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Looks Like Frodo


In the twelve months since I lost my hair to AC chemo, I've gone through several transitional--and sometimes transforming--looks.

When I was bald, I felt alive and powerful. Like Yul Brenner in "The King and I," standing barefoot, legs apart, fists on hips, one eyebrow arched, beautiful oval head catching some rare air. (Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!) I went bald at home. To work, I wore a very pricy wig. My co-worker E. said that when I wore my reading glasses I looked like Nana Mouskouri. He googled a photo of her and emailed it to me. "She's cool looking," I said, realizing at that moment just how gracious and kind E. is. I didn't look like Nana Mouskouri in that wig. I looked like a 46-year-old communications manager with no eyebrows, gray skin and a very shiny brunette pageboy with permanently sideswept bangs.

A few months later, when I began to grow a weird, felt-like substance on my head, my son announced that I'd just been promoted from sargeant to dyke. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...) When the felt grew into actual 1/4-inch-long hair, it produced a dark brown hairline that stood in stark contrast to my pale skin. The straight hairline, with several inches of forehead below it, was a disconcerting look. Those were the "I, Claudius" days.

It's now September 2, Labor Day, and I'm sitting at my kitchen table writing my first entry in this blog. In the mirror on the armoire in the hall, I can see myself. "The sun will come out tomorrow! Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow...there'll be sun!" This--the large, soft fro--is the Annie phase, having passed agonizingly slowly through the Liza Minelli, Ziggy Stardust, Kramer and Frodo Baggins phases.

If I do nothing to my hair, it dries in tight little curls. It'll take at least another six months, or another three inches, before gravity can pull it down. At my brother's lovely wedding in Dana Point this past June, his fiance hired make-up and hair professionals for herself and the wedding party. As I was the best man, I was thrilled to be able to have an expert try to do something with my unruly do ("the do that doesn't," my ex calls it). I showed up with wet hair, as instructed, and was sat in front of a large full-length mirror in the bride's luxurious suite at the St. Regis. My stylist had long, tight black curls, and they looked amazing on her. "Let's go with the curl," she announced, "running her fingers and some Bumble and Bumble shpritz through my hair. I let her experiment with the look for about half an hour before announcing that there was no way I was going to walk onto the St. Regis lawn with what looked like a curly brown swim cap on my head. "Ok," she shrugged, and proceeded to blow-dry it into a nice little matronly bouffant, the only thing she could do with what I had available.

Now, I know that instead of writing about bad hair days (months, seasons), I should be writing about the "gift" of cancer and how it's transformed my life. But sometimes a girl just needs to whinge about her hair.

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