back in 1998 i went to vidal sassoon on 5th avenue and signed up to be a hair model. this was a lot less glamorous than it sounds. it didn't involve strolling down any catwalks, but importantly, it did involve getting a free haircut. i was a little bit nervous, but tried to be buddhist about it--lose my attachment to material things. it's just hair, right? it turns out my hairstylist student failed her test. she was so nervous and unsure that she took 3 and a half hours to give me a bob. but i have to say, up to that point, it was the best haircut of my life. even though i had to call in late to work, i strutted out onto fifth avenue shaking my silken bob like it was my personal catwalk.
so if that was the haircut i got when the students failed, what could possibly go wrong? i came back in 1999 for more. i was 23 years old. i was feeling edgy. i said short. really short. i was thinking chunky. raw. punk rock. yeah! but the catwalk delusion was over. when shown the mirror i couldn't even gasp. this haircut was so awfully boxy and boring that i couldn't even get worked up over it.
again, i went straight to work, but instead of oohs and ahs, i got puzzled looks and hesitation. wow. you look.....very.....mature. said the nice people. the men at work, ever the more honest, flat out told me i looked old. in the space of two days, the number 'thirty-five' was mentioned more than five times. two different people told me i looked like a thirty-five year old lesbian.
this haircut seemed to really have a unifying effect over peoples' opinions, as though everyone had discussed the bad haircut of kitty joe before dropping comments. the lesbian part didn't bother me. maybe edgy lesbian would have been cute. but THIRTY-FIVE?! as in 35?! how could a haircut age me a decade and a half? i was horrified, and forced to take drastic measures. well, not pull out the clippers kind of drastic. but the haircut was never seen again, so buried under clips, barrettes and headbands it became. and so i became twelve years old. and for the next five months it took to grow out, i could be heard mumbling around the house, ".....thirty-five!?"
tomorrow.....i'm turning thirty five.
and all i can think about is that haircut. and how old, how ancient, how lifetimes away thirty five seemed. and yes, it was a lifetime ago. and sure, i suppose i do feel a lot older, even in the frightening ways i imagined back then. but some part of me--perhaps denial, perhaps protest--quietly notices, that i sure haven't made much progress toward growing up, striped socks and all. and maybe i'm kind of happy about that.