Category Archives: hair + makeup

in which homey don’t play that

I don’t know what it is about a wedding day that makes the simplest of tasks suddenly seem like landing the space shuttle on a skyscraper in a hailstorm while eating two jelly rolls. And smoking a cigarette.*

Take personal grooming, for instance. On a typical morning I shower, dress, apply some deodorant, brush my hair, put on some makeup, and cry into my coffee** before heading off to work. But on my wedding day these small, manageable habits inexplicably require mountains of effort and planning which must be agonized over for months in advance. It’s not just the same daily routine anymore, no. When you get married it’s SHOWER. DRESS. DEODORANT. HAIR. MAKEUP. CRY. WORK. Yeah, I trotted out the boldface and italics. I am already fatigued just typing about it.

Hair and makeup, in particular, have eaten up an ever-increasing amount of my brainspace since the day the beau and I got engaged. Part of the problem is that they need to stand up to any number of situations and occurrences that might not normally occur on the other, more pedestrian days of the year. Will my photographer be making me leap up off the ground repeatedly in an attempt to capture that classic, vaunted “wedding party suspended in the air” shot?*** Well, my hair and makeup must be prepared for that. My hair and makeup must be ready for shoulder-heaving ugly cries, freak gusts of wind, wayward streams of champagne, and sweaty moves on the dancefloor. They must defy gravity and outlast the cruel hand of time. They must be able to withstand the most righteous of stares from the most judgmental of people. In short, the wedding day is like my hair and makeup’s version of the bar exam, with significantly fewer discussions regarding tort reform.

Then there’s the part where you have to smell good during the entire wedding day. This became a substantial source of anxiety for me recently when my underarms suddenly broke out in an itchy rash. For a few terrifying days, I thought I might have to cease spritzing lemon furniture polish all over my body for that classic post-shower sheen. How relieved I was to finally discover that my deodorant was actually the culprit. That day the beau was going grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, so I had him pick up some new deodorant for me there. What he came back with was Tom’s of Maine Unscented Original Natural Care. “Here,” he said, nonchalantly tossing the stick at me on the couch. “Here’s your hippie deodorant.”

Hippie deodorant, psssht. I was delighted to learn that Tom’s active anti-odor ingredient is hops extract, and as a consequence I fondly began to think of it as my “beer deodorant.” Unfortunately, its efficacy level is equivalent to actually rubbing my armpits with beer every morning, minus the added benefit of smelling like a brewery.**** Activities that I never thought it possible to sweat from, such as clicking hyperlinks in my browser window, are now making me want to stuff toilet paper in my armpits just to absorb the excess moisture. I’ve taken to holding my arms away from my body as much as possible, in hopes that an errant breeze will sweep through my clothing and maybe dry things off up in there. Lately, my body language constantly screams HELLO! I am casually hanging around with my elbows thrust out jauntily because HAVEN’T YOU HEARD the akimbo look is all the rage?*****

At any other time of my life, this would be just another mildly embarrassing anecdote posted on the internet in a halfhearted attempt to amuse strangers. But the other day I suddenly realized that oh yeah, I have this wedding thing that is fast approaching, and JESUS MARY I need to sort this deodorant issue out right now. Because I can see it all now: Instead of being remembered as the “I CAN’T BELIEVE THEY DIDN’T SERVE US CAKE” wedding, our guests will gleefully recount stories of the “B.O. BRIDE.” Friends, I am not having that.

So. With six weeks left until the big day, it’s desperation time for all the little details. How do I find a deodorant that works really, really well, without causing my armpits to raise up in giant, red welts? Where do I get makeup that doesn’t slide off of my face the minute I step outside to greet my guests, and how exactly do I apply it? What’s going on with my hair? Where do I find shoes to wear that aren’t ugly or uncomfortable? What about crying? Is there a way I can inhibit my tear ducts for that day and that day only? What about all the damned work it takes to put on a wedding? Whose responsibility is that? Surely not mine, right? Can I get a nap? Can I get a witness?

This stuff is as incomprehensible as rocket science. How did you guys figure it all out? Holler?


* I’m sorry, but I think I’m legally obligated to cite Kids in the Hall’s Mississippi Gary: “Smokin’ on a night train, chewin’ on a jelly roll.”

** What? Maybe I like my coffee salty.

*** No.

**** I knew there was a damn good reason I was offered that promotion.


all i really need to know i learned from the hair lady

Ever since I met him, the beau didn’t like the way his hair was cut. They always hacked it too short, forcing his flowing curls into an unnatural box shape. For nearly five years, it went on like this. Finally I told him, look. Maybe you should try somewhere other than Supercuts. Maybe you should try my lady.

My lady. If there’s one lady we all need, it’s a hair lady. Preferably one who can do spot-on impersonations and dishes dirt like a champion. So I took the plunge and called to make appointments for each of us, the beau and I, back to back.

If there’s one thing I may never get used to in my upcoming marriage, it’s booking appointments for another person. The fact that here I was a woman scheduling a grooming appointment for a man added a whole new dimension of insecurity, for in such instances I tend to assume the person on the other end of the line assumes that I am a shrewish busybody who has taken full control of maintaining my partner’s appearance. Thank heavens for gender stereotypes, or else I might be naturally confident and balanced!

I didn’t have a plan when I dialed the phone number for the salon, which is never a good sign.

“HELLO!” I began briskly when the receptionist picked up. So far, so good. “I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE AN APPOINTMENT FOR A HAIRCUT FOR ME…” — at this point I suddenly realized I didn’t know what to call us, so I made a serious attempt to cover my tracks with aimless mumbling — “…and uh, me and my, uhhh, fiance.”

“What?” the receptionist asked.

Whywhywhy did you call him that? my brain shrieked silently.

“My fiance?” I inquired, timidly, like I wasn’t really sure and looking for some positive reinforcement.

“OK?” she ventured.

“For haircuts?” I volleyed back.

“Let me look at the schedule,” she said.

Yes. Please do that. Before I make this conversation even more awkward than it already is.

SUDDEN SHAMELESS WEDDING SIDEBAR: One of the very first wedding decisions I ever made, in fact the first wedding decision I made, was to hire my hair lady to fix my wedding hair, and to also fix the hair of my mother, the beau’s mother, and the brigadiers. This was way back in the wedding planning dark ages when we thought we were getting married in Monterey, even. After we settled on Santa Barbara, the fabled hair lady was the one who suggested we check out her caterer friend, who coincidentally lives a block down the street from us — and who also ended up actually being on our venue’s approved vendor list. Our caterer then, in turn, suggested we use his boyfriend as our DJ. So basically, hair lady is the genesis of our entire fucking wedding.

Anyway! For the record, the beau liked his new cut, and has accepted hair lady as his own. Since then, I have devised a plan. Now, when I call up the salon, I will ask to make hair appointments for “two people.” Because that’s who we are, right? Just two people. Plain folks, hangin’ out. No one person in control of the other. Except for, you know. The fact that I forced him to start coming to my hair lady.*

So I will keep on braving awkward phone conversations to schedule our haircuts together, especially because of our new routine. Now, after our appointments are done, we walk down the street to that one bar where the bartender has missing teeth and the back patio always smells like french fry grease and regret. We get a couple of drinks and toast our new looks. Because nothing says awesome like a fresh new ‘do.

I know this because the hair lady told me so.


* Most likely by withholding sex.