to be comfortable with my absurd non-sequitors.

Someone, help.

Friday, March 07, 2008

the pink spot

While curling my hair today I noticed what appears to be a faint swath of pink the stretches in a two-inch band across my hair.

Can you see it? Probably not, as this crappy, low-res image was taken with my camera phone.

I'm not sure if this "pink patch" is being impressed upon my hair by my curling iron (which has this weird pink blotch on it, a spritz of hairspray gone terribly awry), or if it's the natural hue of my horribly over-processed hair peeking out from beneath layers of corrective color.

When Jason made me blonde again eight months ago, there was this very precarious period between process 1 and process 2 where my hair was three different colors: albino white at the roots, orange-y blonde at the bottom, with a two inch swath stretching around the crown of my head that was salmon pink. Literally the color of a nice piece of wild Alaskan salmon.

Jason then processed the hair one more time, restoring the overall hue to a nice, normal looking ash blonde. I walked out of the salon and only people who witnessed the pink phase were any wiser. But I've wondered about that pink spot ever since. How did it get there? Why exactly did it appear? What did Jason do to make it go away?

And now, has it somehow been resurrected?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

blonde wisdom: Marlene Dietrich II

I am at heart a gentleman.

- Marlene Dietrich

I'm worth more dead than alive. Don't cry for me after I'm gone; cry for me now.
- Marlene Dietrich

I am not a myth.
- Marlene Dietrich

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

dear feminism...

...the patriarchy wants its pawns back. Here is an example of one of the most disappointing & problematic pieces of journalism I've read in a long time.

What a lovely treat for us all to enjoy on day five of Women's History Month.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

our waitress hates us II

Tonight I was the waitress who hated all of my tables. *SIGH* It happens so easily when one works too much...

One lame comment from a table like "This wine tastes...I don't know...flat" or "Do you serve green paella?" and I felt ready to blow. One can only be surrounded by so much idiocy in one day, I kept thinking to myself. Yet every time someone said something inane to me, I put on my happy face and kept smiling.

I continue to be amazed at how easily and effortlessly that happy face slips into place, no matter what my mood, no matter how bad the news I've just received. Like a record (ha! remember records?) finding it's groove.

Or am I? Is this actually a the most apt of titles for my perpetual state of being? Once a waitress, am I always a waitress?

Monday, March 03, 2008

March is Women's History Month!

I'm posting here today!

According to the official rules set forth by Blog 365, this is allowed.

In the meantime, enjoy a Golden Girl cocktail, in honor of historic blondes everywhere...and one of the best television shows of all time!

Golden Girl Cocktail

1 3/4 oz gin
3/4 oz sherry
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain. Serve in a cocktail glass. Enjoy with a piece of cheesecake, like Dorothy, Blanche, Rose & Sofia.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

pretentious: another toro story

Table 46 is pretentious. He's handsome and at first I thought he might be fabulous and gay, from the neighborhood. He's not. He's European.

He keeps saying things to me in Italian like "Bravissimo!" and "Perfetto!" and rolling the r's in the words as he orders ostentatiously. As Toro is a Spanish restaurant, I therefore assume that he must have some native connection to Italy. Why else would he insist on speaking to me in the wrong language?

"Oh, are you Italian?" I ask enthusiastically, since I love Italy.

"No," he says flatly, turning back to his guest. Ah, I see. He is a citizen of the world.

The European than makes a big show out of how he needs to spend some time with the wine list before he can choose. "I had a fabulous wine last time I was here, I just don't remember what it is. I need to take some time to find it." When he waves me over to the table a few minutes later, his finger slides down the list to land beside a $31 bottle of Tempranillo from Rioja, the most well-known Spanish region and therefore, in my mind, an obvious and pedestrian place from which to order. I'm all for drinking affordable wine, especially at Toro, where $30 goes a long way. But I am a bit disappointed by his pomp.

I approach the table with the bottle and pretend to be staring off in space while I listen to the European talk at his guest as he picks at his boquerones:

"They are supposed to be made with more vinegar, and they are supposed to be served hot."

I pour a taste of wine, and he nods. To his guest he says:

"It's not the one I had last time, but it's okay, it will do."

As I pour for his friend, he goes on, about his pimientos del padron: "These are supposed to be hot, and should have more salt."

"Oh really?" I interrupt. "Where are your boquerones SUPPOSED to be like that? Where are your pimientos SUPPOSED to be like that? In Pretentious Asshole Land, where you come from?"

No, no, no, I didn't actually say that. But I laugh out loud to myself imagining it as I scrape cheese and corn cobs off a dirty plate into the kitchen trash. The dishwasher gives me a funny look.

I ignore the European for the rest of the night, and delight in the fact that this guest will never be completely pleased here or I imagine anywhere else. It means I can cut my loses and stop trying.

In the end, the European tips me well and leaves happy. "Ah, mediocrity," I imagine him saying to his friend. "When one is surrounded by it all the time, one must make their peace with it."

Saturday, March 01, 2008

toro blondes

I worked tonight at Toro. We were super busy. The place was packed, four deep at the bar from 8 p.m. to 11. Only at the end of the night did I have time to look up and survey the scene around me. When I finally did, I realized: the place was packed with beautiful women, a reasonable percentage of which were light, almost platinum blondes. Three in particular caught my eye, all levels 10 at least, with very minimal highlighting. All of whom struck me as artificial, contrived.

"Wow," I said to my colleague Sarah. "Those women are so blonde." I thought back to a time when I just filled in at Toro, two summers ago in 2006 when I picked up shifts to help out my friend, the general manager. I counted the blondes then, tallying their color, viewing the light blondes with a competitive eye. I thought about the women in the restaurant now, about the sheer volume of processing that goes into an entire head of 12-14-inch hair that looks like that. It cost her thousands of dollars to look that way, I thought. And still, those roots.

"I'm not that blonde, am I?" I asked Sarah.

"No, no you're not," Sarah said. Then she looked like she felt bad, as though she was afraid she's hurt my feelings. Apologetically she offered, "You could be that blonde, with some highlights. Next time you go in, just ask for more highlights."

"No, it's cool," I said. "I don't want to be that blonde anymore. I used to be that blonde and I loved it. But not anymore. That's not who I want to be."