Sunday, February 27, 2005

Saint in a Smock

It all started so innocently. Eighth grade if I remember correctly. Maybe seventh.

I was at my my friend Jennifer's house tanning by the pool on a hot summer day.
We had just gathered all of our tanning equipment from the linen closet.
Baby Oil, zinc oxide, colorful oversized beach towels, two pairs of her Mom's Foster Grants and a tiny transistor radio.
We clicked our metal and plastic tubing lounge chairs into tanning position and draped our enormous towels with upholsterer's precision over them. The radio was playing Hall and Oats when we turned it on. It was going to be an great day.

As we wiggled into the lounging positions we would assume for the rest of the afternoon, Jennifer remembered the most important pool side accessory of all.
She sprang from her lounger with the agility of Nadia and bounded for the house. What on earth could she have forgotten? We have most everything I can think of. Must be something good. I sipped my Tab and waited anxiously.

When she emerged from the screened-in porch I could make out a small, white, plastic bottle. As she got closer, I noticed the spray nozzle and bright orange letters.
They spelled out S-u-n-i-n. Sunin. What the heck was Sunin?

"Want some?"
She tossed the bottle to me and even with my oiled up paws I managed to pluck it out of mid-air.
"What is it?"
"It's Sun-In, silly... for your hair. You spray it on and the heat from the sun activates it and makes your hair totally blonder."

What? Wasn't I already blonde? My hair would naturally bleach out on family vacations to Hilton Head each summer and I always liked the beachy look it gave me.
I realized at that moment that my hair wasn't at it's full blondeness and vacation wasn't until the last week of July.
Hmmm, July. That's a long time from now.
Sure. What the heck? Why wouldn't I use Sun-In to give my mousy hair a head start this particular summer?

I read the directions. Cautiously, starting slowly, I sprayed just a little bit on top of my head.
I was going for a "lightly sun-kissed" effect according text I had just read.

It only took a the better part of an hour before I wanted more. Just a few more tiny sprays. Here and here.
And, well, maybe just a couple more, here and here to even it out.

By the end of the afternoon, Jennifer and I had used almost the whole bottle.

I loved my new slightly blonder hair. Who knew it was so easy to be blonder?
And who knew that blonder was so much better? Sunkissed rocked.
I liked how it made me feel sporty, yet mysterious, and a little naughty. My own little glamorous secret.

As the summer turned into fall, I was already thinking of how I would miss my new improved blonde locks.
I was already experiencing the first tiny itch of withdrawal.
So imagine my delight, on a routine lip-gloss-purchasing-trip to the local Revco drugstore
when I discovered a new version of Sun-In that worked it's magic from the heat of your BLOW DRYER!

"YESSSSSSS! Score!" I said to myself.
I put down the Kissing Potion multi-pack I was carrying and decided to put all my money down on two bottles of Sun-In.
I was so excited by my discovery, that I bought a celebratory pack of Eve 120's Menthol cigarettes at the check out.
(Yes, in Kentucky kids could buy cigarettes pretty much anywhere. No questions asked.)
As I cut though the cemetery, smoking my unusually long cigarette, I could feel the anticipation bubbling up in the pit of my stomach. My pace quickened. I didn't even have time to finish smoking.
I was at a full run by the time I cut down the alley to my house.

My need for blondeness was about to spiral out of control and I never suspected a thing.

I found myself spending all of my spare time either hanging out in the hair care aisle at Revco reading hair color boxes or locked in the bathroom at my folks house for hours blow drying my tresses on max heat.

Soon, even the hair dryer version of Sun In just wasn't doing enough for me anymore.

I bought my first box of Frost and Glow in the dark winter months of 1981.
It was a rush to try something new.
I mastered the hook and cap method on the first try.
I loved it. It was comforting yet exhilarating.
Before long I wasn't even using the cap.
Or the hook.
Or the instruction booklet.
I had come up with innovative ways to get the most bleach for my buck. This should have been my first warning sign.

Still in denial, I ignored the sign with complete bliss.

