Monday, June 07, 2004

going straight

I did it! I did the Japanese Hair Straightening thing! At first I was against it, because I wanted to be above it all and pretend not care about vanity, or the fact that my hair was unmanageable and that I could never wear it down, EVER. But then I just kind of figured, fuck it. I was going to get my hair straightened and not overrationalize like I do every other decision in my life. And lo, my hair, it is straight! And I love it!

The front. If there was audio, you'd hear Joe saying, "What are you taking pictures of over there?" followed by silence because I was too embarassed to admit that I was taking pictures of mine own hair.

The back. Sorry I don't have any "before" pictures to contrast with the "after" pictures, but there are almost no pictures of me in existence with my hair down, unless covered by some sort of a hat. Which is exactly why I wanted to get my hair straightened in the first place.

(OK, stop reading now if you really don't care about my hair or the hair straightening process. Seriously, it will be boring for you. I'm just writing this next part as a public service for the ladies.)

So the process, in short, is as follows. It reads quickly, but imagine it all taking place over the span of four hours or so. I went to a salon down in Chinatown, and I think they thought I didn't know Chinese or something, because the lady barely spoke to me at all. I don't even know what her name was. Also, she didn't explain any of the process to me, so I can only infer what each step was for.

HOW THEY STRAIGHTEN THAT MOP, a step-by-step review

1.) Make an appointment at the salon. Make sure they know you're coming, because the process takes a long-ass time and you want them to be prepared.

2.) Show up at your appointment, but (important!) make sure you eat something and go to the bathroom first. Also, bring something to read, or a movie to watch on your laptop. My choice today was "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" because it's so long. I wish I had chosen another movie, though, becuase the whole point of watching a movie is so that you don't get bored.

3.) The lady washes your hair. Just a normal wash, with shampoo and all. So far so good.

4.) The lady towel dries your hair, splits it into little sections, and brushes some kind of goo on there. I think this is a conditioning goo, because I spied the writing on the bottle. This takes quite a long time, because it's applied in such small aliquots. Then, after your whole head is coated, she starts painting your head AGAIN, only with a different solution. This stuff smells bad, kind of like a perm, so I assume that it's some kind of protein denaturing compound to beat your formerly frizzy hair into limp submission.

5.) Sit there with Saran Wrap on your head while baking under a heater. Watch Frodo get wrapped up by a giant spider.

6.) The lady pushes you unceremoniously to the sink and washes out both layers of goo, then blows it dry. Your hair is not going to look very good at this point. In fact, it may look just as frizzy, if not more, than usual. DO NOT PANIC (like I did).

7.) The lady whips out the hot iron. She sprays your hair with some kind of smell-good spritz and starts hot-ironing each little section of hair until it's all flat and smooth. This will take a very long time, because she works in very small sections, but gradually, you will be relieved to see that your hair is starting to look nice. Your panic will start to fade, and you'll think you're almost done. Not so fast.

8.) The lady gets out another bowl of goo and starts brushing down your nice, dry, flat hair with it. What? More goo? Why? (Subsequent home research will reveal that this is some kind of neutralizing solution to counteract the perm-smelling protein-denaturing goo they slathered on before). She will comb your hair out with a wide-toothed comb and make you sit very still for some undisclosed amount of time, during which she may be watching Chinese soap operas in the back.

9.) Watch Frodo and Sam almost kiss, because they are clearly in love.

10.) The lady finally comes back, and washes the goo out of your hair. Even wet, you can tell that your hair is miraculously straight. Then, she blow-dries it (without the aid of a brush) and your hair is still straight. Then she tells you that, for the next two days, you are not to put your hair up, not to push your hair behind your ears, and not to wash your hair, or else all her work will be ruined. You may feel a little bit paranoid now, like any movment or pressure on your hair is going to create some permanent imprint, but you are so sick of sitting in that chair for four hours that you will do anything that she tells you.

11.) Don't forget to tip the lady! She worked hard.

Yes, it was a little expensive (though significantly cheaper in Chinatown than upper Manhattan) but I am totally psyched with the results of my Japanese Hair Straightening. Hooray for the Japanese and their protein denaturing compounds!

Now I promise not to talk about my hair for a whole entry ever again.

Currently reading: "Persepolis". A comic book written by an Iranian woman about the Islamic revolution of 1979. So interesting that she decided to write her memoirs in comic form. I approve, of course.

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