“You’re a 7 ½. I just know it,” Mr. Ralph smirked as he parted my hair and peered at my scalp. It was our first appointment, and he was already off to a bad start. Why on the earth would this rude hairdresser care about my shoe size?
I was sick of my current medium blonde but monotone hair and wanted a little shorter style. My former boss, who changed hair colors with the season, recommended this hairdresser. She said he was a genius. She herself was a natural brunette. I described my natural color as dirty blonde.
Mr. Ralph slapped a cape on me. The next thing he did was rotate the chair 180 degrees so I would have no idea what he was doing for the rest of the appointment. Since my glasses were on the counter and my contacts at home, I wouldn’t have had a clue anyway.
He and I parted company forever about two hours later. By the hairstyle he created, it was obvious he wanted me return every two weeks for a trim. The so-called “highlighting” for which he charged $150.00 consisted of half-inch strips of platinum hair alternating with medium brown stripes. While it clearly might have worked for my daughter, 27, I could not go to work that way.
I called in sick on Monday. Late that afternoon, I eased warily into the chair of Miss Gloria, recommended by a friend. After I untied the scarf covering Mr. Ralph’s masterpiece, I patted the pocket of my jeans to reassure myself I had brought a credit card.
“I’d ask what brings you here, but I can see for myself,” Miss Gloria chuckled. “Who did this to you?”
I quickly explained how I had fallen prey to Mr. Ralph. “It was the oddest thing,” I frowned. “He said I was a 7 1/2. Actually, that IS my shoe size. I wonder how he knew.”
She laughed so hard, she had to grab the back of the chair to steady herself. After regaining her composure, she said, “It means your natural hair color level is 7.5, which isn’t so bad.”
Miss Gloria went on to explain blonde hair was an 8. Light brown was a 7. A 7.5, she dropped her voice, was for those with Squirrel hair. She confided she was one of us.
“You know what I mean,” she added, “You wash it, and for five minutes, it’s blonde. The next morning it’s a funny ash. Just like a gray squirrel.”
Like many Squirrels, I was born a towhead. I blamed my daughter for causing me to become a Squirrel. During my pregnancy with her at 31, my honey blonde hair took on its current ashy cast.
We Squirrels are actually pretty prevalent. In some parts of the United States and Europe, we constitute more than 50 percent of the female population, Miss Gloria postulated. She pointed out her own hair, which she described as “enhanced.” However, it looked as though she had been suspended upside-down in a bucket of bleach for about two hours. I was nervous.
Some good things about being a Squirrel:
• We can become a radiant blonde, brunette, or redhead in 30 minutes.
• We can lie about being a natural radiant blonde, brunette, or redhead and get away with it. After all, we naturally paid for it.
• We help the economy. Depending on which shade we want, we will be back to pay the hairdresser or stop at the drug store every three to six weeks for life.
Miss Gloria mixed about six bottles of goop. When she returned with them on a cart, she asked, “Don’t you want to know how much this . . . um . . . correction is going to cost?” Looking at my image in the mirror, she quickly surmised, “Uh . . . well, I guess you wouldn’t.”
She did a good job. My hair, still short, was nevertheless now a soft champagne blonde with lighter streaks here and there. Three hours later, my credit card and I departed. The total tab: $125.00.
I left an enhanced Squirrel and proud of it.