We’ve all been there. It usually happens in our youth, but some of us are caught out in later years too. I’m talking about the thing that can turn a confident, “zero-f*cks” kind of woman into a blathering mess on the bathroom floor, after she’s tried every technique known to mankind and Vidal Sasson to rectify the situation. You know it: The Worst Haircut Of Your Life. If we’re lucky, we only have one disaster to regale our friends with but unfortunately for me, and fortunately for you, I have several.
In the 80s I fashioned myself on the fabulous Ms Turner. It was a natural match. So what if I was white, with legs that resembled sausages in (80s lycra) casings and lived in Palmerston North? I could dance just like her (and believe me I did) and I could hold a tune. All I had to do was get the hair right and I could start investigating some kind of lookalike career. Enter the peroxided tips coupled with a healthy backcombing session. I’m talking Elnet Hairspray till it was dangerous to light a match within a one mile radius, used with an afro comb. Being a natural brunette, and having only recently graduated from Sun-In and lemon juice to actual hairdressers, occasionally my hair would turn orange. But it was worth it. Which is ironic as the hairspray was a L’Oreal product.
I met my husband in London in the nineties. We went out a couple of times, it was pretty casual to start with. There is a moment in any long-term relationship when you know it’s true love. Mine was when he didn’t bat an eyelid after I went from“prett y average looking 26 year old woman” to “Jim Carey in Dumb & Dumber” in the space of an hour. I was working in a very cool fashion studio. Everyone was chic and wore all black, all the time. We’d produce “mood boards” which were chocka full of Supermodels. Linda was my favourite. “Carpe Diem!” I thought. “What’s the worst that can happen?” Well, let me tell you. When a hairdresser spends ten minutes trying to convince you that your idea for a haircut is a terrible one, you should listen. It was entirely my own fault. Add to this that fact that I had it done at lunchtime and had to return to the studio looking like Mr Carey’s slightly chubby little sister and you may get an idea for how the afternoon went. But later that week, Jake met me at a bar, took one look, said “new haircut?”, gave me a kiss and ordered me a drink. Game, set and match.
Wedding Nightmares Pt 1: The Queen
We got married twice: once in NZ and once in London. You’d think I’d have at least a 50:50 chance of a decent wedding hairdo, right? The first wedding was in NZ in a little town called Ohope, where my mother lived, which is one of the most beautiful parts of the world – but (in 2001 at least) – it was lacking in hairdressers. So I went to my Mum’s. Now, my mother had great hair and it was always done perfectly and she always looked fantastic. It’s just that an actual set on someone my age can sometimes look a little weird. My girlfriends came to see me that morning as I sat under the contraption that had been lowered onto my head, like a 1950’s housewife, and giggled uncontrollably. I left the salon and I swear that not one hair on my head would move. I tried everything to loosen this hairstyle up: brushing, shaking, taking a group fitness class (now that was a joke. I would never do that. At any time). Eventually I managed to get it looking less like The Queen and more like me. When I walked up to Jake he took one look at me, said “you smell great”, gave me a kiss and turned to the Justice of the Peace. Keeper, right there (which is lucky considering the situation).
Wedding Nightmares Pt 2: The No-Show
This was not going to happen again. So when we were back in London preparing for our 2nd wedding, my trusty Soho-based (I know that sounds like a contradiction in terms) hairdresser and I did a practice run. It looked good. I was happy. I trundled along to the salon on the Big Day only to be told that my hairdresser wasn’t in today. He’d had an argument with the manager and stormed out (well he was a creative genuis). So I got the hairdresser who was free that day. There was a reason he didn’t have any appointments. He effectively created a rugby ball on top of my head. Now, I know I’m from New Zealand and all that but really? Once again I headed back to the hotel and worked on this masterpiece for some time before I was remotely happy with the outcome.
Wedding Postcript: Luckily I was never the Bridezilla type and there was enough champagne at both events to render the whole thing hugely unimportant, as is usually the case with just the right amount of champagne.
A Happy Ending
I am happy to report that I now have a great hairdresser. I’ve been seeing Stacey for over ten years now and she’s got it right every time. I have never left her feeling less than “Just walked out of a salon”. Which is as it should be, seeing has how I have literally just walked out of a salon. She went travelling for a couple of years a while back and I morosely flitted around various other salons, never finding the right fit. It’s a gift, having a great hairdresser, and often a hard-fought one. Just like men, you have to kiss a few frogs. She’d better not leave town again. I’m serious. I’m actually considering marrying Jake a third time so I can get that wedding hairstyle just right.