Search "Hair Color, Cheap Drugstore Brand, Mistake" [ 2004-09-12, 12:36 p.m. ]

I walked into the kitchen and dropped a Rite-Aid bag on the counter. Kent poked his nose into it, probably looking for Milk Duds or a copy of Maxim or some such shit. Instead, he pulled out a small pink box.

“Oh. Hey…uh, thanks for taking one for the team.”

Because yes, YES, that pink box bore the name “L’Oreal.” I bought hair color. To apply myself, at the cost of $10.99 plus tax, which is a savings of approximately $139.01, were I to continue seeing my uber-fab, uber-skilled, uber-UBER hairdresser, Jason. Colorist, I should say, because Jason only does color. I have another uber-UBER for cuts. He and I have not broken up yet, thankfully.

While Kent and I are not poor, per se, we are lacking that steady income thing while he goes to school. Yes, the loan checks are big enough to allow me many, many highlights and lowlights, and yes, we have savings, but it would be really, really irresponsible of us to squander the cash on foolish things like hair care and wine. Or so we keep telling each other.

Anyway, I decided that I could simply color my own hair, despite the fact that it is a NEAR-MEDICAL necessity that I keep my hair colored (Damn you, recessive premature-graying gene). I long ago gave up highlights and multiple-processes in favor of the more affordable single-process, serving only to cover the gray and make me feel like a princess. But now I was facing the pink box, which was instructing me to do things like “Put on enclosed gloves” and “Squeeze Tube A into Tube B.” Take one for the team indeed.

(It is worth noting two things at this point. One, I already get frequent search engine hits for phrases like, “hair color, shag, mistakes,” and “new hair color, Carrie Bradshaw, cut,” so I apologize to all you Googlers who are looking for pictures or advice or celebrity gossip. Two, I have been going to Jason, my uber-UBER stylist for almost seven years. I met Kent five years ago. Just something to keep in mind.)

With just one major mishap (Oops, this isn’t the Pre-Conditioner! This is the Developer, which is supposed to be mixed with the Color, not slathered on ends! Gee, I hope I can fix it!), I stepped from the shower an hour later wondering if it was normal for so much of my hair to fall out when colored. I toweled it dry a bit and peered into the mirror. Hmmm. Though still wet, it looked as if the roots were a light golden brown (pretty!), and the ends a dark, inky brown (not pretty!). Hmmm. I scrunched in some product and hurriedly dried my hair (hurried, because we were meeting friends for dinner in an hour, at a proper Grown-Up restaurant – actually the same restaurant where just a few weeks ago, I fell on my ass. So of course my hair had to look decent – I’ll show you, Fancy Restaurant! I may have fallen last time, but LOOK AT MY HAIR! I did it myself!)

Once dried, my hair had a less noticeable two-tone effect, but the texture seemed strange. When Jason the uber-UBER does my hair, it dries silky smooth and smelling of lovely Aveda products. This time, however, I detected a certain rats-nest quality to the texture, and a chemical odor. Hmmm. We had 9:00 reservations, though, so I had no time to fiddle around. I put on makeup and tugged on jeans, slid on some cute shoes and grabbed a top while calling to Kent, who had parked himself in front of the TV, victim to the College Football Vortex of Saturdays in September. “Hey, Baby? BABY? Is my hair okay?” I yelled from the bedroom.

“Uh-huh, sure, just a minute,” he said.

“MY HAIR. Is MY HAIR okay? Does it look all rats-nest-y?” I yelled, louder this time. Kent turned and examined me. “It looks fine,” he said, then turned back to the television.

I fumbled for my cell phone and purse and flipped off the TV. Kent stood, then paused, looking closer at my hair. “What? WHAT?” I said.

He shook his head. “Nothing. It’s just…”

“WHAT???!!!” I said. Or screeched, perhaps.

“I’m not so sure that rats live in nests. Do they? Because if they do, that’s fucking sick,” he finished. I stared at him. “What?” he asked, “Can you imagine that? A whole NEST of RATS. That is nasty.”

We left for dinner and met our friends on Bedford Street twenty minutes later. I ordered a grapefruit martini, Kent a Manhattan – fitting as we stood at the feet of two towers of light, reaching high above us into the night. My friend S hugged me and sipped her own drink. “Your hair looks great!” she said. Kent raised an eyebrow at me over his glass.

This morning I sat on the couch, reading the paper. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a familiar black bag in the bedroom. From where I sat, I could just make out the “rneys w York” lettering. “Hey, sweetie?” I called to Kent.

“Yup?”

“Um, what’s that bag in there?” I nodded towards the bedroom.

“Which bag? Where?” came his response from the kitchen.

“You know which bag.”

Pause. “Oh. Oh….you mean that bag? Oh, I just needed some socks,” he explained.

“Socks? Just socks?” I asked my husband, who never met a Ferragamo loafer he didn’t contemplate.

“Just socks,” he told me.

“Because you’re taking one for the team, right?” I asked.

“Just socks,” he repeated.

I told him I might need to take one for the team at Sephora later this weekend.

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