I’ve never been that reliable with self-maintenance.
OK. That came out wrong. I mean, I do wash and brush my teeth and do stuff to maintain my health, but in terms of visual appearance, aside from dragging a brush through my hair from time to time, I have been known to toddle off to work without looking in a mirror.
To be clear, I don’t go to work in my pyjamas. I like clothes, I even like dressing up but occasionally it hits midday before I’m aware there’s sleep in my eye. Or I remember as I’m running out the door that I haven’t moisturised for days, so I blindly rub some into my face and I arrive at work to the words “Um, Kate…” and I realise I caught the bus with white stuff either side of my nostrils. (Look, that only ever happened the once.)
This is in my nature. I never took make-up much beyond its novelty factor, “Ooh, lipstick, don’t I look weird” and when it came to my hair, I’m a wash and wear kind of girl. I’ve never dyed it, or crimped it or frizzed or straightened or permed it, it just is. Whereas, my mum’s just isn’t – she’s the complete opposite. In my youth, she would spend a good hour or two preparing to go anywhere, her hair has been permed, styled and dyed for so long that its natural colour even defies her memory. She treats the hairdresser’s as though it’s a day spa and sets aside an entire morning for the luxury of having someone else wash, set and do her hair. She could fall asleep to the sound of scissors.
That’s not me.
With a sensitive scalp, Mum armed with a hairbrush was scary enough and because she couldn’t relate to my aversion, I practically learnt to plait my hair before I could dress myself. Years would transpire between haircuts and my hair grew quite long. Not consciously, it just evolved that way. When I struggled to cope with university, I took control by cutting my hair off up to my ears. People asked “Why?” followed by, “Was it because it was too much trouble?” Always that question. No. That’s the answer. No. Maybe it used to take slightly longer to wash but its weight and gravity worked together to keep it neat, and its length allowed me to restrain it in a multitude of ways. Post-cut it was in my eyes, in my mouth and everywhere else in the morning. What’s more, I also found myself heading to the hairdresser’s more often because I didn’t really like my hair mid-length.
I returned to the hairdresser’s this week for the full unwarranted treatment. Fortunately, she knows me, so I’m never talked into anything diabolical but unfortunately she got her apprentice to wash my hair. The wash also includes a complementary massage. I never say anything (“don’t touch me!”) because, you know, get a grip, it’s just a head massage, but by God, I only just managed to tolerate this one. My eyes watered and I grimaced enough for her to ask me if the water was too hot.
Still. All’s well. My hair is back under my lugs.
One last thought about hair. It’s weird isn’t it? It’s just like fingernails – it’s only gross when it’s not attached.