"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And now for something completely different.

I either dodged a bullet today or I was denied parole, I can't figure out which.

For the past year, I've been growing my hair out to donate. Pantene has a program, Beautiful Lengths, where you can donate your hair to be made into wigs for cancer patients. They only require an 8-inch ponytail, but it can't be more than 5% gray, and there are some restrictions about dyeing. My friend, Patty, told me about it after she came over one day with her long brown hair cut short.

I'm a natural redhead. Not auburn, or carrot-y red, more strawberry, but certainly red enough for every school photographer to say, "Gimme a big smile, Red." Every. School. Photographer. For years, I wore my hair very long, nearly to my waist. It is thick and wavy, in addition to being red, so it was the first thing anyone noticed. It seemed to me that I was "the little red-haired girl."

I'm now at an interesting age, between lifting an icy eyebrow at you when you ask how old I am and snarling, "Stop bugging me, I'm xx years old!" I've been wearing my hair around shoulder-length for a few years, and part of me says if I shortened my style, it would make my face look younger, in that "Extreme Makeover" kind of way. But part of me wants to keep the length and pretend I'm still the little redhaired girl.

So I decided to have one last hurrah with long hair and grow it out for charity. This way, I could justify the lengthy locks and say good-bye for a good cause. I made my decision last March, 2008.

Here's a few things I've learned so far:

1. Long hair is expensive and time-consuming. I go through a bottle of Mane 'N' Tail conditioner every other week. (Don't ask why I'm not using the Pantene products - I couldn't possibly afford it.)

2. Long hair on a woman of my age is not, um, flattering. Worn down, it accentuates the direction that gravity is taking every other part of my face. Worn up, I look like one of those stereotypical big-haired Southern gals when it's fluffy, and like an onion when it's flat.

3. Long hair is still long hair to men; they love it.

What is it about men and long hair? My husband adores my red-blonde waves, but it's not just him - or me. I even know a guy who didn't want his wife in their Christmas picture because she had cut her hair. There's got to be some psychology thesis examining the roots (pardon the pun) of the effect of long-haired females on the male libido. If anyone out there knows this answer, please share with the class.

I mention this because I went to Larry, my hairdresser, thinking that today would be the day for THE CUT. I am completely ready to give a ponytail to someone who needs it, and don't think I will ever wish for long hair again. Unfortunately, I had not told my husband to be prepared for a new wife when he got home. Fortunately, my hair still isn't quite long enough to give Pantene a decent ponytail. My hair got a reprieve, even if I didn't. Larry thinks it'll be ready by the first week of July.

That's, what, three more bottles of conditioner?


joe doaks-Author said...

I think this is a very sweet gesture. I also learned about hair! Since I have none...well, fringe, it's something I never had to deal much with. Just for what it's worth, admittedly, not much, I'm one of the apparently few, "Liker of Short Hair on Women." Go figure.

Best Regards, Galen

C. Margery Kempe said...

A friend of mine who's an artist did the same thing, although she *really* cut all of hers off down to a stubby length. I would be out of the running because 1) I doubt I could grow it long enough and 2) *far* too much grey. My mother went grey in high school, my younger brother in his twenties. I didn't start getting grey until my thirties, but now I have a lot.

Unknown said...

Gayle, I agree with you about the long hair. It can be pretty when long, but it does take a long time to make it look the way we want, and definitely can become expensive to maintain. I have a friend who is in her late forties, has naturally beautiful curly hair, but she attempts to straighten them every time, which only makes them look over dry, lifeless and synthetic. Right now her hair is down past her waist, and makes her look pretty bad. Constant dying and uneven color contributes to the awful look. Despite of everyone telling her that it would look more professional and definitely nicer,and healthier if she left her hair alone and naturally curled up or cut the length, but there is no hope. Her boyfriend loves it, and doesn't care if she is a walking fire hazard. In my house, she is not allowed near the kitchen, especially the stove. Then again...maybe that would be a great new experience....:)


Gayle Carline said...

Galen - you're a man after my hairdresser's heart. He's very straight (married, no signs of even being metrosexual), but said, "I'd rather see a good style on a woman than a lot of limp hair." Although, after he finished washing, trimming and drying my mane, he said, "Damn, I know why Dale likes it."

Gayle Carline said...

Karen and Kate - one of the really nice things about being a redhead is that your hair doesn't show the grey until it's truly just silver. My hairdresser assures me that my greys are minimal; since I can't see them, I'm taking his word for it!

BTW - I feel absolutely no pride in talking about my hair. I didn't do anything to "earn" it except be born into a family of redheads.

Gayle Carline said...

Aggie - too bad your friend won't at least try a new style. Maybe ease into shorter, curlier hair. I had a girlfriend with long, curly hair and it was gorgeous curly, but maybe your friend's curls are like my son's - gravity doesn't even work on his hair. It keeps growing out, like a big bushel basket.

Do keep her away from the stove, unless it's part of your plan to force her to have short hair!

Unknown said...

Thanks Gayle, I really think if a dramatic event as such would happen, she would at least realize she has options. Her hair really looks a lot nicer when left natural and curly. She did it once and honestly, shaved 20 years of her looks. So..perhaps I should have a BBQ with her being the cook...anything that can help me change her hair...( getting too many ideas here Gayle...help!)


Anonymous said...

Me I'm more for a good complimenting style than length above all else as most comely. Regardless of age. :)

AlanChinWriter said...

I admire the gesture. But I have to say that not all men find long hair more attractive, even on younger women.
I happen to think that bald women look particularly exotic. The are so striking I simply love to stare at them. But of course, I'm a gay man so all that feminine stuff is lost on me. I don't particularly like bald men though?

Elle Parker said...

I don't know what it is about men and long hair either, but mostly you are so right.

I had hair down my waist for a long time and it was fun for a while but got to be too much. I finally cut a bunch off and got it layered a bit - now I can play with it more.

It was fun to read about your experience.

Elle Parker

N A Sharpe said...

Very commendable act of donating your hair. I know your compassion and generosity will greatly benefit someone as they go through the cancer treatments. Major kudos.

NA Sharpe

Patricia Stoltey said...

I had to chuckle at the husband part of your post. I've been dealing with the "husband who prefers long hair" problem for more than 20 years. By the time I reached 60, I decided I was old enough to have all personal things exactly the way I want them. The hair stays short, and I love it.

It's a wonderful thing you're doing with your hair, my friend.


Karen Brees said...

You Go Girl!! What a wonderful thing to do. I admire you much.

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