The level 3's were next. I started slowly. Permanents were nothing to mess around with.
This was grown woman hair color. Professional waitresses and bank tellers used this sort of product.
I was getting in deep and I knew it. There were a few girls in my freshman class that were using, but it was never talked about. We all shared knowing glances with one another, but the code of conduct would be to deny use of products of any kind if asked point blank. People were starting to comment on my ever changing hue swings. I was becoming one of those girls.

So, with the hope of not being too obvious, I chose my first box of L'Oreal Medium Natural Blonde.
It was the point of no return. I was fully aware that it was permanent color, but I had to try it.
And although I had not chosen an alarming color, I knew I had crossed the threshold.
Level 3's smelled different. There were tiny bottles to mix. It was a complex process.

I was soon a level 3 junkie, although it was not wholly apparent to those even closest to me.
6 weeks later I chose Not-So Natural Straight-Up Blonde.
6 weeks later it was Extra-Light-Summer-Kissed-Blonde.
Next came Screaming-Bleach-Bottle-Blonde.
And finally the infamous Who-Are-We-KIdding-I'm-Out-Of-Freaking-Control-Truck Stop-Ultimate-Blonde.
I was hitting the bleach bottle hard and everyone knew it.
I didn't care.
I would make jokes about it.
It wasn't against the law. Besides, who was I hurting?
No one.

I continued on this way for another couple of decades, with only brief experimentations of technicolor
Manic Panic shades in college and a very brief attempt at going cold turkey to my natural dishwater blonde at the beginning of my marriage.

It wasn't until just recently that I sought help from a professional.
It was way past time to hop off the never ending merry go round of touch ups, full head applications and deep conditioning treatments. I was finally at the end of my rope. I was sick and tired of the hair care aisle. I never thought it would get to this. I was feeling low and my hair looked really, really bad.

Basically, my situation had gotten bad enough that a caring co-worker and friend of mine took drastic measures.
One Friday, after the lunch crowd rush, he picked up the phone in front of me and dialed a friend of his. He said, with full honesty and a sense of urgency to the person on the other end of the line that my hair was "pretty jacked-up" and I needed an appointment with her the next morning. I didn't even get offended. I knew I had hit the rock hard bottom.

Now enter the woman who changed everything for me.
The Lady K.
Her real name is Stephanie Kingston but her devotees call her Lady K.
She works at a tiny unassuming hair salon called Head to Toe on Oleshi Drive near the Westport Target, here in Louisville.

She understands the plight of the hair color junkie and has helped many other women in my same position.
She never passes judgment and will even have lunch with you to talk about options.
She is a saint in a smock and has helped me get to a "better place".
She will even do consultations for the skiddish.

Sadly, her business is struggling. It seems that when the economy is slow, one of the first things people remove from their budgets is things they consider frivolous, like coifs and color. She is barely making ends meet. This is a shame.
This wonderful woman will see you day or night and even come in or her day off if needed. She is dedicated to the cause. I cannot recommend her with high enough regard. She should not be struggling. She changed my life and helped me put a 20 year addiction to rest.

So here is my request to you the reader. If you know of anyone who needs to "get off the merry go round", and lives in the Louisville metro area, please consider sharing my story of hope with them.
She did quite a wonderful thing for me and I would like to return the favor in some small way.
It is the least I can do.

And did I mention my hair looks fabulous?
Think it over. Pass it on and God bless the Lady K.


Blogger Lori-Lyn said...

Well, I'm sorry Lady K is having a hard time (and I certainly know how important it is to find the right hair person) but I love this story.

Monday, 28 February, 2005  
Blogger anessa said...

Thanks-- I was cracking myself up writing it...
I think maybe I got a little long winded .....someone like myself could use a little editing from time to time, eh? Thanks for the comment! I love getting comments.

Monday, 28 February, 2005  
Blogger Lori-Lyn said...

No-the longer winded the better! You are so funny, and I love "hearing" your voice. BTW, did you love the pug that you met? Was he so cool you couldn't believe it?

Tuesday, 01 March, 2005  

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