I sat in the hairdresser’s chair, furtively eyeing the woman to my right. She looked a rather well-preserved fifty. Her lashes hung thickly and heavily over her close-set eyes. I imagined she had to strain to blink. It was too much lash for that much lid. Eyelash extensions? Latisse? What were people doing for eyelashes these days, anyway? Whichever the situation, her baby doll lashes were clearly out of place on her small face.
I noticed a rolling shelf beside her. Her stylist was painstakingly attaching blonde hair extensions to the back of her head.
Sad, I thought to myself. What is stopping her from aging gracefully? Why does she want to look like that? Doesn’t she know how fake that all looks?
I turned my attention back to my own mirror, my own stylist, and was fairly comforted by the fact that malodorous chemicals would be strangling my scalp in a matter of minutes.
I listened, as always, to inane salon chatter, the gross majority of which was my own, until I was brought to the dryers to ‘develop’. I grabbed this month’s edition of InStyle from a rack on the wall. It looked pretty hefty, and the cover was splashed with shades of fuchsia. That was obviously enough for me.
I opened the cover (which is something truly fantastic, isn’t it? The ability to still open a cover of a printed material?) and saw several permutations of a well-defined and perfectly made-up face courtesy of Lancôme. It’s all in how you do it, I convinced myself. I could probably do the same with my Clinique, no problem.
I thumbed enthusiastically further into the tome until I reached an ad for a Tiffany & Co. pendant. Hmm. Tiffany. I like it, I thought. I ran my finger over the pendant’s diamond filigree design, imagined it on my neck, imagined the pleasant blue presentation box in my palm. Yep. Like that, I decided.
The next page - Bam! Matching earrings. A little long for my taste. If someone were to give these to me, though…
Yves St. Laurent. Chanel. Bulgari. Guess. I quickly accepted the realization that were these items gifted to me, I’d snatch them up faster than a starving frog eyeing a fly.
I paused briefly on a two-page H & M spread and quickly concluded that I was neither a) young, b) tall, c) skinny, or d) pouty enough to pull off any of that mess.
Ten minutes passed whilst I pondered women lying on the ground clutching bottles of perfume, smiling for professional-looking photographer-slash-models, and sitting on plastic cubes, awkwardly displaying jewelry normally kept in tamper-safe vaults.
I fingered through two more pages. Louis Vuitton. I attempted to determine mathematically which child I’d have to put into hock in order to bring one of those home. The bag was a less-than-attractive turmeric, but the women holding them were so mesmerizing, one leaning her 6’8″ frame on a taxi. Plus, they were standing on the Brooklyn Bridge. New York chic.
Sandals. Sunglasses. Professional hair care products. More Lancôme. A full forty pages of ads before the actual text began.
And once the text began, I read about what and who people were wearing, their shades-du-jour, their spring highlights.
Alas, it was my turn to be rinsed, and as I leaned back considering the surreal view of steam, fingers, and exposed beams, I fully realized just how one becomes that woman. I realized how I had already enveloped the spirit of that woman, dutifully attending my 6-week appointment to be trimmed and colored.
“You look nice,” the stylist said. “Any plans for today?”
“Not really,” I answered. “Just shopping.”