I don’t know what I was thinking, but then again, that’s a fairly common occurrence in my forty fifth year on the planet. I suppose I was thinking that it would all go smoothly—that I wouldn’t run into anyone I know—that I could make it back in fifteen minutes. Wrong, wrong, wrong…on all three counts.

       It didn’t go smoothly at all, I ran into two people who knew me, and it took thirty five minutes to get back into the chair at the salon where I was having my hair done. Having one’s “hair done” means so many things these days. Not too long ago, it entailed a wash, a trim, and a boofing up. Now, the “menu” is extensive and the prices are expensive. Hair is serious business and if you don’t know exactly what you want, they’ll happily serve you extra “portions.” Last month, my hip, young Moroccan stylist (I’ve left the Kuwaiti guy for her) suggested I get a few highlights to “brighten” my dark, one-dimensional drab crown. I assumed she would use a medium brown, but one should never assume. I would say it was more of a burnt orange, autumn, fiery, Ragu red. Maybe I am bonding with the blonde women after all!  

        When I plunked myself into Najiba’s chair that day, I was very clear about what I wanted to order from the menu. A touch up for the gray roots. (Oh, don’t we all?) A good cut for the summer heat. The removal of the perpetual flame atop my head. No highlights, thank you, very much. Under protest, she acquiesced.

        As usual, the salon was bustling and appointments were running late. Frank was at work, Paris was in Panama for a two week missions trip, Jordan was at tennis lessons and Capri was at basketball day camp. By 2:00, I finally got invited to put a robe on. I needed to pick up Jordan by 3:00 sharp and was beginning to feel that clock angst that only a mother can fully understand. The color was applied to my stubborn roots and the rest of my hair was pulled straight up a la Phyllis Diller. I was sent to the hide‘n retreat magazine section of the salon. It began to drizzle and Jordan called my cell phone. The poor kid was waiting under a tree and informed me lightening had struck. I kicked into Mega Mother Mode and informed Najiba that I had to leave immediately and that I would be back in fifteen minutes. Under protest, she acquiesced.

        I noticed the looks on some women’s faces as I collected my car keys and cell phone. The receptionist smiled politely as I reached over her counter to whisper “I’ll be back.” As I sprinted into the rain, I glanced into the shop window to catch a few more looks of disbelief or pity or both. It was a sunny turned rainy Wednesday July afternoon in beautiful downtown Reston. As I crossed the street toward the parking garage, I heard my name. After three consecutive “ELLIE !”s, I turned around to meet a woman who had recently heard me speak at a luncheon. We ducked under a store awning. She acted as if I looked normal and didn’t mention my hair so I did.

Continued at “A Bad Hair Day – Part II