THE PERSON who cuts my hair is adept, unpretentious, and inexpensive. And quick: Five minutes, and I’m out of there. The one problem is that when she wields the blow dryer, suddenly my hair becomes smooth and tidy and terribly, terribly old-looking.
I pay, I leave, and as soon as I am around the corner I start scrunching and fluffing. Once home, I re-wash, put on a little gel, and feel like myself again. (A stylist at a photo shoot once told me that I would look more “modern”—the ultimate content-free buzzword of the twenty-first century!—with a product for thin, curly, floppy hair: Bumble + Bumble Curl Conscious Defining Creme. Not that I want to become a shill for the beauty industry, but this stuff does give my hair some needed angularity and heft.)
Readers of a certain age will remember the Breck Girl shampoo ads that featured illustrations of perfectly done hair and symbolized everything precious, cautious, feminine, and “nice” that we ’60s rebels rejected. Of course, in those days I rarely got haircuts at all, until my Jane Fonda Klute ’do, circa 1972. I guess to resemble a high-priced call girl was okay. Anyway, Jane was one of those cultural icons whose personal zigs and zags seemed to epitomize a whole generation’s journey. (Is she still? Hmmm. She looked fine at the Golden Globes despite a slight wardrobe malfunction.)
Older women with long hair, I think, can get away with a neater, more refined coiffure and still look human. But for those of us with short cuts, the treacherous Beauty Parlor Helmet or Bad Wig Worn by Alien can colonize our heads without warning.
My advice is to mess it up. Slightly unruly curls or defiant spikes, asymmetrical or geometric cuts, and offhand updos help to keep our hair as untamed and impudent as we are.