I just sat down to write about my Keratin treatment. About how I got it on a whim yesterday at the salon, and how I left the salon with pin straight hair that completely freaked me out, even though my stylist warned me not to judge it until the next day, once it had been washed and some of the natural wave returned. And about how she also warned me to be extremely careful, in the hours before washing, not to wear hats or use barrettes or even allow the handle of my handbag to touch it on my shoulder because any little impression on it could (and probably would) remain as a permanent dent in the finished product.
I was going to write about how I woke up this morning and washed it, and then spent about seven minutes with the blow-dryer and ended up with a luscious, silky, wavy hairdo that was completely devoid of frizz and made me look like a (middle-aged) Breck Girl. I was going to recount how I showed up at tennis with my new coif and how afterwards I asked Gina to take a picture of it with her iPhone so I could send it to my Curly Girl Friends so they could see the miracle that had taken place.
I would have added the part where, embarrassed to be posing for pictures in the parking lot, I yelled out to Melissa on her way in that I had just gotten Keratin, and how Melissa called me a traitor (because she is a Curly Girl) and how I smiled and agreed. And then how Melissa said she was envious because I would now be taken more seriously, and how Shelley said, “Oh my God, it’s only hair,” and how Melissa and I shook our heads knowingly, indicating that we understood that Shelley was right in principal, but in actual fact, Straight Girls do get taken more seriously than Curly Girls, and wondering whether we should tell Shelley that it’s not because she wears her nightclothes out during the day, or that she didn’t go to Harvard that she doesn’t get taken seriously, it’s because she, too, is a Curly Girl, and that’s just how life is for us.
I would have tried to capture how this hair treatment unlocked something in me that made me feel more confident and outgoing, funnier and more charming, but I would have stopped myself, thinking that’s silly – hair doesn’t really do all that.
I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to get to any of that, or even if I could have thrown in the line about how this feels like the Botox of hair treatments (which may have seemed random and out of context), because I stopped writing after the first sentence to check online and see what exactly Keratin was – scientifically – and after I’d found that out, I just went to one more site to read about it as a hair treatment, and it was there that I found a post from a woman who was crying for help because after her Keratin treatment she started losing her hair. Fast.
Of course, I had to scroll down and read more of the posts and was heartened to learn that many people responded with sensible advice for her. But even more responded that the exact same thing had happened to them, and as I read I could actually feel the sweat develop on my palms and my breath start to shorten in my chest and I thought to myself, “Oh, gee…I’m going down.”
I stopped reading and reverted to skimming, and then once my anxiety registered an 8.0 on the Richter Scale, I found my way to my husband and curled up on his lap and told him I’d made a terrible mistake that there seemed no way to undo and began to moan about how scared I was that I was now going to lose my hair.
“You’ve been doing so well, today,” he said, “what happened?”
I told him about my time on the internet and he attempted to talk me off the ledge. “You have to do this, don’t you?” he said. “You can’t just let a good thing be good for very long.”
And I nodded, yes, but I didn’t have to. Because we both know that’s exactly what I do. I did it today, during tennis, when we were up two games right off the bat. We ended up losing the set 2-6 or something. And I do it in my mind all day long – spinning off different horror scenarios because I’ve just found myself singing joyfully, gleefully, to We Won’t Get Fooled Again at 60 miles an hour after a surprisingly pleasant errand of returns to Marshall’s.
We came back in the second set this morning, and I was able to leave my husband’s arms tonight and come back here and write – things that I don’t think I could have done even just a year ago. But still, it’s vexing. How the mind works. How it knows the job it has to do and it goes at it like a steamroller. How no amount of tennis lessons or expert advice is ever going to touch that steamroller. Only the practice of learning to leave well enough alone.