Hair Humor

Hair Humor

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

Hair Humor

We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.

Carlos Castaneda

I’ve been burned, blonded, streaked, foiled, bobbed, stripped, layered, shaved, treated, ironed and turned into a brunette—all in the name of beauty. It’s been part of my journey on the U.S. military–wife hairstyle circuit, and one of the treats of being married to a serviceman. Every time we get PCS orders, panic strikes not only my heart, but my hair as well. You know when your husband walks in the door with “The Look” that soon you will not only be unpacking hundreds of mislabeled boxes in a new home, but you will also be on the adventure of looking for a new stylist. And, after five distinctly different haircuts and finding the stylist who finally suits you in the ninety-mile vicinity of your new home, your husband comes home with “The Look” again, and you know you’re soon off on another hair-raising adventure.

In the past eighteen years, my hairdressers, stylists and beautifiers have come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve had a chic English lady in a Tudor-style salon; a manic-depressive former hippie who is married with children; a cigar-smoking, gum-cracking beauty parlor owner who kept special punch going in a special bowl for special customers. They’ve made me laugh, cry, pout and pray.

I laughed out loud and almost ran screaming from the salon when the nice owner told me she had been to “beauty training” forty-nine years ago and was so happy that this state did not require a license to cut hair anymore, only to do permanent waves.

I cried the day I heard, “Oh, here, let me fix that. It’ll grow, you know. Things grow much faster in the South. And, by the way, honey, if you say you want short hair in the South, you’re gonna get short!”

I became increasingly annoyed from the pulsating pain and the words, “Hmmmm, I’m so very sorry I burnt your forehead. I’ve never done that before giving a perm. In all my years working in the beauty industry here at the mall, I’ve never seen a welt like that! Must be some chemical in your hair from that last place you lived. Maybe you better get on the Internet and check into that.”

I pouted for a week after they said, “Brown? Oh, I thought you said blonde. Well, don’t worry now because this is only semipermanent and it should wash out in about three months.”

But now, after all these years, I have decided to forget the crying, the weeklong irritability and the pouting. I have decided to use my time to get acquainted with these beauty folks and learn about their lives, really listen to them and encourage them in their life journeys.

The stories I have heard range from amusing to downright depressing. One woman regaled me with her husband’s tales of “hunting for deer in the woods.” Some of my stylists have been forgotten, mistreated or divorced. One didn’t know how he would pay for his health insurance. Several have never moved more than a block away from their family homes. Thanks to Uncle Sam and the U.S. Air Force, my life truly is an adventure to them—I’m remembered, insured, treated well, travel extensively and still very much in love with my husband!

Instead of expecting these beauty folks to wave a magic wand and make me beautiful for $19.99 plus the tip, I now wonder if I’ve been more than just an irritable customer, passing through town on a three-year tour. Have I been a friend? Have I been a good ambassador for our air force?

Instead of feeling sorry for myself when my husband comes home with “The Look,” I remind myself how quickly assignments pass, how quickly our lives pass through others’ lives, and how I have an opportunity to be kind, to laugh, to pray, to be a lady.

We’re all different, but we’re the same, too. We all have fears and foibles, faults and favorites. I can choose to enjoy this journey, to learn from my experiences and all the people God sprinkles into my life. Or I can be miserable. I have the opportunity in that sea foam swivel chair (wearing the lovely matching sea foam frilly cape) to learn and listen, laugh and encourage. My hair, my choice, my attitude.

Laura C. Fitch

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