perm experiment

About two months ago, I got a perm. I know, I know. It’s a perm. But even still, I did. I was an experiment, of sorts. I sat as a hair model for a fellow barista who is in hair school. I reluctantly agreed, assuming I would be the only person without gray or white hair there. If nothing else, I thought, I can blog about it. 

Perms have always intrigued me, perhaps because I am a child of the 80s, when perms were all the rage. When I was a kid, there were these boys my age who got perms periodically and their hair was so blonde and curly and perfect. And my little niece also has blonde and perfectly curly hair. I guess I thought mine would look like that. I didn’t think, clearly.

The day I got the perm, my hairstylist, (er, hair student) asked lots of questions, but there weren’t many people whom she could ask. Everyone else it seemed was a student like her. Where were the adults? I wanted to know. We were in chairs, leaving our hair in the hands of amateurs like complete morons. Before she started, an instructor stopped by and said because my hair is blond(ish), she should coat it in some goo before we start. So she did. And that was her instructions.

It came out not in those perfect curls I had envisioned. It came out wiry and crazy and full. Not even curly, really, just frizzy, mostly. I asked my hair student what I should do to style and manage it. She shrugged. Shrugged! So I left the hair school, my hair still wet, looking more like Nick Nolte (remember that mugshot?) than like AnnaLynne McCord.

And then I went about my life, straightening my hair like usual. But my hair wasn’t the same. Even straight – it was wiry and frizzy and damaged. Oh, so damaged. So last Wednesday, I went to see my hair guy for my usual cut and highlight. The second he saw me he surveyed my hair silently. So I quickly apologized. “I got a perm. At a hair school,” I said the words with disgust. He nodded. He knew. He knew I had done something so stupid.

“Cut it off,” I said. “As much as you want.”
“Oh I will,” he said. “But not all of it. I don’t want your husband to come looking for me.”
So he cut it off.
When I left, I took one look at the floor – at that damaged, dull, frizzy hair I had left behind and I smiled that smile you get when you shed bad decisions.

I really didn’t think my hair was that much shorter than my usual cut (because it’s not), but when I got home, Steve thought I had done something drastic. “It looks good,” he said. “You look sophisticated.” I was so happy he didn’t say “mature” that I could have hugged him. So I did.

Everyone knows that quote by Coco Chanel: “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” She’s right. And there should be another one too: “A woman who perms her hair is about to damage her life.” Or a variation of that You’ve Got Mail quote: “…a perm that will turn out to be a mistake – as almost all perms are.” Because trust me, ladies. It’s a mistake. Don’t do it.

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