Decades ago, I played with a three-way mirror while my mother tried on dresses. It seemed magical to study my profile and the curly back of my head. While standing in my Mary Janes and appraising my rear view, I must have thought, “Good enough.”
I always thought the back of my head resembled this self-portrait painted in college.
Flash forward years and many hairstyles later:
While leaving the physical therapist last summer, the receptionist practically leapt over the counter and tackled me. “You have a hole in your head!” She shouted. Everyone in the waiting room looked up from their cell phones and magazines. They shook their heads in disgust.
“What do you mean?” I replied.
A wide-eyed nurse heard the shouting and rushed to my side. She said with alarm, “You can’t go out looking like that.” She took me by the arm and led me down the hall. I stared back, mouth agape. Now that we were alone, she whispered, “It’s your hair. Do you have a brush?” My cheeks grew warm and I shook my head. As I ran my fingers through what felt like a flat spot on the back of my head, she returned a doubtful look.
It was hopeless. I avoided eye contact as I left the building. A hat covered my uncoiffed catastrophe while running errands that day.
When I arrived home, I pulled out a dusty hand mirror to examine the offensive spot. “Oh, my God.” I said out loud to no one. The crown of my head had its own weather pattern. It resembled the eye of a hurricane or the vortex of a tornado. My “hairicane” spun out of control from one nasty cowlick. I brushed it, but it was as stubborn as the nap in a 1970’s shag carpet. It would only go one direction. I had to soak my head and style it. What a concept!
My mind raced to all the times I’ve run out without looking at the back of my head. Like all the time. I’ve prepared for tennis, social events, and shopping by applying makeup, but never bothered checking my rear view hairstyle. Reality sunk in. Oh no! I’m one of those people! You know, the ones who look fantastic from the front where their hair is all fluffed out and perfect and the back looks as if it was bashed in with a shovel.
I layer my hair products. Even in hurricane force winds, my hair won’t budge.
I’m the same way with jeans. When I asked my daughter and husband if they check their rear ends before buying, they both responded the same way. “My butt is the first place I look!” I’ve never thought about how my butt looks. I was told it’s as flat as a pancake, so I took their word for it. It must be genetic since my son inherited my flat butt and my attitude.
There are other reasons why I’m self-conscious while walking away. I am afflicted with bounceystepitis. There’s no way of changing that. I’ve tried. I resemble Tigger from Winnie the Pooh. Yep. I bounce.
Now, I check the back of my head with a mirror before stepping outside. I bought industrial-sized and strength cans of hair spray. I have an arsenal of styling products and gels. I have developed a nervous tick of patting the crown of my head to be sure no hair-storm tempests brew. There are a variety of hats in my car, just in case.
I’ll never care about what my butt looks like in a pair of jeans even though they sag like a low-riding teen-aged boy’s and I’ll always bounce as I walk away, but I never want to be accosted by a receptionist again. Now excuse me as reapply my hairspray helmet.
Do you style your hair?